The Greatest Fraud

She wore a friendly smile as she opened the door. He was dressed in an expensive, loose-fitting jacket over tight, creased trousers and polished shoes; his usual relaxed uniform. He had money, but he didn’t flash his riches. He liked high quality, but nothing ostentatious. That was why he came to her.

“Hi, hon. Coming in?” She stood to one side and he nodded, his eyes never leaving her face.

As he stepped passed her she felt the urge to guide him with a hand on his back, and to let her fingers play over his well-toned body. But he wouldn’t like that. He didn’t come here for her touch.

He made his way into the room and took his usual seat. She’d arranged the room to his liking‌—‌the sofas facing one another, separated by the low table, on which she’d placed a squat floral display and six coasters. On the walls she’d hung a couple of the prints he’d talked about before, those ones that looked like nothing more than random lines. He’d tried telling her of their deeper meaning, but she’d drifted off as always, his gentle voice nothing more than a background hum.

“Drink?” She reached for the vodka. “The usual?” Without waiting for an answer‌—‌although there was a noise of assent from the sofa‌—‌she poured a couple of glasses, adding a splash of lime, just as he liked it. Personally, she thought it tasted rank, but in this business the client was always right.

She took the drinks back to the table, noting that he’d removed his jacket to reveal a dark shirt, the top couple of buttons unfastened. She imagined slowly undoing the others, but knew that wouldn’t be happening, not in this hour.

He thanked her, took a sip, then nodded in appreciation, muttering something about her attention to detail. Of course she attended to detail. It was what made her clients happy, and then they came back for more.

He was talking of the stresses of his day now. She knew he worked in finance, making money grow and disappear. But she read between the lines, and knew he was under pressure from those he worked for. If he didn’t perform, there was the risk of violence. His skills attracted those who played by their own rules.

But she knew he was a good man. That was why he came here; to unwind and let the problems of his conscience dissipate. It was his weekly release. Maybe not the usual release she coaxed from her clients, although she still held out hope.

“You know, I could rid of all your worries.” She turned her head towards the open door, through which he was sure to see the large bed, the covers smoothed perfectly, the lighting low. “You’re wrapped up in your mind so much each day, it’ll do you good to switch off and go for something more physical.”

He shook his head, although there was a smile on his lips. “My partner is a wonderful woman,” he said. “She more than satisfies in that area. If anything, I sometimes think I don’t fully satisfy her. Not that she complains, you understand. She never would.”

He’d talked about that woman before, many times. He was besotted.

She sighed. He was the client, and he called the shots. If he only wanted to sit and talk, that was what they’d do. He’d paid for her time, and she was his to do with as he pleased.

But getting physical would be so much easier. It was what initially drew her to this career. After a string of failed relationships she’d seen that, at least for her, romantic attraction, sex, and companionship were separate things. They didn’t mix well. She preferred the physical without complications, so this job was perfect. True, she didn’t like some of her clients, but she could always shut her eyes and use her imagination. Just like her clients, she could get lost in the touch.

But this man was hard work. He didn’t need a paid companion, he needed a therapist.

He talked of problems with his rooms, and the weather, and more. She shifted her body, muttering responses as they seemed appropriate, and allowed her dress to ride up a fraction, but he looked only at her face. It was hard to keep her smile genuine for so long.

Finally, thankfully, the hour was up. He placed the notes on the table and then stood, checking that his appointment for next week was still in order. She walked him to the door, and he turned to her.

“You know, as much as I love my partner and the life we share, there’s one thing she cannot do for me.” He paused, and she tilted her head for him to continue. “She’s a brilliant person, but she’s so wrapped up in work. She can’t switch off. I talk of my day, and she runs it through her own filters and tries to solve my problems. I know she means well, but it’s not what I want. I don’t want solutions. I just want to let it all out.”

He smiled, and for a moment she thought‌—‌hoped‌—‌he was going to reach out for her.

“See, you do the one thing she cannot. When we sit on that sofa, and I talk, you let me ramble on. You take in every word. You are the only one who truly listens to me.”

He left, and the click of the closing door shot through her. She could do nothing to stop her stomach plummeting. She collapsed on the sofa, her head in her hands.

He didn’t deserve her lies.

She felt like the greatest fraud ever.


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