Lexie had the time clock in her sights. A few more steps, and she would be free to go home, put up her feet, and veg. She couldn’t wait to take off her bra. The comfort straps had started to chafe, and her double Ds strained against cups that must have shrunk due to the sweat of all her hard work.
“Hold up a sec, Lex.”
She glanced over her shoulder and slowed but didn’t stop walking. “What’s up, Morgan? You off too?”
“Not for another hour. I have an emergency, and I was hoping you could finish out my shift.”
Lexie stopped mid-step with an internal groan.
“I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t a real emergency,” Morgan said. “Franceska won’t give me crap about leaving if I can find a replacement. Please? I will totally owe you.”
“Yes, you will. Big.”
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Morgan grabbed Lexie in a quick hug. “You are a princess.”
“Uh-huh. Instead of flattery, how about you give me a bribe?”
“Lunch tomorrow is on me.”
Lexie sighed with a roll of her eyes. “Good enough. Get out of here.” She glanced at the time clock before turning toward the long hallway back to the grind and toil of being a housekeeper at a five-star hotel. Next time, she needed to walk faster.
“I just have to tell Franceska you’re covering for me.”
“I might as well come with.”
They approached the open door of Franceska’s office, and Morgan knocked on the doorjamb.
Franceska held up her hand and continued speaking on the phone, “I was just checking on you. It’s an aunt’s prerogative to dote on her only nephew.” She paused and smiled.
Lexie almost choked. She’d never seen Franceska smile, thinking the woman’s face would crack and fall off if she did.
“All right, Jeffrey. Give my love to that assistant of yours. I know you’re running her ragged as usual. Kisses.” Franceska tapped the phone to end the call and turned her attention to her computer and started typing. “Yes?”
The gruff Franceska had returned. Of course her work attitude would differ from the one she showed family and friends. Sometimes being the boss required it.
Morgan said, “Franceska, Lexie agreed to cover for me.”
“Good. You may go, then.”
“Thanks.” Morgan patted Lexie’s shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
After Morgan left, Franceska swiveled her hawk-like gaze to Lexie, who fought the urge to fidget. Franceska was a perfectionist. The employees had to be immaculate so they didn’t tarnish the hotel’s image, even those who never interacted with guests.
Lexie hoped Franceska didn’t find anything to nitpick about. The least little complaint, and Lexie might walk out the door. Favor to Morgan or not, Lexie’s shift was over. She’d had a long day that had increased by an hour.
Franceska said, “Room eighteen-fifteen.”
“Okay. Does it need cleaning?”
Lexie opened and closed her mouth, stumped about what she should say next. Franceska wasn’t usually this tight-lipped. In fact, she tended to over-instruct people on the tasks she laid out for them. Having her refuse to supply details was more than a little odd. “I’m not sure—”
“Mr. Malena has requested a housekeeper. Mr. Malena is a very, very important guest. Very.” Franceska furrowed her brow and stared unblinking at Lexie’s eyes. “When he requests something, we don’t ask any questions. We give it to him. That’s how important he is. Room eighteen-fifteen. Go find out what he wants. After you fulfill his request, report back to me.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Lexie left with a cloud of confusion hovering over her head.
A guest requesting a housekeeper but not specifying the reason why could mean any number of things. Most likely, she would be cleaning up something she wouldn’t enjoy. Morgan was going to owe Lexie more than lunch after this.
Lexie wheeled her cart to the service elevator and took it to the eighteenth floor, where the suites were located. Floors fourteen through twenty-five housed the expensive suites, the size and expense of which rivaled some small apartments. The higher the floor, the bigger and more expensive the suite.
Mr. Malena couldn’t be all that important if he was on the eighteenth floor. Someone warranting that level of snippiness from Franceska should be staying in a deluxe suite on the top floor. Then again, if someone from a top-floor suite had requested a housekeeper, Franceska probably would have gone herself. She didn’t like trusting the “rabble.” So why trust Lexie with this very, very, very important guest?
If someone on the eighteenth floor got three verys, how many would Franceska give a top-floor guest? Lexie amused herself thinking about Franceska turning blue in the face as she tried to get out the many verys needed to convey the significance of a top-floor guest over all other patrons.
Lexie parked her cart against the wall beside the door of room eighteen-fifteen and knocked. “Housekeeping.”
Using her override key, she unlocked and opened the door. “Mr. Malena, I’m the housekeeper you requested.”
“Good. Come here.”
Lexie walked down the short entryway to the suite bedroom. She glanced into the bathroom as she passed and didn’t see anything amiss. The mess that had prompted the call must be in the bedroom.
Please let it be small.
She peeked around the corner. A man who had to be Mr. Malena sat on the bed. He was watching sports on the TV and didn’t seem to notice her looking. His short salt-and-pepper hair—more salt than pepper—was mussed and appeared a little damp. He might have taken a shower before calling for housekeeping, which would explain why he sat bare-chested with a towel across his lap. And oh, what a chest. Lexie gazed over every ripple of his hard abs. The small amount of dark curls peeking from under the edge of the towel suggested he might not be wearing any underwear. She looked at his face and found him smiling at her. How long had she been staring?
She stepped into the room with her hands folded in front of her. “Hello, Mr. Malena. I’m Lexie, from housekeeping.”
Smiling with merriment that made his light-blue eyes sparkle, he beckoned her over. “Come. Come.”
She inched closer, but stayed out of arm’s reach. “You called for housekeeping?”
“Indeed I did. I want wine service.”
“Um.” Lexie pasted a smile on her face to keep from showing the man how stupid she thought he was. “Mr. Malena, your butler handles wine service. If you want, I can call him for you.”
“Not that kind of wine service, my dear.” He gestured in front of him.
A wine bottle sat on the floor a few feet away from where he sat. Looking at the bottle didn’t help Lexie figure out what he wanted. She had to ask and hope he didn’t get angry.
“Sir, I…I’m not sure what it is you want me to do. Did the bottle hit the floor and the wine spill?” It didn’t appear cracked and the carpet beneath seemed dry, but she had to toss out something to speed this along.
“Not at all. I put it there. The bottle is uncorked. I’m waiting for you to sit on it before I drink it.”
“Excuse me?” Lexie’s voice squeaked. She definitely hadn’t heard him right. And if she had, keeping her distance from him had stopped her from smacking him.
Mr. Malena’s amused smile turned into a wolfish grin. “You heard me, my dear. I want you to sit on it. Specifically, I want you to squat over the bottle, insert it into your pussy, and ride it, essentially servicing the bottle.” His grin got wider. “Wine service.”
She backed up a step. “Sir, I’m sorry. The hotel doesn’t provide services like…like…like that. If you’ll excuse me.” She turned away to leave.
“I’m prepared to tip you.”
Lexie stopped but didn’t turn back. His offer to tip didn’t tempt her. It pissed her off. She couldn’t react the way she wanted, though. Forcing a smile to keep her voice congenial, she said, “Tipping isn’t the issue here. The housekeepers at this hotel are not prostitutes. None of the staff are. If you have something I can help you with that falls within the realm of my normal duties, I would be happy to assist you. If not, I have to leave.”
She turned and glared at him. “Sir, I’m not—”
“Three hundred to masturbate on a bottle. I won’t touch you. You don’t have to touch me. I simply wish to watch you enjoy the wine.” He chuckled. “Or at least the bottle the wine comes in.”
“Sir, I’ve already said—”
“Four hundred.” Mr. Malena shifted, as if he might stand.
Lexie prepared to run for the door, but he held his towel in place as he leaned over and retrieved his briefcase from the side of the bed. Popping it open, he took out an envelope, closed the briefcase, and pulled a tall stack of twenties out of the envelope. He counted out four hundred dollars and set it beside him.
“Four hundred dollars cash. All yours for a little wine service.”
A four hundred dollar tip. Lexie had to work at least a week to earn one hundred dollars in tips because most people didn’t think to tip the housekeeping staff. This man was offering her four hundred dollars. Four. She glanced at the bottle. The long, slim neck was skinnier than her usual dildo. Shorter too.
What the hell was she thinking?
No. A thousand times no. If Franceska found out, Lexie would be fired. Four hundred dollars wouldn’t pay her bills while she tried to find a new job with the stigma of prostitution hanging over her head.
“I won’t tell,” Mr. Malena said. “I know you won’t tell.”
Lexie stared at him. She would be nuts to trust him. She didn’t know him from Adam. This might be an elaborate scheme to trap her and get her fired. Franceska had acted off from her ordinary disposition when assigning this job. Normally the woman liked to nitpick things to death but this time had accepted and handed out a blind assignment from an important guest. Yeah, right. Lexie wasn’t that stupid.
She shook her head. “My job doesn’t cover—”
“If I go up to five, you’ll have to get naked.”
Lexie said in a rush so Mr. Malena wouldn’t interrupt her again, “I cannot and will not masturbate with a bottle.”
He cocked his head to the side and blinked. “Are you a virgin?”
“No, and that’s not the point. This is obviously a setup. I’m not falling for it. Good evening, Mr. Malena. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Please don’t hesitate to—”
“Five hundred.” He added five more twenties to the pile.
“Mr. Malena, please stop offering me money. I’m not going to do it.”
“This isn’t a setup. I’m an old man looking for a little entertainment and willing to spend an obscene amount of money to get it.” He picked up the stack and fanned it at her. “On you, if you let me.”
Lexie didn’t know what to say to get through to him. She didn’t even know why she was trying. She should leave and be done. But she couldn’t deny the lure the five hundred dollars presented.
“You’re not that old. You look like you’re in your forties. Late forties at the most.”
“Bless you, my dear. For that, I’ll throw in an extra twenty.” He added it to the stack and held it out to her. “Five hundred and twenty dollars to give an old man a thrill. No tricks. No traps. No chance of getting caught.”
“Except that I’ve been here too long as it is.” God help her, she was actually considering it. When had her moral compass skewed so far off-center that she was willing to commit sex acts for money? This went beyond stripping and straight into porn. Live porn. How much did porn stars get for masturbation scenes?
That line of thinking proved Lexie had lost her mind. Fatigue from a long workday had addled her mind. She needed to leave. Turn, walk out the door, and never return.
“I’m a VIP guest,” Mr. Malena said. “I could keep you here all night, and your boss wouldn’t say a word for fear of upsetting me. I’ve met her, your boss. Charming woman, if a little too stick-up-her-ass for my tastes.”
Lexie bit back a giggle. She agreed but didn’t say so.
“If she asks, tell her I wanted you to play cards with me. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve monopolized her staff for petty reasons. I had two valets and a server in my room for most of the afternoon, and she didn’t say a word.”
“That was you?”
“Indeed it was. I gave them all generous tips as well. Not nearly as generous as this.” He fanned the bills again. “But much more than their usuals.”
Lexie had heard Franceska grumbling about a guest ordering people to his room and keeping them. The woman had been close to chewing nails but hadn’t done anything to stop it. The rest of the staff had had to pick up the slack, getting the rough side of Franceska’s temper for their efforts.
Who was this man that he could get Franceska all bent out of shape and not suffer for it? Lexie had seen what happened when guests pissed off Franceska. The woman was subtle with her revenge. She never did anything that would make the hotel look bad, but each guest who had earned her ire had been treated to longer-than-usual waits, unfortunate delays, and other passive-aggressive ploys.
“You’re still standing here, so I know you want this money. Don’t deny it. I can see it in your eyes. There’s no shame in it. This economy has been rough. Earning a little extra money servicing a bottle isn’t the worst thing you could be doing.”
He was right. She hated to admit it, but she was considering it. If she weren’t, she would have left long ago. She glanced at the bottle.
“Have you performed for an audience before? A boyfriend, perhaps?”
She shook her head. “I don’t have a boyfriend. Haven’t had one for a few months now. I never masturbated in front of him when I did.”
She shrugged. The topic had never come up. She had toys, and her ex had known about them, but he’d never wanted to see them, not even to use a bullet for clit play during sex.
“Five hundred forty. My final offer. If I go much higher, I’ll want you to do more.”
Lexie licked her lips and met Mr. Malena’s gaze. “Masturbate with the bottle—the neck of the bottle—while naked for a five-hundred-forty-dollar tip, correct?”
“My dear, if you can fit that entire bottle, I will give you one thousand for the sheer novelty of it.”
“Pity.” He offered her the stack of twenties again. “Five hundred forty cash in your hand before you do anything. Once you take it, you have to strip completely. I want you bare. And you must squat over the bottle. No sitting. I want you above the bottle.”
“For how long?”
“Until you orgasm, of course.”
“What if I can’t…with the bottle, I mean.”
“Then we’ll be here awhile, won’t we?”
“Do what you must to get off. Play with your clit, for instance. The extra twenty should be worth some clit action, I think.”
Lexie took a step toward Mr. Malena. She was out of her mind. She was going to be fired. She was getting hot thinking about it. She’d never done anything even close to this, yet the idea had her pussy clenching and moist.
“You won’t touch me, right?”
“Not at all. I will touch myself, however. That’s the point of paying for a thrill.”
“Okay.” She nodded, took a breath, and nodded again. “I’ll do it.”
“You’re sure? You look nervous.”
“Of course I’m nervous. I don’t do things like this. I thought I was coming up here to clean up puke or something.”
“Isn’t this much better?”
“Yes,” she said hesitantly, with the hint of a question at the end.
Lexie found herself reaching for the money before she’d decided to move. She closed her fingers around the bills, and Mr. Malena released them. Five hundred forty dollars in her hand. She still didn’t quite believe she was holding it or what she had to do to keep it.
“You’re not expecting a striptease, are you?”
“If I wanted that, I would have gone to a club that specialized in it. Take off your clothes the way you normally would.”
Any second, Franceska would arrive with hotel security to escort Lexie off the premises quickly and quietly so the guests wouldn’t realize the hotel had employed a criminal.
She folded the twenties into her skirt pocket and untied her apron. It was only the apron, yet removing it took a herculean amount of strength. She was doing this. Really doing this.
Mr. Malena leaned on one hand with the other draped across the towel covering his lap as he watched her every move. He had such an easy manner. How many women had heard his offer? How many had accepted? If another housekeeper had been in her situation, she hadn’t heard about it. So long as she kept her mouth shut and Mr. Malena did the same, no one would hear about this instance either.
Quelling the urge to turn her back to him since he would be seeing all of her soon enough, she unbuttoned the collar of her dress and unzipped the front closure. She let the dress fall off her shoulders and over her hips to the ground, and she stepped out of it. To keep it from being wrinkled and giving away her extracurricular activities, she draped it over the tall end table nearest her.
Lexie blinked in surprise and looked down at herself. Did Mr. Malena think she was fat? She did have a little padding to her figure, but nothing to prompt his words. In fact, she had a good figure. It was curvy enough to fill out a sheath dress to perfection.
“A pretty girl like you should have sexier underwear.”
Oh. Is that what he meant? Granted, her cotton bikini-cut undies and workhorse bra were utilitarian, but she was at work. She wore sexier lingerie when on a date, but she didn’t bust out the lace and silk for her nine-to-five.
“Please use some of your tip to buy better intimates for the next time.”
She widened her eyes. “Next time?”
“Oh, yes. I can already tell I’ll want you to do this again. For the same rate, of course.”
She’d barely started this time, and he was already talking about a next. For her, this was a one-time thing she would put behind her the second she walked out his door. No way she would do this again. Her heart couldn’t take the stress. It was almost beating out of her chest.
Despite her anxiety, she removed her bra, and a small thrill ran through her when Mr. Malena looked at her breasts. The heat of his gaze hardened her nipples.
“Very nice. Double Ds, correct?”
“Yes.” Her temperature rose, and tingles tickled through her nipples. She stopped herself from crossing her arms over her chest to hide her reaction.
“Nice and round. You must do some upper-body exercises to keep them so pert.”
She shook her head. “The extent of my exercise is working here.”
“I appreciate your efforts all the same.” He licked his lips.
She imagined him running his tongue over her nipples. He wouldn’t touch her. He’d said he wouldn’t. Yet, standing naked in front of him, she almost wanted him to.
This was a hidden fantasy come to reality. Stuff like this happened in porn, not in the mundane life of a hotel housekeeper. How many times had she imagined a guest propositioning her and taking him up on the offer? How many times had she said it would never happen because the real world didn’t work that way?
Mr. Malena had proven her wrong.
She hooked her fingers in the waistband of her panties and hesitated. This was her last defense. Once she took off her panties, she was committed. Up until this point, she could have gotten redressed, given back the money, and run out. The second she removed the thin cloth hiding her wet, excited sex, she wouldn’t be able to end this.
“Don’t tease, my dear.” Mr. Malena caressed the tips of his fingers over the bump in the middle of the towel that hadn’t been there a second ago.
He was getting hard. He was getting hard because of her. She wasn’t acting sexy or trying to entice him. The simple sight of her undressing had been enough for him to start fondling his dick.
Knowing that made Lexie feel powerful. In control, even. How much control depended on Mr. Malena and his mood. Her breath hitched as she inched the waist of her panties down to her hips, which she wiggled. “I don’t know, sir. I think you like my teasing.”
“You would be right. But I don’t want to waste a perfectly good load on the previews when the feature is coming up.”
“Fair enough.” She pushed her panties down her legs, stepped out of them, and picked them up.
“May I?” Mr. Malena held out his hand.
Lexie looked at her panties and then at his outstretched hand. If she gave them to him, she wouldn’t want them back. She had a pretty good guess what he would do with them. But she couldn’t finish her shift without panties. Her dress was knee-length and would more than cover her, but the embarrassment of knowing her state of undress would remain.
And somehow, that was worth it. This was a day of doing naughty things she wasn’t supposed to. She would have to thank Morgan for talking her into staying longer.
She held out her panties, dangling them off one finger.
Mr. Malena took them between his hands and held them up. Just as Lexie thought, he brought them to his nose and inhaled. The growing tent in the towel across his lap showed he’d gotten something out of it. The tent got higher still when he licked the damp crotch.
Lexie’s cheeks flamed hot. She hadn’t known she was that excited. Even more embarrassing was how much Mr. Malena appeared to enjoy licking up the proof. His own arousal stood tall, very tall. Impressively tall. The heat suffusing her body made her pussy wet.
How would it feel to have that inside her? None of her past boyfriends had been as big. Lexie didn’t think it was the towel playing tricks and making Mr. Malena appear bigger than he was. The towel wasn’t that plush.
“See something you like, my dear?”
Lexie lifted her gaze to Mr. Malena’s. The heat in her cheeks grew. “S-Sorry.”
“Not at all. Here.” He pulled the towel off and put it to the side. “Better?”
“Amazing.” She slapped one hand to her mouth. She hadn’t meant to say that aloud, but he was very big and very hard. “Sorry, sir.”
He chuckled. “Not at all. I thank you for the compliment.” He grasped his shaft and pumped it slowly. “We can change our arrangement, if you want. I don’t mind.”
She shook her head quickly. Admiring was one thing. She was enforcing the look-don’t-touch rule they had established.
“As you wish. I’ll have to live vicariously through that lucky bottle.”
Lexie glanced at the bottle. The moment of truth had arrived. She moved so she stood over it. Widening her stance a little more, she lowered into a crouch. Slowly. Oh so slowly.
When the tip of the bottle bumped her slit, she jerked with a startled yip. She hadn’t expected the bottle to be cool, especially after sitting out while she and Mr. Malena came to an understanding. She gripped the neck, partly to hold it steady and partly to delay the inevitable. Taking a deep, steadying breath, she parted her lower lips with her free hand and positioned the bottle at her entrance. The chill of the glass pulled another squeak from her, and her pussy clenched.
“I had it in the freezer I had brought up with the bottle so it would be nice and chilled once you finished your ride.”
“Oh.” That explained it.
“I also wanted to make the experience more titillating for you. I know how much some women love cold play.”
Lexie didn’t know if she was one of those women, but she was about to find out. The cold made her shiver and numbed her to the sensation of the bottle penetrating as she lowered herself. The lack of discomfort surprised her. The hard glass shaped her channel to accommodate it, unlike the many toys that bent and flexed when she inserted them. She’d thought the rigidity of the glass might feel awkward, like something she would want removed quickly, but her pussy accepted and pulsed around the bottle.
She lifted a little and lowered back down a few times to get used to the new sensation. She didn’t dislike the way the bottle’s tip rubbed along her channel, but she couldn’t say she liked it either. It was different in a way that needed more exploration, though the internal tingling of her nerves as they cooled and heated with the movement of the bottle did delight her.
As her moisture slicked the way, moving up and down the bottle grew easier. She took it deeper until the entire neck penetrated her. It was new and naughty, and Mr. Malena’s unwavering gaze riveted to her pussy made it hot. Hotter than anything she’d experienced. No further analysis was needed. She’d found a new thrill.
Lexie let out a lustful moan as she moved faster, bouncing quickly. Her tension abated, and she relaxed into a steady rhythm that radiated instant pleasure through her. She reached behind her to use the shelf of the entertainment center as a handhold as she lifted up on tiptoe and increased her speed.
Even better was watching Mr. Malena as he stroked his erection. He was on the edge of the bed, leaning forward, huffing hard and pumping his hand at a speed that matched Lexie’s ride.
Seeing him so into her display increased her enjoyment. She panted while rolling her head back and closing her eyes. Her happy moans filled the room. They got louder when she passed her fingers over her clit.
“Oh yes. Do that. Rub it,” Mr. Malena said in a growling voice.
She opened her eyes and looked at him as she strummed and circled her clit. Her inner muscles squeezed the bottle so tight, she thought she might break it.
Mr. Malena’s hunger translated into her passion. She couldn’t ride the bottle fast enough or take it deep enough. The flare of the bottle stretched her entrance as she tried to seat more of it inside her. It wouldn’t fit, but trying drove her closer to the edge.
She jutted her hips as she rubbed her clit faster. The tip of the bottle bumped against her sweet spot, intensifying the titillating buzz arcing through her body from her clit. She peaked with her head tossed back, crying her pleasure to the ceiling.
Though she slowed her movements, she didn’t stop. The bottle wouldn’t go limp and need recovery time. She could ride it as long as she wanted, have as many orgasms as she wanted.
Pinching her clit guaranteed it. Soon she was bouncing at full speed again and keening her delight. She sucked in every breath and let them out as moans. After coming once, her pussy was more sensitive. She was about to climax for a second time. Unless Mr. Malena told her to stop, she would go for a third.
“Mmmmm! Yes! Yes!” Lexie didn’t care who heard her screaming her ecstasy. The second orgasm called for it. She arched her breasts up as this release surpassed the first. She alternated her free hand between tweaking her nipples and stroking her clit. She needed a third hand or the ability to maintain her balance without the help of the shelf so she could use both hands.
Mr. Malena didn’t say anything to end it. Only hungry growls left his mouth. He’d lifted into a squat that allowed him to thrust while he jerked his tight fist up and down his length.
Did he imagine he was inside her? Lexie was imagining it. Instead of a bottle, she was riding his generous erection and crying out for more. Her third orgasm came with her mouth hanging open and her tongue out, practically begging for Mr. Malena to spill his load between her lips.
He spurted his release but cupped his free hand over the tip of his dick. He continued pumping, hips shaking and breathing hard, until every last drop left him. Heaving a contented sigh, he sat hard on the bed and grinned at her.
As much as Lexie wanted to, she couldn’t try for a fourth. Her thigh muscles had started to lodge complaints with her head. She slowed her up-and-down pace to a crawl, sliding her pussy along the bottle to savor the end of the ride and get her breathing under control.
She rubbed her fingers over her pussy lips in a sort of self-placating gesture, bringing herself down off the high. Once she had calmed to acceptable levels, she lifted off the bottle and stood on wobbly legs.
Mr. Malena nodded to her. “You did amazingly well for a girl who was so shy and resistant at first. I don’t think I’ve come that hard in a while.”
“Thank you,” Lexie whispered, not sure what else she should say.
Her pussy pulsed and throbbed, missing something plunging into it. She looked down at the bottle and found rivulets of her juices sliding into the carpet. The bottle was drenched with the proof of her gratification. Everything had been right and wonderful in the heat of the moment. The afterglow had worn off, leaving a stark reality behind. She’d masturbated with a bottle for money. Money! What the hell had she been thinking?
End-of-the-day fatigue couldn’t account for her lack of sound decision-making. She had taken a simple request and gone far beyond. Sure, that was the hotel motto, but she doubted the owner had meant a situation like this.
Trembling started in her hands and traveled upward as her temperature dropped. She hugged her arms over her breasts and turned so she presented Mr. Malena with her profile. She had to get away.
She dressed quickly. She didn’t like going without her panties but would deal if it meant leaving this room and the evidence of her wanton self behind.
“I enjoyed it, Lexie,” Mr. Malena said. “I’ll call for you tomorrow.”
She rushed out of the room without a word. If she hadn’t almost run into it in her flight to freedom, she might have forgotten her cart. She wheeled it back to the service elevator. It kept her from running, though she wanted to.
The slow ride down to the ground floor reminded her that she had to report to Franceska. Lexie grabbed one of the clean hand towels from the cart and mopped it between her legs in quick swipes, removing any telltale traces of her recent pleasure. She stuffed the used towel into the dirty laundry basket as deep as she could and then smoothed her hands over herself, making sure everything was in place and as it should be.
The elevator dinged for her stop. Another housekeeper waited with her cart to enter. The other woman smiled and waited for Lexie to exit before she got on. Parking her cart with the others, Lexie made her way to Franceska’s office.
Franceska was on the phone when Lexie arrived. She beckoned Lexie in and mouthed, Close the door. On the phone, she said, “Yes, Mr. Malena. She just arrived.”
Lexie nodded and closed the door, her heart beating a mile a minute. Mr. Malena had called Franceska! It had been a setup. Lexie was about to be fired.
She stood, wringing her hands and close to tears, as Franceska finished her call. Lexie had no right to feel sorry for herself. Being fired was what happened when someone broke the rules. She’d known this was a possibility but had thought a moment of pleasure was more important than her job.
“Yes… Yes… I will.” Franceska nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Malena… Of course. Thank you again. Have a good night and please feel free to call anytime.” Her stern expression didn’t waver as she hung up the phone. “That was Mr. Malena. He had high praise for you.”
“He said you’re an accomplished card player.”
Cards? Lexie almost blurted out the question. She nodded instead. “I-I’m happy Mr. Malena enjoyed th-the game.” She blinked quickly to keep her tears at bay. If she started crying, Franceska would know something was up. Mr. Malena hadn’t revealed the truth. She had to make sure she didn’t either.
“He enjoys it a little too much. Always stealing my employees so he can play. You would think the man has no friends.” Franceska shook her head while tsking. The motion caused the single teardrop pearl dangling from her simple black ribbon choker to sway. “That’s no matter. He has already requested a rematch, or some such. He wants you to come to his room at the start of your shift tomorrow.”
“B-But my work.”
“This is your work, Lexie. The guests request your time, and you give it to them. Customer service above everything else. Understand?”
“Good. Don’t worry about your rooms. I’ll shuffle people around to cover your area. I’m sure Mr. Malena will try to keep you your entire shift.” She rolled her eyes. “Insufferable man, but a good friend of the owner, so I must deal with him.”
“Of Mr. Rhodes? Mr. Malena knows Mr. Rhodes?” Lexie’s heart rate ratcheted to chest-bursting speeds.
“Yes. I didn’t mention that before, but Mr. Malena and Mr. Rhodes are old friends. They go back a long while. Room eighteen-fifteen belongs to Mr. Malena. It’s always ready for his arrival and he comes and goes as he pleases. Mr. Rhodes insists all employees cater to Mr. Malena’s every whim”—Franceska leveled her narrowed-eyed stare on Lexie—“no matter what it is.”
Oh God, she knows! Don’t fidget. Don’t fidget.
Lexie held Franceska’s gaze and her breath, hoping she didn’t look as nervous as she felt. The silence stretched between them, and Lexie didn’t know what she should do next. Was Franceska waiting for Lexie to confess? It wasn’t going to happen. Her mother hadn’t raised any fools. Playing cards was what Mr. Malena had said they’d done, and Lexie would stick with that excuse.
“Yes!” Lexie blinked quickly and bit her trembling bottom lip.
“I’m waiting for you to tell me you understand. I know Mr. Malena’s status is scary, but I’m sure you can handle a few games of cards. Am I right?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lexie rasped.
“Good. Do you have anything you want to add?”
“You have ten minutes left. Return to your duties, then.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Lexie forced herself not to run out of the office. She returned to her cart and made sure no one was in sight before she sagged against it with a thankful outpouring of breath.
She couldn’t take this kind of stress. Tomorrow she would tell Mr. Malena no. He was a VIP guest, but that didn’t mean he got to use Lexie any way he pleased. She hadn’t been caught this time, but next time didn’t have a guarantee. No more playing with fire.