Expensive by Amy Bellows
The knock on the door comes at exactly 2:00 p.m.
Marjorie reaches over and takes my hand. “Are you ready?” Her brown eyes are kind as she waits for my answer. Even though this was her idea, I know she won’t make me do it. If I want her to send him away, she will.
“I think so,” I tell her.
As ready as I’ll ever be.
Although it’s a bit pretentious, she’s the one who leaves the library to answer the door. She’s wearing a suit today, like a proper butler. She said it would make the agent take me more seriously.
She’s quick on her feet, and only a moment later, I hear the oversized front door creak open, and the two of them exchange pleasantries. I wait patiently for them to walk down the grand halls of the Monroe mansion. I remember the first time I walked through this house. The ornate archways and priceless art on the walls whispered of the enchanting world of ice dragon shifter wealth that had always been a far-off dream, despite my Sullivan name. My alpha grandfather had gambled away our fortune long ago.
But the Monroe fortune was mine for the taking, or so my father had promised me. All I had to do was bond to a seventy-year-old man. My eighteen-year-old self had recoiled at the idea. I wanted to find my fated mate. I wanted love.
But I wanted to get away from my father’s drunken rages a lot more.
Davey Abbott walks into the library. His eyes are wide as he scans the towering bookshelves that made me truly fall in love with this house. Twice as high as the tallest alpha and lined with staircases, they’re breathtaking.
Every dragon shifter collects something that speaks to their soul—their hoard. Mine is books. When I stepped inside this room for the first time, I remember thinking I could tolerate the touch of any man if I could retreat to a library like this.
I was so young back then. I had no idea what I was giving up.
Davey’s a gangly omega with a cheap blue suit and thick dark hair. I’ve seen him in a few videos with Timber. I’ve watched every single one of Timber’s videos, even the low production value films he did at the beginning of his career.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Abbott,” I say in my best domineering Sullivan voice. I stand up stiffly and hold out my hand. Marjorie nods encouragingly from her place in the corner.
It feels odd to act all superior. Davey may not realize it, but I’d made my money the same way he did. On my back. Someone even took a video.
Since my intended alpha wasn’t well enough to shift into his dragon form to give me a bond bite, my father wanted proof that our bond was consummated. They played the video at the reading of the will to remind the Monroes I’d earned my fortune.
The minutes had felt like hours as everyone watched the worst experience of my life. Someone even laughed. I’d never felt so humiliated.
Davey shakes my hand. “Hi. It’s good to finally meet you.”
I gesture to the armchair across from me. He sits down. Like the bookcases, the chair is an antique that was made when people were shorter, so Davey’s knees pop up.
The loveseat I sit back down on isn’t an antique. I’m taller than him. On purpose. Marjorie said it would make me seem more powerful. I’m not really sure that’s possible, but I try to sit up straight anyway. She made it clear that what I’m going to ask Davey for isn’t something that Scalene Studios usually offers, so I’ll need to talk him into it.
She also told me that anything can be bought if you have enough money.
I wish that wasn’t true, but I know from experience it is.
“So, you’re interested in commissioning a video?” Davey asks.
I nod. “I’d like a video of Timber.”
“Great!” He grins a little too eagerly. He doesn’t understand what I’m asking for yet. “Timber with who? Or does that matter?”
I sit tall and lift my chin, just like I practiced with Marjorie. “With me.”
Davey opens his mouth, then shuts it again. He’s going to argue with me, which means the intimidation isn’t working. Maybe I should just be honest with him.
“Do you know what a bond ache is?” I ask.
He shakes his head. That doesn’t surprise me. Most people don’t. I certainly didn’t when I agreed to let a warlock magically tie me to an alpha who couldn’t properly bond to me. Perhaps if I had known, I would have put up more resistance. I like to think I would have. I’m not really sure.
“When someone finds their fated mate, they want to bond to them more than anything in the world, but sometimes bonding is impossible. Dragon shifters can only bond in their dragon forms. My intended alpha was too weak to shift into a dragon, so he never managed to bond with me before he died. We weren’t fated, but we were magically tied by a warlock, so I still felt the same ache to bond. Even after he died five years ago.”
Davey’s eyes soften. He feels sorry for me. Everyone does. Their pity is almost as bad as the bond ache.
“Doctors can surgically remove a bond. Unfortunately, if a bond is never consummated, there’s nothing for them to remove. And unless a bond is removed, you can’t ever bond to anyone else, so my bond ache will never go away.”
We sit in silence for a few long beats. Finally, he clasps his hands together in his lap and leans forward. “The ache… does that mean…”
“It means that I’m… incredibly lonely. And my sex drive is much higher than average.”
His shoulders tense. I had hoped a porn star would be comfortable with a conversation like this, but I guess not.
“The problem is that I can’t have casual sex. My doctor said that once I get physically intimate with someone, I’ll become attached too easily. He said I’ll do anything they want me to. Absolutely anything. Which is dangerous for any omega, really, but especially for me because of my money.”
I don’t tell Davey that, other than the one time I had sex with my intended alpha so my father could catch it on film, I’ve never been with anyone. In all the ways that matter, I’m still a virgin. An alpha’s never taken off my clothes. Never held me. I’ve never even been kissed. Edward Monroe was alive for less than a year after we were magically tied, and I was more of a trophy than a person to him. He never actually wanted me.
Davey sits back in his chair. “Mr. Sullivan, the talent I manage isn’t what you’re looking for. Maybe you’d do better with a hired knot. They help omegas through their heats. I’m sure they could draw up a contract for you that would keep you safe—”
I shake my head. “No. I want Timber.”
“Timber is a porn star. He makes porn.”
“I want to make porn. For myself.”
I never meant for Marjorie to discover my obsession with Timber’s videos. When she first started working as my butler two years ago, I simply told her I had my own methods for managing my bond ache. Unfortunately, I have to masturbate several times a day to keep my libido in check, and that’s hard to hide when you spend a lot of time with someone. She was never judgmental about it, but eventually she brought up the idea of hiring a sex worker. I told her I preferred to get off to videos of Timber. She off-handedly suggested that I hire him.
Over the last few months my bond ache got worse, so she brought it up again. And again. Then she gave me Davey’s contact info and said she had a plan. She thinks sex with an alpha might help. That porn made from my own experience with my favorite porn star might be enough to stave off the constant desire I feel.
I don’t know if it will help, but it’s worth a try.
Davey sighs. “Making porn is different than regular sex. It’s… a production. A show. It wouldn’t be what you need.”
Marjorie steps forward with the folder that includes the contract she carefully put together with my help.
“You will present Timber with this contract,” she says. “If he doesn’t agree once he sees what Andrew is willing to pay, then we’ll go from there.”
The money is my only saving grace. I’m offering Timber over a million dollars for less than a week of work.
Davey takes the folder. “Okay. But I have to warn you. Timber would never work as a hired knot. Do you know his background?”
It’s Timber’s background that drew me to him in the first place. He was rescued from a red wolf shifter breeding pit. Red wolf shifter omegas have unique pheromones that make every alpha they meet believe they’ve found their fated mate. The pit breeders sell them for obscene amounts of money to human traffickers.
The omegas in the pits are given hormones that keep them in a perpetual heat until they conceive. Of course, there are alphas there too.
That’s where Timber came from.
He’s talked about his experiences in the breeding pits during his interviews on YouTube. He desperately tried to make things better for the omegas in the pits, but it was never enough. The survival rate was terrible, and they always needed more from him. If anyone could understand my bond ache, it would be Timber. I know it.
“We’re aware. Give him the folder,” Marjorie says.
Davey looks around the library again. I understand. When you’re about to do something that makes you sick to your stomach, it’s helpful to remind yourself why.
“I’ll talk to him,” Davey promises.
Marjorie gives him a cold smile. “You can take a picture if you think it will help.”
Over the last two years she’s become quite protective of me and how people use me for my money. Conversely, she’s never allowed me to give her a raise or even a gift. She’s the one true friend I have.
Davey pauses, then pulls out his phone and snaps a few shots of the library. I suppose it’s for the best. He’ll be able to argue our case better.
“Would you be willing to consider a different alpha?” he asks.
I shake my head. It has to be him. He’s willing to be truly rough with his partners but also manages to be kind. He pushes them to the edge, but he checks in too. He cares.
And he lets his partners call him “Daddy.” I know it’s stupid, but I want that. More than anything.
“Just Timber,” I say.
Davey slides his phone back into his pocket. “Okay. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”