Emma would insist later that she had always planned on being a perfect lady.

The London escort wasn’t the point of the evening, after all. It was merely that the mark, publishing magnate Jamila Singh, was in a long-term same-sex relationship, and playing the same side of the street would be a subtle psychological link.

Emma “mmm”ed absently as the Elite agent read her the standard contract over the phone. When she asked if she had any special requests, she said, “Dinner party at Gordon Ramsay’s, so dress appropriately, and other than that, someone with a brain would be lovely.”

The last thing Emma needed was to be known as ‘that woman whose date put us all to sleep with her inane chatter’.

The agent assured her that she knew just the lady.

And thus it was that at 5 pm precisely, a firm knock sounded at Emma’s hotel room door. Emma was running a bit late and answered the door in her lingerie and sheer stockings, mind still running through its paces. Her performance that night would be Antonina Edwards’s first appearance in public, and Emma wanted her to be as flawlessly real as possible.

The sight of her escort standing in the hall was enough to firmly establish that Antonina Edwards was very, very appreciative of the female form; especially when that form was slim, dark-eyed, and impeccably put together from her Louboutins to the perfectly-tied bow topping off her flawlessly tailored little black dress.

“Good evening. Ms. Edwards, I presume?” the woman asked, her tone deferential in that particular way that, oddly enough, said “housekeeper” more than “let me slip into something more comfortable” to Emma’ ears.

It took a moment for Emma to drag her attention from the woman’s truly exquisite cheekbones to remember her own alias.

“Yes. You must be Arianna.” She reached out a hand before she’d really thought about it. It was a failing of hers: wanting to touch anything interesting that crossed her path.

Arianna took it immediately, shaking with a firm grip. “Yes, ma’am.”

Emma hadn’t ever had one of her London escorts call her ‘ma’am’ before, but she could, she thought, grow to like it. Not that that was what this was about. No, not at all. This was about being Antonina Edwards. This was about being introduced to, possibly conversing with, and definitely observing as closely as possible Jamila Singh.

Perhaps Emma should have asked for a plain escort, rather than the distractingly beautiful ingénue that they’d sent her. She wondered if Elite had any of those on file for just this type of situation.

“Come on in,” Emma said, smiling as she stood aside. “We’ve a bit before we need to leave, and I’m not even close to being presentable yet.”

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