Damaged Goods

By: Cynthia Dane

Chapter 1


Sylvia set her mark within five minutes of walking into the building.

That’s how good she was. She had been in the game for so long that she could saunter in, find her man for the evening, and make her money before the streetcar home stopped running for the night. Took her a good few years to reach that point, too. She liked to think that’s what separated her from the… well, she wasn’t sure what. There wasn’t much room to brag about her lot in her life when said lot was constantly being down to her last dollar. For a girl who appreciated the finer things in life? Tragic.

This guy is going to make sure I’m fed for the next week. Sylvia slipped onto the barstool next to him, pushing her chest out, and let out a flirty trill that damn well made sure this guy knew she existed in his vicinity.

For a city as sizable as Portland, it was a miracle she could ever find men who were her type. Handsome. Stylish. Rich. Oh, Portland was teeming with rich fucks, but she had never lived in a city where those same rich fucks dumpster dived for their clothes and showed up to business meetings in dirty flannel and hair messily tied on top of their heads. And the beards! Good God, the beards! Where were the clean-shaven guys, or at least the men who knew how to style their facial hair so they looked rugged, yet still expensive? Sadly, such men were not a dime a dozen, even in a hotel bar.

Which made this guy special.

His suit wasn’t the most expensive around – Sylvia certainly knew her Brionis from her Valentinos – but it was still miles above what came waltzing out of most of the downtown offices at five in the afternoon. His cologne, though? Nice. Sylvia couldn’t place it, which surprised even her. Then again, she was usually too busy charming her boyfriend of the hour to notice what designer he was wearing wearing.

Damn, he was cute. Clipped black hair, no facial hair, opal cufflinks, an air that said he knew what he was about and that he was passing through Portland on business. Good. That meant a nice hotel room for Sylvia to stay the night in. No sense letting something like that go to waste. Why let Uber eat into my profits?

“Hey,” she said, her mid-range voice as silky as the black dress on her body. Classical was always the way to go. If Sylvia didn’t make men think of Aubrey Hepburn or CoCo Chanel the moment she walked into a room, then she hadn’t done her job getting ready that day. “You all by yourself tonight?”

The man spared her a small but heart-fluttering smile. Ah, she did love a confident man in a suit. How soon would she be undressing it for him? Surely there was something good underneath there. “Hi. And yes, unfortunately. Afraid I’m alone here on business.” He turned his head toward her. “You are apparently alone as well.”

“The name’s Sylvia.” She let some of her Boston accent slip out. “What’s yours? I love making new friends.”

Her hand grazed his arm. On accident, of course. Or was it? “Tom,” the man said, his voice still steady. “Well, Thomas, but that’s such a stuffy name, don’t you think?”

Damn, this guy was easy.

Sylvia had perfected her technique since her days strutting around Boston hotel bars like this one, chatting guys up for the sole purpose of getting into their pants and wallets. Sometimes she worked with a company. Dating agencies, of course! Sometimes the people in charge were worse than the pimp horror stories she heard over the years.

Then there was that one paradisiacal year she worked for the most sophisticated pleasure house in the nation. Before she totally botched it up and had to move all the way to Portland to recover from the embarrassment, that was.

Ah, Tom. He was different from most of the guys in Portland. He made Sylvia think of those good ol’ days. This was the kind of guy who would show up at the pleasure house and make use of her many services. For a premium, too! Sylvia couldn’t get away with those rates anymore. Not in Portland. Too bad. She lived like a damn princess during those days.

She chatted Tom up until there was nothing else to talk about. He bought her a drink, and they toasted to whatever they felt like. Sylvia giggled. Tom sighed. Their eyes met more than once, and by the fifth time Sylvia blushed. Was it genuine? Why not?

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