Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

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Next: Chapter Twelve

Chapter Eleven


Alyssa walked into Tiana’s office with a breezy ‘good morning’ even as she noted the pensive look on Tiana’s face.

“So how was the charity dinner last night? Did you have a good time?”

Tiana didn’t seem to hear her, but after a moment she shut her laptop and faced Alyssa with a deep frown. “I’ve been trying to work a few things out but can’t seem to come up with a reasonable explanation.”

“About what?” Alyssa asked lightly, crossing her legs as she swayed back on forth on the swivel chair in front of Tiana’s desk.

“Jordan. That male escort you recommended so highly.”

Alyssa’s lips lifted in a grin. “Looks like he lived up to his top billing, huh? At least you had your walk on the wild side.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Tiana said. “I’m talking about last night, at the dinner. He was there, Alyssa. At first I thought he was attending as someone’s male escort, but then it turns out he’s some successful investment whiz I’ve never even heard about who earns at least ten times what I do. How could that be even possible?”

Alyssa shifted in her chair, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “Well, I can’t really tell you. I mean, who’s to say with these male escorts? You never know who they could be in real life; your doctor, your next-door neighbor.”

“Your brother?”

Alyssa started and she looked up to meet Tiana’s accusing look.

“Did you honestly think I wouldn’t find out? Alyssa, he has the same surname as yours. Hancock. I did a bit of snooping and I discovered Jordan Hancock happens to be your older brother. I just don’t understand why you did this. I don’t even understand what you did.”

Alyssa’s expression looked guilty. “I should have known it would all come back to haunt me. What was I thinking?” She shook her head with a sigh. “I just don’t know how to begin.”

“Why not start with the truth?” Tiana said, sitting back and folding her arms with eyebrows cocked.

Alyssa sighed. “It’s all my fault. And I take full responsibility even though everything was based on probabilities. Would you like Jordan enough to pick him from the other choices on that escort site? And would he play along with it even though he knew someone had set him up to be something he wasn’t?”

Something seemed to click inside Tiana’s head and she jerked forward suddenly, asking, “He’s not really a male escort, is he?”

Smiling ruefully, Alyssa shook her head. Then, looking shame-faced, she confessed to Tiana how she’d registered Jordan on Gents4Ladies, building up a fictitious profile for him using pictures she’d taken from Jordan’s ex-fiancée.

“The idea came to me when you kept going on about how you so desperately needed a last minute date,” were Alyssa’s rueful words as she faced her incredulous friend. “So I thought, Tiana needs some excitement. Something different from what she’d ever done. But instead of letting you go for just anyone, I picked my brother since I figured both of you were looking for the same thing. He’d just broken up with his fiancée simply because according to him, she lacked that bit of spark – that extra spice. So I set him up as a male escort, hoping you’d take my advice and select him. If you didn’t select him, I would’ve told you immediately. I never dreamed Jordan would play along but I knew that at least, you two would come in contact and something could work out from there. I was really surprised when I realized he went right along with the whole ploy.”

“Why would he do that?” Tiana breathed, looking hurt, confused. “Why would he want to fool me like that? Why didn’t he just tell me the truth? I feel like such an idiot.”

Alyssa was chewing hard on her lip. “I honestly don’t get it. Jordan’s supposed to be the cool-headed brother – the sensible one in the family. I never dreamed he’d go with it but then maybe you took him by surprise. Maybe it’s been his secret fantasy all along and I just helped him actualize it the same way I helped you with yours.”

Tiana’s eyes blazed as she jumped to her feet. “Gee thanks, Alyssa. I really needed to be hooked up with a fake gigolo to add some spice to my life. Have you any idea how embarrassing this is?”

“I’m sorry,” Alyssa said simply, rising to her feet as well. “I never meant for anyone to get hurt. I just thought things would work themselves out. Jordan would say there was some mistake and you two would laugh it off, and then decide to meet up anyway. I don’t know. I just felt you two were so much alike in what you were seeking from a partner. I never meant to play God and now I wish I hadn’t started shit. At first I was happy, seeing both of you having so much fun but I never dreamed it would go as far as it did.”

Tiana sighed impatiently at Alyssa’s apology, shaking her head and turning away to walk to the window. “I don’t even know what to say or who to believe. I feel like such an idiot. I’m just one big joke for my best friend and her brother. I really don’t appreciate that between you and Jordan, I made such a fool of myself. Well, I hope you both had your fun.”

With that, she snatched up her purse, ignoring Alyssa’s crushed look. “I can’t stay another second. I need to go home right now to rest my head and rid it of these murderous thoughts I’m having right now about a couple of siblings who think it’s a game to mess with someone’s emotions.”

“Tiana, please. Come on,” Alyssa began as Tiana began to walk by, but one shriveling look from her friend had her shutting it.

Alyssa watched Tiana storm out and sighed deeply. She hoped her friend would forgive her because at the bottom of it all, she’d only meant well.

She’d always thought Tiana would be the right woman for her brother but Jordan had always been with someone else. When Jordan had broken up with Chloe, Alyssa had seen the perfect opportunity to bring Tiana and Jordan together. She knew she could have easily tried to introduce them normally but this way had seemed so much more exciting. Obviously Tiana didn’t see it that way, naturally.

Alyssa didn’t even want to think about what Jordan would do when he found out. She wondered if she should do the smart though cowardly thing and just go into hiding until everything blew over.

And then she smiled to herself as she thought of the way Jordan had been acting since he’d become Tiana’s gigolo. She’d seen the subtle changes in him those times they’d met during the week at their parents’ home for dinner. He’d seemed more laid back, revived – happy and fulfilled. And Tiana had been flushed with happiness day in and out since the very first time she went on that date with Jordan.

Alyssa consoled herself with the assurance that one way or another, things would work themselves out in the best way for everyone and who knew - maybe one day those two would actually thank her. Maybe...

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Next: Chapter Twelve