Diana knocked, and the door swung inward.
“Come in,” said the man she planned to forget in an hour.
Off duty, she would have given his clean jawline and frosted dark hair a second look. Instead she scanned the motel room for her payday. He tapped the breast pocket of his suit coat.
“Business first,” she said. “Fun second.”
She gave him her best smile.
“Trust me. It’s better than the other way around.”
He handed her a white envelope. Most men preferred to leave it on the table and let her tip it into her bag, but she could work with him.
“What if fun is talking about your soul?”
“That’s extra,” she said without the smile.
“I’m serious,” he said.
“So am I. The three hundred was mine the moment I walked in. The listening surcharge is up to you.”
“More money for less work?”
Listening was definitely work, even if she got to keep her business casual on.
“Up to you,” she said.
“Okay, how much?”
He took his wallet from the front pocket of his trousers and thumbed out five twenties. She stowed them loose in her bag. He pointed at the bed.
“Might as well get comfortable.”
As if she ever did with a client. She detoured around him and sat.
“The hour is yours,” she said.
As he joined her on the bed, she planted both feet on the floor. The mattress sagged enough to spill an unwary hooker onto the nasty carpet.
Now he seemed unsure of how to start. She let him catch her glancing at her watch.
“It’s not just your soul. You could meet the wrong man.”
He laid a fatherly hand on her knee.
“Today you’ve met the right man. The one to send you onward, cleansed.”
She should have spotted him when he gave the extra hundred up too easily. He even looked familiar, because she had been waiting for him.
But the day he arrived had begun like any other. She should file a complaint, but where?
“I’m not done with this life.”
“If this is the best you can do, you are.”
“That’s definitely extra,” she said.
If she had a plan, this was it. Flip the script and show no fear, even when she had enough to roil an ocean. She slid off the mattress and onto her feet.
“There’s an ATM in the office.”
As she started toward the door, she listened for a squeak from the bed or a crackling from his knees, but his puzzlement kept him rooted. Then she was holding the open door like a prize. Even in this no-tell establishment he wouldn’t risk witnesses.
Would he? She stole a backward glance.
The provocation might be rash, but he deserved it. She held up her bag with her other prize, the money he had never expected to part with.
Albert Tucher is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in more than 100 stories in venues including The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, as well as the novella The Same Mistake Twice. He lives in New Jersey, USA.