The Birthday Present

By Lizzy Grey

Romance, Women's fiction


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3 mins

An Excerpt From Chapter One

This was a mistake. On the mistakes scale, this was right off the top and flashing bright neon red. Bloody hell, what was she doing? A male escort?Turning around in the hotel foyer, Freya pulled an exaggerated pained expression at her best friends Amanda and Liz who were seated on one of the sofas just inside the entrance. Amanda gave her an encouraging thumbs up and Liz made a ‘keep going’ motion with her hands. Grimacing, Freya turned back and continued on into the bar.

He was seated on a stool at the end of the bar furthest away from the door. Watching him for a moment, Freya was relieved to see that the man she saw matched the photograph on the escort company’s website.


“Ta-da!” Amanda had announced the previous week, swivelling her laptop around on the glass coffee table in her apartment and showing Freya the photograph. “His name is Simon Harrison. He’s thirty-five, and he’s gorgeous. Just look at him.”

“You’re not serious?” Freya gasped. “A male escort?”

“You’re thirty now and still a virgin,” Amanda told her as if she needed reminding.

“Yes, because I’ve been extremely ill.”

“Well, you’re not ill anymore and it’s about time you got out there and started living a life. You can’t live with Mummy and Daddy forever.”

“No,” she had to admit. It was now six months since her life-saving and life-changing heart transplant operation and she really should be thinking about getting a life, the career she’d always wanted in a bank, and leaving home. The prospect scared her but it was high time she started living the life the new heart had given her. “How much does he cost?”

“Never you mind.” Amanda turned the laptop back to face her. “Look, if you don’t want him to de-flower you, I’ll give him a go myself.”

“You’ve got nothing left to de-flower,” Liz muttered.

“But what about my scar?” Freya protested. “It will scare him to death.”

“That’s why we chose an older escort,” Amanda explained. “I’m sure he’s seen a lot worse before.”

“You think? It still scares me when I look at it in the mirror.”

“Do it,” Liz told her. “Because if you don’t, Amanda will only try and persuade Anthony to do it and that would be just a bit too weird.”

Anthony was Amanda’s older brother and was like a brother to Freya and Liz, too. Having sex with him would be borderline incest.

“He’ll be told about your scar,” Amanda assured her.

“Oh, God, I don’t know…”

“One night with a gorgeous man who will relieve you of your virginity and then you’ll be able to find yourself a real boyfriend.” Liz gave her an encouraging smile.

“You’ll come with me, won’t you?” Freya asked, leaning over the coffee table and glancing at the photograph of Simon Harrison again.

“To the hotel, yes.” Liz nodded. “But I think it would be a bit strange if we came to the room to watch.”

“Okay, then.” She sighed, hoping she wouldn’t live to regret it.


Freya stood at the door to the hotel bar, absolutely sure that everyone who glanced at her knew she was only here for sex. Moving to one side to allow a couple to leave, she was able to study the man she was about to have sex with.

Simon Harrison was wearing a black suit with a white open-necked shirt and did seem to be in his mid-to-late thirties. His brown hair was wavy and swept back off his face and she could see light stubble on his cheeks. She had to admit that he was very good-looking but forced the attraction to the back of her mind. They were both here for one thing and one thing only – sex.

Closing her eyes for a moment, she rubbed her sweaty palms together before holding her head up in the most self-assured pose she could muster and approached him.


Turning, he slid off the bar stool. He was well over six feet tall and she was forced to look up at him.


“Yes,” Freya replied, holding out a hand. “Good to meet you.”

“And you.” He shook it warmly. “Can I get you a drink?”

Weren’t they going straight to the hotel room? Was she going to have to sit and make conversation with him? Why couldn’t they just get the sex over and done with?

He was drinking what looked like sparkling water so she opted for the same and he brought her to a table, holding her chair for her as she sat down.

“I’ve never been to this hotel before,” she began, avoiding the ‘Do you come here often?’ cliché.

“It’s had a makeover and they did a good job,” he told her, sitting down opposite her. “The old décor was getting very dated.”

“Oh, I see.” She took a gulp of water and snorted as the bubbles went up her nose. Clearing her throat, she had a second sip and put the glass down. Could this be any more awkward?

“So, you’re a travel agent?” he asked.

What? Is that what Amanda and Liz had told the escort agency? “Yes, I am. Do you travel much?”

“Not as much as I’d like. What about you?”

“No, not really.” She picked up her glass and gulped the rest of the contents down. Please, stop trying to make conversation. Just take me upstairs and get on with it. “I’ve been ill and it was difficult.”

“Oh, yes, I’m sorry. Yes, I was told you’ve been ill.”

“I had a heart transplant.” As you do. “So I’m kind of lucky to be here.”

“Yes. So how are you?” he asked, clearly wondering whether there was a chance she could drop dead in the hotel room.

“Very well, thank you. I had the operation six months ago. I still get a bit tired and I’m on a ridiculous amount of tablets but, I’m fine – apart from the scar. You don’t mind scars?” she added anxiously and he smiled.

“Well, I have to admit that I’ve never seen a heart transplant scar before.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “No, I suppose not.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I am curious to see it.”

“Oh,” she replied, wondering how she should respond to that. Oh, God, was he a bit of a weirdo?

“So, shall we..?” He gestured towards the door.

What, now? Her poor heart began to pound as he got up. “Oh. Oh, yes, of course.” Putting her glass down, she reached for her handbag and got to her feet.

Taking her arm, he ushered her from the bar and out into the hotel foyer. She threw a quick glance towards the entrance and saw Amanda and Liz giving her encouraging smiles before she turned away and they walked to the lift. Simon pressed the ‘up’ button and when the doors opened, he led her inside and selected the fifth-floor button. The doors closed and she fought to control her breathing. There’s no going back now.



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