“I have a plan.”
Jenna Blunt’s green eyes were bright with excitement as she spoke. She practically bounced when she entered the tiny living room a second before.
Hayley Denton frowned, tapping her pencil on her sketch notebook. “A plan for what?” she said.
“Oh you know,” Jenna said breezily as she walked over. “A plan for us to get the money for rent.”
Their apartment building had been sold to a developer a few months earlier. Their lease was ending in a month, but the developer had offered them a new one but at almost twice the rent. They couldn’t afford it, and were unable to find another one within a reasonable proximity to Jenna’s parents’ place. It was extremely important that Jenna be close by to her parents, as they required a lot of care and assistance in their advanced age. The only solution was to find the money to pay the rent somehow. That meant one or both of them getting second jobs, or new ones.
“Did you get a new job?” Hayley said. She herself hadn’t any luck finding part-time work. And it had to be part-time. She couldn’t afford to leave the job she already had.
Jenna gave a dismissive wave of her hand, before plopping down on a well-worn armchair. They’d picked it up off the street two years ago, where someone had abandoned it. “Nah,” she said. “I have something better.” She pointed her phone she was clutching to Hayley’s open laptop sitting on the coffee table. “You didn’t get my email, did you?”
“Huh?” Hayley felt a twinge of alarm. Jenna sent her an email? An actual old-fashioned email? Not Twitter or Facebook or any of a million other social media accounts she managed?
“Go on! Open it!” Jenna was bouncing in her seat. Obviously annoyed at her friend’s slowness in opening her email, she moved to sit beside Hayley on the couch.
“Okay, okay.” Hayley opened her email. “What’s this?”
“It’s an invite. I got it an hour ago. I’m allowed to bring a friend, although we have to pay for two tickets.”
“Sugar Rush?” Hayley scanned the email. It looked like some kind of party. For people looking for arrangements. “Is this a business networking thing?”
“No, no. It’s a party for sugar babies.” Jenna lowered her voice mysteriously. “And sugar daddies.”
“What?” Hayley almost shouted. She didn’t know what a sugar baby was. But a sugar daddy — she knew what that was.
Jenna nodded, ignoring her friend’s obvious alarm. “We’re going as sugar babies. Obviously.” She giggled. “I’m gonna get me a rich millionaire boyfriend.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Hayley shook her head. “No way am I going to this. No way you are, either.”
“It’s practically prostitution, Jenna.”
Jenna held her hand up. “It’s called sex work, okay. The word ‘prostitute’ is a derogatory word created by men to uphold the patriarchy. Have some respect.”
“It’s doing something you don’t want to. For money.”
“You think I’m taking Carlton’s shit every day because I enjoy it?” Jenna threw up her hands. She worked as an assistant to a marketing executive Carlton Moore, a thoroughly unpleasant man who would work her sixteen hours a day if he could get away with it. “Most people hate their jobs. But they do it because they need to make rent.” She pointed a finger at Hayley’s laptop screen. “We need to make rent.”
Hayley frowned. The way her roommate was making sense was … unexpected. “But sweetie,” she said. “You really want to date an ugly old man for a few hundred dollars?”
“Ewwwww.” Jenna made a face. “God no. I’m getting a hot guy. Someone under thirty. Thirty-five at most. And I’m not getting out of bed for less than a thousand at least.” She giggled. “Or getting in bed.”
“Sure.” Hayley rolled her eyes. “A hot millionaire under thirty-five. I’m sure L.A. is just swimming with hundreds of men who fit that description.”
“I don’t need a hundred millionaires. I only need one.” Jenna unlocked her phone and pulled up a photo. She shoved her device in front of Hayley. “This one.”
Hayley caught her breath. Blond hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, smoldering blue eyes. The guy in the photo was gorgeous, she had to admit. All she could manage to say was, “Wow.”
“I know right?” Jenna pressed the phone to her chest. “Danny said he was going to the party.”
“You know him?” The man didn’t look familiar. Although Hayley wouldn’t be surprised if he was a film star or supermodel.
“I can’t believe you don’t know Reinheart Klatten. He’s worth almost half billion dollars. His mom owns a German company that makes airplanes.” The redhead had stars in her eyes. “He just broke up with Emma Stone a couple of weeks ago.”
At the name of the famous Hollywood actress, realization dawned on Hayley. “Oh my God. You think he’ll like you because …”
Jenna flicked the tip of her sleek ponytail. Her eyes twinkled confidently. “Except in my case the carpet actually matches the drapes.”
Hayley snorted a laugh. “If he’s as hot as that, I don’t think he needs to pay anyone to go out with him.” She got up. “You want dinner? I made some Cajun chicken and rice with the instant hot pot.”
“Danny says he’ll be there. He’s absolutely sure of it. Do you need help?”
“Nah, I got it.” She walked to the kitchen. When she checked, the chicken and rice was still warm. She started spooning the dish into two bowls. “Danny Stohl?” He was an old college friend of Jenna’s, and now was also Hayley’s friend. “How would he—”
“He works for the company that throws these parties,” Jenna said. “How do you think I got an invite? These things are super exclusive.”
“I’m not going, Jenna.”
“Yes you are!” Jenna said cheerfully.
Hayley walked over and handed her a bowl. “No.” She sat back down on the couch and picked up a fork. “Good luck snagging your German, though.”