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A Night With A Stranger

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Alison Wright's eyes flickered open, and she winced from the strange pain radiating throughout her body. This wasn't a dream. She groggily took in her surroundings – a luxurious hotel suite bathed in soft morning light. Her gaze darted to the floor where her clothes lay crumpled and abandoned. Sh*t. She was f*ck*d last night. Literally. "God d*mn it," she muttered under her breath. Clutching her throbbing head, Alison tried to piece together the events that led to this less-than-ideal morning after. Flashbacks of her part-time job at an underground club played in her mind. She remembered being responsible for selling wine to customers, and one particularly annoying old creep who wouldn't stop pestering her. "Come on, sweetheart, just one drink," he had insisted, his greasy smile making her stomach turn. "Fine, but you're paying for it," she snapped. After downing the tainted glass of wine, her gut told her something was off. She hastily made her escape, stumbling out of the elevator and into the first empty room she found. And then...nothing. Her memory fractured like shattered glass.

Chapter 1

Alison Wright's eyes flickered open, and she winced from the strange pain radiating throughout her body. This wasn't a dream. She groggily took in her surroundings – a luxurious hotel suite bathed in soft morning light. Her gaze darted to the floor where her clothes lay crumpled and abandoned. Sh*t. She was f*ck*d last night. Literally.

"God d*mn it," she muttered under her breath.

Clutching her throbbing head, Alison tried to piece together the events that led to this less-than-ideal morning after. Flashbacks of her part-time job at an underground club played in her mind. She remembered being responsible for selling wine to customers, and one particularly annoying old creep who wouldn't stop pestering her.

"Come on, sweetheart, just one drink," he had insisted, his greasy smile making her stomach turn.

"Fine, but you're paying for it," she snapped.

After downing the tainted glass of wine, her gut told her something was off. She hastily made her escape, stumbling out of the elevator and into the first empty room she found. And then...nothing. Her memory fractured like shattered glass.

"F*ck my life," she hissed, rubbing her temples.

Alison knew she needed to get out of there and fast. But first, she had to tackle the challenge of locating all her discarded clothing. And maybe some answers along the way.

The sound of the bathroom door creaking open snapped Alison out of her thoughts. A tall man emerged, water droplets cascading from his damp hair onto chiseled shoulders and sculpted pectoral muscles. With just a bath towel slung around his waist, he was an imposing figure, handsome in an almost infuriating way.

"Sh*t," Alison muttered, tugging the quilt up to cover herself. Her cheeks burned with humiliation – this stranger had seen her at her most vulnerable, and she didn't even remember it. Great. Just what she needed.

"Enjoying the view?" the man drawled, smirking as he strode over to the window and yanked the curtains open. Sunlight flooded the room, bathing them both in its harsh glare. He grabbed a cigarette from the nearby table and lit it, exhaling a plume of smoke as he regarded her with an arched eyebrow. "Or do you want another go?"

"Go f*ck yourself," she thought sourly, averting her gaze. She could feel the weight of his stare on her, but she refused to give him the satisfaction of knowing just how much he affected her. Instead, she focused on trying to remember anything about last night that might help her make sense of this mess.

"Nice," he chuckled, clearly enjoying her discomfort. "I can take a hint."

"Good," she fumed silently, her heart pounding in her chest. "Now if only I could remember how the hell I ended up here..."

Alison clenched her jaw, begrudgingly accepting the cold reality of her situation. Swaddled in the quilt like a makeshift shield, she carefully navigated the minefield of scattered clothes, trying not to lose her balance on the plush carpet. She scooped up her garments one by one, feeling the weight of the man's gaze on her as she retreated into the bathroom.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid," she muttered under her breath as she dressed quickly. Her reflection stared back at her, eyes red-rimmed and hair a tangled mess. She looked like a woman who'd just made a colossal mistake – which, of course, she had.

The door creaked open, revealing the same scene she'd left behind. The stranger stood by the floor-to-ceiling window, flicking ash from his cigarette as he observed the city below. He turned and began striding towards her, a predatory gleam in his eye.

"Easy now," Alison warned herself, taking an involuntary step backward. To her surprise, he merely bent down and picked up a wallet from the floor, extracting twenty thousand dollars. He tossed them onto the bed with a casual flick of his wrist, saying, "I enjoyed last night. Consider this compensation."

"Compensation?" she thought bitterly, staring at the money. It wasn't a fortune, but twenty thousand dollars would cover her grandma's medical expenses for a month. A part of her wanted to grab it and run, but another part couldn't stomach the idea of being bought off so easily.

"Is that what I'm worth to you? Just another conquest?" she challenged him silently. His eyes met hers, deep and filled with a mocking amusement that made her skin crawl.

"Guess men like you get off on treating women like disposable playthings," she fumed internally, humiliated to her core. "Well, you can take your dirty money and shove it where the sun doesn't shine."

"Thanks," she spat out loud, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "But no thanks."

The man's sneer cut through Alison like a knife, his eyes narrowing as he chewed the inside of his cheek. "So, you don't want the money? What then, princess? You expect me to take responsibility?" His laughter was cold and mocking. "Dream on."

Alison clenched her fists. She had always been the peacekeeper, never one to lose her temper or get into fights. But this man... He made her blood boil, and she couldn't stand it any longer. Reaching into her jeans pocket, she pulled out a crumpled bill, her hand shaking with rage.

"Here," she spat, thrusting the two hundred dollars at him. "That's what you're worth. Take it or leave it." Her voice trembled with defiance, but her inner thoughts screamed humiliation.

He eyed the money, not making a move to take it. His silence goaded her, pushed her even further over the edge. "Well?" she demanded. "If you don't want the cash, maybe you want me to take responsibility for you? Not gonna happen, buddy."

With that, she straightened her back, held her head high, and walked towards the door, though each step sent sharp pain shooting through her body. She refused to let him see her weakness.

Josh Bailey, the man who believed money could solve anything, stood there dumbfounded. For the first time in his thirty years, someone had dared to pay him back – literally. Anger surged through him as he grabbed the quilt off the bed, only to freeze when a patch of dried blood caught his eye.

Chapter 2

The bus came to a screeching halt, jolting Alison back into the harsh reality. She stepped off, each step sending a painful reminder of her recent encounter with the stranger. The weight of her mother's words bearing down on her, she couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.

"Home sweet home," she muttered sarcastically as she unlocked her apartment door. Her legs wobbled like overcooked spaghetti, threatening to give out any moment.

"Stupid legs," she cursed under her breath. "You had one job."

When the door closed behind her, Alison made a beeline for the bathroom, desperate to wash away the evidence of her reckless decision. The water streamed relentlessly over her body, almost as if it was trying to drown her in regret. She scrubbed herself raw - once, twice, three times - until the scent of the stranger was nothing more than a faint memory. But the pain still lingered.

"Great, just great

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