Home > Moody

Author: Penelope Ward

For Shannon






I get to make people feel better for a living—without having to slice them open or prescribe medication. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me. As a traveling massage therapist, I move from site to site, making house calls. That’s another thing I love about my day job: I never have to do it in one place. The company I work for, Elite Massage, has an office downtown, where I go once a month to stock up on supplies and check in. When I stopped in this afternoon, my boss, Trina, had an update for me.

“So, I just added something new to your schedule, if you can fit it in tomorrow,” she said.

“Where is it?” I asked, stuffing a variety of oils into my backpack.

“Brookline. Actually, you were specifically requested.”

I stopped for a moment. “By whom?”

“His name is Dax Moody. Ever hear of him?”

I shook my head. “No. Not at all.”

“Well, he came up clean.”

Trina always runs a criminal background check on new clients, which I appreciated since most of the time I was going into their homes and would often be alone with these strangers.

“I also Googled him and got his business page,” she continued. “He’s the owner of a capital investment company.”

Dax Moody. Huh… nothing. “I guess someone must have recommended me to him.”

Trina gestured toward her computer. “Check out this property. This is where he lives.” She’d pulled up Google Earth and zoomed in on a house. It was a large, brick structure with a black wrought-iron fence around it.

“Wow,” I said.

“Yeah. Might want to wear something a little nicer than the usual T-shirt and ripped jeans.” She winked. “You know, in case he’s single.”

“I’m certain if he lives in a house like that in Brookline, he’s not. It doesn’t matter anyway. Isn’t there a rule about mixing business with pleasure?”

She shrugged and zoomed in farther on the house. “You know what they say about rules.”


• • •


The next day I parked in front of the sprawling estate, unsure where these butterflies in my stomach were coming from. I’d had wealthy clients before. But something about this assignment felt different, though I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Brookline was just outside of the city, and a trolley line ran right through the center of town. With its proximity to Boston universities, the neighborhood was a mix of college students and wealthier professionals, depending on the section. This particular street was one of the quieter ones, lined with big, beautiful homes, and not far from where I knew a couple of the New England NFL players lived.

The leaves on the trees surrounding the estate were a multitude of colors, evidence that fall foliage season was in full swing. Looking up at the two-story brick house, I noticed an older-looking Camry that seemed out of place parked in the driveway.

With my supplies hanging in a bag over my shoulder, I carried my portable table as I walked toward the massive black door with a vibrant wreath of autumn leaves hung on it. I rang the bell and anxiously waited.

A woman who appeared to be in her mid-forties, wearing khakis and a pretty cowl-neck sweater, opened the door. This must be Mrs. Moody.

She looked down at the table I held and then up at me. “Can I help you?”

I cleared my throat. “Uh, yes. I’m here to see Dax Moody. He scheduled a twelve o’clock massage-therapy appointment with me.”

Her eyes narrowed, and she laughed a little.

Is this funny?

“Uh…okay.” She waved me inside. “Wait here in the foyer, please.”

“Thank you.”

I set the heavy table down and walked over to a large, framed photo on the wall. It was a woman in a wedding dress. The background looked like Vegas. I now realized the woman who answered the door wasn’t his wife; she must work here. The woman in the photo looked over her shoulder, her long, blond hair cascading down her back. She held a small bouquet of lavender roses. She was beautiful.

The lady returned, interrupting my thoughts. “It seems you have the wrong time. Mr. Moody indicates his appointment isn’t until one?”

My stomach sank. “Oh, gosh. Let me see.” I rechecked the schedule on my phone. She was right. How could I have messed this up? I shoved my phone in my pocket. “It seems I did screw up the time. I’m really sorry. I’ll come back.”

Just as I’d turned around and lifted the handle on my table, a deep voice came from behind me. “Wait.”

I turned around to find a tall, gorgeous, shirtless man wiping sweat off his forehead with a small white towel. He had a six-pack, and his body was insane.

This is Dax? I was expecting someone older. This guy looked like he’d stepped off the cover of GQ. He had to be in his early thirties max, was very built, and had light brown hair. He wore black trousers, which was an odd choice to work out in. His tanned skin glistened with sweat.

“We can just do it now,” he said.

I gulped. The thought of rubbing my hands over this guy suddenly made me very nervous. As someone who touched people for a living, I tried to compartmentalize. But jeez. He was hot as hell. A warning about what he looked like would have been nice.

“Are you sure? I don’t mind coming back. It was my fault.”

“Yes, I know. But you’re here, so we might as well get it over with.”

Get it over with? Massage was supposed to be a pleasurable and relaxing experience. “Okay, then. Just let me know where you want me.”

Dax stared at me for a few seconds before he said, “My office.”

Swallowing, I nodded. “Alrighty, then.”

“Let me get that.” He reached for my table and headed down the hall.

His housekeeper gave me an amused look. I still wasn’t sure what she found so funny about all of this.

As I followed, a waft of his cologne hit me, and I couldn’t help admiring the cut of his back. This guy clearly worked out a lot. Which made me wonder…did he expect me to massage him all sweaty like that?

We entered the office and he said, “You can set up in here.”

“Your housekeeper seems to think my being here is quite funny.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like me to order a massage. And I didn’t mention to her that you were coming. She’s always telling me I need to try to unwind. So she probably thinks she influenced this.”

“I see.” I paused. “I’m Wren McCallister, by the way. But you probably already know that since you requested me?”

He ignored my comment, instead saying, “I’m going to jump in the shower while you set up.”

“Okay.” I smiled.

Grateful to be alone for a bit, and not to have to massage a sweaty person, I blew out a breath and looked around. Holy crap. One side of the room had bookshelves built into almost every inch of the wall. His wooden desk was covered in stacks of papers. The large windows let in a lot of sunshine and provided a beautiful view of the colorful leaves outside. A vibrant Persian-looking area rug covered most of the floor. This office was pretty much the size of half of my house.

After unfolding my table and setting it up in the corner, I fished through my selection of oils, contemplating which one would be most suitable for him. Which scent signified darkly intimidating? I settled on vanilla—smoky and mysterious.

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