Mike and I are watching a movie in bed when my phone rings. It’s all the way across the room so we spend a minute arguing over who should go get it and by the time Mike gets up and throws it at me it’s stopped ringing. I open up my phone to see that it was Sophie calling from Carmen’s phone. When she calls back I pick it up on the first ring.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
“Do you ever pick up your phone the first time around?”
“It would appear not. What’s up?”
“This 7pm appointment is not answering his phone. I’m not going in unless I can talk to him. Can you confirm the number for me?”
“Sure, it’s in your room right?”
“Is Mike right there?” She says.
“Yes.” I hold the phone away from my face for a moment. “Mike, I have to grab something for Sophie. One second, okay?” I hold the phone back up to my ear and head to her room, shutting the door behind me. “Give me a second, I need to access our records from your computer and of course your computer is not turned on.”
“Sorry. Bad habit. I’ll try to leave it on from now on.”
“Looking at your calendar I can see his name is John Stack for 6pm at the Travelodge.”
“I’m here right now and I know the room number but I’m not going in until I talk to him first.”
Finally the computer boots up and I find our spreadsheet of customers.
“Okay, tell me his number and I’ll check if it’s the same.” She reads out the number and I confirm that it’s the same. “Do you want me to email him?”
“Yeah, tell him that he needs a working phone number for me to call him on before I’ll show up.”
“Okay no problem. Are you going to just come home then?” I ask.
“Yeah, are you guys busy? Do you want me to find something else to do?”
“We’re just hanging out in my room. You’re welcome to join us, we have our clothes on and everything.”
“Oh my God. Oh my fucking God. It’s Jeff. It’s Jeff. It’s fucking Jeff.” She says, the words hurtling out of her mouth.
“What? What do you mean?”
“He’s the 6pm. I just saw him come out of the hotel room and look around. Fuck!”
“Did he see you? Sophie, did he see you? Get out of there!”
“No, he didn’t see me. At least I don’t think he did. Fuck! I need to get out of here. I have to go, I need to call a cab.”
“Do you want me to come get you?”
“No, I’m fine. I think I just spotted an empty cab. I’ll be right home. Fuck.”
“I won’t email him then.”
“No, don’t say shit to him. I’ll deal with it when I get back.” She hangs up and I give myself a minute to gather my thoughts before heading back to my bedroom. I look through his emails again, trying to see if there were any hints that it was Jeff. The email provider is different to the one Jeff used to use, even the way this person talks seems different. Jeff’s getting better at deception. When I think of how long Jeff has been chasing Sophie, a cold shiver runs down my spine. He should be over it by now, not trying to think of new ways to trick her into meeting him. What if he’s become more angry? What if he intended to do more than just talk with her once she got there? I can’t bear to sit there and have a lighthearted chat with Mike so I walk back to my room and tell him I feel like having a quick shower. He asks me if I want him to join me and I say no, I’m actually going to use Sophie’s shower. I know if she comes home while I’m in there we’ll have an opportunity to talk. I give him a kiss on the forehead before heading back to Sophie’s room.
I can’t help myself and I type up an email to Jeff, making sure to save it to drafts and not send it. I let out all my frustration and write him a nasty email, telling him that if he doesn’t back off we are going to have to devise some way to make him stop. I’m sure that Sophie won’t let me send the email but it makes me feel better just to have written it up. I hear the front door open and a moment later Sophie is at the door to her bedroom, looking like she’s seen a ghost.
“Hey. I told Mike I was going to have a shower in here. Come into the bathroom with me.” I head into the bathroom and turn the shower on. We both seat ourselves on the edge of the bathtub, Sophie facing the wall and me facing Sophie.
“Is this ever going to stop?” She says.
“I don’t know, hun.”
“I mean, what were his intentions? Did he just want to talk? Or did he want to kill me?”
“I’m sure he didn’t want to kill you but I can’t help but wonder what his actual plans were.” I admit.
“I keep thinking about what would have happened if I had gone in to the hotel room.”
“I’m so glad you didn’t! You’re always very careful.”
“How did you miss this, Sarah?” She says, a definite tone in her voice.
“How did he get by you?”
“Well, he must know the person he was impersonating. The phone number he gave matches the name on the email and everything. Whoever this John Stack is, he is a real person. Maybe a coworker of Jeff’s?”
“Maybe. Sorry. I didn’t mean to accuse you of dropping the ball I just don’t understand how this happened.”
“He impersonated someone. He could do it again for all we know.”
“What can we do though? I can’t stick to just seeing my regulars.”
“We make sure that each and every client talks to one of us beforehand. Jeff has a distinctive voice, I doubt he’d be able to hide it convincingly.”
“What if he gets someone else to call for him?” She says.
“Do you think he would do that? Get someone to call an escort for him? I doubt it.”
“I have no idea what he would do at this point. I guess I should just be thankful that he hasn’t gone back to my parents since he knows where they live.”
“I drafted up an email that I really want to send to him, telling him to fuck off.”
“What good will that do?” She says, shaking her head.
“I dunno. Show him that we mean business?”
“Or just make him more angry and desperate.”
“Do you think we should contact the police?”
“I can’t do that, Sarah. I can’t call the police and admit I’m an escort.”
“What if we told the police that you’re his ex girlfriend and he’s going around telling everyone that you’re an escort and harassing you? That might work.”
“They’d probably need statements from my family and friends to prove it. It’s too risky. I can’t go to the police.”
“This is fucked. Escorting shouldn’t be illegal. So you’re just supposed to hope this guy doesn’t find you and hurt you? That’s bullshit.”
“I can’t let him win. I have to keep escorting. I can’t just stick to my regulars either, I need new customers to make this apartment worth it.”
“I’ll just be more careful. We’ll never book someone off email again, from now on they have to call.”
“I’m sorry if I snapped at you earlier. I know it’s not your fault. You’ve always done a great job, I shouldn’t be such a bitch just because I’m stressed.” She says.
“You have every right to be stressed. Seriously.” A thought comes to mind. “Oh shit, I just realized that Mike is going to be very curious as to how I got out of a twenty minute shower without my hair wet. I better hop in.” Sophie just nods and I turn my back to her, strip and get in the shower. The water is warm but not quite hot enough for me so I adjust the dial until the bathroom starts to fill with steam. Sophie turns on the second fan and in a heartbeat all the steam is gone from the room.
“That is some kind of impressive fan.” I say, wiping the steam from my shower door so that I can see Sophie. “Why don’t you have a nice hot bath, Soph? Might make you feel better.”
“Actually that sounds like a good idea.” She grabs a clip from the drawer next to the sink and twirls her long blonde hair into a bun, which she then clips into place. When she turns on the tap for the bathtub the water pressure drops for only a split second then resumes.
“Should we keep calling that phone number? Maybe the actual owner will answer at some point and tell us what his relationship with Jeff is.”
“Do you think we should?” She asks.
“Wouldn’t it set your mind at ease to know who his accomplice is?”
“Probably. Yeah, I guess you should do that. Not tonight though, I don’t want to deal with it tonight. Call him as soon as Mike is gone tomorrow and see if anyone picks up.”
“I think I’m going to text Joseph and see if he wants to come by.”
“That should help you get your mind off of Jeff.”
“He wanted to see me tonight but I told him I had a date. He’ll be glad that I’m free. He said his wife was at her sisters with the kids tonight.”
“Maybe he’ll take you to his apartment so you can see how the really rich live.”
“I don’t want to go up there. Ever.” She says with ice in her voice.
“Yeah? I don’t think I’d want to either.”
“It kind of weirds me out. I don’t want to see where his family lives and I definitely don’t want to see pictures of his wife and kids.”
“That would be kind of weird.” I decide to forgo the shampoo but a little conditioner never hurt anyone so I squeeze a giant blob onto my hand and start working it into my hair. “I wonder if he’s the type of guy who would get off on fucking on his marital bed.”
“No, I don’t think so. He’s not exactly proud of cheating on his wife. He said they used to have a very good sex life but ever since the last kid was born they barely touch each other.”
“Maybe it was postpartum that never really got better?”
“Who knows. I can’t judge because I’m not in her shoes but I get the impression that she wants a divorce but doesn’t want to give up the lifestyle.”
“Couldn’t she just leave him and take half of everything he owns?”
“No, he’s from old money so his parents insisted on a solid prenup. If she leaves I don’t think she gets much of anything.”
“Imagine staying with someone just because you don’t want to make it on your own in life.” I say, sure that I would never make the same choice.
“Maybe she loves him, who knows. I only know what he tells me, right. I just get one side of the story.” I turn around and see that Sophie is now in the bathtub, leaning back with her eyes closed. “Even with how pissed off I am about Jeff right now, I am still so overjoyed to be soaking in this tub. This place is a fantasy.”
“I know, and can you believe it, we both have the taps going and there’s no issue. It’s enough to get me all teary eyed.”
“One day we should put every single tap in the house on full blast and see what happens.”
“For science, of course.” I give my hair one last rinse under the stream and turn off the shower. I flip my head over and wrap my long hair in a towel before stepping out of the shower in search of another towel. There are none within reaching distance so I step carefully towards the linen closet, grabbing the biggest body towel I can find. “I guess I should go back and see if Mike’s still alive. If you need me, just come get me or send me a text and I’ll make an excuse to come hang out.”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Joseph will probably still be free and if he’s not, he’ll ditch his plans to come get his weekly freebie.”
“Who can blame him. I bet the one thing better than having sex with you is having sex with you and not having to pay for it.”
Sophie laughs and puts her face in her hands. “Oh my god, you make me laugh. Get out of here before I decide that Mike has to go home and we need to have a girls night.”
“Alright. Love you. Seriously, come hang out with us if Joseph is busy, okay? And don’t worry about sex noises, I already told Mike all about your rich boyfriend so he’s well aware that you’ll be doing sex in there sometimes.”
“What did you tell him about Carmen’s bedroom?”
“I just said that you guys have a special kinky room that we aren’t allowed to go into.”
“I’ll try not to be too loud. I’m not much in the mood for theatrics anyways.”
I blow her a kiss and tip toe back to my room. He turns to look at me when I walk in and when he sees me wearing nothing but a towel he smiles.
“What do I have to do to get you out of that?”