“You didn’t tell me to get eggs. How was I supposed to know?”
I round the corner and Joe is standing looking into the fridge. Sophie is sitting on one of the bar chairs and her head is cradled in front of her on her arms. She doesn’t see me come in and I tip toe the rest of the way to her until I’m directly behind her.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
“GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE!” I holler practically right next to her ear. She shoots up and almost hits me in the nose.
“No, don’t.” Is all she says before collapsing back onto the counter top.
“Not feeling so well this morning, are we Soph?” I ask, making sure to sound as perky and annoying as possible.
“How are you so chipper this morning?” She asks. I don’t bother mentioning that I stopped drinking after our adventure in the hot tub. I also don’t bother mentioning the entire bottle of vodka that her and Joe finished off. When Mike and I finally went to bed sometime around 1am, Sophie and Joe were still in the living room watching old Monty Python movies and drinking. They had developed some kind of drinking game having to do with the movie but the details of it have surely been lost to time.
“It’s a beautiful morning! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping. There’s every reason to be in a good mood.” I say.
Joe lets the fridge door slam and turns towards Sophie and I, leaning his back against the counter. “Princess here doesn’t want the cereal I bought her and instead is demanding eggs. Eggs that I do not have.”
With her head still in her heads Sophie mumbles “I want fried eggs.”
“She wants fried eggs.” I reiterate, helpful as always.
Joe shakes his head, not looking very amused. “Do I need to run back to the store to get you eggs? I’ll do it if it will make you happy.”
Sophie doesn’t respond for a minute and I’m not sure that she’s heard him. I’m about to poke her when she says “No, it’s fine. I’ll just starve to death.”
“Who even wants eggs when they’re hungover? I didn’t think that was possible.” Joe says, shaking his head back and forth. I can’t help but laugh. I agree with him, eggs are the last thing I’d be craving after a night of drinking. There’s something about the texture, it doesn’t sit right with an upset stomach.
“What about chicken fingers and fries?” I say, placing one hand on her shoulder, mostly to make sure she’s still awake and listening to me.
“Okay.” She turns her head in her arms to face me. Her makeup is smeared all over her face and her hair is tied back in a very messy bun.
Joe throws his hands up in defeat and walks from the kitchen to the couch just behind us. “I give up. You feed her.”
“I know what she likes on mornings such as this.” I reach into the freezer and grab the bag of fries and chicken fingers that Mike had bought for me. Grabbing a tray from under the oven, I dump the entire bag of fries onto it and then arrange the chicken fingers above it.
“What are you doing? You’re worse than my kids. The fries and the chicken fingers won’t cook like that.” He sighs.
“You only have one tray!” I say. I don’t bother to mention that this is usually how I cook them, even if I had two trays.
“No no, we must have more than that.” Joe hoists himself off the couch and looks in a cupboard, finally pulling out another baking tray. “See.” He stands directly next to me and starts moving the chicken fingers onto the new tray. I’m trapped between him and the fridge and all I can do is wait for him to leave before I can move. His arm brushes my chest twice and my heart starts beating faster. I wish Sophie hadn’t told me anything about Joe’s dream, she knows I can’t handle knowing stuff like that. “Did you start the oven preheating?”
“No, I prefer to cook the Sarah way.” I say.
“And what way is that? Just throw everything in, start the oven and hope for the best?” He says, sounding slightly less frustrated.
“Yes, exactly. I see you are familiar with it already.”
“How do you know when anything is done if you don’t follow the instructions?” He says.
“Who needs instructions? Fries and chicken fingers are better when slightly overcooked.”
“So you don’t even set a timer?” He says, sounding a bit more perplexed.
“No.” I say, smiling up at him.
“She’s actually a pretty decent cook, leave her alone.” Sophie says, not bothering to lift her head. It takes Joe a second to piece together what she’s said.
“Okay, okay. Just trying to help.” He looks at me and throws both hands in the air, backing away from the oven. “It’s not like I’m eating any of that junk, burn it or under cook it all you want.”
“Thank you, you are a very kind host.” I say. He laughs and heads out to the porch, closing the sliding door behind us.
“What’s he doing?” I say.
“Probably going for his morning cigar. Or maybe he’s going into the hot tub. Or maybe he’s doing both. I don’t know. Are the chicken fingers done yet?”
“Sophie, you know very well that I just put them in the oven.” I say, realizing that I haven’t even turned on the oven yet. I set it to 400F.
“Well, hurry up!”
“No problem, I’ll turn it to broil for you.” I say, completely joking. One of the last times that we had cooked chicken fingers we were absolutely hammered and decided to turn the oven to broil so they would cook faster. We ended up forgetting about the food entirely and almost burned the kitchen down.
A faint chuckle can be heard from underneath her arms. “Put it to broil. We won’t forget this time. Maybe.”
“Soph, are you ever going to come out of there? You know I can barely hear you right?” I say.
“It’s just so bright. I’ll come out when the sun is gone.” She says, still mumbling into her arms.
“Why are you awake anyways, you went to bed hours after we did.”
“I dunno. Why is Mike still sleeping?” She says.
“He doesn’t get to sleep in very often, what with school and work. I told him that if he woke up before noon he would be in trouble and I wouldn’t make him dinner.”
“What’s for dinner, anyways?” She says. I’m shocked as to how she can even think of eating, seeing as she appears to have one killer hangover.
“Your face is green and you’re curious as to what we are going to have for dinner?” I ask.
She raises her head just enough to glare at me. “Since when has being hungover ever stopped me from eating dinner?”
I could think of a time or two but decide not to bring up those unpleasant memories. “True enough. I’m making marinated chicken breasts, potato salad and garlic sauteed mushrooms.”
“That does sound good.” She plops her head back onto her arms. “Sarah?”
“Make the potato salad now.”
My eyes almost roll right back into my head. Sophie loves my potato salad, so does Mike, however she always manages to complain if I don’t make it hours ahead of time. She swears that it doesn’t taste as great if the flavours don’t have time to marry.
“Okay Soph, no problem. Why don’t you go onto the couch and have a little lie down?” She doesn’t answer me and I’m not sure that she’s still awake. I debate going to wake up Mike but decide against it, he really doesn’t get many chances to sleep in and I don’t want to ruin this one. I decide to go outside and steal a puff or two from Joe’s cigar.
Walking outside I’m hit by the cold morning air. “Wow, feels colder than it was last night.”
“You also don’t have any alcohol in your system this morning. Wait, do you?” He says, realizing that maybe I’m crazy enough to wake up and get right to drinking.
“No, I don’t start in on the alcohol until after lunch usually.”
“I think Sophie is out for the count today. Looks like it will just be you, Mike and myself drinking.” He says.
“Oh, I wouldn’t count Sophie out so fast. She’ll start rebounding in the early afternoon and she will probably be drinking us all under the table by dinner.”
“You girls are wild. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two girls like alcohol as much as you both do.” He says, shaking his head and sliding his right hand into his pocket.
“Come on! We’re not that bad. Besides, we’ve both made a pact that we will become much more moderate with our drinking once we turn 25.”
Joe laughs. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”
“Are you planning on being around for that long?” I don’t know what came over me to say that but as soon as the words leave my mouth I realize that I may have made a mistake.
“What do you mean?” He says, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
“I dunno… just…” What can I say to backtrack? I can’t tell him what I really meant. That he’s a customer, not a true friend and that he will be gone as soon as he loses interest or as soon as he finds another blonde escort to distract himself with.
“I know what you meant. I will admit that Sophie’s not my first escort and I don’t know if she’ll be my last but I’m going to be here for her for as long as she’ll let me. Maybe you know something I don’t?”
“What? No, no. I just… Fuck.” I grab for his cigar and he passes it to me. “Sorry.”
“I just like to see you sweat. Don’t worry about it, Sarah. Sophie and I are both enjoying this arrangement. I hope that I will still be a part of both of your lives when you turn 25 so that I can remind you of these words that you have spoken to me here today.”
“I shouldn’t have said anything, I have the biggest mouth. I didn’t even need to say anything, but I still managed to put my foot in my mouth.”
“You’re just worried about your friend. I know it’s not easy to be in your position. You probably worry about her non stop. I know I do.” He says.
“Yeah, are you surprised? I want her to get out of escorting and just be my mistress but she’s not interested in that.”
“She’s fiercely independent. She wants to pay for school and have enough left over to get her started in life.” I say.
“I can provide her with that.” He says.
“But so can a lot of her other johns.”
“I don’t know why but it stings to be called that.”
“Fuck. Sorry. I should just stop talking.” I say, shaking my head again as if to stop myself from thinking up these stupid things that I keep saying.
“No, no. Don’t be silly.” He grabs the cigar back from me and takes a long pull on it. A tiny bit of my lipstick is stuck to the mouth of the cigar and I wonder why I bothered to put on lipstick anyways, it’s not even noon yet.
“I just meant that… she doesn’t want to be someone’s mistress. I think it bothers her more than she lets on. If she’s an escort, it’s one thing. If she’s someones dedicated mistress I think that adds something to the arrangement that she doesn’t want.”
“I think you know her very well, Sarah. You are a good friend to her and I am glad that she has you to watch out for her. It is a lonely profession, most girls seem to keep it a secret and have no one to turn to.”
“I’m glad she told me about it. I worry about her but I know she has it under control.” I say, grabbing the cigar from him for one last puff. “Joe… You know that Mike doesn’t know anything about her secret life, right?”
“Sophie was very clear that Mike thinks that she is my girlfriend on the side. I feel that she is, I care for Sophie very much so it’s not hard to go along with that story. All she has to do is say the words and I would make it so she would never have to work again.”
“I just wanted to make sure that you knew not to say anything around Mike. He’s a great guy and maybe eventually I will tell him but it’s her secret and I don’t want it getting out.” I say.
“Her secret is safe with me. I really like Mike, he’s a great guy. You two seem very happy together.”
“We are.” I can’t help but smile when I think of Mike.
“You both can come up here anytime you like. Just text me and I’ll come drop off the key.”
“Thank you Joe, that’s very sweet of you.” I say, very impressed by the generous offer.
“I was thinking about it a bit more this morning when I was lying in bed and I think that you should rent this place out for me.”
“Yeah. I’ll give you 20% of the rental price for every booking you make.”
“Really?” I ask, looking around. “This place will rent for a fortune.”
“That’s the plan. I’ll give you the housekeepers number, you can arrange everything with her to come and clean up after guests. I don’t want to be involved besides to take my money every month. Is that agreeable to you?”
“Of course. That’s amazing. I’m so glad you’re interested in renting it out, it’s such an amazing place. We’ll get this place earning you money in no time.”
“I know how well you’ve managed Sophie, I know you’ll do just fine.”
“Thank you Joe.” I’m about to thank him some more when Sophie slides open the sliding glass door, leans her head against the door and opens one eye to look at me.
“I think the chicken fingers are burning.”
“My job is never done.” I pass the cigar back to Joe, give him a squeeze on the shoulder and head into the house, where I confirm that the chicken fingers are burning.
Sophie closes the door behind me, leaving Joe out to finish his cigar on his own.
“What were you guys talking about?”
“Oh you know, the usual. Politics and fad diets.”
“No seriously, what were you talking about. I heard my name mentioned more than once.”
I look over my shoulder quickly to double check that Joe is still outside and has no intention of coming in anytime soon. “He was telling me that he’d make you his mistress and get you out of the business entirely if that’s what you wanted.”
“Yeah, that’s not news. What else were you talking about?”
“He wants me to rent out this place for him.” I say, smiling.
“Good, I’m glad. You know you might have to deal with his wife though right?”
“Yeah, he had mentioned it to me awhile ago. He even thought of asking me to do it but first of all, I’m way too busy and second of all, he said his wife would probably want to get involved in some way.”
“Fuck. Sophie, I can’t work with his wife.” I say, shocked.
“Who cares, you’ll make a lot of money.” She shrugs.
“That will be so awkward.”
“Tell him you don’t want to do it then.”
“But…” Even if the wife is involved, I want to do this. It would be easy, interesting work and the money would be good.
“Yeah, think about the money first then make your decision. Who cares, it’s not like you’re fucking her husband.”
“I’d still feel guilty.” I say,
“Oh, you’ll get over that at some point.”