“He wants me to go to Cuba with him.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Before I can help myself my mouth drops open in genuine shock.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
Sophie laughs at my apparent surprise. “Yes, I am fucking serious.”
“Okay, well that explains why we are swimsuit shopping in October. How much is he going to pay you?”
“Plane tickets, resort and all expenses are on him. He said he’s going to give me $8000 for the week.”
“Free vacation to Cuba and $8000. Sophie, that is just unbelievable. And you actually like this guy.”
“I know! I really lucked out. And he’s been so incredibly sweet this entire time. I think it’s cool that he was my first overnight and now he’s going to be my first vacation, too.”
“So when do you leave?” I’m trying not to imagine myself on a Cuban beach with a margarita in one hand, second margarita in the other.
“In two weeks. I’ll have to miss a few classes but it won’t be a big deal. Oh god, I have to find my passport. I haven’t used it since I moved, it must be in a box somewhere. What if I can’t find it!?” Panic is rising in her voice. Sophie is really good at misplacing things so her panic is not altogether undeserved.
“Soph, you will find it. Don’t start freaking yourself out for no reason. I’ll even help you look if you need me to. You’re going to find it and even if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you can pay to have it done within a few days.”
“Definitely yeah. So you’re going for a full week?”
“Yep, I should be back the following Monday. I’ll talk to my regulars that I have booked for that week and I’ll tell them I’m going to be too busy that week to meet with them. Stop putting ads up a few days before I leave and obviously don’t put any up while I’m gone. If you get any calls while I’m gone just fake a scratchy voice and say that you’re sick and you’ll be taking a week off to recuperate. If they want you can rebook them for the day after I get back.” She grabs a very skimpy purple bikini, tucking it under her arm while she continues to sort through the swimsuits.
“And then when you meet up with them and you have a spectacular tan, what do you say then? You think maybe they’ll wonder how you managed to get such a sweet tan while sick with the flu?”
“Oh geez Sarah, I hadn’t even thought of that.” she pulls up her sleeve revealing her pale skin. “It’s October, it’s going to look a little weird if I come back a nice shade of brown. Maybe if I layer on the sun block I’ll come back just as white?”
“I honestly doubt that, if I know you at all you’re more likely to come back a brilliant shade of red. I’m not saying it’s not worth a shot to lather on the sun block but you might as well just tell them that you thought some time in a tanning bed would help you get over your illness. Vitamin D and all that.” I resume browsing the swimsuits, picking out a bright orange bikini for her to try on. “It would be kind of sad to come back from a sun soaked vacation and be just as pale as when you left.”
Sophie grabs a hot pink tankini and adds it to her ever increasing pile of bathing suits to try on.
“As long as I don’t come back looking like a lobster I will be overjoyed. You’re right though, I’ll just tell them I thought time in a tanning booth would do me good. I doubt any of them would question it. I’m glad I have you around, you have some good ideas.” She grabs my arm and squeezes, giving me a quick smile before turning back to the rack of suits.
“I hope you don’t think I’m out of line by saying this but I’m the slightest bit worried that this guy is falling for you.” I bite my lip, hoping she doesn’t mind me saying so.
“Why do you say that?” She stops flicking through the clearance rack and looks up at me.
“You first met him a month ago. Since then he has booked you every single week, always more than once. You’ve had, what, two or three full weekend dates with him?” She holds up her fingers to indicate that it’s been three weekends. “Three. What other john’s have spent so much time and so much money on you?”
“None. But I also wasn’t offering weekends before…” A slight frown is spreading across her face and I know she isn’t enjoying this conversation.
“Soph, have you done the math? You do realize that in one month he’s paid you nearly as much as I made last year.”
“I know Sarah, but this happens sometimes. I have regulars that see me four times a month. It’s not that out of place. You have to consider I’m his first escort and he is probably just really excited to finally be getting sex whenever he wants.”
“I understand that and maybe that’s all it is but didn’t you have a date with him last week where you didn’t even have sex? You just talked?” I’m trying to tread carefully, I don’t want to push the issue but I also don’t want to leave these things unsaid.
“That’s not that unusual, Sarah. I’ve had a regular who took me to a dinner and a show and he didn’t want anything afterwards. It does happen and it doesn’t mean that he is in love with me.” The defensive tone in her voice is getting more pronounced with each sentence and I take that as my queue to shut up.
“I’m sure you’re right Soph, but please just be careful. You remember the number one rule of being an escort?”
“Don’t fall in love with your john’s. Trust me, there is no worry of that happening here. I do really like him and maybe if the circumstances were different I could see myself dating him but for heavens sakes Sarah, he PAID ME FOR SEX. How could I ever have a serious relationship with someone who knew I was an escort? I couldn’t deal with it, it would weird me out.” She shakes her head to further her point.
“I am so relieved to hear you say that. The way you’ve been gushing about him has made me the slightest bit worried that maybe you were falling for him. Promise me you won’t ever tell him your real name or any details about your life that could identify you.”
“Of course not. I’d never do something like that. He’s asked me a few times about my name and I’ve always told him it was Carmen. Apparently he had an ex girlfriend with that name. He made a big deal out of it too, said that most escorts don’t use their real names and that Carmen couldn’t really be my name. He asked to see my driver’s license but obviously I didn’t bring it with me, which is good because he asked to look in my purse for it.”
Alarm bells start ringing in my head. “You don’t find that the slightest bit alarming?”
“Not really. He’s an intense guy sometimes. I’m assuming he’ll have forgotten all about it by now. He hasn’t mentioned it in awhile.”
A thought erupted. “Soph, you’re going on vacation with him, what if he asks to see your passport? I mean, he’ll be right there next to you when you’re going through Customs.”
“Oh suck a fuck, I hadn’t thought of that.” she stops for a moment, staring into space, lost in thought. “I guess I’ll just pray that he’s forgotten all about it and I’ll do my best to stay away from him whenever my passport needs to be out. Man, I should have just used my real middle name as my escort name, that way I could just say that I go by my middle name and not my first name.”
“You know, Mary Margaret does have a really sexy ring to it.” We both burst out laughing and our chuckles alert a salesperson to our existence. Looking bored and aloof, the clerk takes the swimsuits from our hands and starts a dressing room. There’s no one else around so I hop into the dressing room with her to save time, otherwise she has to come out and model each one for me.
I turn to face the wall while she undresses and starts the bikini trials.
“I was just reading about an escort who got outed by a john who fell head over heels in love with her. He tried to get her to leave the industry and when she wouldn’t he found out her real name and information and told everyone on her Myspace list that she was a prostitute. He linked to her ads and everything.”
Sophie lets out a gasp. “That poor girl!”
“I’m not trying to freak you out, just want you to be mindful that this stuff happens. People are dicks.”
“I appreciate what you’re trying to do but you don’t have to worry about me so much. I don’t tell my clients anything at all that could help them find out who I am. None of them know I’m in school and I tell anyone who asks that I was born on the other side of the country. I try to be as careful as possible. You have to trust me.”
“Soph, it’s not that I don’t trust your judgment, not at all. I know you’ve got this all under control but you just have to be really careful when you’re spending so much time with this guy. Some insignificant comment about a bar you went to with friends or a university your friend goes to could give someone a big clue on how to find out your identity.”
“And I know that.” There is an edge to her voice now and I think maybe I’ve pushed the issue too far.
“I’m sorry. I know that you know what you’re doing. I’m just being over protective and I’ll stop.”
“It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern, it’s just that I’m aware of all the dangers. Anyways, no hard feelings. Now tell me what you think of this swimsuit.”
I turn around and see that the purple bikini looks amazing on her. “You have to buy that so that I can borrow it and never give it back. I love it.”
Looking at herself in the mirror, Sophie nods her head. “I think you’re right. This one is a keeper for sure. But how about instead of stealing mine, why don’t you just buy your own? It’s on me. I’m in a good mood today.”
“Good. I don’t want you to be mad at me for bringing this stuff up. I just want you to be safe.”
She embraces me in a big bear hug. “I know, Sarah. I appreciate it even if I don’t always act like I do.” I feel much better after having told her my concerns and I’m sure she feels better now that the conversation is over.
“Now turn around if you don’t want to get an eyeful. I have a lot more of these to try on.”