“Mike wins, which is not exactly a surprise.” Charlie says, giving Mike a congratulatory pat on the back.
“You are way too good at bowling Mike, what’s your deal?” Mel asks, hands on her hips. She has a competitive streak and absolutely hates losing.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
“I used to play a lot as a teenager. Frank did too, even though you probably couldn’t tell from watching him play.” Mike says, looking at Frank and smirking.
Frank pretends to be hurt by Mike’s comment and turns to Mel. “We don’t have to stand for this, let’s get out of here.”
“Oh, you’re just a sore loser. Even I beat you and I’ve bowled maybe ten times in my entire life.” Mel squeezes his hand and they wave at us and say goodbye before turning and heading out the door.
“I did just as terribly as I thought I would.” I say, looking around the seating area one last time to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. “I’ll take Sophie home. Mike, do you want to come to my house after or what?”
“Sure, my house is a disgusting mess so it’s probably a good idea that we don’t go there. I don’t want you seeing how bachelors really live.” He smiles and I don’t bother mentioning that my place isn’t the cleanest at the moment because I know that no matter how bad my place is, his will be infinitely worse.
“You guys don’t want to go for a drink or something? I’m buying.” Charlie asks, looking directly at Sophie who is staring off into space, clearly not following the conversation.
By this point I’ve gathered that Charlie is completely smitten with Sophie but while she has been polite to him, she hasn’t given him any signs that she’s interested. I already know that all Sophie wants is to go home so I tell Charlie that I’m absolutely knackered and that we should set up another time to go out for drinks. He seems pleased with the answer and tells Sophie and I how nice it was to meet us and that he hopes to see us again soon. Mike tells me that he’s going to walk Charlie to his car and that he’ll meet me at my place in twenty. I playfully shake Sophie out of her stupor and lead her outside towards my car.
“Are you feeling any better?” I ask once I’m sure there’s no one around to overhear us.
“I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“You can’t let yourself dwell on this for too long. Seriously. If you do, then he wins.” I unlock the driver’s side door and hop in, reaching over to unlock the door for Sophie.
Sitting down, she reclines her seat and closes her eyes. “I realize that but I’m freaked out. I thought he had moved on.”
“Maybe he has and maybe he just wants to apologize? Maybe he has finally realized what a psychopath he’s been?” I turn the engine on and pull out of the parking lot.
“I wish I could believe that but I’m not so sure.”
“What are you going to do? Maybe you should email him and see what he wants? Tell him to please leave you alone?”
“If I start talking to him again, that will only give him more reason to keep coming after me.”
I’m not sure if she’s right but I don’t push the subject any further and we drive in silence for the rest of the trip. “Well, here we are.” I put the car in park and turn towards her. “Whatever happens, I’ll be here for you. Don’t worry. We’re never going back to that bar again. This is a pretty big city and I doubt he’ll be able to track you down again.”
“I’m sure you’re right. I’m going to try to get some sleep. Can you do me a favour and not book me for any new clients for the next week? Just regulars?”
“Of course. You have a regular tomorrow at 8pm, and a new guy who wanted to book you for Wednesday. I’ll give him an excuse.” I don’t say anything but I’m worried that if she keeps blowing off new clients and anyone who isn’t a regular that I might have to find a part time job. That’s not her problem though and this is definitely not the time to say it so I keep it to myself.
“Thank you Sarah. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She gives me a weak smile before getting out of the car and I’ll make sure to call her in the morning before she goes to class to see how she is doing.
It doesn’t take me long to get to my house and I see that Mike’s car is already here. I hurry up to my apartment where I find him sitting with his back against my door and his eyes closed.
“Hey stranger.” He smiles up at me.
“Were you waiting long?” I say as I start searching through my purse for my apartment keys.
“No, I just got here a few minutes ago. Charlie and I stopped for coffee. I brought you an iced coffee and donuts.” He stands up and moves away from the door, grabbing the drinks and bag off of the floor. “I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to get you a coffee this late but if you don’t drink it, I will.”
The door swings open and Mike waits for me to walk in first. He locks the door behind us and heads straight to the couch.
“Pardon the mess. I know it’s not quite as bad as your place but it’s not exactly clean. My mom would freak out if she knew that I had guests over with dirty dishes in the sink.”
“Don’t worry about that, just choose a movie and then come sit with me.”
I know that there’s already a movie in the DVD player so I turn on the TV, grab the remote and cuddle up next to him.
“So who is Carmen?” he asks before I have a chance to press play.
“Carmen? What do you mean? Where did you hear that name?” I try to hide the panic in my voice but hearing him say that name is a shock.
“You and Sophie were talking the other day and I heard you mention that you’d thought that you had lost the cell phone charger for Carmen’s phone.” He says, grabbing a donut from the bag and taking a bite.
I remember the conversation that he’s talking about. Sophie had been over for a few drinks and once Mike had showed up she’d went to leave. Both of us were a little tipsy and were having a quick good bye conversation at the door. I thought Mike had gone into the bathroom so I assumed that it was safe to mention to Sophie that I had misplaced the cell phone charger earlier that day and was sure I had lost it before finding it under my bed. Sophie said she had an extra one at her place in case that ever happened again but I had replied saying that I should buy an extra charger for my house just in case. I have an unparallelled talent for losing things, especially cell phone chargers.
“Oh… yeah.” My mind starts racing. What do I tell him? We haven’t been dating long enough for me to be able to trust him with the truth. If he told Frank, Frank would tell Mel and Mel… well, she would tell everyone. I try my best to look nonchalant as I think of a lie. “Sophie has a friend from school, her name is Carmen. She came over one night and left her cell phone charger here and then I couldn’t find it anywhere and I was sure that I had lost it.” Not a bad lie. I give myself an imaginary pat on the back and smile at him sweetly.
“But then why did you say that you should buy an extra charger for Carmen in case you lose it again?” Mike looks confused now.
“Oh, you must have misheard me, I meant that I’d probably end up having to buy her another charger. You know, because I thought I had lost it.”
“But if you had already found the charger, why would you need to buy a second one just in case?” He looks confused.
“No, see, I hadn’t found it at that point. I was saying in case I didn’t find it I’d have to buy her another one.”
“Oh. I must have misheard you because I thought I heard you say that you thought you had lost it. It sounded like you had found it but still wanted to buy a second charger just in case you lost it again. And then Sophie said that she had an extra charger for Carmen’s phone at home which confused me even more. Anyways, my bad, I must have heard wrong. It’s not my business anyways, I’ve just been thinking of it for awhile now trying to figure out what the hell you guys were talking about and who Carmen is and why you’d need two cell chargers for her.”
“No, no, you must have misheard. I guess that’s what you get for eavesdropping.” I playfully punch him in the arm and he grabs my hand and looks me in the eye.
“Sorry Sarah, I really didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation. I was lying in your bed waiting for you and couldn’t help but overhear. You girls get significantly louder when you’ve had a few drinks in you.”
“Don’t worry about it.” I give Mike a kiss on the cheek and press play. My eyes are focused on the movie but my mind is a million miles away. I’ve tried so hard to be discrete and keep all of this from him and one stupid conversation could have ruined all that. Even though I try not to use my laptop around Mike, I’ve still had to remove all of my bookmarks to the sites I post on for Sophie and I’ve become extremely vigilant about erasing my history. He’s only used my laptop a few times but each time he does I become panicked, certain that I’ve left some damning evidence out in the open for him to find. All the care I’ve taken to try to prevent him from ever finding out about Sophie’s profession could have been for nothing, all because of one stupid conversation that could have blown our cover completely. I try to think about it from his point of view, what does he think we were talking about? Who does he think Carmen is? Eventually I start to calm down once I realize that there is almost no chance that he would ever assume that the conversation he overheard meant what it really meant. I grab his hand and squeeze and resolve to be more careful.