“When are you going to tell Mike?” Sophie asks, taking a sip from her water bottle and returning it to the desk.
“Why, can’t I just avoid him forever?” I joke.
“I don’t think so, Sarah. How long has it been since you guys saw each other?”
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
I glance up at my calendar and count the days. “Five. That’s not that bad.”
“Before this, what was the longest that you guys had gone without seeing each other?”
“A few days. It’s not that big of a deal. I’ll tell him about this soon enough.”
“What are you so worried about? You don’t even have to bring him here right away if you aren’t ready to tell him about it, you can bring him back to your place.”
“With half of my stuff gone? Yeah, he wouldn’t question that at all.” I say, rolling my eyes.
“Go out for dinner with him and go back to his place after. I don’t care what you do but you need to see him soon or he’s going to start wondering what the hell is going on.” Her voice is quite stern and I’m very aware that I’m being lectured.
“Yeah, I guess…”
“The longer you put off seeing him the more suspicious he is going to get. You should just tell him about our new place and get it over with. What’s the worst that is going to happen?”
“He figures out you’re an escort and tells Frank who in turn tells Mel, who in turn tells everyone. Literally everyone.” I say, reminding her of the risk.
“No way, Mike wouldn’t do that, he seems like a sweetheart. That’s not going to happen. What’s the second worst thing you can think of?” She says, completely blowing off my concern.
“I dunno, I guess I’m just worried about him buying this story.”
“Is it so hard to believe that I have a rich and generous boyfriend?” She says, narrowing her eyes at me.
“Then what’s the problem? He knows that I’m single and not looking, he’ll just think that I’ve been dating this secret man all along and that explains why I’m not interested in any of his friends.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Stop worrying about it.”
“I’m not worried I just want you to feel at home here and if you’re avoiding bringing your boyfriend over that is proof that you are not settling in.”
“Woman!”I say, slightly exasperated. “We just moved in. Cool your jets. I’ll get around to it. Look, I’ll text him right now and ask if he wants to go out for dinner tonight. How’s that?”
“Good. Just remember I have clients here from 5pm to 8pm. Joseph is my last appointment for the day so it’s entirely possible that he’ll be here past 8. Just a heads up in case you want to bring him back after, maybe call me first and make sure he’s gone.”
“We’ll see. We’ll probably just go back to his place or something.” I grab my cell phone and send Mike a quick text asking what his plans are for the evening. He replies almost right away saying he’s free and he hope’s that I am too. “There, we have a date. Are you happy?”
“Yes, very. Don’t be worried about what he thinks, he’s a man. They tend to not over think things. He’s going to take everything you tell him at face value. I guarantee it.”
“I’m sure you’re right.” I say, hoping that she is right.
“I really have to go, I was supposed to be at school thirty minutes ago.” She says looking at her watch.
“It’s hard to leave this place, huh?” I say with a big smile on my face, looking around at my bedroom which still manages to impress me even after almost a week of living here.
“It really is. If only I never had to leave!” She says, getting up from her chair and sliding it back in under the desk. “I already took the sheets off of Carmen’s bed, if you could replace them with some clean ones that would be great.”
“No problem.” It had become part of my duties to make sure that Carmen’s room was always ready for the next client. Sophie always removed the soiled sheets and put them in a laundry basket so thankfully I barely had to touch them. Putting on new sheets and cleaning the garbage bin became some of my new job duties. I didn’t mind, it seemed a fair enough trade off. I help with maid service and in return I get to live here. “Have fun at school.”
“I definitely won’t. Since I won’t see you when I get back, have fun on your date and I’ll see you later. I hope that when you come home you bring Mike with you.” I nod and wave at her. As soon as she’s gone I refocus my attention on the email I had been typing. A new client who wanted to see Carmen for a three hour appointment tomorrow, which is a long appointment for a first timer to make. He’s left no phone number to reach him at so I request one, knowing Sophie will never accept a client who has not been checked out first. A few minutes after sending out the email I receive a reply with a phone number. He requests that I not call him on it right now as it’s a home number. I check the number and confirm that the name on record is the same as the name he has given me. Satisfied that he is who he says he is, I book him an appointment for tomorrow at 6pm at a hotel not too far down the road from here. Ever since I began posting Carmen’s ads again we’ve had a huge influx of new customers. I guess she’s been off of the listings long enough that the men who are new to the hobby think that she’s fresh meat. I don’t bother to correct their assumptions, it’s nice to be busy again and back to work. I’ve missed waking up and checking Carmen’s emails. The routine of deleting and replacing all the ads had become second nature to me and it feels good to get back into the old groove of things.
I make quick work of the rest of the emails, most are just inquiries asking about the services she offers. One is from a semi-regular who is asking if he can see her on Tuesday of next week. I mark the request on her calendar and fill in the rest of the confirmed dates. The calendar is usually in Sophie’s room but during the day while I’m making appointments I’ll bring it into my room and update it. After I turn off my computer I grab the calendar and bring it back to Sophie’s room, highlighting the new appointments in yellow before hanging it on her wall. It doesn’t take me very long to change the bedding in Carmen’s room and throw the dirty stuff into our in-unit laundry machine, which is located at the back of Sophie’s gigantic bathroom next to the linen closet. In unit laundry may not seem like a big deal but when I found out that there was a brand new washer and dryer in our apartment I nearly cried for joy. My old apartment didn’t even have a laundromat in it so I’d end up having to drag all of my dirty clothes to the laundromat down the street. After a couple years of this inconvenience you’d think that I would have become used to it but the truth is I would curse my choice of apartment every single time I was forced to due my laundry.
I spend the rest of the day reading magazines, finishing up our laundry and setting up Carmen’s room. I like to check that the fridge is always restocked with water bottles, a variety of pop and munchies, a little detail that I’m sure her clients appreciate. I spritz the bedspread with an expensive perfume and give the room one more look over before leaving and closing the door behind me. I do a walk through of the apartment in case I do decide to bring Mike back here tonight. I can’t find anything that would be the least bit suspicious and satisfied, I grab my purse and lock the door behind me. There is an elderly woman already waiting at the elevator, a small purse in one hand and a cane in the other. I haven’t seen her before so I introduce myself.
“Hello, my name is Sarah, I just moved in.” I say, smiling sweetly at her.
“Hello Sarah. I’m Dorothy. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Did you move in with your family?”
“No, it’s just myself and my friend, Sophie.”
“Oh. That’s a lot of apartment for two little girls.” She says, not bothering to hide her surprise.
I can’t think of a response but thankfully the elevator doors open up and I slip inside without another word.
Dorothy is not taking my silence as an answer though. “I just mean that it’s quite a fancy getup for someone your age.”
“Oh, yes. These are lovely apartment buildings.” I debate if I should make up a story about how we are rich trust fund brats whose parents decided to rent us one of the most expensive apartments in the city but instead I just smile at her and press the lobby button. It’s really none of her business.
“Quite expensive too. So what do you do for a living, to be able to afford an apartment like this?”
The elevator door opens and I’ve never been more grateful to see the big silver doors slide open.
“Oh, you know. This and that. It’s been lovely talking to you! Have a splendid day.” I flash her a big smile and book it towards the underground parking, knowing she has no hope of matching my speed. I’ll have to remember to tell Sophie about this lady. We will have to come up with a very interesting and very improbable story to tell the old lady the next time we run into her. As I drive to the restaurant I run through some ideas in my head. Maybe we inherited the apartment from a very rich Aunt. Perhaps we are rich debutantes from the Southern U.S who are here to learn how to speak without an accent. The possibilities are endless. I pull up to the restaurant and when I see Mike outside waiting for me my heart skips a beat. He notices my car and walks over, opening the door before I have a chance to.
“I almost didn’t recognize you, it’s been so long.” He says, a smirk on his lips.
“I know, I’m sorry.” I step out of the car and he wraps me in a giant bear hug. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you. I was starting to worry that you didn’t want to see me anymore.”
“About that…” I pretend to frown.
“You’re not serious…”
“Of course not.” I smile and squeeze his hand. “What reason would I ever have to break up with you? You’re such a sweetheart. I’ve just been busy.”
He shuts the car door behind me and follows me into the restaurant. It’s quite busy for a weeknight and the waitress ushers us to a small table in the back.
“What have you been busy with? I haven’t seen you in almost a week.” He says once we’ve sat down.
I decide that it’s now or never. I either have to tell him the truth or keep on lying. I can’t bear to keep on lying to him so I decide to give him the truth. “There’s actually something I need to talk to you about.”
“Are you really breaking up with me?” He says, his face frozen in anticipation.
“No, I’m not, stop thinking that! If we were breaking up you would know it.” I reach across and grab his hand. “I haven’t been completely honest with you though and I do feel very badly about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Last week Sophie came over and kind of dropped this bomb on me. It turns out that she’s been dating this rich guy and he’s offered to rent her a luxury apartment.”
“Wow, good for her.”
“Except that she didn’t want to live there alone so she asked me to move in with her.”
“And? Are you going to?” He asks.
“That’s the thing. I’ve already moved in with her.”
“You’re living with Sophie right now?”
“In a luxury apartment paid for by her rich lover?”
“Yes.” I say. I can’t tell if he’s mad or not.
“You didn’t think to tell me any of this?”
“It’s not that, it’s just been a crazy week, what with moving and everything.”
“So you moved and didn’t even think to ask me for help?”
“Trust me, we really could have used your help. It just all happened so fast and I barely even had time to process it. I mean, one day she was showing me the apartment and the next day we were moving in.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“I didn’t know how to tell you, it’s a strange situation to be in. Sophie doesn’t want anyone to know about this apartment or this boyfriend so she’s asked me to keep my apartment rented under my name so we can both pretend to live there.”
“That’s kind of strange.” His eyes narrow. “So are you living at both apartments?”
“My stuff is mostly at the new apartment but I do still have furniture at my old place.”
“When were you going to tell me about all of this?”
“I’m telling you right now!” I say.
“Nearly a week later. I did not expect to see you today and hear that you had moved.”
“Is it that big of a deal?”
He thinks for a moment. “No. I’m just surprised, that’s all. So I have to keep my mouth shut about your cool new apartment?”
“That’s the thing I’ve been having trouble with, I know it puts you in an awkward position where you might have to lie to your roommates. If Frank ever found out he’d tell Mel, and Mel would freak out.”
“You can trust me with this, I won’t say a word.” He says, squeezing my hand.
“I feel really responsible for keeping her secret.”
“What will you do if any of your girlfriends want to come over and hang out?”
“We’ll go to my old apartment. It won’t happen very often though, we all rarely hang out at our houses aynmore. Usually we just go out for dinner or drinks and go our separate ways after.”
“I guess that should be fine then. I can’t wait to see your new place and christen your new room.” A smile creeps over his face and I can feel butterflies starting in my stomach. “I’m allowed to come over, right?”
“That’s why I’m telling you all this. I want you to be able to come visit me at my swanky new digs.”
“What will Sophie think of me being there?” He says, a hint of worry in his voice.
“She was the one who told me that I need to invite you over.”
“Is that so surprising?”
“I dunno why but I’ve always thought that Sophie didn’t really like me.”
“What? Seriously? What would make you think that?” I say, genuinely surprised. As far as I know Sophie has never given him a reason to think that.
“I don’t know, just a hunch.”
“Absolutely not. She’s actually always been very supportive of us. She likes you.”
“My bad, it’s just the impression I got.” He says, shrugging his shoulders.
“Honestly I don’t think she would have asked me to move in with her if she didn’t like you and think that you were trustworthy.”
“It’s good to hear that. Because if she was against me, that’s pretty much it for the relationship.”
“You think I wouldn’t date you if she didn’t approve?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s just that if your best friend hates your boyfriend then the relationship is pretty doomed.”
“You might be right there.” I say, remembering all the times that my girlfriends had disapproved of a guy I was dating. It’s as if their opinions of the guy start to taint your own. “You have nothing to worry about though, Sophie and I both think that you’re a pretty great guy.”
The waitress arrives to ask us if we’re ready to order and Mike, knowing exactly what I want, places our order.
“Can we head back to your place after we eat? It’s been too long. I’d like to spend the rest of the night in bed.”
My stomach does a back flip. “As much as I’d love that, we have to give Sophie some privacy. She’s entertaining her boyfriend until around 8:30. We can go to a movie after this?”
“I’d say let’s just go back to my place but I really want to see your new digs.”
“I can’t wait to show you the apartment! You will not believe the bathtub. It’s going to change your life.”