(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. It’s important to remember this is all totally fabricated, embellished, and exaggerated for entertainment purposes.)
When we got back to the hotel at the end of the day, only returning briefly earlier for her to change into this long belted off-the-shoulder look, G had the bags lugged up to the room and hosted an unsolicited fashion haul in the master suite where she tried on a lot of the new pieces as I sat on the bed in a stupor.
“That one’s pretty cool.” I said, in one of the varied responses I’d been repeating since the start: That’s dope. That’s sick. Wicked babe. Good find. I thought of what to say next as she sauntered out in a pink cocktail dress that flopped around at her chest. It was unzipped because it fastened up the back and she couldn’t quite reach. I thought that was an impractical way to make a dress. Most women didn’t just have extra hands sitting around the house to help them get dressed whenever they needed, so why not put the zipper along the side?
Now she jumped onto the bed in the half-zipped dress and lay across my lap, taking my phone from my hands. She slid it across the mattress where I couldn’t reach without a fight, before pulling me into a kiss. Her breath smelled like French Onion Soup.
“Youh have fun today?” I asked, meeting her eyes as she opened them.
“Hell yes, babe! Too bad you couldn’t come inside the thrift shop. They had tons of things I thought you would’ve loved.” She hopped up and moved across the room to the heap of bags.
“Check this out.” She presented me with a vintage Louis Vuitton belt from the 70s.
“For me?” I asked, accepting it.
“Thanks… I actually love it…”
“And Anna loved you! She adored you, Z! I’m so proud of how sweet you were to her. You made us look soooo good. I can’t wait to do Vogue together. You deserve the recognition more than anyone.”
Something warm and violent welled up within me and I almost wanted to vomit. She was so fucking good to me sometimes. Thinking of that, coupled with how awful I’d been to her since New Year’s, I just couldn’t fathom how bad things had become. I nearly blurted the truth and started “The Talk” just to feel unburdened for a second. Just to halt the betrayal and draw the curtains on this tormenting performance, but that would only serve to alleviate myself, sparing no care for how the news of Harry and I would affect her career and her outlook right now. I wouldn’t dare fuck that up, not during Fashion Week. And although she deserved to know, this was one the most important trips of her life and I needed to see it through, no matter how damaged it left me.
As she went to raid the fridge for snacks, I called up Daniaal and chatted for a bit about his plans to come to NY in a few weeks. I could use a familiar face around every now and then, since G was always surrounded with her friends and family and had loads of people to confide in outside of me.
Every now and then she would come lean on my shoulder to join the facetime and joke with him. They seemed to get on really well since they met in Bel Air back in 2015. Sometimes I thought she liked him more than me. If he weren’t my closest relative and best friend on the planet, I’d probably be kind of pissed at how much he was smiling at her just now.
When I hung up from him, G came and climbed back onto the bed, sitting on her legs. I could tell by the smirk on her face that she wanted something that would annoy me, and she was just trying to butter me up.
“‘Sup?” I asked.
“Yeah, right,” I scoffed.
“Don’t be mad, ok?”
“What now, G? I’m tired—”
“I know, I know, which is exactly my point!”
“I got invited to a party tonight.”
“Another party?? Is like 11pm?”
“Mm-hm! But here’s the thing…it’s like a slumber party—for adults, of course. Lots of booze, lots of games. Nothing that would really rock your boat.”
“A friend from work. Remember the chick with the big hair we met tonight? Yes, yes you do. Nod your head yes. Well, it’s hers. I’ve known her for a while, and she usually throws one every year. I didn’t think she would this time, but apparently it’s sort of a last minute thing.”
“Um…ok. Soh, what exactly would youh like me to do with this information” Youh askin’ for my permission or somethin’?”
“Well, I just feel bad to abandon you…like overnight.”
“I mean shit, I did the same thing to youh last night—”
“Yeah, but you were working, babe.” I nearly choked. “I’d be partying without you…and something about it just doesn’t feel right.”
“It’s perfectly okay. Seriously. It’s just not my scene, soh you’d be doing me a favor by leavin’ me here. Don’t feel bad, G, for real.” I grinned. “I’m soh tried I’d hardly even notice youh were gone.”
“Oh, gee thanks, bubba…” She rolled her eyes.
“Youh know what I mean.” I grabbed her hand and kissed it. “Goh, babe. Have fun. I’ll be here catchin’ some Zs while you’re gone. Fartin’ and all…”
“Ew!” she squinched her nose up at me. “Just don’t fart into the sheets, ok? The smell will nest in the fabric and it’ll become a whole thing. Let the room air out, babe—”
“I swear I will,” I laughed. “And we can hang out tomorrow as soon as youh get back—”
“Ugh, I love you so freaking much!! Thank you thank you thank you!” She kissed me a few times before running off to get ready. I took my clothes off and laid down under the covers, watching my phone until it tumbled out of my hands as I fell asleep.
I woke up to a vibration on my chest, no more than an hour or so after falling asleep. G was long gone and the lights were all out. She had drawn the drapes closed and the room was pitch black. I picked my phone up from where it had fallen on my chest and looked through the piercing white light. There were a few missed calls, all from Haz. I checked the text he sent last, and it showed he had finally broke.
“Alright…whatever you want.” he relented. “I’m all yours.” Then: “You better make it worth my time.” I nearly shit myself, heart jumping straight into my throat. He had missed his flight and stayed a few more days, all for me. I felt clumsy and unworthy and unsure of what to do next. I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t misreading his words. He sent another text that said, “I’m waiting…”
My head reeled with a thousand different things I needed to do to show how grateful I was for what he’d done. First things first, we needed a motel. There’s no way he could come here without being spotted, and if it was reported that Harry Styles was staying at the Four Seasons while we were here, G would lose her shit.
I Googled cheap motels far away from the general area and found one on the opposite side of town from where we had stayed before. The King Phillipe Inn was the only place with rooms available this late, and I was pretty sure they charged by the hour. Even so, I had Taryn snag a room for the night under her alias and sent the details over to Haz so he wouldn’t have to rebook the expensive airport hotel. Then I hopped up and showered thoroughly, washing away the day’s exertion. The reek of the streets. The clingy fragrances picked up in shop after shop. It was hard not to jerk off since I was so fucking turned on at the thought of meeting him again in France. Still under the cover intrigue. A new hideaway and a new adventure. And this time I’d make sure we fucked ourselves stupid.
I told him I would make it worth his time, and he was apparently holding me to that promise, but I needed a few tools to assist. I Googled sex shops in the area and found some interesting results. I went for the most obscure, something close to that side of town where we were headed, then called myself a cab. I put my hoodie, beanie, and long peacoat back on, and topped it off with her Ray-Bans again. I opted for a darker hoodie than the one I’d been wearing earlier so I wouldn’t be recognized in the one from the iHeart video.
When I got the call that the car was downstairs, I had been gazing out over the sparkling cityscape in a listless daze. Now I butted my cigarette on the balcony balustrade and headed back through the room to the lobby. No one recognized me, lending me the confidence I needed to walk right into the shop and make as many ignoble purchases as necessary.
The driver was a younger guy who kept eyeing me through the rearview, but each time he did, I drew my hood a little closer and kept my face towards the window. He tried to draw me into conversation a time or two, but I shut him down with monosyllables until he lost interest.
Before long, Haz texted and said he was on his way to the hotel. I checked in first and got the key cards, then left one sticking out of the bottom of the threshold for when he got there. I hopped back into the car and gave the driver the new address, and he looked at me skeptically before following orders. It was getting super late now, and I needed to make it to the shop because I was unsure of whether it operated 24hrs or was just open late. Everything else seemed to close super early here, which was unfortunate because I truly came to life at night.
When we pulled up into the parking lot of the deserted pervert supply store, I climbed out as my driver smirked knowingly at me over his shoulder. It made me feel filthy and exposed, but I swallowed my shame and got on with it. Soon I opened the doors to a silicone wonderland featuring every color of the rainbow, and every sordid form and utility known to man. It was a small and dark place, and I sidled through the narrow aisles, grabbing anything I thought we might actually use.
A couple of vibrating cock rings, butt plugs, handcuffs, blindfolds, candles, honey, chocolate, and tons of flavored lube. There was a doubled ended dildo that caught my eye making me marvel for a while, but I ultimately decided against it. On the way out of the aisle, I cringed away from the anal hooks and the anal plugs 10x the size of the one I’d chosen, then snatched up a roll of duct tape and couldn’t manage to suppress a smile.
Along the way to the checkout, I ran into a dwarf who was tattooed over every inch of his body, including his skull and the large goiter on his neck. He swore at me in French because I had nearly ran him over in my haste, then hobbled into the darkened rear of the shop where a TV was playing porn on a loop. As he passed through, the beaded curtain covering the threshold rattled throughout the store.
I shook my head to bring myself back to the task at hand, and let the lanky cashier who listened to rap on a cassette radio and looked clinically depressed ring me up. He asked no questions and didn’t bother to look me in the eye, for which I was grateful. I suppose my hooded appearance and the massive sunglasses after sundown tipped him off that I wasn’t particularly in the mood for socializing. I looked straight up like a serial killer. Finally he handed me my things in a black paper bag, and I was out of the shop as quickly as I had entered it.
I entered the room and heard the shower going. I could smell his cologne floating around the small quarters, so much like 2013. His things were strewn across the table; his phone charging on the nightstand.
“Baby…” I sighed, setting my bag down and ripping the beaning and glasses off; shaking out my hair and cracking my neck. It was go time.
Right away I noted the mirrors on the ceiling and quivered. It was a creepily themed motel with medieval overtones. Dark, woody décor. An embellished iron headboard, which was exactly what I needed. Darkly clad walls made the room feel windowless. I imagined I would struggle to breathe in here. It was a place suited for our kind. For secretive exploits. For illicit pairings and criminal enterprises. It made me nervous to think of the far grimmer things happening in the rooms around us.
Soon my boots were off and I had undressed down to my briefs and t-shirt. He’d brought red wine, which was chilling in a bucket of ice on the table by the window. He’d also brought his favorite tequila, Patron Silver, which sat at room temperature beside the bucket. There were also clear plastic cups stacked beside them both.
I shut the lights and tv off and put on some old music. Then I lit four of our favorite scented candles, warm vanilla, and closed the drapes. I set them around the room and the ambience intensified. The darkness was intoxicating. Trey Songz’s “Love Faces” drifted about the room and I sang a few bits occasionally.
When he came out of the toilet, he smiled a ginger smile; one of deep satisfaction that he was hesitant to let me see. We watched each other across the room in awe as Beyonce’s “Dance For You” scored the moment. He broke the silence first.
“There was a dead bug in the toilet. I think it was a cockroach.”
“I know right…I feel like I’m getting an STD just standing here.” He laughed.
“I was losing my mind before you got here. It’s been ages…”
“More like an hour,” I snickered. We watched each other again, afraid to make the first move.
I yielded and went to him as he took the towel off his head, tossing it onto the floor. I clasped my arms around his neck in a crushing hug and he squeezed me so tight my feet left the floor. When he sat me back down, he took my face between his two giant hands and smothered it with kissed. They landed in crazy places; my eyes, my nose, my chin. All the pinned-up emotions and anger and frustration I’d been totting around throughout the day welled in my chest and I teared up again. He stopped and stared into my eyes when he heard me snivel, and it was the most serious I’d seen him look in a long time. I felt like a bitch. He swiped a tear away with his thumb, brow knitted with unspoken compassion.
“Wus wrong?” he asked. My lids fluttered closed and I buried my face in his chest.
“Nothing…” I laughed weakly, trying to return a bit levity to the situation. “M’ just soh fuckin’ happy to see youh.”
“Well, quit being a little bitch, then…” At that, I burst out laughing and slapped his ass as he moved to sit on the edge of the bed.
“Whatcha got?” he smiled, inclining his head towards the black gift bag.
“Oh…nothing. I guess you’ll find out, right?”
“I guess so.” He ran his fingers through his drying hair. Erik Bellinger’s “Imagination” played as I checked my phone, answering a few texts from G. Afterwards it was followed up by Jodeci’s “Feenin’.”
Later I poured us a bit of wine in two of the short cups, lit a jay, and then delivered him the drink. He was laying back on the bed in nothing but the loosening towel, but sat up to accept the drink.
“This is great, thanks.”
“Well thank you for thinking of it,” I said, sitting beside him and massaging the back of his neck. I took a hit and spouted smoke rings that he pretended to eat. I watched and laughed myself stupid, finishing the wine in record time. He downed his when he saw I was already done. He asked for a hit of the jay and I passed it, following which he inhaled and coughed until his eyes watered.
“Youh gud, broh?” I asked, snickering and patting him on the back. He nodded and wiped his tears away, as Janet Jackson’s “Anytime, Anyplace” started up. I slung a leg across his lap and stared up at our reflection in the mirror.
“M’thinkin about having something like this added in the London place,” he mentioned.
“What? The mirrors?”
“That’d be pretty sick actually,” I thought aloud. He pretended to faint, falling backwards onto the bed and holding onto my leg, massaging my calf. I laughed and laid down beside him, setting the joint to his lips so he could hit it again. This time he was more successful, and it resulted in him smiling up at the ceiling in a beady-eyed gratification. Then he looked over at me, falling deeply into my eyes. The affect it had on me was inconceivable. I felt wrapped in a mantle of love. Shrouded from the world, because this version of me was preserved for his eyes alone.
“I’m soh in love with youh…” I whispered, brushing our noses together. He giggled, clearly becoming stoned out of his mind, then whispered,
“Who are you?”
The opening melodies of Jack Garratt’s “The Love You’re Given” took command of the room, and I felt like I was looking at him through the splintering windows of a dilapidated house. Years bleeding between the cracks like deafening silence. Veering roads that led into an infinite emptiness. We loss all familiarity. I could hardly recognize him anymore. His features seemed to belong to another. Then he smiled, and I blinked out of my delirium. All it took was one glimpse of those dimpled cheeks to bring me home again.