“Are you sure you’re sure?”
“As long as your wife isn’t in there.”
“Why? Besides the fact that she’s not the escapade type?”
“I’m not going to pretend your ex-wife’s my favorite person ever. But to me, what goes on sexually in a marriage, you don’t talk about. So—” she put her hands over her ears “—la la la, don’t want to hear it.”
In the five minutes I had to decide what to tell her, I’d prepared a story of bedding three women at once. It was absolutely true, terribly unsexy, and funny all at once. But she’d thrown me by respecting a woman who’d lied to her and caused her hurt, by honoring a vow she’d had no part of. Monica deserved better than a canned story I’d told a hundred times at the club.
I took her wrists and pulled her hands from her ears. She smiled at me.
“I agree,” I said. “You’re safe from my marriage bed. But not the rest.” I took my hands away and picked up my wine glass, taking a deep breath. “There’s a difference between a dominant and a pig.”
“My father,” I said, leaning forward, “is a pig.” She looked as though she was ready to choke on her oxtail stew. “You all right?” I asked.
“I’m fine. I sense an example coming?”
“I hit puberty early,” I said. “By thirteen, I was done. Close to my fourteenth birthday, my father wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten laid yet.”
She chewed, then gazed up me with those big, chocolate disks. “Okay?”
“He set me up on a date with a girl. Woman. Rachel. She was a couple of years older than me. That was my first time. And guess what? Turns out, she was his mistress.”
She swallowed hard. “How old was she?”
“The math you just did in your head was correct.”
“Wow. He whored out his underage mistress?”
“To his underage son. Like I said. Pig. And you should see the look on your face.” Her heartbeat was practically audible. She pushed food around and I worked to control my nerves.
She sighed heavily. “Honestly, I didn’t expect you to even have a story like that.”
“You think rich people don’t have sick shit in their houses?”
She raised her eyebrows and swirled her spoon in her stew. “Something like that.”
I laughed. Partly because I was nervous about voicing a fragment of the story, and partly because I was relieved she hadn’t run away. Not yet, at least.
She put her spoon down and sipped her wine. “Did you see her again?”
“I did but on different terms. It was messy for a while.” I cleared my throat. “She died.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. How?”
“Car accident. I was about sixteen when it happened.”
I should have shut up way before mentioning the accident. If she looked into it, I was deeply f**ked. So I stopped talking. Just stopped.
She waited, slid off her chair, stepped over to me, and put her hands on my face. “You know you have to tell me the whole thing, right?”
“There is no more.” I put my hand up her skirt until I felt the lacy top of her stocking. “You’re going to have to take the dress off for where we’re going next.”
I put my fingers under the lace and up the garter straps. “Nope.”
“Have you finished dinner?”
I pulled her down, kissing her hard. She tasted of lovingly made Filipino food and cold white wine. I wanted her all over again, but we had someplace to be.
I slipped into my jeans, keeping my fancy underwear on. I felt filthy, sexy, sensual with garters under denim. When I reached the front foyer, I found the door open and a loud rumbling in the driveway.
Jonathan straddled a matte black rocket of a motorcycle with red touches at the rims. The back seat was suspended by nothing but air and the promise of velocity.
“Well,” I said as I clopped down the porch stairs in my heels, “is this new or is it some old thing you found in the back of the garage?”
“I got rid of the Mercedes and saw this.” He handed me a helmet in the same matte black as the bike. “You’ve ridden before?”
“Yeah.” I slipped on the helmet. I’d dirtbiked with Kevin in the Sequoias until mud covered me from knee to toe and I walked like a cowboy coming home from a week on a feisty mare. Once, in freshman year, Ivan Ikanovitch took me out to Ventura on his new BMW. Needless to say, I had to take a cab home.
“Let’s go then, little goddess. This trip usually takes forty minutes, and we have thirty five.”
I slid onto the back seat and put my arms around his waist. “You shoulda let me recite ‘Invictus’ as fast as I wanted. We’d be on time.”
The gate slid open as if by his thought waves alone, and we took off, my legs clenching the seat and my arms clutching his waist. When we stopped at a light, I heard his voice in my head.
“You’re cutting off my circulation.”
The clarity of his voice was shocking, and he turned to me, tapping the helmet.
“There are microphones in here?” He nodded. “Fancy.”
The light changed, and we took off. We didn’t talk much as we zipped onto the five, turning onto the 110 freeway. I tried not to squeal when he went really fast since he could hear me. Instead, I leaned on him, enjoying the softness of his leather jacket and the way it creaked against mine. Even though it was early November, the air was warm as it whipped under my clothes.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. He was fourteen when his father loaned him his mistress. His first sexual experience was coated in familial ties and discomfort. He went to the institution when he was sixteen, right about when she was killed. He’d given me a portion of the story. His time in the institution had something to do with his father’s promiscuity and penchant for young girls, as well as his absurd expectations of his son’s virility.
I was still missing some puzzle pieces. Something was very seriously off, but his explanation was a start, and I felt a sort of relief knowing that eventually, when he was ready, he’d fill in the blanks.
We traveled eighty miles an hour past the industrial tinkertoy skyline and outlet malls with their blindingly bright, sky-high screens, blasting high above neighborhoods still burned out from the riots, and back to a middle-class residential zone.