18 Mart 2023

The Earring



From the bed he watched her put on her clothes and it was the moment he began to think differently about her. In the mirror he could see himself in bed, propped up against pillows with the sheet up to his bellybutton. In the window it was Las Vegas, high above the Strip enough that the air was clear, the lights were more glittery than garish. The room was anonymous and well-vacuumed. On the bedside table there was a glass of water, his cell phone, and a small stack of one-hundred dollar bills, crisp and folded in half. He watched her get dressed and thought it was the most erotic thing he had ever seen.

First she stepped into her black thong, one foot through and then another, tugging it up her thighs to insert it around the form of her hips. At the small of her back it formed a triangle that disappeared between her buttocks. She snapped it and straightened it out where the material had twisted. Instead of eyes there were only lashes, but she must have been aware that he was looking at her. There was no bra, but her breasts were high and alert, even for their size. Nipples like pink rose petals. Her skirt was navy blue, crimped and sleeveless, with deep but narrow cleavage. Wriggling into it, she shook her brown hair, smoothed it out, adjusted it around the swell of her chest. Her back bent as she slipped her toes into strappy cream-colored heels. Only then did she lift her eyes and look at him.

They were blue eyes, set into wide sockets and restrained by thin brows. Her lips were a customary sunset-red, and she had a round chin, dimples even in the subtlest smile. The age she claimed was 25, which he believed, and she called herself Mia Lunette, a red-lipsticked name if there ever was one, and he knew not to believe that but he thought it was beautiful and after all you could meet a Mia anywhere. She moved around to the bedside table and gave him a kiss, holding his cheek in a palm that was astonishingly soft. The money she put in her purse. He said “Bye Mia” and the syllables rang in the room that was quiet long after she was gone. For a while he did not move from the bed, not closing his eyes or turning out the light, ignoring everything except the papery beating of his heart.


His name was Randall Balfe and he was 46, and lived in San Diego, California. He had been married once, but had no children. For twelve years he’d been a partner at a commercial development firm, a job to which he devoted serious energy and emotion. Although no longer a young man, he’d stayed in considerably firm shape. He was six feet tall, about two hundred pounds of decent muscle. His dark hair he always wore slicked back. The features of his face were centered on a roman nose, and framed by a square jaw. Otherwise he was not especially pretty, although women had always assured him he was handsome. The firm sent him all over the western United States, and he was acquainted with the hotel rooms in Denver, Phoenix, San Jose, Las Vegas.

Randall made good money, and was not afraid of indulgences. He was no stranger to the strip club, the steakhouse, the top-floor balcony. He drank trophy whiskey at a ridiculous rate. In his early forties he gave up trying to date younger women and instead decided to hire them. In Seattle there was Sally, and Lisa in Los Angeles. He met them in restaurants and then brought them to his hotel room. Ridley in Reno, Eden in El Paso. It was wintertime when he first met Mia in Las Vegas. Like all the girls, he was enraptured by her physical charms, and he found intense pleasure in holding her body, pulling it close to him. Perhaps he’d made special note of her simplicity, the sparkle of her laughter. It was true that he hadn’t been traveling as much lately, and she was the only girl he’d seen that year. Maybe, he said to himself, she was just too good at her job.


Mia Lunette was actually Shay Bruno, and she was actually 25. Her apartment was small and extremely tidy, with terrible natural light except in the bedroom. In the mornings the sun illuminated the mirror of her vanity and made the whole room glow like gold. In the afternoon the light silvered out, became more clear, and in the evening it was green, and then at night the matte yellow of the lamplight. Psychologists said it was bad for sleep to spend too much time in the bedroom but it was the biggest space, the most comfortable for her. There was a desk in the corner and a rack of clothes that didn’t fit in the closet and a big poster on the wall of Paris.

It was a life defined by ritual. In the evenings when she studied, Shay would load a tiny glass pipe with a nug of marijuana and leave it on the vanity, where it waited for her until she was finished with her work. Currently it was summertime and she was only taking a single class, but during the regular semester she often spent close to three hours focused intensely on her schoolwork. She was in a graduate program at a small local college, concentrating in art history and business. After she’d folded her books, the pipe was ready for her attention. sancaktepe escort She would boil water for herbal tea, and play ambient music that came from speakers on the floor. Sometimes she would prep food for the next day. There were always emails to answer, and bookkeeping to sort out. Often she did not go to bed until after one or two in the morning.

Also ritualistic was the achievement and sustaining of her physical virtue. Most mornings she woke up and jogged a few miles before drinking coffee. On Wednesdays and Saturdays she took advantage of free yoga classes offered at the college fitness center. In and around her vanity was stored far more makeup than she would ever need. She was obsessed with various moisturizers, exfoliants, masques. Once a month she got a facial, a massage, and waxed from her neck down. She had a friend with a private pool where she tanned topless, to avoid lines. Every day in the middle of her bedroom she did stretches, she meditated, she counted her blessings.


After watching her putting her clothes back on, Randall could not stop thinking about her. Leaving his hotel, he thought he saw her crossing the lobby, and then again later on walking through the airport when he was on his way home. But now he was looking for her everywhere, even back in San Diego. Suddenly he felt boyish, splashed in the face with cold water. When his mind had the down time to imagine her in full, her lips and her waist and her thighs, he was seized with an infatuated weakness that at first emphasized his arousal, and then tranquilized it. He wanted her to kiss him and to mean it.

The office where he spent six days a week, sometimes seven, lacked any personality whatsoever. On the wall there were framed renderings of buildings that had been constructed a decade ago. A file cabinet was kept in perfect order by a humdrum secretary. The desk was always clean, the computer always worked. On a bookshelf there was industry literature that he barely thought about anymore. The view out the window was of a parking lot. Every day he came in, and then he left. His condominium had been designed to look like every other condominium in the country. It had a view of a swimming pool, but his eye had long since ceased to be drawn to it. His doctor advised him to cut down on coffee and red meat.

Every day he found himself looking at Mia’s Twitter account. A good deal of it was the standard pithy observations, notifications about availability, the occasional etiquette advice. There were also photos, the real selling point not only of her services but also her lifestyle. Rumpled white sheets, sunlight winking on her navel. The small of her back rising to the flesh of her buttocks, her pussy peeking out at the bottom. Fingers clasping her breasts, a nipple squeezed between her French manicure. Also houseplants, mirrors, bookshelves. Cappuccinos and quinoa bowls. There seemed to be an entire universe there, both hidden and on display. It was glamour, and it was real life. It was a thing he could see and touch, but which money would only buy a brief possession of.


They were at a restaurant off the Strip. Candlelight stuttered on glasses, silverware clattered in the background. Mia was drinking white wine with grilled salmon, Randall was drinking red wine with sirloin. His hands were sweating but he was able to hold down the conversation that he always did, the bland formalities, the compliments, the gradual innuendos that took the place of intimacy. It was not awkward, or at least he did not think it was, but he drank his wine too fast and then ordered another one. It felt like a second date. He said, “I have a present for you,” and she looked genuinely pleased. He pushed a small box across the table. When she opened it, she glowed, and he was flattered. It was a moment that he desperately wanted to be real, to slice through the sensual artifice that coiled between them.

It was the same hotel room but with a different view. Randall sat on the edge of the bed. Mia was completely undressed, the shape of her body was revealed, the roundness and tautness that conspired into the proportions of dreamlike feminine beauty. Her breasts gazed at him, and he imagined that they were smiling. Without heels on she was more inviting and realistic, somehow humbled. The gift box was on top of the dresser. Looking in the mirror, she put the earrings on. They were rainbow opals embedded in silver pendants. She turned to face him. The earrings swung from her lobes as she crawled across the bed.

The way she moved on his cock was like liquid, it was like she was levitating. One hand reached around and cupped his balls, stroked his taint. The rotations of her pelvis were regular, well-oiled. Randall breathed through clenched teeth and put his hands over her tits, rolled her nipples between his fingers. He loved the sounds that she made: not lazy or bored, not the grossly expressive caws of a pornstar, but instead breathy and soprano punctuations ümraniye escort that moved in time to the slow crescendo of their sex. They were like another language. He tried to respond with his own drawn-out grunts, but for the first time he discovered in himself a shyness, he was afraid of being evaluated, as though she had the power to strip him of his sacred masculinity and leave him crumpled, lifeless.

Then she was on her back and he held her hips in his powerful palms. Sweat prickled around his neck. The earrings were visible now only as tiny dazzles that whipped back and forth. His orgasm came from miles away, it gathered strength like a storm. Mia sensed it, too, and she threw her arms back and arched her spine. When he shot his cum he pressed his cock as far inside her as he could. His mouth sputtered with every charge that trembled through his member. A shudder reached up his torso and into his shoulders and his biceps and down to the tips of his toes. Her white teeth hung apart and her eyes were ajar and he saw in her face, or he made himself see, the same feverish burn that spilled a numbing ecstasy into every nerve in his body.

They lay together for a short time. Randall wanted very badly to ask her if she had liked it. She stroked his arm, and gave every indication of basking in the cool afterglow of pleasure. When she left he gave her a couple hundred extra. The spent condom was still on the floor where he had tossed it.


The friends Shay had were very close ones, and there were only a few of them. When she saw them in was usually one at a time. They would drink vodka sodas in the far corner of a dive bar on a weeknight, where they laughed out loud and dished secrets to one another. There were people at school she was friendly with, but never off-campus, always in the food court or in the library. She had a pretty good network of people online, too, who she talked to on Twitter. Her confidantes knew that she was an escort, and so did one of her brothers, but it was a secret from the rest of her family. They lived very far away.

She knew a girl who was a professional photographer, and hired her for a photo shoot. They smoked a joint in the midmorning and the world stopped spinning, the room seemed to be floating in space. Mia wore tight leather pants and a mesh crop top that barely made it past her breasts. She wore an old-fashioned negligee, pink and lacy with garters and ribbons, and posed with one leg kicking in the air like a pinup. Completely naked, she stretched out on the top of her bed with fifty-two playing cards scattered about her body, holding the King of Diamonds in front of a cheeky grin. She pulled a floor-length fur coat out of storage and wore it on top of nothing except stilettos. In front of the vanity she applied lipstick and mascara, she looked at the camera’s reflection and she lifted her chin, tucked back a strand of hair. They laughed and laughed and smoked another joint and ended up on the floor playing Trivial Pursuit.


She saw Randall again two weeks later after the appointment when he’d given her the earrings. It was the quickest return visit in the six months that they’d known each other. At the beginning, he’d been playful but all business, which she appreciated. He was the most efficient kind of customer. But in the last two visits he was suddenly shucksy, he smiled and joked in a way that made him seem disarmed. His chivalry was more pronounced. Gifts were not unusual, but earrings were a little weird, she thought, wondering if they were a fetish. She typically wore pearls, and always took them out before sex.

They ate dinner at a dark, elegant restaurant and took a cab back to his hotel. In the elevator up he put his hand on her lower back, and guided her movement towards the room. He asked her if she wanted some whiskey. She said yes as a matter of course. With a different client, a newer or more volatile one, she would have accepted out of politeness, and only put the glass to her lips without sipping. Randall, though, was good to her, she trusted him, she felt that her guard could come down as part of the job. And she suspected in him the need for more than just sex or the shallow company of a beautiful woman. He would soon be her longest-running client.

The broad details of their lives had already been revealed. She knew about his job, he knew about her school. Now Randall asked questions that circled a greater metaphysical understanding of what they were doing in the hotel room with each other. He wanted to know how long she had been escorting. Did she enjoy it? What had drawn her to this type of work? He asked her what she planned to do with her life. She finished the whiskey and he poured her more. He sat in a club chair and she was on the bed, her back against the headboard. Every question he prefaced with a disclaimer: if he was prying, if she was uncomfortable answering, he wanted her to tell him. She said, “It’s okay, Randall, I don’t mind, tuzla escort I really don’t.” He told her, “You’re so fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

She explained that she wanted to visit Buenos Aires, that she was refreshing her high school Spanish with an app on her phone. Her favorite museum was the Tate Modern, in London. Her favorite holiday was New Year’s Eve. She loved the color green, but it was not one that she thought looked good on her. She did not have time to binge anything on Netflix.

He kissed her mouth, her throat. Her dress rode up and he rubbed his hand on the scant fabric of her thong. He licked her nipples and when they were hardened, he put them gently between his teeth. Their breathing grew heavy and their bodies began to quake, but they were both a little drunk and tired and he did not seem especially eager to rush the mood. Down below the window there were sirens that spiraled upwards, and then disappeared.


Randall looked at the new photos that she had put on Twitter. Some of them he saved on his phone. He closed the door to his office and let his rolling chair drift away from his desk. The afternoon sunlight dripped like syrup. A rigid hard-on pushed against his belt. He scrolled and he scrolled and when he finally looked up his eyes were white, he experienced several seconds of screen-blindness. Several new emails had popped up on his computer.

A crisis began at his firm. Randall and his two managing partners had been cooking the books for a decade. It had begun as a few innocent adjustments, plausibly accidental, but became a nuanced embezzling scheme that increased their private fortunes. That summer they were audited. Late at night in the conference room they drank whiskey and discussed damage control. One of them had just married his third wife, a woman half his age. The other was already in court fighting his ex-wife’s alimony. Randall drove home drunk. Without turning the lights on in his condo he thought about how faceless it was, how it represented an existence void of meaning, of expression. He continued drinking whiskey and composed a long email to Mia in which he told her that he was in love with her and he wanted to be more than just a john, much more. He did not send it but it was still there when he was hungover in the morning.

He skipped town and went to Vegas. Mia came up to his penthouse without meeting him for dinner. She was wearing a black skirt accented with silver sequins, as well as her usual Mona Lisa smile. On the bed she got on her knees and put her face in the pillows. Randall opened his mouth wide and bit into her buttocks, ran his tongue up her crack. As he smacked his cock into her he held her down with one hand leaning on her back, the nails scraping at her flesh. He told her not to make a noise, not even to bite her lip. With a rough thumb he stroked her butthole. Fucking her and fucking her he became iridescent with sweat, and he was very aware of his own body odor. At last he pulled out and kept trying, he made her stick out her pussy with her face still thrust in the pillows and he beat his cock until his face was red. When he finally gave up, he gave her two thousand dollars and told her to leave.

The next day at noon he poured a whiskey and wrote her an email responding to the night before. The lack of manners, the blasphemy uttered at his inability to cum. He told her that he truly valued her, and that it was important to him to keep seeing her. At the end he wanted to write something tender but he couldn’t think of anything.


Randall’s apology was the impetus for a dozen more emails back and forth, in which he obliquely explained his predicament at the firm and used it as an excuse for the displaced affection. Confessing to puerile infatuation, he explained that his emotions were crisscrossing with the reality of their business relationship, and that he knew it was impossible for them to ever be together but such an idea had become integral to his lust for her. Her responses were thoughtful, she understood the danger that had entrapped him. He sent her money just for talking to him.

At the end of summer he booked a long-term room in Las Vegas. Its view was not as nice as they had been in the past. When Mia came, he did not let on. They made what he imagined was quite passionate love. Afterwards, while they talked, she stayed tucked into bed while he leaned against the dresser, drinking whiskey and wearing just his slacks. It was actually all very natural, they talked and laughed as though they were staying in the hotel together, getting ready to move on. Later on Randall replayed the scene in his head, inflating its realism. He could not tell whether he was getting closer to her, or further away.


It was not the first time she had been in love with. She had been seeing a boy about a year before who had said it almost right away. His shadowy brown eyes had lured her in, and the way that he worshipped her body without caring what she did with it. He was in and out of the county detention center, bounced around jobs. In his little apartment they rallied against the world together. He said he had done it too, once, a few times, in other places where he’d lived. For a while she had paid the bills until he told her that he wanted to protect her from a life of degradation, and then she dumped him. The last Shay heard he had stolen a car.

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