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I’ve been selling my body since I was twenty years old.
There were plenty of words to describe what I was: escort, gigolo, prostitute, even whore. The exact language wasn’t particularly important to me. All that mattered was that I would be paid five-hundred dollars to have sex with another man’s wife while he watched. As far as anniversary presents went, I thought it was rather creative.
I sat in the backseat of the cab, gazing at the blinding lights of Times Square. To me, Midtown Manhattan was the epitome of what New York was really all about. Yes, it was crowded. And true, the streets reeked of exhaust fumes. But where else could one stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a group of strangers in a crushing sea of humanity?
The cab stopped at a red light. I watched the Christmas tourists scurry across the street, shopping bags in their hands and smiles plastered across their faces. I was one of them, once. An outsider all too happy to be away from my hometown and lost in the Big City. Truly, those times were some of the happiest in my life.
“Make a left at forty-seventh street, please,” I said to the driver. “Then just pull up to the front entrance.”
I was scheduled to meet my clients at the W Hotel’s Times Square location. Sure, it wasn’t the chicest property they had in town — but I knew why they’d chosen it. Had they selected another location in Union Square or the Financial District, there was a chance they might run into someone they knew.
Being a successful escort meant maintaining an aura of anonymity. The same was true for the clients, some of whom didn’t want their friends to know that they were paying for an extra set of hands in the bedroom.
Finally, I arrived at the hotel. I handed the driver his fare — along with a generous tip. He muttered something along the lines of “thank you” and wished me a Merry Christmas.
I breezed through the front doors of the hotel and went straight for the elevators, where I was whisked up to the seventh-floor bar known as The Living Room. It was a sleek, modern space awash in yellow and pink light, complete with wraparound sofas, Japanese floor lamps and glass sculptures suspended from the ceiling.
My client sat on the illuminated bar. I recognized the husband, a standard-issue corporate type who probably worked in finance. Handsome enough — at least he wasn’t obese or balding. The wife, however, was the one that really caught my gaze. Why did she look so familiar?
No, I thought to myself. No, it can’t be…
I moved closer, each step bringing me closer to the truth. I recognized her, all right. The light brown hair was the first clue, as was the fair skin and petite, hourglass frame. When I was finally within striking distance, I spotted the red lips, the perfect slope of a nose. This woman wasn’t just a client’s wife. I knew her.
It was Vanessa.
She looked up, caught me gazing at her from no more than five feet away. Seeing her baby blues suddenly made me feel sixteen again, for I’d been that age when I’d completely fallen in love with her. And though I’d loathed to admit it, part of me never really fell out of love with her, either.