Chapter Six: He who is an Escort
I fiddled with my clutch, desperate to find my apartment key. Finally I found it, panicking at the thought of the work I had to do. I opened the door and Pudding tried to race out. I dropped my clutch, pinning his belly gently between my leg and the door frame. He gave out a small meow in response to his capture.
“Why do you do that?” I moaned. He didn’t do it very often and even when he did escape into the hall he stopped and freaked out until I collected him. I placed my apartment keys in my mouth so I could pick up my fat orange cat and my black clutch at once. I lightly dropped him on the ground in front of me before closing the door behind me and throwing the clutch along my kitchen bench.
I attempted unzipping the dress a few times, awkwardly pinning my elbow back to reach it. After turning on my laptop whilst still fiddling with the zip of my dress, I raced to my kitchen to make a hazelnut coffee. Finally I unhooked the zip in time to enter my password.
After a few rough tugs of the dress I felt air on my skin. I breathed out like a beached whale. I pulled on my comfortable gray sweatpants and a loose orange shirt. I pulled all the pins out of my hair, sending my wild, wavy hair free, before tying it back up loosely with a hairband. A quick grab of coffee and then my eyes were searching over my screen, intensely trying to consume as much information as possible. I looked at my clock, noticing it was already 11 p.m. I only had one hour to get the webpage live. A flashing light of blue caught my eye on my cell phone. Someone had called. I dismissed it, knowing I could deal with it later.
I had focused on the screen again when a knock on my door startled me. “Who would be coming to my apartment at this time?” I wondered. I looked at Pudding in confusion, realizing at that moment I was far too reliant on the fat cat. He did not flinch in the slightest from his sprawled position on the couch.
I looked through my peephole. Dark-brown eyes stared back at me and my heart beat faster as I registered who it was. I looked down at my less than fabulous attire, wondering if I should race back and attempt to squeeze into the dress or... “Too much effort,” I quickly dismissed. I opened the door, unsure of what to expect.
Before he spoke he swept his eyes up and down me with a small smile. “You didn’t sign the check,” Damon said, looking in amusement at my lazy attire.
Suddenly I remembered him taking a step toward the cab in an attempt to flag me down. I forgot to sign the check. “Sorry, I’ll just grab a pen,” I gushed. “Come in.”
I went to my bedroom and assessed how I looked in my full-length mirror. I was unimpressed by my appearance. At least I still had my makeup on. “Well, I guess this is what happens when you haven’t surrounded yourself with men for two years,” I bickered inwardly, trying to justify my hormones.
I grabbed the pen which rested on my journal from my bedside table. I hadn’t written in it for a week because I hadn’t found the time. I could have grabbed the pen by my laptop, but then I wouldn’t have been able to evaluate just how bad I really looked. I straightened my shirt slightly, and looked at my hair in defeat. I gave up.
I walked out with the pen, but stopped short when I saw Damon sitting comfortably on my couch, rubbing a purring Pudding’s belly. Without warning he attacked Damon, evidently not enjoying a particular area of his belly being rubbed. I kept my amusement to myself. “He does that,” I said, collecting the check off my kitchen bench and signing it.
Damon rubbed his hand that Pudding had scratched whilst looking over my apartment. “It’s nice,” Damon said, eyeing the fish tank. “What’s this?” He was now looking at my laptop, which had numerous pages. I glanced over his shoulder and grimaced when I saw How to Insert a Website Page for Dummies.
“Um... Debra, she wants me to add a website page to our website, but I have no idea how,” I admitted, offering the check to him.
“May I?” he asked, indicating the chair and laptop.
“Do you usually barge into your clients’ homes and make yourself comfortable?” I joked, permitting him to do so with a smile and a nod.
“Only the ones who do a runner on me,” he grinned, assessing the open screens. I briefed him on the task whilst he began clicking on the pages and opening the website page I had to work on.
“I can do this for you now if you would like?”
“Are you serious?” I asked stepping back and excitedly standing on my tiptoes. “No, I couldn’t have you do that. I have already taken enough of your time.”
“No, really I don’t mind. It will only take me ten minutes,” he assured me, quickly clicking on the images and links I had already put in a folder. “Do you have a pair of glasses by any chance?”
I looked at him oddly, somewhat surprised that he needed glasses. I guess I didn’t see past his handsomeness to suspect he would have even a small imperfection. I pictured him to have, well, a perfect everything. I walked over to my thin black glasses that were on the coffee table. “I have mine?” I offered.
“Thank you, that will help,” he said, taking them and clicking on more pages.
I had no idea what he was doing so I looked at his side profile instead. His back was straight as he sat at my desk. His hair was still smoothly combed and his cologne still lingered in the air. I thought for a moment that even my fish were staring at him in bewilderment. “How does an escort acquire the skills to do this?” I asked, trying to focus on what he did.
“I’m not a full time escort, you know,” he growled, giving me a quick glance.
I couldn’t help but bite my lips to contain a smile. “So you’re a computer nerd as well?” I inwardly mused in disbelief.
“What are you smiling at?” he asked as a smile crept across his face. The small glasses on his face made him look like he had little bug eyes, and had the effect of making his jaw look oddly, comically large.
“Nothing,” I responded looking away so I wouldn’t laugh. “Would you like a coffee, I have hazelnut—”
“I love hazelnut; that would be great,” he said appreciatively before assessing the screen again.
“Hazelnut is my favorite flavored coffee as well,” I thought childishly. I felt so different around Damon, more carefree and irresponsible. And even now as he sat at my laptop, dressed in a formal suit, I could see yet another side to him. A side that I would never have seen if I hadn’t forgotten to sign that check. I thought he was only all cockiness and taunts, but this side of him...it was nice to see. Even an escort could be surreally human.
I was preparing his coffee when he called out to me from the computer. “Did you write this?” Damon asked, looking over his shoulder as I swirled the spoon in his coffee.
“Yea, although Debra won’t be happy with it. It isn’t the original piece. That was somehow magically lost,” I said sarcastically.
“It’s good. Your voice really shines through,” he complimented me before busily typing once again.
He was the first to compliment me on my writing other than my family. After my father died, I was hesitant to show my work to others. He had been my most supportive fan. I liked to imagine he was still approving each piece that I wrote.
“So, what do you do full-time?” I asked, bringing his hot hazelnut coffee to him. “More importantly, how did you become an escort?”
“Ah, my dear Clover, that information is strictly confidential,” he smiled, grabbing the coffee out of my hand. His fingers lingered over mine for a moment as he looked at me intently. We both looked away at the same time. He cupped the coffee before turning once again to the screen.
I could not believe that this was happening. He was so handsome and my mind swung from fantasy to fantasy. If he were in this chair all the time, how comfortably I could just stare. I noticed he had placed his expensive-looking wallet on my fish tank. “He is a human, not some magical being; of course he would carry around a wallet,” I scolded myself.
After only fifteen minutes, we had drunk our coffee and he had enlightened me somewhat about the process of adding a webpage. He patiently explained how I could upload things onto it if I ever got stuck again. Not only was he handsome, and humorous, he was smart and knew how to find his way around programs that I didn’t even know existed.
He took the glasses off, and placed them on the desk before brushing his hand through his brown hair and leaning back into the chair. He yawned just as I did. “Well, now you can say we are even for that discount you were after,” he smiled through his tiredness.
“Wait,” I said seriously, “You didn’t give me a discount in the first place!” I joked, enjoying his company. “Thank you, for all of this. You have not only saved me my job, but I had a really good night.”
He looked into my eyes, but this time he wasn’t smiling. He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say more, but, instead, he straightened himself again, breaking our eye contact. “That’s my job,” he said, extricating himself from my office chair and collecting the check on the bench. “Once again, I am glad you are happy with my services and if you need to be escorted again, here’s my card.” He fiddled in his jacket pocket before dropping the card onto the bench.
His whole demeanor had visibly shifted. He was once again covering the glimmer of the person beneath the escort. I tried to understand why he had changed so quickly. I thought I felt the tension between us, perhaps even a connection, which made me a fool for even thinking it. “I paid him to escort me,” I reminded myself as I stared into the empty cup in embarrassment.
“Yea, thank you for everything. I hope it will get Debra off my back for a little whilst yet.”
“Yea, well I think we put her off a little and you definitely beat her at her own game,” he said, shuffling closer to the door and straightening his jacket. “So, I’m going to go, but I hope you have a good night.”
“You too,” I said collecting the door as he stepped into the hallway. I closed the door slowly before leaning against it, still cupping my mug. I was confused as to how quickly everything changed. We only really spoke of the work I had to complete. I looked at the laptop, slightly aggravated at myself. I had looked into it way too much.
I washed out my mug in the sink before grabbing Pudding and pulling him into a hug as if he were a fluffy teddy bear. “Let’s go to bed, Pudding,” I said, combing over his head. “You seemed to like him.”
As I brushed my teeth and changed into my pajamas, I was surprised to find my thoughts still lingered on Damon. “I only spent a total of five hours with him, he who is an escort,” I told Pudding.