Okay, I promised an excerpt from Immaculate Deception earlier today (go check out the awesome cover if you haven’t see it), and since I’m not into the orgasm denial thing, I’m going to deliver.
ID, as I’ve come to think of it, is the story of Matt Richardson, a successful Los Angeles investment banker with a career he no longer cares about and a pretty, responsible girlfriend who bores him to death. One night he meets a mysterious girl in a bar, and his life is never the same. I’ve snipped out their initial meeting here.
“Do you mind if I ask how old you are?”
“Twenty-eight,” he said. “You?”
“I’m only twenty. But I’ve always dated older guys. Sometimes a lot older.”
“Your dad being gone a lot?”
She squirmed for a second.
“I don’t know. I guess.”
“So he was in the Marines?”
“What did he do?”
“Just the basics. Whatever it is the Marines do. He retired a few years ago. I miss him. I haven’t seen him since I came out here.”
“It must have been tough with him in the service.”
“It was. Like I said, he was pretty strict. He’s not good at letting me be myself.”
“And who are you?”
That question seemed to startle her slightly, and she glanced away from him.
“I like exploring stuff. Trying new roles, like you said. My dad’s not good at that. He tends to be very regimented.”
“I have the same problem. I like trying things some people think are weird, at least the people I’ve always hung out with. That’s why I end up out alone like this.”
She looked back up at him.
“What kind of stuff?”
Matt paused, pensive for a moment, not sure whether he should really answer that question.
“There’s a club near here. It’s called the Dungeon. It’s a night club, but the theme is heavily S/M, black leather, bondage outfits, latex cat suits, that kind of thing. People go there to find partners and to check each other out. They also have this back room where they put on performances.”
Her eyebrows rose a millimeter or two.
“Simulated bondage and domination. They’ll strap someone to a big rack and whip them, pretend to torture them somehow, or expose them to the crowd. But it’s not for real. It’s not even the supposed role-playing that goes into that kind of lifestyle. I think half the time they just do it so the customers can celebrate how open-minded they are.”
“You’ve been there?”
“A few times. But this is the really stupid part. I don’t fit in there any more than I do at the place my friends like to frequent. The people at the Dungeon are just as conformist. If you don’t dress the part, play the games, they dismiss you as a dilettante. You have to take on the role for them to accept you.”
“So there’s not much freedom there either.”
“Not really. A lot of them are no different on the inside than anyone else. They just put on their silly outfits to set themselves off from the rest of the world. Which is why they put so much emphasis on the look. They know inside that without all their fancy gear, they can’t be the people they want the world to think they are. My opinion is that you’ve either got it or you don’t. If you can really play the role, be that person, you don’t need the props.”
She had been nodding to all this.
“Yeah, I agree totally. You can be whoever you want, all that matters is who you think you are.”
“Right. But I shouldn’t be accusing other people of hypocrisy. I’ve never taken any of my investment banker friends to the Dungeon. They’d flip out, probably. It’s like I have this other life, this alter ego I let out of a box every now and then when I get bored.”
Her eyes widened as he spoke, and she didn’t say anything right away.
“I feel the same way, sometimes.”
“Would you believe I have eight tattoos? Hardly anyone I know would guess.”
“Can I see?”
He took off his jacket and pulled up his shirt to show her. She ran the tips of her slim fingers over the chrysalis on his chest. A slight quiver ran down his back.
“This is a monarch chrysalis.”
“I think so. I’m not that into bugs.”
Her eyes came up to his.
“So what’s it mean, then? You have something inside you waiting to get out? Something you want to be someday?”
She examined the tattoo again.
“Those shows they put on, at the Dungeon, are they like nude? Sex acts and stuff?”
“Sort of. There is a lot of nudity. But like I said, the sex, what there is of it, is simulated.”
“Do you like it?”
He lowered his shirt and tucked it back into his jeans.
“I think I’d like it more if I didn’t sense the ‘we-all-know-this-is-just-a-game’ attitude that pervades that whole place.”
“You’d like someone who was really into that kind of thing? Mentally, not just as an act?”
Matt’s throat tightened slightly. He had to force out his reply.
She smiled slightly.
“I have a confession to make, then.”
“I was kind of deceiving you about what I do.”
“I am a dancer. But not like that girl you dated.”
Matt was perplexed for a second, and then—
“Oh. You mean— “
Matt was unable to prevent himself from running his eyes over her body again. She noticed but didn’t seem to care. Certain things about her that had been bothering him suddenly made sense. His dance major girlfriend at USC hadn’t had a chest like this girl did.
“Do you work in a club?”
“No. I work for an entertainment company. Body Elegance is the name of it.” She was looking down at the table, tracing random designs in the condensation from her beer. “It’s all outcall. We go out to fraternities and bachelor parties and dance for them.”
“My fraternity in college did that a few times.”
“So you know what I do, sort of.”
“Does your company do the love acts? The girl-girl shows?”
She nodded. “Some companies simulate the two-girl and three-girl shows, but we don’t. It’s for real.”
“Do you enjoy that?”
A shrug. “I guess. I don’t know. I like the role, like you were saying. I haven’t done it except at work.”
“How long have you been dancing?”
“Since I got out here. Maybe six months. The money is really good. My dad would kill me if he found out about it, though.”
She finally looked up at him.
“So did I ruin your image of me?”
“Not really. Something told me when we met there was more to you than I saw. And I don’t mean the dancing.”
“No way. What?”
He stared at her again, and again she broke the stare after just a couple of seconds.
“That. Right there.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why can’t you meet my gaze for more than a few seconds?”
She wouldn’t look at him at all now.
“I don’t know.”
“When you’re dancing, do you look at the guys watching you?”
“We’re supposed to . . . but I don’t, really.”
“Tell me something.”
“Have you ever gotten off while you were doing the love act?”
“Sometimes. I guess I get more into it than I’m supposed to.”
“Sometimes you aren’t really acting, are you?”
Finally she looked back at him.
“No. I guess not.” She smiled a little. “You know, I live just a few blocks from here. Do you want to come back, just for a drink or something?”
As serious as their discussion had gotten, this took Matt by surprise. He had had his share of anonymous one-night encounters during college and business school, but all of that had stopped when he started seeing Jennifer. Yes, over the last few months, he had occasionally gone out like this behind her back, but he had never actually cheated on her, nor was he looking to. He had been playing this game of “chicken” with himself, playing at fooling around, seeing just how close he could get to doing it without actually crossing the line. Picking up random girls in bars was never easy, and it took a certain amount of effort applied in certain specific directions. By falling just short enough of what he had always thought of as the necessary elements for a pick-up, Matt had been able to avoid having to make the decision he was suddenly faced with. But this girl had called his bluff.
He struggled for a second before realizing that she was too cute—and he was too chicken—to turn her down right to her face.
“Sure. Why not?”
She smiled and climbed out of the booth. Matt got up, and she took his hand to lead him out of the bar.
Okay, he thought, I can go back there, but we don’t have to do anything. I can have one drink and then leave. I could tell her . . . um . . . what do I tell her?
She stopped at the front of the bar.
“I need to use the ladies’ room real quick, okay? Don’t go away.”
She disappeared into the restrooms. Matt was out the front door before he realized it.
But trust me, she’s not done with him, not by a long shot.