By the time we get to The Rock Stop, the dance club is already crowded with twenty-somethings who all look eager to hook up with anyone who’s willing.
Two guys, who are already half-drunk, gawk at my breasts as I walk by. I wish there was another feature of my anatomy that garnered as much attention as my mammary glands.
I breathe a sigh of relief when I hit the relative safety of the bar area.
“What do you want to drink?” Cali yells over the loud Top Forty music.
“Would I look too conspicuous just holding a glass of water?”
She purses her lips at me. I tell her she looks like a duck when she does that but it doesn’t stop her.
“I’ll get you a beer. You don’t have to drink it but I don’t want you to embarrass me, or yourself.”
“Yes, Daffy,” I tease.
“I do not have duck lips,” she insists.
“You do when you pucker them like that.”
“I think you’re on crack.”
“Just get the beer.”
She waves in order to get the bartender’s attention but no such luck. He’s busy with a group of girls at the other end of the bar.
“Hey, Babe.” An arm reaches over Cali’s shoulder. “I wasn’t sure I’d see you tonight.”
David nods in my direction. “What’s up?”
He never addresses me by my name even though he’s been hooking up with Cali for over a year and I’ve seen him dozens of times.
David is the kind of guy I always hated in high school. His family has money and he’s never had to work a day in his life for anything. Cars, clothes, expensive vacations, you name it, and his parents have handed it to him on a silver platter. As a result he has a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds.
No doubt that’s why he feels like he can treat Cali any way he pleases and she’ll just keep coming back for more.
He runs his fingers through his short brown hair. I’m not sure whether it’s a nervous habit, or if he thinks that his fingers are like some kind of comb, but he does it all the time.
David is a good-looking guy in a frat-boy kind of way. Cali says he played baseball in high school, and he looks like he probably still plays sports. He’s not huge, but he’s definitely in good shape.
Cali met him at a frat party. Even though she’s never set foot in a college class she’s spent a lot of time at college parties. David likes to brag about the fact that he’s a business major. I don’t see what the big deal is though. I feel like business is a major for people who don’t really know what they want to do with their lives.
Not that I have any room to talk. Apparently I earned a degree for people who don’t really want a job.
Before I know it, Cali and David have disappeared somewhere and I’m alone at the bar.
I didn’t even want to come here in the first place.
I have a choice. I can leave or I can order a drink. After the day I’ve had a drink is actually starting to sound appealing.
As soon as the DJ starts mixing, nearly everyone moves to the dance floor. The bar area is now pretty empty except for a young woman seated at the far end. She glances up at me when I approach and gives me the faintest of smiles.
She’s an attractive blonde with stunning ocean blue eyes. She’s the definition of a blonde bombshell. She’s got curves that would give Marilyn Monroe a run for her money.
I order a Crantini and the bartender wastes no time filling my order.
“Tough day?” the blonde asks.
“Have a seat.” She points at the stool next to her.
I climb onto the stool and take a sip of my drink. It’s strong and I cough a little as it goes down.
“Russ likes to make them strong.” She laughs. “Maybe he thinks he’ll get lucky at the end of the night.”
The bartender, who looks like he’s in his mid-thirties, is completely bald and built like a brick house. Definitely someone I would want to have on my side if a fight broke out.
“Are you waiting for someone?” I ask. She looks a little too dressed up for the place we’re in. It’s mostly a denim crowd and she’s in a little black dress and pumps.
“You could say that.”
I nod. A cryptic response, but I get the impression that she’s not going to say much more about who she’s waiting for.
“So what’s your story?” she asks.
I laugh. “Do I look like I have a story?”
“You definitely look like you have a story.”
“You’ve probably heard it a million times before.”
She glances at her watch. I can’t help but notice it’s a gorgeous Rolex. The blonde doesn’t look that much older than me. I doubt she’s even twenty-five. It makes me wonder how she can afford such an expensive watch. When I look at her more closely, I notice she’s also wearing a diamond tennis bracelet and huge diamond stud earrings. Also very expensive.
Maybe she’s like David and has a generous daddy with lots of money.
“I’ve got a few minutes before my friend gets here. Tell me this story I’ve heard a million times before.”
I take another sip of my drink. She’s right. Russ does like to make them strong.
“I recently graduated from art school. I have a fine arts degree but no professional job and no prospects. My student loans are set to go into repayment and I have no way to pay them. I’m barely making ends meet on my salary busting my ass at the local coffee shop. Pathetic, right?”
She shakes her head. “It’s not pathetic, but you’re right, it’s a story I’ve heard a lot. Maybe not a million times. Half a million tops.”
We both laugh. It feels good to laugh about it. At least for one night.
She reaches into her purse, a pricey Coach bag, and pulls out a business card. I expect her to hand it to me but she places it on the bar between us instead.
“I don’t do this very often but I feel bad for you, so I’m making an exception.” She points to the card. “You can pick it up if you want to, after I tell you what it’s about. Or you can leave it on the bar. It’s completely up to you.”
My curiosity is definitely piqued. When I glance down at the card I notice it only has two words: The Club followed by a phone number.
“What’s The Club?”
“It’s a kind of dating service.”
I frown. “Do I look like need a date?”
“No, but you said you need money. This is a special kind of dating service for extremely wealthy men.”
I assume that’s how she got her Rolex and other jewelry, but I don’t want to be rude by asking. “Are you saying it’s kind of like having a sugar daddy?”
She laughs. “That’s kind of an antiquated term but sort of. Most of the men in The Club are older and they have very specific tastes. Most of them want younger women, but more importantly, they want women who will be there whenever and however they want.”
I gulp. Then I whisper. “Are you talking about prostitution?”
She gives me a little smile. “Prostitution implies that you’re with multiple men and they’re paying you for sex. It’s not like that. It’s more like you’re being paid to be one man’s mistress.”
“Are they married?”
She laughs. “Some are. Some aren’t. Does it matter?”
“I think it would to me.”
It’s a good question. I’m not married. He’d be the one doing the cheating.
“Do you mind if I ask how much money you’re talking about?”
“That’s negotiable between you and the man who selects you. It’s called an arrangement. You can negotiate any sort of arrangement you want.”
“Could you give me a ballpark figure?”
“Usually between three and five thousand a month.”
My eyes grow wide at the thought of that kind of money. My salary at the coffee shop, even with overtime and tips, doesn’t come close to that.
“And that doesn’t include all of the perks. A lot of the men like to provide their girlfriends with generous gifts in addition to their arrangement.”
“You said a lot of the guys are older. How old?”
An image of a geriatric using a walker crosses my mind. I’m not sure I’d be able to have sex with someone that old, if he could still even have sex.
“The guy I have an arrangement with is fifty-four.”
That’s ten years older than my dad. I can feel my stomach churn. Am I really considering getting involved with some kind of club and being paid to have sex with a guy who could be older than my father?
The blonde leans in close. “Don’t let his age fool you. He can still perform in bed. And I only have to see him two days a week for a few hours. And my arrangement is non-exclusive. He doesn’t mind if I date other guys.”
“I don’t really date that much,” I confess.
“That’s even better. There are a lot of guys who want exclusive arrangements. Not many girls will commit to that.”
I stare at the business card for a few seconds. Is this something I’m actually considering? I’m just not sure. There’s no doubt that I need the money but I’m not sure about having sex with someone I don’t even know…for money.
“It’s really not that bad,” she insists. “I wasn’t sure at first either but you get used to it. And Alex can be a really sweet guy.”
She makes a point of pushing the business card a little closer to me. “At least meet with Claudia. You can always back out if a guy selects you and you don’t like him.”
I pass my hand over the card and hesitate for a moment. I feel like this is a pivotal moment. Like my whole life could change just by picking up the card.
I take in a deep breath then grab the card from the bar. Now that it’s actually in my hand I feel like calling the phone number is inevitable.
“Tell Claudia that December sent you.”
My eyes widen and I can’t help the look of surprise on my face. “Your name is December?”
She laughs. “It’s my real name too. And I wasn’t even born in December. My birthday is November 28. I was an early arrival. But my parents already picked out the name and they really liked it.”
She holds out a hand for me to shake. “December Reynolds.”
“Rose Collins,” I reply as I shake her hand.
“Claudia just accepted several new members into The Club and she’s looking for a few more girls. I think she’ll really like you. You’re cute and classy.”
I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment. “Thanks,” I say anyway.
December looks at her watch. “I’ve got to split. I’m supposed see Alex in a few minutes.”
She hops down from her barstool then reaches into her purse, grabs two twenties and throws them on the bar. The drinks here aren’t cheap but they’re not that expensive. “The Crantini is on me. I’m sure I’ll see you around. Give my best to Claudia.”
Before I have a chance to respond, December is hurrying out the door.
Ren Monterrey lives in a small town outside Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and their bloodhounds. She writes New Adult and Contemporary romance under a number of different pen names.