Home > The Idea of You(10)

The Idea of You(10)
Author: Robinne Lee

“Do you?”

It was dark, moody, with multicolored globed lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

He nodded. “The art. That humongous head in the foyer. What is that? Is that Martin Luther King?”

I started to laugh. “No. You’re funny. It’s a Jaume Plensa.”

“A who? A what?” He was loosening his tie.

“Jaume Plensa. Spanish sculptor. He’s quite good.”

“It’s a little unsettling is what it is.”

He had a point. The sculpted head stood about ten feet high in the hotel lobby. It was slightly too large for the proportions of the space, which made it all the more arresting.

“And the dogs. There’s like a pack of wild dogs out there made of paper. Papier-mâché dogs.”

“Justine Smith. She’s British.”

“Figures.” He was wriggling out of his suit jacket and paused then to take me in. “Do you know all that off the top of your head?”

I nodded. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. Plus, I’ve stayed here before.”

“Ha.” He seemed to slow down, allowing the high of wherever he was coming from to settle. His attention zooming in on me. “You look stunning.”

“You’re not so bad yourself.”

“God. Wow.”

It was new, my Jason Wu. Purchased especially for this trip. Oyster sequined tank and an ivory pencil skirt. Paired with Isabel Marant heels. Sexy, because I knew I would be seeing him. And because—if I was being honest with myself—I wanted to leave him wanting more. I wanted to torture him.

“I can’t even believe you’re with me,” he laughed, unbuttoning his cuffs, rolling up his sleeves.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because I’m like this kid. And you are clearly not. And I mean that in the most flattering way possible.”

“Okay, don’t ever bring that up again.”

“Okay.” His hands reached for the cocktail menu. “Are we drinking?”

“That was the plan.”

I watched him peruse the menu. Unlike Daniel, he did not need to squint, even in the half-light.

Our server showed up eventually. I chose a tequila-peach-chili-pepper concoction. And without the slightest hesitation, Hayes ordered a Laphroaig 10. Neat. The server, male, midthirties-ish, did not bat an eyelash.

“Scotch?” I asked once he’d left the table. “What are you? Sixty?”

Hayes laughed, running his hands through his hair, mussing it strategically. He’d been deconstructing since he arrived. I wasn’t certain what he was going for. Elegantly disheveled, perhaps.

“I find in America they’re less likely to ask me for ID if I sound like I know what I’m talking about. And,” he added, “I like the taste. Earthy.”

He allowed that to sit in the air. And then he smiled, coy.

“You are trouble.”

“I thought you knew that…”

“How would I? One of your many blogs? Tumblr?”

He laughed. “Oh, don’t read those, those are rubbish. Promise me you won’t read those.”

“I have no desire to,” I said. I should have added “again.” It would have been more truthful.

That first night after our lunch at the Hotel Bel-Air, while the boys were jumping around onstage across town at the Staples Center, I had locked myself in my bedroom and Googled “Hayes Campbell.” The search revealed thirty million matches, which did not seem fathomable to me. And so I hit refresh. Twice. And then over the next three hours consumed half a bottle of Shiraz while wading through site after site of all things Hayes: news items, photos, videos, blogs, fan fiction, odes to his hair.

The entire time, Isabelle had been just across the hall on the phone with her friend, oblivious to her mother going down the rabbit hole. Face-first.

But here, in the intimacy of a hotel bar, I didn’t feel any of the anxiety I had while searching the Internet. I did not feel as if I were sharing him with his twenty-two million Twitter followers. Here, tonight, in this space, he was mine. He’d made that clear.

“You’re not wearing your watch,” he said. We were two drinks in and the crowd had thinned somewhat. The music had mellowed, atmospheric trip-hop.

“I’m not.”

His hand had slipped down between the two of us and encircled my wrist. “Where is it?”

“Upstairs.”

“I’ve come to depend on your watch.”

“It’s not TAG Heuer.”

“No. It’s Hermès,” he said.

“Wow. You’re good.”

He smiled, his thumb stroking my pulse point. “I’ve gotten very good at watches lately.”

I didn’t say anything for a moment. Just sat there, allowing myself to be hypnotized by his touch. When his hand moved from my wrist to my thigh, I flinched. “Watches, huh?”

“Watches.”

“What else are you good at?”

His eyes widened then, and he let loose one of his sly smiles. “Is that a trick question? All right, I’ll have a go. Football, I mean soccer … Tennis … Downhill skiing … Chess … Foxhunting…”

At that, I laughed. “Foxhunting?”

“I was just seeing if you were paying attention.” His fingertips slipped beneath the hemline of my skirt, grazing my knee. I was paying attention, all right.

“Rowing … Squash … Badminton … Poetry … Breakdancing…”

“The worm?”

“The worm,” he laughed. “You remember that, do you? I think I won you over with that.” His fingers were moving over my skin, sensual.

“I don’t know. ‘Won me over’ sounds a little strong.” I uncrossed my legs and watched as his hand found its way between my knees. He had large, beautifully wrought hands, long fingers.

“You were interested.”

“Maybe.”

“You’re interested now.”

I nodded. My heartbeat had begun to accelerate. I took the liberty to finish what little was left in my glass. He leaned into me. But he did not kiss me, I assumed because we were not alone. Because there was another couple two seats over, and a room half filled with strangers—most certainly with cell phones. It was probably for the best.

“Your turn, Solène. Tell me what you’re good at.”

“Watercolors. French. Ballet.”

“Ballet?” His hand had migrated north, his fingers pressing at the inside of my lower thigh.

“I used to do ballet. I was good.”

“Why’d you stop?”

“Wasn’t good enough.”

“Mm.” He nodded, fingers mounting. “Go on.”

“Umm…” I was losing focus. “Running. Cooking. Pilates. Spinning.”

“I’m trying to picture you doing all those at once…”

I laughed, uneasy, under the spell of his touch. Trembling, intoxicated, wet.

“I sing. Did I say that? How’d I bloody forget that?” he chuckled. “I sing. I’m quite good. I write songs. I perform. I’m good with people. I like kids.”

“I don’t think you should be talking about liking kids with your hand up my skirt.”

He smiled his half smile. “Is it up your skirt?”

“It’s up my skirt enough.”

“Do you want me to stop?” He started to withdraw.

I grabbed his wrist. “No.”

He leaned forward then and kissed me. His mouth soft, smoky from the Scotch; his tongue supple. It was brief, but he’d made his point.

His fingers persisted, the pressure alternating between soft and strong. “You know what else I’m good at?”

I nodded. Slow.

“Okay.” He smiled. “Shall we get a room?”

“I have a room.”

“Shall we go to it, then?”

“No.”

He laughed. “Do you not trust me?”

“I don’t trust me.”

“I won’t let you do anything you don’t want to do. Promise.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m not going to have sex with you, Hayes Campbell.”

“Awww.” He dropped his head. “Are we back to the first and last name?”

“That’s who you are, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but that’s more like the idea of me than … Never mind,” he trailed off. “Look, we don’t have to have sex, we can just cuddle.” He’d said this with his right hand wholly between my thighs. That he wasn’t touching my underwear was a calculated tease. Cuddle, my ass.

“Okay,” I said, my breathing labored. “Here’s the plan. We’re going to go upstairs. We’re going to fool around. We’re not going to have sex. And you’re not going to spend the night. Deal?”

“Deal.”

* * *

The rooms at the Crosby Street Hotel were finely done: individual, warm, eclectic. Unexpected patterns juxtaposed in soothing colors. Dressmaker mannequins as art. The light was low when we entered, the mood inviting. Fitting for a tryst.

“I like this,” Hayes said, laying his jacket neatly over the arm of the sofa and stooping to remove his boots.

“You’re getting awfully comfortable.”

“Am I not allowed to be? Is that not part of the deal?”

I laughed at his inquiry. He was clearly more used to this than I. Being physically and emotionally naked before someone whose middle name you did not know. I did not want to calculate how often he did this.

“Last bit.” He smiled, emptying his pants pockets onto the coffee table. An iPhone, a wallet, lip balm, and a pack of gum. Noticeably absent: a condom. Or perhaps it was in his wallet. Or his jacket pocket. I was overthinking this.

“I want to see the view. Do you want to see the view?” I stalled, making my way across the room and opening the curtains, unveiling the floor-to-ceiling industrial windows. There was something extraordinary about Manhattan at night: twinkling lights and indigo sky.

   
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