Sunday afternoon, November 7
"I can't, I just can't," I said, pulling away from Randy's kiss. "Not here!" We were alone in the hallway outside Room 603, where Anabel and Roxana were resting up for our meeting with Lucia, Molly and the Global Collective.
Randy kissed me again and, though my entire body responded, I kept pulling myself away. As I led him toward the elevator, I wanted to say: It's grotesque to think I once discussed blow jobs, hourly rates and how-to-fake-anal-sex with Anabel -- your biological mom. Embarrassing to think that your mother once escorted me to a bachelor party with two other girls ... How can I continue to be your lover? The thought of that blabbering woman knowing I had sex with her son makes me want to scream; the things she could tell him about me ... Jasmine was right: Civilization will implode if we know too much about our sex partners.
"Look," I asked him, "does Jeannie -- Anabel -- your mother have any idea what we ..." Randy was looking at me oddly. "That we've been -- this summer -- "
"That we're neighbors?" he asked abruptly. "That you go to the gym where I work? That I like you? What?"
I felt my face heating up as I tried to explain. "She saw the way I was looking at you! Does she know we've slept together?"
"What are you thinking? I don't talk about my sex life with either of my mothers," he said, rather tersely. When I receded into embarrassed silence -- yeah, what was I thinking? -- he touched my waist gently. "Anabel can probably tell that something's going on but she doesn't have to know what it is. People can be attracted to each other without fucking," he added. The elegance of this worldly concept impressed me -- especially coming from a guy whom I once regarded as overly simple.
In the lobby, we ran into Barry who was surprised to see me in deep conversation with the very guy he had helped me to elude. Ever the discreet confederate, Barry was prepared to walk right by but I stopped him. "This is my neighbor, Randy," I said. Randy immediately recognized the notorious Barry Horowitz.
"Randall Hoffman. I'm Anabel Weston's son," he said, very much the forthright, upright Boy Scout. They shook hands confidently. "I came out here to see Anabel before she -- well, she might go to jail for a long time."
"We know," said Barry. "That's why Nancy put me together with Anabel's supporters in NYCOT."
"She did?" Randy looked, again, so surprised and adoring that I wondered how our relationship could remain a secret.
Our meeting with Molly's collective took a whole new direction when Lucia arrived, wearing a red rayon shift over her voluptuous form. She threw a small shopping bag onto the large conference table. "April has been disappeared!" Lucia reported, loud and distraught. "This was left in the room. Nothing else."
Jasmine examined the bag's contents -- some crumpled papers with phone numbers on them, a local map, a San Francisco Zagat guide and a lot of used tissues. Anabel, her bright orange lips pursed around a straw, sipped on a Diet Pepsi, and fluttered her thickly painted eyelashes nervously.
"What does this mean?" Lucia wailed.
"Nothing," Jasmine said, staring hard at the big-lipped, big-voiced Lucia. "Except that she's left San Francisco. This was just April's trash bag."
"She did not choose to leave!" Lucia insisted.
"How so, Lucia?" Molly asked.
"Last night she said I was the sister she never had! We talked about buying a house together -- "
"Ha!" Anabel interjected. "Join the club."
" -- writing our book together. She told me I would meet her agent next week ... She could not just leave without me! She wanted to come to Rio and help me with my outreach program -- the street children ... my street children."
Cozy von Booty tried to comfort Lucia.
"April was never interested in your soup kitchen," Jasmine said bluntly. "Or your urchins." She began extracting the crumpled-up notes and putting them in her handbag.
"What are you doing?" Molly said, her Aussie twang growing more belligerent. "You can't take those things. It's Global Collective property."
"If it's anyone's property, it's April's, or maybe the city of San Francisco's, since it was meant for the dump. I'm researching April's movements, I want to see what these phone numbers are -- "
"Listen here -- " Molly reached across the table almost knocking Allison off her chair. Jasmine grabbed everything and darted toward the door. "Don't come near me!" she warned Molly. "Or I'll have your legs broken, you fucking busybody! I'm the only person here who's not afraid of you -- and don't forget it."
As she slammed the door, Molly stood. "Don't," Lucia moaned. "She can find you and carry out her threat. I know her type."
"Bloody Americans," Molly grumbled, sitting down again. "The violence in this country ... Who invited her to this meeting?"
Roxana and Allison tried not to look at me. "I did," Anabel finally said with a shrug. She looked at Lucia sadly while she drained her can of Diet Pepsi. "What else did April take? You said that bag was the only thing in your room?"
While Randy took his mother to dinner, I reported the latest to Barry. "She who steals my purse steals trash," he chuckled. "Molly's going to spend the rest of the conference nursing Lucia's broken heart. She won't have as much time to throw her weight around in the meetings and Roxana can probably push through anything she wants. That's politics."
"Is it really that brutal?" I asked. "Did Lucia have to get totally ripped off by April to find out that her real allegiance should have been to Anabel? Jasmine's up in the room studying April's trash, by the way."
Monday, November 8
Thanks to Jasmine's merciful intervention I found myself, late last night, alone in my room with Randy -- as nervous there as I was when he tried to kiss me in the hallway. "Sit down, will you?" he said, holding my shivering body. "I love the way your mouth feels."
"Yes, but -- " I allowed him to sit me down on the bed. "This is so embarrassing! I can't handle knowing all this about your mother! It's information overload." And almost like having sex with my own brother for some reason, I thought. "I didn't even know that Jeannie -- Mary -- Anabel -- whatever we're supposed to call her -- had a kid!"
"She didn't know she could," he said. "And she was too sentimental to have an abortion because she was in love with the guy -- my biological dad. So when my mother found out she was pregnant, she contacted Mom." I digested that interesting remark -- "Mom" being the mother who raised him.
"How did you trace Jeannie down?" I asked. My curiosity was making me less nervous. He poured me another scotch. "I'm sorry. I guess I shouldn't call her Jeannie."
"It's OK," he said, with a quizzical smile. "It was an open adoption. I saw her twice a year -- whenever she was in town. When I was about 16, she told me the truth about her business. And when I was 18, Mom said I was old enough to visit Anabel myself. So I started flying out to wherever she was -- once a year, around her birthday. She moves around."
Sixteen, I thought -- that's not so long ago for him. And that's the age I was when I started working for Jeannie! Or Anabel. "Weren't you ... disillusioned ... when you found out?"
"I don't have many illusions about my mother. She's the one with the illusions. Tonight, when I took her out for dinner, she kept hassling me about how I should become a dentist! She's been telling me that ever since I was 10."
"She hassles you about your job?"
"Anabel doesn't want me to work at a gym but Mom thinks it's great -- you see, Mom's a retired ballet dancer. Let's face it, my mother -- Anabel -- wasn't up to raising a kid. She's unstable. But she has these weird feelings that she thinks a mother should have. Sometimes, she's like a teenager playing at being my mother. Hey," he said, turning to me suddenly. "I would never have guessed you had worked for her."
I blushed and looked away. "I don't mean it that way -- it's just that you're so buttoned down. And I didn't expect to see you here," he continued, "because you're so secretive." Our eyes met. He was pulling me closer. "But I always had a feeling you were seeing guys for money -- in a discreet way, of course. That day, when we had coffee, something you told me ... It was obvious to me. I guess I've learned something about working girls from talking to my -- to Anabel -- over the years."
"You knew? Why didn't you say anything?"
"Do you really want to know?" he asked. "Promise not to slap me, OK?" There was a pause as he held my arms tighter. My heart was pounding. After so many years -- since Peter, my first boyfriend -- it feels strange to have a lover who knows about it.
"I knew that you would never let me fuck you if you thought I was onto your secret. You don't like to give it away." I inhaled furiously and wanted badly to smack his face.
"Isn't that true?" he insisted, as I tried to free my arms. "I figured that out when you made me wait for it, and guess what?" Now he pushed me back onto a pillow as I made a futile effort to smack him again. I could feel my legs opening up as he slipped one hand between them. "Guess what?" he repeated, pressing hard against the fabric of my pants. I gasped in surprise as I started to come. "It was worth waiting for," he told me. "Because you like coming for me. God, you really do. I love making you come." I didn't want him to stop -- and he didn't ...
This morning, Randy was up early, showered and ready to take his mother for a drive. "We're going to look at the redwoods," he informed me. Hmm, the morning after. Redwoods. Just like that.
"Are you OK?" he asked, gently. I was half awake, feeling simultaneously abandoned and apprehensive: Why are you disappearing like this after a night of such intense pleasure, after telling me all those things? About you, about me?
And what will I tell Matt when he asks about my trip to San Francisco, to my non-existent aunt?
On my way home -- scheduled to land at 6 a.m. What an hour. And my problems with Matt have just exponentially multiplied. At SFO, while checking in, I picked up my voicemail and heard Matt's most recent and most irate message: "I got a strange call this morning from a guy called Tom Winters -- what is this about? And why is he saying all these things to me -- about you? What's going on??"
If there's one thing I cannot afford at this point, it's a pissed-off boyfriend talking to a federal agent. My God, am I being punished for last night? For cheating on Matt with Randy? Am I paying the ultimate price for the best sex I've ever had in my life?