Karaoke night. A weekly tradition amongst my college friends that I've been avoiding for the last few weeks for fear of what mysterious strangers might surface. In the last few days I have managed to minimize my activity to school, work, and the occasional trip to a coffee shop that I frequent near my apartment. This outing, however, is unavoidable. Jason, a former dorm mate of mine, tracked me down at the campus library and bullied me into coming here. And now I'm sitting in a bar crowded with loud, drunk college students nursing a Sam Adams and wondering how long I have to stay before I am able to politely excuse myself.
It’s hard to be sober in this atmosphere. Everything seems too sharp around the edges and the girls on stage singing off tune to "Brass in Pocket" are giving me a headache.
"Hey, bro, aren't those the two chicks you left here with a few weeks ago?" Jason asks pointing to a table not far from ours.
They are light and dark—one blond with green eyes and the other a brown-eyed brunette. Two names float out of my subconscious."Melanie and Dominica," I hear myself mutter, in a monotone voice.
"Seriously, what happened when you left here?" Jason asks leaning in.
"I wish I could tell you," I mumble then pick up my glass and drain it empty. "But then of course I would have to kill you," I add in a half-hearted attempt to at levity.
"Damn, that hot, huh?" Jason laughs. "Whatever it was, they seem to want a repeat tonight."
I look toward the two girls again. The dark haired one, whom I assume is Dominica, gives me a little wave.
"Man...What I wouldn't give to be your pretty ass for one night," he says with an honesty that only surfaces when he drinks too much.
"Trust me. It's not all that it seems."
The waitress comes over with another frosty mug of Sam Adams lager and sets it on the table in front of me.
“I didn't order this."
"It's from those two chicks over there." She jerks her thumb in the direction of Melanie and Dominica. "They also gave me this." She passes me a note written on a bar napkin. It simply reads, 'round three?' with a big swirly question mark and dotted with a heart.
I rub the back of my neck. How is it possible that someone could be so drunk that they don't remember a threesome? Make that two threesomes according to this note.
Jason takes the note from my hand. "Ahhh, no way!" Jason shouts, smacking me hard on the back. "So what are you gonna do?"
I look over at the pair of them, leaning into each other. Trying their best to affect a sexy pose. It it’s working.
"What the hell." I drain the second beer and gesture for them to join us. They do so without hesitation.
They’re as giggly as a couple of schoolgirls. I find them nauseating. Especially, Melanie. She reminds me of those girls that populate suburban malls. All of them sugary, sweet, carbon copies of each other. Traveling in packs. Leaving the scent of cotton candy in their wake. Strangely, that ceases to matter after several rounds of drinks.
"How much longer do we have to stay here?" Dominica asks finally. "I'm anxious to get you naked again."
I don't require any further words of encouragement.
We leave the bar. I stumble along the city streets with a woman under each arm. Jason tags along, intent on joining in the fun. But when we finally make it to the apartment that the girls share, they shut the door in his face--denying him entry.
"Hate to be rude to your friend," Melanie says as she walks over to where I’m sitting, letting her clothes drop to the floor like breadcrumbs until she stands in front of me naked and glowing blond.
"We've already snared our prey." Dominica slides up beside Melanie, slipping her arm around her waist.
I look up at them and suddenly feel a little afraid. The two of them sit on either side of me like supple bookends. They undress me slowly, expertly, like they do this sort of thing often. Dominica caresses my cheek and then kisses me. Melanie does the same, but longer and deeper. Dominica, slightly jealous, runs her hand across my chest and pinches my nipple…hard.
"Hey, gentle," I rasp grabbing her hand.
Dominica smiles wickedly and pinches me again.
“All right, then, Joaquin," Melanie whispers in that place behind my ear. Then everything seems to grow fuzzy around the edges, like a love scene in some old black and white romance film. I give in to the weightless sensation and they cover me with hands and lips and soft twisting limbs. The spell is complete with one soft sigh from Dominica in my ear as I slide into her warmth.
: : : :
I wake to the sound of a doorbell. The dark shapes in the room are not familiar to me. The pillow beneath my head is filled with down feathers and is so plush and comfortable that I know that I can’t be at home. Bit by bit it comes back to me. Melanie. Dominica.
The doorbell chimes again.
"Get the door, Mel," murmurs a soft voice from beneath the blankets. Gradually, I begin to remember where I am. I hear a rustling as the blond nymph that is Melanie climbs out of bed, followed by a low grumble from behind me. I turn toward the sound and Dominica nuzzles in closer to me. Her skin is as soft as a peach. I indulge in a languid caress. Draw my hand up her slim waist.Cup the swell of her breast.
“Joaquin,” she moans softly, then kisses me. A hint of the sweet cocktails we drank earlier mingles with the taste of Melanie on her tongue. I moan into her mouth and she opens for me so that I can taste her even more. My hand is sneaking toward the wet heat between her thighs when Melanie reappears in the doorway.
"Joaquin, did you call a car?"
I frown. "Did I? I don't remember." Honestly, for someone who has just participated in a threesome for the third time I don't really remember as much as I would like about that either.
"There's a guy at the door saying that a Mrs. Singh is waiting for you."
I frown again. Noor is waiting for me? I don't remember calling her, much less giving her the address to send a car. I don’t even know where I am.
I get up and start looking for my clothes while trying desperately to recount the moments since I left the bar.
"Damn, who is this chick that has you rushing around like this at 2:55 in the morning?" Dominica asks.
"Yeah, you got some secret girlfriend you didn't tell us about?" Melanie inquires as she slips back into bed next to Dominica.
"What can we do to entice you to stay?"
I turn to look at them. Melanie gives a little giggle and Dominica leans in to kiss her. Time slows down while I watch them. I nearly forget why I am in such a hurry. The doorbell rings again bringing me back into reality. "Sorry, ladies. I've gotta go."
I leave the bedroom, albeit reluctantly, and to look for my shoes. I find them along with my keys in the living room on the floor littered among their clothing. Scooping these up, I stumble toward the door and dress quickly in the small foyer.
When I open the door, I find the driver standing outside on the stoop. He gives me an irritated glare as if I am the sole reason for his being out at this hour. Which I probably was.
"Right this way, sir," he says gesturing toward a black Lincoln Continental idling at the curb.
I follow him down the steps and he opens the car door for me. "Thank you." I mutter as I slide in next to Noor. She is as beautiful as I remembered. Maybe more so. She looks like royalty in her indigo blue cotton. "What are you doing here?"
She smiles. "That is not the standard greeting you give when you haven't seen someone in nearly a month."
"I'm sorry. How are you?”
“I’m good. What about you?”
“I'm just feeling a little confused. What are you doing here?"
"You called me about an hour ago. Don't you remember?"
I shake my head.
"It sounded like you’d been crying. You said you had a nightmare. You asked me to come for you. I came as quickly as I could."
My brow furrows even deeper as I try to remember this dream and this late night phone call. It comes back to me in fits and starts. A dark room. Moist breath. Legs, fingers, arms intertwined. An earth shattering climax followed by fitful sleep. I don't need to remember the nightmare. The dream is dim in comparison to the reality of the moment that created it. I lean my head back on the seat and close my eyes. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to remember.
"Oh, Joaquin," Noor coos softly and smoothes her hand over my brow. I lean into her and she embraces me.
"Take us home, Donny," she tells the driver.
Noor's fifth avenue apartment is nothing short of amazing. It is quietly elegant and no doubt expensive. The hardwood floors are gleamed as if they were polished daily. The only other place I’ve seen floors shine this way is in a church.
"They are original to the building and were a small fortune to refurbish. But of course, Mr. Singh wouldn't have it any other way."
"Only the best for Mrs. Singh?"
"The finest things money can buy," she says dispassionately as she methodically removes the layers of scarves around her neck and head. "Too bad it can't buy happiness."
I touch her hair gently and she sighs.
"You should take a bath. You stink of sex."
She leads me into her bathroom and begins to fill the tub with steaming hot water. I can't remember the last time I took an actual bath. I had to have been about ten years old. To be honest, I’ve always found them kind of revolting. Seeing all that dirt from my body settling on the surface is not exactly my idea of getting clean but, strangely, this bath that Noor is drawing for me seems incredibly inviting.
"Go ahead," she coaxes. “Get in.”
I turn to look at her. Her hazel eyes travel the length of me. I can nearly smell the desire rising off of her like the steam from the tub. "If I take these clothes off I won't have anything to change into."
Noor smiles shyly. "Don't worry about that. My maid will make sure they are washed and pressed for you when you are ready to leave in the morning."
"So, I'm staying until morning?"
She answers me by gathering the hem of my t-shirt in her hands and pulling it over my head.
"What about your husband?" I ask softly.
"He's in Tel Aviv."
She reaches for the waist of my jeans and I grab her hands. This is some surreal night. I have already had a threesome and here I am getting undressed by an gorgeous, Fifth Avenue lady.
"Listen...I know what you said and I respect that. I understand that you're...sensitive," she stammers.
“I hear a 'but' coming."
She smiles. "No, 'but'. Just a request."
"What is it that you would like to ask?"
She takes a deep breath. "You don't have to have sex with me," she says softly, looking down at her feet at her feet like a shy school girl. "I just need you to hold me. I feel like I've forgotten what it was like to be touched. What it was like to be treated like a woman."
I sigh and then kiss her the palms of her hands. My heart aches for her. Her marriage is like a prison. I imagine her as some beautiful bird in a gilded cage, dying on her perch because all she wants is to be free. Who am I to deny her this small request? To do so would be cruel and that’s the last thing I want to be.
I release her hands and begin to undress her. She doesn't look at me once she stands naked in front of me. She hides behind her hair, her arms drawn up tight against her chest. I take her hands and pull them away from her body. Gently sweep her hair behind her shoulders. She is breathtaking and as tempting as the tree of knowledge heavy with fruit. My body, which should be exhausted, is responding to her.
"You are beautiful, Noor," I whisper to her.
She looks up at me, her dark lashes wet. “Truly?”
We climb into the surprisingly deep tub together. She slips under the surface wetting her hair and washing her face. I do the same, and then I move closer to her, curling her into my arms. I kiss and wash every inch of her. I have never seen a woman so deprived of affection. She is pleased and thankful and cries in my arms.
Afterwards, with all her makeup washed away, she looks fresh and young—like a girl, not at all like that sophisticated woman I met in that bar in Chelsea. We crawl into her expensive sheets together.
"Tell me about your dream,” she asks softly.
I squeeze my eyes tight against the memory, willing it back into my subconscious. "I don't want to talk about it."
She accepts this quietly. I kiss her bare shoulder.
"Has he always been this negligent?"
"Who? My husband?"
She nods, but doesn’t say anything more.
"Why don't you leave him then?"
She shrugs her cumin-tinted shoulder.
“Is it the money?"
"No, I have money of my own. I come from a wealthy family."
"So I ask again, why don't you leave?"
She didn't answer for a long time. "I wouldn't know how to," she says finally as she turns toward me in the semi-darkness. “We were married when I was eighteen. I only met him once before that day. He is the son of a wealthy businessman in India. And I was the merger."
I hold her closer and she nuzzles her face into my neck.
"We never consummated the marriage. On our wedding night, I offered myself to him like a virgin wife should. I’ll never forget the way he looked at me as I stood before him—a look of such disgust. As if I were deformed.”
I could hear the pain in her voice. Being refused that way has undoubtedly left a scar.
“That was eleven years ago. I'm not a girl anymore, but I'm still a virgin. This is all I know. This is my destiny."
"Your destiny is what you make it."
"Not in my experience."
I rub her back. I can feel her heart fluttering like a hummingbird in her chest.
"I told my mother of my unhappiness and she said to me, have some babies, you will feel better. I tried to explain to her that he would need to touch me to do that.” She grows quiet and thoughtful for a moment and then laughs. "Then she told me to take a lover. I thought that it was a ridiculous idea."
I feel her lips on my neck, soft and wet.
"That is, until I met you in the bar that night."
Her touch is feather light, but when her lips find mine, her kiss is deep and passionate. It draws something other than lust out of me. It makes my chest constrict and her touch leaves every nerve awake and wanting. Hot and sweet this kissing. I could kiss her this way all night. And I would have, but then I feel her warm hand close around me in the most intimate of caresses.
She sighs heavily, as if she knows what will come next. "You don't have to be so careful with me, Joaquin."
"But that’s the thing…I want to be."
"Why won't you do this for me?"
"Because I don't think it's what you want." I frown, as what I really want to say becomes clearer. "I don't think I am what you want."
"You don't know that."
She sinks into the down pillows next to me.
"Noor, I'm just some guy you met in a bar. You shouldn't give yourself to me. It should be special. Especially since you waited so long for it."
She sighs again and I can tell that she knows I am right. Little by little I can feel her giving up. She cuddles into me again fitting easily in the space under my arm.
"You'll be here when I wake up, Joaquin?" She asks this as if she won't go to sleep if she thought that I wouldn't be.
"Of course," is my answer.