What happens when a frustrated American artist-turned-soccer-mom and her overconfident and charming British cyber-lover plan a three-day tryst of erotic depravity at a hotel in New York City? Elizabeth and Richard are about to find out. Elizabeth is about to turn forty years old, facing empty nest syndrome, and wistful about roads not taken. Unhappy in both her marriage and her career, she mourns abandoning her dream of being an artist. She feels like an outsider in her sports-obsessed family and a misfit at work in the corporate world. She's hoping Richard, a refined, British upper class gentleman with unusual sexual preferences, will be her Knight-in-Shining-Armor and rescue her from her unfulfilling life. What ensues is a hilariously poignant sexual romp through the Big Apple. This book is the first of two stories about Elizabeth and her quest for a knight in shining armor.
Robin gives an overview of the book:
I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm on the train, wearing exactly what he's instructed. Tight black button-up blouse. No bra. Short skirt. Thigh high stockings. Heels. No underpants.
I wonder when he'll figure out the truth.
In the aisle seat to my left is an old woman with crooked orange lipstick. She's been dying to get into a conversation the entire trip so I've been giving her the evil eye to discourage her, which of course is having the opposite effect because she stares right back, salivating for an opportunity to strike. Sitting directly next to me on my right is a man in a turban reading the Wall Street Journal. Is he leering at my legs from beneath the pages? Can he see flashes of bare skin between my stockings and skirt? I'm afraid to check. Oh man, he probably even knows I'm not wearing panties. His nostrils keep flaring -- I wonder if men can sniff these things out. Right. What am I thinking?
I bet everyone here knows what I'm up to.
The train rumbles on. I wish I had a window seat. At least then I could focus on something. Rather than face turban guy, I crane my neck to peer out the window diagonally across the way to the left, trying to avoid further eye contact with crazy lips woman. I can make out a neon billboard, lit up pale yellow and blinking against the early evening sky, the bulbs on most of its letters burned out or missing. I've seen this sign many times before and know what it's supposed to say.
WHAT TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES.
But half-lit, it flickers WHAT ON ME THE WOD AKES and I make it worse by reading it to myself in the form of a long sigh.
Trenton was once a booming industrial city located half-way between Philadelphia and New York. In recent years it's become a victim of the economy; businesses closed; vacant boarded up housing with crack vial littered sidewalks. But supposedly it's on the brink of an upswing with a newly elected governor and mayor who've made the usual promises.
I consider for a moment that both Trenton and its sign with the missing light bulbs are metaphors for my life and then I realize I have absolutely no idea what I mean by that. Or do I? This is insane. I'm way too nervous.
My cell phone rings, causing me to panic further. I fumble through my backpack to find it. Finally, my sweaty hand closes over cold plastic. I push the talk button just in time.
"Hello?" I whisper.
"I'm here, baby. I'm in our suite."
"Hi, Richard." I sound high-pitched and unfamiliar and my face grows warm. Shit. I think it might be a hot flash. I'm too young for those, aren't I?
Great. Now not only is everyone watching me; they're all listening, too. I slink down into my seat, pressing the mobile so close to my ear I'm denting what's left of my brain while at the same time attempting to cover one side of my mouth with my free hand. Like this ridiculous gesture will keep the conversation private.
"So. Talk to me. How are you, superstar? Are you on the train?"
"Ah, very good. I'm glad there wasn't a problem with the schedule or delays. Are you okay, then?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine. So….so….how's the, um, place?"
The place? What was that? The hell with denting, I feel like taking the phone and bashing myself in the skull with it. Hard.
"It's a lovely hotel room, really. I'm quite pleased," he says. He's British. His accent drives me wild. I struggle to stay calm and remember who I am.
"You're pleased? What a relief. I always worry about things like that – hotel rooms, if they're going to be nice enough. Okay, I'm babbling. Sorry, sorry. What I meant to say was um, how does it look for what we…I mean, can you describe…you know, uh…"
"Naughty, naughty, Elizabeth. Ha! I like it! Well, in answer to your question, there's an easy chair in the corner. That's where I'll be sitting while you're on the floor at my feet."
My thought process flies completely out the window smack into Trenton. My fault – I was the one who brought it up. Too late now. I'm a pedestrian in the middle of the street with a speeding car headed toward me. There isn't any time to get out of the way so why even try and I'm even morbidly fascinated by the big messy splat on the road I'm going to make.
"Imagine this," he continues. "I'm sitting in that chair. Perhaps I'll be sipping a glass of fine red wine. A picture window, the drapes pulled back, revealing the twinkling lights of New York City. I'm going to be wearing a dusky blue velvet robe, slightly loosened, my legs crossed. You'll be stretched out before me on the carpet, naked. As I sit there, I'm going to read something very, very sexy to you; something I wrote especially for this occasion. You'll recline with your legs spread open wide and then, as you start to get aroused, you'll begin to touch yourself, your fingers lightly stroking your nipples, your belly, between your thighs. Because you really enjoy that, don't you, baby?"
I can't help it. I start to cough but luckily I'm able to stifle it before it gets out of hand.
Did he say a velvet robe? Wait…a dusky blue velvet robe? Dusky?
"I'll be watching you the entire time as I read but you won't see me. I'm going to have you blindfolded. You did bring the blindfold, didn't you?"
A velvet robe. He said it, alright. Dusky blue. I swallow hard and try to shake off the thought but it's like a Polaroid snapped and glued to my inner eyelids.
"Yes. Yes, of course. I've brought everything on your list."
"Good girl. I knew I could count on you. Now. There's also a tall wardrobe in the foyer of our room. The rail for holding our clothing is rather high up. I think I'll have you put your arms above your head and handcuff you there and I'll come up from behind and --"
"Please don't do this," I try to keep my voice down. Sweat is trickling; no, it's streaming, from every pore, every opening in my body.
"Ha! What's the matter, superstar? Am I making you crazy? That's my intention. I want you ready for me."
"I'm sorry, Richard. I... I can't handle it," I whisper. "Not here. Not now while I'm on the train. I never should have started you off on this."
"Why? Don't you find it erotic?"
"No, I don't. I mean, I do, but there are people everywhere. It's not…it's not how I thought it would be. And I really despise these cell phones. Please stop. I'm begging you."
I realize I feel squishy and wonder if I'm leaving a puddle on the seat, or worse, a nice aromatic female wet spot on my skirt. I look up and the man in the turban smiles at me.
"Okay," he laughs. "I'll leave you alone. But I'm a bit dismayed, love. I expected better from you. Not to worry; you'll make it up to me, I'm sure. So. When will you be off the train? And more importantly, what time do you think you'll be here?"
"Um, probably forty-five minutes or less on the train. If I'm lucky and get a cab quickly and traffic isn't too horrible, it shouldn't take me more than another ten minutes more after that. You're close to the station. I could probably even walk it if I had to, but, um, my bag is kind of heavy."
"Ha! Oh, is it now? So you really have been a good girl, haven't you? Excellent. Then it sounds as if you'll be here within the hour. I'll meet you at the hotel bar."
"Cool. Tell me where I'll find that. I like to know where I'm going. There's nothing worse than strolling into a fancy hotel in a city like New York and coming across like a clueless tourist."
"Nothing worse indeed! And we certainly can't have that, can we? Okay, here's what you do. You turn right when you first walk in the main entrance. You'll see a set of French doors, which lead to an enclosed garden area. That's where the pub is. It's quite nice, has an atrium feel to it. I'll be the man in the black turtleneck and jeans."
Oh sure, he gets to wear jeans. Me he tells to wear a fucking skirt and heels. And I've got luggage filled with sex toys so bulky I could only squeeze in a few articles of clothing and the lingerie he instructed I buy for the occasion.
The adult paraphernalia were also at his request, of course. He put me in charge of their purchase, giving me a detailed list because he was flying in from London -- he couldn't possibly get through airport security with handcuffs, a crop and nipple clamps.
Yeah, yeah. Nipple clamps. They're exactly what they sound like and they're really scary. The ones I brought along have huge hideous screws but I bought them because they were the only ones at the erotica store which didn't have dangling skulls or Hell's Angel crosses. These have pretty crystal hearts. I can't believe I paid good money for this stuff, let alone put it all in my suitcase. What was I thinking?
"Elizabeth? You still there?"
"I'm here. Sorry. Okay, got it. Black turtleneck and jeans. Sounds very handsome."
Do not think of the velvet robe. Think turtleneck and jeans. Turtleneck and jeans.
"You'll be seeing for yourself soon enough, my delectable woman. And with that thought in mind and your reluctance to take this any further, it's good-bye for now. I want to shower and freshen up before heading down to the bar to await your arrival, anyway."
"Okay. Then I guess it's See you soon."
"See you soon, love."
I return the phone to my backpack and stare straight ahead shell-shocked for the remainder of the trip.
Somehow, I manage to get off the train without hyperventilating or having to talk to anyone and even manage to hail a cab rather speedily by New York standards. I'm clammy and I'm nervous and this entire situation suddenly seems surreal to me. And very, very dangerous. What the hell am I doing?
Way too soon I'm walking through the canopied entrance of the hotel and making that turn. I can feel the doorman's gaze lingering on my panty-less bottom and I stumble, quickly looking around to see if anyone's noticed. No one but the now smirking doorman. Thank god I didn't fall and flash him.
Pushing my hair out of my eyes, I try to peer through the French doors Richard's described to see if I can get even the slightest glimpse of him beforehand, but there are artificial palm trees everywhere and despite my high anxiety I giggle at New York's attempt to go tropical. It's impossible to make out anything through those plastic fronds. So I try to steady myself, take a few deep breaths in an unsuccessful effort to keep my heart from beating out of my chest, then turn the heavy brass knob and let myself in.
I see him right away and give an inward groan. Damn. His photograph doesn't do him justice. Short, spiky hair, dark tinged with gray. Eyes blue sky beautiful. The black turtleneck is perfect for him and he knows it. He oozes confidence; the yin to my yang, as I wobble on my heels, dragging my suitcase full of demented playthings.
"Well hello there, beautiful," he says. He stands up and gives me a hug. I stiffen a bit, which isn't like me at all but I'm scared witless and I try to wiggle out of his embrace. But he doesn't let go. He holds me at arm's length and appraises me while I pray for no drool or other crusty matter anywhere on my face.
We'd made certain precautionary arrangements. If we hated each other on sight, we'd simply say "Game over", and I'd turn around and walk out the door and get right back into a cab. I didn't see that happening, I was pretty sure it would be option two, which was if we weren't repulsed but were still uneasy nonetheless, we'd sit and have a drink or seven and talk for a bit. And then of course there was option three. If we were instantly attracted, then let the games begin at once. When we first planned this, it all sounded like such outrageous fun.
He gives me a wicked grin and then we hug again but this time we kiss, too, and it's not just any old kiss. His tongue explores mine with circus performer-like skill to the point where I almost do lose my balance for real. Ah. So apparently it's option three.
I know I'm not unattractive. I'm about to turn forty – yikes, the big day is next week, but I look younger. My eyes are light blue, I've got full, pouty lips, and my hair is curly and dark. When not at the office, I wear it wild and loose and dress in jeans and black t-shirts. At least on the outside, I can pretend to be the art school student I once was instead of the uptight corporate legal drone I'm nauseated to have somehow become.
"Can you order me a glass of wine, please? What's that you're drinking?"
I pull out of his arms yet again. It's too much. I still haven't recovered from the conversation on the train.
"I'm having diet coke," he replies, summoning the bartender over for my alcohol with an authoritative wave. Bastard. He's going to have sex with a total stranger and he's drinking coke? Oh. Right. He did tell me he wants to remember everything about our "first time". Ack. Not me. I wish I could drink an entire case of the stuff right now. He also said he usually only drinks wine with dinner or um, other things gourmet, and it's got to be the really good stuff. He can't handle cheap house wine by the glass and he makes fun of people who can but at the moment, I could care less.
I grab my goblet right out of the barkeep's hand and gulp like a little under-aged kid who's made off with a bottle of her parents' booze and has to guzzle down quick before she gets caught hiding out with it in the garage. Richard smiles and I'm hoping I'm wrong and it's not condescending, because right here, right at the bar, he takes his hand and thrusts it straight up my skirt. He touches me lightly, his fingers teasing, and then begins rubbing me with expert little strokes, loving the fact that I've obeyed the no panties order. I have to struggle not to moan out loud but I do believe my eyes are rolling backward into my head.
"Just promise me one thing," I gasp.
"What's that, love?"
I twist away from him and take another swallow of wine.
"That you will tell no one... no one... how we first met. Online. Ugh, via computer. I mean, I don't care if we do both work for the same firm. It's so corny. I can't believe we're doing this. I can't believe you flew in from London, I can't believe we're in New York together for three whole days and we've pulled this off... I can't believe… "
He covers his lips over mine to shut me the hell up. I don't blame him.
"Let's go to the room, superstar. I want to see what gifts are in that bag of yours." He winks.
What? No more wine? No more conversation? We're just going straight upstairs? I haven't even been here ten minutes! No, no, I'm still stone cold sober. I'll never be able to go through with this. Never!
But I don't say a word in protest. He stands up and takes my arm with one hand and picks up my suitcase with the other and leads me out into the hotel lobby. So this is it, I think. My mid life crisis. Sex with a cyber guy.
I ignore the next hot flash and try not to think of the nipple clamps.
We stand together, silent, waiting for the elevator. There are only two small lifts and it appears we'll be alone. I'm terrified. That's ironic, because my entire adult life I've had an elevator fantasy where I'm in one with a handsome stranger and it loses power for hours and hours, leaving us with nothing to do but fuck wordlessly in the dark.
As it turns out, as soon as we get inside, we do kiss and rub up against each other, dry humping like teenagers. I peek out from closed eyes and much to my chagrin see that his are wide open.
"Don't look away," he whispers as he strokes my face. I feel like one of the Children of the Damned because now I end up doing an unblinking stare. I don't think I'll ever be able to make a coherent sentence again. My legs go into steel rod mode. When we reach our floor and the doors open, I trudge behind him to our room, a loping Quasimodo.
He inserts the card into the door and leads me inside. There's a kitchenette and a writing area with a desk and oh, there's that easy chair he mentioned. It faces a large open window, giving us a marvelous view of midtown Manhattan. And of course there is the bed -- king sized and imposing. I take a deep ragged breath.
"Nice, isn't it? But on second glance now here with you I'm a bit dismayed. I fancied something with a larger private seating area so we'd have more space for our games."
"It's a beautiful room," I reply, only instead it comes out sounding like "Issaboofullroom".
"Come here," he says. He's smiling like a wolf because he realizes I'm panic-stricken and this makes me very uneasy. He moves closer and places his hands on my shoulders.
And then he grabs my blouse and rips it open.
The buttons fly everywhere; my exposed, braless breasts pointing toward the window like guided missiles. He's drawn back the curtains and my nipples are getting their first view ever of Lexington Avenue.
I shouldn't be shocked but I am. After all, we'd discussed this little scenario prior to meeting. In fact, I was so prepared that I'd bought this blouse cheap on sale at the Gap. But as I stand here facing him in my tits and skirt, I have a major revelation. I'm a legend in my own mind. I'm not prepared to do any of the things we've planned online and now that I'm actually going to have to go through with it, I'm a disaster.
This is totally all my fault. I have a dark side attracted to kinky sex. Yet in spite of my enthrallment, I don't want to do things like donning black leather bustiers and cracking whips. I shudder at wearing a dog collar and being led around by a leash. I don't even want to play cops and robbers. But what I do want to do is get hot thinking about it. I'm a natural for sexual cybering, but taking it to the real world is quite another matter. And now it's too late to change my mind.
His mouth closes over one of my nipples and he bites down so hard I want to cry out but somehow I manage to refrain. His dark head moves to the next, and his tongue teases me and I purr and then he bites again. This time I do yell "Ouch!"
What's with this guy? Should I be worried? Or am I just too used to….never mind.
He steps back and grins, his eyes never leaving mine.
"Take off your skirt," he whispers. "Leave on the thigh highs and heels. And then I want you to kneel by the side of the bed."
I obey his orders without speaking, a total zombie. I figure he wants a blow job--this is familiar territory and at least now I can shut my eyes and do something I know how to do.
I get down on my knees, expecting him to come to my side and unzip his jeans, but instead, he brings my suitcase over to the bed and places it in front of me.
"I want you to unpack and show me each item you've brought."
Okay, this is hot but as I'm kneeling down I agonize that my naked ass looks like curds of cottage cheese above the black, sheer thigh high stockings, and even though I've consumed like only two egg whites and four lettuce leafs in the six weeks since we planned this trip, my body gave birth to two children and my stomach will never be flat again. So I try to suck in my gut, keep my balance, and be a sexy game show model all at the same time while I remove each item for his inspection and approval.
Out come the handcuffs, so normal and pedestrian, he immediately tosses them aside. The silk blindfold causes him to smile. But when I hand him the crop, he laughs out loud.
"What the bloody hell is this? A toy for children?"
I think of the more elaborate whips in the sex shop. Hard leather with spikes -- just seeing them caused me apprehension. I bought the beginner model made of leather so soft it felt like velvet. It's short with several hanging suede laces – kind of looks like a horse's tail. Actually, in his hands right now it looks more like a limp dick.
"I'm sorry," I mumble.
"Elizabeth, you coward," he laughs. He starts tickling my naked back with it, running it up and down. "Show me what else you have in that bag."
He continues to lightly run the crop back and forth, up and down, teasing my neck, my shoulders, both arms; and then I show him the nipple clamps. His face brightens when he sees them and he puts down the crop, but not before smacking me with it hard on the ass. Ha! It doesn't hurt at all. Good for me and my wimpishness!
He rips off the packaging and I shiver when I see those screws.
"Stay on your knees," he says, climbing up on the bed and sitting facing me. He attempts to apply the clamps. Yow! This is pain, too, but I think I can handle it -- when he bit me that hurt a lot worse. But the crystal hearts are heavy -- they won't stay on.
"I don't think your tits are right for these," he complains.
Yeah, well, what I want to know is, whose are?
I stick my tongue out at him and he at least appears a bit contrite, making a little boy face at me which looks suspiciously like something he's practiced in the mirror many times.
One clamp stays on, the other keeps falling off, and I feel like a total misfit. So now I'm a half-naked, trembling mess wearing one nipple clamp and the bag is almost emptied. There are scarves laid out on the bed, candles, bondage tape, massage oils, even a couple of feathers. But there is one final package, and it's the one that I know will interest him the most because it was at the top of his list.
He smiles even more wolf-like with approval when he sees it and immediately opens the box. It's a remote controlled vibrator. Who even knew such freakish contraptions existed?
It purple and it's made of see-through plastic so that you can see its inner workings and it looks like something right out of Star Wars but of course he's got a brilliant idea for this thing. We're to have dinner at a fancy restaurant and I'll somehow have it fashioned between my legs while he has the remote in his pocket. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to accomplish that because he told me not to wear panties so I didn't pack any. The plan is, from time to time while I'm eating or sipping wine, he's going to zap me with the remote and I can't react or I'll be "punished" later.
Hence the real reason for that children's toy of a crop. No fool, me.
With a sweeping hand he brushes all of the goodies off the bed and pulls my face to his still clothed groin.
The other clamp slides off and neither of us makes any attempt to retrieve it.
He picks me up like a rag doll and throws me on the bed and finally pulls his sweater over his head and slides out of his jeans. Holy cow. Michelangelo's David with a porn star's cock. I blush and look away, but he stretches out beside me and takes my face in his hand, turning me toward him.
We roll around the bed kissing and touching and rubbing like two normal well-acquainted people. I'm a little surprised by this but oh so relieved. He expertly does the condom thing, lays flat on his back and pulls me on top so that I sit upright with a leg on either side, now completely turned on that I'm still in the thigh highs and heels. I throw my head back and ride him--I feel like he's deep in my belly. It's great!
So in spite of all our decadent plans and purchases, we end up having simple, white bread sex. We fit together and move together like we've done this thousands of times before until finally, rarely for first time lovers, we even come together, gasping and crying out in relief and he pulls me down to his chest, still inside of me, holding me close.
For at least this moment, I trick myself into believing the rest of the holiday will be status quo.
Robin Slick is a raging liberal living in downtown Philadelphia who wishes she could jump in a time machine and travel to London where she'd party with the Beatles, Eric Clapton, and all of their pals in the late sixties. She is the writer of several published short stories...