"Simon, last night. Thanks for - being good about it."
He was puzzled. "Good? About what?"
"You know - a lot of men turn nasty."
" If anybody got it wrong it was me, not you. I enjoyed your company which lifted a boring but very important occasion, we had a fine meal and a good conversation."
"But it was me did most of the talking."
"Isn't that what a lot of men pay you girls for, your life story? I saw a documentary on TV once."
"It wasn't the version I usually tell." Roz usually told men she had been seduced at fifteen, run away with her lover to escape a violent father and a mother hooked on anti - depressants, abused and forced to sell herself; rescued from the streets by a wealthy old man she had reinvented herself as a stylish woman of substance, only to be impoverished when her benefactor's will was challenged. Some men loved it, the idea that they were doing her a favour helped lessen the guilt. Simon had been given the truth. Precociously beautiful, she had married young to escape suburban boredom. Routinely traded in for a newer model when the first signs of maturity showed, the only skills she had to support her were those she had learned in order to entice her husband. Being a high class whore was little better than being a street-girl. It still involved entertaining men with foul breath and even more repellent habits but the pay was good. Simon had the knack of drawing information from her in snippets. It was the key to his popularity with women, he was a good listener. Most men are direct, wanting in formation in big chunks to be analysed and dealt with. Women are impressionists, gaining a detail here, a snippet there and intuitively constructing a whole. The other female ability he benefited from was the way he could learn as much from what was not said as what was.
Breakfast came, cereal, crispy bacon and light, fluffy eggs, toast, thick, dark marmalade, a large jug of fresh orange juice, coffee and a bottle of champagne.
"Don't you dare tell me you don't eat breakfast."
Roz smiled as she made Buck's Fizz. "I don't often get asked to stay for breakfast."
"If you had tried to leave I would have sent the porter after you."
They ate. Simon commented that the previous night's launch must have been a success as his hosts had provided Laurent - Perrier and not the Hotel chain's own brand Champagne. Roz looked at the rain soaked rooftops of the Manchester morning and described the view as if it was the bay of Naples. The tension she had felt anticipating his reaction to her failure to deliver had evaporated and she forgot her shyness, leaning across him to pick a crumb of egg from the corner of his mouth.
"What time do we have to leave?" she asked and when he told her they had several hours she suggested they make the most of it and lowered her head to arouse him.
"You're wasting your time." He caught her chin and turned her face towards him. "This end first."
"Oh Simon. If you weren't such a nice bloke and - and...."
"Oh alright, if I didn't bloody well fancy you so much. There. Now you know. If I start falling in love with you how can I go to some ugly, smelly old git."
He looked at her but said nothing, the weight of silence eventually forcing her to continue. "Look. Its just too personal. Can you understand that."
He nodded. "My problem is its just too impersonal."
When they parted later she gave him a card, saying, "That's my private number. I never give it to clients." Simon nodded that he understood and gave her a card, "Leave a message if there is no reply. I will call back."
A story is not a story until it is told and Rosalind almost burst in the two days before she could share her excitement. "I'm always a bit edgy when we get to the room with somebody new. Once that door closes on the world, I'm on my own and they are going to show what they are really like."
"About half are OK, they're just using my body, appreciate the service and are quite polite about it. But the others? Nervous ones, the ones who feel guilty. They stand there and wait to be told what to do. They're dangerous because they are likely to punish me for making them feel guilty. Then there are the braggers. They think they're the world's greatest. Quite often they can't get it up so I have to try and get them half way and then reach for the shaving foam."
"I'll tell you another time, I want to get to the good bit. The other types are the ones who think they can treat me like dirt, the romantics, who want to fall in love and the kinkys who get off on hurting."
"And which was he?"
"None. I though he would treat me like dirt from one or two things he'd said. Then when we got to his room he cracked a silly joke and I just felt so comfortable. I knew he was really OK when he took his pants off."
"Oh yes, best quality cotton, but not just that, there were...." she giggled, "there were no skidmarks."
"Oh come on Roz, successful businessmen do not go around with skiddies in their pants. That is adolescent boys who are too busy dealing with their erections to tidy up properly from the main business."
"Darling, you would be surprised at the number of men who; well I suppose they still think their mother should clean up for them. And some of the really, I mean REALLY personal things I get asked to do, believe me, I need to know if a man looks after his personal hygiene."
"You can kiss a strangers sphincter but not this beautiful man's lips. Are you losing the plot? I mean, have you never kissed a punter? Actors and axctresses kiss each other all the time and make it look real."
"Of course I've kissed a punter. But not this one, he's; he's.... just think of it as self - defence"
"So this man cracks jokes and wipes his own arse and that makes him Prince Charming?"
"Oh, not just those things. He talked to me. He listened to me. No man has treated me like that, not my father, not my husband. Being with him felt so comfortable and right."
"But he couldn't do it?"
"He was probably stressed or tired. But that was it. He never tried to say it was my fault. I'm crazy. Tell me I'm crazy. I'm a prostitute for God's sake. Why do I keep deluding myself. A man like him is never going to call me."
"You're crazy. Let's talk about something else. Stuart is planning to take a Business Studies course. Its amazing, he stars college this year." Trish had been Rosalind's friend since school and was the only person she confided in. Other people were happy to believe that a freelance work in PR kept the household going.
"Yeah, Natalie starts her last year of school. What happened to us babe? We were going to set the world on fire."
Trish smiled wryly and referred to her charity work. "You could say we both make a valuable contribution to the community. What does Natalie want to do?"
"She's been talking about computers for a few weeks. Hey, Simon in - oh damn. Don't you still get crushes? Tell me he's gone. Tell me to grow up. I'm sitting here like an adolescent waiting for him to call."
"Grow up old friend. You're a hooker. Maybe he's a nice guy, maybe he likes you. But another city, another meeting, some smart executive wearing Armarni and willing to drop her knickers to get the deal. He is not going to call. What's happened to little Miss In Control. You're supposed to be impervious to feelings. Repeat after me HE IS NOT GO....."
Just then the phone rang. Rosalind snatched it. "Hi, I was wondering - oh hello mother."
Simon did call however. "I'm going to be in the area and I can't think of anybody I'd rather buy dinner for."
At that moment Roz lost the plot. The rule, the golden rule, the sanctum sanctorum was never bring business home. Like most of the high class girls she kept a small flat close to the city centre for business. In that flat she shut off, like an actress giving a performance she was somebody else. Simon was business. He should have been confined to the flat or a hotel. As if having an out of body experience Roz the working girl watched herself on the phone and heard the words "come here and let me cook for you."
"Don't you have a daughter?" he was giving her an escape and she didn't take it. The date was arranged.
"You're going to get hurt girlie." Trish warned. Fascinated by her friend's seemingly racy lifestyle she had read every book published about high class whores and considered herself an expert. Besides, somebody had to look after Roz. In truth Trish enjoyed standing by with emotional band - aid to put her friend's self esteem back together when something went badly wrong. "He's probably one of these control freaks, he wants to make you fall for him just so he can hurt you. And that type will really slam you down, he'll make you feel like dirt, worthless. The charm offensive might just be part of the plan."
Roz was not going to listen and secretly Trish was glad. She had never met a client before, it was an opportunity to call round unexpectedly, tell Roz she was being concerned and suss the guy out. If he was half what she had heard over the past few days, he was going to be worth the effort.
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