“You what?!!!!” Marissa said.
“I took a job,” I said defensively. “A job writing weekly erotica for Moon Steam Magazine,” I repeated.
“You?” Marissa said. “You? Jenny Smath. Jenny, I’ve slept with two people in my whole life, Smath,” Marissa said. “Jenny, I prefer novels to people, Smath.”
“I need the work,” I said. “And it’s a legitimate writing job, with a respectable literary magazine. So, yes, I took the job, which, as you just pointed out, I’m hopelessly unqualified for. And they want this week’s article to be about a ménage a trois. And of course I have no idea how I’m ever going to write it, so I desperately need help, which is the only reason I’m even telling you. So, HELP!”
“Obviously, there’s only one solution,” she said.
“We need to hire someone,” Marissa said.
I glared at her. When I asked her for help I was hoping she could maybe help me jumpstart my imagination by telling me about some things that had happened to her. Sharing her experiences. I didn’t think she was actually going to physically try to find a way to solve my problem.
“You want to hire someone to help me,” I said and I laced my voice with as much contempt as I could. Subtext: You couldn’t possibly think of a more stupid idea.
“We definitely need to hire someone,” she said.
“Are you nuts?” I asked her. My voice raised an octave. “Mari, you’re my best friend, but hiring a guy to…” I couldn’t even complete the sentence.
“Wait, hear me out,” Marissa said.
I crossed my arms over my chest and frowned at her.
“If you’re going to write these stories, you need to have some experience first. You always say, ‘Good writes write what they know’. How are you going to be believable if you have no base to even begin with? You need experience so you know what you are talking about, right?”
I wasn’t sure that I liked where she was going with this. On the other hand I loved where she was going with this.
“And you need to get this experience. FAST,” Marissa said. “Well, this way you can get the experiences you need,” Marissa said.
“We can’t hire anyone for this,” I said.
“Why not?” Marissa asked. “You need it; this is a way to get it. As you know, I’m loaded, so I can certainly afford it.”
“It would be too much like paying for sex,” I said.
“So what?” she said. “Men do it all the time.”
“That’s beyond…” I started.
“Okay, how about this. We don’t pay him for the experiences; we give him a small weekly stipend, a retainer, for being available to answer any questions you might have.”
I was silent.
“You know,” Marissa said. “A consultant. That way you can ask him for his feelings, his thoughts, and get his point of view.”
I stayed quiet.
“Come on, Jenny, think about it. It would give your writing more depth,” Marissa said. “To incorporate a man’s perception…perspective.”
I had to admit, she had a point.
“Call it research,” Marissa said. “You can’t write erotica if you don’t have any personal experience to draw from, right?”
“Hhmn,” was all I said.
Marissa stalked toward me, unbuttoning the top two buttons of her blouse as she went. She stopped when we were only inches apart. She leaned forward until her lips brushed my ear. “And I’ll sweeten the pot for you,” Marissa whispered. “I’ll join you.”
* * *
My blood pressure shot through the roof. Marissa is drop-dead gorgeous. With her strawberry blonde hair, perfect face, and amazing body, Marissa has never lacked in getting attention or experience. Unlike me, who other than a few unremarkable dates in college was practically a virgin.
Marissa knows I’ve always dreamed about doing a threesome but I never had the opportunity. I never, ever, pictured that she might be the one I would get to do that with.
My face flamed red as I pictured her naked, riding some mystery man. I fanned myself.
“Is that a yes?” Marissa asked.
God help me, I thought.
“That’s a yes,” I said.
* * *
Marissa ran to my desk to get a scratch pad and paper. I closed my eyes and practiced deep breathing.
Slow, deep, breaths, Jenny, I told myself. In and out. That’s it. In… and out.
“Shit, that’s not a double entendre,” I whispered.
“What?” She said.
“Nothing,” I said.
“How’s this?” Marissa asked.
I scooted next to her so I could look over her shoulder at what she had written while she read it out loud. “Handsome man who likes sex needed for hands on research for literary project,” Marissa said.
“Hhmn, scary.” I said. “Change ‘likes’ to ‘loves’.”
She crossed out likes and made the change.
“It’s missing something,” I said.
I looked over Marissa’s shoulder as she wrote and spoke aloud, adding one more sentence. “Must be willing to take direction and be up for anything.”
Marissa looked up at me for approval.
I shrugged. We were just joking right? There was no way we would actually go through with this. This was crazy. Beyond crazy.
“Send picture and short bio,” Marissa wrote.
“Yeah,” I said. “That will do it.”
“Alright,” Marissa said. “I’ll post this on the Internet and we will watch the applicants pour in.”
“Oh, God,” I said.
“In the meantime maybe you ought to write down a list of all the erotic topics you want to write about, so when we get someone we’ll be able to check off all your fantasies,” Marissa said.
I groaned. And not in a good way.
“Oh, God,” I said again.
* * *
Marissa actually posted that add. Part of me couldn’t believe it. Part of me didn’t want to hear about it. A small, devious part I didn’t know I had was dying to know. But I’m a shy writer who spends most of her time alone. I have a hard time talking to people, meeting people, trusting people. There was no way I was going to ask.
Marissa did all the screening.
I work full-time as an entry-level copywriter. With that and my writing projects I didn’t exact have time to be sorting through emails from a bunch of guys, trying to weed out the pervs. Besides, I wasn’t really interested in sorting through a bunch of applications from guys. Never had I felt so torn about anything. Part of me thought this was a stupid idea. Unfortunately another part of me thought this was a great idea.
I kind of pushed the whole project from my mind. Until Wednesday night when I went over Marissa’s house for dinner.
“I found him,” Marissa said when she opened the door.
“Who?” I asked.
“Your mystery consultant,” she said.
A huge lump lodged in my throat. “You’re kidding,” I said.
“Nope, and look, he’s perfect,” Marissa said. She led me to her laptop computer, which she had set up on the dining room table. “Come here, take a look,” she said.
“Mari, I don’t know if this is such a good…” I stopped mid-sentence when I saw his picture. It was a black and white headshot of a movie-worthy gorgeous guy with thick, shoulder length dark hair, a beautiful, square, firm chin, and soulful looking deep brown eyes. “My God,” I said, and I leaned forward toward the computer screen to get a better look.
“I know, right?” Marissa said. “But he’s probably not as good looking as he is in that picture. That photo was obviously taken by a professional.”
I was about to ask if he was an actor when Marissa interrupted my thoughts.
“And he’s a musician. That’s good, right?” she said. “I mean writers and musicians they get along really well usually, don’t they? Because they’re both creative types, right?”
If she says ‘right’ one more time I might have to smack her. And not in a good way.
“It’s good, right?”
“Right,” I said.
Marissa’s not usually this annoying. In fact, she’s usually not annoying at all.
She is usually pretty great. Maybe she was just getting on my nerves because I was a little bit on edge.
“Read his bio,” she said. “He’s world traveled, he’s a professional drummer, which is great, r…”
I cut her off, “Don’t say ‘right?’ ”
“Ooookay,” Marissa said. “He’s…”
I’m reading it, I thought.
Marissa shut up. But she was right. The short information about him was well written. He was a full-time drummer with a band I had heard of who were always working. He worked part-time with kids doing music therapy. He was educated. His little blurb was funny and smart. He was Hot with a capital ‘H’.
“Jeez,” I said. “I’m such a gonner.”
“I know, r…”
I glared at her.
“Well he’s a major hunk, he has a personality, and he’s willing to work with us, or he wouldn’t have answered our ad,” Marissa said. “So I wrote him back.”
“You what?!” My voice raised into the stratosphere.
“I wrote him back, as you, and I told him you’d meet him tomorrow at the Seen Bean Coffee House,” Marissa said.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and oh, fuck,” I said. “Oh, God,”
“Trust me,” she said.
“Oh, God,” I said again. “I can’t.”
“Grow some balls,” she said.
“We’re not really going to this, are we?” I asked.
“Of course we are,” she answered. “Trust me; it’s going to be fine.”
At a few minutes to four Marissa and I sat at the very back table of the coffee house. I practiced my deep breathing to keep me from hyperventilating. I was wearing a simple blue and gold summer dress that hid most of my flaws and went down to my ankles. Marissa was wearing a tight, bright red, low-necked tank top that complemented her hair and showcased her cleavage, a short black miniskirt, and fuck-me red Louboutin high heels that sparkled.
“Listen Mari, what if he doesn’t…” I said gesturing to my slightly overweight very curvy body and non-impressive chin-length brown hair.
“He will. He’s a guy. Besides you are very sexy. This is all about you, your wants, your fantasies, and your desire to write realistically to tantalize others. That’s sexy.”
He walked in and Marissa stood up and waved at him.
The smile that lit up his face had my heart leap up into my throat and my pulse spike up to stroke level. I smiled back, filled with happiness and euphoria. And then I got angry. What if he thought Marissa was ‘Jenny’ and I was just along for moral support?
He saved the day as he approached our table. “Wow, two beauties for the price of one. I must have had some really good Karma in a past life.” He looked me straight in the eyes. “You’re Jenny, the writer?”
I nodded and held out my hand.
A quick zing of electricity when our palms touch. I quickly retracted my hand but not fast enough to stop the delicious lick of energy up my arm.
We continued the introductions and it went pretty fast from there. He was even hotter in real life than he was in his picture. I was extremely glad that Marissa was there because I was completely tongue-tied. The more he talked the better he got. He had left home at sixteen and toured with a band for two years. Then he settled in Boston and graduated the top of his class at Berklee and went on to get a Masters from Boston University. Marissa’s family was from Boston so they compared notes about restaurants, museums, and amphitheaters and a bunch of places I’d never heard of. He had a beautiful voice, low and rich. The conversation moved to literature and politics and Marissa started talking about a new movie she wanted to see. I polished off a dessert without even realizing it. We had been sitting for the better part of two hours, and the time flew by. As was my way, I said almost nothing. After a while I got lost in the deep dulcet tones of his voice and lost track of the conversation.
I tuned in to hear Marissa say, “You realize you are being paid for your opinion as a consultant and for your time in general but not for anything you actually perform.”
“I do, yes,” David said seriously.
David put both hands out, palms up, in a sign of surrender, trying valiantly not to smile, and almost, but not quite succeeding. “I live to serve,” he said.
“Good,” Marissa said firmly and leaned forward giving him a good view of her cleavage. “Because I live to fuck.”
I buried my face in hands and wished I had the magic power to disappear.
Marissa cleverly arranged to for us to meet David for coffee at the same time and place the next day, and the next. It was a good thing she was taking the lead because I sure wasn’t going to. I don’t know what I expected when she came up with this hair-brained idea. Maybe I thought we’d find somebody I could ask Marissa to ask questions to if I was to shy to interview him.
I never thought we’d actually meet anybody. A consultant over the phone maybe. I thought back to Marissa’s last comment right before David left. She was joking, right? I hated to admit it but some deeply buried part of me that I tried not to think about, I was lonely, needy. I had gone asleep with David on my mind. I wasn’t imagining that there was a heat between us, some magical buzz that was noticeable even across a both in a café. I told myself that this was because I needed it for the article. They wanted someone experienced and I wasn’t. Surely a man like David would have some stories to share.
The next day over coffee showed that I had underestimated everything about this plan, especially David. He regaled us with stories of taking the high school band director’s VW bug and with all of his band mates carrying it into the band room one morning, and serenading the guitarist’s hope-to-be girlfriend with ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ from underneath her bedroom window.
I don’t think I’d ever enjoyed listening to a conversation so much. David grew up in a small town with four younger sisters, and he claimed that was why he was so good at talking and why he had to choose drums as an instrument in order to be heard.
By our third coffee date I felt relaxed. Yeah, we weren’t talking about sex but that was for the best. That’s how I wanted it. Really. We could never talk about sex and I would be happy.
I polished of a carrot muffin and was starting a second mocha latte. David had just finished telling us about a jazz concert piece he wrote as part of his thesis when Marissa drawled slowly, “You realize you’ll be doing both of us.”
Oh. My. GOD.