Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness - Suzy Favor Hamilton (2015)

Chapter 11. DOUBLE LIFE

My brain was no longer able to focus on reality. It liked fantasy so much more. I was barely there when I was in Madison. The only aspect of my home life that still made me happy was my daughter, Kylie. We continued our normal mom-daughter activities, like reading books together and going to Chicago to visit museums and attend events related to the American Girl line of dolls, plus trips to Disneyland during school breaks. Because I felt guilty about my desire to be away so much, I did my best to be Supermom when I was home, spoiling her and saying yes to anything she wanted. Mark tried to get me to stop, saying I was making the situation worse, but I couldn’t help myself.

I continued to feel extremely estranged from my family. I was essentially divorced from my sisters at this point. And I avoided talking to my mom, who kept putting pressure on me to stop speaking publicly about Dan and, to some extent, mental illness. I did my best to avoid seeing all of them, or even talking to them. I wanted to escape my real life, and so I went away in my mind, replaying images of the sexy interludes I’d had, fantasizing about what would happen next time, plotting on how and when I’d get back to Vegas. This didn’t feel selfish to me. I had lost control. I had no fear. I had no inhibitions. I had no regrets. I wasn’t hurting Mark and Kylie because, in my mind, this new life had nothing to do with them. My Vegas life existed in a separate, secret bubble, where it was possible to finally have everything I wanted. In Vegas I was free. I could live on the edge of danger. I could say yes, not caring what anyone might think or say.

I decided I didn’t want to keep juggling two sides of myself. I just wanted to keep building my fantasy life, away from responsibilities, and not care about the consequences. My concern was no longer making it easier for Mark to accept my next return trip to Vegas, but simply how soon I could get back there. I had told Mark about my time with Sam and the chef; although he clearly didn’t want to know the details, I had no off switch anymore, even when I was back home in Madison. I made another trip a month later. Once again, my reality shifted. I got the chef I’d gone to bed with to buy me five hundred dollars’ worth of clothing and jewelry in exchange for another night together. Now I was going to get something for the pleasure I gave, not the other way around. It was another step up the ladder, another step away from good girl.

Mark seemed to have accepted the dynamic of our lives now. With my knowledge, and even encouragement, he indicated he would eventually sleep with another woman. We both knew he had no desire to start an affair, and instead of feeling jealous, I was glad. It took the pressure off me and made me feel even more entitled to do what I wanted, which was of course to get myself back to Vegas as soon as I possibly could. Mark and I had essentially gone our separate ways. Gone were the expectations of how normal married couples behave toward each other. We both still put Kylie first, but after her, we were more focused on ourselves than on our marriage.

I spent my time thinking about how I could possibly live a double life, one that was primarily focused on Vegas. That fall, I was given a perfect opportunity. The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon asked me to take part in their next events, to be held in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 3, and Sunday, December 4, 2011. Because it was my first job for them, they offered to fly Mark out as well, so he came along.

During this time, I had enormous amounts of energy. When I wasn’t engaging in my sexual fantasies, I would exercise. Sometimes it felt like I could exercise forever. Distance training had become a natural pastime for me, so I was thrilled to be approached by the Rock ’n’ Roll organization. I couldn’t have been happier to be amid the buzzing, flashing, sexy vibe of Las Vegas for my first appearance for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon on the same weekend I was due to meet with Bridget, the woman who was my contact at the high-end escort screening service Mark and I had used to set up our first threesome. It had dawned on me that the best way to take my new life to the next level was to be a part of the thing that had sucked me into this in the first place. Pearl had introduced me to this world, had flipped a switch inside of me, awakening a certainty in me that I could please clients even more completely than she’d pleased me. I knew the thrill of getting something in return for sex because of the way the gifts from the chef had turned me on. Becoming a part-time escort myself made absolute sense. To me, if not my husband. Mark wasn’t exactly happy about the idea, but I finally sold him on it by explaining to him that because the service did a background check on all of its clients, becoming an escort was actually the best way to ensure that no one ever found out about my double life. No more picking guys up at bars; it would be incredibly discreet and done only occasionally with men who had more to lose than I did if word got out. And as I had before, I told him I had to do this if I was going to be happy. Somehow, he agreed. Somehow, these sorts of discussions had become normal for us.

I’d been so excited when I’d reached out to Bridget before our trip to tell her I was interested in escorting. I wanted to discuss the idea of having occasional trysts, with just a couple of her highest-rolling, most discreet clients. When the time came, I felt nervous about how to act, how to dress, what questions to ask. I wanted to impress Bridget and convince her I’d be a good escort, and so I chose my outfit carefully. I was beginning to dress a little bit sexier lately, and I wore tight black leggings. But I also wanted her to think I’d be professional, so I wore a collared shirt, almost as if my bottom half was applying for a job as an escort and my top half was applying for a job at a bank. After putting on my makeup, I gave up trying to figure out what was the normal way to behave and rushed out to meet her. When I arrived at our meeting spot—the Coffee Bean at the food court of the Venetian, where the neon signs of the pizzeria and burger spot stood out amid the vaulted ceilings and brown and tan terrazzo tiles—the situation felt surreal. As I sipped my tea, I glanced around at the tourists and vacationing families who would be sitting just inches away from me as I made plans to begin having sex for money.

I couldn’t have been more surprised when a pretty young woman wearing sweatpants, no makeup, and her strawberry blond hair in a messy ponytail approached me. “Are you Suzy?” she asked.

“Yes. Bridget?” I asked, holding out my hand uncertainly.

“I just finished a workout,” she said, motioning at her clothes and grabbing a coffee before sitting down across from me like it was the most natural thing in the world.

I immediately liked her and felt, based on her casual prettiness and easy confidence, like we could be fast friends. I could feel her sizing me up, and although she smiled kindly at me, I sensed a streetwise wariness below her pleasantness.

“I really want to try this,” I said. “I really do.”

“But why?”

“Well, I was a professional runner for many years,” I said. “It could be very damaging for my reputation if anyone found out I was sleeping with a man who wasn’t my husband. So this seems like a great, discreet way to do just that.”

Bridget shrugged, as if to say that my concerns were no big deal. Clearly she hadn’t heard of me. But if she didn’t entirely understand the reason behind my decision, she was definitely receptive, gazing at me warmly as she continued to evaluate me.

“This is going to be great,” she said. “You’re in your forties. I get so many clients calling, asking for an older woman. You could be in high demand if you want to be.”

I liked the sound of that.

“I live in Wisconsin, so it’ll only be something I do when I’m able to get away,” I said. “And if possible, I only want to see your most discreet, high-end clients, so I can be sure no one will ever find out.”

“Not a problem,” she said. “It’s all very discreet. We work with many celebrities and professional athletes. And we thoroughly screen all of our clients. One of our top clients happens to be in town this weekend. He’s very handsome and very wealthy, and he’s a cowboy. Literally.”

“Wow,” I said, already excited by the thought of who this man might be.

“He’s going to love you,” she said. “You’re gorgeous, and you have a great body. And you’re not just some young girl who can’t hold up her end of the conversation. You’re going to do well.”

I’d always loved being coached, and I responded to the inspiring words and encouraging tone now. With each trip to Vegas, my confidence had grown. Now I really felt good about myself. “Thank you,” I said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

“I’ll probably have an appointment for you soon,” she said. “I’ll try and arrange something for you while you’re here. And if I know the dates when you’ll be back, then I can just schedule you. When a client is calling in to make an appointment, we’ll check to see if you’re available. Get a disposable phone.”

After my meeting with Bridget, I met Mark out by the pool at our hotel. He looked up when I sat down in the chaise next to him, but he didn’t speak. I wasn’t sure how much I should tell him, but I was too excited to stay silent.

“I’m really happy with how it went,” I said. “I was well received. Bridget liked me, and she thought this could work.”

The expression on Mark’s face didn’t exactly look like he was thrilled for me.

“I’m glad you’re happy,” he said neutrally.

THE NEXT DAY, A FEW hours before I was due to run the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon’s first ever Stiletto Dash, which was to be held on the casino floor at the Palazzo, my throwaway phone began to buzz. I felt a corresponding vibration inside of me.

“Can you make an appointment in an hour?”

The Stiletto Dash was two hours after the appointment, so as far as I was concerned, that would work perfectly.

“Absolutely,” I said, vibrating at a higher and higher frequency. “Can you tell me anything about the client?”

“This is one of our best clients,” she said. “The cowboy I mentioned to you. I think it would be good for you to start off with him.”

Oh my gosh, one of her best clients. She’s already giving me her top clients.

“Great,” I said.

She gave me the details of where and when, how I should be dressed, and what I should expect from our time together. That was it. I was in.

The next thing I knew, I found myself in our hotel room at the Venetian, scrambling to get ready for my first appointment as an escort, while Mark lay stretched out on the bed, checking his e-mail. I looked at my phone and realized I had to be at Caesars Palace in just a few minutes, and I had no idea where it was.

“Mark, you have to take me to Caesars,” I said. “I don’t know where it is.”

He looked up at me for a long moment, sighed, and then sat up and explained to me where I needed to go. I thanked him, gave him a quick kiss good-bye, and that was it. I left my husband of more than twenty years in our hotel room and went to have sex with a stranger for money. I hurried down in the elevator and stepped outside to find that the taxi line was impossibly long. Sprinting down the Strip, I dodged baby strollers, bachelorette parties in short shorts, and heavyset tourists with their cameras out. And then, suddenly, there I was at Caesars, with its extravagant pool with the tropical blue bottom and the Greek statues and leaping fountains. I stopped. And then, totally relaxed, I turned and walked toward the casino entrance.

Bridget had explained that my first client was a forty-seven-year-old cowboy named Paul who was in Vegas for the weekend rodeo, that he was incredibly wealthy and one of the service’s top clients. That’s all I knew about the man I was about to have sex with. And yet, by the time I found myself standing in the hushed, womblike hotel corridor, all I felt was comfortable and excited. I was dressed in the tight little black dress the chef had bought for me, which I’d worn with the only high heels I had, a pair of conservative black pumps from my motivational speaking gigs. I hadn’t yet learned how important it was to dress the part, that as an escort my clothes had to create a certain air of wealthy glamour that was an essential part of the fantasy for our clients.

I was thrilled when a very tall, handsome gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair responded to my knock, opening the gigantic double doors onto the biggest suite I’d ever seen, with elaborate chandeliers and a tile floor that resembled marble. I stood on the threshold for a beat, posing for him.

“Oh, you’re so beautiful,” he said.

I knew my role in this play: to please this man and be his best companion ever. I followed him into his huge suite. I was determined not to let on that I’d never seen anything so fancy in my life. Instead, I focused on acting cool. At his suggestion, I sat down at a large glass table, unaware that he would soon be having me on its cool, smooth surface. He poured me some red wine.

As I took the glass from him, I slowly crossed my legs, feeling powerful now, as I absorbed the intensity with which his eyes followed my every move. He took the chair across from me, staring at me openly, as if he was trying to figure out who this woman sitting across from him was. Bridget had told him this was my first time, and that had been the draw for him, but again, I tried not to give up my power.

“So you’re in town for the rodeo?” I said. “That must be exciting.”

“I come every year,” he said. “Good for business. Good for pleasure.”

“Good for me,” I flirted.

“How do you keep your body in such amazing shape?” he asked.

I was prepared to lie about myself, and the words flowed out of me easily.

“I was a college gymnast,” I said.

“Is that so?” he asked, sounding excited. “I’ll bet you were good.”

The conversation happened so easily it was like he was an old friend. He was very confident and soon put me at ease. The sex started just as naturally. He was the aggressor, maybe because he was aware that I was new at all of this, and he quickly stripped me out of my dress. Before I knew it, I was naked, my back pressed against the cold glass of the table where we’d just been making small talk. I became so caught up in the sex and the power I felt from giving him pleasure that I forgot to watch the clock. The next thing I knew, more than an hour had passed. If he’d noticed we were running over, he’d kept quiet.

“Oh, I have to go, because I’m here doing work for the marathon,” I said, feeling like I was enhancing the mystery surrounding my identity, never thinking such a revelation was reckless, or realizing clients had a tendency to try to find out everything they could about the girls they liked. “I need to leave right now. I can’t be late.”

“Well, then, we don’t want you to be late,” he said.

After I quickly showered and dressed, he handed me a white envelope of money and stepped closer, towering over my petite five-foot-four frame. My heart was pounding, as if I’d just finished a race, heat coursing through every inch of my body.

“Can you stop by for a couple of hours tonight?” he asked.

“Of course,” I said.

I beamed up at him. You have to be kidding, I thought. This is so easy. And fun. And I will get paid a lot of money.

He opened the door, and as I left, I paused to kiss him good-bye.

“Call the service about tonight, and I’ll try to be back,” I said.

As soon as the heavy double doors of his suite shut behind me, I hurried to the elevator, eager to open the envelope he’d given me and see exactly how much money was inside. One by one, I flipped through the hundred-dollar bills, growing giddy as I counted ten. My rate was five hundred dollars an hour. He’d literally paid me double! My high zoomed even higher. That was it. Another switch had been flipped.

Thinking about Mark waiting for me at the race dampened my euphoria. I didn’t want to tell him any of the details of what had just happened, or how easy it felt to be Kelly. I was Kelly now, a whole different person. This was the name I had chosen for myself, but it was more than that. Kelly was my new personality—this confident, powerful woman who was in control and made her own decisions. There was no way I could ever go back to being the woman I’d been. And I didn’t have to. I was in charge, and I would keep the details to myself.