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

Chapter 13. BECOMING KELLY

We spent the holidays in Malibu with Mark’s family, as was our tradition. And then I faced the harsh reality of another miserable January in Wisconsin, another round of showings, new listings, and arguments with Mark because I couldn’t focus on my real life. The very prospect was unbearable to me.

When I had to hold an open house for one of our properties, I’d grit my teeth and fake a smile for prospective buyers while thinking to myself: If I were in Vegas, I would have made five hundred dollars for this hour of work, and I’d actually enjoy the hell out of it. This seemed like a waste of time.

When Mark and I were alone, I didn’t talk about Vegas much. When I did, it was with the goal of alleviating his concerns by reassuring him that I had everything under control and was nothing but happy with my newfound independence.

It’s odd, looking back now, that my husband didn’t put his foot down to make me stop. I’m aware that he now regrets consenting to my requests, but I think he knew that nothing could have stopped me at this point. More than that, he wanted more than anything to keep the peace in our household. He saw that I was happier than I’d been in a very long time. He was glad to see that I still had the capacity for happiness, as it had been a rare commodity in our house for a long time. He wouldn’t have chosen being an escort as the source of my joy, to be sure, but slogging through the mundane routine of another Wisconsin winter was clearly not going to replace it, that was certain. One of my only distractions that winter was texting Bridget, which I did from time to time. I was grateful for this connection to the life that felt more real to me now, even when it was so far away. When I asked Bridget for advice about what steps to take next in my life as an escort, she suggested that I create my own page on the service’s website, with which I could attract prospective clients. Then, she suggested, I could fly into Vegas specifically to do a photo shoot for the site. I liked the sound of that very much, and pushed Mark to let me go.

“Absolutely not,” Mark said.

“No one will know it’s me.”

“Except for the fact that your picture will be all over it.”

“There’s a way they can do the pictures so no one will know it’s me,” I said. “They can blur out my face.”

“I think it’s a really bad idea, Suzy,” he said.

I let the subject drop. These kinds of exchanges were normal for us these days. We were constantly bickering about some detail related to our business, our daughter, or our home. We did our best to stay out of each other’s way. All of it just made Vegas that much more alluring.

And then, one day in early January, I got a text from Bridget, inviting me to take part in a meet and greet they were hosting for their best clients. As she described it, the girls dressed sexily, but not scandalously so, and spent the evening chatting with clients, giving the men a chance to meet them all and see which ones they liked. I really wanted to go to this. The image in my mind fit right into the fantasy I was constructing: a classy, dimly lit affair with soft music in the background, everyone flirting and drinking good wine. And that’s how I described it to Mark. He had taken to repeatedly reminding me of the extreme risk that I might get caught, and just how devastating it would be for our daughter and our business if I did. But I was sure there was no chance of this. Vegas was the one thing in my life that I truly felt like I could control. I think after the debate over posting my photos on the service’s website, Mark felt tired of fighting. But, once again, he objected on the grounds that the meet and greet was dangerous from a discretion standpoint. In truth, I think part of the draw for me was that it did feel a bit risky, and I liked that, but I certainly wasn’t going to admit that to my husband.

“I’ll make myself look completely different,” I said. “Nobody will recognize me.”

“It’s your funeral,” he said.

Nevertheless, I was overjoyed to be going. This would be the perfect chance for me to stand out. I went online and bought a tight, short, silver and gold dress with a very low-cut back. I booked two nights at Mandalay Bay and prepared for whatever would happen next. Once I arrived, I set about getting ready for the meet and greet. I loved the way my new dress clung to my skin, and the thought that a new client might be stripping it off me in just a few hours. Bridget had told me there was a really good chance I’d be working that night. All the better. That’s what I was there for.

I climbed into a taxi outside my hotel and gave the driver the address Bridget had provided. I was surprised as we drove farther and farther away from the Strip. It was hard to picture the kind of cool nightclub I’d imagined, with the sexy lighting and the soft music. A few minutes into our drive, the driver got lost. He had no idea where we were, now that we weren’t on the Strip anymore. I laughed and gave him the address again.

Finally, he found the place and pulled up out front. It was a large villa, its yard landscaped with pretty rocks in lieu of grass due to the desert climate. Casual as could be, I strolled up to the garage door, which was open, where a bouncer greeted me. I was there early to make use of the hairdresser and makeup artist the service had provided. I wanted to look my best for the VIP clients. I wanted to be the one they chose out of all the other girls who’d be there. The caterers were still setting up, laying out food, drying glasses. I settled into one of the six bedrooms and had my hair and makeup done.

The whole time, girls kept coming up to me.

“Oh, I love your dress,” said a petite brunette with very tan skin.

“Thank you,” I said. “You look cute, too.”

By this point, I was feeling confident and excited for the night to start. There were about a dozen other girls from the service there, and I was sizing up my competition when I saw a familiar face across the room. It was Pearl. When she looked my way, I smiled and nodded at her, not sure whether she recognized me or not. But I didn’t have any urge to go over and talk to her. Now that I was an escort myself, I understood how she had carefully created the mood during our threesome, making it feel like she and I had a special connection. I now knew that she had made me feel special because that was her job, something I now tried to do with each of my clients.

I continued to survey the selection of extremely attractive, extremely sexy women who were now my peers. A few of the younger girls stood together talking in high, excited tones, but most everyone else was a bit on her own, wanting to be available for conversation and flirtation—and more—when the clients began arriving. Most of the girls were younger than me—in their twenties or early thirties—but there was one woman who was obviously my age, maybe even older, which comforted me. I wasn’t there to talk to the other girls. Although the girls were sweet, and I did make friends with a few of them, that’s not what I was there for. I was there to stand out as the most desirable among all of them.

I went to the bar for a glass of pinot noir. Sipping my wine, I paced through the six bedrooms. I couldn’t get over how different this was from what I had imagined. It felt more like a cocktail party in the suburbs than an exclusive event for a service’s most valued high-end clients.

And then the men started arriving, along with one couple. I thought that a bit odd. But then again, nothing really seemed odd in this new world.

I eventually grew tired of standing, so I boosted myself up on the counter of the bar area in the living room and very slowly and deliberately crossed my legs, showing a great deal of skin. Now I’ll definitely get noticed, I thought. And I did. I could feel the men’s eyes collectively swivel over to me and linger on my extremely toned legs. I felt power coursing through me, the lack of inhibition, the desire to stand out, be noticed and admired, and I tossed my hair back to complete the impression I was making.

A short, middle-aged man in a sports coat was standing a few feet from me. He quickly crossed the room to where I was sitting and introduced himself. I took the hand he extended and held it an extra beat.

“I’m Kelly,” I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

But it wasn’t really a pleasure to meet him, because he turned out to be very dull, going on at length about something to do with business that I didn’t entirely understand. Another, cuter man approached and cut in.

“Hello,” I said, turning away slightly from the first man, who gave me one last lingering look and turned to talk to a tall girl with amazing curves. So it went.

I had chatted with several men when a tall, very good-looking man with dark hair approached me. Behind him were two of his friends, who were with two of the other girls from the service.

“Hi, I’m Kelly,” I said.

“Wayne,” he said.

“And where are you from, Wayne?” I asked.

“I own a software company in Los Angeles,” he said.

“I love L.A.,” I said. “I spend as much time there as I can.”

“Really?” he said. “Well, maybe you’ll have another reason to go there now.”

“I hope so.”

As he leaned in closer, I could smell his aftershave and feel the heat coming off his body beneath his light dress shirt.

“Do you want to go?” he said. “We’re going to have a party back at our hotel. My limo is outside.”

Now this was what I had been waiting for: a smart, successful, handsome client who had specifically chosen me from among the ten to twelve girls at the party. My body buzzed with the now familiar high. We climbed into his limo, just the two of us, and were whisked back to the Strip.

His friends took their girls back to their rooms, and we went into his suite alone. He had the lights off, and the sparkling expanse of the Strip shone through the window, faintly lighting the room around us. He had a beautiful suite, and he made me feel welcome right away. As he poured me a glass of wine, we chatted, getting to know each other. I was finding that this was another important part of the interaction for me, because when I was able to make a mental connection, it heightened the sexual connection that much more.

“So what do you do for fun in L.A.?” I asked.

“Well, I have kids, so that’s a handful.”

“I can imagine,” I said.

“I’ve been married twice,” he said. “The second time to a stripper, actually.”

“I’ll bet that was a trip,” I said, relaxing a little more.

By the time I had my wineglass in hand, my dress was off, and things escalated from there. I ended up staying for two and a half hours. When I was in the bathroom getting dressed, I caught sight of myself in the huge mirror, which stretched across one entire wall. I hadn’t had much of an appetite since I’d started coming to Vegas regularly, and I’d lost weight. My new dress kissed my curves and glinted in the light. I snapped a selfie, careful to cut off my face, so I could send it to Bridget for the website. I didn’t care what Mark thought. I already had regulars. With a page on the site I could attract more.

When I emerged from the bathroom, Wayne handed me a thousand dollars.

“You should get in touch when you’re in L.A.,” he said.

“Absolutely,” I said.

“I’d like to maybe take you on a trip sometime, too,” he continued. “I travel to Phoenix for work.”

“Sounds fun,” I said. “Stay in touch.”

I kissed Wayne good-bye and bounced out into the night. As I headed back to my room, my phone buzzed. It was Bridget. “He really likes you,” she wrote. “Nice work.” The praise brought a rush of joy to my already spinning head. I loved my new life.

AFTER TWO NIGHTS IN VEGAS, and an appointment with another client on my second evening, I had to catch my flight back to Wisconsin. Going home was the last thing I wanted, but I wanted to show Mark the money I had made, so he could see how much I was worth in Vegas. He certainly didn’t seem to think I was worth much when I was home. As soon as I climbed into the passenger seat when he picked me up at the airport, I pulled the bundle of hundred-dollar bills out of my purse and held them up for him. “Here’s what I made,” I said.

Mark barely looked at the money in my hand and didn’t say a word.

“I saw this guy named Wayne from Los Angeles who owned a software company,” I said. “I met him at the meet and greet, and we took his limo back to the hotel where he was staying. He had the most amazing suite. I stayed for two and a half hours, and he paid me a thousand dollars.”

“Uh-huh,” Mark said, maneuvering the car through traffic.

“The meet and greet was so fun,” I said. “I wore that new dress and all the other girls kept coming up to me and telling me how beautiful it was. There were like ten of us there. It was a little odd. I thought it’d be a nightclub, like really dark and sexy. But it was at this villa in the suburbs. About forty of the service’s best clients were invited. It was actually kind of boring, just everyone talking and having drinks. So I hopped up on this counter and crossed my legs. And then everyone noticed me. All these guys in the room started talking to me.”

“Really?” Mark said, looking at me intently.

“What?” I said. “I told you, it was a meet and greet. That was the whole point—to meet people.”

“I realize that,” he said, his voice growing agitated. “But I thought you would go in disguise or something. What happened to a couple of discreet clients, the whole fantasy-fulfilled thing? Someone is going to figure out who you are. And you don’t seem to have any idea how serious that could be.”

“You worry too much,” I said, closing my eyes and wishing myself back.

Mark did occasionally make a good point about why he was so concerned. We were in our bedroom one night after Kylie had gone to bed, and I had Vegas on the brain once again. “You know that client from the Midwest?” I asked.

I thought I noticed Mark visibly stiffen, as if steeling himself. Not that I took the hint.

“The corn guy?” he said.

“Yeah, him. I don’t think I told you this, but the weirdest thing happened when we were together in his hotel room.”

Again, Mark’s frame grew rigid, but I kept talking.

“I referred to myself in the third person, which is weird because I hate talking about myself in the third person. Only, I forgot I was Kelly, so I said ‘Suzy’ instead.”

“You did what?” Mark said. “What if he figures out who you are? If anyone found out . . .”

Gee, if he’s going to react like this, maybe I shouldn’t tell him anything at all.

“Don’t worry so much,” I said. “Nothing’s going to happen. I mean I told him I went to the University of Wisconsin, but it’s not like he knew I was a runner there.”

“Suzy, you can’t do that,” Mark exploded. “You don’t understand how guys are. If they like a woman, they want to find out everything about her.”

I had worked very hard to win Bob over, and I really hoped he did like me. I was sure Mark was overreacting. He worried way too much. It was his favorite thing to do.

“Mark, it’ll be fine,” I said.

“No, it won’t be fine,” he said, picking up our iPad from where it rested on the bed between us and typing a few things onto the screen.

“Jesus, Suzy, all I did was search on Suzy and Wisconsin,” he said, handing me the iPad so I could see what had come up.

There it was: my entire running history. I couldn’t believe it, but I also couldn’t find it in myself to be worried. Nothing would happen. I was sure of it. My husband didn’t understand; there was a code between my clients and me. We shared something special that no one else had access to. And they would never betray me. In fact, if Bob knew who I was, maybe he’d like me more. Maybe he could be even more helpful in attaining my new goal—to be the top escort at the service, maybe even in Vegas.

AT THIS POINT, I WAS only getting away to Vegas about once a month, and so I spent the next few weeks replaying scenes from my recent trips and fantasizing about what might happen on my next trip.

I was proud of the money I could make in Vegas, and to me, it was like a better, easier alternative than selling real estate. I just wished Mark could see it that way, too. We barely had sex anymore, barely talked about anything beyond Kylie—except when I needed him to approve some new aspect of my Vegas life—and avoided each other as much as possible. We fought less that way. At the time, I put all the blame on Mark. He was constantly accusing me of being selfish, and while I had become quite self-centered, putting my own happiness before the well-being of our marriage, family, or business, I didn’t see it that way. Instead I resented him. He didn’t support me. He didn’t understand what Vegas meant to me. He wanted me not to be myself, but instead to stay the woman he knew in Madison who wore sensible shoes and picked up her daughter at school. I know now that he was simply trying to accommodate the fact that the woman he loved was finally happy, but the thing making her happy was taking her farther and farther away from him.

Eventually, I set up my web page after I showed Mark the photo I had taken in the gold dress, and he realized there really was no way anyone was going to be able to recognize me. And so I excitedly sent messages back and forth with Bridget to hammer out the details: my age, thirty-nine (well, really I was forty-three, but that wasn’t such a stretch); that I was a business owner who could only be in Vegas a few times a month, but was devoted to making my clients very happy when I was there; my preferred drink (pinot noir or a lemon drop martini); and my preferred designers, Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin (even though I owned neither at the time), should a client wish to give me a gift. I couldn’t wait for my page to go live. It was going to change everything.

During this time, I was also fielding texts from regulars, including Bob, who liked it when we sent dirty messages to each other and wanted to know when I’d be back in Vegas. At first, I didn’t know what to tell him, but I kept him interested with sexy texts and promises of how fun our reunion would be.

Finally, my page on the service’s site went up, and just like that I had enough business to merit another trip. I spent Valentine’s Day in Madison with Mark and Kylie, but Mark and I weren’t feeling particularly romantic by then, so we put all our focus on our daughter. She and I had a tradition of buying candy and writing Valentine’s Day cards to all of the kids in her class. I sat with her at the dining room table, completing this simple task with my daughter, the only thing still rooting me to home.

As soon as I landed in Vegas, I put the finishing touches on my look. I’d learned by now that all the escorts got spray tans, and I booked an appointment at their favorite place. I also got my hair and nails done at my hotel. I realized that looking good was its own full-time job, but I actually enjoyed the process. I got a little thrill from seeing other women in the waiting room of the spray-tan salon, women I could tell were also escorts. I was impressed by how sexy and confident they all looked, and pushed myself to mimic everything about them. Later that day, when I had a photo shoot to generate more images for my personal web page, I reveled in the attention from the photographer. I was reminded of the request to pose for Playboy that I had been forced to turn down right after college. Olympic athletes didn’t do things like that. Now, I could do whatever I wanted, and I happily stripped off all my clothes and struck a pose in just my lingerie. I felt so free. There were two other girls in the room, getting ready for their shoots, but I wasn’t bothered by their presence. Being watched just made me feel sexier.