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

Chapter 18. MARRY ME

When I next saw Lionel, he had another gift for me. He gave it to me over dinner, sliding the flat box across the table as we sipped our wine. Many of my clients had very specific fantasies they wanted me to act out with them, and I was happy to explore whatever. But Lionel’s desire wasn’t sexual. He wanted me to be his wife, in real life, so when we were together, without ever explicitly saying that’s how it would be, I pretended I was.

“You look so beautiful tonight,” he said. “I have something for you.”

I was already feeling the rush from the sleek lines and hushed glamour of the expensive restaurant and the intoxicating properties of the wine and his praise. My pulse quickened when I opened the box and rested my eyes on a beautiful diamond necklace. He’d already given me a sexy Hervé Léger dress and an iPad, even though I’d told him I already had one, but expensive jewelry was the most potent symbol of all I wanted my new life to be.

“Thank you,” I said. “I love it.”

“And I love you,” he said.

And then he stepped out of the fantasy, as he sometimes did, forcing me to pay attention in order to keep up with what he wanted from me.

“I’ll give you anything you want,” he said. “Gifts. Vacations. I can provide for you in a way your husband can’t. You wouldn’t have to be here in Vegas anymore.”

As if I’m in Vegas for the money, I thought.

I knew I wasn’t going to leave Mark, wasn’t going to marry Lionel, wasn’t going to stop escorting, but I was flattered by Lionel’s passion and persistence.

“That’s very sweet of you,” I said.

“We can be so happy together, Suzy,” he continued.

I flinched a little at the sound of my real name. I didn’t like hearing him say it.

“Help me put on my necklace,” I said, eager for the mood to be flirty and light again. “When we get back to your suite I’ll model it for you with nothing else on.”

He came around the table, and I lifted my hair for him so he could slide the necklace onto my breastbone and clasp it behind my head. The gold was heavy and cold against my skin. I loved the weight of it and how substantial it felt: all those diamonds, all those dollars, the perfect emblem of everything he’d promised me.

It wasn’t just my regulars who were upping the ante, either. I got a call from Bridget, preparing me for a date with a regular client.

“I’ve got this appointment for you,” she said. “The date is with Jim. He buys expensive gifts for all the girls, so expect to go shopping. He’s very wealthy.”

“Excellent,” I said, waiting for her to continue.

“Okay, have fun,” she said, ready to get off the line.

“That’s it?” I asked, wanting to know everything, like I always did, so I could add it to my notes. It was really important for me to know who I was seeing and how I could please him. Of course, Bridget didn’t know about my notes.

“That’s it,” she said, again ready to hang up.

“But wait, what does he look like? What does he do? What are his special requests? What’s he into?”

She sounded annoyed as she quickly ran through his basic information. I could practically hear her thinking, What a pain in the ass. None of the other girls ask questions like this. But I was number two in Vegas and the other girls weren’t, so she humored me.

I was excited by the possibility of an expensive gift as I stood outside the door to Jim’s suite. I prepared myself for some extreme sexual acrobatics. If he was going to buy me a gift, I was going to make sure he knew how much I appreciated it. When the door opened, a pleasant older man dressed in business casual met me with a wide smile.

“Hi there,” I said, kissing him right on the mouth.

He stepped back a little and laughed.

“Oh, hi, Kelly, it’s nice to meet you. Let’s go get some dinner.”

I was surprised that Jim didn’t want to take a trip to the bedroom first, but I didn’t let it show. I simply adjusted my behavior to match his calm, thoughtful mood. There was nothing the least bit sexual in our interaction as we made small talk on our way. He’d made a reservation at one of the top restaurants in Vegas, which impressed me, as did the fact that everyone from the hostess to the busboys knew who he was and greeted him with warm respect. I didn’t know who this guy was beyond what little Bridget had told me, but I liked the feeling of being out with him. When it was time for us to be seated, he stepped aside a little and gestured that I should lead the way, like a true gentleman. Aside from letting it be known there were a few items I preferred, including pinot noir and lemon drop martinis, I always let the men pick our wine when we went to dinner, and often, our food. I was taken aback when he ordered a bottle of red wine for us that cost a thousand dollars. My first thousand-dollar bottle of wine, I thought, adding this to the list of incredible firsts I’d enjoyed lately.

“So do you come to Las Vegas often?” I asked him, wanting to know more about him.

“Some,” he said. “I prefer to travel in Europe, but Vegas has its perks.”

“I love Europe,” I said. “Monte Carlo is my favorite.”

“Yes, Monte Carlo is wonderful,” he said, seeming a little surprised and very pleased that his new escort could speak knowledgeably of European cities.

Several times throughout dinner, I noticed him giving me a similar look over and over, as if he couldn’t believe he was having such an intelligent conversation with me. Instead of feeling indignant at the implication that all other escorts were dumb, I thrived on the suggestion that I was unique and special. When the bill came, the meal itself cost a thousand dollars, plus the price of the wine. None of my clients had ever spent that much money on me for a meal, and I was flushed with pleasure and excitement. It was time to up the ante.

“Which store would you like to go to?” he said as we waited for the waiter to return with his credit card. “Chanel, Louis Vuitton, they’re all here.”

This is the best thing in the world, I thought. But I was not the type to be pushy when he was already being so generous.

“Which do you think?” I asked.

“How about Louis Vuitton?” he said.

“That’s great,” I said. “I don’t have a really nice purse.”

By the time we entered the Louis Vuitton store, with its elegant displays of expensive handbags, I could barely focus on even this extremely enjoyable task.

“Which one do you want?” he asked, smiling warmly at me.

Again, I hesitated, looking around. They were all beautiful. I didn’t want to pick one that was too expensive when he had already been so generous.

“Which one do you think would be good for me?” I asked.

He surveyed the displays and picked out a beautiful handbag.

I beamed with joy, and I couldn’t contain myself as we stood at the counter.

“This is my first expensive purse,” I said to the saleswoman. “This is so nice of him. Oh my god!”

She laughed, not in a mean way, but as if she found it refreshing to see someone actually excited to be in possession of something so elite. I was so thrilled that I was lighting up that shop, and I could tell the woman loved me for it.

From there we went back to his room, and I stripped for him. We did finally have sex, but it only lasted for about fifteen minutes, and it seemed as if maybe it wasn’t the point of the endeavor for him anyway. Jim wanted to treat a beautiful young woman to dinner at one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants and feel her appreciation and admiration when he bought her an expensive gift she wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. If that was what made him happy, I was more than glad to help give him what he craved.

By the time our appointment was over, I was vibrating with the combined effects of the meal, the conversation, the purse, and the feeling of having been acknowledged in some way by this very successful, very rich man.

“I definitely want to see you again,” he said, cementing my happiness.

Later that month, I met with a client named Dylan, a wealthy techie who had sold his software company for major money and now enjoyed spending freely in Vegas on escorts and other pleasures. As we drank our wine before dinner, he began confiding in me.

“I don’t feel like I have any choice but to come to Vegas,” he said. “I’m in a sexless marriage.”

“A lot of people are,” I said, trying not to think about Mark. “But it’s good that you can take care of yourself. Does your wife know?”

“She didn’t know for a long time,” he said. “And then, recently, she found out and she actually gave me her permission. She just doesn’t want to know when.”

“That sounds like it’s probably the best solution for both of you,” I said.

I was at a nice restaurant, drinking an expensive bottle of wine, having a deep conversation with an extremely rich and successful man who I’d won over enough for him to tell me all about his troubled marriage. Not that long ago, each of these factors alone would have thrilled me, but now, they just felt normal to me.

“My limo’s waiting outside to take us to my hotel,” Dylan told me after we had finished eating and he had paid the bill.

I liked the sound of that. When we climbed into the hushed, opulent cocoon and pulled out into the constantly dragging traffic of the Strip, I kissed Dylan.

He paused and pulled back from me a little bit.

“There’s something I want to give you,” he said.

“What is it?” I said, already excited, hoping for jewelry.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small tube, from which he shook two white powder-filled capsules out onto his palm.

“One for you, one for me,” he said.

“What is it?” I asked, a little wary.

“Ecstasy,” he said. “It’ll make you feel really good, I promise. I’ll make sure you’re safe. You just need to drink plenty of water.”

That was enough for Kelly. She was up for excitement, risk, anything. Without further thought, I popped the pill onto my tongue and swallowed it. As the driver rolled the car past the great banks of sparkling lights that lined the Strip, we began to kiss, and I quickly stripped down to just my bra and panties. The partition between the driver’s seat and the back of the limo began to go up, and I realized that the driver wanted to give us privacy. Suddenly, my high spiked that much higher at the thought of him watching us in the backseat.

“No, leave it down,” I said, catching the driver’s eye in his rearview mirror.

Dylan seemed as turned on by this as I was, because he pulled me onto his lap and took it from there. I’d found a way to up the ante once again.

MY CALLS HOME HAD BECOME ever more infrequent and brief. After his attempt to talk sense into me in the summer had failed, Mark seemed resigned to the fact that this was my life now. And if that was true, he had a new concern. During one of our rare phone conversations in September, he made me really talk to him.

“Suzy, you’re in Vegas so much these days,” he said.

I prickled, ready to get defensive at whatever came next.

“And the hotel bills are getting really expensive,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. Do you have any idea what you’re spending?”

“But I need to stay at the nicest hotels,” I said, looking around me at my room at the Encore. “A top escort out here has to present a certain image. And besides, I make a lot of money.”

“That’s all fine and good,” he said. “But these bills are completely out of control.”

I waited for him to tell me once again I had to stop, to come home, my defense at the ready.

“We should buy a condo in Vegas,” I said.

Secretly, I was hoping this would be the first step in convincing him to move our entire life out west, but I knew I couldn’t present it like that.

“It could be an investment property,” I said.

“Right,” he said, sarcastically.

Then, a few days later, he surprised me, obviously coming to the realization that this was going to be our life now.

“I’ve been thinking about it, and we should consider a condo at the Trump,” he said.

“Are you kidding me? I love the Trump.”

“The main thing is that you’ll be safe, and we won’t be spending so goddamn much money on hotel rooms,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll be a good investment in the long run. I could let my real estate clients use it as a reward for working with us.”

“When are you going to buy it?” I asked, already prickling with excitement. Although I was proud of how much money I made in Vegas, it was almost like play money, and I never thought specifically of using it to cover my Vegas expenses. I spent as much as I wanted in Vegas and what was left sat in our safe at home, untouched.

“I’ve already picked out the condo I think is best for us,” he said. “I want you to go check it out, and if you think it looks good, I’m going to make an offer.”

As I strolled through the condo, snapping pictures to send to Mark, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Maybe everything would really work out the way I wanted after all.

I DIDN’T HAVE TO DO everything a client wanted on a date, only what I was comfortable with, and the decision was totally up to me. At the same time, there were certain sex acts that cost extra, which the client knew up front. Mark and I had, in our old life, been very open when it came to sex. There was a lot I was comfortable with. And besides, there wasn’t a judgmental bone in my body. I wanted to make my clients feel good and help them to live out their fantasies, and so I responded enthusiastically to almost everything they wanted to try. But there were a few things I wouldn’t do, and that was that. No one ever tried to pressure me. But now that more and more extreme behaviors—drugs, taking high-end gifts, overnights—were becoming the norm for me, I had to push the boundaries even further. I started expanding the range of things I was willing to do, of my own accord. For a little while, at least, it worked.

When pushing the sex boundary lost its thrill, I started to occasionally tell clients who I was, so that by the end of my time in Vegas, probably a total of ten knew my real identity. When I did tell a client, I loved seeing how excited he got when he learned I was a famous runner who had competed in the Olympics. I didn’t think about the risk I was bringing upon my family and myself. My clients had just as much reason to be discreet as I did. Many of them were married and saw escorts specifically in order to avoid a messy, and expensive, divorce. Even the ones who were single had successful careers and didn’t need it known publicly that they had a taste for sex for hire. Most important, we had a special bond that no one else could understand. There was no way any of them would betray me. I was sure of it.

MARK’S OFFER ON THE CONDO at Trump had been accepted, and I was able to move in right away. The address seemed very exclusive to me, and I loved living there from the start. Having a Vegas address was another step toward living my fantasy. I quickly made friends with my neighbors, chatting to whoever crossed my path. I talked a mile a minute, never stopping to think I might be saying the wrong thing or befriending the wrong person.

One night, after seeing a new client, my phone buzzed. It was another of my clients, a regular from San Diego. I smiled, figuring he was sending me a sexy note or letting me know he’d been in town that weekend. And then I read what he’d written: “A man from the Smoking Gun contacted me about a picture of you from your real estate company’s website.” My hands were shaking as I pushed the button to dial his number.

“What happened?” I said as soon as we got on the phone.

“It was really weird,” he said, sounding rattled. “This guy contacted me and introduced himself as a reporter from a website called the Smoking Gun. He asked me if I had ever gone to see an escort named Kelly in Las Vegas, and before I could even try to deny it, he said he’d read my review of you, and so he knew that I had seen you. And then he said he had a photo and he wanted to send it to me and get me to confirm it was the same Kelly I had seen in Vegas. Only when I looked at the woman in the picture, she wasn’t named Kelly. She was named Suzy and she was a realtor in Madison, Wisconsin. But the woman in the photo was definitely you.”

“What did you say?” I asked, my stomach twisting. I knew members of the Erotic Review were able to exchange messages on the site as a way to share information about girls they liked, and that the Smoking Gun writer could have easily posed as a member in order to infiltrate the escorting world and seek information about me.

“I didn’t say anything,” he said. “I didn’t call him back. I called you instead.”

“Thank you,” I said, feeling grateful that I had so many amazing, loyal clients. I could still save the day. I knew I could.

“Say it’s not me,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. “I can do that.”

I could tell by the tone of his voice that my client found the whole situation very odd. I could also tell that he was nervous that he would be exposed as someone who paid for sex. I quickly tried to reassure him.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’m so sorry you had to be bothered with this. It’s nothing. Really. Nothing will come of it.” To show him I was not the least bit worried, I added, “When will you be in Vegas again?”

After receiving this call, I went back to my regular Vegas routine, without a care in the world. Looking back, of course, this seems impossible to believe. But, as far as I was concerned, I had figured out a way to outsmart this reporter, and that would be the end of it. It never occurred to me that he would contact many more of my clients who had also left reviews for me on the Erotic Review and ask them the same question. It had been easy to dismiss Mark’s worry when clients I genuinely liked and trusted had discovered my real identity. This was different, and clearly more serious. But I was more concerned about Mark’s reaction to the news than what might actually come of it, and so I put off calling him until the next day.

“Mark, one of my clients called me and told me that a reporter from the website the Smoking Gun had contacted him asking if Kelly, the Vegas escort, was the same person as on our real estate website.”

“What do you mean?” Mark said, the panic audible in his voice. “Who was it?”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “He’s a regular from San Diego. I told him to say the woman in the picture wasn’t Kelly, and he said he would. We’re fine. I’ll call Bridget, just in case. It will be okay.”

“Bridget can’t help us if this reporter really knows who you are and plans to out you. I can’t believe I just bought that condo there and it’s all falling apart already.”

Just the thought of losing the condo, losing my life in Vegas, was enough to make me want to fight back with every ounce of my being.

“I’m not going to let this guy win,” I said. “It’s all going to be fine. Other people know who I am, and they’ve never done anything. We don’t have anything to worry about.”

Mark didn’t sound convinced, and neither was I, to be honest. But I certainly wasn’t going to stop, or run home. That wasn’t even an option. Later in the day, my client called me back to tell me that he’d denied the woman in the photo was Kelly and even said a few things to try to throw this reporter off of my trail. He still sounded a little on edge, and he indicated that he didn’t have any plans to come to Vegas for a little while. I told my client that when he did make it back, I would give him a proper thank-you.

Even though I was proud of myself for handling the situation without Mark, it was hard to put the incident out of my mind. For the next week, every time my disposable phone buzzed with an incoming text or call, I steeled myself before answering, worried that it would be another client saying he’d been contacted. I worried that the reporter might be calling me directly. Every time Mark called or e-mailed me, I was afraid it was with the news that the Smoking Gun had done a story on me. In my downtime, I worried about what would happen if my double life were finally exposed. But mostly, I worried about what I would do if I had to stop. That just wasn’t an option.

I stayed on the move, always busy, frantic, even. I took as many appointments as I could. I bought myself whatever caught my eye. When all else failed, I did the delicate dance of meeting a man in a bar and convincing him to spend his money on an escort, even though this possibility had been the furthest thing from his mind in the moments just before he met me. As the days passed without any further calls, I put it all out of my mind. As far as I was concerned, I had dodged that bullet, and now it was business as usual.