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

Chapter 20. THE SMOKING GUN

I was already thinking about what I was going to wear: yes, it would be my favorite Hervé Léger dress, and always, my five-inch black Christian Louboutin heels. I could practically taste the vodka I would drink and feel the power that Kelly exuded. I waited impatiently for the elevator.

“Suzy,” a man’s deep voice rose out of the crowd of people behind me.

When I turned and looked at him, I had a weird, out-of-body feeling. This often happened when someone took me out of Kelly mode. I didn’t like it.

I figured it had to be another fan, and I had no interest in talking to someone who just wanted an autograph from Suzy Favor Hamilton. When I looked more closely at the man, something clicked. An uneasy feeling crept into my gut. Something isn’t quite right here, I thought. Mark had been on high alert for months, trying in vain to get me concerned that I might be exposed. My mania made me feel invincible, so I had simply put Mark’s warnings out of my mind. I did the same thing now and smiled at the man, even though I instantly prickled at his cold, judgmental look, the way he loomed over me, as if he’d cornered me.

“My name is William Bastone,” he said. “Can I talk to you?”

Oh shit, I thought, instantly frantic. Mark was right. I knew that name: it was the man who’d contacted my client, asking about me. Here he was in front of me. Panic set in, twisting my gut. But could this really be happening? I was so good at denial, and justifying my actions. Even though I’d recognized his name, and everything about his cocky, self-righteous attitude made me fear what he was going to do next, I was still hoping he’d ask me a couple of questions, which I would deflect, and he’d go on his merry way. I was even annoyed at him for interrupting my ramping excitement about my upcoming client. But as he glowered at me, the truth became obvious. This guy had done his research, and he’d flown out from his office on the East Coast just to come and find me. He knew who I really was. He seemed to feel like he had the right to be cold and disrespectful toward me. It felt like he was judging me from where he stood.

“Can we talk?” he said. “Everything you say to me will be off the record.”

“Sure,” I said, trying to sound calm. I was actually frazzled, a total mess, but I tried to hold it together. I checked that my phone was still in my purse, the mania dropping away with every second. “Can we step out into the casino to talk?” I asked.

Bastone nodded, and I walked away from the elevators to the edge of the casino floor. With him following close behind me, I focused on the story I had prepared in case this moment ever happened. Once we were away from the crowd, I was tempted to run, but I stayed put and concentrated on doing the best acting job ever. Can I talk my way out of this? Maybe. That was Kelly thinking, confident and in control. I’m Kelly now, I reminded myself, and he can’t ruin my life. I felt a tiny glimmer of hope. Everyone else in my life had disappeared. But I would fight for Kelly, even if that meant denying her existence.

“We know who you are,” Bastone said, his voice firm, uncaring, his face devoid of any emotion. “We know you’re Kelly. We know what you’re doing.”

He quickly presented his evidence to me.

“We’ve matched the dates you made appearances for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, here in Vegas and in other cities, with the dates the service posted that Kelly was in those cities,” he said.

I’d never actually seen clients in any of the cities he mentioned, but when the service had asked if they could do this to attract more business for me, I’d agreed, without ever considering that there might be ramifications later. “We were anonymously contacted by a gentleman who indicated that you were Kelly,” he continued. “We have photos of you as Kelly. And I’ve contacted multiple clients of yours, who, when shown photos of you in your regular, daily life, confirmed that you were the Kelly they’d slept with.”

Holy shit, what is happening to me right now? I thought. I have to stay calm. But for the first time in the year I’d been working as an escort in Vegas, the facts of what I’d done hit me. I knew my life was ruined, over. My heart plummeted. “That’s absolutely ridiculous,” I said in my most matter-of-fact tone, trying desperately to act cool. “You’re wrong. You have no idea what’s going on.”

I made myself look him straight in the eye. Mark’s anxiety about the situation had inspired me to work out a plan, in the quiet hours of the night when I allowed myself to think about it. “I’m having an affair, and this man who told you I’m Kelly is lying,” I said. “He’s upset I won’t marry him, and he’s trying to get revenge.”

With the evidence he’d just provided me, I knew my story would fall on deaf ears, and yet I had to at least try.

“No, I don’t buy that one bit,” he said. “You’re lying. And I know you’re lying. I’ve seen the website. I’ve talked with your clients. It’s you.”

I was used to guys fawning all over me, and praising me, and being so nice to me, buying me drinks and expensive jewelry, telling me how gorgeous I was and how I was the sexiest, most interesting woman they’d ever met, how they wished their wives were like me, how they wished I was their wife. And now, I could feel this man demeaning me. I could feel him talking to me like I was dirt. He had his story, and he looked so proud of himself. I didn’t want to be near him another minute, but I knew I had to do something, and fast. “Listen, why don’t we go up to my room, and we can talk about this more?”

“Absolutely not,” he shot back, stepping away from me. “There’s no way I’m going to your room with you.”

He glared at me, and I realized he probably thought I was going to try to lure him up there to have sex with him. It hadn’t actually occurred to me to try to seduce him, even though that’s how I usually got my way these days. I just wanted to talk to him and convince him to see things from my point of view. “We need to meet and talk somewhere other than your room,” he said.

“Well, I have to go somewhere right now,” I said.

“I’m flying back to NYC tomorrow afternoon, so let’s meet tomorrow morning,” he said. “I need a statement from you. It can soften the blow for you of the article I write.”

What is he talking about? He’s going to ruin my life and my family, no matter what I do or say! I was so sickened at this moment, but I nodded. We set a time and place to meet, and I walked away.

When I got up to my room, I slowly opened the door, wanting to delay the moment when I had to tell Mark for as long as possible. I picked up my phone. I didn’t want to call my husband, but I knew I had no choice. I was trembling as I listened to the phone ring. As soon as Mark answered, a rush of panicked words escaped from my mouth. I wasn’t able to speak clearly, but after several false starts, I finally managed a complete sentence.

“It was just like you said it would be,” I said. “He found me. Please come over here as quickly as you can.”

The tears started rolling down my cheeks. As we talked, I looked in the bathroom mirror, not quite sure who I saw staring back at me. I’d been angry at Mark for trying to talk sense, but I needed his help desperately now. Since we’d started dating when I was eighteen, he’d always been my rock, my confidant, and my sounding board. And even though shaking off what had begun to feel like his controlling influence had been part of why I had taken this path, now I would do whatever he told me. It felt like too little, far too late.

Would Mark leave me and take my daughter away from me? How would I tell my parents, my siblings, my in-laws? Would they all disown me? They would never understand this world and what it had come to mean to me. They would never understand how I had become stronger, more powerful as Kelly. With the phone still in my hand, I fell to the cold floor and curled up in a ball, crying. Help me, I thought. Help me, please.

After a while, I got up and paced the room until Mark finally knocked on the door. When he walked in, I could read his thoughts in his body language: I told you so. I couldn’t stand it.

“Don’t look at me like that!” I screamed at him.

I hated the idea of yelling in front of Kylie, who had come in with Mark, but I was beyond caring now.

“Calm down,” he said. “What did this man say?”

I presented the evidence just as Bastone had laid it out for me.

“Well, he is going to destroy you,” Mark said. This was not what I wanted to hear. I needed Mark to rescue me, and he saw the situation as hopeless. I hated him right now. He couldn’t save me. Worse, he didn’t want to. In my head, I just kept hearing his voice saying, again and again, “I told you so. I told you so.” I felt there had to be a way out, somehow, and I paced the room, frantically trying to work out a solution.

“Can you please try to calm down?” Mark said.

I didn’t even look up at him, just kept pacing.

“Can you please try to calm down, Suzy?” he repeated.

His words only made me more upset.

“How can I calm down?” I said. “My life is over.”

“Well, what the fuck did you expect?” he said.

Mark held out his hand for Kylie and led her toward the door. I knew that I was on the verge of a complete and total breakdown. “Where are you going?” I screamed, panicked at the thought of being left alone.

“I’m taking Kylie back to the condo,” he said. “She doesn’t need to see you like this.”

He leaned down to Kylie, amazingly skilled at keeping his cool.

“Say good night to your mom,” he said.

“Good night, Mommy,” she said.

Looking at her sweet face, knowing what was coming, was almost enough to break my heart. Almost. When the door shut behind them, I looked around the empty hotel room, knowing there was no way I was going to be able to sleep that night. I knew there was also no way I was going to be able to hold it together during an appointment with Jim, the client I was supposed to see, so I texted him to cancel.

Mark later told me that when he walked Kylie back to the Trump that night, he tried to explain what she’d just seen: “Mommy’s brain doesn’t always work right. That’s not your mommy, and you know that.” Apparently, Kylie understood as much as any little girl could. Alone in my hotel room, I finally stretched out on the bed, but my mind’s racing kept me awake. There was no way I could lose the best part of my life and return to my normal existence in Madison. And what would be left of that reality anyway? I would lose my family, my child. I thought it would be better to die. Somehow, I gathered the strength to get ready for my meeting the next morning. At nine, I walked up to the Starbucks where we’d agreed to meet. William Bastone was already there, sitting at a table outside, looking just as pleased with himself, and as disgusted with me, as he had the day before.

I walked right by him, trying not to show my devastation and desperation.

“I’m just going to get some tea,” I said.

When I had my cup of tea in hand, I sat down next to him on a bench outside, the knot in my stomach tightening.

“Listen, everything you say to me is off the record,” he said. “But I’m writing the story, whether you like it or not.”

Mark had gone into fix-it mode right away. He immediately had the service take down my web page and removed all pictures of me from our real estate website. He also got rid of every picture he could find of me online, especially those where I was with Kylie. Our main concern was Kylie and how we could protect her from what was about to happen, and so we did everything we could to keep her life as normal as possible. Mark had a manager he trusted at the real estate firm, and he called him and told him as much as he felt he could. When the news broke, it would definitely not go unnoticed among our managers and peers, so Mark wanted to prepare them for what was coming without being too specific about the details.

“Suzy is resigning. Something has happened. And this will be best for everybody.”

In a show of solidarity, the manager told him I could continue working with the agency on a limited basis, but Mark knew that would never work.

“Trust me,” he said. “She’s going to have to resign.”