Chloe had decided she’d meet her future husband at a particular charity event she was attending, because why shouldn’t she? And so when David walked up to her at the event and bought her a chardonnay, it seemed meant to be.
David, a Wall Street lawyer who did pro bono work for refugees on the side, had a loft in Tribeca, a house in Sagaponack and a place in Boca Raton. However, it was his smile that got Chloe, like it was meant only for her. Chloe also felt particularly beautiful that night in her new, bright blue Nicholas Kirkwood heels and a cream-colored, barely appropriate, low-cut dress her sophistication made up for. She tried to steer the conversation to their mutual love of Latin America, but when he slipped his hand through the dress’ opening and placed his fingers on her bare ass, she forgot why words existed altogether.
“A total panty dropper,” Chloe tells me at brunch.
“You had me at pro bono,” our companion Alice smiles, sipping her bloody mary with extra olives. Alice works with Chloe in PR.
“So we’re back at his place, and he’s going down on me,” Chloe continues. “Then he asks me if I want coke. I’m like, no, but I’d love a cheeseburger.”
Chloe tells us that while David paid his drug dealer she tried to get through a law review article he wrote, “something to do with when he testifies before Congress on financial reform.”
“Shouldn’t he be a bit more discreet?” I ask.
“D.C.’s all about drugs and hookers, evidently.”
“Yikes,” Alice shakes her head.
“Yeah,” Chloe admits, “and he kind of did coke off my boobs … and down there.”
“That’s dangerous!” exclaims Alice, who likes to play mom. “It could go straight into your bloodstream.”
“It wasn’t inside me,” Chloe protests.
“He did it off your landing strip, then?” I clarify.
“How does something like that even happen?” Alice wonders.
“Everything was a temperature test with him.” Chloe explains. “He started by putting a little on my shoulder.”
“Were you into it?” I ask, trying to picture myself in that scenario.
‘Have you ever wanted to go to the dark side?’ Chloe inquires. ‘I have,’ I tell her. I get it.
“At first it tickled and I was excited, but I also felt like I was watching myself, out of body.” Chloe surprises us again, “Then he put some on his … you know.”
“You did coke off his cock?!” I screech, too loud even for Café Felix.
“And blew him,” Chloe adds as an afterthought.
“Shit,” Alice squeals.
We’re a terrible, childish audience.
“Have you ever wanted to go to the dark side?” Chloe inquires.
“I have,” I tell her. I get it. Sometimes I want to stop being controlled and grown up, have some guy do rails off my tits and ass. Scratch that itch I’ve been denying so long and self-destruct. Give in, give over and fuck my brains out with whoever. Feel nothing and everything at once. Disappear.
Chloe continues to shower us with tidbits from her night of debauchery. “Once David said he sucked dick for coke because it was just flesh, and it made him feel even more hetero.”
“Makes perfect sense to me,” Alice chuckles.
“He also said he dated a model who was really into tranny porn. He played me some clips to see if it got me all hot.”
“Definitely husband material,” Alice smirks.
“Right? I told him it wasn’t my thing, but I didn’t want him to feel bad or left out, so I showed him Lady Cheeky.”
“What’s that?” Alice, sucking an olive, asks.
“It’s a female-friendly porn site that encourages positive sexual imagery. I think you guys would like it.”
“I hardly watch porn,” I laugh, “but when I do, it’s not the feel-good stuff.”
Chloe splatters hot sauce all over her scrambled eggs. I eat granola and yogurt. Alice isn’t hungry.
“I kept making excuses for him,” Chloe says, covering her mouth as she chews. “I really thought I could turn things around, but he pushed too far.”
“When did you reach the point of no return?” I ask.
“He started slapping my butt really hard and calling me these names.” Chloe stares out the window over Grand Street.
“Did you tell him to stop?” Alice asks.
“No,” Chloe says, “I fucked him. He lasted all of two minutes. I got nothing out of it. At least if I were a prostitute I would have gotten paid.”
Chloe has a trust fund. Chloe went to private school and wore a uniform. As a girl, I made my mother buy navy skirts from the Gap so I could look like her. Chloe has brown hair and green eyes. Chloe goes to St. Barths every winter with her family. Three months ago Chloe found out her father is a sex addict who is into hookers and sex dungeons. Chloe is kind. I love Chloe.
“When I left David’s place, I wanted to cry but I was too exhausted,” she says, after ordering another Bellini. She sits up straight to compose herself. “Anyway, I’d really rather not talk about this anymore.”
“Of course,” I say, swiveling my spoon in my yogurt.
Alice says, “Well, I slept with a 25-year-old banker the other night who didn’t think he had to use a condom, because, in his words, ‘You’re too old to get your period, right?’”
“What a douche,” I say, becoming conscious of Chloe’s silence.
“Talk about feeling ancient,” Alice says. “And even if I was going through menopause, it’s like, dude, you probably have HPV, so bag it up.”
Chloe doesn’t laugh; she’s somewhere else.
Alice reaches across the table and grabs her hand. I wrap my arms around her. We know this isn’t just about David.
Chloe holds on, but her quivering lip gives her away. “You know, in this world there are these highly functioning people with big secrets. These … these sexual deviants who don’t know how to connect on a deep emotional level.”
Chloe’s father was a total dad. In the summer, when I’d visit Chloe, he’d be anchored to the barbecue, wearing shorts with socks pulled up to the knees. I don’t ask Chloe about it, but I’m sure she wonders: Does he strap the girls in harnesses, bind them and whip them? Or maybe he wants his balls clamped or trampled on?
“I just wonder if it’s in my DNA,” Chloe says, looking at me. “I’m so grateful I found out now, and not when I was child.”
And then it happens, she breaks. Holding her, we can’t help but cry with her for all that’s been broken and for what’s too great to understand. My hand stroking her hair, damp from tears, the restaurant fades and it’s just the three of us.
It all came undone, the knot of lies. Chloe can’t turn it around, but maybe it was time for him to let go. Maybe with the loosening, there is freedom and a chance at the truth.
Chloe looks up, “He was a really good father.”
Then she smiles, eyes wide with love. “Is.”