“You want me to do your makeup?”

Christophe leans against the bathroom door frame while I wipe the fog from my shower off the mirror.

I feel more myself somehow when I am here, back in the small, one-bedroom apartment I lived in when I met Eric. It was a gift from my parents when I graduated college, and the value has appreciated substantially since then.

I feel a certain  security in holding on to it all these years. Besides, it’s nice to have a cozy place available for unexpected guests or when I just need some time alone.


“No, I think I’ve got this, thanks.”

“You sure? I can make you look fierce!”

“And I know you can…” I smile and turn toward my room to find a suitable outfit for my appearance at Jorge’s two a.m. get-together. One thing I can count on with Chris. In his world the party never ends.

“Remember, you are a queen!”

“Yes. I am a queen. I am a queen.” Like a mantra.


The condo is filled with faces I recognize from the club–exceptionally attractive men, in various stages of undress,  lazily draped over white sofas and hanging out on the spacious balcony in quiet after-hours cliques.

The ubiquitous tap of thin metal blade against glass and exaggerated sniff and cough from a tight cluster of three or four hunched over the coffee table in the center of the room. No one looks up as we make our way across the white carpeted floor.


“I thought you said he was living sober!” I whisper under my breath.


“Yeah, well. He’s not doing pills anymore. Just a little smoke now and then. These are mostly friends from work.”


Jorge is mixing drinks in the kitchen. Freshly showered and changed into cut-off jean shorts and a Cuban shirt. He leaves it unbuttoned, still showing off his tight body.


He welcomes Christophe with a long wet kiss then suddenly recognizes me standing just beyond.


“Stacey!!” He crushes me against his chest, wafting the scent of Guerlain and fresh mint.


“Sank you for combing! Please! Sit! I make you Kumquat Mojito!”


“Yummy!” Chris kisses him on the cheek and pulls out two ultra high bar stools from the  expansive white marble island. We perch, overlooking the pool.  The colored lights of the city skyline reflect against the intracoastal waters, the tall sliding glass doors fixed wide open to catch the evening breeze.


Flipping open his tablet, Chris settles into the booking site.


“Here…use my card.” I shuffle in my bag for the rose gold Christian Louboutin wallet Eric bought me for my birthday.


“Sweetie, are you sure??”


I take a long sip of the cold, syrupy cocktail.


“Well, can we use yours??”


We both burst into laughter.


“You have a piece of mint leaf…”


“Thanks!” I pull out my mirror, catching a glimpse down the hallway behind us. The door of one of the guest rooms is open and I clearly see a king sized platform bed with at least three sets of arms and legs tangled together in heated exertion. The sudden flash of naked eroticism stirs my attention.


I check my phone again, since I’m in my purse anyway. No messages.


“Mmmm, girl I am going to find you the most luxurious hotel in Key West. Someplace exclusive. And a massage ASAP.”


His eyes are riveted to the scrolling screen now. Chris enjoys drama, no matter whose it is. The story playing out between me and Eric is a puzzle for which I haven’t provided many clues. I simply don’t have them myself. Maybe when things cool off I can think straight. Make decisions. But not right now.


“Thanks, Chris. Just book it. I trust your taste.”


I scoot off the high bar stool carefully, just as Jorge emerges from the patio.


“Dose choos are sexy beautiful!” He delicately grasps my hand and kisses it with a flourish.


“Thank you!”


“Are you combing to see ziss beautiful swimming pool?” Jorge leads me out onto the deck, lined with incandescent lanterns.


We perch on chaise lounges opposite one another as he lights a joint and passes it to me.

” Ju remind me of my ex-wife. So beautiful.”  I hadn’t noticed  in the dark chaos of the club, he seems quite a bit older than I originally assumed.

“She was Venezuelan.”

“So, you are bi-sexual?” I cock my head quizzically.

“Sometimes. But mostly gay,” He replies with a wink.

“I’m sure there’s a long story behind that simple answer.”

“Jess, for another night, maybe so.

Tonight, you tell me, okay? What’s your story, Bella Dama?”

To be continued…