Alison Lee, SL,UT
Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce any of this content without express written consent from the author.
This excerpt contains course language, sexual themes, and imagery not suitable for children.
Bourbon Street Grill
Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010
“He’s an intolerable gynophobe!” I hissed into my iPhone as I slid it from my right ear to my left, avoiding a brush of my Scandal Queen Red lips, “Yes, you can quote me on that. He’s one of those women-hating right wing nut jobs who only approve of women who are afraid of their vaginas.”
This was my third interview with Sam Dye of the Salt Lake City Weekly and he was refusing to let the topic go, “Anna! you know I can’t publish that quote. You called the man a misogynistic bigot, live on air. Don’t you think that was a bit excessive?” Sam asked as I mouthed an apology to my two best friends who were sitting across the table waiting for my call to end – I’d already let the interview run longer than I’d intended.
“Fuck no! I’d've said worse but I got cut off. I will not ignore the fact that Shawn Manatee’s Utah herd-mate, Darrel Cook, called a 19-year-old girl a slut on national television!” I replied, noticing the soft brown eyebrows of Sarah Bryant (one of those friends who’d been around long enough to call me on my PR persona) raise at me from across the thick maple table as she took a sip of her Diet Coke.
“If he’d called my man-meat-loving Midwestern homosexual intern a ‘fairy’ we’d have a glitter riot out front of Fox News! If he called someone a Negro he’d be brought up on charges of hate speech. But, nobody raises an eyebrow if someone uses hateful, venomous, violence-promoting language against a sexually self-aware girl. We live in a country where one in six women is victimized by sexual violence – and a hideously common defense is that the perpetrator didn’t truly understand that his behavior was rape, or that he believed the victim’s dress or demeanor implied she wanted the assault! Language matters!”
“The sex kittens of SL,UT need to unite and chase this clown out of Zion! I am challenging every woman in Salt Lake City to join me in requiring that any man who wants to be a stakeholder in the safety and/or enjoyment of our vaginas needs to see this man voted out of office … that’s what I have to say … on the record!” I laughed, then morphed into off-the-record Annabelle Franklin (my softer friendlier side) and away from the infamous, and impassioned, Anna! Bell (my radio alter ego). I wrapped up the interview with the obligatory inquiries into family and acquaintances required of professionals who have rubbed elbows (and more interesting appendages) more than a couple of times over a decade of professional coexistence.
“Now listen, I’m having lunch with my two favorite sluts in the whole world right now, so I’ve gotta scoot. My martini is getting tepid.”
I thanked Sam for the interview, hung up the phone, and took a deep sip of my dirty Sapphire martini, “Sorry ladies, I can’t stand Darrell Cook! He needs a good, banging, I swear! You now have my undivided attention.”
Kyra Whitney, the third member of our Trifecta, took a sip of her Pinot Grigio and laughed at me, throwing my feminist ranting back in my face, “How can you take yourself seriously when you’re like that? When did you become such a douchebag-feminist?”
“With Sam? I meant every word! I hate the word ‘slut!’ Gynophobic paranoia! It’s a nasty insult … gotta protect the pussy, gotta keep every other guy away from it, and ‘IT’ becomes a tainted, dirty, scary, place if you don’t! There’s a bullshit glass ceiling of sexual self-empowerment, and it has immense derogatory powers,” I explained, naturally slipping back into Anna! after too many years of training and reflex.
“You make it sound so nefarious: Gynophbia?” Kyra groaned, rolling her eyes at my full-fledged rant and smoothing her pale blonde hair.
“Call a woman a ‘slut’ in front of a man she may be interested in and you instantly degrade her. More so than bitch, stupid, or any other insult you can hurl. Can you think of a more offensive, lust-dousing term?” I asked, turning to Sarah Bryant, my lifelong best friend.
“Dyke?” Kyra Whitney, chimed in, always fifty percent peace maker and fifty percent instigator, although you could never quite know which you were going to get.
“Definitely not dyke. Take you, my lovely Kyra,” I said, pointing to my elfen-faced friend.
“If I hurl ‘dyke’ at you across the street, I of course look like a terrible person, a homophobe. But, any nearby would-be suitor will think, ‘Good looking lesbian’ or ‘No way, let me watch!’ But, since you can easily demonstrate to any man you’re dating that you are, in fact, not a dyke, or that you are at least fluid in your appreciation of the feminine physique, the stain of the hate speech may easily be washed away,” I finished.
“I agree with Annabelle. Call me a slut, and he’ll always wonder.” Kyra laughed, raising her wine to her perfect white teeth. “Although the woman in flannel giving us dirty looks from the table across the room might not agree with you.”
“Oh her? Yeah, we had a fling six years ago. She got all clingy so I stopped answering her calls. You know what they say about lesbians and one night stands … the next morning they schedule the moving van,” I laugh, waving off those adventurous bi-flexible days early in my career when I thought feminism and sexual-preference-ambiguity were necessary codependents.
“Back to the point. Slut has a horribly nasty historical context. Historical usage of the word identifies a ‘slut’ as a dirty or unkempt person of loose morals and virtue. In calling her that, you insult not only her sexuality, but her entire essence, her hygiene! She is tainted by her sexuality, and we all think that of promiscuous women – of the vagina. We think that somehow sharing it makes it dirty, in a way that we just don’t hold against men or the penis. Somehow being the invader makes one above the laws of STD transmission? Bullshit! Our brains invent an entire fantastical bio-culture of diseases for the promiscuous vagina that don’t even exist!”
Sarah Bryant choked down a laugh at my reference to the ‘promiscuous vagina’ and tore into a steaming loaf of sourdough bread, then accused our hypothetical ‘slut’ without benefit of jury, “But, what if she’s just a dumb girl using sex to get things? You may be giving her too much credit by calling her self-empowered? She could just be compensating for low self-esteem and trying to gain male attention. And, in that case she is a slut!” Sarah said, always the wide-eyed, well-bred Mormon girl objecting to my diatribes, and the perfect foil to my feminist rants (who also happens to be the biggest closet kinkster I’ve ever met, in spite of her wholesome LDS upbringing).
“In which case, she deserves our sympathy!” I quip. “We should embrace her with love and sisterhood because I tell you: for every slut out there, there’s some jackass man who did something that made her that way!” I assert, slamming my perfectly manicured black-tipped fingers against the table for effect, and sloshing my $12 martini in the process.
“Hear, hear sister!” Kyra agreed, tilting her glass – and flipping her smooth waist-length blonde hair over her shoulder.
Sarah looked at me and narrowed her eyes. I could see her brain spin as she processed my assertion, then she tossed down her napkin and laughed, “Dr. Annabelle Franklin, you are a genius of human sexuality! I just ran through a list of every slutty woman I can think of – starting with you two hussies of course – and you’re absolutely right. I can name at least three losers for each of you!” Sarah laughed, pointing the straw of her Diet Coke in my direction.
“Take pity on us poor, misdirected sluts. We know not what we do,” I replied, taking a somber and pious tone.
“For just 79 cents a day, you can sponsor your own slut.” Kyra added, “Keeping her supplied with latex condoms and silicone implants,” she finished and cast her beautiful bluegreen eyes toward her perfect French manicure and shook her head in mock sympathy.
“Speak for yourself, bitch!” I laughed, tussling my glossy black hair and weighing a perfect C-cup in each hand. “This slut’s headlights are 100% natural.”
“Hey! One-upper!” Sarah whined, sighing down at her athletic frame (aka boxy and flat-chested) and covered her bosom in mock shame. “We can’t all be stacked!”
“To my two favorite sluts in the whole world!” Kyra toasted,
“And, a Valtrex prescription to the men who made them that way!” I chimed in as our glasses met.
Salt Lake City, Utah, 2004
I threw open the door to my dressing room at the Mynnx Lounge and tossed my red satin gloves over the back of a black leather club chair. In the silver mirror across the room I could see that my face was flushed with excitement, and my breasts were heaving. Sweat ran in rivulets between them and into the black silk corset I’d put back on at the conclusion of my routine. Every inch of me was electric with lust and excitement.
I had just finished my fifth performance at Mynnx as their Saturday night closing act, and I loved every second of my thirty minute routine: part sensual strip tease, part bawdy comedy, and always fun. It had taken years of nudging to convince me to try performing, and now I looked forward to the gig all week. I’d created a Mae West meets Betty Boop persona – sassy and sensual. She was a caricature of exaggerated sweetness tinged with equal parts sarcasm and sensuality. My burlesque caricature was a stark contrast to Anna! Bell, the radio persona I assumed as part of my day job, and a complete opposite to the straight-thinking academic I presented in my Gender Studies graduate program at the University of Utah.
“Oh My God, burlesque makes my tits hard!” I gushed with excitement, dropping into the club chair and running a creamy white hand through my moist black hair. All around me, my tiny dressing room was strewn with discarded lingerie, stage makeup, and thick journals and books for my PhD research on the effects slut shaming have on perceptions of sexual satisfaction.
Jax Wylde, owner of Mynnx, fling of the moment, and producer of the show, walked into the dressing room, kicked the door shut, and slid his hands between my legs without preamble.
He demanded his way through my black lace boy shorts and had fingers inside of me before his lips found my mouth. He had no hesitation when it came to pussy. He was sheer, delicious, force, and perfect finesse.
Jax was the kind of man who made your best friend wet when you told her about him three years later. He dripped with sex, and charm, and confidence. He kissed me, tenderly running his tongue along the roof of my mouth in ticklish play. His right hand held my jaw against his mouth as he caressed his tongue over mine. He tasted like Black Cherry Shasta and 5 Wives Vodka, and he smelled of clove cigarettes and soap.
Within moments I was purring into his mouth, bucking my hips against his finger, and aching for more. My black fingernails dug into his arms as he ground his palm against my sensitive clit. He lifted me up and onto my dressing table, and opened my legs with his knees. His pelvis insistently worked against mine and I reached down and slid his perfect, thick, pink shaft out of his pants. I looked up at him wickedly and licked my lips as I circled the tip with my finger.
“Is this for me?” I gushed, smiling and coy.
He grabbed my hair and tipped my head back, whispering against my neck, “Shut the fuck up.” And he slid it inside of me, fast and perfect, and my body opened up to him without hesitation.
He began to rock against me, his mouth claiming my throat, soft and tender, mixed with stinging nips – quick and precisely targeted on my ear, my jaw, my lower lip. He moistened his finger with his tongue and slid it down to circle it over my clit. I shuddered under his attention and he thrust into me deep and hard, tilting and rocking.
I pressed my head against the mirror and wrapped my legs around his narrow hips, digging my fingers into his spiked blonde hair and pulling his mouth against mine. I absorbed him as tightly as my body would allow.
He read my response, my need, and my rhythm and met each thrust with perfect depth and pressure. For the first and only time in my life, he’d rather literally fucked me stupid.
When we were both spent and exhausted he smiled down at me and laughed at the relaxed dopey grin on my face. “Baby, you were fantastic tonight.”
He stood in front of me and washed me with lavender scented water from shoulder to toes, kissing and adoring my body as he went. Then he wrapped me in a thick cotton towel, a little surprise he kept especially for me in my dressing room.
“Baby, you are a wonderful lover!” I moaned, as he paid extra attention to my over-sensitized body with his fingers.
“Kitten, it’s because I love to love you,” he whispered into my mound, slowly darting his tongue between my legs to softly tease my swollen clit again. He spoke these words directly to my body, as if he and my vulva were the very best of friends.
In my silly, sex-addled state, I answered back for her: “Bonjour Monsieur , zank you for a lovely evening. I am so very much enjoying the ‘ze way your tongue is moving right now. Pair’aps ‘e could move even slower … and a little more … oui! oui!” I purred, adopting a French accent for my sex.
“Well, hello kitten. It is my pleasure,” he drawled in a Southern accent, playing along with my game without pause. “It isn’t often a dirty stage-hand like me gets to enjoy the company, and the taste, of so charming a companion,” then he broke character and looked up at me, “I have a present for you tonight. You’ll like her – naughty little Latina with perfect tits.”
I laughed and grabbed his hair again, throwing my head back to enjoy round two of what would be a long, delicious night (among many long delicious nights) of body-rocking orgasms with Jax. This was the rhythm of our relationship: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I don’t think Jax had ever met my parents, and I only knew his brothers because his youngest brother Phin sold us X from time to time and hung around the house on Sunday mornings, and his older brother, Dane still perpetually occupied his guest bedroom.
A knock on the door alerted me that we had exhausted the generosity of our cast and crew during our little interlude. I quickly wrapped my lust-addled body into a robe and went out to greet our guests. I knew that our play in the dressing room was just the beginning of the night.
Tired as I was, I rallied my spirits enough to work up enthusiasm and charm for the small group of fans and VIP guests that had stayed for the quieter after-party. I turned Anna! Bell up to full volume and oozed wiggle, sassy intellect, and charm onto our guests, I’d heard a rumor that some big name executives who were considering syndication of my morning radio show were in the audience. I shook my head to clear of thoughts of Jax and my pending “present” and accepted a double Stoli on ice.
I couldn’t help but be annoyed that Jax was so compelled to introduce new characters through the revolving door of our bedroom – was it so provincial that I didn’t want to performance fuck strangers for some guy I only on-again off-again dated. The way he introduced the topic as a resolved issue made me feel as if I had very little choice in the matter without being the perpetual buzz kill he mocked most other women as being.
True, I didn’t particularly need him developing any ideas about exclusivity (which in my experience was the end of courtship), but I’d grown tired of trying to feign the air of the sexual sophisticate who enjoys the odd threesome. After all, what would people think if I settled down into a traditional one guy, one girl, and one dog kind of relationship?
Jade Mountain Resort
St. Lucia, 2007
From: François Laurent [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2007 9:00 PM
To: Kyra Whitney
Subject: Seeing you …
Hitting Charlotte on the 14th. Come surround me in your soft, wet, body and your warm loving arms.
– F. Laurent
I looked past the lush growth of Jade Mountain, toward the Pitons and the turquoise expanse of Caribbean Sea and took a sip of Veuve Clicquot letting the dry bubbles dance on my tongue. I laughed at myself for thinking in terms of “dry” when it comes to champagne and wondered, “Who the hell do I think I am?” I know exactly who I am – a pretender. I’m a home wrecker, and if one was really being unkind, a whore. I am the kept mistress of a wealthy European twenty years her senior. I’m a girl assuming the identity of a woman who is sophisticated enough to play dangerous games. That act is complete bullshit. Really, I’m two shades away from ‘beat your wife on Sunday’ trailer trash. Somehow I got the best of the genes available to me and a moment of good luck, and here I stand.
The St. Lucian breeze was perfect, 85° with a fragrant marine air that rustled the trees and cooled my skin. François was soaking in our private infinity pool which was tiled in an emerald green and jutting out over the mountain, disappearing into the landscape. His untouched glass of champagne sat too close to the ledge for my comfort, and I reached over to pull it back. That action epitomizes us.
I am his escape, relaxation, and lightness, and he is careless in his enjoyment of me and the ease I create. Not because he does not care, but because he does not notice. He has paid handsomely to ensure he doesn’t have to. I’ve become so efficient at removing obstacles in order to maximize our time together, that he is not even aware of my efforts. We are in St. Lucia because François wanted to go somewhere warm, and this was the location with flight options that allowed us the most stolen time together. When he emailed, my body purred in anticipation of seeing him, and I went to work. I scoured Expedia.com, picking the location, flights, hotel, and car service to provide François with maximum convenience. All booked on my new platinum American Express – courtesy François. I flew from Salt Lake on a red eye through two connections. I was freshly waxed, buffed, and polished to a false perfection in order to meet him there. He arrived fresh off a direct morning flight from a photo shoot in Charlotte, and walked into my smiling, happy, waiting arms. He was blissfully unaware of the effort that had gone into my smile. His occasional appreciation of my every curve and hollow is enough to keep me on the elliptical, and away from the cheese fries. But, sometimes that girl he appreciates only exists 72 hours per month, and then, it’s back to the hollowness, to passing time and waiting in a beautiful Cambridge apartment that shouldn’t belong to me.
“Kyra, my baby. Come soak with me. Let me smell your neck,” he commanded, turning his dark sunglasses toward me.
I couldn’t see his expression, but I knew his eyes were hungry for me. They were always hungry, and I wallowed in their appetite. I loved the caricature he had built of me in his mind. She is always happy, and sensual, and sweet-smelling. She arches her back, and tosses her hair, and lives in a universe of funny anecdotes about the people surrounding us in a restaurant or the First Class cabin. His Kyra does not wait desperately by the phone each night, hoping for a crumb of his attention. Instead, she sends his call to voice mail then calls him back an odd number of minutes later – or not at all – creating the impression that she is light, and happy, and full of joie de vivre. I knew better than to ask for more, because I didn’t want others to pay for the cost of my selfishness, and because he would not give it to me. His family would always come first, as they should. If I asked, he would kiss me, and touch me, and deliver delicious chills up my spine, and I would be distracted but hear his answer in the silence. I am his prize, and his present, but I am not his future.
I walked over to the pool and dropped my blue silk wrap onto a white and yellow striped chaise. I could feel his eyes on my bronzed skin as I stepped into the water. I was feeling confident that the white triangle bikini I’d picked up at Nordstrom’s gave him a view that would ensure I spend the afternoon on my back, or knees, or whatever other exciting position he wanted me in. My nipples hardened at the thought, stretching tight against the white Lycra. I stopped on the first step and stood in front of him for a moment, allowing him to enjoy my body. An image of my mother slurring inappropriate maternal advice to me, one night as she got ready for a date (after three too many glasses of boxed White Zinfandel) came to mind: “Control the cock, control the man. And, the cock likes to look. It isn’t about a size two ass or perfect fake tits. It’s about you. It’s about him knowing he can have you. He wants to see that. Let him look!”
I leaned across François and set my champagne glass on the ledge next to his. As I leaned over him, my waist brushed against his arm, and that simple contact ignited my belly. He stood up and grabbed my wrists, and pulled me into the water against his wide, barrel chest then pressed his nose into my hair to inhale.
“You smell different.”
“I bought a new shampoo. I had to change salons and they sell a different product.”
“I don’t like it. I want to smell my Kyra. We’ll go find you your shampoo and then everything will be better again.”
“I don’t smell good?” I asked, instantly injured and insecure by his comment. François notices everything, and there are key things I am not to change. Apparently now my shampoo is one of them.
“You smell wonderful, like a bouquet of flowers. But my Kyra smells like fresh, clean summer days. She smells like my mother’s laundry basket. I want to always smell that in your hair.”
Of course there would be sentiment behind it – unassailable and sweet. Sometimes, it seemed as if chance had mixed me up as the perfect recipe to heal his every childhood wound or disappointment. Every now and then I lose myself in the expectation of providing him the perfect blend of those ingredients. I couldn’t help but run my fingers over the deep scars on his chest and abdomen while I thought of this. The wounded, neglected little girl in me understood so well the sweetness and light and healing François was trying to capture through me, and she delighted in the protection and stability I received through him.
“We’ll go into town tomorrow and find it. It will be easy to find,” I laughed, nuzzling his jaw with my nose.
“No, we call the concierge. He’ll bring it right away. Today I will smell here instead,” he said, pressing his nose to my neck, and placing soft kisses down my collarbone, “and here” he mumbled, running his tongue against the hollow of my throat. “And, my most favorite smell of all,” he whispered, sliding a hand along my behind and curling upward to brush a finger between my legs. “Yes, I need to smell you there right now.”
He pulled me from the pool and swept me into his arms, then carried me over to the bed, stopping to pull back the mosquito netting. We left a dripping wet puddle all across the rich ebony floor. He looked down at me as and pulled the strings holding my bikini up from behind my neck and untied my triangle top in one swift pull. I allowed it to drop to the floor, exposing my breasts. He leaned down and licked a water droplet from between them and left his face to rest there, inhaling me. I have grown addicted to this treatment. I delight in the way he savors my body, as if I am the Venus herself. His other hand trailed up my back and untied the strings at each hip of my suit, letting it drop to join the other piece on the floor. I bring my hands to grip his hair, waiting patiently while he continues to breathe in the scent of me.
“Go lie on the bed and open your legs for me,” he instructed.
I complied eagerly and leaned back against the pillows opening my legs and tilting my hips slightly, creating a view I knew he enjoyed. I lay there patiently, his toy and amusement, knowing it will soon lead to me writhing and undulating in erotic bliss.
“Are you going to come join me?” I asked slowly, watching him stalking the room. He was still in his small black swim briefs, a European habit I’d chuckled at when I first saw it, but now had accepted as a charming part of his European nature.
“I will join you, Chaton, be patient for me,” he chided, finding the coconut tanning oil and a silk hair ribbon on the mahogany vanity before returning to the bed.
I eagerly do as I’m told and close my eyes. I love his massages. I love the feel of his strong hands exploring my body and kneading my muscles before he pulls me onto all fours and slides between my legs to enter me from behind. My breath catches and I wait for his touch. His hands are smooth and fluid, and the warm breeze felt luxurious against my skin. He pulled my hair back and tied it with the ribbon then tucked it over my shoulder.
“Now, where should I begin to take my pleasure?” he asked, rubbing his hands together as he settled himself between my legs. “I think your ass needs my hands. It looks a little pink, and we don’t want you to burn.”
He poured the oil over my lower back and began to work his hands over my ass, softly sliding between my cheeks with each stroke; his fingers gently pulled my legs apart. Instinctively I flexed, nervous about being so exposed, and knowing how wanton I’ll become later.
“Relax, Chaton. You will love it. You will moan into me with such delight.”
I knew he was right. I loved everything about the way he made love to me. I would come apart completely in the fully immersive fuck he slid into my body with such expert control. I relaxed into his strokes, as his hands worked over my thighs, as he opened my legs further. He settled his stiff shaft against my thigh and began teasing my moist folds, running his knowing fingers over every quivering point of my flesh. I surrendered to the pleasure he was building, and felt the warmth build inside of me, liquid and delicious. His index finger circled my clit, sensitive and swollen, in soft perfect circles. His mouth breathed softly on my lower back, then down, biting at my ass and sending warm, heated breath between my legs.
“Can I lick you here?” he asked tenderly, running his tongue along my inner thigh.
My cheeks flamed red and I hid my face in the pillow in delight and shyness. I said nothing, just waited and wondered. Slowly his breath is on me, warm and wet. He spread my legs wide, and lifted my hips with his strong hands, then began to slide his tongue up and down my petals, flirting near my clit and getting closer to his goal with every stroke. His hands grip me as the flicks of his tongue find its rhythm. Before I notice, my hips are rocking with his touch, explosion mere moments away. He can sense it. He knows my body – or perhaps all women’s bodies – so well. He stops suddenly, making me whimper.
“I want you to come on my cock. I want to be deep inside you when you clench and scream,” I groaned, working his hands insistently over my ass, kneading and caressing.
I buried my face in the pillow, mesmerized by his exploration, and how good it feels. When his finger slid inside of me, I am ready and needy to accept the pleasure he offers. He positioned his hips against mine and pressed his hard, slick head against my core and began rocking his hips, teasing me. My body opened to him, instinctively, reflexively. I am ready and hungry to absorb his hardness. I press back against him and begin my own rhythmic moving, working him deep inside of me. His fingers continue to circle as he pumps in and out of me, my hips raised to give him easier access to my pleasure centers. I was shameless with pleasure, rocking, pushing, moaning and grunting, ass up, head down. I surrendered to the delicious, biological pulses of my body as waves of pleasure began pooling in my core, my toes, and the back of my throat. Orgasm began to envelop me and he could feel it. He pulled out of me quickly and then slammed back in, deep and hard. I screamed out, shocked by the intense explosion of my own orgasm. I rocked against him as pulse after pulse of hot, intense, bliss shot through my body, exploding inside of me.
“Come for me baby. Fill me up,” I screamed, pressing into him and rocking with his movements. “Fuck me … hard … come for me.”
He groaned into my orgasm, pumping harder, rough, guttural sounds coming from the back of his throat as he gripped my hips. His breathing was loud and forceful and I could feel his entire body clench as he found his release. I tensed my muscles around him and swirled my hips, feeling languorous now and wickedly sensual in my orgasmic haze.
He exploded with my dirty talk, loving the way I surrendered any sense of propriety to his sexual prowess. He groaned loud and primal, and shot inside of me again and again, collapsing against my back. I lay there afterward, blissful and shy about what we’d just done and shocked at how good it always felt.
“Will you come shower with me?” I asked shyly, as he slid out of me.
He chuckled and sat up, pulling at my ponytail to yank me backwards into his lap. He kissed me on the neck and lifted me out of the bed, carrying me over to the beautiful outdoor shower on the balcony. We washed each other, teasing and smiling, and enjoying the afterglow.
“When I go back to Paris I want you with me. Come home with me.”
“Okay,” I sighed, into his chest, content, and happy, and swept up in the romance of his offer – having already quit my job at his request, I had nothing more to lose. My heart was already lost.