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“What are you doing tonight?” asks Oliver, glancing over my shoulder. “Or should I say who?”
I ignore his questions, focusing instead on the SilverFox profiles scrolling by on my phone. He gets up from the sofa, walks to the windows and gazes down at the sluggish traffic on Fifth Avenue as it inches toward Washington Square Park. When he whirls around a moment later, I can tell from the exasperated sigh that he has more to say.
“Well, whatever you do,” he continues, sitting beside me, “promise that you’re finally breaking out of the dismal rut that you’ve been in for the past few months. I’ll positively scream if you tell me that you’re going to the gym and Whole Foods and then back here to cook some more of that healthy tofu crap from a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe.”
“That’s actually pretty close,” I say, looking up from the phone. “I’m going for a run with my old roommate and her boyfriend. After that, I’ll come home, grab a quick shower and then make a quinoa burrito bowl or maybe—”
Oliver interrupts with an anguished howl. “That is truly, madly, deeply tragic!” He drags one finger across his throat. “I mean, it just sounds awful!”
“In that case,” I tell him, “it’ll match the rest of my life for the past six months!”
He lunges forward and takes the phone from my hand.
“What the hell is going on with you?” His face twists into a cynical grin. “It’s Friday night. There are thousands of hot older guys out there just waiting to meet you. I mean, you’re single, totally cute and smart as fuck. The only drawback is the fact that you haven’t cooked one normal meal since I came to stay. Everything makes this place smell like moldy cheese and wet dirt and old shoes. It’s positively revolting!”
I decide that positively must be Oliver’s current favorite word. He’s used it roughly ten thousand times since showing up unannounced on the doorstep early last week with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a trio of Louis Vuitton suitcases and an extra large box of Kleenex. Following two years of so-called romantic bliss, Oliver’s daddy, a wealthy French fashion executive, had decided it was time for someone new. I wasn’t surprised; the relationship had been defined primarily by two activities: steamy sex and histrionic arguments about Oliver’s hefty credit card statements. Last Tuesday night, after changing the locks on his Park Avenue duplex and cutting off Oliver’s American Express Black Card, Jean-Michel had announced that their relationship was fini.
An hour later, Oliver was buzzing around the apartment that I was house-sitting like an angry hornet, hurling F-bombs, issuing threats against his newfound French adversary and inhaling glasses of pricey champagne. Since then, my childhood friend had been sleeping on the sofa and moping from room to room when he wasn’t looking for a job or window shopping along Madison Avenue. The apartment was owned by a couple that Oliver and I both knew from back home in Colorado, so I figured they’d be okay with our brokenhearted bud joining me until they returned from their extended European honeymoon.
“You know what else is revolting?” Oliver asks with a frosty smile. “Dede’s convinced you that all of this healthy crap will somehow help you meet Mr. Right. But I’ve got news for you: the fact that she’s your friend and owns a vegan pizzeria does not make her the goddess of gay healing.”
I roll my eyes. “Have you heard the old saying that silence is golden?”
“Well, so are my highlights,” he sniffs, running one hand through his curly hair. “How is that related to wasting time and energy on Dede’s recommendations?”
“I happen to like her advice,” I say.
Oliver’s defiant glare softens. “Yeah, okay. Who doesn’t? She’s helped me plenty of times, but this is different. What you need now doesn’t involve tofu or quinoa. If you’re really serious about meeting somebody, you’ll come with me tonight.”
I shake my head. “I meet new people every day at work.”
“Which one of your many part-time professions are we talking about?” he asks with a mocking tone. “The coffee shop, the temp assignments or delivering pizza for Dede?”
“Fuck you, Oliver,” I reply with a honey-sweet smile. “I’m paying the bills while I finish the paintings for my show.”
He snorts a laugh. “Ah, that’s right! The phantom art gallery exhibition. We’ve been hearing about it for so long that it seems like it’s already come and gone.”
“To quote myself,” I say with another grin, “fuck you, Oliver.”
I return my attention to the roster of older hunks on the phone. A couple look familiar, a few sound intriguing and a handful make my cock twitch and swell. After jerking off solo for the past few months, I can tell that my hormones are on high hover. I’ve been avoiding hookups to give my heart a chance to heal after arriving home from work early one day to find my daddy of six months in bed with a pair of twinks that worked at one of the sporting good stores that he owns. I really thought Taylor was the one. He was forty-eight, breathtakingly handsome and seemingly as interested in being monogamous as I was submitting to his will. But all of that was erased by his duplicity and betrayal—on my birthday, nonetheless. It left my head and heart completely scrambled, but my inner boy had begun to daydream about finding someone new. It seemed like most of my friends preferred hopping from bed to bed, but I was really looking for my very own happily ever after.
“The guys on your phone are only looking for a one-time fuck fest,” Oliver announces after a few minutes of icy silence. “None of them are offering what you need.”
“Oh, yeah? Did your crystal ball tell you what I need?”
He scoffs. “It doesn’t take a crystal anything for that! You’re looking for an attractive, loving and attentive gentleman of a certain age. You dream of meeting a man who can care for you, treat you right and fuck you silly in every possible position.”
I can’t help but laugh. “You’re such a romantic. And so positively correct, with one exception.”
“Do tell,” he says.
“I’ve given up on relationships for now,” I reply with a weary smile. “Dede gave me a book about finding a new path in life. It’s made me reconsider a few things.”
“Like your wardrobe?” Oliver smirks at my khakis and faded blue polo. “Or jizzing alone in the shower? When are you going to realize that the entire fucking island of Manhattan is out there just waiting to welcome you with gold-plated dildos, leather slings lined with fur and spanking paddles that are—”
He flutters his eyelashes. “Yes, doll?”
“I’m not in the mood for crass and vulgar, okay?”
“Uh-huh,” he says. “I’m getting that impression, Miss Priss. And that’s why, one day in the not too distant future, you’re going to thank me for dragging your ass out tonight to have some fun and, quite possibly, meet the daddy of your dreams.”
I shake my head. “Not tonight.”
He groans. “Not tonight, not tomorrow night, not any night! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“I’m sorting out a few things,” I say. “I know it’s time for a change, but I’m not sure where to begin.”
“How about those eyebrows?” He leans closer. “A little plucking and trimming and waxing would positively improve your chances of meeting the right guy. After all, you know what they say, right?”
I smirk. “Good friends don’t give bad advice?”
“No, fucker! They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. But with all that shrubbery, the hot daddies will think your essence is buried in an abandoned plot of overgrown weeds.”
“I really appreciate what you’re trying to do,” I say. “But Dede’s already given me a few tips.”
“Blah, blah, blah!” Oliver mutters. “I love Dede. And I know that she loves you, babe. But those self-help books can’t hold a candle to a hung daddy pounding your—”
“Blah, blah, blah!” I raise one hand. “I don’t want to talk about a hung guy pounding my ass. That’s one of the things that I’m trying to change.”
Oliver frowned. “No more pounding? Is it the end of the world as we’ve known it since college?”
I smile. “That’s not what I’m saying at all. But we’re not in college anymore. We’re adults. Let’s act like it.”
He groans again. “Jesus, Mary Tyler Moore and Joseph! When did you become such a prude?”
“I’m not a prude, you little trollop. I’m just taking a different approach.”
He rolls his eyes and mutters for a few seconds. “It’s six o’clock,” he announces after a quick glance at the clock on the mantel. “Don’t you think it’s unnatural for a couple of single girls to stay in on a Friday evening?”
I cringe at the question. “There are two things wrong with what you just said. One, neither of us is a girl. And two, there’s nothing shameful about—”
Oliver stops me with the palm of one hand. “Hold that thought!” he says returning my phone. “I’ll be right back!”
While he’s in the kitchen, I go back to the SilverFox app. I scroll through a dozen profiles, stopping briefly to gaze at a hot bald banker that I met a couple of years earlier. We’d christened his new place in Sag Harbor with a three-day sex marathon, including my first spanking, his first time as a bottom and a six-hour session in the pool that left us both sunburned and wrinkled. As I move on to a handsome blonde guy with perfectly sculpted pecs, Oliver comes out of the kitchen with a bottle of vodka, two shot glasses and a mischievous grin on his face.
“Did you buy that?” I ask, pointing at the booze.
He shakes his head, puts the bottle and glasses on the coffee table and sits in a wingback chair facing the sofa. “It’s from the liquor cabinet, bitch. And don’t worry; those two queens can afford to buy the fucking distillery. They won’t miss one tiny bottle.”
“Don’t you mean one more tiny bottle?” I smile. “You’ve sipped your way through half of their wine and most of the scotch.”
He makes a face. “A girl gets thirsty when she’s going through a bad breakup.”
“Well, if you hadn’t cheated on Jean-Michel,” I say, “you’d still be living on the Upper East Side with no chance of hearing about my boring Friday night plans.”
“I didn’t cheat on him,” Oliver says with an icy tone. “I maybe kissed someone.”
I shake my head and frown. “Between the legs.” I pause. “When the guy was buck naked. That’s generally defined as cheating.”
He perches on the edge of the chair. “The whole thing happened accidentally.” He sighs loudly. “After maybe too many martinis.” He stops again, wiping a theatrical tear from his eye. “But what can I say, babe? I’m a heartless fool. I’m immature and ridiculous and selfish.”
“But you always look amazing,” I offer, hoping to upend the scowl on his face. “The thing you need to do now is take time to get over what’s just happened before you dip your toe back into the dating pool.”
Oliver snickers. “My toe is not what I’m thinking about, babycakes. I need to get laid.”
He opens the bottle, pours two shots of vodka and slides one across the coffee table.
“Bottoms up!” He raises his glass, throws back his head and slams the liquor. “You’ll thank me later when we step into one of the most exclusive parties on the planet.”
“Where is it?” I ask, idly scrolling through the next few profiles.
“Don’t be difficult,” Oliver gets up, walks around the coffee table and plops down beside me. “Just come along and find out.”
“I need to know more before I agree to join you,” I say. “The last time I went on one of your spontaneous nights on the town, I ended up in the Emergency Room with ten stitches, a broken nose and my pride in pieces all over the backroom at Mercury Rising.”
Oliver groans. “Oh, I miss that place! I can’t believe they closed.”
“And I can’t believe that you talked me into giving that guy a handjob,” I muttered.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. You were drunk.”
“True,” I agree. “But that asshole didn’t have to shoot all over the floor.”
Oliver laughs. “Cleanup in aisle four! Ocean of spunk!”
“That I slipped on, thank you very much.”
“Accidents will happen,” he replies. “Just like handjobs and loads of spooge and finding hot daddies on the down-low in the backroom.”
“Well, he did have a massive cock,” I say with a wink. “And I did meet David in the Emergency Room.”
“You’re welcome, doll,” Oliver says. “If I hadn’t invited you that night, you would’ve never met Dr. Fuckalicious. As I recall, you and he dated for the rest of that year.”
But I don’t want to think about the hot ER doctor. Or the guy in the shadowy backroom. Instead of dwelling on the past, I ask Oliver to give me the details on the party.
“Tell me about tonight,” I say. “Which club?”
“A private one.” He arches one plucked brow. “A very exclusive, ultra hush-hush hideaway on the Upper East Side.”
“Are you talking about Miriam Bialstock’s studio apartment again?” I ask, remembering another one of Oliver’s dreadful spur-of-the-moment parties. “That nightmare was about a month before the trip to the ER.”
“As I said already,” he tells me, “you’re welcome! Dr. Super Hung would’ve ever been on your radar if it wasn’t for Jacob Goldstone’s bar mitzvah after party.”
“Can we stay on the subject?” I ask. “You were telling me about the plans for tonight.”
Oliver smiles. “It sounds like you’re going,” he says.
I shrug, but keep quiet.
“Alright, so here’s the deal,” he says. “It’ll be an amazing night. I mean, like, dozens of the hottest daddies in the city. Two of Mario Ricci’s restaurants are doing the food. You can drink as much booze as you want. And there are private rooms on the upper floors where naughty things might happen if you’ve got the balls to break out of that self-imposed prison you’ve been living in since Taylor dropped your ass.”
I put down the phone. “I left him, okay?”
His eyes loop around again. “Sure, babe. You can live in whatever fantasyland you want. I’ll be right over here in the real world.”
“Where’s the party?” I ask again.
Oliver wags one finger at me. “Promise you won’t laugh?”
“I’m not promising anything,” I tell him. “Until I know where, what, who, when and why.”
He laughs. “The last one is easy. You’re going because you need to meet a new daddy.”
“God, I hate that word!” I feel my cheeks flush red. “Why does everyone insist on using it for the type of man that I’m attracted to?”
“Because it fits,” Oliver said. “And it’s accurate. You, my dear friend, are a young man of…” He pauses. “How old are you again?”
“Don’t be a dick,” I say. “I’m twenty-three; the same as you.”
“Well, fuck me in the morning!” He stomps one Gucci loafer against the parquet floor. “How the hell am I supposed to remember every last fucking detail about your life when mine is falling apart?”
I smile, but keep it zipped. There’s no reason to debate Oliver about inconsequential issues like facts, figures and basic reality.
“Moving on then,” I say cheerfully. “What’s the name of the place?”
“Dirty Secrets Social Club,” he replies without a hint of irony.
“Very funny,” I say in a flat tone. “What’s the real name?”
Oliver laughs. “That’s what everyone calls it,” he says. “But it’s not the official name. The building is on The National Register of Historic Places because it was designed by a famous architect for a really wealthy financier more than a hundred years ago. The sign by the front door still has the original name: Decker Shaw Social Club. That was the financier that built it as a private gathering spot for his hoity-toity business associates. These days, the official real estate records and official paperwork still call it the Decker Shaw Social Club. But everyone who’s anyone calls it Dirty Secrets Social Club.”
“Because they both have the same—”
“Address,” he cuts in. “And the same initials. The members are older men of substantial wealth. I’d guess they’re from forty to seventy or so.”
“And the guests?”
“Not forty to seventy,” he says with a wicked giggle. “Guests are usually our age, give or take a few years.”
“Okay,” I say. “That’s early twenties to mid-thirties?”
He shrugs. “Sounds about right. I went a couple of times earlier this week, and I certainly wasn’t taking a poll. I was hunting for a new daddy. Those visits were soft opens to make sure all the moving pieces worked properly and the staff was hot to trot. And speaking of muy caliente, I hooked up with a daddy from Madrid that was into pony play and another one that liked his boys to—”
I wince. “Please stop saying that. They’re not your daddy, and you’re not their son.”
He moves closer, grabs my lapels and pulls me in. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Now, get used to it! And get over yourself! You like older men. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, kitten.”
“And that’s another thing that drives me fucking crazy!” I say. “I’m not a kitten, poodle, pumpkin or muffin. And I’m definitely not a girl!”
When I finish, Oliver claps his hands. “Since you seem to be a little squeamish tonight,” he says, pointing at a glossy white shopping bag on the console table near the door, “I’ve got some good news.”
He walks over, reaches into the bag and comes out with two metallic harlequin masks. They’re both covered in purple, green and gold glitter, with long black silk ribbon ties that flutter in the air as Oliver holds them up for inspection.
“Isn’t this a clever little twist for the evening?” He drops the masks back into the bag. “There’s a Mardi Gras theme, and all of the daddies and boys will be wearing something like this. Nobody will have a fucking clue who you are, so you can be as positively naughty as you like.”
“I’m not into costumes and all of that,” I say firmly. “I mean, it’s cool if—”
“Get off your fucking throne, Nicholas!” he blurts. “This isn’t about right and wrong. It’s not an ethics lesson or a test to see who can get into the kinkiest shit. It’s about going to a party. Can you handle that?”
“A party in a kink club for daddies,” I say. “Not exactly my usual destination for a Friday night.”
Oliver smiles. “Which is exactly why you should come with me!”
The longer I stare at his gleeful grin, the more I start to suspect that he’s probably right. A night out could be a good diversion. I can send my old roommate a quick text to cancel our run. Then a shower to wash away the grit of the day. And then off into the city with Oliver for an evening escapade. What’s the harm? How long has it been since I went out? Besides, if it turns into tedium, I can always leave the club early if I’m not having a good time.
“Okay, why not?” I say. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I do need to shake things up a little.”
“There you go, kitten,” he says. “You’re making a very wise choice.”
Oliver pulls one of the harlequin disguises from the shopping bag.
“Think of it this way,” he says, peering at me briefly through the mask before putting it down again. “We’re talking about a group of hot, rich men having drinks in a swanky townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.” He pauses and smiles. “Who can resist something so chic? Maybe we’ll both meet the man of our dreams tonight.”
“That’ll be perfect,” I say. “As long as we’re dreaming about two different men.”