Mike dropped Andy at her door with a kiss and a promise to play well so he’d get a lot of TV time. Andy went right upstairs and opened her laptop. She researched, made phone call, sent emails. By the afternoon, she’d found and applied for 17 completely normal, sex-free jobs.
At ten o’clock that night, Andy’s phone rang. She’d been wondering when he’d call.
“Mike Green Fan Club, how may I help you?”
He laughed right through the pounding of his heart, the worry that she would pick up in a noisy bar or restaurant, out on the town, out with a client. Or worse, that she wouldn’t answer at all.
“Yes, my membership has expired. I’d like to renew.”
“That will be $52, and you’ll have to get the re-initiation Mohawk. There’s a special if…”
He cut her off. “I miss you.” What an absolutely ludicrous thing to say to a call girl you have paid for sex three nights in a row.
“I miss you too, Mike. How’s Buffalo?”
They talked about nothing for a while, cementing Mike’s confidence that Andy was in fact home doing nothing but waiting for him to come back. She wanted to know all about life on the road, so he told her cleaned-up versions of some stories. Brooks came in while he was talking and made a “who is it?” motion. Mike waved him off.
“It’s curfew and my roommate needs his beauty sleep.”
“Well don’t cuddle with him or I’ll get really jealous,” Andy said. “Kick ass tomorrow, I’ll be watching.”
Andy watched the game alone at home, concentrating on every move and every play. Mike was on the ice almost all the time. The Capitals played well again, and got a softball this time as the Buffalo defense had a terrible night. Only Ryan Miller kept it from being a blowout and the Caps won 4-1.
“We’re leaving for New York now, won’t get in till really late,” Mike said on the phone.
And you wanted to check up on me, Andy knew. But she was glad – if she couldn’t come right out and tell him that she didn’t work while the team was away, maybe he could figure it out.
“Nice game tonight. I might make a trade for you in my fantasy league.”
He put on a cheesy 70’s voice. “I’ll make all your dreams come true, baby.”
Andy snorted. “Wrong fantasy.”
Two more days passed the same way – Mike called at night, Andy answered at home. Their last game was against the Rangers and they would fly home right after the game. Andy wondered if Mike would call her when he got home or want to come over. He’d be so tired, and they had another game in two days. She considered the logistics of giving him a freebie if only so she could sleep next to him.
“Hey,” he said, still drowsy from his post-game nap.
“If you get the chance, and it won’t cost you two minutes, please punch Sean Avery in the face.”
Mike laughed. “Anything for you. We’re going right to the airport from the arena, but it’s always slow in New York. Probably won’t be home till 1 AM.”
“Yeah, I figured. And a big game Sunday.”
“Ugh,” Mike was tired thinking about it. It was a nationally televised game, the NHL making a big deal out of a rivalry and pushing for new fans. “I fucking hate those guys.”
“Well they hate you too, so you’d better get a lot of sleep. Call me tomorrow after you wake up?”
Mike lay in his hotel room, lonely in an empty bed, having thought of Andy very vigorously before falling asleep. Brooks was skipping his nap, getting some physio. “I really want to see you.” Ask me to come over, he willed. Ask me and I’ll come, who cares how tired I am? Tell me you can’t wait to see me.
“Me too, but you’ll have to wait. I would like another Capitals victory. And maybe a first star,” she said. It wasn’t easy, she really wanted him to come straight home to her. But they could only break so many rules without risking the game they were trying so hard to improve. “Go home, Mike. See me tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll try to make my car drive itself home.”
Andy was set up to watch the game against the Rangers – pajamas on, popcorn made, lemonade on ice. She was getting a blanket from the closet when her phone rang. Thinking it was awfully close to game time for Mike to be calling, she shoved the armload of linens back onto the shelf and ran for her purse.
“Hello?” she said without looking at the caller ID.
“Hello Andy, this is Susanna.”
Damn, was Andy’s first thought, disappointed not to hear Mike’s voice. “Hi Susanna, how are you?”
“I’m well dear. We have a booking for you for tonight.”
“What? Uhh, I’m sorry. I mean, the Caps are on the road. They’re in New York right now, they’re on TV.”
A ticking sounded in the background, like Susanna was paging through a computer or PDA. “This would be a player from the visiting team. Seems they must be in town early for the game on Sunday. I am very impressed with you so far, Andy, your immediate success here is very promising. This is another new client, I expect you can work your magic again. I trust this won’t be a problem?”
Andy barely heard herself say yes. She couldn’t hear anything over the blood rushing in her ears. Some words must have formed because Susanna kept talking.
“Excellent. I’ll text you the hotel information. I don’t have a name for him – that’s what I get for letting Henry speak to the answering service. But I expect as a fan you’ll know him better than I would anyway.”
“Okay,” Andy whispered, the shock wearing off and fear setting in.
“One more thing, dear. The rate for this one is higher. Again, no info whatsoever from my husband but this was booked out at an extra $500. That’s $300 more for you. Make it worth your while.”
Andy stuttered a goodbye and dropped the phone like it had been dipped in acid. She looked toward the TV just in time to see Mike was skate past the camera. Fuck.
It seemed cold in the hotel. Andy valet parked her car and zipped her long coat up to her throat. Bare legs were a bad idea in a cold snap, but there wasn’t really an option. It had been the most she could do to fix her hair and put on matching shoes. She’d had to redo her eyeliner three times, never able to stop her hand shaking long enough to make a straight line. The TV had gone off immediately and stayed that way – if she saw Mike’s face or heard his name, there was no telling what she would do. Crossing the lobby, she thought the chills might be her body going into shock.
The traitorous phone was clutched in her hand. She’d read the room number twenty times but couldn’t remember anything. At the elevator, she refused to look at herself in the mirror, afraid of what she’d see looking back. Mike, she thought over and over.
She knew this would kill him. They had never said as much but she was past thinking this was just a business arrangement. That had been a comforting delusion in getting her into his room, into his bed. Since then, everything had changed – except this. This deal with the devil. Andy had made her bed, literally, and now there was someone else in it.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I knew this would happen. Was I really fooling myself? Hooker rescued by the first guy who calls her? Am I that stupid? Andy berated herself as she tossed underwear from her drawer, littering the floor like a Victoria’s Secret fire sale. How could I let this get away from me? But she didn’t know what “this” was. She’d let control get away, she’d let her imagination get away. And now, she was going to let Mike get away. Fuck.
She should have said no to Susanna. She should have invented an excuse – a cold, a broken leg, the immediate need to have a plate put in her head. She shouldn’t have answered the phone. Andy had changed the scenario a hundred times before her dress was zipped, undoing what she had just done.
I can’t do this. I have to do this. I am that girl, I’m a whore, a monster. I’m the most worthless thing that someone ever paid for.
In a moment of lucidity, Andy had called Vivian. “Is there any way out of a booking?”
Vivian sounded concerned, but Andy wasn’t sure how much was friendly and how much was worry about her job. “Not really, babe. Unless the guy has some history – violent, scary, deadbeat. Otherwise, once the agency takes the booking, they have to send a girl. Especially in your case – word gets around those locker rooms that Susanna can’t deliver, she won’t get calls. And you definitely will not get called again.”
Andy had figured as much.
“Andy, listen to me. You can do this. You did it a week ago when you didn’t know this other guy. And look how good you were! Everyone panics the first few times, it is perfectly normal. Just get there, put on your little show and I promise that you’ll feel better after a drink. You knew this would happen. Just take a deep breath and remember why you’re doing this. Remember it was okay last time, better than okay! You are going to be fine. Okay? Babe, you gonna be okay?”
“Yeah,” Andy lied.
She walked slowly down the hallway, the carpet pattern repeating endlessly like she was pacing a tunnel, darkened and narrow, going on forever. The room numbers climbed as she passed, finally reaching a suite at the far corner of the 25th floor.
Mike I am so sorry, she whispered to no one. Blinking cleared the start of tears from her eyes.
She hadn’t thought about who it might be. It didn’t really matter. She knew who all the guys were, their rivalry huge not only in terms of fan feeling but marketing efforts as well. The NHL went in for this matchup as often and as big as possible. In a few months, these teams would face off in one of the premiere events of the entire season. Andy knew that it didn’t matter who opened the door.
She reached up to knock, but the hand came back unbidden and ran fretfully through her hair. On the second time, she got it. Eyes closed.
Knock, knock, knock.
The noise of the lock being thrown thumped heavily through her stomach: the sound of her prison door closing.
“Hi,” he said, standing in the doorway. The same position, the same situation she’d been in just a few days before. It felt like the whole world had changed, but that wasn’t his fault. She felt a tiny, infinitesimal bit better when she saw him; a real person. Not the idea of a monster. She was her own worst enemy, not this man in the gray t-shirt and jeans, barefoot on the hotel carpet.