senators

Alright you pervs. Here's part two of this

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Once outside, we spend several minutes confusedly trying to coordinate plans with his friends, all of whom have scattered into smaller groups and couples, and none of whom seem to know where any of the others are going. Some are trying to flag taxis, which are in high demand. Some are waiting for the valet to retrieve their cars. Let's go to McNare's, someone says. Hearing his name, McNare joins the conversation. No, not my place. I don't have any liquor. Frowns. Shrugs. I get the feeling Matthew's friends are gamely trying to accommodate his desire to keep the evening going for our sake. I also get the feeling that what they really want to do is go home.

We walk up and down the sidewalk, milling with faces familiar from the past few hours, trying to put together some kind of plan with a quickly vaporizing group of people. One of the men I'd spoken to earlier, Alexis, is standing on the curb with a pair of his friends, waiting for his car. I can sense him staring at me as we walk past, Matthew leading me by the hand. I don't look up.

After a few more moments of chaos, he finally stops and turns to me. "Okay, look. Do you want to just go to my place, maybe open a bottle of wine and talk or something? I can take you home whenever you'd like." The trepidation in his face makes me laugh.

"That sounds great," I say.

A moment later, we find ourselves in the backseat of a cab. He's incredibly polite to the driver, apologizing profusely when there's confusion about the address of his condo, which is just a few blocks away. As soon as that's settled, Matthew leans close to me. He puts both of his hands on my legs, just under the hem of my dress, and squeezes, hard. Too hard.

Ow. It takes a second for me to register why I'm in pain: fingernails.

I don't really have time to adequately process this fact, however, because now I'm being kissed. His kiss isn't particularly aggressive or forceful - certainly nothing to match the attack on my thighs - but it isn't exactly skilled, either. The word for it, really, is immature.

I have the first stirrings of a thought, floating to me from a familiar place: This is why we decided to stop dating so much younger, remember Ellie? It's been our experience, says my brain dryly, that the under thirty-five set has some learnin' to do in this arena, yes yes? 

Chastising myself for not feeling more gratitude for the gift sitting beside me, chatting me up about law school and writing and the Los Angeles light rail system and how nice my "energy" is, I try to get my head in the game. But I can already tell that even if I bully my brain into submission, my body wants nothing to do with this scene. My body, in fact, is making some brutal calculations and comparisons.

We head down one winding street, then up another, onto what appears to be a private drive. Seconds later we're parked on a semi-circular drop off in front of his building. Plate glass windows frame a small, minimalist lobby, manned by a single, suited employee, who opens the taxi door, greets Matthew by name, and hands him a bundle of pressed white shirts shrouded in cellophane. "Thanks, Doc," he says jovially, taking his dry cleaning and stepping to the elevator, me quietly in tow. Doc reaches in, hits 17, and nods goodnight to both of us. I haven't said a word since we exited the cab, though once the elevator doors close, I ask if the doorman's name is really Doc.

Matthew shakes his head no. "Long story," he smiles.

The lobby, Doc, and the sheer proprietorial air with which Matthew entered the building have all prepared me, so I'm not surprised when we exit the elevator into a lush hallway lined with tasteful carpet, textured jacquard wallpaper, and glinting, mirror-finished tables. Still, I'm not expecting what comes next.

He slips his key into the lock of a door a few paces away from the elevator. After you, he gestures. The first, slightly echoing footfalls of my heels on the hardwood floor give it away: his place is large. Exactly how large I won't realize until a few minutes later, but just walking into the kitchen, which opens to a grand living room, connected to a full dining area, which is lined by an entire wall of floor-to-celing windows, is enough for me to realize that, three years into my residence here, I'm about to have my first glimpse of Serious LA Money.

I do my best to take it in stride. I don't stare in the way I would have, had I been even five years younger. But details are popping out at me left and right, and I'm frantically cataloguing them for my memory. Oh yes. This will be blogged. 

His home is astonishingly beautiful, in the way that would make me sigh with envy and delight, had I seen it in a magazine, or on a Pinterest board. Immaculate. Stylish. Youthful. Stunningly decorated and accessorized. Every last inch of it has had, if not love, plenty of consideration poured into it - and plenty of cash. I'm already strategizing how I can sneak a few photos for my friends. I note random things. The wall-mounted rack of radiant copper cookware. The kitchen cabinetry, which is white, but manages to be everything unexpected about white kitchen cabinetry. It's fresh and pretty, the cut and hardware like something out of Restoration Hardware, but still somehow nontraditional. A crystal chandelier above the dining table, the prisms of which bear not a speck of dust.

Crown moulding lines the entire apartment, which has several built-ins filled with books and framed photos. Walls of a pale blue the exact shade I can't make out in the dimmish light. Two giant midnight blue velvet chesterfield sofas face one another across a flat file that I suspect was commissioned. And the piece de resistance: a giant glass-framed vintage American flag, spanning an entire wall. It's easily fifteen feet wide and ten feet high. I step over to examine it, marveling at both the flag itself and the frame, which is a solid, chocolatey wood, a good six inches thick. I cannot fathom how something like this could be framed, much less transported up to the 17th floor and through a standard doorway. I want to ask how old the flag is, but I'm afraid the question's subtext (how much it cost), will be too obvious. Instead I point at the velvet chesterfields.

"Those aren't floral," I say.

"Those ones are in my room. I'll show you in sec. Come here, help me pick out music." Matthew rounds the corner of the living room into the adjacent room. I follow, and find myself walking into a space about the size of my apartment, divided clearly into office/workspace, and den/library. I bite my lip lest I laugh. I'm standing in a residential library. An honest to goodness home library. I pivot on my heels and take it in, less concerned with reading the titles on the shelves than getting a good impression of the whole room, before we open the wine and my short term memory gets drowned. I suppress a hilarious urge to twirl in my dress and sing Little Town.

Meanwhile, my host is leaning over his desk, clicking through his music library. When I join him, he sinks into a leather office chair, spreading his knees to invite me between them. "Your home is beautiful," I say softly, telling myself to leave it at that. He knows, after all. But he smiles in acceptance of the compliment.

"I did it myself. Gutted the place. Picked out everything, all the furniture, the fixtures, the art. The floor was parquet. It was a disaster. Do you like art?"

"I do, but I'm not all that educated about it, I'm afraid." I watch him select a playlist, his face bathed in light from a desktop monitor roughly the size of my desk. "How long have you lived here?"

"Three years." He rises and takes my hand, leading me out of the room through a different entrance. I realize the apartment is even bigger than I'd thought. "Do you want anything?"

I ignore him momentarily, thrown off by my realization that we're now walking through an entirely separate wing. Before I can stop myself, I ask how many square feet the place is, my voice almost accusatory in tone. I can't help it. It's one of the biggest apartments I've ever set foot in.

"Little over thirty-five hundred," he says lightly. There's no arrogance, no boastfulness. He's matter-of-fact about it. Matthew walks back down a hallway lined with built-in shelves towards the kitchen. I trail him like a puppy, glancing as I pass them at the dozens of framed photos that line the walls. Many are black and white. In the kitchen, we contemplate the contents of his fridge. "Do you want wine?" he asks.

"Not really," I say truthfully. He pulls out a large blue glass bottle of water and walks backwards out of the kitchen, grinning and pulling me to him for a kiss. He dips his head slightly to kiss my chin, which he then bites. Hard. And it hurts. And not in a good way. I wince and pull away and laugh a laugh that I hope communicates Slow down. I'm starting to second guess my decision to come. It's the second time I've been in actual pain since he laid hands on me.

As we're making our way through the room I suddenly realize there's a massive sliding glass door next to the dining room table. "May I?" I ask, letting myself out onto a balcony with a small contained garden and a few teak lounge chairs. Matthew is saying something about the food he's trying to grow but I'm not paying attention. Instead I'm staring out across the glittering city lights, at the cluster of high rises in the distance that denote my own neighborhood. I sigh. I feel arms wrap around me, again, too tight, too rough, and I realize that if I'm going to leave, I need to do it now.

"You look amazing in this dress," he says, the fabric pulling under his weird, pinching grip. "Oh yeah, let me show you those sofas," I'm taken by the hand and led back through the photo gallery hallway, where he stops and pulls a frame off a shelf. Black and white. A football team. {Ivy League University} football team. He isn't bragging. He's only showing me because when he'd earlier mentioned having played, I'd been skeptical, due to his lithe frame. "See? Thirty pounds heavier."

I skim the picture politely but my eyes flit almost immediately to another on the bookcase before us. A family photo, which, when Matthew follows my gaze, he lifts down wordlessly to let me examine close up. Later I'll tell Mason about it. You should have seen these people, I'll say. They all looked like senators.  

LOL, he'll reply. My family photos everyone looks like bank robbers.

I hear myself saying something inane about the photo but now it's my companion's turn to ignore me, because he's busy pulling me down the hall, toward his bedroom and the two floral sofas that constituted our initial talking point about an hour ago.

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Ok kids, I gotta get ready for a BBQ, so I'm stopping there for now. I've been charged with preparing and bringing the all-important potato salad, which is lolzy because I'm such a lousy cook and should have just offered to bring more liquor. In fact I'm half tempted to just throw some sliced potatoes on top of a garden salad, just to fuck with my girlfriend.

Hope my American friends are having a gorgeous Independence Day filled with sunshine and sulfate-laden grillin' meats! Merica, fuck yeah!

- ellzebub