The doorman gave me a look like he usually scraped my kind off the sole of his shoe, and I knew better than to stare back at him. This place was exclusive enough that he probably recognized or remembered every person who walked in, and this was my first time, which would make it even easier. Besides, how many other tenants wore white booty shorts and strappy sandals below a candy-striped top?
The tile in the lobby gleamed like someone had polished it especially for me, and my heels clacked like castanets until I reached the elevator. I pushed the “9” button with my elbow and shifted the overnight bag to my other shoulder. Two more people joined me, a man and a woman who smelled like money, and I stepped back to let them take the car themselves. The other one disgorged its passengers into the lobby and I took that one instead.
The nine floors fell behind me and my feet almost lifted off the floor when the car stopped. The door whispered open and I turned right, per Adam’s directions. He had the suite on the left at the far end, with a balcony overlooking the park, another zero on the rent.
We met at his restaurant a month before, and now we were beyond the stirring and mixing stage, ready to put something in the oven. He suggested an evening with steaks, salad, and his secret dressing, and I anticipated our first horizontal dessert. I splurged on a fifty-dollar bottle of Pinot Noir. I could put it on my expenses.
My overnight bag felt heavy, even though I don’t wear much in bed, especially in the summer, and even less when I’m not alone. But this was a man’s apartment, and you never know what he won’t have that a girl might need.
Before reaching his door, I slid my brown wig into the bag, fluffed up my short blonde hair, and replaced my floppy hat. I tapped the door and it opened so quickly I knew he was waiting for me.
His smile probably drove the little girls to their knees. Well, I knew it worked on at least one of them, a server in his restaurant. That was why his wife was divorcing him.
“Randi.” He thought my name was “Miranda.” His voice felt thick as the au jus on the prime ribs we’d enjoy later.
He held my hands and his eyes drank deeply until I put down my bag and leaned into him.
“God, you look spectacular.”
“Please, Adam, you’ll make me blush. I already said I’ll spend the night.”
He laughed, that low rumble vibrating in my stomach. I smelled potatoes baking in the oven and dug into my bag for the wine.
“Why don’t you open this to breathe while I stow my bag.”
He pointed to the left and I marched down a short hallway past a bathroom and a second bedroom he used as an office. His room had the typical sudden-bachelor look: a bed and nightstand with a lamp, a dresser, and not much else. I wondered if he took sheets from his old place or had to buy some. And towels.
I put my bag on the bed and checked my make-up in the mirror. My hair was a little mussed from the wig, but we’d be outside on a ninth-floor balcony, so no sense in worrying about it. I had bloodier steak to grille.
Adam’s living room looked even more stark than his bedroom. A beat-up sofa, two chairs, and a coffee table all looked like he’d rescued them from the curb. The slider behind him framed the park across the boulevard, a baseball diamond, acres of grass, and a playground beyond right field. A swimming pool lay to the left, mostly obscured by trees. A perfect Saturday, great for kids and dogs chasing Frisbees. And young love, even though we weren’t kids anymore.
Adam was in his mid-thirties with smile lines around his eyes and shoulders that suggested construction work more than a chef, especially since he towered over me. That’s no challenge, though. My strappy sandals only made me about five-six. I kept myself out of the sun without a hat, so I have a cheerleader’s complexion. It helps me in my job. So do four days a week practicing Tai Kwon Do, but thirty’s in my rear-view mirror too. You never heard me say that.
Since Adam was a chef, his kitchen made up for the rest of the apartment. A spice rack bigger than a grocery store display filled the wall on one side of the door frame. The canisters on the counter gleamed, and six ivory handles protruded from the knife rack. His cutting board had a trough on all four sides to catch meat juice or blood. He must have fought like a demon for his kitchen toys. The divorce was still in full slash-and-burn mode, but he moved to the most expensive apartments in the city.