… About a Month Ago…
Kingston stood at the bar, in the nightclub, only lit by neon colors and strobe lights that pulsed to the rhythm of the dubstep music. Leaning on one elbow, against the bar top, he looked at the gold band on his left ring finger and felt compelled to remove it.
Panic rose in his heart when he thought about commitment, when he thought about forever with one person for the rest of his life. Marriage never came across as a prison to him, he saw it as something beautiful. However, marriage wasn’t for Kingston… at least not in this life, maybe the next one… if there is one.
Hans, the bartender, approached Kingston from his post and set a martini down for Kingston. Hans starred Kingston down with flirty eyes and as he leaned in toward the commitment-coward, he shouted over the music into Kingston’s ear.
“I get off in an hour, want to come back to my place?”
Kingston gulped ferociously nervous. Hurriedly, he slid the ring off his finger and clenched it in his fist as he stepped back from the bar. Kingston was completely interested in getting wasted and hooking up with someone, but not Hans… Hans was too easy to pick up and Kingston wanted a challenge. The hunt was more erotic than the kill to Kingston.
“Not tonight Hans.” Kingston spoke loudly. While he tucked his ring in his back pocket, he exchanged it for his phone. He swiped his touchscreen left and placed his thumb in the center. The phone scanned his thumb print and opened up his electronic wallet, from there he pulled up his credit card. Then he pointed his phone at the docking scanner and told Hans, “Can I add 500 to my tab?”
Relentlessly showcasing his disappointment to rejection with a sour face, Hans picked up the martini and said, “Your wish is my command…” Slinging back the martini himself, Hans added after he swallowed, “Let me know if you change your mind.” Sighing he also asked, “Do you want anything to drink now?”
“A shot… of whatever you got that’s the strongest.” Kingston said in a desperate need to calm his nerves or else he was about to have a panic attack and he’d be forced to call G’s agent to come rescue him. Tonight, Kingston was going to man up.
In fact, that was perhaps exactly what Kingston needed… to be top dog, assertive, in charge completely for once. He was sick of every aspect of his life being micro-managed by a publicist, G’s agent, and the pressure to uphold Team’s Pride Image. Even here, all the way across the bridge, the thought Kingston’s daily regiment to keep Giles happy and focused on the game sucked the life from his lungs!
A slight finger poked Kingston in the shoulder, and he jerked to see who it was.
“Sorry,” the woman apologized. She seemed familiar to Kingston but he couldn’t remember where he saw her.
“It’s fine. Am I in your way?” Kingston wondered, turning to face her. He straightened up his blazer and adjusted the belt looped through his jeans, doubled checking his shirt was still tucked in properly.
“Ah… no… but you’re Kingston Rourke, right? Like Giles Bordner’s boyfriend, right?”
Kingston hesitated contemplating how to answer… what would pose the biggest challenge. Based on the woman’s lack of a manicure, natural laying hair, and minimal make-up… Musty fragrance of lemongrass sweatiness infused with the powerful punch of peppermint. The ethnic ambiguous woman before him had to be a liberal feminist… Really?! Was she Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Mixed…???
The only important question to answer was whether or not she identified as a lesbian, and then that would determine if talking to her would be worth his time tonight. Her lack of sensual energy made Kingston think she was A-sexual, not interested in sex whatsoever with anyone…
“Excuse me,” she said poking him again, “Are you Kingston Rourke?” She took a swig of her imported beer, wiped her lips dry of foam residue, and was about to say something again when Kingston finally answered.
Her brown eyes suddenly got wide with excitement. “I’m sorry…” She held her pointer finger up to signal him to wait a moment as she guzzled the remainder of her beer down. She made the bottle whistle a unique sound when she pried the bottle from her lips as she drew a quick breath. “This may be out of line, but can you confirm the reason why you won’t marry Giles? Is it because you’re not really gay?”
Highly offended, Kingston shouted, “WHAT?”
“Well, like… according to your social media accounts you were straight all throughout high school, then in college you became a pan sexual, afterwards bi-sexual… THEN, one day you’re asked out by Giles Bordner, THE highEST paid man in BASEball and NOW you’re just gay… If that were true… you’ve been together for like five years… shouldn’t you be married now if you’re so happy?”
Forget it, maybe he won’t go home with anyone tonight. He can just go stay at a hotel… and then fly to Tokyo to meet up with Giles later in the afternoon. That thought passed when he realized he never stated he was gay, it’s just presumed by everyone and projected by gossip magazines. Kingston remembered the woman.
Embarrassed she hung her head as she ran her fingers through her black, flat-ironed hair. Hanging her head back, she shouted, “You recognize me… HUH!!!” Slouching a bit, she sat her head upright, clutching her hips with her hands. “Forget it then.”
“No! I love the Deets. You’re really good with gossip goop!”
Tasha Turner used to work for the country’s most reputable news source left in America. She produced the show of the nation’s favorite anchor, Felix Gladdius, until it was discovered she gave him false intel about the war to report on, knowing it was false. The government filed a lawsuit for deformation against her and the station she worked for. Felix also sued her, the network, and he quit to jump ship to another network. Luckily, Tasha had an incredible team of lawyers, she got out with a tiny settlement on her part and was let go from the station.
The Deets, a gossip online talk show loved the controversy from her life much, they hired her as an anchor… Now she shared the latest dirt on celebrities making millions more than she did before.
“Forget I said anything. I’m gonna go.” She set her empty beer bottle on the bar and went to leave when Kingston grabbed her by the hand.
She turned back at him and an electric look her in eye answered Kingston’s question… she was not a lesbian. She slid her fingers out his grasp.
“What do want? I came up to you?”
“Off the record…” Kingston went on to say, but she erupted with laughter.
“As a gossip anchor, I don’t need any sources to say what I’m gonna say. As long as I don’t offend you in person, I can’t get sued, trust me, I checked according to our licensing.”
“Um, whatever, I’m not offended. Um, but to answer your question… Giles understands I like assorted flavors… And tonight, I think I want to try something I haven’t had in a while.”
Tasha bellowed forward laughing harder, except this time she covered her mouth. To ease his awkward discomfort, he chuckled a bit.
He asked, “What’s so funny?”
Taking a few deep breaths she stopped laughing but she kept a giddy smile showcasing her dimpled cheeks. “My friend said you’ve never been with a woman in your life and I disagreed, so we made a bet. If I could confirm you were gay, I’d lose. All I needed to win was reasonable doubt but you provided proof by hitting on me. Rich!”
“Who’s your friend?”
She pointed to a tall lanky man dancing like a raver with a group of like-manner dancers.
“He is he your boyfriend?” Kingston asked.
Unsure how to answer that, feeling like the man asked a dumb question, she glared at him, “Didn’t I just say friend?”
“Maybe you like me back and you don’t want to blow your chance of getting my number…”
As the newly offended party, Tasha gasped, “Carter and I may go home… together… if we don’t find other people tonight… but trust me… I’ll never date that guy,”
“Then come back to my place.”
A little perplexed by his offer yet incredibly intrigued, “Don’t you have a boyfriend at home?”
“He’s in Tokyo supporting the ‘Team’ by trying to recruit a transgender player to their minors team here the states.”
Crossing her arms, she commented, “Giles Bordner is like the Jackie Robinson of the Pride Sports Movement, isn’t he?”
“What do you say? If you come home with me, you’ll definitely be the winner of the wager.”
Biting her bottom lip she closed her eyes. She whispered something to herself Kingston couldn’t make out.
“What did you say?” He checked.
“I can’t believe I’m contemplating this!” She shouted. “I just really love to win and gloat about it… And you’re hot as heck… It’s kind of hard to say no. When was the last time you were tested?”
Knowing “tested” referred to STI-Testing he lied, “Three months ago. All clean. And don’t worry, we have a whole drawer filled with–,” she stopped him before he could discuss contraceptives.
Grabbing him by the lapels of his navy blue blazer, she reeled him close and kissed him on the lips. When she finished she let him go. Kingston kissed a girl and he liked it, ironically her chapstick tasted like cherry. He kissed her back with a bit more intensity than she offered.
She broke away from the kiss to say, “My answer is yes, are you sure?”
“Yes.” He kissed her back taking her hand. Ending their lip lock and luring her out of the club, he said, “I’ll get us a cab.”
After she got her things and said good-bye to Carter. They hailed a cab outside the club, crossed the bridge to Manhattan, and went back to Kingston’s penthouse. And in the very bed he shared many nights with Giles, he spent one night with Tasha Turner.
Kingston couldn’t get her out of his mind. For about a month, the whiff of lemongrass made him quiver… in a good way. He wanted another moment with her. Giles would be gone for a week. They’d have the place to themselves for a week. Best of all, the doorman believed Tasha was his new bff.
She never gave him a number. Trying to contact her at work was impossible. And the only social media she had these days was Squeak. He quickly became one of her followers.
Like a junkie needing a heroine fix. He stalked her Squeak Personal Nest, checking to see if she took messages and fortunately for him, she did. He sent her message from his old account that he hardly used: JKingNow and asked in a message: This is Kingston, do you remember me from last month?
She messaged back: Yes. I do.
Sitting on the living room dark sectional couch, in his boxers, butterflies fluttered in his stomach. He felt twelve years old again, passing notes in the classroom to his recent crush.
He messaged: Can you meet me at the penthouse? I want to talk to you about something but not via message… will you come by?
It took a long time for her to reply but she finally did.
Her message read: Okay, when should I come by?
He laughed, picturing her ask that question in person, knowing she used his own words on purpose to be snarky.
It was odd… They spent one night together. In bed for almost 9 hours, well into the late morning. He cooked her French Toast and they discussed politics and tv programs… They only talked about surface level things, yet he felt a connection to her… Something deeper.
@!%$. He thought. His chest tightened as the weight of deep fear crawled upon him. He rushed to the kitchen and reached in the cabinet where he kept all his over the counter and prescription drugs. As he broke out hyperventilating he rummaged through the pill bottles in search of his anxiety med.
Finding the bottle, he popped off the cap and took two pills to calm down sooner. As an expert pill popper his entire life, he didn’t need anything to chase them down. He forced himself to take regular breaths. He went back to the couch and lied down setting his phone on the dark brown coffee table.
The phone kept squeaking as his inbox flooded with messages from Tasha. He didn’t have the courage to look until his medicine kicked in, but having taken too much he was ready to go back to sleep. He looked at her most recent message.
Tasha’s recent message: I’m on my way. I’ll be there within the hour.
As he nodded off to sleep, he messaged: Now won’t work for me. I’ll let you know when later.
Tasha’s final message: You asked me if I was free? What the @!%$ ?!?!?!?!??!?! I NEED to talk to you. It’s a MAJOR emergency!
TO BE CONTINUED…