I could not find words to speak. I’d never met a man like this before. As I was about to find my tongue and engage in human dialogue — rather than melt away from the embracing warmth of Ailee’s admiration for me — something caught my eye behind him. I watched in horror as Konniving Kamel (the SF guy with the escort complex), slither towards where we were sitting. Hanging off his arm was an Ivanka like escort, looking like one of those Russian mail order brides. What in hell was he doing here? Out of all the yacht clubs in Southern California, he had to be at this particular one. Just my luck, which at this point, looked to be like bad timing.
Ailee had no idea where my eyes had wandered off to in surprise. Sensing my unease, he glanced over his shoulder with a near hit-n-miss.
“Spot your friend?” Ailee asked.
I’ve learned my lesson, about being too honest and over sharing on my past relationships. So I decided to pull the Trump card and deflect, “Hm, I’m not sure.”
Holding his gaze tightly, I said, “Follow me?” I smiled. “Victoria has been too quiet and I’m actually a little concerned. Would also love for you to meet John.” I stood up and took the lead just before Kamel could make it to me.
Thankfully, the main dining area had filled up. I could feel Ailee behind me as I made a beeline to the bar, where Victoria and John were standing with a martini in each hand. Ailee touched my shoulder, as if he were lost or maybe it was a pass. I stopped my overthinking. Who can blame me after the string of rotten dates? Besides, I didn’t want to appear uptight.
The classical music switched to jazz.
“Jehan!” Victoria greeted me like she hadn’t seen me in forever. Something was different about her though. Something in her face. What had she gone and done in my absence? Was there a Botox vending machine I did not know about?
I made the introductions and John and Ailee hit it off! They both had something in common; travel and of course business. I dared to glance back over my shoulder and thankfully; I had lost sight of Kamel and his “escort.” I had learned all too late about Kamel’s repugnant reputation with women, and I didn’t want him coming up as if we knew each other.
A girl can ruin her reputation just by one dinner date with the wrong guy!
“Listen.” Victoria pulled me aside. “I gotta tell you something, can we go to the ladies room?”
Ailee had his eyes on me as he talked with John. “Sure,” I said not losing my smile. I really didn’t want to join Victoria in one of her possible antics. But sisters had to stick together. Besides, if I fawned over Ailee too much, he’d think I was easy. Being an open hearted, free spirited Mideast-west woman in Los Angeles could make me appear naïve, to the common SoCal man. Therefore, it was best I added a little mystery so Ailee would not think I was “just like the others.”
Victoria yanked my hand. “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” I told him. Again, he gently placed his hand on me, this time to the small of my back.
“Sure, don’t lose me.” He said.
I followed Victoria to the restroom, which was near the back of the entire room. Lose him? What did he mean by that? Had he noticed Kamel? God forbid, did he even know Kamel? At this point, my head was swirling. What if …
“Victoria! Wait up!” I elbowed my way into the bathroom.
Victoria ran her hands through her hair and fluffed up her bangs. “Jehan, look, John keeps disappearing and I’m going to find out why. He wasn’t even here when I got here! He was so late and came up with some cockamamie excuse. But what’s going on with you and Ailee? He can’t keep his eyes off you!” She purred.
“I know, right? Well, dipshit, otherwise known as Kamel, walked in with some trollop on his arm. I am trying to keep them as far away from each other, as possible. Why is Kamel even here?!”
“He must be a business associate of John’s. I don’t know. I’ll find out,” Victoria said while she touched up her lipstick.
“Um, sweets. Are you going to tell me about why there’s a sudden inflation in your lips? Looks like the bottom lip is about to lift off and detach itself from your mouth.” I said ,while sizing up her swollen bottom lip.
“Oh, I just got a little touch up. I invited my plastic surgeon to this event too; he’s on call.” One of Victoria’s false lashes detached itself and she fussed with it.
“Well, you don’t need all this.” I said while touching up my lipstick.
“Girl, yes I do! He’s got some other woman, I just know it.”
I felt sorry for Victoria having to put so much emphasis on her outer beauty. But that was LA, I guess.
“Guys like John, cheat.”
We left the restroom and my eyes immediately fell on Ailee. He stood out, among the crowd of Investment Bankers and Fortune 500 Executives. Ailee was elegant and sophisticated. Not uptight and narcissistic like the rest. He was easy on the eyes in a natural kind of way. Attractive, I decided, yet not my usual type, as I prefer the dark mysterious look. Although, he did have an unusual amount of charm and class. He didn’t seem to be scared off by the unique caliber of Victoria. At least, not yet. The guys had been standing at the bar for too long. At least they seemed to get along, which was a good thing. Outside, the night beckoned and the harbor lights glittered.
“Let’s step outside and get some fresh air, shall we? I feel it’s a bit stuffy in here, don’t you?” I let Ailee take me away from the crowd and we walked down a ramp towards the dock. I looked over my shoulder, to check on Victoria and noticed John walking up the stairs to the second level, with another woman. Victoria was nervously busy touching up her lips, again. My heart dropped to my stomach. I stopped dead in my tracks and I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks.
“Oh … my … God”
“I know, the sunset is exquisite,” Ailee said.
“Huh? No! I … Excuse me, again. Sorry. Last time I fairy you.” As I turned around to rush inside, Ailee grabbed a hold of my wrist.
“What’s going on?”
I took a deep breath, “It’s complicated. I just saw John walking upstairs with another woman and if Victoria catches wind of this, it will not end well.”
“So, let it be. You can’t change someone’s behavior. If he’s cheating, then he’s cheating.” Ailee tried to reason with me.
“If anybody is going to walk in on John and his escapade, it surely should not be Victoria. Unless you want to witness a real life episode of “Snapped,” Victoria should not be anywhere near upstairs. And I’m going to ignore the fact you’re a little too calm about this.”
“Guys like John, cheat.”
“What does that mean, ‘guys like John’?”
“Guys who invite their mistresses while co-hosting a party with their girlfriend.”
“And how do we know he has mistresses?” I inquired.
“Everybody in town knows about John and his parties. He’s known for this.” Ailee’s casual ease begins to worry me. Maybe Aristocratic Ailee wasn’t so charming after all. Or maybe I was too naïve to believe men in Los Angeles can be monogamous.
“Your loyalty is endearing,” Ailee took my hand in his and continued, “Look, I want to get to know you. Can I take you to dinner, this week?”
I gracefully retreated my hand and softened my voice, “I appreciate the forwardness. I am not in the head space or heart space to start anything right now.”
“Darling, I just asked you out for dinner. Let’s take it one step at a time.”
I opened my mouth to respond but a loud sound of glass shattering caused me to lose my train of thought. A repeated sound of metal hitting against metal was heard.
“Oh no, Victoria found out.” I whispered underneath my breath.
Ailee and I sped to the parking lot and saw Victoria with a bat in her hands, having a field day on John’s black Maserati.
“I feel like we are in a Carrie Underwood music video,” I began. I stepped towards Victoria with caution. I did not want to get caught in the middle of her batting practice nor end up with my head on top of the hood. “Vic, love. What happened?”
“Oh, I’ll tell you.” She said huffing and puffing. “John is upstairs boinking his secretary so I figured, I won’t disturb him.” In one final swing, Victoria nailed the right tailgate. She wiped her hair off her face and grabbed her red lipstick and penned a love note across the front windshield.
“You know you love me. Xoxo, Victoria.”
Stay tuned for next week’s installment in the Aristocratic Ailee series!