Authors: Opal Mellon
“Q. Are the boys available for anything?”
“A. Our men are handsome and the perfect date and escort. They are not prostitutes.”
“Q. What qualifications do the men have to be escorts?”
“A. We understand that women have a variety of tastes in appearance, dress, and demeanor, so our men run the gamut in style. However, all are chosen based on their superior looks, personality, and ability to carry themselves well in any situation.”
“Q. How much does it cost to hire a Club Blue member?”
“A. Prices discussed with members only. Membership allows a customer access to conversation with all of the men in a casual, elegant environment perfect for choosing the man right for your needs.”
She turned away from the computer to think for a moment. Not a perfect solution, not by a long shot. Paying a date? The image of the redheaded towel woman rose in her mind, choking her. She opened up a new email to Sean.
~ ~ ~
The Sean in question slumped on his too small computer stool, glaring.
I’ve found the solution to my boy problems. I can just hire male escorts! Can you believe you can do that in Cali? I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before. There’s a place in my city called Club Blue. You
hould check it out and tell me what you think. Hope you are doing well.
P.s. You were right about Kyle. :P
He stared out the window for a moment, and then back at the computer screen as if by looking away and back again the pernicious words would disappear and in their place would be “I’ve found the solution to my boy problems. You’ve always been there for me, Sean. Let’s try dating.”
But the words were the same, so he saved the email to the Nicole folder and signed off. He dragged a hand through his hair then looked down at his watch. He still had time to hit the dojang before he had to teach classes. He grabbed the duffel bag at his feet, walked out, and kicked the door shut behind him.
At the dojang, Sean hit the punching bag hard, enjoyed the slap ringing out and the pain in his hand. What kind of background checks did they do for escort agencies? He slammed into the bag again, this time with a hook that sent pain through his shoulder. How could he know that she’d be safe? He spun and connected with a backfist. What if she was just getting into more trouble? He pivoted for a straight left. How could these men respect her when she was hiring them? He swept around and struck with a spinning hook kick. They couldn’t possibly treat her like the princess she was. He jumped a few times to reset, then shook his head and went to the computer to see if any dojang business needed his attention.
He slumped into the seat, rubbed his shoulder and reminded himself not to practice when upset. There was nothing he could do. Nicole had made her choice and all he could really do was wait and try to repair the damage. At least if he was a girl, he could join the club to check it out.
But the only way guys got in was by becoming escorts. Sean set his chin in his hand and tapped his fingers a few times, then stood and stalked to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He pushed at his thick, dark hair, pulling it forward, then to the side, then stepped back and squinted. Was he too tall? He thought his face was okay. He bared his teeth at the mirror and leaned in to inspect them. Straight. Good. He lifted up his gi and T-shirt; did a six-pack get him extra points? How good looking did an escort need to be?
“Oh no,” he told the idiot in the mirror. “Don’t even think about it.”
Sean finished removing his gi and stuffed it in his bag. Nicole was so ridiculous. If any of the women in his dojang came to him about hiring an escort, he’d rain down a shower of disapproval.
He didn’t even know what hiring an escort meant. He eyed the studio computer and approached it warily. Hoping he remembered to delete the search history after, he typed ‘club blue cali’ into Google and searched. He clicked the first link. When the main site pulled up a place called “Club Blue,” complete with a jaunty sleazeball winking, he felt his blood run away from his face. No way could he do this. He ground his teeth and forced his eyes back to the screen. He could do it for her.
So there was a Frequently Asked Questions list? Yeah, he had a few questions. What would it take for a man to do this? What kind of messed up guy would take money from women?
Those weren’t answered in the FAQ. The location of the club was there though, and Sean was relieved to see it was close. He’d moved here from Idaho when Master Peterson had opened a new dojang here and needed help, but he’d never told Nicole. He’d been too afraid she’d think he’d moved for her and was stalking her. Now his location and her ignorance of it were going to be a huge benefit.
He read the FAQ a second time, less afraid that his face was going to melt while doing so. They weren’t prostitutes. Well that solved one doubt that had been crawling under his skin since he’d read her email.
So it was just dates. That made some sense. It was too bad, though, that the world had come to such a low point that women had to spend money to find a decent date. Or perhaps women just didn’t want expectations. Maybe this was a way to have male company without breaking a man’s heart when he decided he wanted to keep you forever.
But then he reminded himself that Nicole’s experience proved that many men didn’t feel the same as him. They wanted whatever they could take with no responsibility. He cracked his knuckles.
He scrolled down on the FAQ till he saw the last question. His hands felt clammy. Maybe it was too hot in here. Maybe he should have turned on the swamp cooler.
“Q: How do I become a Club Blue Escort?”
“A: Just contact us using the above form. Tell us a little about yourself, attach a picture, and we’ll get back to you to schedule an interview.”
He put his head in his hands and sighed.
~ ~ ~
Sean entered the Club Blue main office feeling like beef that was up for quality inspection. The receptionist looked normal. The desk looked normal. But this place was not normal, and no amount of inconspicuous equipment or people would make him forget that.
“I have an interview,” he said as quietly as possible, over the top of the desk to the blond receptionist who looked like she was still in college. There was no one else around but one couldn’t be too careful.
“What?” The woman at the desk looked up at him. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
“I said I have an interview,” he said louder, and the girl jumped. “Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” she said. “I’m always nervous before a job interview too.”
Sean raised an eyebrow.
“It’s just a job interview after all.” She reached for a little day planner and flipped a few pages over. “Are you Sean?”
She marked something on the note pad and pressed a button on the phone next to her. A buzz sounded in some nearby room. “Not very talkative are you?”
“Not usually.” He tried to look around to various doors for the source of the buzz. That would tell him where he was going, and Sean liked to know where he was going.
“Well some women might like that.”
Sean furrowed his brow. He had no idea what to say back to that.
A buzz sounded on her phone and she looked down for a moment as if to confirm what she thought she’d heard. ”It’s the first room on the right. They’re waiting for you.” She stood and gestured with one hand.
He didn’t look back at her. “Thanks for your help.”
He stopped at a drinking fountain to delay the inevitable. The water tasted metallic. The place smelled like a dentist’s office. He looked at the door handle like it might bite his hand. He let out a deep breath and grabbed it. He won national titles kicking other men in the face. This would be no problem. He opened the door slowly, expecting to see someone seated at the other side of a desk.
The room was wide and well lit, with large square windows spanning the top half of back wall. The walls were a pleasant beige, the desk in the corner a beautiful mahogany piece. But in front of him, in a semicircle on the luxe taupe carpet, were four chairs. And in three of those chairs sat men that looked like they’d just walked off a cologne ad. In the fourth sat what appeared to be their queen.
“Go ahead and sit down.” The man who spoke had blond hair, tanned skin and a delicate face that could almost be called girly. He pointed to a chair at Sean’s right.
“Thank you.” Sean sat.
“Go ahead and tell us about yourself,” another man said. This one had auburn hair, a tall, blocky body, and a soft voice. He wore a tennis sweater and Sean thought it probably had one of those goofy expensive brand names on the tag.
A man on the other side of the queen added, “Not the quickest, is he?” in a flat voice. This man was tall, very dark, with black hair and eyes. He stared at Sean like he might have stared at a traffic light that wouldn’t turn green.
The woman in the middle lowered her eyebrows, then put her hand up over her mouth and seemed to breathe into it. She was tall, black, with silky black hair pulled back in a low ponytail, and a sharp face.
“Your style isn’t great, but that’s kind of cute,” she murmured to herself. She sat up and looked him over. “My name is Hope. This is Justin.” She pointed to the blond. “That’s Jason.” She pointed to the tennis sweater man. “And this is my business partner, Chandler.” She pointed to the man on her right. “He does our accounts.”
The guys nodded at him in turn.
“Justin and Jason are our most requested escorts.” She said. “They check out new candidates and can answer any questions you might have about life on the job.”
Sean had too many questions to have any questions, so he just stared at them, blinking.
“Do you know what a host club is?”
He shook his head.
“I discovered them on a business trip to Japan,” she said.
Chandler snorted from the right but was already looking out towards the window with his head rested in his palm when Hope glared over at him.
“They are nightclubs. The women come in and spend time with the hosts of their choice. The men are good-looking, polite, and a great distraction for businesswomen or other sex workers just looking for company at the end of the night. Of course, we don’t encourage our members to buy and drink alcohol like the Japanese hosts are expected to.”
The guys nodded.
“Instead, for our bottom line, we hire out for dates. Many women expressed how much they would like to take one of our men out as an escort, and after talking it over we agreed that it would be beneficial to all parties. The men could work during the days, rather than just in the evenings, and the women could go to reunions and parties as they liked.”
Sean nodded. There was only one thing he needed to know about this club. Whether Nicole was coming here.
“Other things you should know? The pay is very good. We’re like a family here and you will be treated with respect. It is hard work, but very rewarding.”
“So at the risk of sounding like a normal, boring job interview, why do you want to be an escort?”
Sean sat for a minute, wishing he had thought of something to say that wasn’t the truth. Wondering if he should tell the truth. He decided on something in the middle.
“My friend mentioned recently that she was going to hire an escort. I didn’t even know there were agencies like this. I looked it up online. I thought maybe I’d be a good match.”
Hope studied him.
“You’d need to update your wardrobe, but we have a huge selection of clothing the men here can choose from, so that won’t be an issue.”
“He’s tall. Good face.” The blond man said, sitting forward and leaning on his palm. “Kind of awkward though.”
Sean thought he probably had a point there. Maybe he’d never make it here if he wasn’t fluid and elegant like the pretty boy looking him over.
“I was awkward at first too, Justin,” the auburn man said, taking off his glasses to polish them with a microfiber cloth. “Not all of us are born to please women.”
Justin scowled at him. “You’re still awkward, Jason. And a nerd.”
Jason smiled and turned to Sean. “Your eyes are really blue. Are you wearing contacts?”
“No.” Sean wasn’t sure how to deal with men checking him out. He’d been expecting sleazy guys, not professional men who looked like models and wore watches that probably cost what his car did. They were professional and sharp, and made him think maybe he should probably go back to the dojang.
“Good, because if you were, I was going to say keep wearing them.” Jason put his glasses back on. “The color is astounding.”
“Oh.” Sean didn’t know if that was good or bad.
“He’s a bit word-constipated,” Justin said. “Women want a man who can talk, a man who doesn’t sit like a bump on a log. Maybe we’ll have to open him up a little.” Justin sent him a wink and Sean tried to dodge it with his eyes.
Jason shook his head. “Maybe he’s just what we need to balance out your verbal diarrhea.”
“Why I oughta …” Justin turned to Jason.
“We’ll give you a shot.” Hope leaned forward between the men. “Come to this address tomorrow night at 6:00.”
Sean nodded. He wanted to get out of there, brush the sweat from the back of his neck and forehead and get some air. Maybe he wasn’t cut out for this. “Do I need to bring anything?”
“Not unless there is something you’d like to bring,” Hope said.
“Alright.” He stood awkwardly. The other three stayed in their chairs. Justin stopped arguing with Jason long enough to give a small wave, and Jason nodded with a small salute. Chandler mumbled a ‘nice to meet you’ and leaned back with folded arms.
“Good to meet you Sean,” Hope said.
Sean opened the door, let it swing behind him. He walked outside, oddly floaty, the day a little too bright, the colors too saturated, the sounds of people’s voices garbled as if they were underwater. He wanted to get home and fall in bed. Maybe if he went to sleep he’d wake up and find it was all a dream. Just one email to write first.
I’m sorry if I was a jerk before. It’s been hard seeing you hurt. I want you to be happy, however that is.