Last time, our idiot heroine Hanna Squeal discovered too late that Hello Kitty stationary and dotting your i’s with smiley faces is no way to pass a degree in English Literature. She also had tea (not coffee) with internet billionaire Crispian Neigh, was almost run down by a small child on a scooter and suffered a shitfit of almighty proportions when a billionaire failed to kiss her on their first informal date. While she also became one of the most deserving people to ever accidentally sit in a puddle of hobo pee, Hanna remains unconsoled and whiny as ever, so what better way to cheer yourself up than by imbibing vast quantities of a substance well-known to be a depressant?
I want to tell someone about what happened with Professor Jarrett, but I can’t tell Kate and the one person who might be sympathetic has pulled some crap about how he’s too mysterious and freaky for poor little vanilla me. So there’s really only one reasonable thing to do when you have eight thousand spare dollars and your whole life has gone to hell.
“JELLO SHOOOOOOOOOOTS!!!” yells Kate, holding a tray aloft. The Greek house boys have already soaked her down with beer and I can see her bra – such as it is – through her wet t-shirt. “Come on Hanna,” she semaphores, waving a shot glass under my nose. “Tastes like candy and gets you wasted super fast – what more could a girl ask for?”
I hesitate for too long for Kate’s liking and she and Jesús pounce on me. “Down. The. Hatch. Down. The. Hatch,” they chant.
“But guys, I might get drunk,” I say.
“Bull,” snorts Kate. “You’ve had five margaritas and you can still speak in sentences.”
“S’true,” nods Jesús. “I totally understood that last thing you said. And you had champagne.”
“Oh my God, you did,” says Kate. “Like, two glasses. Holy shit, Hanna – I think we might have found something you’re good at.” She grabs my hand and raises it in the air like I’m a boxing champ. “Lindsay Lohan eat your heart out – meet the woman with the cast iron motherfucking liver!”
“Seriously?” queries one of her fratboy friends. “That skinny little Amish chick?”
“I’m not Amish…” I start to say, but Kate passes me another shot. “Yeah,” she tells Fratboy. “She’s on like, rumspringa or something. I’ll bet you forty bucks she can swallow more of those jello shots than you.”
“Forget it,” says Fratboy. “I’m not drinking those fucking girl-drinks.”
“Oh yeah?” I say, a little thickly. I feel awesome. Crispian Neigh is such a fucking dick. I don’t need him. “What do you consider an appropriately manly drink then?”
“Beer,” he says. “Let’s see you chug a pitcher, little girl. Down in one.”
“Come on man,” says his friend, a big guy with a square jaw. “She’s like a hundred pounds wet. You can’t make her chug a whole pitcher on her own.”
“Try me,” I say. “I’ve had a bitch of a day.”
Kate whoops. “Holy shit you are the best drunk, Hanna. Jesus, why didn’t we get her fucked up before? She’s hilarious.”
The pitcher is passed through the crowd to me. It looks about the size of my entire torso and for a moment I wonder if I’m up to the challenge, but then I look at Fratboy and remember my hatred of all things male. Now I think about it he looks kind of like one of the Cullen brothers from Twilight – not the big one, but the other one, the one who always looks sort of constipated.
I can barely lift the pitcher, but Kate and Jesus take some of the weight. Beer streams down my chin and my blouse and after a few swallows I realise this is going to be tougher than it looks. I need to breathe but the beer just keeps on coming, and my belly feels uncomfortably tight. Chug. Chug. Chug. Oh God – I’m so going to throw up.
“Come on, Hanna!” screams Kate. “You’re nearly there. You’re nearly there!”
I want to move my head from the lip of the pitcher. I want to breathe. How nearly is nearly? It’s going on forever. I’m going to have nightmares about beer for the rest of my life.
And then it’s over. Kate holds up the pitcher like a football trophy. “IN YOUR FACE, SHITLORDS!” she howls. The room is spinny but I think I can hold my head up. Ha. I did it. I’m the world’s greatest drinker.
“Gotta pee,” I say, and head for the ladies room. At least, I think it’s the ladies room. I’m halfway through peeing when I realise I forgot to take my panties down. Oops. Now I will smell of urine, which is so not sexy. Not that I want to be sexy, because men are terrible, but smelling like pee is not an option. Maybe I can wash them? They’ve got like an air dryer and stuff. Yeah. That would work.
I take off my panties and wring them out (Gross, I know.) then holding them tight in a smelly wet ball, I open the stall door and go to the sink. I squirt handsoap on them and then drop them into a sink and run the water. I’m drunk, but I am totally confident and in control. Yeah – how’d you like them apples, Mr. Neigh?
Thinking about him makes me giggle for some reason and I take out my phone. I’ve dialled his number before I can stop myself.
“Hey Mr. Neigh,” I singsong.
“Hey Mr. Neigh. Are you gay, Mr. Neigh? Wanna come play, Mr. Neigh?” I crack me up.
“Are you drunk?”
I manage to stop laughing long enough to catch my breath. “Little bit. Just a little. Just doing some…laundry.”
“Stay put,” he says. “I’m coming to get you.”
He hangs up on me and I stuff the phone into my bag. I don’t need him. I’m a strong, independent woman. I’m in total control of my life, wringing out my underpants in the sink of a nightclub toilet.
Kate comes in. “Hey, are you okay? How much have you barfed already?”
“Haven’t barfed at all,” I say, proudly.
She looks over my shoulder into the sink. “But you peed yourself.”
“Not on purpose.”
“Hanna, go and get some air – no, leave your pissy panties.”
“I’m going to dry them,” I say. “On the hand dryer.”
“I’ll do it,” says Kate. “Just go and get a breath of fresh air – you seriously need to throw up right now. You look like you might get alcohol poisoning if you don’t.”
I go outside. The fresh air goes straight to my head and I stagger back against a wall.
“Hey Hanna. You wanna smoke?”
The voice comes from below me. Jesús is sitting with his back to the wall, smoking one of his loose, handrolled cigarettes.
“No thank you,” I say. “And you shouldn’t sit there. A hobo might have peed there and you wouldn’t know.”
“I know dude,” he says. “But like…my legs don’t work any more. So there’s that. You sure you don’t want a toke? You were a fucking champ in there, man.”
“Stop calling me man.” I hiccup and taste a little bit of sick at the back of my throat. “I’m a woman. I’m a strong, independent, liberated woman.”
“Dude, you’re not liberated,” coughs Jesús. “When Kate was grinding on that guy’s leg in there you were clutching your pearls like crazy. You’re like the least liberated woman I know – you dress like Michelle Duggar and probably don’t even own a dildo.”
The booze has made me pugnacious. “There is nothing wrong with the way I dress. And for your information, I’m not wearing any underpants.” I shout the last to the parking lot and start laughing wildly. Jesús starts laughing too. He grabs the hem of my skirt. I try to swat him away but his hand slithers up my skirt and grabs the back of my thigh.
He’s laughing and tickling me behind the knees. “Come on, Hanna – you can’t say a thing like that without showing a man the goods.”
“Get off me!”
“No, come on – it’ll be fun. Wanna get fingerbanged? I’ll eat your pussy right here in the parking lot…”
“Jesús, quit it!”
“Come on – I’m fucking awesome. You’ll love it – I got a tongue like an iguana…”
“I believe the lady said no.”
Oh my God. It’s him – Crispian Neigh. He steps out of the shadows, his fedora pulled low over his eyes. He peers out from under the brim, his face impassive. I wish I wasn’t so pleased to see him, but I am. He has the most extraordinary effect on me.
“Are you okay, Hanna?” he murmurs.
I gaze into his eyes for a moment and realise I’m in trouble. I should never have mixed beer, margaritas and champagne.
Jesús, kneeling at my feet, takes the brunt of it. As I fall to my knees I can hear him screaming (“It’s in my fucking hair!“) but that’s the least of my worries right now. My head feels like a novelty garden sprinkler – it’s coming out my nose and mouth at the same time. It feels like vomit is shooting out of every hole in my head, even my eyes and ears. My stomach is trying to flee the scene and my liver has filed for divorce. Oh dear God, will it ever end?
“…there are chunks!” howls Jesús. “Fucking chunks! In my fucking hair!” He begins to retch and reels away from us, gagging and clutching his belly. I think it’s slowing. Oh God, please let it be slowing. I’m onto little dry heaves now. I might even be able to breathe again soon.
“Well, I hope you’re pleased with yourself, Hanna,” says Neigh. His foot is tapping away some twelve inches from my head.
“I’m sorry,” I say, wanting to die. This is the most embarrassing moment of my life. I try to think of a worse one, but all I can think of is when he didn’t kiss me – it’s the only mortifying incident of my life that compares. Not even that time I called the bus driver ‘Daddy’, or that time in swimming class when I was six years old and needed to go poopy – and I thought I’d held it in, but when I reached to pick a wedgie a little brown pebble fell out of my bathing suit in front of the whole class. Yes, even more embarrassing that that. Seriously.
“Let’s get you out of here,” snaps Neigh, getting me to my feet.
“Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeugh,” I barf, in weak assent. Oops – thought the chamber was finally empty. Guess not.
“I can see you need a man to take care of you,” he says, taking my arm and steering me away from the most recent puddle. “Luckily for you, I am an old fashioned gentleman.”
“I’m sorry,” I gurgle. “I’m so not…” Oh dear. More? “…not a lady.” I’m a sad, drunk slut who washes her underpants in public toilets and throws up in parking lots. Oh my God – my self-worth is in my shoes. I want to die. I actually want to die right now because Crispian Neigh will never, ever love me. And that’s not just the booze talking. I mean it. I’d say it sober too. I – Hanna Squeal – an educated, emancipated 21st century woman, want to actually fucking die because a rich man I don’t even know will never love me. This is real. This is insane.
I start to cry uncontrollably.
“Get in the car, Hanna,” he says, and bundles me into the back seat like a sack of sick-spattered potatoes. Then I know nothing more, because I pass out. I dream of dark pits, skin lotion and apricot toy poodles named Precious.
I wake in unfamiliar surroundings. The bed is warm and comfortable and the room is understated and ornate, with swagged curtains and gilding kept to a tasteful minimum.
Rococco, I think. Or at least some kind of gay nineties baroque revival.
– Oh God. You again.
Yes, me again. Do you want to get into the Art Deco influences at work on the headboard or shall we perhaps deal with the fact that you’ve been kidnapped?
Kidnapped? Oh my. My Inner Goddess is such a drama queen…
That’s rich, coming from a woman whose snatch dribbles like one of Pavlov’s dogs every time Crispian Neigh so much as breathes in her general direction.
– Will you shut up for five minutes and let me recap what happened in the last chapter?
Inwardly cringing, I remember what happened on the last page. Holy crap, I’m so ashamed. It was everywhere – Jesús was covered in chunky bits. What did I do before that? Everything’s a blur.
Lemme fill you in, Hanna. You drank two glasses of champagne, five margaritas, numerous Jello shots and an entire pitcher of beer. Then you pissed your panties and tried to wash them in the sink of the Ladies’ room…
– Oh my God. I’m not wearing any panties. I’m not wearing anything except for my bra and an unfamiliar t-shirt. Where are my shoes? Where’s my skirt?
…yeah. Beginning to see the problem here?
I sit up and catch sight of myself in the mirror opposite the bed. I have never looked worse. My hair looks like a hobo sat on it. I smooth down the t-shirt to examine its design and see a pony staring back at me – a pink one with big eyes. Then I remember the toystore, the pony aisle.
Holy crap. Crispian Neigh.
Yep. My Little Weirdo. He’s probably putting on his lipstick to Q Lazzarus right now. Adjusting his nipple ring…
– Not helping.
…tucking his junk between his fleshy thighs.
– La la la not listening…
…“Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me…”
Crispian enters the room, carrying two cans of energy drink and a bucket.
“You?” I blurt. He is all in black today – black vest, black shirt, black tie and black fedora. I want to run my fingers through his wallet. He’s just so…dapper.
“Hello Hanna,” he husks alliteratively, cracking open a can of Bawls and handing it to me. “Feeling better?”
“I don’t know. I don’t understand. Where am I? What am I doing here?”
He sits down on a chair opposite me and takes a long pull of his drink. “Well, that’s to be expected,” he chastises. “You were very drunk, Hanna – drunk and on the verge of being sexually molested.” His lovely lips narrow and he frowns at me. “How could you put yourself at such risk, Hanna?”
Mmm. I love the smell of victim blaming in the morning.
I’m really not loving this Inner Goddess thing.
You and me both, sister.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I was upset and I wanted to have a good time. Thank you for coming to rescue me.”
I’m sorry? What? You’re apologising to this goober because someone tried to diddle you in a parking lot? Oh my God – of all the heads I had to get stuck in I had to get stuck in yours. Seriously – are you insane? Was the sexual revolution just something that happened to other people?
I ignore her. So he’s kind of creepy. Whatever. I think it gives him an edge.
That’s it. I’m going to kill myself.
– Be my guest.
He scrutinises me seriously over the tops of his glasses (Black Dolce e Gabbana. I wonder how much they cost.) “You’re welcome,” he whispers. He puts down his drink and stands up, his hands behind his back. “When you drunk-dialled me I knew at once I had to find you,” he says, his voice rich and lumpy, like a well-made rice pudding. Or something. “You’re so innocent, Hanna. I want to protect you.”
Oh, here it comes. The funny-panties feeling again. But I’m not wearing panties. What does this mean?
“Where are my clothes?” I ask. “Where am I?”
“You’re at my suite at the Heathman. Your clothes are in the hotel laundry, since they were covered in vomit.” He adjusts his glasses and gives me a short but searing look. “I took the liberty of sending my man out to buy you some undergarments. You didn’t appear to be wearing any.”
Oh my. Oh my goodness. Does that mean he’s seen my…oh my.
Yes, he’s seen it. He’s seen your heavily bearded inner thighs and the Temple of Doom tangle of dense cobwebs that guard the dread portal itself. And he’s still here. I take back everything I said about this guy being a weirdo – he is The Weirdo. Bust out the Edvard Grieg, Hanna, because you are in the Hall of the Weirdo King.
– I thought you were going to kill yourself?
Changed my mind. If you see a well-built Japanese guy anywhere in this building then run like fuck, because the next time you wake up it’ll be with your lips sewn to his anus – you know what I’m saying?
– No. And why do you sound like Kate?
“I don’t pretend to understand it myself, Miss Squeal,” he says, pacing the room. “But I feel we have a connection. There’s a reason you came to me instead of Miss Hannigan – some form of serendipity. I feel we share something.”
“None of the other boys I know would use words like ‘serendipity’,” I mumble. As I say it I understand the difference – he’s not a boy; he’s a man, a powerful, dominant man. I’m so out of my depth it’s not even funny.
He takes off his glasses with slow, deliberate movements, like an ocular striptease artist. “That’s right Hanna,” he smoulders. “And I’d bet ten grand right here that they don’t even know what it means.” He moves towards the bed.
“Happy coincidence,” I define. “A series of fortunate sequential events.”
He’s leaning on the end of the bed now. “Go on,” he says.
“Happenstance, lucky accident…”
He’s close to me, gazing covetously at me. “You are perfect,” he husks, and my heart leaps out of my chest and dances the merengue.
Ew. Bad visual.
– Shut up.
“You are the answer to my prayers, Hannalore,” he purrs. “The one woman who can give me what I really want.”
His hand cups the air close to my cheek. All my veins are singing with the desire for him – there’s a tingle in my belly and a damp spot on the undersheet. I think I really want this man. Somehow I find my voice.
“If you don’t mind that I haven’t shaved my legs,” I tremble. “We can do it right now if you don’t?”
He leaps away from me as if I’ve given him an electrical shock. “No,” he gasps, clutching his head in some kind of internal struggle. “No, you’re not ready. I don’t have the right to…no…you are too innocent, too pure, and I’m too…depraved. Plus I have that thing that hasn’t fully cleared up yet.” He turns away. “I’m sorry, Hanna. Take a shower, have some breakfast. I should never have brought you here.”
“No, wait,” I say. “You can’t threaten me with depravity and then run away. This book’s mostly mundane filler as it is. You think people bought this thing for the protracted descriptions of people choosing tea bags or brushing their teeth? Hell no – they bought it for the kinky sex. We are not doing this for another six freaking chapters. Now tie me up and do nasty things to me.”
He pulls a face. “Hmm,” he hmms. “You know…I would, but I’ve got that thing I just mentioned. And also you still smell of vomit and your sniz looks like it’s gone feral.”
“Your snatch, Hanna. Your hoo-hoo. Your fur teacup. It’s like the origin of all those North-Western legends of the sasquatch.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. And I don’t. What’s a hoo-hoo? Isn’t it something from Doctor Seuss? “Why did you bring me here if you weren’t going to…you know?”
“You called me, remember?” he says. “Besides, I wanted to see if I could track your cellphone.”
“Is that even legal?”
My Inner Goddess doesn’t think so. She’s calling the police. For the first time I can actually see her face. Figures she’d be blonde.
She raises a middle finger at me and presses the phone to her ear.
“Hanna,” Crispian says, with kindergarten patience. “Let me explain something to you. There are illegal activities, right? And then there are ‘illegal’ activities.” He quirks his fingers to make quote marks in the air. “After a certain…fiscal threshold, especially with regards to income, pretty much everything falls under the category of ‘illegal’. Do you understand me?”
He bites his lip as he looks at me. “Goddamn you, Hanna Squeal – why must you be so…serendipitious?”
“Nobody’s ever called me serendipitious before,” I squeak.
“No, I’m sure they haven’t,” he says, looking at my lips. “Perhaps it would be better if I explained things over dinner. My place. Tonight.”
I nod. He’s still staring at my lips. He does that a lot. Maybe he does want to sew them to a Japanese man’s anus, although I have no idea why anyone would want to do a thing like that.
“Wear something nice.” He opens his wallet and tosses a flutter of bills down on the comforter. “And find yourself a Capability Brown to work on that undergrowth, if you catch my drift.”
I don’t catch his drift at all. I’m alone with his money – there’s at least a thousand dollars on the bed and he’s just tossed it to me like it was pocket change. The strange fizzy feeling is back again, even stronger.
What does he mean? Illegal, ‘illegal’. And who’s Capability Brown? Wasn’t she some kind of hooker on Hollywood Boulevard. Holy shit. Is he calling me a ho?
My Inner Goddess hangs up the phone and sighs. That was Divine Brown. Capability Brown was a famous landscape gardener – he was making a dig at the unkempt state of your ladygarden.
He was talking about your cunt, you moron.
Oh dear. It’s going to be a long book, isn’t it?