In the darkness I hear her ask, "You came?"
"Yeah," I pant, laughing.
"Okay," she says, the bed making rustling noises as she gets off it, carefully holding up an arm as if she's afraid of dropping something.
"Good night, Victor."
Jamie walks toward the door, swings it open, light from the hallway causes me to squint, shielding my eyes, and when she closes the door blackness blossoms out of control and still spinning I'm also moving upward toward something, a place where there's someone waiting to meet me, voices calling out follow, follow.
I'm waking up because of the sun streaming through the skylight and chic steel beams onto the bed where I'm staring at the geometric patterns etched on those chic steel beams. I tentatively sit up, bracing myself, but I've apparently slept off what should have been a major hangover. I check out the surroundings: a room done in ash gray and totally minimalist, a large steel vase filled with white tulips, lots of gorgeous chrome ashtrays scattered everywhere, a steel nightstand where a tiny black phone sits on a copy of next month's Vanity Fair with Tom Cruise on the cover, a Jennifer Bartlett painting hanging over the bed. I open a steel blind and peer out at what looks like a reasonably fashionable London street, though I'm not quite sure where. There are no clocks in the room so I have no idea what time it is but the way the clouds are racing past the sun above the skylight suggests it's not morning.
I call the Four Seasons asking for messages but there aren't any and a flicker of panic I think I can control starts spreading and I wash it off in the shower adjacent to the bedroom, the stall made up of pale-green and dark-gray tiles, and the bathtub Jamie and I used last night is drained, melted candles on its rim, Kiehl's products neatly lined up next to stainless-steel sinks. I dry off and take a Ralph Lauren bathrobe hanging from a hook and drape it over me before opening the door very slowly because I'm unsure of what's behind it.
I'm standing on what looks like the second floor of a three-story town house and everything is stark and functional and so open you can't really hide anywhere. I'm moving down a hallway-passing bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms, rows of empty shelves-heading toward a staircase that will take me to the first floor, and the color scheme incorporates aqua and apple and cream but ash dominates-the color of chairs and couches and comforters and desks and vases and the carpets lining the bleached oak floors-and then moving down the stairs, gripping the cold steel railing, I step into a huge open space divided in two by a series of tall steel columns and the floors are suddenly terrazzo and the windows are just cubes of opaque glass. There's a dining area where Frank Gehry chairs surround a giant Budeiri granite table below diffused lighting. There's a salmon-hued kitchen where shelves hang by steel rods and the vintage refrigerator contains yogurt, various cheeses, a tin of unopened caviar, Evian, half a round of focaccia; and in a cupboard, Captain Crunch, bottles of wine. The whole place seems transitory and it's freezing and I'm shivering uncontrollably and there's a profusion of cell phones piled on a fancy pink table and I'm thinking this is all too 1991.
The sound of Counting Crows on a stereo coming from the giant space in the middle of the house is what I'm moving toward and as I turn a steel column what comes into view is a massive pistachio-colored sofa and a big-screen TV with the volume off-Beavis and Butthead sitting rigid-along with an unplugged pinball machine standing next to a long bar made of distressed granite where two backgammon boards sit and I'm coming up behind a guy wearing a USA Polo Sport sweatshirt and baggy gray shorts hiked up a little too high and he's leaning over a computer where diagrams of airplanes keep flashing across the blue screen and on that desk is an Hermes rucksack with a copy of a book by Guy Debord hanging out of it along with various manila envelopes someone's doodled drawings of caterpillars all over. The guy turns around.
"I am freezing," he shouts. "I am f**king freezing."
Startled, I just nod and murmur, "Yeah... it's cold, man."
He's about six foot one with thick black hair cut very short and swept back, his impossibly natural-looking tan covering an underlying pink hue, and when I see those cheekbones I'm immediately thinking: Hey, that's Bobby Hughes. Dark-green eyes flash over at me and a bleachy white smile lifts up a chiseled jawline.
"Please allow me to introduce myself," he says, holding out a hand attached to a muscular forearm, bicep bulging involuntarily. I'm Bobby."
"Hey man," I say, taking it. "I'm Victor."