steve ivory (2014)

Steven Ivory

*“Jason” was a rising star at the Pasadena, California-based energy technologies firm. The single, 33 year-old executive was also the company’s biggest whore. In his three years at the company he’d slept with most of the women in the assistants pool, and was working his way into the lower executive roster.

His predacious behavior was the worst kept secret among company ranks. Jason himself, after whisking a conquest off to a weekend in Santa Barbara, Vegas, La Jolla or San Francisco, was all too willing to share with co-workers the often pornographic details.

The resourceful, hard-working Jason, who pretty much retained the chiseled 6’1 190 pound frame he had as a star college cornerback, was such an asset to the energy conglomerate that his superiors ignored—-were even amused by–the second and third hand accounts of his acting out. At the company Jason had status and a swelling measure of power.

But what he really wanted was “Tansey.”

A woman completely unlike Jason’s usual target, Tansey was a quiet but affable small town girl—-for her entry level position, she’d relocated to Southern California from her hometown of Galveston, Texas–with a big heart. In just six months, the 30 year-old had proven herself a valuable addition to the company.

Her striking looks aside (envision a demure, J.Crew-clad Rihanna), it was Tansey’s warmth and sense of empathy for others—-she helped a co-worker she barely knew find her lost Pug–that made her so attractive. The executive headhunter who got her the job was struck that Tansey’s biggest concern, aside from salary, was in finding a suitable local church to join.

“Kenneth,” Jason’s company whore competition, made a play for Tansey early on in her tenure and struck out big time-—too pushy and insistent–which made Jason want her even more. He’d bested Kenneth a year ago by bedding the gregarious “Sunshine,” nicknamed by staffers for her wardrobe of mostly yellows and pastels. Whereas Kenneth had failed, Jason strolled into a co-worker’s wedding bachelor party at an L.A. Hyatt wearing on his head lemon colored panties, presumably Sunshine’s.

Jason’s loathsome behavior was well known, which is why there was collective shock when Tansey agreed to a workday lunch with the hound dog. Everyone knew that with Jason, “lunch” is how it always began.

He played it cool, keeping the mealtime banter to Tansey’s three loves—-cooking, tennis and cats, two of which made the trip to L.A. with her.

Call it naivety. Or loneliness. Or perhaps, something else, but Tansey seemed taken by Jason’s line. Despite “all that you may have heard about me,” he said, “and I’m guilty of a lot of it, I want just one woman who truly understands me.”

That first lunch advanced to three, followed by a polite, laughter-filled after-work dinner, and ultimately, The Breakthrough: a Saturday afternoon movie, after which Jason drove Tansey to Malibu for an early dinner at a chic, seaside restaurant.

After dinner they strolled the beach. Back in Jason’s big black Benz, there was a dizzying make-out session that had Jason rising like the tide and, so he imagined, had an attention-starved Tansey’s juices flowing like the Pacific Ocean. He couldn’t be sure, because he didn’t dare attempt touching her down there and risk blowing his game.

It was tough. Seldom had Jason not gotten what he wanted from a woman immediately. He resented having to “date” Tansey. One Sunday he even went to church with her.

His restraint paid off, however: the Monday after the Malibu weekend, Tansey invited Jason to dinner at her Pasadena condo. At the office Jason had been uncharacteristically mum regarding his time with Tansey, but mentioned the dinner invite to a trusted co-worker–who quietly told others. Soon, much of the building knew Tansey was about to be Jason’s latest victim. The opportunity had been a long time coming. For his time invested, Jason was going to make Tansey pay.

Not a drinker, that Saturday night Jason showed up at Tansey’s dressed to kill in a black Armani suit and armed with two bottles of Dom Perignon, two dozen roses and an appetite for passion- filled, rough-and-tumble sex. He didn’t recognize the Tansey who answered the door in her bare feet. He couldn’t be sure if the sheer black lace thing that stopped at her ankles was lingerie or an evening gown.

For once, her dark hair was down and resting on her shoulders, framing that sweet brown face. Tansey was never big on make-up, but tonight there was only lip gloss, all of it lost when she closed the door behind Jason, pushed him against the wall and proceeded to give him a kiss for the ages.

She took the champagne and roses off his hands and graciously invited him to take a seat on the couch in a living room that, for a country girl, Jason found exquisitely mid-century appointed. Dinner, she apologized, was about 40 minutes from ready. She headed toward the kitchen. Jason observed the sway of her posterior, which reminded him—-he needed to use the bathroom. She directed him to her guest bath; he closed the door and lifted the toilet seat.

As he stood peeing, Jason reached into his jacket pocket and produced a little blue pill. In the past year, he’d been having some problems getting as erect as he liked during sex, hence the pill. He’d run out, so en route to Tansey’s, he stopped by a buddy’s place to get one. As Jason told his friend, “I wanna stand up in that shit. Obliterate it.” The Mighty Blue ensured that he’d have no problems.

Having finished peeing, Jason flushed, and still standing over the toilet, went to put the pill in his mouth, when it slipped from between his thumb and index finger. The last time Jason saw the pill, it was making its fateful swirling descent down the porcelain drain.

Frozen, his pants undone, Jason stood gazing into the now calm toilet water. He almost cried. All this work I put in, he said to himself, only to have it all go down the drain. Literally. Damn.

He considered telling Tansey something had come up and simply leaving. Then he composed himself. I can do this, he said. I’ll regroup during dinner, and be able to take care of business. Yeah. I got this.

He zipped up, washed his hands, threw some water on his face, dried himself off. Took a deep breath. He got to the entrance of the living room and was halted by the vision before him. Standing in the middle of the living room, a bottle of Dom in one hand, two glasses in the other and wearing nothing but a glazed expression, was Tansey.

“Fuck dinner,” she said.

Speechless, Jason struggled to maintain some semblance of cool. “You don’t wanna eat?”

“Did you come here for a meal or did you come to have sex?”

“Well, you did say it was your aunt’s recipe,” Jason countered nervously. “ I figured we….”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, you came to have sex,” Tansey calmly interrupted. She stood entranced, like a cat about to pounce. “So let’s do it.”

In her candle-lit bedroom, she climbed onto her king-sized bed, sat up against the headboard and watched him undress. Naked, Jason swigged from the bottle of champagne and got in bed. After nearly an hour of kissing and tugging and gyrating, the only thing Jason achieved was intoxication.

Exhausted from trying hard not to think hard about performance, a mortified Jason hid his face in Tansey’s bosom. Tenderly she cradled him, running her hand over his closely cropped hair as they embraced in uneasy silence, bathed in slivers of light from a full moon that managed to beam through half open plantation shutters.

When he woke up in Tansey’s bed late Sunday morning, she wasn’t in it. Instead, on a pillow there was a note: “Gone to church. My turn to direct the Sunday school class, then a day full of errands.” Translation: “I won’t return home until you are gone. Please leave.”

Jason got dressed, split and spent the day blowing up Tansey’s cell. She wasn’t answering. He began to panic. What would she do with the story of Saturday night? Who would she tell? They had to resolve this before Monday.

Finally, at about 10 PM Sunday night, came a text: “I am sorry. I know you are sorry. Let us leave it there.”

Jason read that text over and again throughout the evening, conjuring an unsettled solace in her words. On Saturday night, he was emotionally castrated, while Tansey’s apparently closely-held freak flag had been unfurled. Both were in possession of dangerous information. Jason was worried. How would she play this at the office?

His question was answered Monday morning when Tansey, hair up and meticulously J.Crewed down, strode down the hall past the floor-to-ceiling glass wall that was Jason’s spectacular office as he conducted a meeting with three executives. Without slowing her stride, she waved, smiled and blew him a kiss. He smiled broadly and winked.

“Saturday must have been absolutely off the hook,” Kenneth said through a wry grin.

“You have absolutely no idea,” said Jason, his tone somewhere between fake bravado and his very real fear. “None.”

Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]