The New Year

I’ve had some memorable New Year’s Eve is my time. I’ve watched the ball drop in Times Square with tens of thousands of other revelers. I even snuck in backstage and met Beyonce. In my early twenties, I attended one of Thailand’s infamous full moon parties, danced in the sand until dawn then sang ‘Auld Lang Syne with a troupe of Welsh rugby lads over a drone of electronic noise. I’ve been to my share of costumed dos, including one for the advent of the much-hyped Y2K phenomenon, where I was dressed as a femme-bot. But compared to last New Year’s all these others seem to pale in comparison. And that’s no mean feat considering I spent several hours, including the countdown, stuck in an elevator.

I’d been living and working in London for about nine months. Having arrived at the bitter end of one winter, enjoyed the brief, ecstatic respite of the English summer, I was looking forward to my first festive season. As a jazz singer, London was a good place to find work, and December had proven to be a particularly lucrative month. I had booked nearly ten Christmas parties, mostly corporates, so very well paid. One of them had led to a follow-up offer, the New Year’s soiree for one of the big investment groups headquartered in Canary Wharf.

The building was a metal and glass monstrosity, its forecourt cluttered with ugly brass corporate art statues. It’s 80s ultra-modern aesthetic looked dated next to some of the newer constructions nearby. In its thirties, the building showed its age on closer inspection (but then I suppose most of us in our thirties do). A few of the glass tiles were missing from the façade. One of the neons in the company logo flickered in its struggle to maintain brand recognition. The lobby’s off-white walls were a little worn and grubby looking. But they were pay was fantastic – £800 for two hours! If they could afford those kinds of rates they could probably stretch for some maintenance, even a new coat of paint. Maybe it was on the cards for the new year.

I met Manny, my pianist, in the lobby at half-past seven. Showtime was eight o’clock. We were to play a couple of sets then knock off at ten. My plan was to catch a cab to a friend’s house party in Clapham, then maybe hit the clubs in King’s Cross and West End. Maybe not my most adventurous New Year’s, but should be fun, I thought. Anyway, I reasoned, it was like any other evening – only as good as you made it.

“You’re looking nice, lass,” Manny said as I took off my overcoat to reveal a long burgundy evening dress made of figure-hugging chiffon, with a thigh-revealing slit on one side of the flowing skirt. Sometimes I got the impression that the Scotsman wanted to show me what was under his kilt. But in light of his advancing years, I got the sense he knew he wasn’t really in with a shot, and his affection assumed a paternal air. After a few post-performance scotches, he could get a little protective and would shoot the evil eye at any man who came up and offered to buy me a drink or to compliment me on my voice.

It was kind of sweet really if a little irritating at times. The Hell of a piano player though, with a lot of good contacts. I leaned in to kiss him on the cheek and he offered to take my coat. We sauntered through to the service elevator, which we didn’t really need to, given we had no gear to lug with us (a Beale baby grand and a full P.A. set up would be awaiting our arrival, we were assured), but it was the force of habit I suppose, to see ourselves not so much as guests but working professionals – there to do a job, not to rub shoulders with the punters. Or if there was any shoulder-rubbing involved, only so much as the job required.

The lift lurched into action hesitantly as we began our slow ascent, the thick, padded material hung from the walls swung a little from its hooks.

“Plans for after the show?” Manny asked over the whirr and grind of the elevator’s mechanics.

“Yeah, might head to a party on the other side of town. You?”

“Keeping my options open…” Manny said, circumspect. “Whose party is it? Anyone, I know?”

Before I had to deal with the awkwardness of his attempt to get an invite, the elevator jolted to a halt and the doors ground open. A couple of wait staff in crisp white shirts entered pushing an empty trolley. One of them, a young cocky looking guy with long hair tied in a ponytail, a flesh-colored band-aid covering his eyebrow piercing, looked me up and down as I brushed past. Manny scowled.

The penthouse level was impressive and opulent. Its black marble floors, mirrored ceilings, and full-length windowed walls made up for the shabbiness of some other parts of the building. Like many of the guests, the room held its age well. I suppose it didn’t get as much use as other rooms, being a place for special occasions.

I looked out past the crowd of well-heeled guests in their eveningwear to our stage set up in the far corner of the room. A large red-carpeted platform the shape of a wedge slotted in against the clear join in the clear glass walls. It looked solid, with a small set of stair leading up to it. A baby grand piano polished to a brilliant shine sat lengthways down the center of the wedge. Near the middle of the curved front was my microphone and stand. I nudged Manny, who was clumsily trying to extricate a canapé from a waiter’s hovering tray, and we walked over to set up.

As we wove our way through the crowd of well-fed middle-aged finance types – men with paunches and pattern baldness – and their incongruously pretty wives, beautiful forty-somethings (plus the odd Barbie doll in her twenties, sure), wearing designer silks, black and inky blue, rich and flowing. The bottom half, a picture of austerity, barely revealing pointed, black shoes, made me question my slit-sided ensemble.

The top half was where they displayed their flesh, in the form of varying degrees of décolletage: plump white flesh pressed together and showcased from the scooped and scalloped fabric, or perhaps poking through like a couple of crescent moons through a keyhole neckline. Many of the ladies, as if compelled simultaneously by modesty and its opposite, wore lavishly opulent pendants and diamond necklaces, which served to obscure the suggestion of breasts.

I was almost stopped in my tracks by one dame, in a backless black number (a Pierre Cardin, I think) who wore one such amazing creation. Boasting what was at least a five-carat ruby at its center, bordered by about a dozen diamonds, at last, a carat each, the piece radiated up toward her collarbones in a network of fine white gold, dotted with more diamonds and rubies, like lesser heavenly bodies in orbit around a massive red sun.

Struggling to keep the expression on my face calm, serene, full of purpose, I refocused my attention to the stage in the corner, my calling. And I bumped shoulders with someone. I instinctively turned to apologize but became speechless upon first sight of him.

Maybe in another setting, he wouldn’t have taken my breath away as he did. Maybe my opinion of him was elevated by his favorable comparison to the generally bloated, graying mass of men in the room. But he was definitely a handsome man. I gauged his age as mid-thirties, but he could have been a young-looking forty-something. His glossy black hair was streaked with the odd silver strand and combed in an old-school part. In contrast, his eyes were a surprising watery blue color. His face was long and lean, and you could see the movement of his jaw muscle as he listened intently to the pot-bellied man talking to him.

His clothes looked expensive without seeming pretentious. While most of the other male guests had shed their jackets, some even going as far as loosening the top buttons, he was donning a smart pinstriped waistcoat over his immaculately pressed Italian cotton shirt. He was over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a lean, wiry look to him. A boxer’s build.

“Excuse me,” he said, looking down to find my eye line. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” he segued seamlessly from apology to introduction.

I stammered something about being the musical entertainment. I can’t remember if I told him my name. I remember him telling me he was Patrick. There was a slight Irish lilt to his accent. That explained his unusual hair and eye color combination, I thought. I’ve always had a soft spot for Irish men.

He told me to break a leg, and I almost did, stumbling as I negotiated the little staircase, my attention elsewhere, still searching for him among the jumble of bodies. I told myself to snap out of it. I had a job to do.

“Test, testing,” I muttered into the microphone while Manny adjusted the levels on a P.A sitting in the corner, right up against the clear glass wall. In between twisting the nobs, Manny would glance nervously out the glass wall, fighting vertigo at the sight of the world below. He gave me a quick thumbs up and rushed back to the relative safety of his piano stool.

I took a moment to have a brief confab with Manny.

“Misty for starters?” I asked. He nodded, still a little pale.

“Didn’t know you were afraid of heights. I thought Scots was fearless,” I teased.

“Man was nae built to live up here,” he replied.

I walk right up to the wall and put my fingers to the glass. I suppose it was showing off a little

I saw a taller building out on the flank to the left, its gleaming blue glass shooting up and out of frame. Smaller giants out to our right in a clutter. You could see car taillights moving slowly on the street below, even people probably if you looked hard enough. Then beyond that the dark, greasy Thames.

“Look at me,” I sang, and he did look, those clear blue eyes visible above the crowd thanks to his tall stature. He raised his whiskey glass in the air, toasting me. “I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree…” I croon, with eyes only for him. He was returning my efforts too, excusing himself from his conversation with the pot-bellied man, and found a vantage point at a remove from his peers, swaying gently with the music and tapping his foot in time.

Four songs into our first set, buoyed by the warm reception from my mystery man-fan, I noticed the cocky-looking waiter from the elevator saunter into view carrying a tray of drinks. He sidled up to my tall dark-haired beau, his tray held low and loose, his body language screaming “I don’t give a fuck”, and plucked the now empty tumbler from his hand. He plonked it on the tray nonchalantly, then turned to the stage, posturing as an invited guest, staring insolently into my eyes as I sang. He turned and said something to my crush beside him, whose jaw muscle flickered with tension in response. I saw the taller man look down at the other, and utter a few crisp syllables with a disdainful look on his face. A short sharp blast of air from the ponytailed waiter’s nose caused his nostrils to flare derisively, and he departed, the empty glasses sliding perilously to and fro on his carelessly clutched tray.

I wonder what was said. Was it about me? Some lewd remark designed to elicit a blokey, backslapping connection? If it was, Patrick was having none of it. I had felt pleasure riffle through my body as I imagined his cool retort: “That’s no way to talk about a lady, you cretin…” or “Learn some manners you worm, or I’ll teach you some…”

After a couple more numbers Manny gestured to me with a shaking of his hand, it’s time for drinks break, and I excused our duo over the microphone. Manny made a beeline for the bar.

“Get you anything lass?” he asked me over the crowd’s polite applause.

I was about to answer when I saw what was by then a familiar ponytail gently swishing in my peripheral vision. The cocky waiter strode into view, now carrying a tray full of champagne.

“I’m fine thanks, Manny.” My pianist grunted, and hobbled off to the bar for what I assumed was a double on the rocks. I turned to the young man with regally raised eyebrows.

“Would the lady care for a champagne?” he asked in a slightly mocking tone, then smiled, revealing a pair of impish dimples. I hadn’t really given it much thought, consumed as I was by the charming Irishman, but this boy was really quite cute. A strand of his slightly wavy hair had escaped the rubber band that held it back and had fallen down over his face. He brushed it out of the way with his free hand, which I noticed was large and long-fingered, with what looked like the calluses of a guitar player.

“Hmm,” I said. “I suppose if it wouldn’t be too unprofessional to drink on the job…” I’m half flirting with him, half looking past him to the true object of my desire, my tall, dark glass of Irish whiskey, who I notice leaning against the bar, eyeing me over the rim of his highball glass.

“Maybe for me, a lowly waiter, but you’re the talent. Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and all that. Treat yourself,” the waiter says, all dimples and teeth.

“Oh yeah, that’s me, rock’n’roll,” I laugh.

“Big plans for this evening?” he asks, almost in a whisper as he leans in a little closer.

“Oh you know, probably do the rounds to a few parties, maybe go clubbing after…”

“See where the night takes you eh?”

I nodded my head, but didn’t make eye contact; still staring past him to Patrick, who’s fixed me with a sly grin from the bar. I felt a flush start to creep up my neck. It’s sleeting outside, but inside it’s warm, almost

“Yes… See where the night takes me. But I’m not young like you, sometimes it’s hard to stay up past my usual bedtime without some kind of stimulation…” I was flirting with Patrick by proxy, mumbling rubbish to this cheeky boy with the ponytail and dimples while the main cause of my desire watched me with an unsettling stillness from across the room.

In hindsight, it’s kind of funny, if a little creepy, how the cheeky waiter misinterpreted the type of stimulation I had in mind. Because he leaned even closer, his head right into my ear, and whispered: “I think I can help you with that my dear.” I was looking right past him, half in a daze, at Patrick, who appeared to be chuckling slightly at the sight of this slip of a man flirting with me. I returned the sentiment with a sheepish grin. The waiter meanwhile, I saw out of the corner of my eye, was fishing in his pocket for something. Then my heart skipped a beat as Patrick turned his back on me, on the scene, and walked off to join a circle of portly gents, no doubt discussing sums of money beyond my wildest imagination.

“Here you are, my dear,” the waiter said, holding out a flute of champagne with a look of pride that was almost endearing. I watched the bubbles surging through the turgid, golden liquid, mesmerized for a split second. It may have been the bubbliest glass of bubbly I’d ever seen. Then I took it from him without a word and quickly tipped the entire glass down my throat in one quick gulp.

Reeling a little from the champagne head-rush, enjoying his shocked look, I strutted back to the stage.

“Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll hey,” I said, turning to wink at him. Yes, I actually winked.

“Indeed,” he said, still a little stunned.

~

The rest of the show went well. I felt pretty good. In control. There’d be no more eyelash fluttering, demure looks, and slushy ballads for Patrick’s benefit. I was the star here, after all. All eyes were on me.

I upped the banter a bit, cracked a few jokes for the crowd. I got Manny to bash out more up-tempo numbers – some Ray Charles, a few boogie-woogie blues tracks, even pulled Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’. As the night wore on, the punters got drunker and my set-list rowdier, the slightly stuffy crowd were starting to cut loose a bit. A small but prominent rabble of dancers had materialized near stage left, and proceeded to shuffle, twist, and gyrate drunkenly in their stiff leather dress shoes and heels.

I was having so much fun I lost track of time. I heard Manny clearing his throat and turned to see him tapping at his watch.

“Well, I’m sad to say it, ladies and gentlemen. It’s almost time for us to say goodbye,” I said, eliciting some melodramatic boos and implorations from the dancing rabble.

“So, in the spirit of farewells, it’s been a pleasure to say goodbye to this year past with you, and may you all greet the new year with someone you love,” I looked straight at Patrick as I say this, who had moved closer to the stage, his head standing out over the drunken dancers. It’s then that I noticed that most of the crowd had stopped their conversations and nearly all the eyes in the room are on me, including those of a certain dimpled waiter.

Manny breaks the hush with the opening chords of our usual finale – ‘Every time We Say Goodbye’ done in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. I suppose it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but I have to confess I got a little emotional singing it, and I think some of the crowd did too. Within a few bars the drunken rabble was swaying side to side, some of the couples clasped in a sentimental close dance. I saw one balding guy in his fifties, his head rested on the shoulder of his much taller date, eyes closed and singing along as he nuzzled closer to her bosom, like a fat, tired child being nursed off to sleep.

Even Patrick seemed to have a slight sheen to his eyes. There was a look on his face, not quite sadness, but perhaps the slightest indecision. Almost as if he were weighing up whether he would try to talk to me after the show, which of course, I sincerely hoped he would. The only person who wasn’t seeming to afford this poignant end of year scene its due respect was, you guessed it, my ponytailed waiter friend, who I spied out of the corner of my eye, making himself scarce near the thick, red velvet curtains, quaffing stolen champagne and smirking in my direction.

When I turned back to my more appreciative audience to deliver the final lilting bars, I noticed Patrick’s broad back receding into the distance as he weaved his way through the crowd, and to my dismay, he was arm-in-arm with another woman – stately looking blonde in a beige dress, like a second skin. I didn’t really get a look at her, but I noticed that on her right arm alone she wore a net value of gold that probably doubled my income over the last year and then some. I felt a lump forming in my throat as I struggled through the dying phrase.

“How strange, the change from major to minor. Every time we say, goodbye…” As I sang the farewell, I looked out longingly at Patrick and his lady friend, who seemed to be laughing hysterically in his ear. He turned his head and cast me what I thought was a final, parting glance.

I got off stage as quickly as I could, muttering a few obligatory pleasantries, popped the mic back in the stand, and skulked off stage, quite dejected. This wasn’t like me. I mean sure, Patrick was handsome and everything, and I’d quite enjoyed our little non-verbal dalliances across the crowded ballroom, but it wasn’t like I was in love with him or anything. I didn’t even know the guy. Shit, I’d had a deeper conversation with the ponytailed waiter, and I wouldn’t have shed any tears if I’d seen him snatched up by some predatory cougar woman, or off snogging one of the bar girls in a broom closet. Would I?

Something strange was happening. I felt flushed, heat rising from my chest, my head numb and foggy, but not in an unpleasant way. Some champagne I thought. I didn’t know whether I wanted to laugh or cry, but I felt good regardless. Happy New Year’ me, I found myself saying out loud, to no one in particular.

“What was that dear?” now I’m somehow at the bar. Manny’s beside me, drink already in hand. “Oh nothing,” I say, a little loudly.

“Cannae get a drink. Water maybe?”

Shit, I think. I must look a bit out of sorts if the Scotsman’s offering me water on New Year’s Eve. I gave a ‘don’t worry’ wave of my hand, grabbed my handbag off the bar, and mumble something about going to the ladies’. Manny nodded gravely and resumed his drinking.

Walking along the marbled floor in my heels, enjoying the clicking rhythm they make on the hard surface, I’m struck by an impulse to break into a run, to rush out of the building and unleash myself on the night. To make London my playground, dance, and shout and drink long into the night. I reached the carpeted corridor, a little disappointed at the now muted footfalls my stilletos suddenly produced. I wanted to get out of there, and a glance back in the direction of the elevator confirmed I wasn’t the only one. A knot of people, notably the younger guests in the crowd, were chatting impatiently, checking their watches as they waited for the lift to ascend.

No point trying to squeeze into that tin of sardines, I thought, then hatched a brilliant plan. I’d exit as I entered in the service lifts, which were bound to be less crowded. The party was starting to wind down, but most of the board members, their long-suffering spouses, and brown-nosers were making of a show of staying at least until the countdown. Thrilled at my ingenuity, I almost ran along the corridor, past the bathrooms, around a corner to the service lifts opposite the swinging doors that accommodated the kitchen.

Barely had I pressed the down button on the elevator when I heard a gruff voice yelling from beyond the kitchen double doors.

“…take yer fuckin’ shit-eating grin somewhere else you smarmy prick!” This is a burly chef in checkered pants and a grease-stained white shirt. And the recipient of such an appraisal? Well, you guessed, old mate with the ponytail and dimples, who’s been hurled out through the swinging doors like a grifter from a saloon in an old Western film. He remained silent, regarding the chef with a half-amused look that I suspect he knows would cause more irritation than any words would.

He was turning with a snort and ripping off his black bow tie when he saw me. He raised his eyebrows in greeting, then quickly ripped off the band-aid concealing his piercing, which was one of those little bars that go through the eyebrow. It had little points on either end, like spiky devil horns. Perfect for the cheeky little devil, I thought.

He sauntered a few steps over to the elevator, pulling up beside me, his hands tucked behind his back, tapping his foot in an impersonation of someone waiting for an elevator. He held up his left wrist, like a man checking his watch, except he didn’t have a watch. I couldn’t help but laugh, and when I did, he smiled broadly, showing those dimples.

“I suppose that’s not your ‘shit-eating grin’?” I asked.

“No. Just my regular grin. Prick,” he said, suddenly serious. I was almost offended until I realize he’s talking about the chef. My new friend reaches below his apron and pulls out a hip-flask-sized bottle of a brown liquid. “Oh well, I don’t feel so bad about taking this now.” He laughed, then added quickly. “So, where are we going tonight?”

Just as I was raising my eyebrows and giving him a “hmm” for his presumption – half-disapproving, half-flirtatious – a ‘ding’ sounded. The elevator shuddered as it stopped, and the doors labored open, revealing a sight I wasn’t expecting.

Patrick stood alone, an expression of intent on his face. He was about to stride out into the corridor but then he saw me, and his expression change from one of a mild shock to something else. Relief? Delight?

My head was still reeling and the sight of Patrick only made the sensation stronger. I felt the hot tingly flush move down my bare neck, over my breast, and settle in my abdomen and groin. A feeling somewhat like pre-show butterflies, but nicer. A sensual feeling. I wished that he’d take me in his arms then and there, bend down to kiss me on the mouth, then work his way over the rest of my body…

“I’m glad I found you,” he said. I almost replied “Me too!” but then I remembered the woman in the beige dress, and a momentary but potent pang of jealously consumed me. “Oh,” I replied, trying my best to sound aloof, before adding. “I thought you’d left with someone else.” I immediately regretted this reply. I must have sounded like a stalker or something…

Patrick looks up like he’s searching his memory. “Ah, ok. No, I didn’t leave with her. I did see a colleague of mine who’d had a bit too much to drink to a cab. But then I came back because I wanted to compliment you on a great show,” he said calmly.

I felt pretty silly for carrying on like a jealous teenager and was pretty sure I blushed a deep crimson and gave a daft smile. So he was just being a gentleman.

“Ahem! Hate to interrupt this reunion, but are either of you actually going to catch the lift now?” I had completely forgotten the waiter, who was keeping the lift door open with a scuffed Doc Marten.

Patrick and I looked at each other.

“I was just heading…” I said.

“Perhaps I could see you out…”

“That would be…”

“GREAT!” the waiter shouted, his earlier flirtation replaced with a detached frustration, as he released his foot and rushed inside. I sensed he’d given up on the idea of taking me home.

Patrick stepped back and I enter the lift and stand beside him. The waiter, no sign of those dimples anymore, slouched in the far corner texting on his phone. Working on Plan Bs no doubt. He stabbed the button for the lobby violently with his finger and the elevator slowly came to life.

As it sank I felt as though part of me was lagging behind, hovering above somewhere in the ether. I really was feeling very strange, far beyond what one glass of champagne could explain. The lift gathered momentum and I lost my footing a little, reaching out for Patrick’s arm to steady me. He responded by firmly gripping my elbow.

“Are you okay?” he asked, concerned. But before I could reply there was a sudden clanging jolt, and everything faded to black…

~

When I come to I am lying on the elevator floor, cushioned by a layer of thick, soft wool. I look up and see two mens’ faces hovering over me, faintly visible in the glow of a cigarette lighter and a mobile phone.

“Felicity. Are you alright?” Patrick asks. He’s not wearing his overcoat, as he was earlier. I realize I must be lying on it. I wonder how long I have been out for.

“Yes,” I manage to utter in reply. “I’m okay.” But I’m still feeling very strange. Beyond the men’s faces in the pitch dark, I can see little explosions of light, like twinkling stars.

“Twinkle twinkle little star…” I find myself singing for no reason, then laugh like a child. Patrick looks at me apprehensively.

“The elevator broke down,” he says, and I remember we are in an elevator. “The jolt made you fall over. You must have bumped your head,” he says and then touches my hair gently. I feel a current of tingles run through my hair to my scalp. I hear the other man, who’s slunk back off to the corner of the space, laugh derisively.

Bumped her head, more like off her head…” he mutters as he bashes at the intercom button with frustration. “Hello! Anybody there?!”

“Cool it, man,” Patrick says evenly. “If it isn’t working belting it won’t help.”

“Wait,” I say, raising myself up on one elbow. “What do you mean, off my head?”

I’m staring at the waiter in the corner, or rather, peering through the dark in his general direction. I hear the shuffling of feet. He clears his throat, as if sheepish.

“Well, I didn’t think you’d down it all at once, did I? Anyway, I only put a half in there…”

A half, I thought, half a what?

“What was in that champagne?” I ask, a tremor in my voice. Patrick has stood up now, and faces the cornered man.

“Just a little bit of you know, ecstasy…”

“You what? You drugged me?” I’m standing now, outraged. I try to rush at him but Patrick intervenes, grabbing me gently under my arms.

“Hey, hang on lady. You were the one talking about stimulants and all that. I thought you knew. I dropped it in there right in front of you!”

I try to remember the exchange he’s talking about. Oh yeah, my line about needing some stimulation to stay up past my bedtime. He dug around in his pockets for something. I really mustn’t have been paying attention. That’s right, I was looking at Patrick the whole time. Gorgeous, tall, strong Patrick, whose large strong hands are right this moment clasping my sides, just inches from my heaving breasts.

I can hardly remember why I’m angry anymore. I feel fantastic again, despite the fact that I’m stuck in an elevator at ten past 11 on New Year’s Eve with two near-strangers, stupefied by a class A drug I took without knowing. I supposed that’s why they call it ecstasy, I think, then giggle.

I might not be angry anymore but I can’t say the same for Patrick. He’s let go of me and now has the waiter clasped by his shirtfront while he whispers threateningly.

“If anything happens to this lady you little punk, you’ll have me to deal with. What the fuck were you thinking? Spiking her drink while you’re being paid to work? Imagine what it’s like for her stuck in here…”

I put my hand gently on his strong shoulder and stroke it gently.

“Patrick, let him be. It’s okay. I don’t think he meant it in a creepy way,” I say gently.

The cheeky waiter has taken the opportunity to duck out of Patrick’s grip and rush to the opposite corner of the lift.

“Told you mate. Lay your hands on me again and I’ll have my lawyer on you…”

Patrick just laughs at his lame threat.

“Really, he’s not dangerous,” I continue in defense. “He’s just…” I walk over to the young man cowering in the corner. “What’s your name anyway?”

“Simon.”

“Simon’s just, well, a bit stupid. Haha, simple Simon,” I break out into a fit of hysterics.

Sensing Simon’s scowl, I return to the center of the floor and sit on the overcoat Patrick gallantly laid out for me earlier.

“So, I gather the situation is that the intercom is broken and nobody’s mobile phone has a reception in here?” I put out to the room, rooting through my bag to find my mobile, which confirms my suspicions. There’s a murmur of confirmation from Patrick and Simon.

“Well I suppose all there is for it is to get as comfortable as possible and wait until one of the staff figures out something is wrong,” I say as I stretch out luxuriantly on the ground, squirming shamelessly with pleasure as I stretch out my limbs, feeling the soft caress of Patrick’s wool coat on my bare arms, between the slit in my dress.

I laugh despite myself, feeling their eyes on me. In a way, I’m happy to be high at this time. If I weren’t it could be incredibly awkward, dealing with the whole ‘will they, won’t they do it’ elephant-in-the-room. I mean, what are the odds of ending up stuck in an elevator on New Year’s Eve with two handsome men? It could be worse, I think.

I reach for my phone and switch on the torch app, setting it face-down on the floor. I beckon to Patrick to join me and he does, taking a seat some elegantly and adding his own phone to my mood-lit scene.

“Come join us, Simon, don’t sulk,” I tease. There’s no reply.

“Oh don’t be like that, no hard feelings… Oh! Come and share that bottle with us!” I shriek delightedly, remembering the little ‘retirement gift’ he swiped for himself.

“I’ll come if he promises not to pull any more macho bullshit…” Simon says, like a sullen teenager.

I look at Patrick, gazing into those clear blue eyes, which stare back at me – part concern, part amusement, and part something else. Excitement?

“What do you say, Patrick? Promise to play nice with Simon?”

Patrick doesn’t say anything, just gives a single resolute nod.

“Good. He says yes, now bring that bottle over here.”

Simon shuffles over, then sits down to my right, sandwiching me between him and Patrick. Simon pulls out the bottle and uncaps it.

“I was going to save this for a special occasion, but that’ll have to do,” he says, then takes a quick nip, before passing it to me. I take the bottle and begin to raise it to my lips, but then Patrick stops me.

“Maybe you should lay off the alcohol. You don’t want to dehydrate yourself when you’ve taken that stuff.”

He shoots a little look in Simon’s direction. The younger man nods in agreement.

“Yeah, I s’pose best not to risk it.”

I shrug as Patrick eases the bottle from my hand and takes a long swig for himself, then passes it back to Simon. The men go round for round a couple of times and I watch on, increasingly impatient with each passing second. I desperately want to move, to dance, scream, jump, drink, fuck, anything. I need to do something, not necessarily go anywhere but prove to myself that I am alive, to express myself through physical movement.

I snatch up my phone and put on my exercise playlist. The mp3s start blaring out of the tiny speakers filling the silent elevator with a tinny sound. I stand up, kick off my heels, and begin to shimmy and shake.

“Is she fucking serious?” Simon says through a whisky grimace. He passes the bottle to Patrick and I continue to bop about to the strains of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’. I notice Patrick arches his eyebrows in reply, reserving judgment. Simon perseveres:

“I mean, c’mon, you’re supposed to be a jazz musician for Christ’s sake. And you’re listening to this trash?” he snorts derisively.

“Oh don’t be such a hipster,” I laugh. “Besides, I liked Mags before she was cool,” I say, leaning down and tapping the skip button, cueing a song which I know will make Simon’s too-cool blood boil.

I come home in the morning light, my mother says when you gonna live your life right… the phone blares.

“Oh, fucking kill me now!” Simon says, his head sinking into his palms melodramatically.

Patrick shifts forward and snatches up the bottle sitting at Simon’s feet. “Oh come on man, as the lady in the song says…” And then he croons along with his irresistible Irish lilt to Cyndi Lauper’s famous lyric:

“Girls just wanna have fu-un…” I squeal with laughter and snatch Patrick by the arm, pulling him to his feet and making him dance with me in the dark elevator.

“I’m going to need that bottle back,” Simon groans.

“Come and get it,” I hear Patrick shoot back. I’ve pulled him into a clinch, my head resting on his firm chest. His hands are resting lightly on my waist, one of them still clasping the bottle. I feel the flesh of his empty palm hot and heavy, with the slightest tremor. Before I was the nervous one, but now I am completely at ease. And it wasn’t just the drug that did it, I was sure. This was my evening, my time to take what I wanted from life.

Simon launches himself to his feet and I feel the brush of his hand on my waist as he snatches away the bottle. I slink out of Patrick’s gentlemanly grasp and turn to the younger man.

“Come on Simon. Join the party!” and I grab his left hand while he drinks from the bottle with his right. “Twirl me!” I command. He does so begrudgingly, and I finish my pirouette facing Patrick, who’s now leaning against the wall. His face is an attempt at nonchalance, but I detect the slightest trace of jealousy in his easy smile.

“Don’t worry boys, you can both dance with me,” I shout, and drag Patrick by his hands to the center of the lift. I begin to dance with them both, my moves racier now, as I begin to bend down at the knees, shimmying and pressing my front into Patrick and occasionally bumping and grinding my bum into Simon behind me.

Simon’s responding to my moves, beginning to get into the spirit of things. Patricks is a little more reserved, by when I press my chest and stomach against him and move slowly and deliberately down, I can feel a firming bulge through the crotch of his trousers. I know he wants me, and I him. Then and there, but how can we do this, with another man watching, I ask myself. I only know of one possible answer.

The song ends and I drop to the floor in a fit of giggles. Simon’s laughing too now and drops down on the ground next to me. Patrick has turned away and is pacing the elevator, a little pensively. I frown as I feel a hand on my stockinged leg. Simon is working for his hand up from my ankle my calves, his fingertips brushing me lightly, the burred tips of his calluses catching on the nylon.

“Patrick,” I say gently. He turns to me with an almost wan expression. “Won’t you sit down?” He obliges and sits cross-legged near my head. I am reclining on my side like a Roman aristocrat while Simon continues to playfully caress my legs. I don’t mind, in fact, it feels quite nice in my heightened state, sending ticklish shivers running up towards my womanhood.

Simon’s touching is piquing a desire in me that I know only Patrick can fully satisfy. Not that I would mind seeing how the younger specimen would perform, but if it came to a choice, I would choose Patrick; handsome, powerful, experienced Patrick. I discover myself absent-mindedly stroking his staunch thigh through the wool of his suit pants. I feel him twitch a little and stiffen at the touch (not that kind of stiffening, it would seem from the visible bulge extruding an impressive distance from his fly as though that had already occurred).

“Felicity,” he says huskily, a catch in his voice. “This seems wrong…” As he speaks he’s eyeing Simon warily, who has raised himself up onto his knees and begun to rub my thigh through the slit in my dress.

“Look Patrick,” I say, almost in a whisper. “It’s not like I’ve done this kind of thing before…” My hand is inching closer to his hard-on, which is pulsing now, causing the fabric of his trousers to tauten with every heartbeat. “But it’s New Year’s Eve, it looks like we’re stuck here, and if I can’t fuck you soon I think I’m going to go insane,” I finish, matter-of-factly.

I’m pretty much telling the truth. I’ve never had a three-way with two guys before, not to say I have experimented with group sex at all. When I lived in New York I had a rather terrible ménage à trois with my ex (that is both ex-manager and ex-boyfriend) and another woman. We were going through relationship problems at the time, with most of the problems stemming from the fact that he was a bastard with a wandering eye. He’d somehow managed to talk me into hopping into bed with him and one of the other singers in his stable – some stuck-up pop-singer wannabe who ended up dating him after I left.

The end result was that all I got out of it was half the attention from him, some nasty looks and passive-aggressive advice from her on how to pleasure a man, and the opportunity to watch some other woman giving my boyfriend a blowjob, then get fucked by him while he half-heartedly played with my breasts.

Patrick regards me with a look of near wry amusement. I worry for a moment that I have gone too far, made him lose respect for me. But then I think fuck it. This is a one-night-only kind of thing. I’m not a damsel in distress, I do not need some Prince Charming to come and rescue me. I need an orgasm, or maybe two. Maybe two men are just what the doctor ordered…

I inch my hand closer to what I estimate is Patrick’s eight and a half inches of Irish charm. “Well, if that’s what the lady wants,” he sighs with desire, then leans in to kiss me on the mouth. He begins with gentle painterly brushes of his lips against mine, then introduces his tongue with a spearing motion, exploring my mouth, encircling my own with his, and sending a cataclysm of shivers down my spine. He tastes like fine single malt with the faintest whiff of a fine Cuban cigar. The potent, masculine flavors explode on my palate, making me draw away and gasp for air. I lick my lips, infusing the musty tang with the sweet taste of my Napoleon Perdis lipstick.

Patrick has moved on to new territory, moving his mouth down to kiss my neck. I feel the slight stubble on his chin graze the delicate skin, contrasting with the soft warmth of his tongue and lips as he licks and sucks on my throat. I let out a squeal of delight as Patrick plants a love bite on me like a teenage crush. Meanwhile, Simon, buoyed on by our kissing, is slowly peeling off my stockings with a skill beyond his years. I feel like that piece of spaghetti from the ‘Lady and the Tramp’ – like I’m being gobbled up from opposite ends, and it feels fantastic (though I don’t think Patrick and Simon will be kissing each other if they meet at the middle of me…).

Patrick begins to unzip the back of my dress; just enough to unclasp my bra and remove it. My breasts pop out inside my dress, my diamond-hard nipples colliding with the slightly rough chiffon, sending tingles of delight radiating through my core. Simon’s done away with one of my stockings and is halfway through the other when I prop myself up onto all fours, nearly taking out Simon as I mule-kick free the stocking dangling from my foot.

“Hey,” he says. “You almost got me.” I turn back to him.

“Serves you right you cheeky boy,” I tease. I sense him grinning, a little uncertain how to take my patronizing pillow talk. “Well come on. Why don’t you have a look at what’s under the dress…”

I look back to Patrick, who’s halfway through removing his shirt. He’s paused at the button just below his sternum, his muscular chest completely bared. It’s a sight to behold: his pectorals are taught and lean, with a gap between them covered in a light smattering of hair. Where his chest muscles meet the bone of his rib cage you can see slight slight indentations between the individual muscle fibers.

Sensing his hesitation, I lean forward and continue unbuttoning for him. I quickly remove his shirt while at the other end of me, Simon is yanking down my red lacy underwear and working them down my thighs. I grasp Patrick’s hand with mine and lead it towards my chest, placing it on top of my right breast. He starts to massage and play with it, then the other, and I can sense he is beginning to enjoy himself. His mighty erection is straining against the crotch of his trousers, its tip moving rhythmically like a conductor’s baton.

I quickly unclasp Patrick’s belt buckle, simultaneously giving a little shuffle of my knees, allowing Simon to work my lacy undies completely off. I feel the waiter’s roughened hands move slowly up my bare legs to my exposed cunt. He’s taking his time; it’s his turn to tease me. The drug has changed gear now. Whereas before I was bouncing off the walls, unable to string a sentence together without giggling, now I’m filled with a renewed clarity and focus.

The heightened sense of pleasure has intensified if such a thing were possible, and the anticipation of what’s to follow has me every fiber taught with desire. I feel Simon’s fingers breach the apex of my dress’s slit, and creep their way onto my upper thigh. When his spidery hand crawls down towards my quivering sex, and he slips a long bony middle finger inside me, up to the second join, it sends a shudder running all the way down the length of my being. The sensation arches my spine like a shock wave as it emanates through me, resolving as a sound from my mouth something like an A-flat.

I’ve already freed Patrick’s bulge from his trousers, working them down his legs enough to gain access. The thin layer of his cottony fronts is all that stands between him and what I am finding out is a cock so large it’s almost intimidating. It’s visible through his briefs like a plaster mold, lying flat against his abdomen and waistline, its pulsating head stretching out to the right and almost wrapping around behind him, like a belt. I waste no more time in ripping his final layer away, with the glee of a girl who’s won ‘pass the parcel’.

His cock springs out and wavers from side to side, like a javelin that’s just broken ground, before settling in place, ramrod straight, waiting for my attention. Usually, I’m not the kind of girl to get straight to business like this. Ordinarily, I’d slowly make my way to the final goal, planting a trail of kisses along his thigh before gently teasing his head with a fluttering of my tongue and coy, peck-like kisses. But not now. Moved by the power of the drug, my lust and a desire to please Patrick, distract him from his slight unease, I hungrily work my head down slowly but surely until I’ve engulfed nearly half his hefty shaft in my mouth.

Patrick lets out an “Ah” – a mix of surprise and pleasure – as I work my head up and down his cock, combining my suction with a motion of my hand, twisting and pumping action that has his blue Irish eyes rolling back in his finely structured eye-sockets. Meanwhile, I can feel a second of Simon’s digits inside me, working in and out with a twisting motion somewhat like mine. When I feel the brush of Simon’s ponytail-tip against my head, as he works his head up under my hitched dress and boldly introduces his tongue where his fingers were, I work Patrick’s cock with a renewed vigor.

I clasp Patrick’s balls as I accommodate extra inches with my furious sucking. With each swooping motion, as I absorb a little more of his mass, it almost seems as if his size grows. Simon’s tongue has moved on to my engorged clit, which he awkwardly strains to reach as he pokes his head around under my dress. I disengage from Patrick momentarily and flip over onto my back. Simon takes the cue and continues to lick and probe my pussy with his tongue, unencumbered now. I hitch up my skirt and guide Patrick’s hands to take it all the way off me.

Now I lay on the improvised bed made by Patrick’s fine overcoat, in a broken-down lift, with a man ten years my junior giving me eager but not unskilled cunnilingus, while a wealthy investment banker with movie-star good looks kneads my breast, his nearly nine inches hovering over my astonished and rapt face. I take Patrick’s balls in my mouth, first one-by-one, then both at a time, as I stroke his thick shaft, watching my hand working up and down just inches from my wide, dilated eyes. Simon’s put his fingers inside me again and is wriggling them about in a way that reminds me of living coral as he continues to lap at my clit with his rapid-fire tongue.

As his action speeds so do my sucking and jerking of Patrick. I reach up and spear my fingers through the Irishman’s combed black hair, pulling his head down so his mouth meets my waiting breasts. Patrick sucks my nipples while I somehow manage to angle my head and again take him in my cock-hungry mouth. As I’m doing so I notice the time on my phone, lying on the floor beside us. It’s a quarter to midnight. In just 15 minutes, it will be the New Year. Seconds after this realization, I arrive at another, I am about to orgasm. Simon’s intense licking and probing with his mouth and hands is bringing me ever closer to climax. I give a muffled moan of pleasure, my mouth tightening around Patrick’s cock as he continues to suckle on me. As the swelling of pleasure rising from my lower and upper halves meet in the middle my back arches uncontrollably. Simon senses this and increases his pace, and within seconds I come with a gasp.

My mouth grows slack around Patrick’s impossibly hard penis. Simon lifts his head a little proudly and looked up at me as if to say ‘My turn?’ The impish grin on Simon’s face, the feel of Patrick’s hard cock brushing against the soft skin of my cheek, and of course, the power of the drug coursing through my veins, and I’m already ready to go again. I jump up onto my haunches and grab Simon’s crotch, leading him up and towards me as I turn to face Patrick face on. I push the Irishman back onto his back and straddle him, lowering my still moist lips onto him, enveloping his raging girth inside me.

“Take off your pants,” I order Simon, who does so eagerly. I start to ride Patrick’s cock as I stroke Simon’s slightly smaller, but still well above-average erection. Soon it’s so hard that I can almost use it as leverage to raise myself up and down on Patrick. I angle my hips forward so Patrick’s shaft rubs against my clit. I feel the passion renewed within me, even more, powerful than before, as I turn and reward Simon’s ardor by taking him in mouth, treating the tip of his shaft to the same sort of fluttering licks as he used earlier on my clit.

I turn around without disengaging from Patrick, so I face his feet and treat him to a view of his mighty cock plunging in and out of the fleshy folds of my pussy. Simon moves to face me so I can more easily blow him while I ride up and down on Patrick. I grab the Irishman’s hands lying at my side, our fingers interlocking, and feel as his strong arms assist me in the rise and fall of our fucking. We continue on like this for a few minutes, until I hear Simon’s breathing become ragged, watch his small, knotted Adam’s apple bobbing up and down in his throat, his head cast back in passionate abandon. I feel his pre-cum thick in my throat, and know it won’t be long before the younger one is ready to pop.

The elder man is still going strong, his form and breathing strong and steady as a rock. I release my hands from his and fondle his dangling balls with one and begin to work my clit with the other. I want to time my second coming with his first. Simon though, who’s struggling visibly to hold on as I continue sucking strongly on his twenty-something-year-old dick, will have to be content with watching.

I lean forward, and sit on all fours, gesturing at Simon to sit in front of me. Patrick follows my lead, sits up, and takes me roughly from behind. One of his long, sinewy arms snakes around my body and starts rubbing my clit. The other settles on my breasts. I feel his breath on my neck as he brings his mouth to my ear and whispers “Perhaps you should finish the boy off so we can ring in the New Year in style…”

I do as he suggests, increasing suction on Simon’s dick and rubbing his shaft as I bob my head up and down on him. Simon’s very close now, and within a minute I pull my mouth from his cock and bring him to climax with a few short, hard tugs.

As Simon cleans his spunk from my tits (and dabs at a few drops from Patrick’s overcoat) I look at the time. It’s just five minutes to countdown. Patrick and I look at each other.

“And then there were two,” Patrick joked. I can’t help but laugh, as Simon wanders off a little awkwardly to the far corner. But we’ve already forgotten about his presence, as Patrick lays me down gently across the cleaner half of his overcoat and enters me. I work my trembling legs up and over his broad shoulders as he thrusts in and out of me, alternating between shallow exploratory probes, to fully burying his great length all the way inside me. I bring my feet to his chest so that my big toes rest in the little trough between his amazing pectorals, and the entrance of my vagina contracts. Patrick gleefully pistons in and out of me, moving his thumb to work my clit in circular motions.

I sneak another peek at the clock behind me. It’s a couple of minutes until midnight. I grab Patrick’s balls with a free hand and massage them with gentle circular motions as he bears down on me over and over. He grabs my legs and pairs them, then casts them over one shoulder, like he’s playing the cello. Then he angles his hips forward so the girth of his shaft rubs on my clit while the tip hammers home on my g-spot.

The Irishman sure knows how to fuck a woman. Now he’s flattening my legs out along the ground and bringing one of his legs, then the other, outside of mine, sort of squatting over me and driving his dick down almost perpendicular into my sodden cunt. The feeling of friction against my clit is indescribable. Any of his earlier misgivings are forgotten as we fuck wildly just seconds from the year’s end. I start a countdown in my head.

Ten, nine, eight… Patrick raises me up and pushes me against the wall, spreading my legs a little and fucking me standing from behind. Seven, six, five… He’s rubbing my clit again with his large right hand, tweaking my left nipple with the other. Four, three, two… My head and body are swimming with pleasure as I grab at the handrail, the only thing keeping me from collapsing, being rendered useless with passion at the fuck of the year he’s delivering. One…

“Happy New Year,” Simon is heard commenting drily from the corner before it’s overpowered by the sound of Patrick’s and my mutual, earth-shattering, year-ending orgasm.

~

It was after one by the time we heard a voice yell out to us from above that help was on its way. We spent the first hour or so of the New Year dressing quietly in the dim light, the men passing the remains of the bottle to one another, not saying much. Simon lit a cigarette that he offered around and I took a few drags. It may have been awkward for them, but I found myself not really giving a shit. I’d had a pretty great time considering, and despite the fact that the euphoria of the drug was wearing off a little, I was at peace. When we eventually were hoisted through the manhole at the top and ushered up a little ladder onto what turned out to be the seventh floor, I was quite surprised to see Manny there waiting for me, a look of drunken, fatherly disapproval on his ruddy face.

“Jesus Mary and Joseph, girl, the trouble you get into…” he said, before trailing off to scowl at the two men who came out after me. It was Manny who’d raised the alarm, after finding the service lift appeared to be out of order, and having no luck reaching me on my phone, he said he’d pieced two and two together.

We walked down into the lobby, with Manny insisting on carrying my bag and coat (which I had foolishly forgotten). Simon hurried off in front of us, pausing at the door to turn and give me a cheeky smile and a wink. Patrick dallied a few paces behind Manny and me, as if half-wanting a chance to talk, but not quite knowing what to say.

I made it easy for him by slipping him my card and saying “If you ever feel like any musical entertainment.” Then I pecked him on the cheek and ushered him out the door towards a waiting taxi.

“So, any New Year’s resolutions?” Manny asked as he helped me into my coat.

‘Yes,’ I thought with a smile. ‘Get stuck in elevators more often.’

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