Home > The Billionaire Dating Game

The Billionaire Dating Game
Author: Aubrey Dark

Chapter One


I couldn’t take it anymore. I would tell Jessica I’d tried. But I just couldn’t take it.

“Is this going to last much longer?” I whispered to Daniel.

“Shhh,” he hissed.

I had never been shushed by a date before. All of my words dried up on my tongue. I turned back in astonishment to the show in front of us.

The woman on the small coffee shop stage put her hands on her stomach and started ripping apart her flesh-colored bodysuit with her nails. The fabric tore into scraps hanging from her pelvis. She was making a gurgling sound like a drowning rabbit.

Was I being unreasonable here? I didn’t think so.

“It’s just that this isn’t really… well, romantic,” I whispered.

Daniel turned and looked down at me from under his glasses.

“It’s a metaphor for infertility,” he said, condescension oozing off of his tongue. “She is redefining womanhood.”

“And here I thought she was just recreating a scene from Alien,” I muttered, as the woman on stage grabbed at her abdomen and moaned.

“Lisa, if you don’t appreciate this—”

“I appreciate it! I appreciate it very much. I—look, I have to go to the bathroom.” I clutched my purse to my chest and stood. Daniel stood up with me.

“Uh, what are you doing?”

“Escorting you to the facilities.”

“I—uh—I don’t need an escort. Thanks, though.”

“But—”

“Down in front!” someone called from a cafe table behind us. New York art people weren’t very patient.

I pushed Daniel back down into the chair.

“You have to stay,” I whispered. “So you can fill me in on what womanhood means when I get back.”

He pressed his lips together and nodded, all seriousness.

“I shall,” he said.

The woman groaned and thrust her pelvis at the audience as I scrambled to the back of the coffee shop. Thankfully, there was a line for the ladies’ restroom in the hallway. I pulled out my cell and called Jessica.

“Lisa? Tell me the date isn’t over yet.”

“I wish,” I said, leaning back against a poster for a band called GENDRRRFUCK. “Jess, this is the weirdest date I’ve ever been on.”

“Good weird or bad weird?”

“The last performer smeared peanut butter all over himself in complete silence for ten minutes, wearing only a Speedo,” I said. “How many minutes do you think you could watch someone smear their naked body with handfuls of peanut butter?”

“Depends,” Jessica said. “If it was Chris Pratt, I could probably watch him for a full day, maybe two—”

“And before that, there were two women singing what I think was the last State of the Union address, at the top of their lungs, while they wrestled each other to the floor.”

“Sounds sexy.”

“They were wearing Obama masks. Trust me, it wasn’t sexy.”

There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a woman with an offended look on her face.

“You know,” she said, “that performance was a commentary on election punditry in American society.”

“I didn’t know that,” I said, feigning surprise. “Did you know that this phone conversation is a commentary on the lack of privacy in American society?”

She frowned as I turned my back squarely to her.

“Who are you talking to?” Jessica asked.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said. “Thank you for setting me up with Daniel. I tried. I really did.”

“You wanted someone more mature,” Jess reminded me. “Someone more intellectual. That’s what you told me.”

I sighed and peeked back around the corner. Daniel was leaning forward in his chair, stroking his chin with one hand. On stage, the woman was punching her own boobs and screaming “MAN!” with every punch.

“You’re right. I did say that. Turns out I didn’t mean it.”

“Daniel is the most intellectual person I know.”

“It’s just—I thought meeting at a coffee shop would be a nice normal date. I had no idea there was going to be—” I looked at my watch, “—two hours of performance art. We haven’t even talked to each other!”

“I’m sorry, Lisa. I really thought he could be Mr. Right.”

“I don’t think Mr. Right exists,” I said.

“Of course he does. He’s out there.”

I slumped back against the wall. The overwhelming futility of my dating life was spreading over me like a handful of peanut butter spread over the front of a too-tight Speedo.

“What if true love doesn’t exist?” I moaned.

“What if it does, and you’re just being too picky?”

“Ugh. I’m not sure which is worse.”

“Take a chance. Maybe you’re looking in the wrong places.”

“You’re the one who set me up on this date!”

“I wanted you to get out there.”

“Well, I’m out there,” I sighed. “I’m wayyyy out there.”

“Give it another ten minutes. Then I’ll call you and pretend to be your sister saying Arlen is sick, okay?”

“Sure,” I said. It wouldn’t even be that much of a lie. My niece had been getting sick a lot lately. “Thanks for trying, Jess.”

“You’ll find the one,” she insisted. “You just have to keep at it.”

“Yeah, right.”

As I made my way back to our table, the woman on stage was taking a bow. I sat down next to Daniel.

“What’d I miss?” I asked.

“It was utterly enlightening,” he said. “The last third of the dance was replete with feminine symbolism…”

He droned on, but my attention was already focused back on the small stage. A man wearing a black suit and a black mask was stepping up to a piano. You couldn’t see his face very well, but his eyes were a piercing light blue behind the mask. He was tall, well-built, and, apart from the mask, looked utterly normal. He stood at the piano and adjusted the microphone up to his face.

I wondered what came next. Would he pull out a milk carton and start pouring half-and-half onto the audience? Would he rip off the suit to show a superhero outfit underneath and start square dancing? Or was he going to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while pretending to masturbate onto the piano keys? After what I’d seen, nothing would have surprised me.

But instead of any of that, he began to play a slow melody.

The coffee shop fell silent, and Daniel sat back in his chair to listen. It was a simple tune, nothing fancy, and as he played, the man began to speak in a low voice that was half-singing, half-talking.

 

Tell me what happened to you.

Tell me what happened.

The world keeps on turning

And you can’t keep up.

 

The melody he played shifted slightly, turning discordant. His voice was mesmerizing, a deep bass that seemed to pulse the air in the small coffee shop. He had a slight accent—I didn’t know if he was faking it or not. I could hear it in a few of the words he spoke, but I couldn’t place it exactly. Irish, maybe?

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