When we asked our friend Tatiana Boncompagni whether her new novel, Social Death, had any “dirty-ish parts” to it (hey, two sex writers have to ask), she responded that there’s no “ish” about it. The novel is a mystery about the murder of a Manhattan socialite who dies with a scandalous secret — in other words, Gone Girl meets Gossip Girl. (Hello, beach read!) The story is narrated by Clyde, a veteran news producer who is called to the scene of the murder, only to discover that the victim was her best friend (oh, and the victim just happened to be heir to a fortune of billions, too).
We’re thrilled to present an excerpt of the novel today — and yes, of course, it’s one of the dirty bits. You’re welcome.
On my way back to the ballroom, I made a bad turn and ended up down a hall of small meeting rooms. I heard a voice, then a giggle, and being the nosy journalist that I was, couldn’t just forget about it and continue on my way like a normal person. Crouching low to the ground, I stuck my nose around the doorframe.
The overheads were out, but there was enough light coming from the windows for me to make out Sabine’s face and Alex’s profile. From my vantage point, I could see that he had her up on the table, his face buried in her neck, his hands working beneath her short skirt. Sabine’s dress fell off her shoulder, exposing a grapefruit-shaped breast. She whimpered with pleasure as his mouth found her nipple. The next thing I heard was his zipper.
I slipped back out, praying neither of them had seen me, wishing I hadn’t seen what I did as I stumbled back down the hall, passing the doors to the kitchen. A waiter burst through, carrying a tray of Champagne glasses. I sped up and pilfered two of them. Then I went into the bathroom and downed them both, one after the other, the bubbles tickling the back of my throat, tasting like heaven, warming my belly. I wanted more.
“OK, so what happened?”
Georgia and I were downstairs, waiting in line at the coat check. Husband No. 4 had left midway through the filet mignon, mumbling something about a conference call with Hong Kong, and Diskin and his wife had taken off immediately after the crème caramel. We were all free to go. “You look like a pig at a Memphis barbecue,” she said accusingly.
I threw my hands up. “What does that even mean?”
“It means, sugar pie, that your face is redder than the blood that used to come out of my hoo-ha every goddamn month and your breath smells like the peppermints they got in the ladies’.”
I’d grabbed a handful of them in the bathroom after downing the Champagne. Then I’d hit the bar, sucked down a vodka tonic and a glass of red abandoned on a table in the reception area.
“What the fuck just happened?” Georgia asked.
“Naomi Zell and I had a tête-à-tête. I’m off Olivia’s case, and I’m not allowed to get within ten feet of any of the Kravises. The network is hiding something. Or they’re afraid I’ll uncover something that will mess up the merger. Why else would she pull me off the case?”
Georgia took off her glasses. “You told her to stuff it, I hope.”
“But I thought you didn’t want me on this case either.”
“That ain’t the point.”
Phil draped Georgia’s chinchilla cape over her shoulders. The fur was overkill given the evening’s mild weather, but Georgia flaunted her furs whenever possible. “That it?” She gave me a knowing look.
I handed Phil the claim ticket for my black wool topper. “Would you mind?”
We watched him file back into the coat-check line. Georgia linked her arm in mine and lowered her voice to just above a whisper. “Fess up, child.”
Sometimes I loved that nothing got by her, other times, not so much. “If you must know, I caught Alex and Sabine going at it in one of the meeting rooms.”
Georgia planted a hand on her hip, her eyes two thin slits. “Christ in heaven, you are so much worse off than I thought.”
“She’s my assistant. I’m his producer. It’s normal for me to be weirded out.”
She clucked admonishingly. “You drinking tonight?”
“Everything OK?” Phil asked as he helped me into my coat.
I shot Georgia a pleading look.
“This girl is a workaholic. I’m always telling her she needs to get a life outside the office.”
“Point taken,” I said.
“Get her home safe,” Georgia said, giving Phil a meaningful look before leaving us to find her Escalade.
“What was that all about?” he asked.
“I think she just really likes you,” I said lightly as Phil led me to his Town Car. In the backseat, I slid a little closer to him, pressing my back against Phil’s body. “Thanks for coming tonight. I owe you one.”
“No problem.” He gave my leg a fraternal pat in return. “Georgia’s a hoot.”
I reached for the inside of his thigh.
He pulled away. “I think you and I are in different places.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He took a breath, adjusting his glasses. “You’re beautiful, Clyde. And smart, and passionate about what you do, but I just don’t see this working out.”
I couldn’t believe he was rejecting me. I pictured Alex and Sabine, remembering the sound of his zipper and her moans. God, how I missed that kind of sex. Urgent. Dirty. Dangerous. I looked out the window, suddenly furious. We were at a red light and about to turn down Park Avenue.
“Look, if things change—”
“Don’t hold your breath.” My voice was jagged and sharp. I opened the car door and jumped out. Then I slammed the door behind me and ran for the curb.
I stood there, angry and horny, an old, familiar feeling stirring deep within me, a hungry recklessness that had been lying there blessedly dormant. There was only one place I could think of going. Crossing Park Avenue, I hailed a taxi. “I’m going uptown. But first, I need to find an open liquor store.”
Andrey opened the door to the Haverford. His jacket was off and shirtsleeves rolled up. I took his arm, tracing the scales of his tattoo.
He smiled. “Looks like someone’s been having fun.”
Not nearly enough. “I handed him the open bottle of vodka in my hand. Is there somewhere we can go?”
I took the bottle back, pouting. “Fine. I’ll go then.”
He pulled me back into to him, his hands pressing my body into his so I could feel that he was already aroused. “It’s not that I don’t want you,” he said.
He took a key from his pants and bolted the front door. In the elevator I felt his lips on mine, his hands all over my body. We reached the basement floor. He pulled me into the hall, unzipping my dress to my waist, liberating my breasts from the satin cups of my bra. A second key led us to a small, pitch-black room. It smelled of WD-40, dust, and men’s cologne. Andrey pushed me down on a couch and stood over me. I reached for his belt buckle, dropped his pants, taking his cock in my mouth. For the next few minutes, I was happy. This is what I’d come for, what I’d wanted. But when he bent back down, stripping off my wet panties, positioning himself to enter me, I pressed my hand firmly on his chest. “Aren’t you going to use a condom?”
“What?” His brow was slick with sweat, his breath loud in my ear.
“A condom,” I repeated, but the moment was already over. I couldn’t do this. Not here. Not like this. Not even drunk as I was. Andrey was involved in my best friend’s murder. Even for me, this was too far over the line. What the hell was I doing? I maneuvered out from under him, adjusting my dress. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
“You sure?” he panted.
I nodded. “Maybe another time.”
He stood to buckle his pants. Then he walked a few paces in the murky darkness and flicked a switch, flooding the room with fluorescent light. I rubbed my eyes, which were struggling to adjust to the light, and realized that Andrey had taken me to the super’s office. There was a desk and a computer, a shelving system lined with toolboxes and toilet plungers, and at the back of the tiny chamber, where I was sitting, a silk-upholstered couch that had probably once belonged to one of the co-op tenants. It had seen better days.
Andrey couldn’t bring himself to look at me, and I got a flash of the man who looked so vulnerable in the coffee shop, talking about how Rachel had left him once Michael filed for divorce. “Take your time getting out of here,” Andrey said, gesturing to the small fridge under the super’s desk. “There’s water in there if you’re thirsty.”
“Just do me a favor and close the door to the office when you leave.” He pivoted on his heel, gave me an awkward salute, and was gone.
I’d had more humiliating moments in more unlikely places. And yet sitting there, half-drunk, half-exposed, my bare ass on a ratty old couch I wouldn’t want to touch with a gloved hand, I felt incredibly ashamed and disappointed in myself. I’d worked so hard for my sobriety. Damn it, Clyde.