Without Me
by Ishafel

Without Paris in the middle they would be something completely different, something that at least one of them doesn't want to be. Paris is okay with it, in fact she is okay with anything; she has made a life out of being in the middle, out of going along with things. The first time she meets J.C. is at the house Chris Kirkpatrick is renting in the Hamptons. She is with her sister and Georgina Bloomberg and a couple of the other girls and they've been drinking all week and Paris can't remember the last time she went to bed and slept.

The whole night is a blur of too loud music and grabby boys wearing bright colors and too much gold jewelry and suddenly she is on the beach and the wind is in her hair and there's a hand in her jeans that isn't hers. Sex with J.C. is exactly what you would expect, it's doing it with your high school boyfriend the night of the prom, kittens and puppies and rainbows and champagne in a bottle with a screw off top. He lies and tells her she was the prettiest girl in the room and for him it's not even a lie. It's totally different from anything Paris Hilton could have imagined.

The next time she sees him she's on the Concorde, the fast lane between New York and London, and he's asleep with his head on Justin's shoulder, and she remembers visiting her grandmother in rehab or a nursing home or something and her mother saying just look don't touch. She doesn't wake him up, she doesn't even try to catch his eye when they're stumbling off the plane at Heathrow. He's so clean, so perfect, he doesn't need her dirty fingerprints all over him.

Eminem--and he is Eminem now, there is no question about that, whoever Marshall Mathers might have been he's gone the way of the dinosaur by now--Eminem, she meets at a party after the Grammys and blows in the bathroom with Dre banging on the door. There is cum on her face and cum on her Betsy Johnson dress but at least Em doesn't make her feel dirty. He's a little creepy, a little too pale, his eyes a little too intense, his mouth too hard, and she feels something for him that is not quite pity and not quite love.

J.C. comes to her sister's birthday party at the house in Manhattan and Paris can't remember if she invited him or Nikki did or neither of them because she's glad to see him. Afterward, maybe two or three days later, they go out to a club called the Blitz and he kisses her and he tastes like California, like sun. They buy something that might be ecstasy or might be orange sweet tarts and the music gets louder and the hour gets later and she goes to get a drink and Eminem is leaning against the bar.

Paris is not surprised--nothing surprises Paris these days but death and taxes--and then Em is kissing her and she wonders if she tastes like J.C. She finds the thought exciting and she lets Em drag her out to dance and his hands are on her breasts and moving lower. J.C.'s hands are as soft as hers but Eminem's are thin and strong and hard and desperate and suddenly there is a mouth on hers and a mouth on the back of her neck and she closes her eyes and pretends not to notice.

In the car--not J.C.'s white Navigator but a black Escalade--she sits very still even though she's straddling the gearshift and it isn't very comfortable. Now and again a hand slides up her skirt but she doesn't mind. Once the hands touch and after that they both stop for a while and J.C. makes a little purring sound and Em concentrates on driving. Paris has never stayed in a hotel in the city that isn't a Hilton but the Ritz is very nice indeed and closer, which is more important at the moment.

In the elevator Em takes her bra off one-handed while he fumbles to push the button for the top floor and J.C. kisses her again and this time she wonders if she tastes like gin and motor oil, winter in Detroit. The elevator climbs slowly and somewhere in the middle Paris notices it's one of the glass-sided ones, and she can see down into the lobby and it's morning there. Another night lost. She doesn't know what time it is, what day it is; she's not even sure what year it is.

She is in bed with the two most beautiful boys in the world, and they've forgotten she exists, but Paris is okay with that. She's okay because she's always okay--she's the girl that's phased by nothing--and she's okay because this is everything she ever wanted. She watches J.C.'s delicate fingers on Em's thin back, and she thinks maybe this is love. Maybe this is even what it is for ordinary people: this mix of longing and fear and joy.


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