I went to Atlantic City when I was 23 with one of my close friends at the time, Essie* (name changed). It was my birthday and wanted to do something big.
We were in a pretty posh hotel with a great rate thanks to expedia.com.
Essie and I got dressed up to the nines on our first night and toured some of the nearby clubs. The next day we laid out on the beach for most of the day. We met two Canadians who spoke fluent French- both tall and cute- offering us Coronas.
One of the guys instantly took a liking to me and the two men were gabbing so fast it was hard to pick up some of their words under heavy Quebec accents (I studied French for three years).
Essie took control of the situation and exchanged numbers. We planned to meet up with them at the Borgata after dinner. She and I giggled like school girls, getting ready and murmuring about our good luck landing dates with two equally attractive guys.
The guys were impossibly late for our double date. Un-phased we danced to the music compilations from the late-great DJ A.M. When the guys showed up, we continued drinking on their dime, dancing with each and each other and deciding to retire to their hotel, which was only a few blocks from ours.
The guys had a nice little bar at their hotel on the beach. The hotel itself was kind of crappy but had an amazing view. The four of us played some more drinking games until about 3 a.m. I was getting tired and told Essie I wanted to head back. She had other plans. A few French words later, my date suggested he walk me the few blocks home. The guys were pretty nice so I didn’t think anything of it. I actually felt very safe. First mistake.
On our way back to my hotel, my guy told me of his friend’s intentions to sleep with Essie. He suggested we watch some TV and give the two privacy for a few hours. I wasn’t thrilled, so I texted Essie to see if she’d be home soon. She texted back quickly, “No, I think I’m staying over.”
I was now thoroughly pissed. My guy, let’s call him James, promised that he’d take the other bed and give me my space. I quietly relented. Second mistake.
When we got back to my room, I went into the bathroom and changed into some PJs. James was sitting on my bed like a gentleman. I turned on the TV and we chatted about his major and what I did for a living.
“There’s just something about you,” James said. “I wish I lived closer.”
I just smiled. This didn’t feel like a budding romance to me.
Since it was getting pretty late, I turned off the TV and crept into Essie’s bed while James disrobed into his boxers. If I’m honest about it, I thought he was like any other guy, getting comfortable before bed. Third mistake.
“Hey, Penny,” James whispered. “Are you up?”
I came to, halfway in a drowsy and drunken stupor. “What’s up?”
“Can you just lie with me? I promise I won’t do anything. I’ll be respectful.”
“Ummm why?” I asked.
“I just feel lonely,” he said, or something to that affect.
Don’t get me wrong, I WAS attracted to him, but not sure I wanted to have a fling.
I crept in his bed still fully clothed. A few moments passed in silence and he went in for a kiss. I kissed him back. Before I knew it we were making out. Maybe I was going to have a fling, I thought. Fourth mistake.
Before I knew it, his boxers were at his ankles and he was trying to unclasp my bra.
“Um do you have protection?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “Do you?”
“No,” I said.
“That sucks,” he murmured and kept kissing me.
“Well, we aren’t having sex without one,” I said determinedly.
James seemed to agree that was a good idea. We messed around a bit until something turned. James had tried to spread my legs with his and I could feel a hard bumping of his “buddy” on my thigh.
“James, I said no without a condom.”
He forced his lips harder on me and grabbed my hands. He was dry humping me, letting his member hit against me, almost penetrating.
“James!” I said and broke free of his kiss.
He kept a tight grip on my wrists, pinned above my head, pushing his dick hard against my legs. His pupils looked dilated, his face contorted in anger.
“You’re frustrating me baby,” he said.
“James!” I said louder. “I said no!”
Either he wasn’t listening or he didn’t want to listen but he forced his tongue in my mouth harder. Completely naked now, I was sure he was going to rape me.
When I twisted my arms to break free, and luckily I did, the words tumbled out of my mouth:
ARE YOU GOING TO RAPE ME?!
It was like a light switch turned on and his anger was washed away by guilt and embarrassment.
“No…no…of course not.” He released me fully and dropped to the other side of the bed.
I got off of him and told him to leave. He wouldn’t. It was about 6 a.m. in the morning and I had received a dozen calls and texts from Essie. She was on her way back.
“Essie’s coming now,” I said, hoping he’d leave.
It wasn’t until I heard the card reader click and Essie opening the door, did James put his clothes back on.
“Morning!” Essie said brightly and gave me a wink.
James quickly waved goodbye and left.
A few hours later I received a text message from him. The apology is burned into my memory. The short the apology was that he’d never forced a girl to do anything with him and that he got “too carried away in the moment.” Something tells me that’s a lie.
James left with his friend the next day. He had the audacity to try and friend me on Facebook a few weeks later. Essie had consensual sex with her guy and acted flippant when I recounted the story.
I’ve made many mistakes with that encounter. I do understand my personal responsibility for accepting a stranger into my bed. Only fate knows what could have happened had I not screamed “rape.”
That one word might have saved me a lifetime of agony.