Striking a Minor (excerpt)

Anne and Marshall met at a Lower East Side club both of them were too old to be seen at. She recognized him from work: he was on the business side; she was an editor at one of the second tier women’s titles. They’d had an intense courtship—dinners at all the cult restaurants in town, weekend trips to Montauk and Paris, lots of sex and missed work days—and then a spontaneous city hall wedding on the other end of an all-night, molly-fueled bender. Anne’s teeth were vibrating when she said, “I do.”

Marshall’s hair was thin and wiry on top and he was too round in the face to be called handsome. Nor was he sweet and courteous in the way of Anne’s previous boyfriends. But she’d dumped all those previous boyfriends. And Marshall had a nonchalance about his place in the world that she found irresistible. He was tireless on a night out and inexhaustible in bed. He fucked her as if she were a girl he was going to get one chance with—one—and he was determined to make the best of it.

He also opened every door and hailed every cab and paid for every ride, drink, meal, cup of coffee—which she was ashamed to say turned her on. In Marshall’s world, there was actual money still being made and bonuses to be fought for. One could afford to be gallant under those circumstances, she supposed. In her world—editorial—the men were cynics in their 20s and 30s, all dressed in the same juvenile uniform of selvedge jeans, Japanese cotton tees, and Air Jordans. Marshall, 53, seemed like a king in his Tom Ford suits and Ferragamo laceups. She had a half inch or so on him but if that bothered him, it didn’t show.

He had a seventeen-year-old son—Connolly—whose Australian mother, Shiri, had been a runway model when they’d been a couple. He described her as spacey and insecure, a terrible person with a nasty coke habit. But Connolly was great, smart as anything and with his sandy hair and pale complexion he looked like his mom, not Marshall. Which was a stroke of good fortune. Marshall sent child support checks to Shiri’s Tribeca penthouse every month. That could stop the second Connolly turned 18. Or maybe he’d just keep writing them. The thing was (he told Anne) he hadn’t wanted her to go through with the pregnancy and had said so as many ways as he could. Shiri had been immovable on the question and thank God. Because the only good thing that had come out of that whole period of his life was now a senior at Andover.

Shiri ruined Marshall on the notion that guys like him were supposed to be chasing beautiful girls like her. He shouted this into Anne’s ear at a crowded hotel bar.


Marshall pulled her to him, right into his lap. “I need someone with substance. Who’s in my league.”