Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

The first thing I saw when I cracked one eye open in the morning were the 10 crisp £50 notes on the bedside table. My new lover Grant, the international businessman, had taken an early-morning flight for a work trip to Johannesburg.

Following months of flirtation, our first official date on Friday night was amazing: his driver picked me up at home, then we headed out to an intimate Italian restaurant, followed by load of cocktails and champagne. At some point I had told him that earlier in the day, the cashpoint had eaten my bank card, and the branch told me it would take five days to replace. "The irony is, I'm wearing £120 knickers and have 17 quid in my account," I laughed.

I didn't mean this to be a pickup line, but it worked. We went back to his hotel room and did it everywhere - the bed, the sofa, the floor, and even the shower. Since Grant travels constantly, I have no idea when I'm going to see him again - was this supposed to be payment for services rendered? In a daze, I dressed, took the cash and found myself wandering through Hyde Park to New Bond Street.

I have to confess that in the lean times, usually when I'm paying for my latte with a credit card, I've flirted with the idea of having a sugar daddy. But I have never wanted to end up as arm candy for some guy with a Donald Trump-style comb-over. But this was a bit of a moral grey area, because even though I knew it was wrong, my knees went weak and I felt a surge of desire when I entered the Christian Louboutin boutique and tried on the black leather stilettos. I was falling in love - with the shoes.

I called Victoria, who views sticking endless bar tabs on anyone with a Y chromosome as her right, to ask if taking the cash would make me a hooker. "If you take the money you'll change the whole dynamic of the relationship," she said. "And, yes, it's prostitution."

I've been on both sides of the money equation with men, and braved every mode of transportation from private jet to the front of a bicycle because we didn't have enough change for the Tube. Since I put so much on pressure myself to succeed professionally and financially, I see no problem in wanting the same thing in a boyfriend. I could almost feel the devil on my shoulder, urging me to shop on. But if money is power, then pocketing the cash at this early stage could give Grant the edge - and I've been taking care of myself for way too long to let that happen. So I reluctantly put the shoes back on the shelf.

When Grant called the next day, I told him that I appreciated the gesture, but would be giving the money back. He laughed when I told him how much I'd been obsessing over it. "It's not a problem sweetheart, I didn't mean anything sinister by it, I just wanted you to make sure that you were covered for the next week."

He asked me out again, and I suggested we go for a few beers when he gets back from Hong Kong. This time, I'm buying.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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