Her mother returned from New Years vacation to an article in the New York Post and 15 messages on her answering machine. Your daughter did what?
"I knew I was a hooker, but somehow I felt like Cinderella," the Post quotes from the book. Her mother was aghast. "Right now we're not really speaking," Lauren says. "I wish they were being more supportive. I think the portrayal of them in the book is ultimately compassionate and loving."
It is a parent's worst nightmare, the daughter who grows up to be a hooker. Or a memoir writer. They got both.
Curling up on the floor in front of the coffee table, Lauren turns the pages of the photo album, rewinding further into the past to a time before the prince, before nights spent lounging on sofas in evening gowns waiting to be picked. There are pictures of her at 16, leaving for college. Pictures at her junior prom, at her bat mitzvah. Pictures of summer camp with the pervy counselor she fooled around with. He was 21 and handsome. She was 13 and innocent. "And where am I?" she asks, searching the photo. "There! That's how old I am. No boobies, nothing. He was cute though. He really was. What can you do?"
Who knows what her life would have looked like if she hadn't gone to Brunei. "I recognize that my story sounds surreal. But nothing is surreal that happens to you. For me, it's just my life," she says.
Soon her baby patters in, thick with sleep from a nap. Tariku is from Ethiopia, adopted, as Lauren was. He sidles up to the sofa, smiles. He cannot get enough of her.
"He loves the ladies," she says, smiling back.
Jillian Lauren will read from and sign Some Girls: My Life in a Harem at Book Soup on Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m. Party afterward at Ghettogloss.