Chapter 15

By Anj (A.k.a. Azurenon)

Introduction: At the age of seventeen, Darby Jennings is once again running away from a very abusive home life. This time, however, she's dressed as a boy. Along her rather short journey she meets up with a "call girl" or "lady of the evening". This story follows the early trials and tribulations of their rather unique relationship, as well as, their struggles with the malevolent human forces attempting to tear them apart. It is part romance, part drama, with an attempt at suspense and/or mystery. This is NOT an Uber story. Although I love the daring duo (and written fan fiction with a partner, under the pseudonyms "Azurenon and Savanna Mac" posted on this very site) you won't find them here.

DISCLAIMERS: No copyright infringement is intended by the use of titles, artist's names and/or lyrics of the songs contained herein. These have merely been used for entertainment value and possible storyline continuity. All the characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental.


Violence: This story contains scenes and/or references to physical, emotional and sexual violence.

Sex: It centers on an explicit sexual relationship between two women. It is intended for MATURE AUDIENCES. So if you're under age 18, this is illegal where you are or this just isn't your cup of tea, then you have been forewarned, please exit stage left. If you are mature enough and I've captured your attention, then moving right along here...

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Be it known the author has no firsthand knowledge concerning physical or sexual violence. Nor does she even pretend to know anything about "call girls" or "ladies of the evening". Therefore, I ask that the reader please forgive any mistakes and/or oversights. Especially so in the area of giving the healing process of such aforementioned experiences the in-depth attention they so richly deserve. This story is complete fiction, written merely for entertainment. In its entirety, it contains 23 chapters: at around 10 pgs per chapter.

Thanks go to all my friends for their support and encouragement over the years.

(Written 1993. Revised 2001)

        We did two sets that night, to a near capacity crowd during the second one. There were more women in the audience, whom I was told, quickly vanished back into Dora's afterwards. What was it about our little show that enticed them? And what sent them running back immediately afterwards? Was it that by using the screen, we were merely suggesting sexual conduct, rather than flaunting it in their faces? Did the screen offer anonymity for them, as well? Or did two women together suggest something that was appealing to both sexes?

        After our last set was over, I went out to wait on tables, just as I had between sets. Anna stayed hidden, for she could hardly come out without attracting a hell of a lot of overt attention and questions: most of them centering on the identity of the mystery woman. I knew, as did she, that it would not be long before they put two and two together. There were also those who had started asking when she was going to do away with the screen. These she tried to ignore, but I could tell it was bothering her. What she would do about it, I didn't know.

        During Candy's set, I approached a secluded corner table, where a rather attractive young man, I had seen numerous times before, but never waited on, was sitting all alone, hunched over his table. The beer bottle near his right arm was empty. Curious as to what he was doing, I eased up to the table, so as not to disturb him right away. He had a pen in his hand and appeared to be doodling on a napkin. I glanced over his shoulder and caught a glimpse of a naked woman outlined in black on the napkin. The drawing was rather good and reminded me of Candy.

        "That's good. You an artist?" I inquired.

        He flinched as if he'd been shot, then quickly wadded up the napkin. He shook his head; his blonde bangs swaying back and forth, as he stuffed the napkin into the pocket of his black leather jacket.

        "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disturb you, but I saw that your beer bottle was empty and..." I never finished the sentence, for he got up rather quickly and brushed by me on his way to the door. "Hey, I didn't mean to..." He turned around and glared at me, nearly running into another patron.

        "Hey, boy, watch where you're goin'," the man said, angrily.

        The younger man looked up at him, then back at me, making a 180-degree turn, before he took flight again towards the door.

        I was speechless. What had I done to offend him, I wondered? My eyes wandered from him to the bar, where Tiny stood looking back at me. He motioned me over.

        "Don't worry 'bout it, Darby. He's Mr. Antisocial. He comes in here, sits over at a corner table by himself and doodles on the napkins, all the time. That I know of, he's never uttered more than two or three words to any of the girls. And you ain't the first one he's run from. Weirdos like that come with the territory. Don't worry, he never orders more than one beer. So, you ain't scared off no well payin' customer."

        "Why'd he get so scared, all I said was his drawing was good and was he an artist?"

        "Wouldn't matter what you said to him, I don't think. Never seen that guy talk to anyone but Anna. And then, I think she musta set him off, too, 'cause watn't long, 'fore he was out of here in a flash." He paused and wiped off his hands. "Weirdo," he said, making a circular motion near his head. "Forget about it."

        I walked away, glancing at the door. I still felt guilty despite what Tiny had told me.

        We were a set away from closing, when I took over one of the new waitress' tables, after she was allowed to go off duty. I didn't pay much attention to the patrons at this table, as I approached, because I was tired and ready to go home. I noticed one was a woman with long sandy blonde hair, but that didn't faze me, until she looked up, after her friend had given his order.

        "I'll have a bourbon on the rocks," she said, her voice deep and husky like before, her eyes drifting downwards then back up again. "And may I ask you a question?"

        I was nearly tongue-tied. It was the infamous Barbara. If Candy had not told me about her that day, however, I would not have been so nervous. And with this new information, I wondered if her friend was a true friend or a trick.

        I cleared my throat. "Umm... yes. I'll answer it... if I can."

        The corners of her mouth turned up, slightly. She tilted her head to one side then motioned me closer. I hesitated, but didn't want to be rude, so I bent over near her, placing the tray on the table.

        She leaned over even closer. "You... do that very well up there," she said, her breath tickling my ear.

        I started to straighten up, but she'd already placed her hand over mine. I glanced down at it, caught completely off guard.

        "Would you like to make a little extra... on the side?" she asked.

        This time I did straighten up, sliding my hand from underneath hers. "No, thank you," I said, my voice cracking, as I backed away.

        She looked me up and down. "Nice outfit." Then she turned back to her friend.

        I got out of there, as fast as I could. Anna had not scared me, when she came on to me, but this woman did. The scene Candy had painted for me, hurdled through my mind: the "he" that had seemed non-existent in Candy's verbal rendering, now had a face and it was that of the man at her table.

        When Tiny gave me their orders a few minutes later, I was actually scared to take them over. Then I mustered my courage. After all, she was only a woman. Not a rude, forceful "I wanna stick it to you" man. I could handle her. And if I couldn't, I didn't belong there.

        I walked over and set his drink down in front of him, then hers. There was a folded bill in her left hand, held between her index and middle finger, but she was neither offering it, nor looking at me.

        "That'll be eight-fifty," I said, hoping to speed things along.

        She slowly turned her head in my direction. Her eyes drifted up my body very slowly. It was a blatant come-on and I knew it.

        "You have no pockets," she said, her eyes burning into mine.

        I offered the plate. "I'll be back with your change in a moment," I said, even though I didn't have the money, yet.

        Her right hand reached out and took hold of my sleeve. "Is this silk?" She pretended to feel of it, and in the course of doing so, stroking my arm underneath. "No, I guess not." This hand clamped around my arm and then her left started towards me, as she got up out of her chair. This hand went inside the front of my blouse. "Keep the change, sweetheart," she said, tucking the bill into the left cup of my bra.

        I was so stunned, all I could do was stand there gaping up at her, while her hand trailed across my left breast, as she moved on by me.

        I glanced down at myself, not really believing what had just happened. Then my eyes strayed over to her companion.

        He had his chin cupped in his hand. "She's somethin', isn't she?" he asked in a rather effeminate voice.

        Yeah, but what? I wanted to say.

        I picked up the tray and walked away on trembling legs. Completely forgetting about the money tucked away inside my bra, I dropped the tray off at the bar and went straight out the front door. I needed air, badly.

        Once outside, I breathed deeply, the money scratching my skin with the deep inhalation. She'd made an utter ass out of me and I had stood there and let her. What the hell was wrong with me? Had she been a man I would have told her off. So, why didn't I say anything?

        After calming myself down, I pulled the money out of my bra and went back inside.

        I marched over to the bar. "Change for eight-fifty," I said, handing Tiny a folded bill.

        His eyebrows shot up. "Out of a fifty?" he asked.

        I glanced down at the bill he was holding. "Umm... yeah."

        "You alright, Darby?" he inquired.

        "Fine," I replied.

        He gave me the change and I marched back over to her table, where she was now smoking a cigarette. I laid the change down on the table.

        She looked up at me. "What's this?"

        "Your change." I walked away.

        A little while later, her and her companion were gone. I hadn't seen them leave, but I was relieved the table was empty. I was also relieved that it was near closing time. Just a few more minutes and we could go home.

        I was wiping off a table when a familiar, but unwanted voice said, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"

        It was "Stan the man". I straightened up quickly and turned around. "Hello Stan," I said, calmly.

        He looked me up and down. "You look... diff'ernt."

        I moved away, calmly. "We're 'bout ready to close, Stan."

        "Uh-huh. You wanna have that party, now?"

        "Nope, don't think so. Too tired."

        He approached and I stood my ground, facing him. "Ah honey, we could be so good..."

        "Stan, don't put your hands on me. I told you I'm tired and I'm not in the mood."

        "Oh, I could get ya in the..."

        "Should I call Tiny? I don't think either one of us really wants that, now do we? But Stan... he's lookin' over here, right now."

        Stan quickly glanced around. Tiny was watching us, while wiping off the bar. "Uh, well... maybe some other time, huh?"

        I didn't give a reply. He backed away, seeming a bit drunk. When he started for the door, I breathed a sigh of relief and took a step back.

        Warm hands touched my waist, from behind. "I think you forgot something," a deep voice said, so close that I could feel her breath on my neck and ear. Her left hand produced another fifty near my waist and held it out in front of me.

        "I don't... want your money," I stammered, pushing her left hand away.

        She caught hold of my wrist, though not gripping it very hard. "You're an entertainer, aren't you?" Her breath tickled the fine hairs on my neck. "This is for the show." She moved her hand down until she put the money into mine and then closed it around the bill. "And there's more where that came from." Her lips grazed my neck, distracting me, while the fingers of her right hand deftly slipped something else inside my blouse. "Think about it," she added, her fingers lightly grazing my breast, as she moved away.

        Before I had time to get myself together, she was already heading towards the door. She glanced around at me, after opening it, then seemed to glide through it.

        I was still standing there, awestruck, when Candy walked up. "Jesus Priest, Darby. I saw the whole damn thing. God, did she ever put a move on you. She knows you're doin' that show, don't she? Darby... Darby?"

        "Yeah," I managed around the lump in my throat.

        "What did she give ya?"

        I stared down at the fifty in my hand. Obviously I had been wrong, I couldn't handle her. I then reached inside my blouse and pulled out the other folded bill and handed both to her.

        "Shit, Darby... a hundred and fifty dollars? What the hell did you do?"

        "I didn't do anything, goddammit. She already gave me a fifty once and told me to keep the change."

        "She put the fifty where she put this?"

        "Does it matter?" I snapped, mad at myself for allowing it to happen once, much less twice. I'd stood there and let her touch me twice and did nothing about it.

        "Means she's goddamn serious. Shit! She's gonna keep after you, Darby. She did me the same damn way. Every time I turned around, she was there."

        "In here?"

        "Yeah. She used to come in here, dressed up as a man. Hair pulled up underneath a cowboy hat and her face smudged with something to make it look like a five o'clock shadow, ya know. That's how she first got me interested. She'd come up to the stage, hand me the money with a note folded inside. She asked me to go out with her, while laying on these outrageous tips, ya know, like this." She shook the bills. "I thought she was a man and figured if he can afford that, then what would he pay for a good time. So, I finally took her up on it. And then... I found out she was a woman. By that time, I was already there, ready for action, ya know. She offers me this outrageous sum to stay and... I got hooked, I guess. She's a major manipulator, Darby. She does it different than a guy, ya know. Even though you may want to shove her away like a man, she knows you won't, 'cause she knows just how to work you."

        "I... just stood there," I mumbled.

        "I know, that's what I mean. That voice, the way she touches you... it's all full tilt seduction, ya know. And it can be damn near intoxicatin'."

        She was right. It definitely had been. No man had ever put a move on me like that. They were usually crass in their seduction attempts, holding too tightly, laying out sexually explicit innuendos and taking too many liberties with your body. But, she had been so gentle, her voice so blatantly sensuous and her moves as smooth as silk.

        "This is how she really hooks ya, you know?" Candy continued, staring down at the money, "This is just a drop in a very large bucket. I didn't tell ya this, but... she pays me... four hundred dollars a trick. And... the beauty of it is, you don't have to do a thing to her, just... come." She paused. "Shit! I feel responsible for this," she hissed.


        "I don't know, I guess 'cause I turn tricks for her." She shook her head. "She's dangerous, Darby. I know she's been with several of the girls. They told me about it, but... I never admitted I was a fish in her pond, too. I was too embarrassed." She paused. "She's fuckin' addictin', is what she is." She held out the money.

        "I don't want that." I pushed her hand away.

        "Take it, Darby. You earned it up there."

        "It's dirty money."

        "Yeah, well... ain't it all, sweetie? But... clean it up. Use it for... somethin' worthwhile like... a new outfit or... better yet, didn't you mention somethin' 'bout an anniversary? You and Anna?" She took my hand and placed the money in it. "Buy her somethin' nice or... save it for a rainy day. Dirty money spends just like the clean stuff. 'Sides, what else you gonna do with it, give it back?"

        That's exactly what I wanted to do with it.

        "Darby... Anna..." Candy warned, moving away.

        I glanced up then quickly spun around on my heels, putting my back to her. I stuffed the money back inside my bra. Heaven forbid Anna should see this, I thought, she'd raise the roof.

        "Hey, Anna, gonna do another show?" One rather intoxicated guy called out.

        "Show's over, honey," she called back. "Time to go home now." She walked up behind me. "And speakin' of home." She came around to one side. "Let's go roll in all that dough we made tonight, hmm?"

        I glanced around at her quickly; too quickly perhaps.

        "That still bothers ya, huh? Okay then, let's just go... roll around on the bed, hmm?"

        I felt dirty and guilty as hell. I'd allowed that woman to put her moves on me and I was hiding it from Anna. "I'm... I'm tired," I answered. "'Sides, you still aren't well. I saw you wincin' durin' that last set."

        "Yeah, well. But you look so damn good in that outfit." She put her hand on my waist and started down my behind, then seemingly caught herself. "Shit fire," she hissed. "I bet he seen that."

        I glanced over in the direction she was looking. Fletcher was getting up out of his chair, while staring at us.

        "I'm gonna have to watch that. Umph! I better go back yonder. I'll... be in my office." She turned and walked away.

        The moment she went through the curtains, I flopped down in the first available chair. I was weak, confused and disgusted with myself. The money in my bra seemed to be burnin' a hole in my skin. Could I make it clean, by spending it on Anna? I wondered. It wasn't like I'd really done anything to get it. She'd just given it to me. Bad part was, I'd allowed it. And I wasn't sure how far I would have let her go before I put a stop to it, either. Candy was right, she was intoxicating.

        I saw Fletcher stop at the door and turn towards me. His eyes bored into me, as if he could rip me apart with his bare hands. Oh great, I thought, a jealous customer, how much worse can it get?

        There was another note on the windshield that night, though Anna snatched it off and quickly crumpled it up without even reading it.

        "Anna, can I see that?" I asked, when she got in, my mind handing me mental pictures of the young blonde man and his drawing.

        "No," she answered emphatically. "Just... drop it, Darby. There's no sense worryin' 'bout it. It's just... comes with the territory."

        "That guy that... draws on napkins, Anna. His drawing was in black and..."

        "No, Darby. It ain't him," she interjected.

        "How can you be sure?"

        She sighed heavily. "Because he's mentally retarded, sweetheart."


        "I already had him checked out long time ago. He can barely read, much less write."


        "Drop it, baby. Just... accept it okay? Like I said, it..."

        "Comes with the territory," I finished along with her.

        "Right. Now, forget about it, okay."

        I was in no mood to argue with her anymore.

        The next night, to my utter dismay and subsequent relief, Barbara was not there. So, I couldn't give the money back to her, as I had planned on doing. I wondered if she had perhaps arranged it this way. Giving me time to stew in my own juices.

        To say I was not curious about what sex with another woman, other than Anna, might be like would be a lie. But, the "he" in this woman's sexual seduction scenario was my saving grace from wondering too much. And by Sunday afternoon, I'd decided to keep the money and buy Anna a real nice gift with it. She'd never have to know where it came from. And if it brought her some happiness, then I'd put it to good use.

        Monday, I made the excuse of going over to Candy's to look through those other clothes. Anna had no objections. I called Candy and made the arrangements, but told her I would not be there until at least an hour and half later. I was going shopping for the anniversary present.

        I had no idea what people got each other for their anniversary. My first thought was jewelry, but she had plenty of that, even though she seldom wore any other necklaces besides the charm.

        When I was in one store, checking out the perfumes, I noticed a short leather jacket on display a few feet away. It had long fringes on the front yoke, around the pockets and down the back of the sleeves. I knew the tan one would look great on Anna.

        I walked over and hesitated in reaching for the price tag, even though the sign read 25% off. I took a deep breath and turned it over. $149.95, it read. I quickly went through the tan ones looking for a small. There wasn't one. Just my luck, I thought.

        "Damn," I said aloud.

        "Something wrong?" a familiar voice asked.

        I jerked around, my heart leaping up in my throat. The infamous Barbara was standing beside me, her long sandy blonde hair pulled back from her face on the sides and twisted just before reaching the looped knot in the back. I knew it was the new hairstyle I had seen an advertisement concerning on television. They were selling something that helped with making the loop.

        "I'm sorry, did I startle you?" she asked, reaching out towards the jackets, as if she didn't really require an answer. "Nice," she commented, pulling a tan one out and holding it up in front of her. "Don't you think so?" she questioned, turning towards me and flipping it around, so that she was holding it up to me, as if sizing me for it. "Too big," she said, shaking her head.

        I backed up a step.

        She smiled slyly. "Is this what you were cursing about? None in your size?"

        "Umm... yeah. Guess it's just not my lucky day," I said, turning to walk away.

        "Darby," she called out.

        I stopped, despite how I felt about her. It seemed my feet had a mind of their own.

        "You discourage too easily," she said, replacing the jacket. "Miss... Miss!" She called out rather loudly and then snapped her fingers.

        "Oh, yes ma'am, Miss Trenton," a woman's voice rang out.

        I glanced around and saw a saleslady approaching us at a fast pace.

        "How may I help you?" she asked, her eyes on Barbara alone, totally ignoring me.

        "Do you have anymore of these jackets?" Barbara asked. "I believe we need a small."

        The woman glanced over at me, then at the jackets. "Oh, we have a small in black if..." Barbara shook her head. "Well, then let me check."

        The saleslady started away. I followed her with my eyes, my mind telling me to run. And do it fast. Yet, my feet would not obey.

        "Wanna try the black one on for size?" Barbara asked, moving towards me.

        I shook my head very fast and swallowed hard, knowing that she was coming up behind me with the black jacket in her hand.

        I felt her when she put it up to my back. "Yes, a small should do it," she commented, as one finger stroked my neck.

        I moved away. "I... I appreciate you... askin' about this for me, but..."

        "But what?" she inquired, laying the jacket over one arm. "But you don't like women?"

        I swallowed hard. "I... didn't say that. And... I fully intended to give you your money back, but... Matter of fact, I have it with me now and..." I reached inside my small shoulder bag. "I'll give it to you..."

        Her hand caught hold of my elbow from behind. "Don't," she said, lightly squeezing, then moving her hand upwards and lightly stroking the back of my arm. "You put on a good show. To get that kind of entertainment I'd have to go to Atlanta or New Orleans. And spend much more than that. Tell me, who came up with the idea for that?"

        I moved away again and then faced her. "It was... a joint effort with..."

        "Anna," she supplied, pronouncing her name correctly. "Your lover," she added, though making it sound like a question.

        I knew that my surprise was visible all over my face. And the answer to her question was written there, as well.

        "I thought so." She smiled slyly, her eyes moving down my body.

        I suddenly felt as if I were standing in front of her buck-naked. I spun around and nearly ran all over the saleslady.

        "Oh... excuse me," she said, her right hand going to her bosom. "You're in luck, we have one left. Someone exchanged it for a larger size," she said, holding it up by the hanger, yet seemingly unsure of whom to hand it to.

        "It's hers," Barbara offered.

        The saleslady nodded. "Would you like to try it on? I'll hold your purse for you, if you'd like."

        I hesitated, but I wanted the jacket, especially since I knew I could not give Barbara back the money. She wasn't going to take it.

        I put the jacket on and it felt good. It was very light, just right for Anna's tastes.

        "There's a mirror right over there," the saleslady offered.

        I glanced at my purse, then at Barbara. It was stupid to think either one of these would want to steal anything from me. I walked over to the mirror and fell in love with the way the jacket fit me to a "T". I turned sideways and saw that there were fringes across the back yoke, as well. I knew Anna would love it. I turned back around and started inspecting it, in case it hadn't been returned just for a larger size.

        "Looks real good on you," Barbara commented.

        I glanced up at her reflection. She was standing behind me with my purse hanging from her shoulder. I could see the difference in height now. She was at least two inches taller and her mouth was near ear level on me. No wonder she had been able to breath on me like that, I thought. Then wondered what in the hell I was doing thinking about that.

        I quickly turned around, looking for the saleslady. She was helping another customer.

        "I like the feel of leather, don't you?" she asked, running her hand over my back. "And the smell... umm."

        I moved away and took the jacket off. "Thank you... for your help," I stammered, "But... I want you to know that... I'm not interested in your... proposition."

        She merely stared at me. "I haven't made one... yet."

        "Oh, I think you did, when you asked if I'd like to make a little on the side."

        "Yes, but I never said doing what."

        I stared back at her, draping the jacket over my arm. "You don't have to. I already know all about it. And I can tell you right now, I'm not in the least interested." I turned and started away.

        "Oh, Darby... aren't you forgetting something?"

        I glanced over my shoulder. She was holding out my purse. My face flushed hot. She came towards me with it.

        When I reached out, she pulled it back. "I don't know who you talked to. But, keep this in mind... you never heard me say what I was offering you. You may be turning down the opportunity of a lifetime."

        I shook my head. She was making me angry with her smugness. "Listen..." I said, drawing closer to get my purse and feeling bold now. "I don't..." I glanced around us. "I don't fuck men while women watch, understand. Matter of fact, I don't fuck men, period, okay." I reached out for the purse and caught hold of the strap.

        She slowly let go of it. "I never asked you to, did I? I can tell you love women and... so do I."

        "Bullshit," I said, quietly. "You love fuckin' with people's heads." I spun around and walked away towards the cash register.

         When the cashier took the jacket from me, I glanced around and Barbara was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief.

        I was getting the money out of my billfold when something brushed against me. "I don't fuck with people's heads, as you put it," she whispered. "I just go after what I want. And, I want you... in my bed."

        "Well forget it," I said, as she trailed her hand across my behind on her way by. "'Cause it ain't gonna happen."

        She never even turned around she just kept walking towards the other side of the store. I wanted to yell out, I wouldn't get in your bed if it was the only one in town, but somehow managed to hold my tongue.

        I arrived at Candy's fuming mad. I told her about the whole incident.

        "At least you were able to get mad, finally," she commented. "Stay that way, 'cause she's really after ya, sweetie. But, perhaps this is one time she won't get what she wants, hmm?"

        "Yeah, damn straight."

        "Now, let me see that jacket."

        "Oh yeah. Well... she did help there, but... she had ulterior motives."

        "Yeah, sweetie, don't they all. Let's see it." I pulled it out of the bag. "Ooh, she's gonna love it, Darby."

        "Yeah, I thought so, too. Wish I could afford two, but... I can't wait to see her face, when she sees it."

        "You really love her, don't ya?" she asked.

        I nodded. "I really do. She's... my world."

        Candy smiled. "Then, sweetie don't you let Miss Hotshot get you all screwed up, ya hear? Stick to your guns. And... I wouldn't take anymore of her big tips if I could help it, hmm. I think she likes the chase as much as the capture, know what I mean? Maybe, even more. Jasmine told me that she came onto her and she took her up on it right away, ya know. Thought she was gonna be doing a show for big bucks. Ends up Barbara didn't even stay in the room. Just left her with the trick, then paid her a measly hundred afterwards."

        "Why, because she was... black?"

        "Uh-uh. Tracy told me the same story. And she never called on either of'em again. Maybe that's where I'm makin' my mistake. I should act like I like it or don't give a fuck, then she'd stop callin'. Ya know, she's called more since I told her I was gonna quit than all the time I been seein' her?"

        "Hmm, sounds like you may be right. But, are you sayin' she's been with all the girls at the club?"

        "Oh, uh-uh. Lucky, Samantha... no way man. Brandi... she chased for a long time, until one night Brandi poured a drink down the front of her shirt and... I think it cooled her off." She chuckled.

        "And Anna?" I had to ask.

        Candy cleared her throat. "To my knowledge, she never went after Anna. Now, years ago, Phil told me that the two had known each other in school and that Anna wouldn't give her the time of day."

        "Phil was..."

        "Oh yeah. And enjoyed hell out of it, to hear her tell it. She loved playin' that mind game shit and she was good at it. There for a while I'm not sure who had more of a hold on the other, her or Phil. But, I do know Phil was getting out right before she left." She paused. "I don't mean to hurt your feelings or anything, but Phil was in love with Anna. And she had started cleanin' up her act, ya know. Or at least tryin'."

        "Her and Anna, they never..."

        "I... don't think so. Anna always kept her distance, ya know. I mean, she could be the best friend you'd ever want, but... she was distant... sorta cold back then. She's more open now. Seems... happier, if you ask me. I know she and Rick were together for a good while, but... I don't think they made each other happy, ya know? I think they was just killin' time." She paused and glanced up at me. "Dammit, Darby, you let me rattle on too much. Come on, let's get at them clothes, huh?" She glanced down at her watch. "Or Anna's gonna be worried 'bout you. Want me to keep this here until... Thursday, is it? I could get it wrapped for ya?"

        "Hey, that would be great. Sure you don't mind? I woulda had that done in the store, but..."

        "I'll take care of it. How much did you say it cost, I just might wanna put me one on lay away. Let Rick pay for it, hmm?" She chuckled and put her arm around me, leading me towards the hall.

Continued in Chapter 16

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