Chapter 20

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)

        Anna was in the dressing room with Candy and I was in the bathroom. I'd already sold my motorcycle to one of my customers at the store, who'd asked me about selling it almost every time he came in. He wanted it for his teenage son and bought it for three hundred dollars. I had halved the money with Anna and told her to get something nice for the wedding, as I had planned to do. We'd have little use for two vehicles while she was in prison.

        I checked my look in the mirror, now. I'd purchased a navy blue outfit: short-waisted jacket, tapering pants and a white silk blouse. I wanted to look nice for this occasion, because I wanted to remember it always, as special.

        I had no idea what she would be wearing; she hadn't let me have even a peek into her shopping bag. She'd said she wanted it to be a surprise. Nor had I seen her since leaving for work that morning. She had not been home when I got there. A note on the table read: "The groom should not see the bride on their wedding day. I'll be at the club. I love you, Anna."

        Rick had come by around six thirty, already dressed in a black suit and tie. He asked for my ring. "Candy and Anna thinks you should do the ring thing, too," he had explained.

        The ring had not been off my finger, except for cleaning purposes, since the first time she'd placed it there. And now I felt naked without it. I touched the impression it had left on my right ring finger, then reached up to the charm underneath my blouse. I wondered if she had thought of exchanging these again, too. Then shrugged the thought aside.

        I heard a commotion out front, as if there were more than the three to five people that should be there. I wondered if some customers had seen the cars outside and stopped in early. I wanted to go out and take a look, but I had been given strict instructions by Candy not to come out until Rick came for me. "It's bad luck to see the bride before the weddin'," she had said, sternly.

        I propped myself up against the sink and listened. I could discern several voices, though not their owners. That's all we need is a group of party crashers, I thought.

        I glanced down at my watch; it was eight-twenty-five. We were set to begin in another five minutes. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered wildly. I had my little speech all planned and had gone over it many times. Now, however, I was a total blank. What was I supposed to say?

        Rick poked his head in the door. "Don't wanna make you nervous or nothin', but thought you'd like to know. Your friend from that club over yonder.... she brought a shit load of people with her and... there's loads of champagne out here. Even brought a fuckin' cake, can you imagine that?"


        "I said that friend..."

        "I heard you, I heard you. I just don't believe it."

        "Well, they're here. Didn't know there was so many... dykes around here. Some fine lookin' ones, too."

        "You sayin' we're ugly?"

        "Oh, hell no. Uh-uh. I just thought ya'll was... special, ya know."

        "Sorry to disillusion you."

        He frowned. "Yeah, whatever. I'll be back for ya, when the real thing starts."

        Now I was nervous. I had no idea how many people a shit load was, but it sounded like a lot. More than I had anticipated. And now I'd have to get up in front of all of them and speak.

        "Shit!" I said to my reflection.

        Rick was back within ten minutes. He said there had been more to arrive and this had postponed things. Anna had also moved the actual wedding to the stage. Rick led me through the empty dressing room and onto the stage, where Tiny was already waiting at the far end, all dressed in a gray suit and tie, with a bible in his hand. He smiled.

        "Holy shit," I said, under my breath, as I saw all the people.

        They were sitting at the tables and milling around them talking. There had to be at least twenty people there. When someone noticed me, he cried out, "The groom." And they all oohed and aahed.

        I walked out on the stage, glancing around, looking for Pepper. I spotted her between two tables, one containing a white layer cake and the other containing champagne bottles surrounded by a host of glasses.

        She smiled broadly. "Think we brought enough champagne?" she asked.

        Laughter erupted. I couldn't help but smile.

        "I... I don't know what to say. I... I appreciate all of you comin'. I'm... well, I'm flattered as hell, really."

        "Flattered enough to come back and do your show?" a woman called out.

        "Umm... I... that'd be up to her."

        "Listen to her, ain't even married yet, and she's got the ring in her nose already," called out Loudmouth's unmistakable voice.

        More laughter erupted and I chuckled along with them. Actually, though I felt like crying. I didn't really know these people and yet I felt at home among them.

        "Thanks... thanks for comin', it... means a lot. And... enjoy the show, I guess."

        They laughed along with me again. "And you can enjoy it later," a female voice called out. I glanced over in her direction. She was holding a video camera on her shoulder.

        "Oh god no," I said. "If I wasn't nervous before, I sure as hell am now."

        There was more laughter, but I merely smiled. I had been telling the truth.

        Suddenly, a revised version of the wedding march issued from the speakers at a low volume. Rick rushed back towards the curtains and Tiny called out to me. He motioned me over in front of him.

        My heart fluttered in my chest, as I walked over to him. This was it, there was no turning back now. Not that I had ever considered doing so. I closed my eyes and went over my speech in my head.

        A few moments later an "AHHH" went up from among the well-wishers. I turned to see Candy and Jasmine coming towards me. Both were decked out in their finest. Candy in a light blue skirt and blouse, Jasmine in peach.

        Behind them was Rick and on his arm, Anna. Her hair was pulled back and off her neck in a very smooth, tight fold at the back of her head. There was a small spray of tiny lilac flowers near her right temple, as well as a corsage around her right wrist. Her dress was a silky off-white color, very low cut in front, the charm gleaming from between her breasts. And from the fold of material near her shoulder, I assumed it was backless, as well. The silky material hugged her thighs and the hem struck her a few inches above her knees. Light brown stockings added more color to her already golden skin and a pair of low heel, off-white pumps capped off the ensemble. It was not a normal wedding dress, but I had not expected such. This, however, had Anna written all over it.

        I could feel the smile on my face growing, my heart pounding away in my ears, as she drew near. She was beautiful: nearly breathtaking. She hardly ever wore much makeup, for she didn't need it. Only a little eyeliner to highlight her beautiful brown eyes, as it did now. I reached out for her left hand, as Rick extended it to me.

        And then she was beside me, her hands in mine, gazing into my eyes.

        Tiny cleared his throat, loudly, paused, then did it again.

        "Lucky!" Jasmine shouted. The music suddenly stopped. There were a few giggles and mumurs. "Sorry," Jasmine offered.

        Anna smirked and so did I.

        Tiny cleared his throat again. "We have gathered here this day," he began, his voice cracking only slightly, "to honor these two, who stand before me, in their wish to join in that state which we call matrimony. They have asked that we bear witness to the vows they wish to make one to another." He fell silent.

        "I..." I cleared my throat and gazed into her eyes. "I would like to start... by tellin' you, how much you mean to me. But... I don't know if any words can even begin to come close to expressin' what I feel inside. Yet, I'll try.

        "You're... everything to me, Anna. You bring joy to my mornings with your sweet smile. You bring warmth to my nights with your tender touch. I... I never dreamed I could... ever love anyone, as much as I love you." My bottom lip trembled. "You... took me into your life and... into your heart, with no questions asked. And I stand here today... to tell the world that... that I have done the same." My bottom lip was trembling feverishly now. "I... vow to love, honor... and cherish you... till death do us part." I bit my lip, as tears formed in my eyes.

        I saw them in hers, too, as she reached up and touched my face.

        "I... can't remember a damn word of what... I was goin' to say," she stammered. "But... I do know this.... I love you, Darby. I... love you with.... every beat of my heart and... with every breath I take." She paused. "There's not a day goes by that... I don't think about... how close I came... to missin' out on the best thing... that ever happened to me." Her bottom lip trembled feverishly. She bit down on it, as a tear eased down her cheek. "You're... my life... my world... my dream come true." She caressed my cheek. "And... I'll love you... forever."

        We started to kiss.

        Tiny cleared his throat. "I haven't got to that part yet," he said, wiping his eyes.

        There were a few snickers and chuckles.

        "Umm... does the best man have the ring?" Tiny asked.

        Rick sniffed. "Oh yeah, right here." He reached in his pocket and brought out Anna's ring. He handed it to me, while Candy handed her mine.

        "Okay," Tiny began again. "Now repeat after me. With this symbol of unending love." I repeated it. "I take you into my life and into my heart. To be one in body, mind and soul, till death us do part."

        I repeated it and placed the ring on her left finger, since this is the one she'd handed me.

        Anna repeated the same thing to me, then put my ring on my left hand.

        "Now, you can kiss her," Tiny announced.

        I did just that: a long, sloppy wet one, while they cheered us on.

        Anna broke away, smiling, tears rolling down her cheeks, like mine.

        "Hey! Throw that bouquet, girlfriend!" Loudmouth called out.

        "I don't have a bouquet, but I'll throw this." She removed the wrist corsage and turned her back to them. "Get ready!" She tossed the corsage over her head.

        The auburn haired young woman, who'd said I smelled so good and forgot to give me the money, was the one to catch it. She looked shocked, as others congratulated her.

        "You're next, honey!" Loudmouth shouted. "Now where's that garter thing, huh?"

        Anna glanced over at me, then raised the hem of her dress on her right leg. She did indeed have on a white garter belt and near the top of her stockings was a blue and white band of material.

        The women whistled and cheered. "Somethin' old, somethin' new, somethin' borrowed and somethin' blue, all rolled into one!" Loudmouth called out. "Now, Darby, you just take that there thing off'er and give it a sling, ya hear."

        Anna nodded and looked down at her leg, offering it to me. The crowd picked up on it and "Oooed".

        I went down on one knee in front of her. "Now, none of that. Just get that... garter thingy," he admonished.

        Laughter erupted. I put my hands on her legs and she walled her eyes in mock display of arousal, then ran her fingers through my hair. She had them loving it. I slipped it down her leg and then she slid her foot out of her shoe. I pulled it all the way off. They cheered.

        "Now Darby, girlfriend, you's supposed to throw that to the men, don'cha know. But, since the boys here are girls and the girls are... butches... you see right over there, that group with the little moustaches, throw it over there." Laughter rang out.

         He was motioning to a group of women, all of who looked rather masculine. I turned around and tossed it. A tall blonde in the group came up with it.

        "Oh well, now we know who our next weddin's gon' be for." He motioned to the two women. Both shook their heads and a short brunette, obviously a lover, popped the blonde on the arm.

        I turned to Anna, who was now back together again. "Where'd you get that thing?"

        "One of them brought it. They sent it back to me and told me to wear it, so you could take it off." She wrapped her arms around my neck. "I'm glad they came, Darby. It was a good idea."

        "It wasn't mine. Pepper did all this. I just... asked her and her lover, since... well, she was nice to..."

        "Ssh... kiss me."

        I did.

        "Hey, girlfriend.... Yoo-hoo." We looked up. "Get yo'selves on down here and cut this here cake, so we can celebrate. I wanna do some dancin' for yo' other customers run us out."

        We cut the cake together, then she stuffed a big piece in my mouth and I stuffed a piece in hers, getting icing on her nose. I licked it off.

        "Ooo chil' ain't no tellin' what they gon' do with that icin' tonight!"

        The room erupted into laughter.

        Pepper popped open a champagne bottle and everyone got a glass full. "To Darby and Anna may they have all the happiness they ever dreamed of," Pepper toasted. Everyone drank. Anna wanted to cross arms. So, we did.

        A few moments later, Candy called out, "Time for the bride and groom to have the first dance. Let's all go over to Dora's."

        They all cheered.

        The first song was one by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville entitled, "Don't Know Much."

        "Who chose this?" I asked, as we started swaying to the music.

        "I did. This part was my idea."

        He started to sing and so did Anna, while staring into my eyes.

        "Look at this face, I know the years are showing. Look at this life, I still don't know where it's going. I don't know much, but I know I love you. And that maybe all I need to know. Look at these eyes, they never see what matters, Look at these dreams so beaten and so battered. I don't know much, but I know I love you and that maybe all I need to know.

        "So many questions, still left unanswered. So much I've never broken through. And when I feel you near me, sometimes I see so clearly, the only truth I've ever known is me and you."

        It fit so well, that I was in tears by this time. I couldn't look at her anymore. I laid my head on her shoulder, the tears streaming.

        On the last line, she straightened up and put her hand upside my face. Tears were in her eyes as well as she sang, "I don't know much, but I know I love you, and that maybe all there is to know."

        When the song ended we kissed. And they applauded.

        "I love you with all my heart, Darby," she whispered.

        "I love you, Anna. I wish... I knew of a... song that could... tell you what..." I stopped in mid-sentence, remembering one that just might fit. I sniffed and called out, "Does anybody... happen to have the song by... Luther Vandross called: Here and Now?"

        "Oh yes, honey chil'," sang out Loudmouth.

        "Babs, you know that one by heart, don't ya?" another voice asked.

        "Yeah, Babs, sing it for us. He's got a beautiful voice."

        They all chimed in.

        "No, no, no," said Loudmouth, who I now knew as Babs. "I can't do it without music. Now, let me just go to the car and get Mr. Luther."

        Anna and I held onto one another, while our tears dried. Babs came back a few minutes later and the song started.

        Luther started to sing and so did I.

        "One look in your eyes and there I see, just what ya mean to me. Here in my heart, I believe... your love is all I'll ever need. Holdin' you close through the night, I need you.

        "I look in your eyes and there I see, what happiness really means. The love that we share makes life so sweet, together we'll always be. This pledge of love feels so right and Ooo, I need you.

        "Here and now, I promise to love faithfully. You're all I need. Here and now, I vow to be one with thee, you and me. Your love is all I need.

        "When I look in your eyes, there I see, all that a love should really be. And I need you more and more each day. Nothing can take your love away. More than I dare to dream, I need you."

        Now Anna was the one to have to turn away. She laid her head on my shoulder, as we swayed to the music.

        "No matter what happens, Anna, I'll always love you," I whispered. "Please, don't ever doubt that. My love is as true as yours."

        The song ended and another slow one began. We continued to dance, my hands resting at the small of her back, which was warm and bare. I moved them down to where the dress began. "Damn near showed my ass, didn't ya?" I teased.

        She raised up and smiled. "Your ass now, is it?"

        "Um-hum, you just promised it to me in there, remember? You know... love, honor and... relinquish your beautiful body into my hands."

        "I don't remember sayin' that," she said.

        "Oh, I heard it, though. Um-hum. Yep. And... tonight's the weddin' night." I arched my eyebrows up and down.

        "Think it'll be different now that we're married?"

        "I don't know. But, there's only one way to find out."

        She smiled and laid her head back on my shoulder. I was happy. Yes indeed, I was happy. It had been a wonderful wedding. Far better than I ever dreamed it would be.

        After the next song, Pepper called out, "Time to go gang. Let's finish this at my place. Anna, Darby, you're welcome to come. No charge, of course. Oh and Candy, you and... your fiance' too."

        "Thanks, but... we have a club to run," answered Anna. "But, I would like to thank all of you for comin' and bringin' the champagne and the cake and... Oh for just everything. You being here... made it a wonderful wedding. I... I've never gotten married before, believe it or not, and... this was grander than I ever dared hope for. Thank you all. Oh yeah... from both of us." She grabbed me around the waist.

        "Yeah. Ya'll were great... absolutely," I stammered. "I can't thank ya enough."

        "Come back and do the show," someone yelled out.

        I glanced over at Anna. "She's the boss." Anna smacked me on the butt. "See what I mean?"

        They all began laughing and then dispersing back to the club.

        "Come on, Darby, let's go to the door and see them out," she said, "These people are... are good people, ya know."

        "I know."

        We stood at the door of her club, shaking hands, patting backs and thanking each one for coming. On almost every lip was the question: Will you do the show again? Anna began saying, "We'll see" or "we'll think about it". I knew the only thing keeping her from doing so was Barbara.

        We helped straighten up the mess, which was minor. A few ashes here and there, a little cake, but nothing major. These were nice people. They had come for one thing, to share this moment with us. And perhaps see if we wouldn't return and entertain them. Was that so selfish? After all, they'd brought their own champagne and cake. And even left the latter, as well as a bottle of champagne with a tag that read, "For the wedding night".

        "Ya know," said Candy, as I was helping her clean off a table. "I never really thought I'd like people like that. I mean.. you and Anna are diff'rent, but... they were.. alright, ya know."

        "Yeah. I know. Just the name queer or pervert makes us sound awful, don't it? When really we're not."

        Candy stared at me. "So, you're identifyin' with them, now? I mean... you're sayin' you're a... lesbian, right?"

        I nodded. "Yeah. And I ain't ashamed of it, either. I'm just as sane and.... and honest as any normal person. I... I just prefer to live with and love a woman." I paused. "Some like it hard and... some like it soft, hmm."

        Candy chuckled and glanced down at my left hand. "I guess, you're really married, now, hmm?"

        "Oh... I better put this back over here," I said, remembering Anna had put it on my right hand in the beginning, so that I would not have to explain why I wore a wedding ring, but wasn't married.

        I was pulling it off, when she called out, "Darby, what the hell are you doing? The knot ain't been tied twenty minutes and already you're takin' the ring off."

        "You know I wear it on my right hand. And so do you."

        "Not anymore we don't. You can tell 'em you're married now and you can tell 'em who to, to boot," she said, coming towards me.

        "But, Anna..."

        "Don't but Anna me." She reached out and took my hand in hers. "I put that right there... on that finger and... that's where I intend for it to stay." She pushed it back in place. "I gotcha now kiddo. Face it, you've been had."

        I grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to me. "Is that right? You sure you know whose got whom, hmm? Could be you're the one who's been had."

        "Hey! Newlyweds, save that for later, now," Tiny called out. "That front door's open for customers. You take that back yonder somewhere's."

        "Since when did you become boss around here?" Anna teased.

        "Since you handed me that bible and told me to hitch you two up. Preacher's always got the last say, didn't ya know that? And he's always right, too." He chuckled.

        "Come on," she said to me. "Let's take this... back yonder."

        We walked into her office and she shut and locked the door behind me. "Now, cum'mere, you."

        She wrapped her arms around my neck and put a lip lock on me that wouldn't wait. Then she maneuvered me towards her desk. I ended up in her chair, with her astride me for a change. My hands roamed over her naked back. I wanted to get them underneath the back of her dress so bad I didn't know what to do, but was afraid I might stretch or tear it. So, I concentrated on what it encased.

        Then I found myself wanting to check out that garter belt and hose. She never wore this kind of thing at home. I assumed it reminded her too much of her tricks and performing here, as well, but I'd never really pursued the matter. Yet, I was pursuing a matter now. My hands were busy pushing up her dress.

        She stopped kissing me and pressed my face against her breasts. My mind quickly found another use for my hands at the moment. I swept one side of the dress over and took what I wanted.

        "Jesus," she said, then removed the straps altogether. "Don't stop, baby." She ran her fingers through my hair.

        I didn't; first one, then the other. I could tell she was very excited, which aroused me even more. My free hands went back to exploring. And what should they find? "Holy shit!" I said, realizing she wasn't wearing any underwear. "Anna, when..."

        She snickered and eased back, looking down at me. She licked her lips, seductively. "I never put any on." She arched her eyebrows up and down.

        "You mean you planned this?"

        "The thought crossed my mind, yes. Why, is that bad?"

        "No, I guess not, but... no underwear?"

        "No one knew. Not even you, until now." She arched her eyebrows up and down, again.

        "God, you're an unpredictable woman."

        "And you love it."

        "Got that right. I love you, period."

        "Yes, baby... oh, yes..."

        "Umm.. I know why you liked this now. Ummm-humm."

        "Anna?" Candy's voice called out.

        "Shit," she hissed, then yelled, "Can it wait?" I couldn't and she knew it. "Oh... god, baby," she said, softly, the fingers of her left hand entangled in my hair. "Uh-huh, mmm... yes..." I heard her other hand as it gripped the desk. "Oh, Darby... oh god... yes, oh... baby..."

        "Uh... yeah, sorry," Candy finally said, as if she suddenly realized what was going on.

        "What time is it?" she asked, as I was putting on my blouse.

        "Um... it's... oh lord, it's nearly ten. I didn't know we'd been in here this long."

        "Time flies when you're havin' fun, huh, baby?" She kissed my cheek on her way by.

        "Hold it. Let me get my pants up," I protested.

        "I think you look cute like that." She chuckled, then licked her lips and straightened her dress.

        "You're not going out there in that, are you?"

        "Why not?"

        "'Cause that's my ass and my back you're flauntin'."

        "Let's not get too possessive, shall we? I'll see you in the bathroom."

        She was washing my face with a paper towel when Lucky walked in. "Oh good god, the newlyweds. Well... congrats. That was some shin-dig you threw."

        Anna didn't offer to correct her and neither did I.

        "Whatzamatta, she got cake on her mouth or sump'um?" she asked, snidely.

        "Or sump'um'," Anna answered, with a sly grin.

        We did the first set at ten-thirty, then I hit the floor. I received several compliments on my new outfit. And one, "when did you get married?" I answered with, "Today, didn't ya know," then walked off giggling, without elaborating, as if I were joking.

        The next set was at twelve. I reluctantly went out on the floor again, even though I wanted to stay with Anna. Perhaps even go back in her office or better still go home early.

        It was nearly one-thirty when I had to take another break to go to the bathroom. I heard the door open and close, but thought nothing of it. I assumed it was either one of the girls or either a patron, since there were a few women around. When I opened the stall door, however, I was in for a shock.

        There in front of me, in a large off-white cowboy hat was a man, with his back to me. I only caught a glimpse of him in the mirror, as I moved quickly towards the door. "Sir, I think you have the wrong bathroom," I said, thinking I'd straighten him out. "The men's is on the other side of the curtain near...."

        The cowboy turned to face me. Underneath the hat and wearing some kind of dark makeup on her face was Barbara. I realized I had seen this face previously, even before we ever started the show that brought the women in. She had fooled me, too. How long had she been watching me, before she'd finally made that first move? I wondered.

        "I heard you got married today," she said.

        "Oh shit! Get out!"

        She crossed her arms. "I only wanted to congratulate you. I heard it was real... touching."

        "Never mind, I'll get out." I turned to walk away.

        "Too bad she's going to prison for so long."

        I stopped. "So long? What do you know about how long she's..." I paused. "Oh, you knew all about the other and..." I paused again, my anger starting to rise up like some ugly monster within me. "You know, I oughta deck your ass right here and now. All along I been actin' as if you have some kinda hold over me, but you damn well don't." I was moving towards her. "And to show you that...."

        "Don't touch me, Darby. I don't wanna hurt you." She held her hands up, palms out, defensively.

        "Hurt me? Ha. You've already hurt me. The worst you could do now is kill me." I drew back.

        "No, the worst I could do to you, Darby is to walk out of here right now and never look back. Never offer you another chance to get her ass out of this mess."

        "The mess you got her in BITCH!!" I shouted, my clenched fist coming towards her and turning into nothing more than a finger that I pointed in her face.

        She slowly reached up and moved my finger away. "I wouldn't hurt you this way, Darby. I don't know who set her up, but they did a good job. And I'm tellin' you right now, that if you sit on your ass and let her go to prison, somebody, somewhere is gonna profit from it. I don't know who and I don't know how, but... somebody wants Anna out of the way. That's not me, Darby. I know how to play dirty and I can if I want to. But, this is not my doing."

        "Then why in the hell are you tryin' to blackmail me into going to bed with you?"

        "I didn't say I wouldn't take advantage of a situation that could work in my favor."

        "Your morals suck, you know that?"

        "Perhaps. But what about hers, hmm? You been together over a year right? I know she was turnin' tricks during that time, Darby. And you knew it, too."

        "What has that got to do with...?" I paused.

        "Yeah, you see my point now, don'cha? Just twelve little hours, is all I want. And then she walks free to find out who's doing this to her."

        I turned away.

        "Listen to me, Darby. What would I have to gain by doing this to her, huh? Besides this, of course? Don't you think I have sense enough to know that you'd be mad as hell at me? Ready to strangle me, even. This was not what I had in mind when I told you that you'd come to me because you wanted to. I had hopes you'd... think things over and... get tired of her whorin' around, then you'd come looking for something different." She put her hand on my shoulder. "I don't want you for just a few hours, but... I'll damn well take it if that's all I can get. Because at this point, I'm sure that's the only way you'll ever come to me. I don't like it, but... life's that way sometimes."

        "And yours must be screwed to hell, because you don't have any values."

        "What's the difference in what I'm askin' of you and what she does, hmm? Look at where you're workin', love. This ain't no mom and pop sweet shop. This is sex for sale. Even you get up there and sell. Oh, maybe you don't do the real act, but you take their money and give'em one helluva show. At one time or another, honey everybody barters with their body. It's all give and take. Now I'm offering to give you something... and take something in return."

        "Why can't you just... take money or somethin'?"

        "I don't need your money and besides that, you don't have it to give. But, you do have something else I want." She put her hands on my waist.

        "Do you know how much I want to slap the shit outta you, right now?" I growled.

        "Yes, I'm sure you do. And you might... but it wouldn't be wise." She paused. "I'm not forcin' you to do anything. And I won't force you, if you come to me. It'll just be you and me, I promise. I'm sure Candy probably told you what I pay her for. And, I do... I admit that. I like watchin'. And... the guys are what Candy likes. If I didn't have them there, Candy wouldn't come."

        "Why do you need her, or any other woman like that, for that matter? Can't you find somebody to love? God, there's gotta be nearly... oh I don't know, any number of women in this city that would... faint dead away to have someone like you ask them out."

        "I'm flattered. But, I like my life the way it is. I don't want to fall in love again. I've been hurt too many times by it. Women come and they go, money or not. So, why not pay one? No emotional ties that way."

        "And that's what you want from me... a bought and paid for lover, hmm?"

        She hesitated. "Companion, lover... mistress... call it what you will. I just want you. And I usually get what I want."

        "You don't give a shit about anybody but yourself, do you?"

        She sighed heavily. "I found out life's easier that way."

        I turned around. "Then why in the hell do you care what happens to Anna, hmm?"

        "Well, I didn't really say I did. I said that somebody has set her up. And if it's not me, which it damn sure ain't, then somebody else is going to profit from it. And I'd hate to see you left destitute when she goes to prison. 'Cause she's more than likely gonna be gone at least six months, if not a year."

        "A year!"

        "I know Anna's done time before and probably knows the ins and outs, but... you know there's always a danger of her... being taken out in there."

        This hit me like a ton of bricks. "You'd have her killed?"

        "Oh good lord, Darby," she said, turning away. "I'm a lot of things, but a killer ain't one of 'em. I can see this damn conversation ain't going nowhere. Let her go to prison, I don't care! Maybe that's what you really want anyway." She started for the door. "You know, you're really flattering yourself by thinking I'd do all this just to get you," she called over her shoulder. "It must be one hell of a head trip thinking I'd actually kill for ya, huh?" She exited the bathroom.

        My mind was in a whirl. She almost had me convinced that she hadn't done this. And if not her, then who? And what did they want?

Continued in Chapter 21

original fiction index <> homepage