Chapter 21

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)

        I didn't tell Anna about the conversation I'd had with Barbara, but I did probe her as to who else might want to hurt her like this. She couldn't think of a soul, or maybe more to the point, was like myself, so convinced Barbara had done it, this blocked out all other possibilities. I thought of the note writer, but that didn't make a lot of sense. Where would he get the money for this? I knew I was grasping at straws.

        Over the course of the next week, I considered Barbara's proposal. And the closer it got to the trial date of Jan 5, knowing Anna would be leaving for six months to a year, the better her offer sounded. I knew that if Anna ever found out, there would be hell to pay and I wouldn't blame her one bit. But, I began to think that the end justified the means. It was time for me to engage in a little of that back scratching she had talked about, and possibly with the backstabber herself.

        On Thursday, Dec 23rd, I called Pepper. "Tell her I'll take the deal, but... I ain't stupid. She has to come through with her end of it first. Then, I'll pay up. She knows where to find me, when it's done."

        "Darby, what are you talkin' about?"

        "The deal with Barbara. Tell her, I'll take it. Didn't you hear us the other day?"

        "The day you met? No, I wasn't even here, honey."

        "Then how did Barbara get in the..." I paused, realizing what I should have known before. "She owns the bar."

        "You didn't hear that from me," Pepper commented. "Now what was that you wanted me to tell her?"

        I reiterated what I'd said and she took the message down word for word.

        On Friday, Barbara waltzed into the store where I worked. "It'll be taken care of," she said simply. "Now, as for your end of the bargain...."

        "When I know it's been done, all charges dropped and she's free and clear, then... I'll make arrangements. I... I don't want her to know about it. This is just between you and me, right?"

        "Of course." She smiled. "You like working here?"

        "It's a job."

        "You could do better. Tech school, college even."

        "How do you know that?"

        "I have my ways."

        "You have a lot of ways, don'cha? How come you never said you owned the bar?"

        She crossed her arms. "See what I mean... smart. A little slow, though." She looked me up and down. "Money can buy you a lot of things."

        "It can't buy you happiness, or you'd probably be one of the most ecstatic people around."

        "I ain't that rich. You'd be surprised how little people can be bought for."

        "Tell me about it. You bought me, didn'cha?"

        "If it's any consolation, you weren't cheap." She turned towards the door. "Oh, and speaking of people being bought off." She paused and turned around a bit dramatically. "I'd advise you to tell Anna not to mention getting out of this."


        "Well, for the very simple reason that somebody wanted to put her in prison, right? If... whoever it is finds out she's out... there's no telling what they'll do next. Get my drift? If I was her... I'd play it out. Disappear... or at least not show myself for awhile after her supposed trial date."

        "I don't... get it. They're bound to know, if... you get her off."

        "Oh, I will. Rest assured of that. But, I've been giving this thing some thought and seems to me whoever set her up isn't gonna be showing his or her face in that courtroom, unless they're invited to. They might be outside watching, though. So, if she wants to find out what they're up to, it might be best if she just pretended like their little plan went through, know what I mean? That's what I'd do, at any rate. Keep my ass out of sight until the culprit revealed himself. Or herself."

        "What good would that do? You'll know."

        She shook her head sadly. "Where should I contact you, here?"

        "Yeah, that's good."

        "It'll take awhile, I'm sure. Don't try to welch on me, though."

        "No. I won't. But, first I have to know that it's been done, not just your word."

        "Fine. I understand that. And I don't blame you. I'll be in touch," she added, as she turned and exited the store.

        That afternoon, we attended Rick and Candy's small wedding. He had already given her an enormous diamond ring, and now he added the band. There were tears in my eyes, as well as Anna's. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing I was. Why did all this have to happen to us? Why couldn't we be like them?

        Saturday, Christmas morning, we exchanged our small gifts. I got her a pair of gold earrings and some expensive perfume; she gave me a bracelet that had I LOVE YOU engraved in the gold links. It was a sad Christmas.

        Sunday, Anna was very depressed. It was little more than a week before the trial date. The court appointed attorney had been in contact with her before Christmas. She was going to plead guilty and take the lesser sentence, which made his job easy.

        She was all over me that day. Not in a truly sexual way, but just clinging and not wanting me to leave her side. She kept curling up in my arms and holding on tightly. I told her one time that if she got any closer, she'd be in back of me. She responded by saying that she'd like to crawl inside me and disappear. She said that she knew she'd be safe and loved there.

        I felt guilty down to my toes, knowing that I would soon be betraying her trust; even if it was for a good cause. But, the cause was all that mattered now. It didn't even matter if Barbara was the one who made all this happen, anymore. Either way, she'd be out of our lives after this, hopefully.

        I came home Thursday afternoon to hear the news I had longed and dreaded to hear.

        Anna was ecstatic. "They lost the coke. They lost the fuckin' evidence. All of it. The roach is gone, too. They don't have one damn thing to hold me on the lawyer said."

        I feigned innocence. "What? How?"

        "I'm free, baby. Free as a fuckin' bird!" She flew into my arms and we spun around in the kitchen.

        I was glad to see her so happy, but I wasn't looking forward to the price I would have to pay for it.

        She grabbed me by the hand. "Come on. I want to celebrate."


        "You know where. You know how and the why, too. And the time is now."

        I was guilt ridden throughout. My mind kept jumping to what I might have to do sometime soon; wondering would I be able to go through with it and knowing that I would have to. And also wondering what it would be like to have other hands touching me, another body next to mine, other eyes staring into mine, others sounds, in a different room.

        "Whatzamatta, baby?" she asked, afterwards. "Aren't you happy for me?"

        "Yes. Yes of course. I... I guess I'm just tired."

        "You've been workin' too much and... worryin' too much. We both have. But, now, we don't have to worry anymore. Her little plan didn't work."

        Oh, but it had, I thought. That is, if she had actually done the dastardly deed. But, what if she hadn't? What if it was someone else and the advice she had given me was valid? I couldn't take the chance that it wasn't.

        "Anna, umm... I've been thinkin'... umm..." I went on to lay out what Barbara had proposed.

        "Probably won't work," she responded. "She probably already knows all about it. Besides, I got a club to run, I can't just take off."

        "I can handle the club. And you won't have to leave, really. Just... I don't know... umm... well, I could drive you to the courthouse and then... well, you could go out a back way or somethin'. And take a taxi home. Then you could just stay outta sight until..."

        "Sounds like cloak and dagger shit to me," she interjected. "And probably for nothin'." She frowned. "What made you think of all this shit anyway?"

        "I... I don't..."

        "Missin' the intrigue of the adventure you started out on maybe, hmm?" She rolled over on top of me. "Life not excitin' enough around here for ya? Huh? Maybe I ain't been doing my job properly, then. I'll give you some excitement." She quickly rolled off me and got up. Then she waltzed over to the sliding glass doors. "Well, you coming?" she inquired, unlocking and sliding one door back.

        "It's... freezin' out there."

        "You want excitement. And I know how you like this balcony." She arched her eyebrows up and down then stepped outside buck-naked.

        I jumped up and followed. She backed up against the railing, her arms wrapped around herself, chill bumps covering her entire body.

        "Cum'mere you." I reached out for her and put my arms around her. "You're plenty excitin' enough for me. Come on, let's go back inside," I suggested, shivering from the cold myself.

        I led her back in, then closed the door behind us. When I turned around, she was near the fireplace.

        "How 'bout this... excitin' enough?" she asked, as she stretched out in front of the fireplace. "Not exactly a bearskin rug," she added, moving her hand over the carpet. "But... beggars can't be choosers, now can they?"

        I joined her by the fire. In a mere few moments it was no longer the only thing ablaze in that room.

        Friday, Barbara called me at the store. "I assume you've heard?"

        "Yeah. You still want twelve full hours, right?"

        "The fullest."

        I sighed heavily. "I'm working on scheduling here. Give me a few days and I'll... you know I'll have to do this during the day, right?"

        "Uh-huh. That's what I expected. Monday is out. Tuesday looks real good. Wednesday's good. Thursday is out. Friday is a maybe."

        "You sound like you're scheduling a business meeting," I observed.

        "In a way, it is, isn't it?"

        "Yes, I suppose it is. Alright, I'll work on Tuesday and Wednesday. Want me to get in touch through Pepper?"

        "No. I'll give you a number. You'll get an answering service. Leave a message. Tell them you can confirm... such and such a day at whatever time."

        "It'll have to be eight in the morning until... well you know."

        "Uh-huh." She called off the number to me and I took it down. "I'll be in touch, when you get back to me." She hung up. No goodbye, no nothing.

        I had three people working for me: a young man who worked evenings, an older woman who came in on Sundays, and a young college kid, who worked Saturday and Sunday evenings. Betty, the older woman was about my only choice for days and had been asking for more time. To get this over and done with faster, I called her up and asked if she could come in on Tuesday morning. Although she had been asking for more time, she was reluctant. I held on while she talked it over with her husband. She came back on the line with a firm "yes".

        "What's botherin' you, baby?" Anna asked on Sunday.

        "Nothin', why?"

        "You look... worried about somethin'. Trouble at the store?"

        I hesitated. I realized this would give me something to work with. "Well... sorta. Betty's been askin' for more time."

        "Give it to her," she said, rather quickly. "Take a day off. You don't need to work six days a week. Bring her in on Mondays. That way we'll have a day off together."

        "Maybe. But, Monday is delivery day. I'd have to train her on how to check in the stock."

        "Then do it, okay, baby. God, it would be so nice havin' you home on both my days off again."

        "Maybe... I'll bring her in Tuesday and... go over the paperwork with her. Then... next Monday, I'll be there with her, in case she has any questions."

        "Do it, baby." She kissed me on the neck and the guilt washed over me.

        I knew I'd have to go through with what I was talking about. After all, it wasn't a bad idea, if Betty could handle the stock, that is.

        Monday flew by. I had already been in touch with Barbara and she'd got back to me. I had directions to a house in my purse. Whether it was hers or not was debatable, for I'd found Barbara to be very secretive.

        I was worried about making it back home on time. With only the one car, that could cause problems. I'd debated about calling a Taxi, but that didn't seem a good idea, either. There was no solution, but to be back at the allotted time. I'd be cutting it close.

        On my way to my appointment, I covered my tracks with Betty. "Anyone calls... I'm out runnin' errands," I told her. She asked if I wanted her to take a message. "Uh... yeah. Do that," I replied, thinking of Anna.

        The house was located on a long winding, narrow street, filled with opulent looking homes. I turned into the driveway of the address given me. There were so many trees I could hardly see anything. I rounded a curve and nearly crashed into a pair of wrought iron gates, suspended from two large brick pillars.

        I wasn't sure what I should do now. Was there someone on the other side or... Suddenly, the gates began opening, slowly swinging inward. I wondered if I was being watched at that very moment. I'd seen enough TV to know that rich people often had electronically controlled gates, as well as cameras installed near them for monitoring purposes.

        Easing forward and scanning the brick pillars, I found what I was looking for. There was a black square on the inside of each one, which had at first appeared to be some type of plaque, but was now turning an iridescent color in the morning sunlight, as I passed.

        I continued up the black top driveway, its canopy of trees giving the area an eerie feel. When I topped a small rise the trees gave way to large hedges, then the roof of a house came into view. It was massive. I couldn't believe my eyes. How could anyone live alone in a brick mansion? I wondered. For, that's exactly what it looked like, with its massive white Corinthian columns and large windows, numbering twelve on each of the two floors. She wasn't just rich, she was filthy rich.

        I parked the truck in front of the large porch and slowly got out, taking in the bed of multicolored pansies to my left, which surrounded a fountain. A stream of water was emanating from the lower abdomen of a small boy, his tiny phallus covered by his hand. I arched one eyebrow at this and then proceeded to the entrance.

        "Massive!" I said, softly, as I approached the large front doors.

        I was reaching out for one of the large knockers, when the door began to open very slowly. I stood stock still, waiting for someone to appear from behind it. It finally opened wide enough for me to pass through easily, affording me a view of the large inner sanctum. I remained where I was, though checking out the shiny oak floor before me, and the tinkling chandelier in the middle of room, whose eye-dazzling bobbles had obviously been disturbed by the breeze issuing in behind me.

        Movement caught my eye, drawing them to the large staircase, which Barbara was now descending like some starlet in a bad B movie. She was wearing a long wine colored robe and slippers. From the way the robe dipped into her cleavage and parted over her legs, I doubted she had on much else underneath.

        "Come in," she said, with a smile.

        I cautiously proceeded inside then quickly glanced around behind the door. There was no one there.

        "You've seen them in stores, haven't you?" she inquired. "Same principle. Only this one, I control."

        The door began closing behind me, as if on command.

        "Oh well," I said for the lack of something better to say.

        She proceeded over to me and looked me up and down. I was wearing blue jeans and a light blue oxford shirt. I hadn't dressed for her and she knew it.

        "Would you care for something to drink? Brandy, scotch or.. if you prefer... beer."

        I'd sipped Brandy once before with Anna and had found it rather soothing. I knew I could use that now. I chose the Brandy. She led me into a long hallway off to the right, then inside a room off its right. This appeared to be some type of den, for there was a large screen TV, stereo system, as well as a small bar.

        She busied herself fixing the drinks, while I glanced around. There were paintings everywhere. Small, large, medium, you name it. And they weren't all pastoral scenes, either. Some were family portraits and all looked expensive.

        She walked over and handed me the brandy. There wasn't much of it, but the glass was huge. She showed me how to hold it properly, while knowingly caressing my fingers. I couldn't pull away here. I knew what I was here for.

        "There's no need to be afraid. I assure you I'm not about to harm you. I may nibble, but I don't bite." She smiled slyly.

        I wanted to say, Save the seduction, let's just get on with this, but held my tongue. This was her head-trip, not mine.

        We sat down on a leather sofa and she began telling me about some of the paintings. She didn't seem to be trying to impress me with her wealth, but with her knowledge. And all the while doing so, she was exposing a bit more of her legs with each crossing and re-crossing. She knew I had noticed.

        To say I found her unattractive would be a lie. She was a very winsome woman. Under other circumstances, I might have been very drawn to her, but not under these. I began to wonder if this was how Anna had felt about her tricks.

        Finally she said, "I know you're wondering why not just get on with it, hmm? And I'll tell you that this is why I wanted twelve hours. If I wanted a quick roll in the sack, I would have bought myself that. I not only like your body, I like your mind. And if I can, I would like to... caress both, if you will."

        Well, you can caress my body and play with my mind, but you can't lay a finger on my heart, I thought. Yet to her, I merely smiled.

        "You're not a very good actor," she commented. "I could tell that was about as fake as they come."

        "Do you expect me to like this?"

        "No, I suppose not. But, I had hoped that you would."

        "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but... I'm new at this."

        "Surely Anna was not your first."

        "First sexual experience...? No. First woman...? Yes. First pleasurable experience, very much so, yes."

        "Leave no room for error."

        "I'd rather not be misunderstood. And I don't play head games."

        "Oh, but you do. You've been doing one on yourself for quite a while now. Thinking I'd go to all the trouble of setting her up, just so you would come running to me and then I'd bail her out and you'd have to pay me this way. Your head must have swelled several inches by now."

        "It was very easy for you to have it undone. I'm sure you could've had it done, just as easily."

        "Touché. But, tell me, Darby, what guarantee did I have that you would come looking for me, hmm? I should think you'd stay about as far away from me as you could get. But, you didn't. Why? Why did you have to say something to me, hmm? Didn't you think you were playing right into my hands?"

        "I... I wasn't thinkin' too clearly. I just wanted to... vent my anger on you."

        "And you still do. Tell me, if I gave you a whip, would you beat me senseless?"

        I turned away. "I'm not into S & M. And if that's what you want, well you chose the wrong girl."

        "Oh what a shame," she said, her voice taking on a whiney tone. "I was hoping we could play games. You know, where Barbara has been a bad, bad girl and needs a spankin', hmm?"

        "Barbara does need a spankin', but I'm not gonna be the one to give it to her. Matter of fact, I think she needed one year's ago and didn't get it."

        She chuckled. "I love sparring with you, Darby. You skirt so close to the edge, so close to jumping off the cliff, in a fit of anger and then you swing around and slice me open, so smoothly."

        I had nothing to say to this. She had just complimented me for being vindictive. That was her territory.

        She fell silent. Then moved around on the sofa, putting one leg on the seat, in a bent position in front of her. She knew exactly what she had done with the robe and made no move to correct it. There was nothing underneath. I looked away.

        "Tell me, where did you come from, Darby?"

        "That wasn't part of our deal. I agreed to go to bed with you, not discuss my past."

        "Wrong again, my dear. You agreed to spend twelve hours with me. I never mentioned what you would be doing."

        "I thought your motives were pretty obvious. They're very obvious, right now."

        "And this embarrasses you, hmm?"

        "It doesn't exactly ring my bell." I turned around and faced her. My eyes dropped down to what she wanted me to see. "Nope, no bells." I glanced back up at her.

        She untied the robe with one hand and let it fall apart. I knew I was supposed to turn away, embarrassed, but I fought the urge. I perused her body, then took a sip of the brandy. It burnt going down.

        "Unbutton your shirt," she requested.

        I debated this, feeling like a puppet if I did so. As she knew I would. But, I did not want her to do it for me.

        I put the glass down on the coffee table in front of me and began unbuttoning, slowly.

        "Turn around," she requested, when I was through. She took a big sip of her own brandy, as she stared at my now bare upper torso. I'd seen no need to wear a bra, knowing that it would come off soon enough. She put the glass down on the table. "Come here."

        I didn't move. I merely stared at her.

        "I said, come here," she reiterated.

        Still I didn't move. I couldn't. She was making me feel like dirt.

        A few moments of staring and she moved closer herself. She unbuttoned the jeans, then removed the shirt from inside them. She reached back and got her glass, then took another large swallow and put it down again.

        "Damn you're stubborn," she commented, as she turned back to me.

        She reached over and grabbed my hand, as if she were angry, then loosened her grip, as she brought it towards her left breast. She placed it on top, then moved it down slowly. I could feel her very apparent arousal beneath my fingers.

        She reached out and touched mine. I flinched involuntarily. She cupped it in her hand, then squeezed with forefinger and thumb. I couldn't do a damn thing about how my body reacted to that. It was a tad painful and I gave the treatment right back to her. She moaned and moved to the other one and did the same. Then she stared down at what she had caused. In the wink of an eye, she had latched onto one. I tried to fight the arousal, but she knew all too well, what she was doing.

        Suddenly, she raised up and sat back. While licking her lips, she reached inside her robe pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. After shaking one out, she lit it, spewing a long drawn out stream of smoke into the air, while maintaining eye contact with me, throughout.

        "How did you meet Anna?" she asked.

        I didn't reply.

        "Shouldn't I be curious? It's not everyday you see a whore with a lesbian lover. Especially not like you two. What hold does she have over you? Besides being your first, that is?"

        "She has no... hold over me," I replied, pulling my shirt together. "Unless you call love a hold."

        "Um-um," she said, shaking her head and reaching out. She separated the sides of the shirt again. "Leave it like that." Her hand went to the charm. "What's this?"

        I grabbed her wrist. She stared at me, her brown eyes darting back and forth. Then she let go of the charm. It smacked against my chest. I let go of her wrist and glanced away. Her hand quickly went to the back of my neck, as she leaned over, while pulling me so close to her lips, that I could almost feel them against my own. I remembered what Candy had said about "kissin's dangerous". I started to protest, then knew that if I did, she'd make this her priority.

        She kissed me on the cheek, very near my mouth, then started down the side to my neck. She worked her way all the way back around to the other cheek, placing a kiss near my mouth, then easing back.

        "You not only carry her around your neck," she said, motioning to the charm, "you reek of her all over." She stabbed the cigarette out in the ashtray. "But, today... you're mine." She grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet behind her.

        She led me back to the foyer, not even bothering to close her robe or my shirt. I grabbed mine, however, thinking she must have servants in a house this size.

        She glanced over at me. "There's no one here but us," she said, answering my unvoiced question. "Tuesday is their day off. So, it worked out perfectly. Had you chosen Wednesday, I would have had to give them the day off."

        "Guess, I'm very... accomadatin', hmm?"

        She smiled, then led me up the stairs and down a hall to the left. We entered a dimly lit room that I assumed would be her bedroom. It contained a sofa, chairs, coffee table, fireplace, as well as a TV and a small computer on a desk, but no bed. She turned and closed the door behind us, then led me through a set of double doors at the far end of the room.

        The bed was massive: a four-poster, king size oak, with the fluffy off-white bedspread and sheets turned back. The room itself was decorated in a cream color, walls and carpet, which blended well with the brown and tan Indian print curtains. The matching furniture was on the same grand scale, as the bed and the entertainment center off to the left.

        She led me through this room to a door at the far right end. The bathroom was huge, decorated in black and gray, with two sections. A full-length black vanity ran down one wall, complete with a huge mirrored medicine cabinet. In the adjoining area, the shower and toilet occupied the right wall, while a massive round black tub filled the opposing one.

        "Get undressed," she said, then disappeared out the door.

        In a few seconds, she returned with a glass decanter filled with a yellow-gold solution in one hand, a sponge in the other and a thick white towel draped across one arm. She placed these things on the side of the round tub, while looking over at me. I had not undressed, yet. If she wanted that done, she'd have to do it herself. I was not taking any more orders from her. She was going to have to work for this.

        "Fine, I'll do it," she said, sounding irritated.

        And she did, slowly and methodically, taking her sweet time looking me over. I could hardly pretend not to enjoy the attention. Only one person had ever looked at me this way.

        When she eased around behind me, I heard her groan slightly. "Is Anna doing this?" she asked angrily, taking a step back.

        I knew what she was referring to. "No, she'd never do that. It... my father was... abusive," I answered, hanging my head slightly, feeling exposed and dirty.

         From the way she had moved away from me, she'd acted like it was contagious. I wanted to be anywhere, but where I was, at that moment.

        A second later, she eased up behind me, slipped her arms around my waist and rested her head against the back of mine. "I... had no idea. I'm sorry," she said softly, kissing the back of my head, tenderly. "I don't understand... how anyone could be so cruel."

        I was relieved to know she had a tender side, but I was thinking, You're being cruel making me do this. I could have paid you back, eventually.

        As if sensing my thoughts, she let go and stepped back. "I didn't force you to do this, you know," she said, her voice still very soft in tone. "You came here of your own free will. You could have run out on me. You didn't have to honor this deal. There was nothing I could have done about it. Except tell Anna. And... you're gonna do that anyway, so..."

        I turned to face her. Was she reading my mind? "You would've thought of some other way to... hurt me. Plantin' somethin' else on her or somethin'."

        "You still believe I did that, do you? Well, shall I tell you my sweet Darby... that if I had done this... I wouldn't have helped her out of it."

        "Spare me," I responded, rolling my eyes skyward. Even though I was no longer sure she had done it.

        She walked over to the tub, started the water and poured the solution inside. Then she walked by me and removed her robe, placing it on a hook behind the door. I fought my own roving eyes.

        "Make sure the water is the right temperature for you," she said, then disappeared again.

        I decided to do just that and eased down on the side of the tub, adjusting the faucets. There was a crackling sound somewhere above my head, then soft music filtered into the room. It was nice. No lyrics, just soft saxophone tones. My eyes soon found the round, flush mounted speaker in the ceiling.

        She strolled back in the room with a cigarette and an ashtray, placing the latter on the side of the tub. "Be my guest," she offered, motioning to the water.

        It was evident she wanted to try to wash Anna off me. That was fine, because she couldn't wash her out of my heart, or my mind.

        The bubble bath solution was scented like a perfume, though I could not put my finger on the exact name. She used the soft sponge to wash my neck and back first. Then moved to the front, where she took her own sweet time about it; squeezing the sponge and trailing water over my chest, all the while smoking a cigarette. By then, the tub was half full and she put the cigarette out and joined me.

        "Lay back," she said, indicating a niche in the side of the tub that conformed to the shape of one's back.

        I did as she asked and she followed, easing up beside me. She finished the bath, though she took considerable time doing so. I could see what Candy meant about being pampered. To Candy this must have been a real unique experience. For me, it wasn't so, yet I couldn't say I wasn't enjoying it. I knew the seduction had begun.

        She drained the water out of the tub and next came "the works", as Candy had called it. It was a bit embarrassing, but I could see her point, to an extent. Yet, she turned this into something rather erotic, as well. I now understood what Candy had meant, she did "get off on the whole scene". It wasn't just for safety sake or cleanliness. She enjoyed every minute of it.

        When she was through in the tub, she led me into the shower and washed my hair. She was leaving no stone unturned, I assumed. She did, however, allow me to style it with the blow-dryer afterwards. While I was doing this, however, she busied herself putting some kind of oil all over my body. She had a nice, even stimulating touch, but not like Anna's.

        Finally, after killing a good two hours, which I had hoped had taken more like four of five, she led me to the bed. I told myself that I would not respond to her in anyway. I'd be a "cold fish". I'd do what she wanted, within reason, but I wouldn't appear to like it, even if it happened that I did.

        To my surprise, however, she didn't lay down with me. She didn't even get on the bed, at all. Instead, she sat down in a chair beside it. Then she picked up a remote control, aimed it at the entertainment center, where a 27-inch Mitsubishi TV, VCR and stereo were housed and the system lit up. But, nothing was displayed on the screen. She reached over and lit a cigarette, then pressed another button. The screen bloomed to life, with two women lying naked on a bed. There was no sound, only the two staring into each other's eyes. The one with long blonde hair was lying beside the auburn haired beauty, running her hand over her stomach.

        "No one knows what a woman wants like another woman," the blonde suddenly said, her voice filling the room.

        Candy had not told me about this part of the seduction. I wondered if this was a different scene, saved perhaps for her lesbian lovers. That is, if she could buy them this way.

        I glanced over at her. She was staring back at me. "It's true, ya know. I've had both. Women... will please you. Men will... please themselves."

        I made no comment; I merely turned back to the screen. She didn't have to convince me of this. I kind of knew it. But, I assumed most women preferred it that way, or else most men were not like the ones we had encountered.

        By now, the blonde had the other one talked into letting her have her way with her and the two were kissing and becoming aroused. I'd never seen a movie like this and assumed it must be some kind of porno flick. Anna had mentioned them once, but had said every one she'd ever seen had been of two women and a man. And I hadn't liked that idea. This one, however, appeared to have no man in it.

        The shots were graphic, leaving nothing to the imagination. And, it was stimulating. I wished I were at home with Anna, watching this. I knew I'd be all over her in no time flat. Which, I assumed was just the effect Barbara had intended it to have.

        When they were finished, Barbara shut it off. She remained seated in the chair, however, watching me. I could feel her eyes all over me, as well as see the position of her head from the corner of my own.

        She suddenly snatched up the remote and turned it all back on. The scene jumped to two different women, both brunettes: one with short hair, one with long, straight hair. The latter was talking about her break up with her boyfriend, while the other listened and sympathized.

        Barbara got up and left the room, with the remote in her hand. I watched the scene go from two friends talking, to them in bed together. One had turned out to be a lesbian. I couldn't help but wonder where she had found these flicks or whatever they were.

        When these two finished, the scene jumped again. Only this one didn't look as professionally photographed. The picture was a bit grainy and as the scene got underway, I realized quickly that these were not two professional porno actresses. This was real.

        At first, I was put-off by this. I didn't know the women, but I felt like I was invading their privacy. That is, until one looked directly at the camera and winked. Whether her friend knew the camera was there, I didn't know. But, I didn't think she was faking it. And, I was astounded at the effect this had on me. Which, I assumed was exactly what Barbara had in mind.

        This scene went on and on. They didn't stop at once; they merely changed to a different position. I was reminded of my own love making sessions, which this obviously seemed to be, even though the camera was there.

        When they were finished, the other one got up out of bed and walked over to the camera. Her lower torso filled the screen, then it went blank.

        Barbara reappeared at exactly the same moment and switched it off. I knew from the look in her eyes, that viewing time was over.

        She put the remote down and slowly entered the bed, sliding over beside me. I had the cover pulled up around my waist and she pushed it down. I wondered if somehow she had been watching the same tape from the other room. Had the two TV's been connected to the same VCR perhaps?

        She propped herself up on one elbow, then moved over closer, putting her body next to mine. Her skin was cool.

        She leaned over towards me and whispered, "You're beautiful." Then she nibbled on my ear. "See, I told you I nibble, but I don't bite."

        She moved down my neck, while her leg moved over and across mine, her arm coming around me, as she maneuvered on top of me.

        I lay there like a cold fish, though my mind was racing with thoughts of doing things I didn't care for. She moved up my neck to my cheek and was about to kiss me, when I turned away. Instead of pursuing the matter, however, she went right back to what she'd been doing, working her way even further down, while her left hand began roaming over my outer thigh.

        I could not deny a reaction when she attacked my breast. My right hand automatically went to her back. She sensed she was doing something very right and continued doing so, as she maneuvered over between my legs.

        She was going from one breast to the other, when she ran across the charm. She stopped and looked up at me. "Take it off."

        I shook my head. "No."

        She stared down at it, then back up at me. Her right hand swept it aside, pushing it up and over my shoulder. "I don't need to be reminded."

        I closed my eyes; I didn't want to look at her anymore. All I could think of was Anna. And how she would feel knowing where I was and what I was doing.

        Barbara continued, unabated.

        The discussion with Anna about how she went somewhere else in her head when she was turning tricks flooded my mind, as did other images of her. I would tell her about this, yes. And I knew that it would hurt. It had to. Doing it was hurting me.

        "I don't want her touchin' you, Darby," she had said. "I couldn't stand seeing her hands on you."

        Those hands were all over me now.

        "Anna, I'm sorry," I was saying in my mind. "I'm so sorry, but... I had to do it. I don't like it, Anna. I'd rather be with you. I hope you can forgive me. God in heaven please let her be able to forgive me."

        Barbara suddenly stopped, right before she thoroughly violated a lover's sacred territory. "You... really do love her, don't you?" she inquired.

        There were tears trickling down my cheeks, though I wasn't aware that I had started crying, until I opened my eyes.

        "You love her so much that you're willing to go through with this, even though you're gonna hate yourself for it, later, aren't you?"

        I didn't answer, I couldn't. I was too choked up.

        "Shit," she hissed softly, laying her head down on my abdomen. She sighed heavily. "I want you, Darby. But, not like this. No, not like this." I felt her shake her head slightly. "I could take you being angry, I could take you fighting me at each and every turn, but... not this." She kissed my inner thigh, then got up and off the bed. "Get your clothes on and get outta here."

        "Wh-what?" I asked, wiping my eyes, as if clearing them would make her words sink in.

        "I said, get out," she replied, walking over to the nightstand and lighting a cigarette. "Get your clothes on and... hit the road." She blew a stream of smoke into the air. "Before I change my mind."

        "But, the money..."

        She looked over at me. "You told me it couldn't buy me love. You proved your point. Now... go."

        I raised up, getting out of the bed. "I'll pay you back."

        "Consider it... a wedding gift," she retorted and then flopped down in the chair.

        "I can't do that."

        "You enjoyed the champagne and cake, didn't you?"

        I spun around. "You weren't there at..."

        "No, but I knew about it. I overheard Pepper talkin' to one of her buddies, so... don't be mad at her. I offered the cake and champagne and she took it, knowing that you wouldn't know where it came from. And I provided the video camera. Your wedding is part of my collection, now. I have a copy for you, if you want it." She sallied a stream of smoke into the air. "Pepper didn't know about the video, though. She wouldn't like that, I don't think. We're old friends... go back a long way. She's a... good ol' gal, wouldn't hurt a fly."

        "Why'd you do all this, then... send cake and champagne to our wedding?" I had to ask.

        "The last part I did because I... wanted to. By all this, I assume you mean the frame up and getting you here. But, I didn't frame her. And that's the honest truth. Why I maneuvered you here is... well, I suppose that's obvious, isn't it? I wanted you." She looked me up and down approvingly.

        "You don't even know me, Barbara. Why go to all the trouble, then let me go now?" I knew I was looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I felt I had to know.

        She stared at me. "Honestly... I thought you wanted me. Only a little, perhaps, mainly out of curiosity, but you wanted me, just the same. And I think you still do." She tapped the ashes off her cigarette. "I still want you, too, but... not like this. I kinda thought all this true love business with Anna was just a put on... just to keep me chasing you, cause you liked it... whether you wanted to admit it or not. But, now... well, I can see you really love her and I know she loves you. That's rare these days. So, go home and... love her, Darby. And don't let anyone like me ever get you in a position like this again. Especially not me. Next time, I might not be so... sentimental."

        I was glad to be free and yet still I felt tied to her somehow. Would she hold this over my head at some future time?

        "She's a lucky woman, you know that?" she continued, "We may have had our differences in the past, but... I admire Anna, despite what you might think to the contrary. Let me tell you this, Darby.... I never wanted to hurt Anna, not physically or by framing her. I didn't even want to fight her that night. But... she attacked me, dammit and... I kinda lost my head.

        "Of course, I admit, I wanted to win you away from her. And I actually thought I could. I didn't think that anyone could love a... a whore like that. Or that she could love them back. I didn't think Anna could ever love anyone, but herself." She stabbed her cigarette out in the ashtray, angrily. "Well, that's neither here nor there, is it? But, listen to me closely: I didn't frame Anna. And that means that she's still got an enemy running around out there, who's out to do her harm. And when... whoever, finds out that their plan didn't work, they're gonna try something else." She stared at me. "So be careful."

        "Why are you tellin' me this? What do you care what happens to us?"

        "I don't like people who play unfair like that. I know, I know, my morals are a bit bent. But, I didn't create this situation. Besides, I pressured you so hard, because... I wanted to go ahead and get her out of this shit, alright?" She got up out of the chair and walked over to the window behind it. "I... I probably woulda done this whether you agreed to it or not. Oh, I'm sure I would've tried to take advantage of that somewhere along the line. I know myself well, you see. When I want something, I'll... do just about anything to get it. But, I didn't want Anna hurt... like this." She parted the lace curtains and looked out. "I know you don't believe me now. But, I'm sure time will prove me innocent. Now, get your things and get out."

        I didn't hesitate this time. Yet, all the while I was putting on my clothes, I was reviewing what she had said. Somewhere in there, I felt that she was trying to tell me something, but she hadn't actually come out with it in so many words.

        "I didn't think Anna could ever love anyone but herself," she had said. How did she know Anna well enough to make such an assumption? About Pepper she had said, "We're old friends... we go back a long way". I knew Anna and Pepper had been friends and that there was a possibility that Anna and Barbara had once been friends or enemies in high school. Now, that possibility sounded even more plausible. Which was it? I wondered.

        "I admire Anna," she had said. "I didn't want Anna hurt like this. I woulda done it anyway. I wanted her out of this mess. We may have had our differences in the past, but... I admire Anna. I never wanted to hurt her, not physically or by framing her. I didn't even want to fight her."

        The words echoed in my ears. I realized right then that Barbara had not wanted me, as much as she had wanted to hurt Anna emotionally, by using me. But why? What had happened between them? And why had Anna not known? Or was it that she just hadn't told me?

        I felt I had to know.

Continued in Chapter 22

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