Chapter 3

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 had been walking for nearly an hour, although hardly making any progress, because I was so bone tired. I hadn't been able to catch a ride in the last half hour in which I had been thumbing, either and was growing weary of trying. My thoughts were increasingly straying to the trees along the side of interstate and how cool and inviting they looked. One could definitely catch a nap there, I had been thinking.

        I heard a car coming and stuck out my thumb without even looking first. The white car sailed by me, the large five-pointed gold star on the side sending chills down my spine. I was suddenly wide awake. He continued on then his brake lights flashed red, as he topped a small hill. My mind was thinking run, but my feet were not obeying.

        Suddenly, a black Blazer cruised by me, then whipped over into the emergency lane several yards in front of me. I hadn't stuck out my thumb, but was grateful to see it. If I took this ride, the cop might not know I had, I thought.

        I started towards it then pulled up short. I was suddenly weary of who or what might await me once in the confines of that truck. The back windows were tinted dark gray, which made it impossible to tell anything about the driver.

        The passenger side window eased down and a familiar scratchy voice called out, "Darby..."

        I started forward, then nearly stumbled over my own feet. The passenger side door opened and Mimi peered out at me. "Get in," she said.

        "What are you doing here?" I asked, walking towards her.

        She disappeared back inside the blazer. "Just get in the truck," she answered, sounding irritated.

        I walked up to the open door and peered in. "What's wrong?"

        "My whole fuckin' life," she said, glancing out the driver's side window. "Now, get in."

        I removed my pack, but hesitated before getting into the truck. I wasn't sure why she was here or what exactly she wanted from me. And wondered if I'd be getting her in trouble, if the cop saw me with her.

        She glanced over at me. "Well," she said, sounding exasperated with me. "Look, I... I just can't stand the thought of you... being out here hitchin', okay?"

        "I'll be alright. I've made out okay, so far."

        "You've been goddamn lucky is what you've been. Now get in the damn truck."

        "Isn't this backwards? I mean, ain't I supposed to be the one pickin' you up? I thought you didn't want me turnin' tricks?"

        She glared at me. "Don't bite the hand that's offerin' you help," she warned. "Now for the last time, get in the fuckin' truck!"

        I climbed in, putting my pack in my lap. Her truck was clean, but smelled of cigarette smoke. As soon as I shut the door, we were moving out onto the interstate. It was obvious she was in a hurry. I glanced down at my watch. It was nearly seven o'clock and would be dark in half an hour.

        "Buckle up," she said simply.

        I reached around and got the seat belt strap then brought it across my chest. I had to put the pack down in the floorboard to buckle it.

        "Put it back there out of your way," she offered, motioning towards the back.

        I glanced around and found a carpeted cargo area that extended right up to the armrest of the console between the front seats. I assumed that the back seat must let down somehow. I put the pack right behind the armrest for easy access. I had no idea where she was taking me or what I might encounter. But, at least she had saved me from the law, hopefully.

        Several moments later, I watched the cop zoom by in the westbound lane. I turned watching him to see if he put on his brakes.

        "I wanna know somethin'," she said, staring straight ahead. "Did ya kill anybody with that gun?"

        "Hell no!" I said, before even thinking about it, as I turned back around.

        "Rob someone?"

        "No. I just ran away from home. My... old man... he drinks. I... I don't wanna go back."

        She grunted, glancing up in the rearview mirror, obviously concerned about the cop, as well. "That where you got those scars on your back?"

        I blushed. I had forgotten all about those. She had not mentioned them at all during the time we had spent together and I had not thought about them, either.

        "I felt 'em and seen 'em," she added. "Bad shit, that is. Mama didn't help any, hmm?" she inquired.

        "She's... dead."

        "Oh, sorry." She paused and cleared her throat. "Mine never left no scars that show. Just a few broken bones." She reached down on the floor of the console and picked up a pack of Marlboro Lights and a lighter. She offered me one. I declined. "Don't ever start," she warned. "It's hell to quit."

        "Like hookin'?" I was talking like I knew all about this kind of thing, when all I knew was what I'd seen on TV.

        "Damn straight," she answered, lighting the cigarette. "Nicotine gets you with one and the money gets you with the other."

        "Then how come you do both?" I had to ask.

        She exhaled a stream of gray smoke. "Cause I'm just plain stupid, I reckon."

        I watched an exit pass by. "Where are we going?" I questioned.

        "Rick said you were goin' to Atlanta, right?" I nodded. "Then that's where we're goin'. I have some friends up there. They'll... look out for you, for awhile."

        "What about your... business. Aren't you gonna to be missin' a lot of money tonight?"

        "I'll... make enough." She exhaled another stream of smoke. "Rick said you were a quiet one. Who turned your chatter box over?"

        "You did," I answered, bluntly.

        She chuckled. "Yeah, reckon I did, at that. Well, might as well know... you kinda upset my applecart, too."

        "I'm... sorry."

        "Ah hell, I didn't mean to lay no guilt trip on ya. I just meant... ah... you wouldn't understand."

        "Try me." I was eager to know what had really possessed her to come out looking for me, when she should have been back there turning tricks and making money.

        She glanced over at me. "Don't look at me like that."

        "Like what?"

        "Like that... with them damn dreamy blue... bedroom eyes of yours." She turned away and took another drag on her cigarette, then directed her exhalation at the partially open window. "I ain't felt nothin' in so long... I forgot what it was like. Then here you come along and... now I got a whole mess of shit I don't know what the hell to do with."

        "Yeah... I got a mess myself," I agreed.

        She cut her eyes over at me. I stared back. She then reached over and took my hand in hers. We both fell silent and stared straight ahead, as our fingers laced around one another's. It felt good and safe and warm to be with her. It was a feeling I'd rarely had the pleasure of experiencing for very long at a time. I could only wonder when it would end.

        She broke the silence a good while later, just as I was about to doze off. "I ain't sorry I... seduced you, ya know," she began, her voice soft and low. "I'd do it again in a minute. 'Spec'lly now that I know... well..."

        I squeezed her hand. "I... wanted another hour with you," I said, simply.

        She smiled. "I know. I... just ain't used to... feelin' much about..." She paused. "Scared the hell out of me, truthfully. And still does. Don't know what it is about you, but you sure bring out... somethin' in people. Old Rick was back there worried sick about ya. Kept sayin', 'wonder if he'll be alright and... if anybody harms that young boy, I'll feel guilty for the rest of my life'."

        "Is that why you're here?"

        "Partly. But mostly 'cause Rick was just sayin' what I'd already been thinkin'. Only I knew you wasn't no boy who might could handle himself. Hell, I doubt you ever even fired that gun, have ya?"

        "Yes, I have. My old man taught me how. He took me fishin', huntin' and target practicin' with him... 'bout the only thing he ever did for me that I'm grateful for." I sighed heavily. "I think he always wanted a boy anyway. Said that's why he named me Darby. Had the name all picked out for... his son." She squeezed my hand and caressed my fingers. "Done some hard work, too, from the feel of your hands and... body."

        "Yeah." I looked down at my callused hands. "I've... chopped a little wood."

        Actually, I'd chopped a lot. He worked for a pulp wood company and all he did was cut down trees and haul it to the saw mill. Unusable pieces he brought home for me to chop up into firewood, which he used or sold during the colder months.

        "We always had a garden, too," I added, vocalizing my thoughts.

        "We or... you?" she asked, rubbing the calluses on my hand with her thumb.

        I cleared my throat. "Let's talk about somethin' else. Tell me about Atlanta and these friends you have there. And will you stay the night with me?" I added, very quickly.

        She grinned and chuckled. "Think you can afford me?"

        "No. I was hopin' you'd... just wanna stay."

        "We'll see," she said. "Now 'bout Atlanta...."

        She went on to tell me that she had lived there for over ten years. She said she'd moved to Alviston five years ago, to get away from all the drugs and hopefully to remove herself from the ever-present threat of AIDS. She didn't make my destination sound like a very grand city. The friends that she had mentioned were a couple who owned the apartment building where she used to live. The woman was a retired madam, who preferred to rent to prostitutes and provide them a nice environment to call home, for a reasonable price. Mimi said she had already contacted the woman and was told I could stay in a recently vacated apartment for a week, if I didn't cause any trouble or mess anything up. This part sounded too good to be true. I assumed that somewhere down the line, there had to be some money changing hands. But, why would Mimi do this for me? She didn't know me from Adam. Or Eve, as the case maybe.

        "Why Atlanta?" she finally asked, after extolling about its nonexistent virtues.

        "Why not? Sounded like a good place to get lost."

        "Lost? Oh hell yeah, you could definitely do that. Lose yourself so well, not even you could find you." She lit another cigarette. "If... you're not really sold on Atlanta, why not stay in Alviston?" she queried.

        "I... never gave it much thought. I... I guess I wanted a larger town."

        "Um-hum." She exhaled a stream of smoke. "You plannin' on remainin' a boy when you get there?"

        "Wish I was one. Seems life might be easier."

        "Maybe... maybe not. Pretendin' to be one ain't gonna be easy."

        "So I've learned. What did you tell your friends I was?"

        She glanced over at me. "Didn't say, just said I might be bringin' a friend that needed a place to stay for... a while."

        We fell silent.

        "Why... are you doin' this for me?" I finally asked.

        "I think you're a nice kid," she replied, glancing over at me. "I know you're life's been hell and... I don't want to see ya hurt no more, if I can help it. I.. I think I done enough damage back there."

        "I thought you didn't regret it?" I questioned.

        She sighed heavily. "I do and... I don't."

        "Yeah," I agreed. "At least you showed me that... sex ain't always... painful."

        She squeezed my hand. "Pain's all you've ever known, ain't it, honey?"

        I turned away. She had hit too close to the truth.

        "Well, hell,.. maybe I didn't do such a bad thing after all."

        I looked over at her. Maybe she hadn't at that, I thought. "Why'd you want me to leave... for both of us, as you put it?" I questioned.

        She cut her eyes over at me, but offered no reply, then quickly turned them back to the road. I assumed she didn't want to answer my question, so I didn't press the point. I was too sleepy to care much anyway. I was having enough problems just keeping my eyes open.

        When I awoke, the truck had stopped. I straightened up and looked around, wiping sleep out of my eyes. We were sitting at a red light and it was dark outside. I glanced over at her and found her staring back at me.

        "We there?" I asked, my voice husky from sleep.

        She gave no response, but merely turned away, then started forward after the light changed to green.

        "I said, are we there?" I reiterated, in case she hadn't heard me.

        She sighed heavily. "Not where you think," she finally answered.

        I quickly glanced around. We appeared to be in a semi residential area. I noticed several small businesses go past and then two streets of houses.

        "Then where are we?"

        "We're back in Alviston," came the reply.

        "Alviston?" I sat up straighter. "But, I thought you were takin'..."

        "Yeah, well... I had a change of heart," she said, with a heavy sigh.

        "Change of heart?"

        She glanced over at me. "I'm... takin' you to my house."

        I leaned back against the seat, wondering if she ever intended on taking me to Atlanta, at all. I was angry at first. And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she must trust me and care about me, if only a small amount, to be taking me home with her. But, it didn't make a lot of sense.

        "You have a house?" I queried, hating the silence between us.

        "Yeah. It was... my parent's. Another reason I returned home. She left me the house." She shrugged. "Figured I should get somethin' for all those years of abuse, I guess. I wasn't really her child, ya know." She stopped at a stop sign. "My real mother was her sister. She took me in when my real mama took off and left me with her. Never had any kids of her own." She started forward again, after looking for traffic. "Real mama was a whore, too. Like mother, like daughter, hmm?" She stared straight ahead.

        "I... uh.. I couldn't bring myself to take you to Atlanta. It's a cold city," she continued, "but if you want to go in the mornin', Rick will be leavin' around eight."

        "How do I find him?"

        "He... stays with me."

        "Oh, you mean you two are..."

        "No, not anymore. We had a thing for awhile, but..." She sighed heavily. "Few men can handle havin' a whore for a lover. Rick thought he could, but... now he just sleeps over on his return run from Raleigh to New Orleans."

        "You... still love him?" I heard myself ask.

        She shrugged. "I suppose, but not in the way you mean. And... I really can't say for sure that I ever did. Not in that really deep, in-love sorta way, that you see on TV and in romance novels. Not sure I've ever loved anyone like that." She paused. "It was nice havin' him 'round from time to time, but... I prefer this arrangement better. He sends some... business my way and I provide a roof over his head one night a week."

        And you provide sex, I thought, but didn't voice this.

        "I know what you're thinkin'," she continued, "but, it ain't so. We stopped screwin' each other right after we busted up, so to speak. He sleeps in the downstairs bedroom."

        She stopped at another stop sign. This time she turned towards me and stared long and hard. "Do you want to keep up this charade for him?" she asked. "I'm pretty sure he's gonna be there."

        I shrugged. "I suppose I better if... if I'm gonna ride with him in the mornin'."

        She nodded, then turned back around, leaning her head back against the seat. "I... I have another bedroom you can sleep in if... you prefer, but... I'd like it if... well, it's up to you." She eased the truck forward, then turned left onto another street.

        I wasn't sure what to say. My mind was working overtime trying to make sense out of all of this.

        Suddenly, she took another left turn and pulled up into a concrete driveway. In front of me, flanked by two huge oak trees, was a cream-colored split level house, probably dating back to the late 40's or 50's. It was evident from the lack of peeling paint, that it had been well taken care of.

        The front lawn was spotted with smaller oaks and hickories, leaving little room for grass to grow. But where it had, it was apparent it had been maintained, as well. Tall, Red tip hedges lined the both edges of the driveway leading up to the side of the house, where the one of the two huge oaks stood like a sentinel looming over it and providing abundant shade.

        The house had a narrow porch, rimmed by azaleas, that extended from the protruding split level all the way across the front and continued down the right side and seemingly around to the back. On the front porch there were several white rockers, as well as a huge swing. All in all, you would not know or even consider that this belonged to a prostitute. At least I wouldn't have.

        She pulled around to the side of the house, where the cab of Rick's truck was parked. She pulled up beside it and killed the engine. I could see a light in the front downstairs room, next to the porch.

        "He's here," she said, motioning towards that particular window, as she released her seat belt. She then looked over at me. "If you don't want to stay... I'll understand, but... I wanted to at least... try."

        I wasn't sure what she meant by that, but I was definitely curious about it all.

        "What's the inside like?" I queried, thinking this should say what needed to be said.

        She smiled. "Get your pack and come on in."

        I got out. Then joined her a few seconds later.

        "She's old and needs a good deal of work," she began, "but... I couldn't bear to sell her. Especially since I had no real home to speak of. Not a house's fault what goes on behind its walls." She paused and looked the house over, then started towards the side porch. "My father re-mortgaged her long while back, to pay off some gamblin' debts, so... I took over the payments. She'll be paid off in another five years, though."

        We walked up onto the porch, the old wood creaking under our feet. Then she went to the door and opened it with a key. We entered a small dark hallway. She turned and bolted the door behind me.

        A noise from the other end of the hall startled me. Then Rick appeared in the doorway of the room on the left. "Well, well," he said, eyeing us both. "Look what the cat drug in."

        Knowing what I did about their previous relationship, I wasn't quite sure whether he was being sarcastic or not.

        "Found him on the interstate," she said, as if in explanation of my presence.

        "Couldn't take it either, huh?" he asked, staring at her.

        "What can I say, he's a cute kid. Kinda... grows on ya," she replied, reaching back for my hand.

        As she led me by him, I heard him turn and follow behind us. The hall led into a large, brightly lit kitchen, decorated in yellow and white. Facing me was a long bar, with four stools and cabinets over head. Across the room were more overhead cabinets, which ran nearly the length of it, being broken up only by the window in the center. Underneath these was a long row of counter top cabinets that extended from one end to the other and continued down the right wall for a short ways. On the far left of the counter -near a wall and a door leading into what appeared to be a utility room- sat the stove. The sink was located in the center, up under the window. And the refrigerator capped off the far right end. I concluded that the cook in this kitchen had spent a lot of time walking back and forth between the appliances. The only new accoutrement I saw was a microwave oven on a small cart near the left wall. In the middle of the room sat a metal table and six chairs, which had all seen better days. She motioned me towards the table, then let go of my hand and started towards the refrigerator.

        Rick came up behind me. "You're one lucky little sonofabitch," he said, quietly. "That there ain't your average whore." He then went around the table and sat down.

        I wasn't quite sure how he had meant his first statement to be taken, but from the grin on his face, I could only assume that he held no ill feelings towards me and was actually happy about the way things had turned out.

        He motioned to the chair opposite him and I wandered over there. I sat my pack down on the floor beside me, then pulled the chair out and sat down. I felt uncomfortable being with the two of them in the same room. I felt rather like a fifth wheel.

        A few moments later, she sat three beers down on the table, passed one to each of us then sat down at the end, between us.

        Rick eyed her, then me. "You look like you could use some sleep, my man," he said, opening his beer.

        I wiped my eyes. "I am... a bit tired."

        "Then this oughta put you right out. Drink up," he said, lifting his can as if in mock toast.

        I glanced over at her. "Oh... would you rather have... a coke or somethin'?" she asked, seeming eager to please.

        I looked down at the beer. It wasn't my father's brand, but just the fact that it was alcohol made me hesitate.

        "Here..." She picked up the beer. "I'll get you somethin' else."

        Rick put his hand on her arm. "Don't go moddly coddlin' him. He's a man now. Let him make his own decisions."

        She put the beer back down on the table then looked up at me from beneath long, dark lashes.

        I had drank beer before, often when there was nothing else in the house to drink. But, I wasn't fond of it. I would have preferred a coke, yet for some reason, I thought Rick was challenging me. I wasn't sure whether this was one of those male things, or what.

        "Beer's fine," I said, answering whatever challenge he was putting forth.

        He grinned, then began telling a story about this truck driver he once knew who had been stopped for DUI and how he'd punched out this cop.

        I sipped the beer and glanced between the two of them. Mimi appeared to have heard the story, perhaps even countless times. She lit a cigarette and guzzled her beer, while occasionally glancing over at me. There was a look in her eyes that I couldn't quite comprehend.

        At the end of his story he laughed, I snickered and he started another one. Then the phone rang. He fell silent and she glanced from me to him. She got up and walked over to the bar, where she picked up a cordless phone, then pulled the antenna up on the way out of the room. I heard her say "Hello", then she was gone.

        "Business," Rick said, as if I needed an explanation. "She'll probably be leavin' soon." He took another swallow of beer. "She tell ya that I stay here sometimes?" I nodded. "Tell ya we used to have... a thing goin'?" I nodded again. "Not anymore though, so don't worry about it. Couldn't take it, ya know... all the other men." He took another large swallow.

        "She's a clean hooker. Cleanest one I ever met. Don't take on no trash, ya know, but..." He looked up. "Keep your nose clean around her, kid. She's a good ol' gal and I wouldn't want to see no harm come to her, ya get my drift? I ain't sayin' you will, mind ya, but... lot of times kids like you... been abused and all... tend to be abusive themselves." He turned up the can.

        "And... she being what she is," he continued, "you may get the idea that it's alright to take what you want, know what I mean? Well, don't!" He squeezed the empty beer can in his big hand, as if for emphasis. "Don't cotton to no rough stuff. She tell ya that's how we met?"

        He paused long enough this time for me to shake my head.

        "Yeah, that was when she first came back to town. She was bound and determined to keep this place here and desperate for money. She was a workin' for Dora then... the owner of that restaurant you was at," he added, as if he wanted to make sure I knew who he was talking about.

        I nodded.

        "Yeah, she was pretty hard up then. And desperate people've been known to do some pretty stupid things. Anyways, she took on this two hundred and some odd pound truck driver that'd just rolled in for a short stop over that evenin'. Dora told her she didn't know him and to be careful, but... well anyhow, I's out there that night with Candy... the blonde..." He paused and I nodded. "Heard this woman screamin' when I went by this room. Well, hell I knew there watn't nothin' out there but whores, ya know, but... I don't know, somethin' just snapped in my head.

        "I tried the door, but it was bolted, so... I grab me one of them trash cans out there and put that sucker through the front window." He crumpled the beer can up even more, while staring at it. "She was a mess. He'd really worked her over with only a few punches. She's still got a few scars. One right up here, near her hairline that she ain't had fixed." He motioned to the left side of his forehead. "Goddamn sonofabitch had this big fuckin' ring on this finger." He held up his middle finger. "Tore her up with it." He smashed the can flat with the side of his fist, then glanced up at me. "But, I took care of his ass." He reached down under the table and produced a large shiny hunting knife. "Cut him up pretty bad, too. But, the thing is he won't be messin' with no more whores 'round here."

        I shuddered at the thought of being cut with it. I knew what it felt like to have your backside slit, but not anywhere else.

        "Whatzamatta?" he asked, his eyebrows contorting into a frown.

        I realized that I had been gripping the table and getting ready to run. It was an automatic response to a knife.

        "Uh... nothin' I..."

        "What? Your old man get a knife after you or sump'um?"

        I wasn't sure whether I should tell him or not. My fear was so great that he would taunt me with it, that I remained speechless.

        He put the knife away. "Well, that's how we started," he said, changing the subject. "I mean... I've never been partial to brunettes much and... didn't really care for no Injun to boot."

        "Indian?" I questioned, finding my voice. Glad to have the knife put out of sight and the subject changed.

        He looked at me strangely, then chuckled. "No wonder you don't talk much. You sounded just like a girl." I hung my head, realizing I had almost blown my cover. "Ah hell, it'll pass, boy. But, yeah... she's part Injun, can't you tell?"

        I shook my head. All the Indians I had ever seen were on TV and most of the women looked like white women with real good tans.

        "Yeah, her real daddy was part Choctow. Or so she says. I could see it in her face first time I laid eyes on her. I used to live up in North Carolina, near Cherokee. Lot of Injuns up there. Some of 'um not too bad lookin', either. Get some white blood mixed in there to soften them Injun features and... But, I don't go for 'em much. Most of 'em I ever been around was mean as a damn snake. Me and her though,... that was a different story."

        He reached over and got one of her cigarettes and lit it. He saw me watching. "Oh, she won't mind. I bring her cigarettes and shit all the time. We... do each other little... favors." He grinned from ear to ear.

        Like me, I thought, but didn't say it. I wondered how much money he had actually put out on me.

        He sat back in his chair and took another drag off the cigarette while staring at me, intently. "You gonna want a ride with me in the mornin' or... have your plans changed now?"

        "I..." I paused and cleared my throat. "I don't know."

        He nodded and continued to stare. "How old are ya, anyway?"

        I remembered that he had guessed fourteen or fifteen. I took the oldest age. "Fifteen."

        "Uh-huh," he said, as if he didn't believe me.

        "She watn't really your first, was she?"

        She appeared at the bar. "I gotta go out for awhile," she announced.

        "Told ya," he mumbled.

        "Da.. Darby, why don't I get you settled and then... you can get some sleep."

        I nodded, then got up, grateful to be getting away from the conversation he had been about to start.

        "I'll check with you in the mornin'," he said. "But, if I's a bettin' man, my money would be on you stayin'."

        I followed her out of the kitchen and through what appeared to be a dining room. In the dim light from the hallway off to the right, it was hard to tell much about it, but I could make out the table and chairs.

        We proceeded into the hall where an enclosed staircase ran up the opposing wall.

        "There's a bathroom right there." She pointed towards the closer of two doors, leading off the rear of the hallway. "There's also one in each bedroom upstairs," she added, starting up the steps. "You decided where you want to... sleep?"

        I cleared my throat and made sure my voice was deep, in case Rick was anywhere nearby. "Where would you prefer I... sleep?"

        She hesitated a moment, but gave no response until we got to the second floor landing, then she turned around and looked down the stairs, at the hallway below, then at me. "I didn't bring you here just for that," she began, her voice very low, as if she didn't want Rick to overhear. "But, I wouldn't mind the company." Her eyes darted back and forth searching mine. "Don't like it that I'm goin' out, do you?"

        This time I was the unresponsive one.

        "It's not a john," she offered. "I got this joint across town... just a small club mind ya, but it's mine. I told 'em that I was goin' out of town for a couple of hours, but they had a problem and... took a chance I might've come back early. Anyway... one of my dancers called in sick at the last minute. I'll need to go down there and... fill in."

        "Dancers?" I asked.

        "Yeah,... it's a strip joint." She proceeded by me, into a small alcove on the right where two opposing doors opened off it. "Mine." She pointed to the door on the right. "Yours, unless..."

        I shifted my pack from one hand to the other, while eyeing her.

        "Yeah, so I lied... a little. I ain't a street walker, now. Never said I was. But,... I have done it and... I still have a... few clients. I do a few... favors." She paused. "So,.. what's it gonna be?"

        I wanted to go into her room and look around, but I couldn't. "I'll take this one. I wouldn't want to impose."

        "Impose?" She chuckled. "Honey, you ain't imposin'. I made the decision to bring you here, it wasn't even your choice, remember?" She paused, watching me. "Well, if you change your mind... Oh and feel free to use my shower. I'm not sure there's any soap or shampoo in there." She motioned towards the other room. "Just, make yourself at home," she added, as she started walking away.

        "Mimi," I called. She turned around and gave me an odd look. "Why... are you doing this? I mean, you don't know me from Adam's housecat and yet... you bring me home with you and leave me virtually alone in your house. I don't get it."

        She strolled towards me, slowly. "Would you believe me if I told you... it's for selfish reasons?"

        "And what are they?"

        She looked me up and down. "Number one ought to be obvious by now, shouldn't it? Number two, you remind me of myself. I wasn't a bad kid back then, just... confused, full of pain and... scared. Number three, I don't wanna see you end up where I was once upon a time. Number four... you don't live too long if you're a whore with bad instincts about people. Shall I go on?"

        "You were wrong once," I pointed out.

        She hung her head. "Rick told ya, hmm? Let's just say, I learned my lesson." She reached into a small pocket on her jacket and produced six small caliber bullets. I quickly felt for my gun. "Oh it's there," she assured me. "You just don't have any ammo."

        "So, you don't trust me then?" I asked, a bit irritated that she had been able to lift the gun and replace it without me ever knowing it. I must have been dead to the world.

        "I trust you, to a certain extent. But, I ain't no fool. 'Sides, I don't really think you'd have the guts to use it, unless you thought your life was in danger. And there ain't no danger here, sweetie." She held out her hand, offering the bullets to me. "But, I had to show you that you ain't got it all together like you think you do. There's few tricks I ain't seen, honey. Although, I have to admit, you had me fooled about being a boy, now. But, not for long, hmm?" She stepped forward and put the bullets in my palm, then reached up and touched my face. "I'm glad you aren't." She then leaned over and kissed me.

        Once again, I responded without hesitation. I dropped the pack on the floor and put my arms around her, pulling her closer.

        When she broke away after a few moments, breathlessly she said, "Damn, that's sweet." Then she kissed me on the cheek. "You're welcome to use either room, sweetie. Whatever makes you feel more comfortable. I'll be back soon."

        She started to pull away, but I wouldn't let her go. She arched one eyebrow. "Not so shy now, are ya?"

        I pulled her closer and kissed her. I wanted to be with her again, though I could hardly believe what I was doing. She moaned and responded, knocking my cap off my head, as she ran her fingers through my hair.

        "I.. haven't... felt like this... in so long," she mumbled around my kisses. "I wish I didn't... have to go, but... umm, honey...." Her kisses grew more intense, as I pressed our bodies together.

        "Shit!" she hissed, breaking away. She kissed my cheek. "I'm so damn hot for you," she whispered in my ear.

        To my surprise, this sent sensations flying straight down my body. I shuddered from the intensity of the explosion they caused when they hit bottom.

        "I haven't felt this way since.... Stay with me tonight," she requested. "Please, baby... I want you so bad."

        "Yes," I finally breathed, as she attacked my neck.

        "Good," she mumbled, nibbling on my ear. "Take yourself a shower and wait for me in my bed, hmm? I won't be long." She pulled back and this time, got away from me.

        She waved from the top of the stairs and then was gone.

Continued in Chapter 4

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