Chapter 5

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)

        "How old are you?" she asked, running her index finger down the middle of my chest and back up again.

        "Seventeen," I answered, honestly. "Why?"

        She glanced up at me and frowned. "Do you know I'm old enough to be your mother?"

        "Get outta here. You are not."

        "Oh yes," she said, earnestly. "I'm thirty two."

        I quickly did the subtraction in my head, then said, "Barely. So...?"

        "Just thought you might like to know I'm an old woman."

        I snickered. "I don't care about your age and besides that, I don't think thirty two is old."

        "So young... so innocent... and so very beautiful," she said, running her index finger over my right eyebrow, my cheek and then down to my lips. "I don't think I've ever felt this... close to anyone before. And I've only known you for what...?" She raised up and looked over my shoulder. "A little less than twenty four short hours."

        I glanced over my shoulder at the digital alarm clock on the nightstand. It was twelve thirty four. "Somethin' like that," I agreed, gazing into her eyes again.

        It hit me a moment later that Rick had already left and I hadn't heard a peep from him. I wondered if he had heard us the night before and decided that he would have won his bet.

        "Are you hungry, baby?" she asked, running her finger around my lips.

        "Umm... a little," I replied, leaning over and kissing her lightly on the lips.

        "Uh-uh-uh," she protested, when I started to come back for more. "I need to get up and get dressed. You start that again and we'll be here all day."

        "Sounds good to me."

        She smiled. "Yeah, I think you would stay in bed all day, wouldn't you?"

        "With you, yes."

        "My, how you've changed. Sounds temptin', but... I've got to get up and go down to the club. Tiny closed up for me last night and I need to get the cash and receipts from him," she said, rolling away. "Shouldn't take long. And since you're staying longer than a day now..."

        "Can I go with you?" I inquired.

        She glanced over her shoulder. "I thought you might want to," she said, getting up. "Come on. Take your shower while I fix us somethin' to eat." She walked over to her closet and opened the door, removing a silky black robe from a hook on the back. "You got anymore clean clothes in there?" she asked, nodding towards my pack.

        "One T-shirt, two flannels and two pairs of jeans," I answered, truthfully.

        "That other T-shirt look anything like the one you had on last night?"

        I nodded, watching her tie the sash of the robe and wanting to go over there and untie it. I sat up in the bed, wrapping my arms around my legs, wondering how my thoughts and feelings could change so drastically in so short a length of time.

        "Before you shower, take a look in those drawers over there." She motioned towards her chest of drawers in the corner by the window. "There ought to be somethin' in there that will fit you."

        "Are you insinuatin' my clothes ain't good enough for you?"

        "No. They just don't do a thing for you," she said, bluntly.

        "They aren't supposed to, remember? I'm a boy."

        She sighed heavily. "Are you gonna keep up this pretense?"

        "Don't you want me to?"

        "Why should I? Rick's not here for it to embarrass him. So, why should I care?"

        "Okay, today I start being a girl again."

        "Uh-uh," she said, shaking her head. "You're not a girl, anymore. Not by a long shot, sweetie."

        When she left I went over to the chest of drawers and opened the top one, not really knowing where anything was. To my surprise, I found money lying in a disorganized heap on top of several neatly pressed T-shirts, as if someone had just tossed it inside. There were several five-dollar bills in the pile and a couple of tens, but most appeared to be ones. Next to one of the tens was a crumpled napkin with handwriting on it. I could make out the words, "You, mine and dance". The realization that this money had more than likely come from her dancing the night before, hit me like a slap in the face. Feeling nosy for doing so, I opened up the crumpled napkin. The script was very neat and even though the black ink had soaked into the napkin and ran together in a few places, I could distinctly make out the words, "You are mine. Dance no more". A chill ran up my spine for it sounded like a threat.

        I started to shut the drawer, when a neatly folded sheet of paper caught my eye. This one was much larger and the typed words "Immune Deficiency Syndrome" caught my eye. I pulled it out forthwith and unfolded it, my heart beating a tattoo against my chest.

        Her name was printed at the top. Anna Marie Rollins, age 32, white female. I skipped over the rest down to the meat of the matter. "Acquired Immune Deficiency Test: Negative. Venereal Diseases: Negative."

        I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and folded the paper up, putting it back in the drawer. My mind had been replaying all the times I'd had sex with her and especially the one time this morning, which was something she had not wanted me to do the day before. Why? The question reverberated in my mind.

        When I came down the stairs, I had on one of her neatly pressed, five button Henley shirts that I'd found in another drawer. It clung to my body like I'd been poured into it. I was broader across the chest than she was, though not larger in terms of cup size, and I'd had to leave the buttons undone. I didn't have on a bra, either, because I hadn't brought one along. I had forgotten about it, since they'd been tied down and I hardly ever wore one anyway. I preferred to wear all my shirts big and floppy, so that "he" wouldn't notice my breasts. For, if he did he'd start in on me about my sinful body.

        She had her back to me, taking a sip of coffee, when I strolled into the kitchen. She turned at the sound of my boot heels on the tile floor. "Jesus H. Christ," she said, spilling coffee down the front of her robe. "Ah-h-h shit!" She untied her robe, then grabbed a paper towel from a holder underneath the cabinets and started wiping frantically down the front of her chest. "Goddamn, that was hot!"

        I walked over to her, not able to take my eyes off her body. I stopped in front of her then bent down and began kissing the red spot the hot coffee had made between her breasts.

        "Umm... you smell nice and clean," she said, running her fingers through my hair. "You've got the softest hair. So full and... healthy. You can use some of my perfume, if you want."

        In my ministrations, I wandered over to her right breast.

        "Uh-uh," she objected, moving away. "I appreciate you soothin' the burn, but... no more." She looked me over from head to toe. "Damn, you look good. Too good. You can't go out of here lookin' like that."

        "I don't have a bra," I explained. "I don't usually wear one."

        "Wouldn't matter if you did. You still wouldn't go out of here lookin' like that." Her eyes were still wandering over my body. "I didn't notice your jeans fittin' like that, yesterday."

        "These are a bit tighter, but..." I turned around embarrassed. Maybe my body was bad after all. "I'll go change into my own T-shirt and..."

        She grabbed my arm. "No. No, on second thought, leave it on. You'll have your jacket on, right? Without the gun, of course."

        I nodded acceptance of that request.

        "Sit down and eat. It ain't much." She motioned to the table where a bowl of instant oatmeal and a plate containing two pieces of buttered toast awaited me. "I've already eaten. Just make yourself at home. There's milk in the fridge, if you don't like coffee." She walked by me towards the door. "Oh, and I'll put your gun in the other nightstand drawer if you want. Or... if you'd rather take the other bedroom...?" She turned around in the kitchen doorway.

        "You want me to?"

        She looked me up and down again then slowly shook her head, a sly smile turning up the corners of her lips. "I'll be back in a flash."

        When she came back down, her hair was pulled back in a long braid that trailed down her back. She was wearing a white blouse, unbuttoned to the top of her pants and worn over a low cut, form fitting, black tank top. Both of these were tucked into a pair of black jeans, the legs of which were drawn down over a pair of black cowboy boots with two and a half inch heels. Hanging from a finger near her shoulder was my jacket.

        I couldn't take my eyes off her. Nor could I believe what I was thinking, when I took the jacket from her. Her perfume wafted back to me, as I followed her to the door. Memories of the previous time spent with her filled my mind, as my eyes drank in her shapely form moving so fluidly in front of me. Boy, had I ever changed!!

         She stopped by an apartment building along the way, where she said Tiny lived. She said she'd only be a minute and true to her word, was back in no time, with a bank bag under her arm.

        We then proceeded out to her club. It was located on 231, a divided six lane highway, which crossed over the interstate. I recognized the name from the previous day. I knew Dora's restaurant and motel was on this same road, but closer in proximity to the interstate. This particular section of highway, within the city limits, was called Reno Drive. From the names of the stores and the Army surplus shops, which were scattered here and there amongst fast food restaurants, pawn shops, cheap looking motels and smaller joints advertising "Girls, Girls, Girls", I surmised that this part of town catered to the military. A sign reading Fort Jackson, with an arrow pointing down a four-lane street named Jackson Ave, only confirmed this assumption.

        The building that housed her club, had once been a department store, belonging to a chain that had went out of business a few years back. The front window, which covered nearly a third of the length, was tinted so dark you couldn't see inside. A large white billboard had been placed across the previous store's name, now advertising it in bold black letters as "Pandora's Box". Underneath this, across the front windows, it read, "Exotic dancing, nightly 9 pm til 2 am".

        As we pulled into the huge parking lot I couldn't help but inquire, "Ever fill this up?"

        She chuckled. "If I did, I couldn't possibly get 'em all inside at one time. Not unless I put'em in the storeroom."

        The glass doors opened into a small dark alcove. On the left was a sliding glass window. Written across it in black letters was, "Admission: five dollars". She proceeded on to the next door, opened it with a key, then flicked on a row of lights. Time I hit the doorway, the odor of stale cigarette smoke and beer assailed my olfactory senses.

        "Jesus Christ!" she hissed. "Just look at this fuckin' mess. Tiny didn't say a damn word about not cleanin' up last night. Goddammit! What the hell do I pay him for? Shit!" She walked on into the room then turned around, scratching her head.

        I proceeded inside and glanced around. On my immediate right was a long bar, with nearly 20 stools running down its length. Directly in front of me was a high stage, that came up about shoulder height on me and was surrounded by a narrow bar with stools on all three sides. On the front corners of the stage were shiny silver poles, the bottoms of which had a small raised, circular type platform.

        Obviously noticing the attention I was paying the latter she explained, "When you step on them, those go 'round the poles. It's much easier than moving around them yourself with high heels on."

        I nodded, my mind conjuring up an image of a scantily clad female standing on this circular platform, and hanging onto the pole by one arm, while her body twirled around it. My eyes then wandered towards the back of the stage at the shiny silver curtains hanging there. My mind now handed me an image of Anna coming out from behind those curtains, while a bunch of men applauded and whistled. Then it suddenly jumped in sequence to her removing her clothes in front of that audience..

        "Hey," she said, snapping her fingers at me. "Where you at?"

        I shrugged, not wanting to admit what I had been thinking. I glanced around some more. It was evident that she was not using the entire store, for the left wall started where the front window ended. At the rear of this wall was a door, which read: "Men". To the right of it, closer to the stage, was a set of dull black curtains. I assumed the women's restroom must be behind these, as was the entrance to the stage, most likely. I then perused the state of the numerous tables surrounding the stage. There were beer bottles and overflowing ashtrays on many of them.

        "I'll help you clean up," I offered.

        "Okay, I could sure use it."

        We spent the better part of an hour cleaning off the tables, sweeping the floors, including the stage, bathrooms, her small cubbyhole office, and the dressing room. The latter two of which along with the women's restroom was located down the hall behind the curtains. I found the dressing room rather fascinating, since the doors to a large closet had been left wide open, revealing a lot of frilly, skimpy and brightly colored costumes. I wondered which one she had worn the night before when she danced. And just what kind of dance she did.

        When I came back out front she was behind the bar, over by the cash register, with the bank bag and a calculator.

        "Want me to mop, too?" I asked.

        She looked up and frowned.

        "Sure could use it," I added. "And frankly... it smells in here."

        She smiled. "Up to you. Mop and bucket's in the storeroom," she said, motioning towards the hall. "There should be some floor cleaner around the sink back there."

        I was busy into my mopping when I heard the door open and heels clack on the floor. "Thought I'd find ya here," rang out a high-pitched, whiney voice, thick with a southern drawl.

        "What are you doin' here?" Anna asked.

        "Oh, I come by to give ya that money I owe ya," the blonde said, prissing over to the bar, where Anna was standing.

        I stopped mopping for the moment, watching the tall young blonde walk towards the bar in her high heel black pumps, skin tight, low cut pink blouse and short, short black skirt. I just knew if she bent over she'd show it all, front and back. I could never dress like that, I thought, turning back to my work.

        "You didn't have to bring this all the way out here, ya know," Anna said. "You could have waited until Tuesday night."

        "Oh, ya know me, if I didn't give it to ya now, it'd be gone by tomorrow." I turned around as she handed Anna the money. "Hey, who's that? You hire somebody new?"

        "No," Anna replied. "Just a friend."

        "He's cu-ute," she drawled. "Little bit young for you, though, ain't he?"

        Anna cleared her throat. "I appreciate you bringin' the money, Brandi, now is there anything else I can do for you?" she asked, obviously trying to get rid of her.

        "I could use a beer."

        "Not on Sunday, Brandi. You know how the cops are 'round here. If one drops by and you have a..."

        "I know, I know, I know," Brandi drawled, quickly. "Don't get your panties in a wad. I was only teasin'. I'll fix myself a coke."

        "Without the bourbon," Anna added.

        "A'course," Brandi drawled back, her high heels clacking on the floor, as she walked around behind the bar.

        I made sure I kept my back to her, not wanting to look at her, much less see her expression when she discovered I wasn't a boy, which would be obvious, since I wasn't wearing my jacket anymore.

        "You payin' him to mop?" Brandi asked, her clacking high heels signaling that she was coming out from behind the bar.

        I eased around to keep my back to her.

        "Umm... no. Volunteered," Anna replied. I could tell by the way she answered the questions that she wanted Brandi to find out I wasn't a boy all on her own.

        I heard one of the stools squeak and her heels stop clacking.

        "What'cha doin' with one so young?" she asked, lowering her voice, though I could still hear her. "That's jailbait, Anna," she added, pronouncing the "A" as in Ann. "He from around here?" she further queried.

        "No, rode in with Rick," Anna replied, then added something I couldn't hear.

        "Um-hum... sure," Brandi responded, then fell silent for a few moments. "Oh, you mind if I practice my new routine? There ain't room to turn around good in that little ol' apartment a mine."

        "Knock yourself out. Just... keep it clean, hmm?"

        "Huh? Oh... yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it." She giggled.

         A few minutes later Anna started towards the hallway, carrying a sheet of paper in her hand. I watched her walking across the room, her shapely hips swaying from side to side beneath the tight black jeans. It was amazing to me how my feelings about so many things had changed. I had seen swaying butts before and never had it aroused me. But hers did! Was it perhaps because I had held those shapely protrusions in my own hands? Or because they belonged to the one who had set me free to explore my own sexuality?

        Brandi's heels hit the floor time Anna disappeared through the curtains. They began making their way in my direction. They stopped behind me. "What's your name, cutie?" she asked.

        "Dar-by," I stuttered.

        She giggled. "Oh my you are young aren'cha? You sound just like a girl." She giggled again. "I'm Brandi. You gonna be stayin' 'round here long?" I shrugged and kept my back to her. "Ever seen one of our shows, Darby?" I shook my head. "Wanna have a... private showin'? I'll be rehearsin' a new routine. You can tell me what'cha think, okay?" I shrugged. "Cutie, I think you shoulda been a girl." She giggled again. "Them's the nicest set of buns I ever did see on a boy. Nice and tight, I bet," she added in a low tone of voice, as she walked up behind me, seemingly towering over me.

        I stopped and started ringing out the mop in the designated place in the bucket. She came closer and ran her fingers through my hair.

        "Ooo, that's just as soft as it looks. Umph, she really laid one on you, didn't she?" she asked, obviously referring to the hickey on my neck, as she ran one long fingernail down the back of my ear. "Ya know hon, if you got any money, why... you and me could have ourselves a little... private party, if ya know what I mean." I offered no response. "Have ya got any money, sweet thang?"

        I looked over my shoulder at her, thinking this had gone far enough.

        "Ooh my Lord, look at them lashes," she cooed, as she reached towards my face and cupped my chin in her palm. "Honey, many a girl would kill for lashes like that. And those eyes. Such a dreamy blue." I felt her other hand moving over my behind. "Why a girl could get lost in them baby blues." I turned around fully, which removed her hand from my behind. "Now about that little party, cutie..." She was starting to reach out towards my chest, when she noticed what her hands were about to touch. "What... the f-fuck!!!" she exclaimed, taking a step backwards.

        I merely stood there while she looked me over, obviously flustered.

        "Damn you!" she said, irritation in her voice. "Why didn't you say anything? Why'd you let me go on and..."

        "Make an ass outta yourself?" Anna supplied from the hall doorway.

        Brandi shut her mouth so quick and so tight, her teeth clicked together. "You coulda tol' me, Anna," she said, through partially clenched teeth.

        "And ruin your fun?" Anna chuckled. "Besides I stood right over there not five minutes ago and told you hands off, now didn't I?"

        Brandi looked down at me. "What'cha doin' dressed like a boy for anyway?" she asked, obviously trying to divert attention from herself.

        Anna began approaching, her boot heels clicking on the floor. "She got smart, Brandi. You know how you told me you used to run away only to have 'em find you and drag you back. And how you always had to fight off the men you got rides with?" Anna stopped beside me and put her hand on my shoulder. "Darby here got smart. She dressed up as a boy and made her escape. Not even Rick knew she was a girl."

        Realization seemed to dawn in Brandi's eyes. "Now why the hell didn't I ever think a that?" She stared at me, her expression not so tight with anger now. "Still you shoulda tol' me," she chastised, chucking me under the chin, as she started walking towards the back. "She gonna be a dancer?" she called over her shoulder. "Sure got the body for it. I shoulda known right away. Her ass was too cute, if you know what I mean."

        "I know just what you mean," Anna replied, but only to me. "I like your nice little tight ass. And I don't want nobody else's hands on it, either." She popped me on the butt. "That is, unless you'd prefer somebody else?"

        I peeked around her to see if Brandi was anywhere nearby. She had obviously gone into the back. So, I leaned over and kissed Anna. She responded eagerly, wantonly, extending what had started out as a reassuring peck into a passionate lip lock. Her hands were quickly squeezing my behind and pressing me against her.

        We both heard Brandi clear her throat. "Umph-huh."

        Anna broke away, albeit slowly. There was no need trying to disguise what we'd been doing. "Shit!" she hissed, not even offering to turn around. "Yeah?" she said over her shoulder.

        "I need the key to the stereo cabinet," Brandi said.

        Anna reached in the right hand pocket of her jeans and pulled out a set of keys, then slowly turned and tossed them to her.

        Brandi caught them, then looked me over before eyeing Anna. "I see the real reason you wanted hands off, now. Found ya'self a little lezzie, did ya?" She flashed a quaint smile. "To each his own." She then turned and left, as quietly as she had entered. It was evident she had not been wearing her shoes.

        "Damn!" Anna hissed, turning back to me.

        "I'm... sorry," I offered.

        "Wasn't your fault." She sighed heavily. "Ah hell, someone was bound to find out sooner or later. Might as well be now, I guess."

        I was too embarrassed to offer any solace on the matter. I felt too EXPOSED. The implications that our twenty four hour old relationship was not "normal" now flowed like a raging torrent through my mind, sending debris crashing around in my head. I could hear my father saying, "You're a sinful evil girl, Darby. Just filled with demons. You ruin everything you touch."

        "Hey... what's this?" Anna asked, seeing the tears on my cheeks. I hadn't even realized I was crying. "Baby, what's wrong?" She lifted my chin so that I had to face her.

        I couldn't even muster a response at that moment.

        "Hey, it's not that bad, sweetie. This is the 90's, remember? Gay pride and all that. I'm sure she's seen it before."

        "I'm... really... queer." I blubbered, then burst into tears.

        She took my face in both her hands and stared at me. Then she pulled me to her, pressing my face into her shoulder. The mop handle hit the floor beside me, with a loud crash, as I reached out for her.

        She embraced me, kissing the back of my head, then my neck. I boo-hooed on her shoulder like a child.

        "I'm sorry, baby," she whispered. "You mean you never thought about this before?"

        "I... I guess... I didn't... want to."

        She kissed the back of my head. "You mean you've never had these feelings before?"

        "No, I... well, I... never had many friends... and I... wasn't around... many women that..." A physical education teacher I'd had back in ninth grade popped into my mind, unbidden. I'd had an awful crush on her, but I thought it was because I wanted to be like her. "Oh, shit," I breathed.

        She placed a kiss on my head again. "It's alright, baby."

        Suddenly something I hadn't even considered before entered my mind. "Anna... are you...?"

        "Come on over here, I think we need to talk." She had her arm around me as she led me over to one of the tables. "I guess this is overdue, hmm?"

        We sat down and she pulled her chair around in front of mine, taking my hands in hers. "I don't know if I'm... a lesbian or not. I mean, I haven't really acted on it. Not before you, that is. I mean... I've found myself... sorta attracted to... a few women, I guess. but...." She paused.

        Somehow this was not news to me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had known it all along. But I had ignored it, telling myself that she was merely tired of men using her body, like me. Or perhaps I was so caught up in all the new and wonderful feelings that I didn't want to question it. For, to do so might have ruined it all.

        "I don't know whether that makes me gay or... bi," she added.

        "Bi?" I questioned.

        She nodded. "Some people like both sexes, equally. I've often wondered if we all aren't bisexual, but... but that kinda bullshit is way over my head." She sighed heavily and stared at me a moment, then drew my hand to her lips, placing a kiss on my knuckles. "I do know one thing," she continued, "I know I like bein' with you... talkin' to you and... and makin' love with you."

        Tears were forming in my eyes again and I couldn't do a thing about them.

        "Cum'mere, baby," she said, softly, pulling me towards her.

        I ended up on my knees in front of her chair, my arms around her waist, my head cradled between her breasts.

        "Does it really matter what we are?" she asked, placing her cheek against the top of my head. "Gay... lesbian or bisexual... I still want you with me for as long as it feels right to you. And... whenever it starts feelin' any other way, I want you to know that... you're free to leave. I... I won't try to hold you back."

        I truly broke down then and cried like a baby. I wasn't exactly sure what I was crying about, because there were all kinds of mental pictures flashing through my head. Most of them were of my father telling me what a rotten, sinful and evil child I was. And the beatings. Oh God, those awful beatings that hurt so very bad, not only physically, but emotionally, as well; my little broken heart crying out for him to love me, "please love me", while he slapped me around; my confused mind wondering what I had done to deserve such treatment.

        Suddenly, the thought that he might have known about this other side of me, hit me in the stomach like a gut punch. I felt sick inside.

        "Oh God,.. he... knew," I blubbered, letting go of her and sliding to a heap on the floor.

        "Oh baby," she said, coming out of the chair and pushing it out of her way, as she eased down beside me.

        "He... knew... that's why... he beat me... isn't it?" I wailed.

        "Oh God, no, Darby," she said, kissing my cheek again and again. "Don't do this to yourself!"

        "But... he... he said... I was... e-e-vil," I squalled.

        She pulled me to her and held me tightly. "You're not evil, sweetheart. Evil is... people like him, who abuse helpless kids like you. How could he have known, sweetie, you didn't even know, did you? I mean you said yourself you didn't have many friends. How could he have known?"

        "I... didn't... know," I said and squalled that much harder.

        "You're not evil, Darby. Not evil, at all," she whispered in my ear. "You listen to me, if anyone is evil here... it's me. It's all my fault. It was cruel of me to take advantage of you and... and take you... to my bed." She paused. "I'm sorry, baby. So... very... sorry."

        I felt her start to shake and knew she was crying, too. She was hurting over something that wasn't true. It was not all her fault. I could have said no and left at any time. I had known that all along. She hadn't forced me to do any of it. If she had done anything, it was to show me more love and compassion than I'd ever known in my entire life. How could that be evil? For that matter, how could what we shared be evil? It had been tender, beautiful and magical. Like nothing I had ever experienced before. It had helped me forget my pain. Pain that he had caused. How could that be wrong?

        I felt a warmth rising up from somewhere deep within me. I did not know what it was, I only knew it gave me strength. Strength to calm the tears of that broken hearted and battered child within me, who still thought her daddy must be right, because after all he was her daddy and she loved him. It also gave me peace of mind that enabled me to reflect and remember the tender moment we shared that morning, when I felt myself healing inside. I wanted that again. Wanted it more than anything I'd ever wanted in my life.

        I eased back, looking into her tear-streaked face. I knew she was crying because she thought she had hurt me. He'd never shed one tear over any of the pain he had inflicted upon me. If she was evil and I was evil, then I wanted to wallow in that evilness.

        I placed a hand on each side of her face, tears still spilling down my own cheeks, and kissed her, lightly at first. Then I broke away only to come back again and again and again. Each kiss growing in intensity; each drawing her further and further inside me. I wanted her to touch that part of me that I had touched within her.

        "It... wasn't your fault," I finally mumbled. "I... wanted you. Like I... want you now."

        I kissed her again, long and hard, wallowing in the feel of her soft wet lips and the salty taste of her tears, while breathing in the aroma of her skin. Wanting to take her breath into my body and make her part of me.

        She broke away, breathless. "My... God, Darby," she breathed against my cheek. "I... I felt like... I'd lost myself."

        "I know."

        She eased back, gazing into my eyes; hers darting rapidly back and forth. "I think... I'd like to lose myself in you," she said softly.

        Our kisses were more tender this time, without the intensity of the previous ones. Yet, they were sweeter, somehow. We seemed to be tasting each other, as if our lips were some delicious dessert that had to be savored to appreciate its every nuance of flavor.

        "I don't care what we are," I finally said, putting my hand over the one on my face and drawing it to my lips, where I kissed her palm.

        "Are ya'll done yet or... should I leave?" Brandi asked.

        We both flinched at the sound of her voice. It was obvious that we had been so intent upon one another, we had forgotten all about her even being there.

        "Umm... go ahead and... do whatever it is you need to do," Anna replied, looking down at our hands, which were clasped together. "We'll be out of your hair in no time."

        "The way you two were goin' at it, I thought you were gonna get it on right there on the floor."

        Anna smiled, then bit her bottom lip trying to hold it back. "Nah... floor's too hard," she said.

        Brandi grunted. "Uh-huh." There was a pause. "I didn't know you went for... girls," she observed.

        "I don't... usually. But, don't worry 'bout it. You're not my type," Anna assured her, glancing over her shoulder..

        "Like 'em real young, huh? Is that why Phil left so sudden like?"

        Anna turned back around and hung her head. "I don't know why Phil left, Brandi,.. she never said."

        "I think she had a thing for you, ya know. I never wanted to say anything, but... some of the other girls noticed it, too."

        "And you confronted her, I suppose?" Anna asked, irritation in her voice, as she rolled her eyes skyward.

        "No. Jasmine might have, but not me. It don't matter to me what other people do. To each his own, I say. If that's your thing, ya know... do it. But... it ain't mine." Brandi paused again. "Ain't none of my business, but how'd you two meet?"

        "Long story," Anna answered, now looking at me. "And you're right, it ain't none of your business."

        Brandi grunted again, then I heard her walking away, her bare feet padding on the tile floor.

        "Come on," Anna said, getting up and pulling me to my feet. "I've got to finish what I came here for. Why don't you just put the mop and bucket away. It's Tiny's job anyway. And I'll probably be through by the time you are."

        I glanced around at the bucket full of dirty black water. "Well, Tiny's a lousy housekeeper," I commented, motioning to the bucket.

        Anna glanced down at the water then at the part of the floor I had mopped. "Want a job?" she asked, with a smile.

        "I suppose I could pay for room and board this way, huh?"

        She chuckled, arching one dark eyebrow. "Nope, I got other ideas about how you can pay for that. Go ahead and finish up, if you want. We'll... work out payment for it later." She turned away. "And I mean money-wise."

        I watched her walk away, her boot heels clicking on the floor and her shapely hips swaying from side to side. I didn't care anymore why I felt the way I did about this. All that mattered was I wanted her and she apparently wanted me. The rest was just so much... bullshit!

        By the time I got back with a clean bucket of water, Brandi had started the music and was practicing her new routine. I tried to keep my eyes on my work, but it wasn't easy. Not that I found Brandi attractive. It was just that I'd never really seen a strip tease act and was curious as to what they did.

        I glanced up occasionally, as she danced around, twisting and turning and suggestively moving her hips. I'd seen that much in movies. The next time I looked up, however, she was taking off her white dress. This stopped me in mid-mop. She was wearing a white lace underwire bra, skimpy g-string panties and a white garter belt with lace topped stockings.

        I glanced over at Anna wondering what kind of outfit she wore, and found her watching me. She didn't look happy. I immediately went back to my mopping.

        When I stole another look several minutes later, Brandi wasn't wearing anything but the g-string. I couldn't help but gawk at her large breasts. I'd never seen nipples that big in all my born days. I could see why Anna had hired her. I was sure she brought in the money. I was also beginning to see why men would come to a place like this. It was... stimulating, to say the least. Especially the way she was gesticulating. There was nothing subtle about it. And if this was keeping it clean, I wondered what the real show was like.

        I was caught off guard when Brandi bent over and spread her legs in my direction, the G-string riding up in her crotch. Then low and behold, the woman leaned over and looked through her legs at me. My mouth dropped open -nearly hitting the floor- when she made a "come here" gesture. I glanced over in Anna's direction, hoping she hadn't seen this, but she wasn't even there. I looked all around for her, but she was nowhere in sight.

        When I turned back to Brandi she was pretending to rub her crotch upside one of the poles on the stage, her hair swinging wildly. Then she broke away from doing this and started running her fingers around the string holding up her panties, acting as if she were going to pull them off. With her right hand she made another "come here" motion. I looked up at her, to make sure she was looking at me. "Come here," she mouthed and made the same motion.

        I wasn't exactly sure what to do. I watched her glance around the place then she pointed towards the bar. I knew she had left her coke over there before she even went back to start this routine. Thinking I was being nice, I went over and got it, then took it to the stage. I offered it up to her.

        She smiled down at me then took the proffered glass, while continuing to move her hips suggestively. She took several sips, while staring down at me. My eyes were having a hard time staying away from her undulating lower body. When I realized she was watching me, however, I looked away.

        "Got any money?" she asked, handing the glass back to me.

        I didn't respond, not knowing where this was leading.

        "Toss a five up here and I'll take these off." She ran her fingers around her g-string again.

        I swallowed hard. This was a hundred times worse than the little party proposition.

        "Don't be shy, cutie, men do it all the time. Why not you, hmm? I saw ya watchin', I know you'd like to see it."

        I backed away. She was wrong, I didn't want to see it. I turned around and bumped into Anna. The coke sloshed out of the glass and onto her boots. She looked down at them then up at me. The look on her face said she was hurt. She reached in her jean pocket and pulled out a money clip with several bills in it. She then withdrew a five and held it out to me. "Go on and get your thrill," she said.

        I backed away from her extended hand. I didn't want the money and I didn't want that kind of thrill. I put the drink down on a table and walked away.

        Some kind of conversation ensued between her and Brandi, but I was too far away to hear it over the music. Yet, I could tell Anna was not happy. Not happy at all!

        All of a sudden the music ended and Anna's voice rang out. "Fuck you! You did this shit with Rick and now you're gonna try it on her and I know good and goddamn well you don't want her! You just wanna see if you can get her away from me. Well, I'm gonna tell you one goddamn thing right here and now. You fuck with me on this one and I'll tear every goddamn blonde hair on your head out and leave you with nothin' but your fuckin' black roots!"

        She turned towards me and I winced, for I had just seen another side of her personality and it wasn't a pretty sight. She had one hell of a temper. I just hoped she'd never direct it at me. Yet, in a way, I felt kind of good. After all, it appeared she'd gotten jealous, over little ol' me.

        Her arms were around my neck, her face only inches from my own and her dark eyes were gazing into mine, as we swayed to the music emanating from the overhead speakers.

        She was through with her work, Brandi had left an hour or more ago, seemingly no bad feelings between them and I had finally finished mopping.

        "See, you do learn fast," she said, referring to the fact that I had never danced before and told her so only a few moments ago. Yet, she had talked me into trying anyway.

        "Good teacher," I said for the second time in twenty-four hours.

        She smiled and lightly kissed me. When she pulled back I leaned over and stole another one. She eased back and put her forehead against mine, glancing down between us, then returning her attention to my eyes.

        "What does it feel like to fall in love?" I asked, bluntly.

        She smiled. "I'm not sure I'm the one to ask about that."

        "You've never been in love?"

        "I don't know," she answered, easing back. "Maybe a... long, long time ago."

        "You're not that old."

        "I feel that old, maybe even older." She glanced away then laid her head on my shoulder, her arms now encircling them.

        "Anna, I love...."

        "Please, Darby... don't," she said, interrupting me. "One day at a time, hmm?"

        A silence fell between us and we continued dancing.

        "Umm... there's somethin' I been meaning to tell you," I began, not sure exactly how to broach the subject, except to come out with it.

        "Um-hum and what's that?"

        "I... well, I uh... when I went lookin' for a shirt this mornin', I... well I found your... test results," I stammered.

        "Oh, is that all," she said, not even raising her head off my shoulder. "I have those done every six months."


        She finally raised up. "It's just a precaution. I mean, you read the results, right?"

        "Yeah, but... um... I got a question."


        "Why wouldn't you let me do... you know... to you, yesterday?"

        She smiled. "Those results came in the mail yesterday. Rick musta brought the mail in while I was out with you. So, I didn't know until late last night. And no, I haven't been with anyone since the tests, except you. But, I sure didn't want you traipsin' out of there with some... disease. And possibly spreadin' it around."

        "You could have been," I observed.

        "Don't you think I know that?" she snapped. "I have 'em done as often as I can afford'em."

        "I didn't mean..."

        She put her fingers to my lips. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. It's just... well about six years ago I... I watched a friend die of AIDS. It wasn't a pretty sight."

        "I'm sorry."

        She waved the apology aside. "I think about it. I think about it a lot. That's why I have the tests done. I don't... take on many new clients now. Most of 'em are regulars, that I've been seein' since I came here. Most are pretty clean guys. Several are concerned about the same thing. But... you can never be sure who they've been with. And I'm not just talkin' about other whores, either."

        She sighed heavily, then continued, "I know you're probably wonderin' wasn't I takin' a chance with some boy's life, meanin' you... if you'd been one. Answer is, I never have intercourse without using a condom, okay?" She cleared her throat. "And that brings me to another matter. I... I was goin' to let this wait until... well, until the time came, but... since you've brought up the subject, I guess I should go ahead and tell ya now." She paused lowering her eyes. "That position you mentioned... the one I wouldn't let you do, until I knew the results? Well, it's off limits after Tuesday."

        "What? Why?"

        "I... have a client, so..."

        I turned away. I didn't like this at all! "Are you tellin' me that I can't touch you but two or three days out of every six months?"

        "I didn't say that. I said that particular position. There are other ways, ya know. Look at it this way, at least it won't get old."

        I didn't find this amusing, as I assumed I was supposed to. I merely stared at her.

        "Hey, come on... don't look at me like that." She placed a hand on each side of my face. "You may even be tired of me by then and want to..."

        This time I put my finger to her lips. "Let's go," I said. I didn't want to think about this anymore, much less talk about it. I wanted to live for the moment. My future was far too uncertain to dwell upon it and let it foreshadow the present.

        Asking about the seemingly threatening note I had found was the farthest thing from my mind now.

        We stopped at a fast food place and picked up dinner to take back to her house. All throughout the meal, she kept licking the chicken grease off her fingers in a very suggestive manner. I'd seen something similar on TV before, but had never understood what the big deal was, until she did it. There was no mistaking the effect it had on me.

        Afterwards she bathed me again and I her this time. It was the most fun I'd ever had in a shower, except for the previous day.

        In bed once again, she was no longer the aggressor. After what she'd told me about that particular position, that's all I could think about. I had liked it that morning. Liked it a lot.

        That night she found out what I had experienced the previous night. She started crying afterwards. I needed no explanation. I merely kissed her tears away.

Continued in Chapter 6

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