By Anj (A.k.a. Azurenon)
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)
"What!" she said, incredulously, when I told her two weeks later that I wanted to apply for a job at a convenience store several blocks away. "When did you go down there?"
"Remember the day you sent me for some cigarettes?" I asked, referring to two days ago.
"Damn!" she cursed.
"What's wrong with workin' there?" I had to ask. I'd thought she'd be happy that I was taking the initiative.
She stared at me. "Cause I want you to go back to school, that's what."
"School? I can't go back to school. You know they'll want to transfer my stuff from home. No way, man, uh-uh."
"I ain't no man. And I do know that. I'm... workin' on it."
"You... make a lot of friends in my line of work. You rub their backs, they'll rub yours."
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"It means... well, we change your name first off." She paused, eyeing me. "I assume you knew you'd have to do that no matter where you went."
"I... I've thought about it."
"So, did you plan to use your real name on the application to that store? And what about your social security number?"
"That's why I told you. I thought you could help me think of a way to get one. I know Candy changed her name," I said, referring to the blonde who had been on Rick's arm that day and had subsequently turned out to be one of her dancers. The same one whom I'd talked to while I was mopping one Sunday.
Actually I'd met several of her employees, either at the club, or when they dropped by the house. Some were standoffish, since Brandi had blabbed about us. But, Tiny, the bartender and bouncer -a heavy-set man with jolly eyes and rosy cheeks- seemed to take a liking to me right away. He didn't seem to care one way or the other. I think this was due to the fact that I was doing the job he hated. He didn't mind sweeping up at night, but he hated mopping. He said it hurt his bad back. He didn't seem to mind when she cut his salary to pay me for the once a week thorough cleaning, either.
"I'm way ahead of you on that one." She paused. "How would like to have my last name?"
I smiled approvingly.
"You're one of my cousin's daughters, did you know that? Yep, parents died in an auto accident and you came to live with me. Sound good?"
I shrugged. "What's the other? I mean, you changed my first name, too, didn't ya?"
"Uh-uh. Didn't think that would work. But, I didn't know your middle name, so you just acquired a new one... Ann."
"Darby Ann Rollins, hmm?" I queried, liking the way the name rolled off my tongue.
"Yep. Sounds good, don't it?"
"Hell of a lot better'n Darby Lee Jennings, that's for sure."
She smiled. "I hope to have ya in school by the first of January. That school shit's gonna be the tricky part."
"School means being... away durin' the day. Then by the time I get home, you're... gone," I observed, not liking that she was making plans for my future without consulting me.
"And this job is for evenings, I guess?"
"Yeah. I like my idea better."
"I don't. You need an education."
"Why? What more could I learn in another few months that I don't already know?"
"A lot. And you get that little diploma that can get ya into college."
"College? Jesus H. Christ, who the hell said anything about college?"
She lit a cigarette. "I did. You're too smart to waste it."
"I thought you were my lover, not my mother. When did things change?"
She took a drag on her cigarette.
"I'm gettin' a job, Anna. With or without your help." I got up from the table.
"You gonna go to school and have a job, too?" she inquired.
"No, just the job."
She exhaled a stream of smoke. "Then you'll be movin' into the other room, I guess."
My mouth dropped open, but I shut it quickly. "No, I guess I'll just be movin' on. I never had a mother and I... I don't need one now." I turned and exited the room with tears in my eyes.
All that sentiment about her being my hero had just been shot to hell and back. She was right, there were few of them around these days.
I flew up the stairs and got my pack out of the closet. I started stuffing my things inside, tears streaming down my cheeks.
She walked in as I was putting on my old jeans. "So, you're leavin' me, just like that?" She popped her fingers.
"I think I've... worn out my welcome."
"Where ya goin'?"
I shrugged, zipping up my jeans. I reached down and got my boots, stuffing my feet inside, while she watched. I went back to the closet and got my jacket. I still had my own money, she hadn't let me spend a dime.
I moved over to the nightstand for the gun. I had no idea where I was going, but I had lost my cool and was determined not to be pushed around anymore, by anyone. And that included her.
All of a sudden I was hit from behind and knocked over on the bed. She was all over me, struggling to pin me to the bed. Which she eventually did, to my amazement.
"You ain't goin' nowhere," she growled at me, her long hair engulfing me and framing her face. "If you think for one minute I'm gonna stand by and watch... while the best goddamn thing that ever happened to me waltzes out the fuckin' door, you got another think comin'!" She stared down at me, her dark eyes seeming to see right through me.
She was more beautiful to me at that moment, than she'd ever been.
"Jesus H. Christ you're stubborn, you know that?" she continued, "You'd actually leave me over this, wouldn't ya? Do I mean so little to you?" Tears were welling up in her eyes. "What am I to you, anyway, just an old whore? Huh? A roof over your head, food in your belly and a roll in the sack? Can't you tell that I love you? Don't you know that by now? Can't you see that... that if you walked out that door right now, you'd... break my heart into a million pieces?" A tear spilled from her eye, slid down her cheek, and splattered on my chin.
"I... love you, Anna," I responded, finally voicing those three little words which had been yearning to be spoken aloud. I raised up and pecked her on the lips.
"Then, don't you dare... leave me." She bit her bottom lip, which was quivering madly. "Still... wanna know what... it feels like to... fall in love? Well... it hurts like... holy hell... when you think you're... gonna lose 'em." She paused, letting go of my hands and grasping my face between them. "Dear god... I love you, Darby," she announced, as she placed her lips to mine. They were still trembling, feverishly. "Please don't... leave me, baby. I've... never loved anyone like... this before. Don't... do this to me. Please." She covered my mouth with hers.
It was a long, wet, sloppy kiss that nearly took my breath away.
I rolled her over on her back and stripped off my jacket, as I straddled her. "Just try gettin' rid of me, again," I challenged.
"Darby, no... don't.." I laid down on her so she couldn't stop me. I knew I was taking one hell of a risk, but I didn't care. "No, baby, please don't... it's not safe for... Oh Jesus... baby... oh shit... wait." I felt her when she stuffed another pillow behind her head, but I wasn't going to wait. "Mmm... baby, slow down... mmm...."
Neither one of us was able to say anything for a while. Then my legs went into spasms and I wanted to scream, but I held it in. A few moments later, she did cry out. "Dar-by.. I lo-ve yo-u!"
"I love you, too, Anna," I responded, kissing her birthmark.
"What time are you gonna be home?" she inquired, several weeks later, as I was dressing for my first day at my new job.
We'd went shopping again for me some new clothes. I wanted men's shirts, which fit my long-waisted body, as well as my boyish length arms better. She'd wanted me to get blouses like hers. We'd compromised. I'd purchased three men's button down oxford shirts, one low cut blouse and another pair of jeans, as well as a pair of Reebox tennis shoes. The Reebox were her idea.
"Don't want anyone thinkin' I'm not takin' good care of my cousin's kid," she'd said. "Why should they wonder, I'm eighteen already, soon to turn nineteen?" I had reminded her, referring to the fact that I had insisted on being an adult, at least on paper.
Her contacts had subsequently come up with the necessary paper work in record time. And as soon as I got the social security number and driver's license in my hot little hands, I went back to the convenience store. The manager hadn't filled the job yet in those two weeks, obviously being picky about who she hired. She'd looked me over carefully, eyeing my designer jeans and Reebox, reviewed the application and hired me right then and there to start the next Monday.
"Store closes at twelve. I have to mop, though, so... maybe around one," I answered.
"I'll call and make sure you got home alright." She paused. "Remember the deal, hmm? You get your GED and then we look into tech schools."
"No, the deal was if I get my GED, I can work. I'll be takin' the test next week. You added the tech school business, which you know I don't have the money for."
"I'll... work somethin' out."
"Don't worry 'bout it."
"No, you don't worry 'bout it. I'll work for a few years and save up the money to go to school. How's that?"
"Shitty. I know what you'll do. That school'll always be just a dream, 'cause you'll find other things to spend your money on. No, I'll take care of the school, you just worry 'bout the grades."
"You can't afford it, either, Anna. And if this somethin' you're gonna work out is takin' on more... outside work. I swear to you, I won't go." I sat down on the bed and started putting on my shoes. "I hate it when you do that," I continued, "it don't all wash off with soap and water, ya know. Oh, the actual scent does and I'm sure you feel cleaner, but there's still this... otherness that clings to you like an odor, when you've been with a man. You never told me you saw one on Saturday nights, but I know you do." Her mouth dropped open slightly and she put her cigarette up to her lips to cover for it. "You even had two last Saturday. Was he a new one?"
"No," she answered, solemnly, her head bowed. "Just not a weekly thing. I don't want to discuss this with you, Darby, I've told ya that. That's my job. And it's another life, separate from us."
"No, it's not. You'd just like to think it is. I know I've agreed not to bug you about it, but... one day I'm gonna have a good job and make enough money so that you don't have to do that anymore."
"Is that what this job thing is really all about?"
"Partly. And partly because I can't stand sittin' 'round here waitin' on you to come home, wonderin' who you've been with." I stood up and checked my look in the mirror. I needed to comb my hair. I walked over to the dresser.
"You... look good," she offered, evidently trying to change the subject.
"Maybe I can... drop by and... bring ya some dinner on my way to work," she offered.
"I've already made myself a sandwich. I'll get somethin' else when I get home." I ran the brush through my hair. "The chicken is in the slow cooker, all you need to do his heat up some vegetables."
"You... sound angry with me, baby. What gives?" she asked, walking towards me.
I shrugged. I wasn't really angry with her, I was just scared about the job and peeved over the situation that existed between us. I wanted her to stop hookin'. I wanted that "otherness" to disappear, so I could have her all to myself, whenever I wanted her. And not have to worry about who else she'd been with and what he'd given her in lieu of diseases, as well as done to her.
I'd noticed bruises on her inner thigh one morning and knew it could not have been caused by a fall or bumping into things. When I questioned her, she said that it was "nothing, she "bruised easily". I'd felt sick that morning; sick at my stomach and in my heart knowing that some john had gotten rough with her. To them, she was nothing more than a living, breathing "fuck me" doll they purchased for an hour and felt they had every right to treat anyway they wanted. To me, she was my companion, my lover and my world. Without her now, I'd be totally empty. I'd lost myself to her so many times that she was now a part of me.
"I'm just nervous, I guess," I finally answered.
"Be careful walkin' home, hmm? No rides."
"I'll be alright. It's little more than five blocks. Streets are well lit and... besides I used to hitch, remember?"
"Yeah well, but still... I don't like it. You ever drove a motorcycle?"
"Just wonderin'. Thought maybe we would... get you one of those mopeds... scooters or whatever the hell they call 'em these days."
"I doubt I could afford one. And don't you dare say I'll work somethin' out."
She smiled and wrapped her arms around my waist from behind, resting her chin on my shoulder. "I'm gonna miss you, baby."
"I'll... miss you, too."
She nibbled on my ear. "Hair's gettin' long. You gonna let it grow out?"
I stared at my reflection in the mirror, while she nibbled on my neck. I had grown to like the new me; especially the ease of caring for short hair. The natural curl was not so prominent when it was short.
"I'm keeping it short. It's too curly and hard to manage when it's long. I'll find a beauty shop sometime this..."
"Dora cuts mine," she offered.
"Um-hum. She used to work in a beauty parlor years ago. Did women's hair in the mornin' and screwed their husbands at night." She chuckled.
I found this only slightly amusing. I could just imagine how the women felt when they found out their husbands were going to a hooker.
She suddenly ran her tongue around the outside of my ear. "Sure you don't want to forget about this and stay here with me?"
"We could use the money. And I could use the peace of mind knowin' I'm not welchin' off you."
"Welchin', what gave you that idea?"
"I don't like feelin' helpless and... worthless, okay."
"You're far from worthless." She squeezed me tightly.
"Yeah, well, at least now I won't be penniless. I gotta go." I kissed her cheek and pulled away.
"Oh no, you're not gettin' away with that." She grabbed me and pulled me close. "How'm I supposed to get through the rest of the day with just a peck on the cheek, hmm? Cum'mere."
"Anna... please, I need to go. I'm s'posed to be there before three, so she can show me the ropes before she goes off shift," I said, trying to pull away.
She held me fast. "You got plenty of time. I'm drivin' you." She covered my mouth with hers again. It was a hard, wet, sloppy kiss filled with longing. "Don't you... ever... leave me," she mumbled.
I could tell that the shoe was on the other foot now. She was the one who would be lonely and wondering what I was up to. But, at least she didn't have to worry that I was enjoying sex with anyone else.
"Jesus, Anna, don't turn me on like this," I protested.
She paused, her hand slipping from my breast. "Just you remember who turned you on the first time, hmm?" she whispered. "You're my baby, now. I can't stand the thought of anyone else touchin' you."
"I... could say the same," I mumbled.
I felt her tense up. "Well, better go now, hmm? Wouldn't want you to be late on your first day."
Dora cut my hair the next week, in a back room of her restaurant, which was decorated like a lounge. I had half expected her to give me the cold shoulder, because of our relationship, but she didn't. She was just as friendly as she had been the first time. She did comment on the fact that I "made a pretty girl, as well as a handsome boy".
She chattered on while she clipped, telling me about a boy she'd once known that used to dress up in girl's clothes. Said he still lived here in town and she often wondered if he was still parading around in high heels and women's panties.
When Anna got up and left the room, to get something to drink, Dora opened up. "She looks happy," she commented. "Her ass ain't draggin' these days. Spendin' more time at home, too, I see."
"Is she?" I inquired.
"She sure as hell ain't out here near as much." She glanced down at me. "You know when Rick first come in here rantin' and a ravin' 'bout this, I's kinda pissed off at you, too. Didn't sound good to me. A'course it was none of my biz'ness. But, I've been around her a few times since then and frankly..." She moved around in front of me. "I ain't never seen her like this. Not even with Rick. I don't know what you're a doin' honey and... I don't care to know. Just keep doin' it, ya hear? I know a happy woman when I see one. And she's long overdue, know what I mean?"
"You mean... gettin' beat up and all?"
She glanced back around at the door, then moved around me so she could keep an eye on it, I assumed. "She didn't tell ya 'bout the drugs, did she?"
I shook my head slowly, wondering whether I really wanted to hear this or not. Anna had divulged very little about her past. Whenever I had asked, she seemed to find a way to change the subject. I assumed it was a painful subject.
"When she first came back here, honey, she was so strung out, she could hardly see straight," Dora explained. "Poppin' pills left and right, boozin' and shuvin' that white shit up her nose. She was damn lucky she hadn't met with disaster, sooner. That's why she went with that guy that beat her up.
"I tol' her, I said, 'Anna, I don't like the way he looks. Sump'um 'bout him ain't right'. Ya know, you can almost look in someone's eyes and see if there's anybody home or not, know what I mean? And them eyes, they's just dead. Watn't no... nothin'... just black and... creepy." She shivered. "And I was right. Don't ya tell her this, but... I think I seen his mug on one of them cop shows. They's lookin' for him, cause he killed some girls. I ain't sure it was him, ya know. Them sketches ain't so good 'lot a times, but... shoo-wee." She shivered again.
"Ain't no sense tellin' her we had this little chat, here, neither, hmm?" She went on. "She done tol' me, she don't want you involved in that part of her life. And I agreed you shouldn't be, but... you two seem mighty close. I don't know nothin' 'bout this here thing between ya... I mean, if it makes ya happy, go for it. They's little happiness to be found in this life. I just thought you should know about the drugs and... that man. I know how Anna is about her past. It's like pulling teeth, getting her to talk sometimes."
"Thanks," I responded, agreeing with her choice of words. It was like pulling teeth to get her to talk.
"She tell ya I helped her buy the club?" she asked.
I shook my head. This was the first I'd heard about this and wanted to know more, since it seemed Dora was an open warehouse full of information.
"Well, I did." she continued, "She straightened herself out after that asshole did what he did. Rick helped out there, too. Gave her... a sorta foundation to build on, know what I mean? Anyways, we's sittin' here a talkin' one day, and she mentions that department store closin'. Said she thought it might be a good place for a strip tease club. Said she'd worked in one before, knew how they operated. I said it sounded like a good investment, keep some girls off the streets hustling trash, so... I bought the place, handled the expenses for the reno... redoin' it inside and out. She disappears one weekend and I thought she was gonna leave me hangin', ya know. Then she comes back and six months later, buys the sucker from me, toot-sweet."
"Where'd she get the money?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. She sure didn't have it when she came here. Or at least didn't seem to. Mama left her a little bit, but... nothin' big. And besides she had that long 'fore then. Guess she already had some and worked real hard for the rest. When Anna wants somethin'... she us'lly gets it, one way or t'other. She brought you back, didn't she?" She chuckled.
"Ya know she sat around at the counter in yonder a long time after you left," she went on, "Rick was a worried about ya, too. Well, hell we all was. Nobody likes to see a young'un out on the road. Too damn dangerous these days. But, then some of 'em I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw 'em. You, now... you had that glow of innocence about ya. I could see right away that there's somebody home behind them baby blues. And that you's a mighty hurt somebody, too."
I wasn't aware any of this had shown, but was glad it had.
"Anyways, Rick keeps carryin' on 'bout ya being a nice kid and ya daddy treatin' ya wrong, like his did. And pretty soon Anna's back there on the phone a makin' a bunch of calls, then she lit out of here like she had a fire under her butt. I figured she was goin' after ya. Good thing ya hadn't caught a ride, hmm?"
"Yeah, really," I commented.
"Want these shaped like a V you said?" she asked, smoothing down my sideburns.
"Yeah, you know like a boy's, just don't go over the ear."
"Is... does Rick still hate me?" I had to ask.
"I wouldn't say hate, 'xactly. He just needs time to... come to terms with it. Seein' her with you was... like a slap in the face to him, ya see. Kinda said that their relationship was a lie, know what I mean? Made him feel like he hadn't been nothin' but another john. He just didn't pay for it."
This reminded me of what he had said about her not having sex with him in her bedroom. "Oh, then... it wasn't just me."
"No, I don't think so. He was just hurt and... pretty confused. You turnin' out to be a girl embarrassed him. I mean after all, he set ya up with her to begin with. And to think he kinda caused this... change in her was... it was hard on him. But I think he might be back around soon. He ain't got his stuff out of her house yet, has he?"
I shook my head.
"Then he'll be back. That's the excuse he'll use."
"You mean he'll be stayin' with her again?"
"Oh no, I doubt that, now. He... uh.. he got hisself an ear full, I think. Said he would've stopped stayin' there whether you was boy or girl. It woulda just been diff'ernt had you been one, ya know?"
I was embarrassed at the thought that he'd overheard us and that he'd told her about it. I could only imagine what it sounded like to someone else.
"Long as she's happy, honey, that's what matters. And Rick'll see that." She paused looking down at me. "Ya know, you look mighty happy yur'self. Don't see all that pain in them blue eyes of yours. She tells me ya took that GED test. Said ya passed with flyin' colors and ya've got yur'self a job, too. How ya like it?" she asked, changing the subject, for which I was grateful.
"I like it. Don't pay enough, but keeps me busy."
I went on to tell her what I did and how the manager was treating me. She liked my head for numbers and was already asking me to do some paperwork. She'd said that she was thinking of extending my hours from 24 to 40. I was only making minimum wage, but it was coming in handy. And I felt good about myself. Darby Ann Rollins, age eighteen of Alviston, Alabama was doing a hell of a lot better than Darby Lee Jennings would have, had she stayed in Greenbriar, Mississippi.
"You good with numbers, huh?" Dora asked. "Think you could run a business?"
"What business?" I asked, suspiciously.
"I been talkin' to Anna 'bout rentin' out the other side of the building," she answered. "I wanna branch out. Maybe put up a country and western nightclub out there. Got the parking space for it and she sure ain't gonna use it. That's what I woulda done with it sooner, if'n she hadn't bought me out."
"Why'd you sell?"
"She wanted it so damn bad and... at the time, I had my eye on a another place right off the interstate over yonder, but... sucker sold her out from under me. Anyways, if I was to do this, I'd need someone who could run her for me."
I was flattered. "You offerin' me a job?"
She chuckled. "Can't offer ya squat right now. I ain't got the place set up yet, but... maybe by time I do, you'll have yur'self a better head for biz'ness, hmm? You try to get that lady to teach ya ev'rythin' she can, ya hear. Then you can come work for me."
Continued in Chapter 8