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)
In January, Rachael raised my salary by two dollars an hour and virtually turned the store in our neighborhood over to me. She was busy with a new love interest and didn't have time for both stores, or so she'd said. I was now making out work schedules, ordering stock, doing the paperwork, handling the deposits and sometimes even filling in at the other store.
Anna hated it. At first, she merely griped and fussed every once in awhile, when I worked over forty hours. Then in February, she began ranting and raving. By March she was as ill as a hornet.
"I told you you'd forget about school, didn't I?"
"Dammit, I wanted you to get an education."
"I am. I'm gettin' experience. You can hardly buy that."
"She's takin' advantage of you, Darby. Dammit, can't you see that?"
"I'm makin' money, Anna. I'm helpin' support myself." I stared into the fire across the room.
"And not savin' a fuckin' dime."
I knew she was referring to the small 19-inch television I had bought for the bedroom and the small stereo, as well.
"Yes I am. Look at the checkbook."
"I don't need to."
"When's the last time you looked? Huh? You deposit the money, leave the slips on the table and I write it down. I write out all the checks too, you just sign'em. And I balance the thing when the statement comes. So, when's the last time you looked?"
"You know I don't like book work. I do enough of that at the club. You said, you'd handle it and I... I let you. What are sayin', I'm overworkin' you, too?" she asked, reaching over to the nightstand and lighting a cigarette.
"No, I just think you should look before you go accusin' me."
She exhaled a stream of smoke. "If we're doing so good, then you don't need to work anymore."
"I didn't say it was that good," I retorted, even though we were doing quite well.
She took another drag off her cigarette. "She's got you workin' too much. I hardly ever see you anymore. I want you to quit," she said, matter-of-factly, exhaling through her nose.
I knew this was her no-nonsense posturing. It was usually followed by "case closed", when I objected.
"No," I said, crossing my arms, doing a little of my own posturing.
"No?" she asked, incredulously. "Yes, you will. And I don't want to hear anymore argument. Case closed."
"Bullshit!" I fumed, getting up out of the bed.
"Where the hell are you goin'?" she asked, as I started putting on my shirt.
"Outside. The air in here is... suffocatin'." I marched over to the sliding glass door and opened it.
"Darby, goddammit. Get back here," she said, as I shoved it closed behind me, rattling the pane.
The backyard was thickly rimmed by eastern Red cedar trees, which shielded the house from the view of other neighbors. And the balcony itself was not entirely open to view, being covered with latticework panels, waist height on all three sides. I was certainly glad of this once I got out there, for I quickly realized when the cool breeze hit me, that I'd forgot to button my shirt, as well as put on my underwear.
I wrapped my arms around myself, rather than button it. I liked the stinging chill in the air; it was cooling my hot anger. I glanced up at the full moon, visible through the bare branches of the large Scarlet Oak that grew a mere ten feet from the house. I was thoroughly pissed. I was tired of her telling me what to do and just expecting me to obey her like a child. I wasn't a child any longer. I was eighteen now, although my license said I was nineteen. So much the better. I was old enough to make my own decisions about my life.
I had to agree, however, that Rachael was probably taking advantage of me, but I was letting her. And for the simple reason that I was learning a lot about handling a business and about responsibility. And that felt good! I had been dependent on my father for seventeen years. And I'd never liked it. He'd always had control over me. Now, I wanted to be in control of my own life. And she didn't want to let me, no more than he had. Only difference was she wasn't abusing me.
She truly loved me. I knew that as well as I knew that I was so very deeply in love with her, there was no way I would ever leave her. I also knew that she would soon join me. Which she did.
She walked out onto the balcony, her dark hair trailing down her back and shimmering in the moonlight. She was wearing the leopard spotted lounging suit I had given her for her birthday in late February. She hadn't liked the fleece-lined jumpsuit at first, cause she'd thought it made her look fat. After a nip and tuck, here and there by Candy, who often had to alter her own costumes to fit properly, it had become her favorite outfit around the house. It was always unzipped beyond her cleavage, for she said this kept her from getting too warm. Although, I had the sneaking suspicion she did it just to tease me. Because, I always knew when she was "in the mood", for it would be unzipped nearly to her navel.
"Aren't you cold?" she asked, the tone of her voice soft and warm.
She moved closer, her arms crossed and tucked underneath her breasts. "Well, I am. Come back inside with me, baby. You're gonna catch cold."
"Stop treatin' me like a child, Anna."
"Stop actin' like one," she retorted.
"I'm not. I know I'm not." I swung my eyes over in her direction, conviction in my stare.
"I'm... sorry, baby," she said, moving over behind me, her hands reaching out and caressing my bare behind.
"No, you're not," I retorted. "And that won't work this time."
She stilled her hands. "Please, Darby, let's talk about this inside."
"Why? Is being warm gonna change things?"
She sighed heavily. "Now you are being childish."
"Perhaps. But, you're being... unreasonable and... and downright selfish."
"That hurt," she said, sharply.
I turned around. "I meant for it to. You hurt me each time you treat me like a child, tellin' me what to do, orderin' me around like I'm you're... you're slave or... slut."
"I didn't deserve that!" she shot back.
"And I don't deserve to be treated that way. I'm old enough to make my own decisions, Anna. I have to learn to take responsibility for my own life. But you don't want me to. I don't think you want me to grow up. I think you'd rather keep me a child. Orderin' me around like a... a puppet on a string." I was on a roll and my anger was growing hotter with each word. "I think you'd like to keep me here, cooped up in this house like I'm some... some toy you take out and play with whenever you feel like it. That's what he wanted, Anna and you're treatin' me no better than...."
She slapped me so quick I never saw it coming. My face stung and my head reeled sideways. "Don't ever compare me with him!" she flared.
I lost it. I charged her, grabbing hold of both arms and slamming her up against the side of the house.
"Don't you ever, ever slap me again, goddammit!" I growled in her face. "I won't take it! Not from you, not from anyone! Not ever again! You hear me?"
She nodded, her eyes wild with fear. "Baby, please you're.... you're hurtin' my arms," she whined.
I eased up on my grip, realizing that I had more than likely hurt her more than she had me. It was the first time I had ever fought back in any way, shape or form, and I had overreacted. I felt very ashamed. My eyes fell to the charm lying sideways and half hidden in the fold of her cleavage. The one around my own neck seemed to burn against my skin, reminding me of the day she'd put it on me.
I let go of her altogether. "I'm... sorry." My hand went to the charm seemingly burning a hole in my skin, underneath the open front of her shirt.
I felt overwhelmingly guilty. The abused, had become the abuser, just as Rick had warned me sometimes happened. I felt unworthy of the charm around my neck. I turned away, clutching it in my hands, preparing to rip it off, wanting to feel the bite of the chain, before the clasp gave way. I yanked once, but the clasp held firm, as did the chain, which inflicted me with my own desired pain.
"Darby... don't! Look at me, baby."
I glanced around.
"You're right. I was wrong. I was being selfish and I was the one being immature. I don't want you to grow up, I admit it." She reached out and took hold of the hand clutching the charm. "I... I want you to stay dependent on me, cause I'm afraid that if you aren't... I'll lose you. You'll grow up and grow away from me."
She had coaxed the charm from my grasp and now pressed it against my chest. "But, that's not true, is it? We can grow together, can't we?" She paused. "Nothin' ever stays the same, does it? And that's why life's so interestin', 'cause... we never know what to expect from one day to the next." Her eyes darted back and forth searching mine.
"It's time you asserted yourself," she continued, "You see, you let me order you around, so... it's really our fault, isn't it?"
I nodded, agreeing with her reasoning. After all, I had allowed it to happen.
"You're right, you need to take responsibility for your own life and your own decisions. I won't stand in your way, anymore." She reached up and touched my face, where she had slapped me. "I'm growin' and changin', too, ya know. I... I don't know the first thing about relationships. I never had one like this before. All I know is... how they us'lly end, not how to make them work. And I don't know how to love you without... being possessive. 'Cause I'm so fuckin' scared of losin' you."
"I'm... not goin' anywhere, Anna. I couldn't leave you, if I tried. All I want is to... to truly be your lover and not... your child. I just... I wanna feel equal to you. And I wanna know that I do more than... warm your bed at night."
I reached up and put my fingers over my mouth. "Let me have my say, hmm? You listen to me for once. Allow me to assert myself here." I paused, retrieving my train of thought. "I... I just... I need to feel... to feel in control. I need that badly, Anna. Real badly. I don't wanna be dependent on you for the rest of my life. I want... I want you to be able to depend on me, too. Do you see? And I... I wanna feel like I'm contributin' somethin' to... to this... to us, really. To what we have here. I don't know anything about love and... relationships. But, I think we have somethin' special here. Somethin' real. And God knows I don't wanna lose it, but I don't want to be a... a prisoner to it, either. Am I makin' any sense?"
She nodded. "Plenty. I can relate to you wantin' to feel in control." She fell silent and didn't elaborate.
"One more thing, while I'm being so assertive," I said, holding up my index finger. She grinned and so did I. "You aren't the only one who feels possessive here. And you're damn sure not the only one who has a fear about losin' the one they love."
Her eyes strayed, for she knew what I was getting around to.
"I'd... I'd like you to quit hookin'."
"I know," she said, solemnly. "And... I will... one day."
I sighed heavily. "Is that supposed to remind me of what I said about tech school?"
"Maybe." She looked up at me. "Let's go inside, hmm?" She started around me towards the door.
"Anna," I said, reaching out and grabbing her arm. She looked back at me. "One more thing."
"I think you said that before," she intoned, cocking her head to one side and smiling.
"So... I lied," I retorted, mimicking words spoken to me. I pulled her towards me, my arms going around her waist, my hands roaming over the tight jumpsuit, encasing her behind. "Right here, right now," I said, covering her mouth with my own.
Her arms went around my neck, her hands through my hair. "How 'bout in there and... in a second?" she suggested, coming up for air.
I shook my head. "Um-um. I've always wondered what it would be like to do it out here... in front of God and everybody."
She put her finger to my lips, running it around them. "Then you can just go on wonderin' 'cause I ain't rollin' around on this dirty floor. Darby, stop now," she added, as I pulled the zipper all the way down. "Don't... stop, I don't want... oh shit..."
I covered her lips with mine and backed her up against the side of the house. She was tugging on my arm, but not hard and to no avail.
"Baby, please," she objected, breaking away. "You're gonna tear the zipper. Please, listen to me. It's a lovely idea, but... save the thought, hmm? When it's a little warmer, we can... we can bring the mattress off the other bed out here. How's that? Huh?"
I sighed heavily, resigning myself to the fact that it wasn't such a hot idea, at the moment.
"I promise we'll do it," she added. "I like the idea myself. It just isn't the right time for... what are you doin', now?"
"Pickin' your... ass up," I groaned, finding her heavier than I thought. "Oh shit... get the... fuckin' door."
She reached out and slide the glass back and I stumbled into the bedroom with her sagging in my arms. It looked like a hell of a long way to the bed, but I was determined to make it. She didn't object. Matter of fact, she seemed to be enjoying it.
I finally got her to the bed, then collasped on top of her. She ran her fingers through my hair and wrapped her legs around my waist.
"Being mighty assertive, aren't we?" she asked.
I couldn't even muster a reply.
"I didn't think you could do it. But, I'm glad you did. Do you know that no one has ever done that? I guess a woman who comes willin'ly doesn't get picked up and put in bed very often."
"You... weren't... fightin' me," I reminded.
She chuckled. "No, I wasn't, was I? I was too damn turned on by it, to fight. My, my, you're just full of surprises, aren't ya?"
Yeah, I'm a real rip-snorter, I thought, I waste all my energy getting you to the bed and now I can't do a damn thing.
"Gimme... a minute," I responded, still breathing heavily.
"Take all the time you need, baby, I ain't in no hurry. But, maybe there's somethin' I can do to help, hmm."
She rolled me over and started her healing ministrations. Move over Florence Nightingale, I thought, running my fingers through her hair.
Two weeks later, I went to get my hair cut and Dora was talking ninety to nothing about her new enterprise. I didn't need to ask if she still wanted to hire me to run her place, she informed me that she'd hired a man to manage it, not even mentioning that she had offered me the job. She did, however say he needed an assistant. The job would be something akin to general flunky, until he required more. I'd wait tables, take money at the door or do whatever else might be needed. It would pay less than I was making at the store, but it would not be the long hours. And she added, "You'd be right next door to Anna." That was the most enticing part, for me. But, I wasn't sure I wanted to give up the money. I could now see how money could become addicting. Yet, I told her I'd talk to him.
Anna didn't really take a stand on the matter. She stayed neutral, not wanting to interfere in my decision. I knew she didn't like the thought of me being around the club and the people who came there, but she couldn't hide the fact that she'd like to be able to see me more often.
On my day off, I went out to talk to the new manager, who Dora had informed me was named Barry Lakeland. The front door was open and I walked in. The place was seemingly deserted. Knowing he was probably nearby and would make his appearance soon, I went ahead and took the opportunity to check the place out.
They'd done a good job. There was a small stage for a band and a wooden floor for dancing in front of it. Surrounding this was an array of wooden tables, whose top was made in the shape of a wagon wheel and covered with some sort of plexi-glass and whose chairs contained the same wagon wheel design in their backs. The ceiling had been given a face-lift with a network of wooden rafters with simulated pegs. Lights hanging from the rafters spot-lit the stage, the dance floor and the bar. The main sitting area was lit by wagon wheel shaped fixtures, suspended from the beams, each containing six light bulbs.
On the right side of the nightclub was a small alcove, whose entry was through a pair of large swinging doors. On the other end of the alcove, was a new wooden door, which led into Anna's club. Dora had already informed me that there would be someone stationed in the alcove during business hours to make sure that customers wanting to go from one to the other had to pay the extra cover charge. There would be two separate hand stamps issued at the front and rear door: one for those only entering the nightclub and another for those paying for both priviledges. This way, they could keep up with who had paid and who hadn't.
For, this had been one of Anna's concerns. She didn't want Dora's patrons wandering into her club, with a drink from the other side, only to sit and watch one show, then leave. She didn't even like the idea of having the door put in, but Dora convinced her that it would be good for both businesses if the customers could easily go from one to the other, therefore availing themselves of a variety of entertainment.
Anna insisted, however, that Dora have her own bathrooms put in, since the ones she had were not large enough to accomodate such a crowd. And besides, the women's was used mainly by her girls, who were not at all comfortable with idea of associating with Dora's female partons. "You'd be surprised what nice, well mannered females will say and do when confronted with the competition," Anna had said.
As I took another look around, taking in the saloon like atmosphere, I thought that Dora just might have herself a moneymaker, here.
Finally, I called out. No one answered. So, I called out again. Still nothing. I waited a few moments, then walked over to the swinging doors. Knowing that Anna was on the other side and thinking that I might just find the manager there, as well, I went through them. Whether the large wooden door facing me was locked or not was debatable. It was early, only 8:30 and I knew she had not opened for business yet. Neither had Dora, who'd said that there were a few odds and ends to clear up before she held her Grand Opening on Friday, April 30th. Which gave me two weeks to make up my mind.
I reached out and tried the door. It was locked. It was like that barrier that Anna wanted to keep between me and her "other life".
"Have to go around front," said a deep male voice from behind me.
I spun around, finding a short, stocky built man, with silver hair and a full, but neatly trimmed matching beard, standing near the bar. I assumed this was Barry Lakeland. He appeared to be in his late forties and like all men that age, was developing a beer gut, which was straining against the blue and white plaid western shirt and overhung the large belt-buckle suspended from his jeans.
"You, one of her girls?" he inquired.
"No, I... I'm here about... the assistant manager's job."
"Oh," he said, as he raised one thick silver eyebrow. I could tell from his demeanor, that he didn't like me on sight. "You the one Dora sent?"
He looked me up and down, swinging a toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other. I was wearing jeans, boots and the blouse Anna had picked out.
"Real nice place," I offered, starting towards him.
"Uh-huh. Mighta been nicer if... it was someplace else. Lot a folks won't come out here 'cause a that." He motioned towards the closed door. "Ain't sayin' nothin' against your cousin, just... tellin' it like it is."
Dora had obviously told him about us.
"She runs a clean place," I defended, the dislike becoming mutual now.
"Didn't say she didn't. Just that... lot a married women won't come out here with their husbands 'cause a that."
"Lot of married men'll come anyway," I rebutted.
He stared at me then scratched his beard. "Well, Dora didn't leave me much choice about hiring you, so you already got the job. No sense dilly-dallying about that. But, I want to get this straight up front. What my employees do on their own time is their business." Uh-oh, here it comes, I thought. "But, in here... I don't want you hustlin' the customers."
My mouth dropped open in shock. Dora hadn't told him everything.
"I don't hustle," I assured him.
"Uh-huh," he responded, as if he didn't believe me. "Just keep your nose clean around here, if you wanna keep this job. Gals like you come a dime a dozen. If it was left up to me I wouldn't hire no prostitute, but Dora wants..."
"I'm not a whore," I said, indignantly. "I'm gay."
It was the first time these words had passed my lips and they sounded alien to my own ears. And yet, I felt vindicated. It wasn't that being called a prostitute was all that bad, it was just that he'd made an assumption that wasn't true and he didn't seem to take me at my word. Somehow, telling the whole truth made me feel justified.
He stared at me, seemingly shocked himself. "You mean to tell me you're.... Well, hell, that's even worse."
"What do you mean worse?" I asked, placing my hands on my hips. "You just said what your employees do in their off hours is their business. And now you know I won't be hustlin' your customers."
"Yeah, but... hell, gal I need someone who at least likes men."
"Did I say I didn't like men?" I questioned. "I just prefer women, that's all."
He scratched his beard looking me up and down.
"Look, if you don't want to hire me, that's fine with me. I wouldn't work for someone who can't trust me, anyway." I turned and headed towards the front door. "And don't worry I'll tell Dora that I just didn't want the job after all."
"Hey! Hold on a damn minute, will ya? I didn't say I couldn't trust ya. It's just that... you throw this damn lez'ben shit at me. What the hell you expect me to be, thrilled? Just hold on one damn minute here and let me get a grasp on this here situation." He walked towards me, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets. Evidently, he did not want to start out his new job by getting in hot water with the owner, where he obviously seemed to think this might place him.
"Now, you say you like men? I mean, you ain't gonna be punchin' no man's lights out if'n he cops a feel of your ass, now are ya? 'Cause ya know that might happen. A man gets a few belts in him and well... with an ass like yours... that's bound to happen."
I hadn't really considered this part of the job and wasn't particularly happy about doing so now. I wasn't sure how I'd react if some guy copped a feel. More than likely I'd want to hit him, but whether I would or not was highly debatable.
"Well, I can tell ya one thing, I sure as hell ain't gonna stand there and take it," I told him.
He nodded. "Okay, okay, not many would, unless she's hustlin'. They'll expect ya to play hard to get. Just don't tell'em it's impossible." He grinned and looked me over again. "Sure wouldn'a figured you for a lezzie. Don't 'xactly dress real feminine, but... you ain't 'xactly no bull dyke, neither. Least not like one I ever seen."
I followed him with my eyes, as he walked around behind me. He seemed to have changed his mind about me for some reason. And, I didn't think I liked the reason.
"You ain't gonna be messin' with the female clientele, now are ya?"
I spun around on him. "Let's just forget all about this, okay. I'm not what you're lookin' for and frankly, I haven't made up my mind whether I even want to work here or not. I already have a job that pays more than this."
"Just hold on now, don't go gettin' your feathers ruffled. I know about your other job. That's why I couldn't understand you wantin' this'un. But now... I'm beginning to. Let's both just... take our time and think about this here thing, 'fore we go writin' each other off.
"Now, Dora told you the base salary for this job, but what she didn't tell ya was that she wants me to groom you for mine. Ya see, I'm retired military, thirty year man. She told me she was startin' up this business and I told her that I'd had experience dealin' with buyin' for the Army. Used to run the commissary. Anyway, she asked me if I'd be willin' to help get this thing started for her. I didn't have nothin' else to do at the time, so I said, okay.
"Ya see, this ain't no permenant deal for me. I don't have to have the job, but it was the best offer I'd had since retirin'. My wife, now she wants to move back to her hometown in Texas and we just might well do that pretty soon, if we can sell the house for I want for it. But, until then this'll be good experience and give me somethin' to do. I might even open my own place down in Texas." He paused and crossed his arms across his barrel chest. "Now, does that change your mind just a bit?"
"How come Dora didn't tell me this?"
"Said she wanted to see what you were made of first."
"So, why did you tell me?"
He scratched his beard again. "'Cause seems to me you're cut from some pretty tough cloth. You ain't gonna let nobody run over you, I don't think. Least ways you weren't gonna take no shit from me. You want the job, but you're not gonna put yourself in a compromisin' position to get it, right?"
"Why'd you change your mind about me when I told you I was gay?"
"For one thing, you was truthful. For another, it told me you wanted to make your livin' with your mind and not your body. And, when I questioned your integrity, you didn't mince words with me, you just said what ya thought, then was gonna get out of harm's way."
"You mean you were testin' me?"
"You could say that. Guess that's my military background, showin'. I've known of a few lez'bens before. Made damn good officers. Didn't take no shit and didn't dish it out. They're real good in jobs requiring a knack for communication. And this 'un will require that. You got employees, customers, suppliers and sometimes the bands that she plans to have in here. If you's a prostitute now, you'd wear yourself out tryin' to fuck'em all to keep'em happy." He grinned slyly.
"Anna does just fine and... she doesn't fuck'em all."
"Hit a nerve, did I?" He paused, giving me time to respond, but I didn't. "Well, I guess ya know how I feel about whores now, don't ya? But, then you ain't 'xactly proud of what she does. Least you sure didn't want to be thought of as one."
I glanced away. "She does what she has to do. And I don't hide the fact that I don't like it, but... it doesn't make her a bad person. She was very kind to me, took me in when other people might not have given me the time of day." I heard myself tell him.
I looked up and found him staring at me. I could feel my face flush. I had revealed too much.
"No need to keep up the charade with me. I know now, that she ain't your cousin, is she?" He didn't give me a chance to answer. "And Dora already told me you was a runaway, 'cause I didn't buy the parents dyin' and you comin' to live with your whore cousin business. But,... we all run away from home at one time or another. Some of us just take different avenues. It's what you stand for and what you make out of yourself that counts in this world. Not where you came from."
I had a feeling that his past had a shady aspect to it, as well. And it sounded as if he just might have enlisted to get away from that.
"You want the job, it's yours," he said. "I need to know soon though, so I can find someone else, if you don't."
I nodded. "I'll let you know by the weekend."
"Good enough." He offered me his hand.
I extended mine and he shook it. "Still wouldn't 'a figured you for a lezzie. And especially not her."
Continued in Chapter 10