Thursday Nights in Soho
By Anne Laughlin
It was nearly nine o’clock before Ryan emerged from her City office building and began hunting for a cab. As was usually the case, her intention to leave work at a civilized hour had clashed with the persistent demands of clients and bosses, and as usual the clients and bosses won. Now she would be late meeting her friend Val in Soho, where they tried to meet once a month at a club that had a Thursday Lesbian Night. She’d hoped to be able to stop at her flat to change clothes, feeling her chance of hooking up with someone was greater in her hot casual rather than tailored professional mode. And hooking up was entirely the goal of these once a month meetings with Val.
A black cab finally pulled over and Ryan stared out the window at the London streets as they crawled through traffic. After living in London for four years, the magic had worn off a bit, but she still loved the city. It was entirely cosmopolitan, yet comfortable and tradition bound at the same time. She had been fortunate to make friends with Val early on, and from there she had developed a network of friends, most of them British, most of them lesbians. But no girlfriend had materialized from that ever expanding network of people, though there had been plenty who’d made their interest known. Ryan seemed content to concentrate on her career. To satisfy her need for sex, she aimed for the least involving encounters she could find.
Ryan paid off her cab and dashed across Old Compton Street to the entrance of The Wine Bin Soho. As she was checking her coat at the front she heard Val hail her from the bar and she hurried over to join her.
“God, I’m so sorry I’m late. Usual reasons, I’m afraid.”
“Of course, not to worry. I was about to call you on your mobile and tell you not to bother coming. It’s bloody dull as dust in here.” Val poured Ryan a glass of wine from the open bottle before her.
Ryan took a sip as she perused the room. The wine bar was one large room decorated in Euro blonde wood and chrome, with booths along one wall, a long bar along the opposite wall, and tall bar tables and stools placed in the space between. The booths were all full, but the bar and the tables were only half occupied. A much darker back room housed the sound system and dance floor, with the DJ scheduled to start at 10:00
“Well, I suppose it’s early yet,” Ryan said, “But you’re right about the company. It’s everyone we see each time we come here.”
“I know. I’m going to die of boredom. I’ll keel over right here at the bar, done in by ennui, and smack my head on the floor, blissful in the arms of oblivion.” Val lit a cigarette in exaggerated exasperation, and turned once more to observe the floor. “Oh, bloody hell, There’s that Sandy whatsits, the one from last month.” Val twirled back to face the bar again.
Ryan tried not to laugh as she saw the woman spotted by Val get off her bar stool and make her way toward them. “Incoming at twelve o’clock high,” she said, poking Val in the shoulder. “You’re going to have to fight your way out.”
Sandy marched up to Val and spun her bar stool around so that Val faced her, wine glass at her lips. Val lowered her glass and smiled, “Sandy, how nice to see you.”
“Oh, piss off, Val. I think your failure to return three phone calls shows just how glad you are to see me.” Val leaned back a bit from the smell of alcohol on Sandy’s breath.
“Well, I don’t even know how you got my phone number. And anyway, I was out of town. And my mother was sick.”
“Are you done?” Sandy asked.
“Good. ‘Cause I don’t give a shit anyway. You’re a total cad and I don’t want to waste my time with you. I’m here to ask your friend if she wants to have a dance.”
Val made a choking sound as Ryan turned slowly in her chair to face Sandy. “Are you talking about me?” Ryan asked. “I just sat down, and I don’t think they’re even playing music yet.”
“Well, later then. Come find me,” Sandy placed her hand on Ryan’s arm and started to move away.
Ryan held on to Sandy’s hand and said, “You should know that I’m a total cad as well. I don’t think you’ll want to waste your time with me either.”
“We’ll see. Look me up later.” Sandy walked away and rejoined her friends.
Ryan stared after her and then looked at Val, who was pouring more wine into their glasses. “You know, it’s gotten so we’re really not much better than men. We’re kind of pathetic.”
“What do you mean?” Val asked.
“Well, we come here once a month on Lesbian Night with pretty much the sole intention of getting laid. I think we can safely say that with a few notable exceptions, most of the lesbians are here with the sole intention of hooking up with someone, and I don’t mean just to get laid. They want to meet someone to be in love with. So in order to get laid we do exactly what men do, which is to give the women we’re seducing the impression that there’s some meaning to the encounter beyond the few hours we spend with them. They are more likely to come across if they think we are sincere in this way.”
“Well, I can hardly deny it,” Val said. “It’s a tried and true technique.”
“We’ve also developed an attitude that somehow ridicules the very women who have believed our lies, which is not only cruel but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We are truly fucked up.”
Val was quiet for a minute. “You’re just realizing this now?”
“What, have you always known you’re a bastard?”
“Yes, but it was much easier to live with when it wasn’t articulated in such a brutally frank manner.” Val turned back to the bar and hunched over her glass. “It’s just that I’m not ready to fall in love. I like sleeping with lots of different women. If there were more dykes like us it would be so much easier. Everybody plays, no one gets hurt.”
“I’m not sure populating the world with more dykes like us would be a good idea for anyone.”
They sat a bit morosely for awhile, Val facing the bar, Ryan watching the room. As they drank and brooded, the music finally started up. The dark room was now faintly illuminated by the colored lights around the DJ booth and the disco ball hanging from the ceiling. As women started to rise and make their way over to dance, the lights in the main room were lowered.
“That helps,” observed Val. “That and another bottle of wine and I might start liking myself again, no thanks to you.”
Ryan wasn’t listening to Val as she watched the front door open and two women enter. They were both clad in long wool coats which they left at the coat check and as they started to make their way across the room Ryan gave Val a tap on her shoulder. “Hold on. The evening might be salvageable.”
Val looked over as the two women took over an abandoned booth. They were roughly Val and Ryan’s ages, dressed smartly in the same kind of professional lesbian wear that Val and Ryan wore. One of them, a tall beauty with auburn hair, approached the bar and placed their order. Her companion stayed behind and used a hand mirror to freshen up her make-up. She was lovely as well, with a short, layered cut to her blond hair. Val and Ryan looked at each other.
“What do you think?” asked Ryan. “Friends or lovers?”
“I’m thinking friends. But we need to observe a bit more, I feel. It’s just embarrassing if you get that wrong.”
“Agreed.” They continued their conversation as they stole glances at the booth. The topic being covered in depth was who would go for the blonde, who for the auburn haired woman. For Ryan there was no question who she preferred. She couldn’t take her eyes off the woman now returning from the bar with drinks in hand.
Miranda placed the wine and glasses onto the table and settled herself across from Diane. “Anything happening yet?”
“Oh, yes. Two live ones over there at the bar. They’re trying to pretend that they’re not looking at us.”
“And they’re also debating whether we’re friends or lovers and if we’re friends, who is going to go off with who.” Miranda pushed a full glass of wine over to her colleague.
“Yes, that is being thoroughly discussed.” Diane put her mirror away and gave Miranda a brilliant smile. “I’d love to play around and confuse the hell out of them before drawing them in, but I’m not sure I have the energy this evening.”
“No, me neither. Let’s let them know we’re available and see how long before they come over. They look the right sort, don’t you think?”
“They’ll do,” Diane agreed. “I don’t think money’s a problem.”
“And they aren’t half bad looking, are they?” Miranda observed. “I’ll take the dark haired one, if you don’t mind.”
Ryan swept her dark hair away from her face and turned to Val again. “I’d say definitely friends. They were just looking around the bar like they were checking things out. Hey, I think they’re checking us out.”
“Are they still looking?”
“Yeah, and smiling, too. Let’s do it. I go auburn, you go blond.”
Fifteen minutes later Ryan found herself on the dance floor with Miranda in her arms. She had been even more intrigued by Miranda within a minute of sitting next to her in the booth. She was gorgeous and intelligent, with an easy, straightforward manner. Ryan pulled her closer as the music slowed and leaned forward to speak.
“I usually am here once a month. Have you been here before?” she asked.
“Last week was the first time.”
“And what do you think?”
Miranda wrapped her hands behind Ryan’s neck and smiled. “I think I’m going to enjoy myself more than I did last week.”
God, I hope that means what I think it means, Ryan thought. She was starting to want Miranda badly. As they moved lightly to the music, Ryan heard herself gasp as Miranda’s thigh moved between her legs.
“Felt that, did you?” Miranda smiled, and then leaned in to kiss Ryan. As the kiss deepened Ryan felt her heart accelerate and realized she was already fully aroused. She broke the kiss and looked back at Miranda.
“You don’t waste time, do you?”
“No point. I think we’ll get along just fine.” Miranda’s hand wandered down the front of Ryan’s shirt, pausing to discretely pinch a nipple along the way. The sensation streaked like lightening to Ryan’s clitoris and her eyes got a little wider.
“I’d say it’s a sure thing,” Ryan said, moving her hands lower to feel the swell of Miranda’s ass.
“There’s something you should know right away, though.”
Oh, god. There’s always something. “Okay,” Ryan said. “What?”
“I’m a professional,” Miranda looked into Ryan’s eyes to gauge her reaction, and what she saw was the usual confusion.
“Okay. Um, I’m a professional also. Investment banking.”
“You’re adorable, but I’m afraid that’s not what I meant. My profession’s much older than yours.”
Miranda watched as the light turned on and Ryan realized that Miranda was telling her she’s a prostitute.
“Huh. That’s really interesting. I’ve always heard that a lot of prostitutes are lesbians. I don’t know what to say, really. It’s not that it bothers me that you have sex with men.”
“I don’t have sex with men. I have sex with women, and they pay me for it.”
Ryan continued to look at Miranda as the wheels rapidly spun in her brain. She looked over to where Val was dancing with Diane and saw an equally blank look on her friend’s face. She looked back at Miranda and put a little more distance between them. “I don’t pay to have sex. Don’t see any reason to. Not that it’s ever come up before.”
“No, I don’t imagine you have any trouble finding girls.” Miranda kept her distance from Ryan, but ran her fingers through Ryan’s thick hair and smiled. “But I can offer something that only the rare girl can that sleeps with you.”
“And what would that be?” Ryan asked.
“Anything you want to do with no strings attached.”
Ryan found her heart accelerating again as she imagined the possibilities. But how could she reconcile herself to paying for sex? Wouldn’t that just make her more pathetic? The situation presented so many conflicting feelings that they essentially cancelled each other out. She was left with the clear understanding that walking away from Miranda was not the option she would select.
“Two hundred quid.” Miranda smiled and kept the same open expression on her face. “I’m worth every tuppence.”
“Jesus.” Ryan fumbled a bit and smiled sheepishly. “I’m new at this, so I’ve got to ask. What does 200 pounds get me, so to speak?”
“I promise you will not be unsatisfied. Do you have a flat nearby?”
Ryan signaled Val that she was leaving and wondered briefly whether Val was going to take the other woman up on her offer. Then she forgot about Val. By the time they arrived by cab at Ryan’s nearby Bloomsbury flat, she was close to coming from Miranda’s ministrations. The cabbie glanced into the rear view mirror several times before pulling over on Ryan’s street. Ryan quickly paid the driver and led Miranda to the top floor of the Georgian building, pulling her in for a kiss as soon as the door was closed behind them.
“Pay first. Then no more has to be said about it. It’s better that way,” Miranda said.
“Fine. Why don’t you get yourself sorted out, find the bathroom or whatever, and I’ll be right back.”
Ryan went into her study and found some cash and returned to her front room. Miranda had her coat off and her bag nearby, sitting perfectly composed on the sofa. She rose and came to Ryan, placing her hands on Ryan’s hips and drawing them close into her own. Ryan slowly placed the cash in her hand as she leaned over and drew Miranda into a long and passionate kiss. Then she gently pushed her away and walked over to sit on the sofa where Miranda had just been. She was alarmed at how her heart began galloping each time she kissed Miranda. “Will you take off your clothes for me?”
“Of course.” Miranda began to remove her clothing slowly, deliberately, in a practical manner that was sexier for its lack of coyness. She revealed to Ryan a beautifully proportioned, athletic body, full breasted but with slim hips and lean arms and legs. “What would you like now?”
Ryan stared at the woman before her and tried to think creatively, but she felt enveloped by a fog of arousal. She remembered that she was paying for the privilege of indulging herself, having her wishes catered to. There was no wooing necessary.
“I’d like you to touch yourself.”
“While I stand here?”
“No, come lay on the sofa.” Ryan slowly expelled her breath and rubbed her hands along her thighs, trying to calm herself, as Miranda lay against the arm of the sofa, her feet resting against Ryan. Her hands began to make their way down her body, first pausing to circle and play with her nipples, then moving slowly down to between her legs. Her left hand reached in to pull a lip back and her right began moving down, dipping in to capture some moisture, moving back to spread it around. Her fingers now moved over and around her clitoris, and they both moaned.
“Do you want me to come?” Miranda asked, “Because I can come for you, so easily.”
“No. Not yet.”
“You’re in charge, darling. But I can’t promise I won’t come if I do this much longer.”
“Just stick you finger in, two fingers, as far in as you can go.”
Miranda did as she was told, and began to breathe more rapidly. “God, it feels good. Don’t you want to be in here?”
“Soon. Come over here and kneel in front of me.” Ryan had removed her belt and was pulling her trousers down, lifting her butt off the sofa and then kicking the pants off of one leg. Miranda knelt in front of her and stared up at Ryan.
“Alright,” Ryan rasped. “Show me how good you are. Make me come.” Miranda leaned over and began kissing around Ryan’s belly, her inner thigh, inching her way closer to Ryan’s core. Before she got there Ryan gently took hold of the hair on the back of Miranda’s head and guided her mouth to her clitoris. “Right there. Use your tongue.”
Ryan struggled to stay focused on Miranda’s mouth moving against her, but she was almost instantly at the point of coming. Her head fell back against the sofa and she cried out as Miranda expertly worked her clitoris. Soon she was screaming as she came, holding Miranda’s head against her, moving her hips frantically, without control. When she finally collapsed, barely conscious, she reached out and gently pulled Miranda forward so that she came up on the sofa and snuggled against her.
“You okay there, sailor?” Miranda asked, a smile in her voice as she burrowed in closer. “That sounded like a dangerously big orgasm.”
“Yeah. I needed to get that out of the way. I couldn’t think straight.”
“Hmm. Sounds like you have plans for more.”
“Oh, yes.” Ryan raised her head and looked at Miranda. “You can stay longer, right?”
“I’m all yours.”
They lay quietly and soon Ryan was busy thinking again. With other women she never had much trouble moving on to more lovemaking. With Miranda she was starting to feel paralyzed, as if she had to impress her with inventiveness. She wanted to impress her somehow.
“Have you ever strapped one on and fucked a girl?” Miranda asked. “Or wanted to?”
That is exactly what I want to do, Ryan thought. How did she know? “I don’t have the equipment,” she said.
“I do.” Miranda rummaged around a bit in her bag and came up with a silk container. She drew from it a realistically shaped dildo and leather harness. Ryan felt her heart start to accelerate again as she reached to take it from Miranda. She stood and took Miranda by the hand, leading her to her bedroom.
“Pull the covers back and lay on the bed while I put this on.” Ryan felt another surge of arousal as she watched Miranda follow her commands. She placed the dildo in the harness and pulled the contraption over her hips, tightening it so there was no play. “Now spread your legs for me so I can see you.” Ryan climbed onto the bed as Miranda spread her legs and placed her hands along her inner thighs. Ryan thought her eyes looked a little glazed and she wondered for a moment how excited prostitutes actually got. Ryan lowered herself so that her face was between Miranda’s legs and she started to kiss and suck and lick her in every conceivable way. Now there was no doubt of Miranda’s arousal, for the physical evidence was plain. She was dripping wet and starting to writhe.
“I need you inside me. Please, hurry. I want you so much.” Miranda was urging Ryan upward and over her. Ryan looked down, wondering if she’d survive the physical challenge. Her heart was pounding and she hadn’t even entered her yet. Her clit was pounding as well, just above the base of the cock.
“Help me put it in,” Ryan said as she began to lower herself, aiming toward Miranda as Miranda guided her in.
“Oh, god, god, god, god.” Miranda said, moving her hips upward to take in more and more. Ryan moved her hips forward and stroked in, feeling the tip of her cock bump up against Miranda, the base bump up against her own clitoris. The feel of it, the sight of Miranda with her head thrown back and her mouth open, almost made her come. Slowly she pulled out, nearly all the way, and Miranda cried out and pulled Ryan back in to her, crying out again as the length slid into her. Soon they found a rhythm and soon after that the rhythm grew faster. With each thrust Ryan felt more intensely connected to the woman below her, more intensely poised to explode. Ryan came first, shocked, screaming, and yet somehow able to keep stroking until Miranda came a few moments later. The collapse was utter. They neither moved nor said a word for long minutes.
Finally, Ryan stirred. “I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time.”
“Well, you’re a natural. You were brilliant.” Miranda smiled at Ryan and touched her hand to her cheek. “Why have you never done that before?”
“There haven’t been that many women I’ve been with long enough to feel comfortable asking. It’s complicated, I guess.”
“And this is easy. See what I mean? No strings.”
Ryan was quiet awhile longer and kept herself snuggled against Miranda. “I don’t think I can go again. Apparently I’m a wimp.”
“That’s okay. I was going to have to go soon anyway.” Miranda moved out of Ryan’s arms and swung her legs over the side of the bed. “You were lovely, darling. I hope our paths cross again sometime.”
Ryan’s hand reached over to touch Miranda. “May I call you?”
“I’ll give you one of my cards. You mustn’t give the number to anyone else. That isn’t safe for me.” Miranda had risen and was heading toward the other room. “I’ll just bring that back to you.” Ryan continued to lay curled up in bed, her body drained from the two powerful orgasms.
When Miranda returned to the bedroom she was dressed, with her coat on and bag in hand. She placed a business card on the nightstand and then leaned over to kiss Ryan.
“I think you forgot something,” Ryan said, unbuckling the harness and handing it over.
“Ah, thanks very much. It wouldn’t do to walk off without that,” Miranda said, tucking everything into her bag. “You were fantastic. I hope you call me.”
“Really?” Ryan tried not to show how very much she wished that were true.
“Really. Now, you just stay there and I’ll see myself out. Goodbye, love.”
And she was gone. Ryan drifted over to the window facing the street and watched as Miranda emerged from her building and headed toward Tottenham Court Road. She watched as Miranda pulled a cell phone out of her pocket and dialed, and she watched until Miranda turned the corner and could no longer be seen.
The phone rang several times before going into Diane’s voicemail. Miranda spoke into the phone as she walked quickly down the street. “Diane, my sweet. Apparently you are still with your customer, while I’m quite finished with mine. I’m heading back to The Wine Bin since it’s just gone midnight. I should have time for one more, which will make for quite a profitable night. Okay, love, see you back at the flat.”
Miranda disconnected and picked up her pace as she slipped the phone back in her pocket.
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