by Casi Eve
Mature Theme Warning/Disclaimer: The following piece (call it PWP if you want) contains graphic depictions of women doing things you probably wouldn't tell your mother about, so if you're under 18, or a member of the extreme right ...why are you reading this website again?
Thanks to my angel, who read this piece for me when it was just a pile of creepy dreck... and didn't scream in horror when she did so. And, I've definitely got to thank the friend who loaned me her fantasy when I said I'm blocked, give me something to write about, wouldja? So, here it is...the names are changed to protect the guilty, but never let it be said that I don't take suggestions!
Feedback: I'm new to the genre, and let's face it, I'm posting...so I'm obviously a whore for feedback...Let me know what you think...if you liked it, if you hated it... or if you'd like to beg me to never write anything again because it was just that bad, please drop me a line @ firstname.lastname@example.org
She had just gotten in and was collapsing on her bed @ the Renaissance Hotel when the phone rang. After a long flight back from Marrakech, Shelby wanted nothing more than to relax for an evening before trekking the city. Just as her breath started to slow and her heartbeat return to a human pace, the phone rang... Groaning, she rolled over and grabbed the receiver, standing up and pacing the room...KNOWING who it was.
"Shelby, Listen...the assignment's changed."
"Oh, Come on, Byron! You promised me a single night! That's all I need...just ONE night!"
She was leaning out her window to Wacker Drive below her and the boats floating slowly by on the Chicago River, her hand reaching her head - bracing herself for the inevitable migraine that appeared whenever Byron called. Shelby had even toyed with the idea of ditching the paid suite at the Renaissance and getting her own room in another downtown Chicago hotel, but it would've completely defeated the purpose of taking the "Backpacking in Pakistan" assignment merely for the bonus. She'd not told her family yet, but she used the funds on an adorable MG she'd seen on a back alley in Rome. The owner had gone blind, and needed to get rid of the convertible merely to clear space, so she couldn't pass up the deal. True, it did cost a thousand dollars to ship it overseas, but when she went back to New York with all her rewrites for next year's summer issue... (God, how she hated writing pieces now for NEXT summer - who knew what would be going on between now and then the places she wrote about? She still felt guilty about the piece she'd done on the beaches of Lebanon in the 80's. News be damned, the Times ran it and it was Shelby Macgregor who recommended that the land of the Ayatollah was a wonderful alternative to a vacation on the Greek Aisles!) she'd pick it up and drive it back to the West Coast to house in their home.
"No, Shelby - I swear this is a GOOD thing..."
Byron proceeded to detail Shelby's time in Chicago, which was, essentially, to be clockless. The Times and the Chicago Tribune, along with the cities of NY and Chicago were doing a tourism push, exchanging travel writers from each paper to detail summer in the opposite city. When Byron told her the assignment, Shelby laughed so hard she fell into the chair behind her, dropping the phone. She had spoken w/a young writer on the flight back to the states and had heard about the job but had no idea she was the one who was up for it. According to the writer (who was nice enough but WAS a rather egotistical young upstart), this was THE job for every young writer in the US - a chance to explore either of the US's 2 major cities unbudgeted with boundless access to every club, bar and restaurant. Ahhh, what that bleached, pierced little maven would think now, knowing it was an expatriate matron from Ontario... who, at the moment was curry-ed out from her journeys around the east and merely grateful for a soft bed and air conditioning.
"Shelby....hello? Is it...Hello?"
She found the phone beneath her chair and accepted, telling Byron if he wanted the story done right, he'd leave her alone and simply let her explore. Placing the phone back in its' cradle, she opened the windows to her suite wide, inhaling the scent of the river, the city and the summer storm clouds she saw rapidly approaching the spires of the John Hancock building. As the storm built outside her 15th story window, Shelby slid off her khakis, falling backward to the bed below her, the sweet cacophony of the city as her lullaby.
She awoke to the traffic below her at 8 am, and jumped into the shower, priming herself to face day one. No itinerary on board, Shelby instead decided to carry her New York Times platinum charge and her ID and follow the day wherever it lead her. First stop outside her door - breakfast. She stopped in Govonor's pub, an Irish Bar and Grille just downstairs with tables on the sidewalk and a $4.99 breakfast special. It didn't hurt to check it out, and Shelby was shocked at the friendly faces that greeted her when she sat down. Nibbling her toast, she watched as the denizens of "the loop" filed by her, a motley combination of suits and the various and sundry uniforms of the service industry. The serfs - the inhabitants of the Walgreen's, the Burger King and the Wendy's passed by, a marked look of irritation on their faces as they glanced at her lazily eating her breakfast as they prepared themselves for another 8 hours of work which would barely pay the bills.
And, with that, Shelby had found a theme. She had a week...and funds... but prior to her egg and toast at the pub, she hadn't a central theme to run with. The day had brought her here, but rather than merely exploring the sandy beaches of the Gold Coast, she'd explore the dichotomy of the city of her youth. Why not? There was a story in it. Actually, two... Shelby the journalist was interested in the societal aspect and Shelby the travel writer had enough faith in her ability to construct a puff piece out of it as well - though she hoped it wouldn't come to that. She needed a home base, though, a jumping off point - and she knew her air conditioned, maid-attended suite at the Renaissance wasn't it. She left $15 and a happy waiter and headed for the subway, bidding farewell to State Street that great street for a moment and headed south - to Hyde Park. She took the train to 63rd and got off, to the horrified stares of the passengers riding with her. No one got of on 63rd ON PURPOSE, but Shelby did, and the commuters on the train stared at the dark haired writer maliciously, looking away only when her icy blue eyes stared right back. She boarded the Stony Island Bus headed for Hyde Park Blvd., disembarking in an area which enveloped her in its' familiarity. Aside from the various bilingual signs, the place hadn't changed much over the years. There were children playing ball in an iron-fenced yard, and she headed down the street on which they lived, reveling in the comforting music wafting from the open windows of the brownstones and three-flats about her. Etta James sang "Rock Me Baby" from a third story condominium from which a dreadlocked couple out their windows, refinishing the shutters and waving to the elderly woman walking her pug on the street below. She felt at home, and knew this was a wonderful center from which to start her explorations.
Shelby's mind wandered as the soles of her Tevas pounded the sidewalk and she felt her already bronzed skin baking in the midmorning sun. The strains of someone's Miles Davis still running through her head, she fell into herself, transcending the summer day of this year and taking her back to some far away yesterday, when her toes sunk into the sand on the shores of Lake Michigan and the sounds of the el trains crossing tracks were at once monstrous and magnificent to her young ears. As she went to step off a curb, she was jolted back into reality by the blaring of a late-model El Dorado's horn and the shaking fists of an angry young mother. Still on Drexel, she glanced about her, feeling entirely out of sorts. The brownstones had become tenements, though their casings still hinted at the beauty of the once official historic district and she noted the absence of any recognizable tune - only the harsh thump-thump-thumping of the bass in cars, speakers and headphones passing her by. Her pulse increased...the writer knew where she was, but this place was more foreign than the various and sundry points across the globe she had traveled, its' inhabitants surrounding her wearing native garb - youths uniformed in either red, yellow or blue - noticeably only traveling with others in the same, and speaking English-not-English. She stepped into a corner store to purchase some water, feeling the heat of the day and was greeted by the icy glare of the counterperson as she proffered up her $1.89.
She grabbed her water and left, seeing the sign for State Street, following IT northward. It was a ghost town, small projects appeared occasionally, but more often than not she glanced about her and noted the skeletons of automats and hair salons. Piles of rubble noting what was once section 8 housing lay in empty lots with fencing proclaiming "the future sight of....", and "Another reconstruction project as part of Mayor Daley's...." and, her favorite (considering the patrons she'd noted in the corner store) "Coming soon! Condos in the low $300, 000's!". With that, it all came into view. The bitterness, the bile...she noticed housing development skeleton after skeleton around her and realized that she was viewing pre-gentrification, and a neighborhood angrily rallying against it - and HER as a symptom OF it.
She passed by the lower loop and headed for Printer's Row, viewing it in a whole new light...inhaling the pulpy scent of the bookbinders as the warm breeze tunneling through the high rises washed over her. The shade was magnificent, and she felt the thin gauze of sweat cooling, making her walk a little more bearable. Glancing at her watch, she realized she let 1/3 of the day pass - it was now 2:00, and she'd not eaten since breakfast at 9. Her mind and stomach kicked in, and she headed for a lovely little corner pub off of the main road, where she helped herself to a cocktail (after that debacle, she deserved it!) and ordered a house salad, pulling out her notebook to journal as she waited. Noting the shift in neighborhood to neighborhood, she sat back after getting it all out and took a moment to breathe. On the wall, there were signed photos of John Irving, John Grisham and Steven King. Along the bar, walls were lined with poignant quotes and sketches, photos and newspaper clippings of famous authors. Above the trivia was a tequila bottle that was hailed as that which Hunter S. Thompson finished in 12 minutes right there in that very establishment. To top off the décor was a quote by Cervantes tracing the outline of the bar's back mirror. Noting the mixture of pop fiction and classic literature, Shelby noted it in her pad, drinking in her surroundings and the remainder of her Cape Cod. She ordered another, this time with Grey Goose (why not? It was on the New York Times' tab!), and sat back, contemplating where the day would take her next. Now, Shelby wasn't usually a mid-day drinker, and NEVER on the job, but her notes were taken and her job was to explore the city with virgin eyes - so why not deviate from form a bit? After all, the bar wouldn't be open if no one used it, so... heh... she was experiencing Chicago.
As she sipped her second drink, she looked around a bit more, feeling a bit more bohemian by the minute - no longer a rapist of the community, as she was viewed slightly south, she felt as if here she was among her own. Harried young men in rolled sleeves and Perry Ellis ties came in and out, grabbing their "to go" orders and rushing back to their deadlines, some never leaving their conversations with the voice on the other end of their cell phones.
"Charles said we'd have 170, 000 copies printed by now! Yes...I KNOW it's crap, but they want them for all the Midwest Walgreen's by this Friday!"
"Shannon, Honey... I know I said I'd be home for dinner but..."
"Awww, come on! I'm down here because I'm a WRITER!! How many more Cliff's Notes can you ask me to... YES... yes, I DID read Tropic of Cancer, but...Fiiiiiiine..."
She chuckled a bit as she jotted down more notes.... Ahhh...now THIS is Chicago!... Shelby then heard a voice above the drone - an oddity in this room...a feminine voice amongst the male-centered barrage of 1/2 conversations she was taking in.
"I don't know...I don't... They SAID they liked it, but now who KNOWS? Yep... I'll grab lunch here... But...heh, you're right...this IS Chicago...And...I'm not poor...I'm BOHEMIAN. Yeah, that's it...hee hee! No, I've got $20 to last me until next week...I can afford lunch...thanks. Nah, I've got some writing to do... I'll catch you later..."
And with that, she snapped shut her cell phone, grabbed a table and opened up a black leather folio, pen moving frantically across the pad...she melted into her chair, relaxing into her work and shutting out the bar around her. Shelby was fixated. The auburn haired young woman ordered a cape cod and mixed greens and concentrated on her task at hand as the room bustled about her. Shelby watched as she stopped and looked about her, emerald eyes drinking in the quotes, the pictures, the very things that grabbed Shelby's attentions earlier. This strange woman was younger, but didn't quite have the demeanor of a student, nor did she look like one of the daily inhabitants of Printer's Row. Attired in a knee-length floral print skirt and form fitting light blue v-necked knit top, straw platform sandals dangling off her pedicured feet, she instead looked like someone who had gotten off the wrong train - and decided to stay.
The woman's phone rang again and as she looked up to answer it, Shelby quickly looked down to avoid eye contact and an awkward realization by her subject that she had been staring at her. She didn't really know why she was watching this young woman, other than the fact that she couldn't be real - more like a character. To continue writing while on the phone, she attached her headset and proceeded to converse with the person on the other end of the line as if they were in the chair before her, hands motioning and making points with her gel-tipped pen in the air. As she prepared to disconnect, Shelby glanced away again, returning to her own tomes...the thought once again in her head was: THIS is Chicago. This young woman's absurdity amongst the harried orders of the worker bees, her boisterousness amongst the respectful writers penning purple prose while sipping bitter spirits... well, Shelby wasn't sure whether it was enlivening or obnoxious. She was observing intently, still trying to decipher which.
The women of Chicago, Shelby noted from her time in the airport and glancing about her in her travels thus far throughout the city, were either products of the surgeon's table, the bratwurst vendor or the over-used Nautilus room at Bally's. Observing the look of the people was all part of the research, but the writer noticed this woman looked like none of those she'd seen so far. Nails manicured, clothing lighthearted yet impeccable, she noticed the form and figure of her. She wasn't part of the atmosphere - and even if she could have been, listening to the 1/2 conversation she was having on the phone assured her deference from that...if only for the absurdity of it all. Her reddish-brown hair hung just to her shoulders, changing colors in the light, held back from her face by her sunglasses as a single strand escaped its' binding to fall down, drawing attention to the eyes which switched from an aqua green reflecting from her top to a deeper hue which ran through portions of the pattern of her skirt.
Why was Shelby noticing all of this? It worried her, as she was sure it would look absolutely insane if anyone saw her. She realized then (she told herself) , it was all in the name of research. After all, the journalist was the same woman who used 12 pages on a poultry salesman in the Himalayas while she was there - it wasn't an oddity for her to become fixated on a single character for a while, using THEM to illustrate the place she was describing. After all - what is a place without its' people? With that thought comforting her, Shelby noted the subtleties of her movement and the way she both blended with and stood out from the environment. Sufficiently noting all she could, it was time to leave the pub and face the day again, as she hadn't hit 1/2 of what she'd need to in order to compose a readable (and more importantly, sell-able) piece. She called the waiter over to get the check to put on the card and, looking up decided to thank the woman silently for helping her on the piece. Since she did contribute, she told the waiter to put her lunch on the card as well, signed for it and left.
Heading out to the streets again, Shelby was nourished by her lunch and her notes. She'd gotten more than she'd planned to that day, and was thrilled she made it to Printer's row on the first day. Regardless of what she was working on, there was just something comforting for her, for any writer, to stand in the middle of the street and know that surrounding her were hundreds of titles, thousands of pages, millions of words -enveloping her in their power and dwarfing her in their majesty. It was times like this that she was thrilled to have followed her chosen career path years before - no matter how many continents she'd travel and countries she'd explore, it was always life's little epiphanies that tasted sweetest.
Shelby decided to follow State Street straight north, taking in the storefronts and the tourists, basking in their sheer wonder and amazement as they leapt from shop to shop drinking in the wonder of the big city - thinking this was the pinnacle of the metropolitan existence. She knew better, and her smile grew as she headed back to the hotel to grant herself the luxury of a quick cool bath before heading out to see what the evening had in store. Tossing her shorts and top into the "to be laundered" pile for the maid service (god, heading home after THIS assignment would be a tough transition she knew!), she eased herself into the tub, an Ella Fitzgerald disc playing through the Bose speakers that ran room to room in the suite (VERY tough transition). After soaking for 1/2 hour, she stepped out, wrapping a towel around herself and glancing into her reflection in the mirror. The sun and the city had done wonders to sandblast the weariness of the Moroccan desert off her face and she felt at least five years younger, if not more. Grabbing a pair of smart black pants and black and white top, she headed out.
She had planned to explore the evening life of the Gold Coast to start with, as she hadn't really an idea of where to begin, but when she stepped out of the entrance to the hotel, the doorman instinctively hailed a cab and ushered her in. Not knowing where to say, she said simply, "Um, Lincoln Park..." When the driver dropped her off, she looked around her and thought she had obviously made a wrong choice, as the area was crawling with DePaul University students - mostly of the just-turned-21 or hey-man-I-left-my-ID-at-home persuasion, and there was nothing worth filling a column with THERE. She decided to wander down Lincoln, though, just to see if there was anything worth exploring. The hardest part of her job was always exploring the night life, as she'd never been a huge fan of solo outings, but it was times like these that she reminded herself that her job was just that - a JOB, and this was part of it.
Passing by a bar where the sounds of bad pop music permeated the air and the trendy tapas place, where perfect people looked perfectly perky and she developed an instant cavity merely in the passing, she stumbled upon the Red Lion on the corner. It was touted as "an authentic English pub", but she doubted that, having experienced the real thing. To begin with, in the US they could never serve the ale warm! The heavy red wooden door was inviting, and she walked into a pub which did, in fact, remind her of a haunt or two she would visit whenever in London. She grabbed a pint at the bar, listening to the sounds of acoustic folk music being played from the back of the room and heard loud strains of laughter coming through the ceiling above her. She leaned in to the bartender to inquire about it, and discovered there was a comedy show going on upstairs. Hmmm...now what's Chicago without comedy? She proceeded to head upstairs, paying the doorman as she reached the top, and taking a seat at the back of the room, which was the only open space available. She had a notebook in her handbag but didn't want to use it, instead observing her surroundings and committing them to memory. She glanced around the room to see what type of Chicagoan, exactly, inhabited the Red Lion, and from the look of this crowd, it was every type. As she scanned the crowd, she saw a familiar face. It was the woman from Printer's row, sitting at a table at the front of the stage, laughing at the performer on stage and chatting with friends. "Dear god", Shelby thought, "she's going to think I'm following her!" But she couldn't leave, as she wanted to catch the show. As she looked away so that the woman didn't notice her, just in case, the woman took the stage, emerald orbs looking across the audience and directly at her, smiling, and introducing herself to the room. Taryn. The woman's name was Taryn. What good did that do her? She had no idea, but she took mental note of it anyway.
The comic's act was approximately 10 minutes long, and Shelby couldn't help it - she laughed out loud almost all the way through. Embarrassed at being alone and at the fact that the woman obviously knew she was there (several times throughout the act, she locked Shelby's azure eyes with her own), she decided she had enough of the Red Lion to head on to other haunts, satisfying her curiosity there. She dropped some money on the bar for her drink and grabbed her bag, primed to leave. With that, she felt a hand on her shoulder and heard a voice behind her... "What? You think you can just LEAVE?" Dear god! How mortifying!
Shelby turned; knowing whom the voice belonged to, blushing at the thought of having to apologize for the impropriety of her being at the show. Shelby knew she didn't follow her there, but obviously SHE didn't. How awkward! And, as the words of explanation were forming in her throat, her eyes caught Taryn's as she was greeted with, "Come on now, you can't leave without me even getting you a drink to say thanks!" She extended Shelby her hand.
"Taryn, by the way." Speechless at the comfort level this woman had with her, all she managed was,
"Oh, I, um...I'm, um, Shelby...."
"Well, Um Shelby, what're you drinking?"
With that, Taryn got her another pint and leaned against the bar, accepting compliments from the patrons as Shelby thanked her for the drink, noticing the way Taryn's eyes traced her frame from foot to forehead, seemingly drinking in all of the writer's features, from the lean muscled arms which were prominent beneath the short sleeves of her shirt to the way her flaxen hair shined beneath reflection of the candles at the bar. "No Problem", Taryn said, pointing to a man at the end of the bar waving to her, "He's paying for it. Heh, comedy doesn't pay...unless you're an alcoholic!" The journalist sipped her pint as Taryn's stream of comic consciousness continued. "...so are you going to tell me now why you paid for my lunch or am I just going to assume you're a creepy stalker fan who's been following me for years and this is the first chance you've had to act on it?" Shelby nearly lost her drink, blushing a bright red and trying to stammer some sort of explanation... "...I mean if you are, you could've said something sooner, after all, who wouldn't want their very own stalker - it's very in right now, you know...I thought I was going to have to hire one... Oh, and I like the idea of having at least ONE person who goes to all of my shows!"
With that, Shelby felt more at ease, managing a coherent response to her original question about the lunch. "... and, like you said, I'm not buying!"
"Ahhhh, a woman after my own heart!"
Shelby explained the assignment to her, and they moved from a bar to a table where Taryn admitted having had the same character fixation with writing that Shelby'd had before.
"It's fine - an honor really... except for the whole 'not sure if I'm obnoxious or enlivening' thing!"
"Well, you really shouldn't talk on a cell phone in a restaurant - it's rude!"
"This coming from the woman who stalked me and is NOW insulting me? Yep, I'll take that to heart!"
They chatted as if they had known each other for years as the comic probed her for more information about her travels and explained why she was downtown in the first place. Shelby realized it was the first time she'd truly been asked all the details of her job... prior to this, she'd get questions about writing styles, she'd get questions about destinations... no one really seemed to care HOW she did it... what her methods for discovery were, and how the writing and the traveling melded into more than just a brief piece for a magazine. She had reams of notes describing the tiniest details of a mosque in Kashmir and an entire binder dedicated to different observations about the attitudes of women in different cultures regarding body image... she swore she'd write a book on it all one day, but couldn't seem to stop traveling long enough to do so.
"Well, I say travel while you CAN DO, and write about it when you CAN'T DO it anymore! S'lainte!"
Taryn's friends came up to tell her they were heading to a different establishment, and she let them go, enjoying herself w/Shelby too much and enraptured by her stories. What made them even more fascinating, however, was how she bound them with the life she led at home. Running a household, she left behind New Delhi and could tell Taryn what the top ten video games were that the 5th graders loved. Kicking the dust of the Andes off her boots, she could change into a pair of gym shorts and explain the complexities of grade school math...ok, even the teachers can't adequately explain the complexities of the new math, but Shelby kicked off the boots and tried, explaining her past and her impending future in the duality of her life as writer and mother and wife and, well, everything else the real world dictated.
Taryn went over her brief forays into the literary world but felt quite inadequate, as she'd let either the real world or the artistic overtake her, not once finding the harmonization the journalist before her accomplished. As they sat there, exchanging stories and stroking egos, the hands on the clock turned rapidly and the last call came before they'd even realized that the strangers who had been surrounding them previously had disappeared. As they left at 1 am, Shelby felt as if she'd gained a friend there in Chicago, and was a little embarrassed at having done so, considering the circumstances. As she was preparing to say good night, Taryn asked if she had something early to do the next day.
"No, why do you ask?"
"Well, you told me what the assignment was - I know just the place for you to get to the heart of it!"
With that, she grabbed Shelby's handbag, tugging her along with it, and lead her up the road to what appeared to be a tiny brick building with a yellow awning, but pulsing through the mortar was the thumping soul of Chicago - authentic, live, blues music. Heading inside The Kingston Mines, Shelby saw what Taryn was referring to as black, white and in-between was there, allowing the music to meld the moment and speaking rarely, if at all. Sitting her down in a table in the back, the comic leaned back, smiling, as she watched cerulean orbs take in the sights of the club, the people, the décor and becoming enlivened by the visceral quality of the music...pulsing in the very air of the room, pulsing in its' inhabitants. She'd found it... that first night... that which she was given a week to locate - the heart of Chicago.
The waitress brought over their drinks and chatted a bit, and Shelby could swear she was one of the same women who had shunned her in the corner store earlier in the day. The man behind the bass on the stage was perspiring beneath the lights, turning his white shirt opaque, and Shelby KNEW he was one of the people she'd seen pass by her as she ate her breakfast earlier in the day, as his shoes stood out among the hundreds that filed by her as she tried to read her paper. Dressed conservatively in a 3 piece black suit, he had on a pair of black and white patent leather shoes. She remembered smiling at them then and her grin only grew wider now. Same shirt, same pants, she saw the remainder of his ensemble tossed to the back of the stage atop what she could only assume was the leather briefcase he had welded to his left hand as he hurried down State Street past her in the morning. Glancing around, she picked other faces out of the crowd, recognizing them... it is true what they say about it being a small world, though she knew they'd have no idea who she was.
Leaning back into her chair, she let the music encompass her as she recalled her day moment-by-moment, ever conscious of why she was in Chicago in the first place. She couldn't believe that Taryn had brought her here - she knew for sure she wouldn't have found it on her own. She wanted to thank her, but when she looked over, she could see that her companion had become enveloped in the music as well, and her eyes were closed as the music shot through her like electricity. It was interesting to watch, the writer thought, this effect a single song had on this entire room of people and how it had tied in so nicely to her theme.
After recalling her day and how well things were working, she finally gave in and committed one of the worst sins a writer could - she stopped thinking.
It was wonderfully freeing, as she sat there next to her new friend, she felt the music coursing through her veins and an even odder feeling than that, which she kept trying to quash. She looked over at her, and felt...something.... and it wasn't something she was used to. Shelby didn't want to ruin the evening by mentioning it, as she'd just gotten over the oddity of the entire situation to begin with. She kept silent, instead melting into the music and allowing herself to be free once more. Another band replaced the first, and the two women sat there, silently basking in the music and the electric tension which coursed within the air between them, in the back of the Kingston Mines until the barmaid called last call and the lights went on. The bright glare of the lights snapped Shelby into lucidity again, and she glanced at her watch - 5:14 am. She had been out all night, and had 6 more days left to her assignment. Hit by the hour, she wondered whether or not she could spend them sleeping, as she'd more than enough info from the first day for a splendid article. As they left through the wooden doors of the club to greet the night, the pink sky confirmed it was truly morning. Shelby searched for a cab and as she did so, her tour guide bid adieu.
"Wait!", Shelby cried out reflexively as Taryn turned to face her. "Where are you going?"
"Home seems like a viable alternative. Where else?"
"Well, no, I mean... um...what are you doing later?"
The journalist felt like a schoolgirl, but didn't want the week to end on the first day. She was oddly empowered by the stranger, yet her tongue couldn't seem to function correctly. She didn't know how to merely ask her for dinner later in the day, so she handed out the hotel card she carried for reference and wrote her room number on it.
"Here...I'll be here all week, and dinner is always on the Times - save that $20 until I go home!"
Taryn laughed at the fact that she even remembered what she had said on the cell phone to her roommate, but then realized that the $20 after the first drink she bought herself at the Red Lion was now down to $16, and besides, she'd taken a liking to the writer.
"Hey, I'm a big fan of exploring - and I've got the week off... whenever you like, I can join you on your jaunts...."
"I'll hold you to that!"
With that, they hugged goodbye as an electric pulse neither would admit to shot through each of them. Taryn headed up Halstead to her apartment, and Shelby entered the first cab, directing him to her hotel on the corner of State and Wacker. Collapsing into her bed w/o removing her clothing, she awoke several hours later to the sounds of Chicago carrying on beneath her. Because of the hour, she was terribly disoriented, and wandered the suite looking for proof that the night did, in fact, happen. Just as she had begun doubting herself, she found a Kingston Mines napkin, the message "Thanks for lunch! Anyway I can make it up let me know." and a telephone number written on it. Beneath the telephone number was a T with a circle around it, and Shelby knew it was Taryn's. Her heart beat a little faster, knowing it WASN'T a dream, and she contemplated calling her right then. However, exhaustion won out and she discarded the night before's clothes to the laundry pile and crawled back into bed, her mind plagued with a variety of thoughts involving her travels, Chicago, and more interestingly, the intriguing comic.
After several more hours of sleep, she arose refreshed and headed for the shower where she stood beneath the dual heads for long minutes contemplating the day before her. She had no plans...she'd gotten what she needed for her article... or at least ENOUGH for an article and a several page catalog and so there was no more pressure - only the desire for leisurely discovery. Getting out of the shower and wrapping herself in a plush towel, Shelby headed for the nightstand, where she picked up the napkin and dialed the number... it was a cell phone, and, embarrassed, she hung up as the voice mail picked up her call. Several minutes later, she got a call from Taryn, laughing and telling her about the wonders of cellular caller ID. As fate would have it, the younger woman was shopping downtown w/a friend earlier in the day and was only several blocks from the hotel. Shelby offered room service for breakfast...or brunch...or whatever meal one would call it when they've just woken up at 2 in the afternoon. Accepting, the comic said she'd be there in just a minute - that minute coming before the older woman thought, and before she'd had a chance to throw some clothes on, the call from security to allow her clearance had come. Taryn was at her door before she knew it and she couldn't leave her waiting, so she let her in while still covered only with the towel.
When she opened the door, Shelby again noticed the younger woman's appraisal of her frame. Having traveled the world for the magazine and climbed more than one mountain in the name of duty, the writer possessed an athletic frame, the bronzed muscles on her arms and legs apparent as she stood there, swathed only in terrycloth.
"It's a good look on you... preparing yourself for the temperature today I see..."
"Yep... I'm like a girl scout... always prepared!"
"Oh, I must be a bad girl scout, then", Taryn said as she looked down at her black stretch pants and cream knit top, "because I'm totally unprepared! Have a spare towel I can borrow? We can be twins!"
Shelby grabbed another towel from the bathroom and threw it at her, laughing, thinking thoughts about the redhead that were most definitely not sisterly.
"Here you go - be my guest...wait...this is a hotel...you ARE my guest!"
The younger woman put the towel to the side, and Shelby ordered a breakfast of fresh fruit for them from room service. They chatted comfortably, and Taryn sat on the edge of the bed, bouncing up and down slightly like a child, irritating her hostess just a bit.
"Must you do that?"
"Yep...I sleep on a wooden floor futon every night - THIS is a vacation for me!"
With that, Taryn flung herself, arms spread, onto the bed, chest in the air, as she lie there awaiting breakfast. The writer didn't bother tossing clothes on, as she felt entirely comfortable there with her and saw no need. As the bellman brought the food to them, she beckoned Taryn to the table. Sitting across from each other, they had nothing to say - not because they hadn't anything to talk about, merely because words weren't necessary. Shelby opened each tray to reveal a new fruit, and noticed that the spread came with a small bowl of fresh whipped cream, which was one of those sinful pleasures she didn't want to ask for but was certainly glad they included. Taryn nibbled lightly on her fruit as Shelby sorted through what she did and didn't want on her plate. Instead of sitting across from Taryn at the table, she chose to sit in the chair next to her, wanting to be as close as possible. Taryn smiled at her, occasionally losing herself in her hostess's azure pools and said nothing, enjoying their breakfast together, not needing to say anything. The phone rang, and Shelby got up to get it, her towel caught on the chair, almost tugging it off, exposing her just a bit to a giggling Taryn, catching it in time to stave off complete embarrassment.
It wasn't Byron this time, but the associate editor of the travel section. Byron had said he wasn't allowed to call Shelby , so he got one of his superiors to do so. She apologized for her insubordination to Byron but explained her angle and some (though not all, so as to give herself more free time) of the research she'd accomplished, leaving the AE on the other line quite pleased. As she hung the phone up, she walked over to the table and couldn't resist it any more. She took a large ripe strawberry and dipped it in the cream, bringing it to Taryn's lips, shuddering as her mouth opened, tongue licking the creamy tip of the berry first, then biting off the fleshy fruit. Licking her lips, she let out a sound of pleasure, which shot bolts straight through Shelby, causing her to do it again. This time, Shelby's left hand rested atop the red head's shoulder and she squeezed just lightly as she bit down into the berry, exhaling a sigh of pleasure herself. She couldn't help it... and fighting the impulse was becoming too much to bear.
She gave in, and leaned toward Taryn to grab another piece of fruit, this time kissing her neck lightly, her dark hair falling forward and touching the younger woman's cheek. Shelby wasn't used to being so forward, and definitely didn't want to offend her but the sight of the naked flesh between her collar and her hairline proved to be far too inviting. When Taryn didn't push back, she fed more hungrily on her neck, bringing her right hand up to massage her through her shirt as she kissed her, letting go of the loosened towel and allowing it to fall carelessly at her feet. Taryn moaned in pleasure as Shelby fed on her, craning her head backward to greet her lips, to feel her inside of her mouth as well. Hands on each of her breasts, Shelby held Taryn there, kissing her deeply though not letting her turn entirely around. Instead, the older woman walked to the front of her chair, straddling the comic's lap as she kissed her deeply, passionately, sucking her tongue into her mouth and hungrily nibbling on her lips.
As this was happening, Taryn began to run her fingers through Shelby's hair, massaging her scalp and tracing small trails down her back with her nails. As she dove deeper into her companion's mouth, she pulled back, panting....
"This is a bit silly, but...."
"Well, I'm new at this, as I've never....well...."
With that, the writer looked lovingly into the emerald eyes of the woman before her, assuring her of the security of that moment and dove back again, feeding, nibbling, sucking her flesh as she guided Taryn's hands to her favorite locales, though the younger woman seemed to have instinctively known where to go. Her hands kneaded Shelby's chest and cupped her breasts in her hand as she kissed downward to take the journalist's nipples into her mouth one by one....
The older woman pulled back, holding Taryn's hand in hers and lead her to the bed, where she laid her down and climbed atop her, feathering kisses throughout her body, helping her into a delightful state of relaxation and excitement. The young woman shook in ecstasy, returning the favor by following Shelby's lead and tasting her until she shook, causing both to collapse back into the bed, falling asleep once again - this time in each other's arms. When they awoke, it was late that night, and Shelby suggested exploring the clubs, assignment still fresh on her mind. Realizing they couldn't leave the suite as spent, as they were, the two of them showered simultaneously, each cleaning the other of the residue of their excitement.
Taryn then proceeded to take Shelby on a tour of "her" Chicago, starting with a walk along the lake, where they walked close together, never touching, but smiling knowingly as the cool breeze of Lake Michigan washed over them... as the evening approached, the younger woman headed home to change, leaving the writer still breathless, the vision of her emerald eyes smiling back at her permanently etched into the writers mind. Several hours later, the Taryn returned to the suite to tug the journalist out to The Green Mill, which is a delightful little club in a frightening neighborhood in Uptown - a club opened in the days of Al Capone and still offering the same breed of entertainers and the same brand of entertainMENT. Always packed, the Green Mill is an impossible place, even on a weeknight to find a seat, yet they were lucky enough to get an entire booth to themselves upon entry and for another glorious evening, the women sat next to each other, enveloped in the sounds of true Chicago. This night was slightly different, however, as Shelby was no longer ashamed of her attraction or afraid of rebuttal, allowing her hand to slide seductively up Taryn's skirt, teasing her mercilessly as the soprano sax wailed from the stage and the speakers around them. After several hours at the Green Mill, She had sufficiently driven the comic mad, making it essential that they forgo any other plans they had and head back for the suite... relieving her and eliminating any tension that might have been there...
Days three and four brought sojourns to hidden used bookstores and curio shops, Day five a journey to the soup kitchen Taryn volunteered at, as she couldn't rescind her obligation and stressed that the journalist DID say she wanted to see ALL of the city. To cap each day off, the two headed back to the Renaissance to enjoy the taste, scent, and touch of each other for hours... Completely new for Taryn and long forgotten for Shelby, each day was an epiphany and with each encounter, the two became more and more daring. When they awoke in each other's embrace on the 6th day, the two of them knew it would be the last day and night they had before the carriage turned back into a pumpkin and the real world swooped in to destroy their illusion.
So grateful was the comic to her patron for the adventures, Taryn lay her soul bare for her...offering her a single wish, should she desire it. It was truly a magical week, and neither wanted it to end, unfortunately lamps get broken and the clock always strikes midnight at least once. As they crossed the city on a walking tour, they discussed virtually everything, wanting to make sure neither would have forgotten to say something or mention something or DO something important before the fairy tale ends. Taryn had brought clothes the night before to Shelby's to prepare for the day ahead, so they headed back to the hotel to change for dinner at Sopofina's - the lovely 5 star Italian restaurant on the riverwalk a few blocks from Shelby's
hotel. As she was buttoning up the top of her blouse, Taryn felt Shelby come up behind her, encircling her in her arms. Moaning into her embrace, the younger woman felt Selby stiffen as she ran her hands down her arms, holding her wrists firmly w/in her grasp. Tugging them behind the comic's back and holding both wrists in her left hand, she held her there as she ran her right hand to the front of Taryn, cupping her through her skirt and panties.
This sign of aggression, though shocking, had excited the young woman immensely and she moaned at the slightest sound of Shelby's voice, begging her to let her come before they left for dinner. Sucking the skin of her neck into her mouth, the older woman held Taryn there for several long moments... releasing her flesh, the writer was satisfied, as she had left the tiniest mark on her skin as a reminder, kissing lightly up her jawline, pulling Taryn into her, Shelby said, in all seriousness...
"Tonight, you are mine."
With that, she released her to finish dressing. Completely excited by the thought of Shelby at that moment, Taryn knew she couldn't wait until later. Begging Shelby once more for relief, all she got was a shallow laugh and a change of subject. When she asked Shelby to allow her to touch herself, she came across the floor and took her wrists in her hands again, kissing Taryn deeply and pulling back, stating once more, with more authority:
"Tonight, you are mine."
Taryn then knew exactly what that meant. It didn't take a handbook, and she'd discussed dreams and fantasies w/Shelby before. She was powerless from this point forward, and knew better than to question the older woman. Fully dressed, she stood at the door to the bathroom as Shelby finished applying her makeup.
The ladies walked to the restaurant and were given a lovely corner table, away from the patrons of the restaurant but close to the window, where all those on the river could see straight in. As they were seated, Shelby scooted her chair closer to Taryn's and slid her hand up under her skirt, teasing her mercilessly and feeling her growing wetter at her touch. She leaned in, whispering into Taryn's ear for her to go to the restroom and remove her bra and panties and return, handing them over to Shelby until she gave the OK to return them. She went to the restroom and removed them, placing them in her handbag, returning to the table with her hardened nipples poking through the light fabric of her shirt and her thighs sliding together wonderfully. She handed the bag over to Shelby, who reached inside and took out her undergarments, laying them on the chair next to Taryn so that she would be made even MORE aware of her situation and who was the puppet master. As she leaned in, the waitress came to the table to take the wine order, and as she did so, Shelby slid two fingers deep inside of Taryn, holding them as the waitress took their order, sliding them around just a bit to cause a gasp whenever the waitress would ask a question specifically of Taryn. As Taryn was biting her lower lip, Shelby removed her hands again, licking and sucking her fingers subtly before her as she looked directly into Taryn's eyes, driving her mad. Looking at her, aside from the sweet juice coming from inside, Shelby could tell her excitement, as she alerted the world of her arousal through the activity of her breasts through the fabric.
Her breath grew more shallow, and with every motion Shelby would make, Taryn would try to match it to calm down or merely come, but Shelby wouldn't let her, instead teasing her until she was on the very edge then rescinding for one reason or another... smiling the whole time at the comic's chagrin. With each course, Shelby would press just a bit deeper into Taryn, move herself just a bit more... all the while gazing deep into her green eyes and laughing at the young woman's frustration. As the dinner arrived, Taryn was grateful for the journalist's preoccupation with her meal, but not for long. As soon as she fortified herself, Shelby began to tease Taryn to the point of insanity, fingers moving in and out, asking her to make sure she knew where her panties were, causing Taryn to glance down at the seat below to see her underthings resting beside her.
When the waitress asked if there was anything else she could do, Taryn prayed Shelby would say no, but she didn't. Instead, she asked for dessert - the very thing that had begun this physical manifestation several days prior - strawberries with whipped cream. Dessert was merely another course in which to tease Taryn, and she prayed Shelby would decide to skip it... of course, she didn't. And, as the waitress walked away, Taryn felt the older woman's hand pull out from her, giving her the hope that her torment was ended. Instead, as she looked out the window to the boats below her, Taryn felt a slight penetration ...what was going on? Shelby had brought with her, in her very own handbag, a small toy with which to make her evening complete...a "magic egg", which she inserted into Taryn, keeping the remote entirely to herself, as she slid away from Taryn, touching her no more. Throughout various moments, she would turn it on to vibrate inside the comic, causing her increased heartbeat and uncontrollable gasps of pleasure, which she would immediately stifle. Finally, as she got used to the feeling of it inside of her, Shelby left it on to continue throughout dessert. Once her comfort level increased, the writer slid once again to be closer to Taryn, this time flicking lightly with her fingertip the young woman's clit, and pressing the egg deeper and deeper within her, turning it on high... she couldn't control it any longer... glancing side to side to make sure no one could see her, hooded lids covered emerald eyes as Taryn arched into Shelby's touch, feeling her pressing and rescinding within her ....and, grasping the handles of the chair in which she sat, she bucked against the writer, coming quickly and uncontrollably onto the seat beneath her....there...in the restaurant where they awaited nothing more now than the bill.
Shelby leaned in then and kissed Taryn's lips softly, pulling back to tell her now it was ok to return to the restroom to reassemble her undergarments, but Taryn had no desire to stand at that point, merely to recover from the spectacular orgasm she had right there in the midst of the restaurant. After paying the bill and leaving a generous tip, Shelby took Taryn's hand in hers and helped her stand, leading her out the doors of the restaurant to the river walk outside, where the sounds of a jazz trio played for the walkers. Hand in hand, the two women walked back to the hotel, where they rode the elevator to Shelby's room for the last time to enjoy each other, knowing full well that tomorrow the pumpkin would return and the slipper would shatter.
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