The Girlfriend Experience (Chapter Seven)

Chapter Seven

 

“Well, well, well. Lookie what we have here, will you?” Kenzie was ready to captivate in a pair of dangerously short denim cutoffs that were rolled up even higher and a pink tank top with the telltale sign of a bikini strap tied around her neck. Overhead, the blazing sun roasted her like caramelized vegetables in an oven. After pulling the elastic band from her obsidian-black tresses and shaking them free, Kenzie lowered her oversized sunglasses and regarded Lindsay as the eighteen-year-old, scuffing her shoe, meandered on to the back porch. “You’re up early, girl.”

It may have only been ten o’clock in the morning, but the temperature was ninety-four degrees, and the forecast called for it to reach triple digits by the afternoon. Prepared, Kenzie sipped an ice-cold bottled water and nibbled on a protein bar.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Lindsay huffed and stomped her feet for theatrical effect. “Tell me about it.”

Lindsay woke up forty-five minutes ago and had already taken care of her hair and make-up. If a customer stopped by and requested a lineup, all she would have to do is change into her “hooker garb” (her term) and wait by the kitchen for Jim to give the cue to proceed to the lap dance room. She could switch outfits in less than three minutes – she’d been practicing – and wouldn't be late for the lineup.

“That guy was a real jerk last night.” Lindsay choked back a sob and blinked through yet another round of tears. “I’ve never met anyone like him before.”

Kenzie motioned toward the chair across the way. “Sit down, hon. I agree, he was. Want to talk about it?” The foreign bombshell adjusted her shades to combat the intense morning glare. “I felt sorry for having to leave you with him.”

Emotions thickening her chest, Lindsay plopped down with an audible thud. She wished every client could be as fun and exciting as Sammy, but learned a harsh lesson last evening: they’re not. “Eric wasn't in a good mood from the outset.” A lump had grown in Lindsay’s throat, her voice a whisper. “And it never improved.”

“He was an asshole. You’ll meet plenty of them working here, trust me. It comes with the territory.” Kenzie tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and shrugged the incident off like it was no big deal. She'd dealt with her share of dickheads over the years, both in and out of the house. “Don't let it affect you, okay?” Kenzie reached for Lindsay’s hand. “It's over. My God, Kayleigh. You let everything get to you here. You got paid for your time. Let it go and move on. What’s done is done.”

“Five hundred and ten dollars.” A cold shudder racked Lindsay’s body. I hope every customer from here on out isn’t like him. Perhaps the party with Sammy was an anomaly? God, I hope not. I’ll go back to Citronelle if it was. “I was hoping for more like six or seven hundred.” I refuse to be dehumanized like that ever again.

“Fuck that asshole!” Kenzie slipped off the sunglasses and shielded her eyes. “Worrying like this isn't worth your time.”

Lindsay grabbed a heavy clump of hair and gazed heavenward, feeling angry, frustrated, and foolish. I don’t belong here. I’m in way over my head. “What if he leaves me a horrible review on the website?” The thread Sammy started yesterday was up to twenty-seven responses, and everything about it was positive. Six people claimed they wanted to meet and party with Lindsay because of Sammy’s praise. But if Eric, the trick from last night, left a negative review, would it offset all the positives?

“You don't need to worry about Eric posting something nasty and others seeing it. Colt or Jim would take it down. If they miss it or are busy, Colt has a webmaster who monitors the site day and night, and he removes anything negative. You'll never read a negative review of any girl on the site.”

I suppose that's why there's nothing bad said about any of the girls. “That's good to know, I guess.” This wasn’t the time for an emotional breakdown, even if Lindsay was justified in having one. I opened myself up to evil men like Eric by wanting to work here. I’m just as much to blame for what happened as he is, if not more. “But what if the customer went to Jim afterward and bitched about me during the exit interview?” Her gaze was pained, watery. “I know he did; he had to. He said he was going to.”

The expression on Kenzie’s face was somewhere between annoyance and empathy. To her, Lindsay was a whiner and refused to let things go. “Kayleigh, honey, don't worry. That guy was a fucking loser. Jim listened in during your party and knows things got off to a rocky start because of the negotiations. Jim knows what an inconsiderate prick he was for the entire hour too. Stop worrying!” Kenzie again snatched Lindsay’s hand and swept her thumb over the back of it. “Colt will listen to what happened once he and Pamela return from their day out, I'm sure. Everything gets recorded, you know, right? They won’t hold it against you if the guy showed up in a horrible mood and left in a horrible mood. It's not your fault. Nothing you could have done would have made him happy.”

“But …”

“Were you courteous to him? Did you do everything he asked during the party? Were you gracious, responsive? Did you thank him afterward and ask him to please come visit the ranch again? That's all you can do.” Kenzie sat back in her chair and gazed at Lindsay with a heavy heart. “I talked to Jim last night after the fact and he told me nothing you said or did was wrong. Everything you said was right and by-the-book. You. Can't. Please. Everyone!”

Lindsay looked down at her Chuck Taylors. “I felt like a failure.” She glanced up and again made eye contact with Kenzie, dizzied by the thoughts swirling through her mind. I shouldn’t be here right now. But I am, and I’m screwed.

“You are not a failure. You're a good girl, Kayleigh; you have drive, ambition, goals, and a loving heart.” Kenzie took another sip of water as Lindsay gave an empty nod. “You want to work hard, please others, and be successful at your job. And best of all, you're sweet as candy – a little cutie pie. You have a bright future in this business but need to work on the mental side of things.“ Kenzie patted her thigh. “Stop being so sad.”

“I don't want to get into trouble and for Colt or Pamela to have any bad thoughts about me.” A size or two too small, Lindsay’s nightshirt with the cookie monster designs stretched tight across her breasts. “You know I'm still the new girl here. I mean, I need this job.” Even if I’m not ready or deserving of it.

“Fuck that guy, baby! Forget him! How many times do I have to tell you?” Kenzie waved a dismissive hand. “Colt, Jim, or Pamela won't be upset. Trust me, I've been here for years. I know how they think.”

“And what happens if Eric ever comes back and, God forbid, wants to party with me again?” Lindsay rolled her face, her expression shadowed.

“Decline his ass! Tell him no.” After his act last night, Kenzie doubted Colt or Jim would let Eric through the front door again. They would turn him away before he had the chance to ask for another party with Lindsay or anyone else.

For as wonderful of a time she had with Sammy on Tuesday evening, last night was the polar opposite for Lindsay. Pamela was away at the hotel in Ambridge, so there went yet another opportunity to lose her lesbian cherry. Customers passed Lindsay over during the first seven lineups of the day – a real bummer – but she got chosen in the eighth. That should have ended the night on a high note, but Eric, a client visiting from Arizona, had a sour attitude from the beginning.

With Kenzie chaperoning the conversation at the bar as Lindsay's fill-in Big Sister, Eric admitted to having a “shitty day” and was looking to blow off some steam. He was obnoxious, arrogant, and a complete jerk, but Lindsay was intent on making money and agreed to escort him back to her bedroom to discuss pricing.

Things went downhill in a hurry.

Kenzie took care of the negotiations and Eric flat-out laughed when she mentioned Lindsay's prices were $700 an hour for a GFE. It was a high quote, yes, but also fully negotiable. Kenzie said $700 because she wanted to maximize the profit for both Lindsay and the house. Personally, she refused to sell herself for anything less than $600 for a one-hour GFE. Kenzie had her standards, lofty as they might be.

Eric shot back that was a rip-off and refused to go any higher than $400. “Ain't no piece of pussy worth seven hundred bucks! I could go up north and pay four hundred for the same goddamned thing! Hell, for seven hundred, I should get to fuck her in the ass, too, without a condom, and make her clean my dick off with her mouth!”

“Anal sex is prohibited here, sir,” Kenzie responded in a calm, businesslike tone, though she was seething with rage inside, “and if you'd like to drive three-and-a-half or four hours north in the middle of the night to pay a lesser price, by all means, be our guest.” Kenzie wanted to rip this man a new asshole, to be blunt, but since he was a customer, she couldn’t. “We don't want you to go elsewhere, but you're more than welcome to. It's your decision.”

“We can go lower than seven hundred, baby.” Lindsay should have declined the party after his comment but was determined to have one before bedtime. All the other girls had at least one party throughout the day. “I'd like to show you a good time and put a smile on your face.”

Lindsay asked Kenzie to continue the negotiations. She agreed, but also motioned for Lindsay to zip her mouth and let her do all the talking.

After a contentious back and forth, Eric agreed to $510 for one hour. Just ten bucks above the house minimum, Kenzie equated the negotiations to trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. The issue wasn't that Eric was looking for the lowest price and wanted to save money. Kenzie never blamed a monger for that. Rather, it was the way he went about it. Eric was rude and disrespectful, easily one of the worst clients she’d ever dealt with, and it stunned her that Lindsay agreed to party with him at all.

Because they couldn't agree on at least $600, though, Lindsay's room and board fee for the day didn’t get waived. That sucks, but at least I'll make some decent cheddar tonight, was her train of thought. It's better than nothing.

After the dick check, payment, and shower (another thing Eric complained about), he reentered the bedroom and found an anxious, smiling Lindsay seated on the edge of the bed. She had on a frilly little chemise, stockings, and modest high heels, and looked like an angel on a mercy mission from Suck City. “Hi, baby. I’ve been waiting for you.” She flashed him a pearly smile. “What would you like me to do first?”

“How about you shut your fucking mouth – I'm not paying you to talk – get down on your knees, and do your job? Blow me, you overpriced whore.

Lindsay recoiled as if she had been slapped. Although she’d become more accepting of that word in recent times, she reverted back to when Jim took her to the sheriff's station and the lady behind the desk called her a whore. Lindsay came close to having an outward reaction again, but dropped to her knees, rolled a condom on to Eric's cock, and offered a sterile, unenthusiastic blowjob.

How was this possible? Lindsay’s blonde head bobbed back and forth as she kept both hands on the base of Eric’s shaft, her eyes closed, yet she felt no pleasure and was crying inside. I love sucking cock more than anything, but I don’t want to be with this horrible man right now. She didn’t understand what was happening, or why. How can I feel no emotion or joy sucking dick? What did I do wrong to this man? Why is he being so hateful?

I’d rather be back home in Citronelle with Mom, Dad, my sisters, and all my friends. …

“You like cleanin’ that cock, don’t you?” Eric put his hand on the back of Lindsay’s head and applied pressure, urging her to go faster. “It’s all girls like you are good for.” He reached down, lifted the hem of her chemise up and over her head, and tossed it elsewhere. “How many guys have you fucked today, whore? Am I number five? Ten?”

Lindsay kept quiet, but there was plenty more cocksucking. Keep it together. I have to get through this.

“This was a five-hundred-dollar mistake,” he told her at another point. “You’re doing it all wrong.”

“You’re not even any good at this. You should be fired.”

“No, do it like this … No, do this … No, try this … Dumb, stupid girl; you’re all gums!”

Eric made Lindsay crawl on her hands and knees over to the recliner, where he took a seat and received another round of fellatio. Lindsay tried responding to one of his mean quips this time, but he jammed his hand over her mouth and said, “Shhhhh. Every time you talk, it goes down.”

Lindsay was soon taken back to the bed, where she got fucked in the missionary position and on her side. I feel violated! She didn’t smile once. Her face was tight, an uncomfortable scowl, as she glared at him and continued to endure his insults.

“If I catch a disease from you, rest assured, I’m pressing charges.”

The hour-long session ended with Lindsay on her hands and knees, and Eric fucking her as hard as he could. There was nothing positive from this encounter, no satisfaction. I’d like to beat this man to a bloody pulp. I want to hurt him. She looked like a zombie because Eric did nothing but degrade and belittle her from start to finish.

“I didn’t even get to nut off. I’m complaining to your pimp boss; I demand a refund. Hopefully, he beats the shit out of you later as a punishment. You deserve it.”

For a such a friendly, small-town girl who radiated positive energy at all times, no one had ever treated Lindsay this way. Did making me feel worthless get him off? What other reason could there be for the way he acted? I know I’m not a bad fuck. No one has ever complained, including Sammy. He said I was the best he’s ever had.

“Jim was outside your room with his hand on the doorknob for at least half the party, if not three-quarters of it,” Kenzie said. “He was waiting for you to object to anything that guy did, tell him no, and was gonna burst in and toss his ass out of the house if he didn't listen to you. It blew Jim away that you never objected to anything Eric said or how he treated you.”

Lindsay picked at her fingernails and brought a knee up to her chest. “Colt says the customer is always right, and I must please him or her at all costs.” She cast her eyes to the side, away from Kenzie, and they clouded up.

“Not customers like him.

Someone who didn’t know Kenzie may think she was a pushover because of her sweet, good-natured personality, but Lindsay knew better. Kenzie was straightforward and not afraid to stand up for herself. I wish I could be strong like you. You remind me of Pamela.

“I still cannot believe you wanted to party with him. With the attitude he had during negotiations, I would've told him no.” Kenzie squinted against the sun. “So would every other girl here. But you were hellbent on fucking him, so I kept negotiating. Money, money, I know … you want it. We all do.”

Lindsay ground her teeth, the shame and humiliation digging into her like sharp claws. “I'll remember that for next time, I guess.” When the ordeal was finally over and Eric left the house, Lindsay trudged off to the washroom and took a long, hot shower. The water seared her skin until it became a bright pink and she contemplated calling her mother and begging her to come rescue her and take her back to California but decided against it. I … can’t. That’s no longer an option.

Kenzie again leaned back in the rocking chair and got more comfortable. “That guy is a prime example of why Jim, Colt, the bartenders at night … someone is always listening in during our negotiations, and usually the party itself via surveillance. Jim was on red alert the moment Eric walked through the front door. He said he almost asked him to leave a few minutes after he showed up.”

“I wish he did.” Being with Eric was a nightmare, and Lindsay wondered if she’d ever recover from it. I won’t be able to handle another party like that again. I’ll press the panic button next time and the cops can come for all I care, guns-a-blazin’. I refuse to be treated like trash.

“The alternative to working in a brothel is street hooking. Meeting some random guy in a casino, for example, going up to his hotel room, and him fucking you up something fierce if things don't go right. There's no Jim, no Colt, to protect you, and maybe you wind up in the hospital. Or worse.” Lindsay froze at the seriousness in Kenzie’s voice. “But here, you’re safe. No one is going to harm you. There are ten to twelve employees in the house at all times, and we all look out for one another.”

I can’t go home. Not now, not anymore. Things would never be the same once Lindsay fessed up to her family about what she had done here. Mom and Dad would disown me! I need to tough it out and save some cheddar for the future. Last night was awful, but according to what she’d just heard, it could have been much worse. Eric didn’t physically assault or attack me, at least.

“I'll never turn tricks outside the house. Not in a million years.” Kenzie put her sunglasses back on and swept her dark hair away with both hands. “Lots of girls do, even ones working here now. Me? I enjoy the feeling of safety the brothel provides and, more importantly, I enjoy my freedom. I don't want to get arrested and go to jail.”

“Does Pamela … turn tricks?” Lindsay lowered her voice and leaned in closer. “Illegally?”

“Pamela? Turning tricks? On the street, you mean? No way.” Kenzie found humor at the absurd thought. “She owns the brothel along with Colt, and an arrest for solicitation would not only put an end to her career, it would be the death knell for the brothel as well. City council wouldn't hesitate to revoke its license. Colt and Pamela, they'd be out of business forever.”

Lindsay nodded, having already known that. Two nights ago, though, she had a dream that she and Pamela worked the streets of Vegas as a duo and fucked every guy willing to pay their exorbitant fee. When it was all said and done, I was writhing around on the bed, and Pamela showered me in hundred-dollar bills!

“Get that guy out of your mind. You'll never see him again. Just call it a learning experience, okay?”

Lindsay crossed her arms, her muscles twitching. “I don't want to talk about him anymore.”

“Good, that’s my girl. Don't. Move on.”

“I don't know if Aaliyah likes me or not.” Changing topics, Lindsay had a confused expression and pointed way out yonder toward Aaliyah, the African American stunner, who was doing Pilates in the far corner of the yard. A fitness enthusiast if there ever was one, the twenty-eight-year-old could be found exercising both morning and evening in the backyard unless she was with a customer. Aaliyah would prefer to do her workout regime at the local health club or go for a jog around the block, but didn't want to take the chance with Sheriff Spaeth and his pack of deputy watchdogs lurking at every corner.

“I don't know what I did wrong to her. Aaliyah, I mean.” Clearly unequipped to deal with conflict, Lindsay tapped her foot on the ground. “I said hello to her this morning, and she gave me the meanest, nastiest look. I was like, what the hell? Do you know if she's mad at me? And if so, for what?”

“No idea,” Kenzie lied.

Aaliyah threw a tantrum in front of Scarlett, Sahara, Riley, and Nicolette last evening after Eric chose Lindsay from the lineup. Kenzie heard about it afterward and knew that word would soon trickle down to Colt and Pamela (if it hadn't already). Jim was well aware of the situation too.

“I am sick and tired of that little brat!” Aaliyah complained. “Eighteen and comes in here and thinks she runs the fucking joint! Believes every customer should choose her during every lineup like she's somehow better than us. Bullshit! Goes off and pouts in the corner like a child when she gets passed over! Entitled, self-centered little cunt! Thinks everything is all about her. Her mommy and daddy probably spoon-fed her and gave her everything she ever wanted until the day she moved out. Well, guess what, girlfriend? Things aren't that way in the real world! Time to fucking grow up!”

Scarlett and Sahara exchanged concerned glances.

“I don't think Kayleigh is that bad,” Riley said. “You're blowing this way out of proportion.”

“She's a kid, Aaliyah,” Scarlett tried to remind her. “Only eighteen. Everything here is all new to her, so foreign to anything she's ever known, and I doubt Kayleigh realizes she's giving that impression. None of us enjoy being passed over in lineups, you included. Give her time. Pamela said she was going to talk to her about handling her emotions better and the way she presents herself.”

“Kayleigh is exhibit A of why I fucking hate turnouts! Clueless bitches! They come here with the idea that all they gotta do is lie on their backs and count the money as it keeps pouring in. They think all the tricks they'll fuck are polite, older versions of the guys they fucked back home, they smell of breath mints and cologne, and everything is wonderful, it's all peachy. But soon enough, reality sets in and these fucking turnouts get put to the ultimate test.

“Look at the way Kayleigh stutters and blushes and stares at the carpet during lineups! And she goes off and cries when she isn't chosen. Y’all know what I’m talkin’ about! Kayleigh won’t make it here! She needs to go back to wherever the hell it is she came from – California, I guess – ask her mommy and daddy for a diaper change and be put back into her crib! Permanently!”

“Wow. That's a little rough, isn't it?”

“No, it's not!” Aaliyah fired back at Scarlett.

“I don't think Kayleigh is going anywhere,” Sahara chimed in. “Pamela is sweet on her. You know she controls Colt and his thoughts. He'd never send her packing unless Pamela agreed to it first.”

Nicolette nodded. “Pamela is in love with Kayleigh.”

“Then fuck Pamela too! You think I give a damn what she thinks? That I’m scared of her because she’s the boss’s wife?” Aaliyah was an angry person; she possessed a hair-trigger temper and often went into a noisy, expletive-laden tirade over the simplest things.

Aaliyah led a difficult life in recent years. She double dipped as a street hooker in New York City during her downtime and had a history of cocaine, rehab, chlamydia and trichomoniasis infections, prison sentences, and failed relationships. Those hardships had taken a toll, and she wasn't always the most pleasant person to deal with.

Still, Aaliyah treated her customers like gold. Despite the volatile pot of wrath always brewing within, Aaliyah’s job was secure because she made the brothel top dollar.

“I refuse to work at a house where some little eighteen-year-old newbie thinks she's better and more deserving than everyone else! Fucking Kayleigh! That little cunt couldn't walk a mile in my shoes!” Aaliyah’s brown eyes flashed, and her chest rose under her next angry inhale. “I've been doing this for close to a decade and never once have I thought I was entitled to anything! Shiiiiit!” She made wild, sweeping gestures with her arms. “I've worked for everything in life and always treated all the other working girls, especially the older ones when I was young myself, with respect! That's how I've survived this long!”

With Aaliyah’s rant in mind, Kenzie advised Lindsay in the current time, “I'd leave Aaliyah alone for a couple of days. Don't talk to her; don't look at her. She goes into these moods, and you gotta let them pass. Who knows? Aaliyah might've had a bad party herself last night. My suggestion is to be kind, be respectful, do your thing, and things will be fine in the end. Trust me, okay? Remember, we're all in this together. Us working girls need to support one another as best we can.”

Lindsay glowered. “Because no one else will.”

 

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“Oh, you are such a rebel.” Colt inclined his head to the side and shot Pamela a gaze of disapproval. “What are you doing? Don’t open that! You’re gonna get yourself caught and we’ll both wind up in trouble.”

“Haven’t been caught yet, have I?” In the health and beauty care section of Naturetyme Market, an upscale, high-end grocery megastore in Oakfall, Nevada, Pamela made sure the coast was clear one final time and popped the cap from a bottle of body mist perfume. “Gotta see if I like it or not.” She spritzed a dose on her wrist and took a long, drawn-out sniff. “Hmm, smells sweet. What do you think?” After extending her hand to Colt’s nose for a few seconds, Pamela put the cap back on and dropped the bottle into their shopping cart.

“You know you’re not supposed to open products and put them back on the shelf if you don’t like them.” Colt was displeased but couldn’t suppress his smile either. “I’m sure a grocery store this large has cameras everywhere. One of these days, you’re going to wind up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List. I can see it now – Wanted: Pamela McCarron, The Queen Heaux of Flagstone.” He shivered. “You’ll be on your own after that. Count. Me. Out.”

“You’re so silly!” Pamela chuckled at his playful threat. “Not going to stand by your wife in her time of need, huh?” She scrunched her face. “Besides, I didn’t put it back on the shelf. It’s in the cart. I’m buying it.”

Colt huffed. “You’ve put many things you’ve sampled back on the shelf over the years. You’re a bad, bad girl, Pammy. A rebel. A … criminal.” He made a motorcycle-like sound with his mouth. “So hot.”

“Stop being silly!” Laughing, Pamela hooked an arm around Colt’s elbow and leaned against him. Several items were scattered throughout their cart, though they entered the store a short time ago. Since they were in Oakfall and the selection at this grocer was much larger and more diverse than anything Flagstone Foods offered, Pamela thought it was time to stock up.

“You’re right, though. Others may think of me as a dumb hoe, but I’m not. I’m Queen Heaux.”

He shot her a sidelong glare. “I don’t think anyone has ever questioned your intelligence. At least, not anyone who matters.”

Pamela shrugged. “You’d be surprised.”

“Buy whatever you want, babe. I don’t mind.” Colt’s eyes were browsing the aisles as he allowed her to guide him. “Although, I still think we should stop at Taco Bell before we get back to the house.” He gave her a flirty once-over. Looking fit and fabulous, Pamela showed off her amazing physique in a black crop top and leggings and wore her long blonde hair in a ponytail with a baseball cap over top of it. Colt’s eyes drifted south and settled on her pelvis. “I don’t know about you, but I have a hardcore craving for a spicy, red-hot chalupa right about now.”

“You’re crazy. Crazy and silly.” Pamela laughed again, this time at the insinuation, as Colt waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “Absolutely not; no Taco Bell!” She pursed her lips, hopeful. “How about we get takeout from Viva la Vegan instead?”

His eyes flashed back up to hers. “Sure, we can do that. It won’t be much of a wait if we call and order ahead of time once we’re out in the Pamelamobile.” He moved closer, his breath soft and hot on her neck. “I’ve enjoyed being out and about with you these past twenty-four hours. Thank you, sweetheart. We both needed this.”

She smiled. “I’ve enjoyed it, too, baby. It’s been fun.”

Their time away from the brothel started yesterday morning with Colt’s offer to take Pamela and Scarlett to the hotel in Ambridge so they could get some sleep following their overnight party with Charlie. After getting a bite to eat in the afternoon, Colt talked Pamela into going back to the hotel and lying down while he returned Scarlett to Flagstone. He drove right back to Ambridge but made a stop at the local market first.

Colt bought Pamela some leafy greens, a whole pineapple, fresh strawberries, three bottled waters of her favorite brand, and a Glambox (a twelve-compartment tray) for her many tubes of lipstick at the ranch. She needed one because the last holder she had recently broke. At the moment, all her lipsticks were spread in a drawer.

He bought her an ice cream too. He'd gone overboard, yes, but no expense could be spared for his Pamela.

Once they return to work later today, she would find four dozen long-stem roses waiting in an exquisite vase on top of the bar. Colt ordered them last evening from Flagstone Florist Direct, and they were delivered this morning.

But last night? Last night was all about Pamela. She was delighted at the thoughtful items her husband purchased at the store and melted into the bed itself when he gave her a deep, full-body massage and finger-fed her strawberries at the same time. The heat pad on her back worked wonders. They cuddled for hours, like newlyweds on their honeymoon, and spoke about several topics.

Colt ran off to a Basque-style restaurant and brought her back a delicious mushroom soup and a tray of vegan chips for dinner. As the night progressed, they transitioned to the spacious, old-world bathtub, and he gave her another rubdown.

But here’s the kicker: nothing that happened was sexual. Colt didn't lay a finger on her in an erotic, forward manner all night. He didn't even want his wife to think about sex.

Being able to hold and cherish Pamela and remind her of how precious she was with constant angel kisses across her face and forehead was far better than sex. It was superior in every way because Colt was gravely concerned for her.

I wish Charlie picked someone other than you for his big bashes. You’re still exhausted. How much longer can you go at this pace before something horrible happens?

Colt’s issue wasn't that Charlie was a bad guy. He'd been a model client and spent tons of money. Though he got carried away at times, Charlie respected Pamela's limits. She said so herself, and Colt believed her.

Plus, the nine e-mails he sent Pamela since yesterday were endearing to her. Pamela loved considerate clients, and those messages brought a smile to her face. Charlie had a huge heart and wanted to share his life with someone. That someone would never be Pamela, but she still felt sympathy and wished he'd meet someone special.

Colt was no doctor, but realized Pamela was speeding down a road she shouldn't be. She was playing with fire and one day might get scorched. He knew that several former long-time employees of Happy Ending Ranch suffered from PTSD and a disassociation from their bodies. Unfortunately, he was already witnessing occasional glimpses of the latter from Pamela.

You need to retire before you suffer a catastrophic burnout that you may never recover from.

Sex work was arduous; it was degrading and had robbed a handful of those ex-employees of the most basic and fragile parts of their humanity. This profession could destroy lives. Critics argued that establishments like Happy Ending Ranch programmed men to believe they were entitled to sexual gratification and women were commodities to be bought and sold. They also claimed that for the vast majority, prostitution was an endless loop of being hunted, dominated, harassed, assaulted, and battered.

Colt shivered. I’ve done everything I can to protect and shield you from the atrocities of this job over the years. But he knew he hadn’t done enough. I’ve still failed.

You’re never spending that much time with a client again without proper rest and break times.

“Hey, look at this.” Wanting to erase any thoughts of Charlie from his mind, Colt ventured elsewhere in the international produce section and picked up a tray of mushrooms. “We gotta get these. It’s a tradition. Can’t leave the grocery store without ‘em.”

“Hmm, yummy. Love my portobello mushrooms.”

“I love my sweet Pamela.” Colt pecked the side of her forehead with a kiss, and she giggled. “Sweet Pamela is … so delicious. I’d like to eat her; especially that spicy, red-hot chalupa she’s got.” He laughed as if he’d made the most hilarious joke in recorded history. “Let’s make a run for the border this afternoon, shall we?”

“So silly.” Pamela stifled a grin, rolled her eyes, and wandered over to the display of organic bananas.

“What are you doing? Pamela! Hey, stop it.” Moments later, in the beer and wine section, Colt watched Pamela pop three cotton candy grapes from the previously sealed bag and let the taste slowly dissolve in her mouth.

“I can’t help myself!”

He shook his head again. “Rebel.

“Want to get me drunk tonight?” Grinning, she waved a bottle of hard tequila before his eyes.

“Not really. But get it if you want.” Colt was an odd sort because he’d spent twenty-six years working at the brothel, a place fueled by testosterone and booze, and had never once tasted a sip of alcohol. The idea, for whatever reason, didn’t appeal to him.

He’d never smoked cigarettes or done any illegal drugs either.

Pamela shrugged and put the bottle back. She wasn’t a heavy drinker but did like to indulge herself from time to time. Three weeks ago, things got out of hand and she had a wild night of booze and sex in the recreation room (the “chick cave”) with Sahara and Riley. Those ladies, on the other hand, were notorious for their alcohol consumption.

“Thanks for taking me to Sirens,” Pamela said as she and Colt toured the section of imported foods from Peru. “I love it there. Outside of Hotties in Vegas, it’s my favorite lingerie and bling shop.”

“I know it is. And you’re welcome.”

Pamela dropped $350 on some sexy new outfits at Sirens across town earlier this morning. The thirty-year-old kept a detailed spreadsheet of every outfit and lingerie set she owned, how many times she wore them on a lineup-to-lineup basis, and how much money she had earned by booking parties in them.

The little red minidress she wore when Charlie picked her two days ago gave Pamela, according to the spreadsheet, the highest probability for success. At roughly twenty-seven percent (forty-one out of one hundred and fifty-three chances), Pamela would get picked from a lineup wearing the red dress. The next most successful was a schoolgirl outfit Colt purchased as a gift for her last year at twenty-one percent.

Looks could be deceiving, but Pamela was a shrewd businesswoman and learned many of these advanced, forward-thinking tactics from Colt. He'd taught her everything he knew about how to maximize her income. She wasn't the highest earner at the ranch anymore – that distinction went to Scarlett – but Pamela was constantly nipping at her heels. She was serious about her job and approached it like no one else.

Colt had no issue with Pamela spending $350 on lingerie, either, although her dresser drawers back in Flagstone resembled a warehouse. He loved showering her with new gifts, and she was always genuinely grateful. Besides, they had grossed $12,300 from the fourteen-plus hours she spent with Charlie. There was no harm in wanting to splurge a little, was there?

Acting playful, Pamela opened her eyes, almost to where they were bulging out, and fluttered her eyelids in quick, rapid-fire succession. “Know what someone told me one time when I was still in high school?”

“What?”

“After I met ‘em, for a couple months, they were like, I didn’t like you at first because you batted your eyelashes so much. It’s really annoying.

Colt smiled softly. “It was probably some guy you were trying to flirt with.”

“It was a girl! Remember Stacie Anderson? She was at our wedding and got so drunk at the reception her boyfriend had to carry her out.”

“Okay, it was Stacie you were trying to flirt with,” came his teasing rebuttal.

Pamela made a face and tried to stifle a laugh but failed. She fluttered her eyelids about dramatically again. “It would’ve been sweet if Stacie swung that way back in the day. But, nooooo. No flirting for me with her.” She tilted her head and inspected a canned item on the shelf. “Wow, this brings back memories.”

“What is it?”

“Peruvian-style pomodoro sauce. It’s used to make tallarines rojos, which is what we’d eat as a family every time we went to Uncle Bob and Aunt Fiorella’s house when I was growing up. That stuff was delicious. Aunt Fiorella was always whipping up some sort of exotic dish.“ Pamela smiled at the little memory from her childhood and moved on. “This grocery store is the best. It has everything.”

It did have everything, including a sprawling seafood department with hundreds of lobsters and tanks full of live catfish, barramundi, tilapia, and countless other species. Pamela couldn’t fathom the idea of these poor creatures waiting to be slaughtered and had to step away when a customer chose a catfish and the butcher began chopping it into steaks behind the counter.

In the adjacent meat department, Colt teased her when he held up a whole cut-up chicken in its packaging and asked if she would like to gnaw on it for dinner tonight.

“Where are the vegan cheeses?” Pamela later asked a random employee, a Middle Easterner, but it quickly became apparent he didn’t speak one lick of English. She tried communicating with him for thirty seconds but gave up and laughed it off. “We’ll ask someone else.”

“I’d really like to hire a BBW sex worker. You know I’m always looking for variety.”

“A BBW would be great for our business. Guys love all types of women.” Pamela’s mind shifted into overdrive as they made their way toward the checkout lanes. “Hmm, yeah; there was a BBW who applied on the website a couple weeks ago. Her name is April, and she’s from New Jersey, I think. You want me to call her tomorrow and do a phone interview? If I remember correctly, she’s twenty-seven or twenty-eight, and coming off a broken marriage. Beautiful face, full, luscious body, and her application was typed out and well-worded. I know applicants using Internet shorthand is a red flag for you.”

“Yeah, go ahead and call her.”

“Let’s get takeout from Viva la Vegan, if you don’t mind, but we need to get back to the house as quick as possible. I’m hoping to make a lot of money today and tonight.”

“Why don’t we enjoy ourselves for a few more hours?” Colt winced at Pamela’s words and ran his fingertips along her lower back, particularly the area he’d spent two hours massaging and manipulating last night. She had finally come clean and admitted her back was bothering her. “We could hit up the casino here in town, too, if you want.” I have no desire to go back to the house yet because it’ll be right back to square one for you. “How about the heritage museum? Been a while since we were there. I know how much you always love going there.”

“No.” Pamela smiled and brought Colt’s hand to her lips for a kiss. “I'd rather go back to work. And you know I never gamble. I hate losing money!”

He gave her a strained look as she began loading up the conveyor belt at checkout with groceries. We need to go on another extended vacation.

Moments later, they were in the parking lot and making their way toward the so-called Pamelamobile (another phrase coined by Colt). A 2006 Ford Ranger XLT, its color was a candy apple red. Inside, the truck was decked out with a vast collection of girly bling and was the first and only vehicle Pamela had ever owned. She purchased it with straight cash as an eighteen-year-old while working as an exotic dancer in Maryland.

“I can’t believe those grapes cost fifteen bucks.” Colt shook his head and laughed. “What are you trying to do? Bankrupt us? Who buys grapes for fifteen bucks?”

“I swear, I thought the sign said five-ninety-nine a bag, not per pound.” Pamela gave an innocent shrug and murmured, “But, hey, think of it this way – they would’ve been more expensive if I didn’t munch on some inside.”

“Don’t remind me.”

Unfortunately, the Pamelamobile had seen better days. With all the trips she’d taken from Flagstone to Vegas and back again, as well as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Memphis, and Baltimore to visit friends and family, it had over 240,000 miles on it. The Pamelamobile needed constant repairs and although Colt wanted to buy her a brand-new Ford Mustang convertible, Pamela wasn’t ready to give up on her Ranger yet.

Colt was a lifelong fan of the Jeep Wrangler. He owned two of them, a gray 2011 model at the house in Flagstone, and a red 2018 decked out with all the bells and whistles of its own parked inside their garage in Fairfax, Maryland. In two-and-a-half weeks, he and Pamela would fly home for six days to relax and spend time with family.

That week cannot come soon enough.

“Call Viva la Vegan and put an order in for takeout,” Colt reminded her as he stowed the groceries. “By the time we get there, the food should be ready.”

“Thank you, honeybuns.” Pamela was beaming. “You’re always thinking of me and what I want, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.” Her phone sounded with a notification. “Oh, lookie here.” She tilted her head to the right, then the left. “E-mail number ten from Charlie.”

Colt froze. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. Never once had it bothered him that his wife was a working girl and had sex with other men and women. Such a thought rarely entered his mind. I was at peace with that before I married her. Colt grew up in this industry and, aside from the occasional tiny twinge, felt no animosity when Pamela was with someone else. It was second nature to him by now. Just business, right?

Besides, long before he met Pamela, Colt figured if he were to get married one day, it would be to a working girl. It had to be a working girl. There were no other options. It wasn't like he could go on a blind date with a typical woman and expect any success.

“Hi. I'm Sara.”

“I'm Colt.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Colt. What do you do for a living?”

“I run the brothel in town.”

Yeah. That wasn't ever going to work out.

I’m not jealous. He clenched both fists together at the back of the truck and trembled. While Colt did his best to convince himself that he wasn’t jealous of the way Charlie monopolized Pamela and her time in recent days, there was one thing he couldn’t deny. Something about that guy irks the hell out of me, and I hope he never comes back.

“Oh, how sweet!” Pamela had a joyous smile as she read the latest message on her smartphone. “Charlie wants me to send him a list of gift ideas, like an Amazon Wish List, and then he’s going to purchase some of them and have them shipped to the house.”

Anger brewed in Colt’s gut. You know, I should just sell the damn brothel to my billionaire cousin from Vegas who keeps offering to buy it and start a new business back home in Maryland. …

 

<> <> <> <> <>

 

“Hey, what's wrong?” Kenzie stepped out of her bedroom at four o’clock and saw Lindsay creaking down the hallway like she'd aged sixty years. She appeared hurt, sick, and betrayed all at once. “You okay, hon?”

Lindsay's eyes were bloodshot. “I just got a royal ass-whipping from Colt.”

“What? Huh? An ass-whipping? You mean he yelled at you?” Dazed and confused, Kenzie pulled Lindsay into her room and closed the door for privacy. “What happened? Talk to me, hon. Here, sit down on the bed.”

“I got called into Colt's office and he obliterated me for forty-five minutes straight. I … I’ve never received an ass-whipping like that before.” Seeking comfort, Lindsay grabbed one of Kenzie’s teddy bears and hugged it.

“What happened? Why?” Kenzie took a seat and placed an arm around Lindsay’s shoulder.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. “First, it was about my attitude since I've arrived. I guess some other girls – led by Aaliyah – complained about me. She doesn't like the way I act before, during, and after lineups. Colt said no matter if I get chosen or not, I'm supposed to have a smile and always present a positive impression. If I don't get chosen, I'm supposed to keep smiling, politely leave the lap dance room, and silently wish my fellow working girl the best of luck.” More tears broke free. “Aaliyah, I guess, said I act like a whiny little brat if I don't get chosen.”

Kenzie countered with a knowing groan. “I saw you crying downstairs the other night with Pamela after you were passed over for your first lineup. Right before Sammy showed up. That's a no-no.” Lindsay covered her face with both hands as Kenzie squeezed her wrist. “Was Pamela in the office with you and Colt too?”

“Yes!” Lindsay glanced back up and her eyes were redder, her face puffier. “Pamela didn't say a word the whole time either! All she did was sit there!”

“Oh, wow.” Kenzie gulped her throat. “That's unusual and doesn't sound like Pamela at all.” Colt must've been super angry at Kayleigh. According to rumors, he and Pamela first learned about all the drama on the drive back to the ranch from Oakfall. “What did Colt say? You're not in trouble, are you? I mean, big trouble?”

“He told me this was my only chance and I need to support all my fellow employees from now on.” Sadness slammed into Lindsay. “Else, I'll get fired next time.” Without this job, what hope did she have for the future? “And he … he …” Lindsay’s stomach was in knots as she said, “he suspended me! Says I can't work tonight or all day tomorrow! I need to stay out of sight from all customers, and if one sees me, I'll be in more trouble!”

“Oh, shit. Wow. A two-day suspension? You're lucky he didn't fire you outright.” Kenzie’s throat was tight, and she needed alcohol to loosen it. “I've seen him fire new girls in the past. He promotes this as being a no-drama house. He's a great guy but can get angry if there's any drama. Colt doesn't tolerate it one bit.” Kayleigh wasn't fired because of Pamela. Kenzie would bet her bottom dollar, in fact, that Pamela begged Colt to give Lindsay a second chance. I know she did.

“And if that wasn't bad enough, I got yelled at for the party I had last night too!”

“What? Colt is upset at you over the guy who was rude?” How is that possible? There's no way.

“No, not that, I guess. He … he's upset I … I agreed to the party to begin with.” Lindsay’s own throat ached with the effort it took not to cry. “He says I put myself in danger because of how belligerent the customer was, and I can never do that again.” She wiped a tear from her cheek. “He even sent Jim home for the day! He's pissed off at Jim, too, because he allowed the party to go on!”

What? Jim? Jim is in trouble too?” Kenzie would refuse to work here if Jim ever got fired. She would quit on the spot and never look back. “What happened to Jim?” Jim is an institution here. He'd been at the ranch for thirty-five years and was the face of the business. He interacts with far more customers than Colt.

“Colt sent Jim home for the day,” Lindsay reiterated. “It's all my fault! Colt said if he was here last night, he would have kicked Eric out of the house the minute he raised his voice at us during the negotiations. And he got mad at Jim, I guess, because he let the negotiations go on.”

Overcome with sudden fear, Kenzie gulped her throat. I let them go on too. I was Kayleigh's Big Sister.

As if on cue, the loudspeaker in the bedroom clicked, and Pamela's voice came through the intercom. “Kenzie, Colt wants to see you in his office. Please, come immediately.”

“Oh, shit,” Kenzie silently mouthed.

Knowing Kenzie was going to get a talking-to of her own, Lindsay again covered her face with both hands and let loose with an ugly, full-on cry, complete with a runny nose and stammering sobs.

“I'll be right there, Pamela.” Kenzie pulled Lindsay into a warm hug that came with her signature scents of jasmine and citrus. “It'll be okay, honey.” She spoke in a whisper. “Colt won't do anything except give me a stern warning. Don't worry, I can take it. I should have put an end to the party before it started last night.” I was your Big Sister and was supposed to lead you down the right path.

“I didn't want you to!” Lindsay blinked back more tears. “I wanted to make some money! I want to buy a car by the time my first three-week tour is up! I don't even care if it's used or not; I need a car!”

Seconds later, Kenzie went off to Colt's office. Kayleigh shouldn't act the way she does after getting passed over in lineups, but as far as the party thing, she was looking to do her job and ultimately please the customer. Does she really deserve to be suspended?

On the surface, this made Colt look bad, but Kenzie knew there were two sides to every story. Surely, Kayleigh left some things out in what she told me. There had to be other reasons Colt would suspend her, right? I doubt he gave her a royal ass-whipping, too, verbal or otherwise. Kayleigh does like to overdramatize and blow things way out of proportion. Colt was strict and by-the-book, but Kenzie had never seen him be downright mean or cruel toward an employee. He’s a good boss to have.

Besides, she trusted Pamela would never tolerate him treating any of the girls the wrong way. No way, no how. If he did, Kenzie knew Colt would receive a royal ass-whipping of his own, courtesy of Pamela!

 

* * *

 

Eyes red-rimmed and her nose flushed from crying, and her makeup tracking black streaks down her face, Lindsay retreated to her bedroom and slammed the door shut. Her emotions and thoughts were all over the place as she collapsed on the bed and once again questioned her decision to ever apply and accept a job here.

Look at what’s happened to you! You’re a fucking whore! The boss is mad at you and at least one other girl hates you already, too, and you keep getting passed over in lineups. Lindsay again wondered if she was attractive enough to be working here. You got suspended too! How could she have fucked up so badly? Jim and Kenzie were both in trouble because of her. Worst of all, Pamela was disappointed. You let Pamela down!

I … I hate it here! I wish I could go back home!

Lindsay shook her head, dabbing her eyes with tissues, and signed on to the website via her smartphone. She had four e-mails waiting – more interested customers, no doubt – but ignored them for the time being. Instead, she clicked on “compose message” and furiously began thumbing out an e-mail to the one person in her life that she wanted to be with right now. It certainly wasn’t her mom or dad, any of her sisters, or her best friend, Evie. None of them will want anything to do with me once they find out what’s become of me. It wasn’t Pamela either. I … I’m not going to survive here; this place is going to swallow me alive.

Somehow, Lindsay knew this person could make everything better. Being with him, she believed, would solve all her problems.

>> ive had a bad day & wish i could sit in ur lap & u could brush my hair right now like the other night. that was so nice. wed hug & kiss & then fuck. i miss u so much baby and really need u right now

>> i love u sammy

Lindsay tapped the “send” icon. …

 

(End of Chapter Seven - to be continued)

 

Story feedback is appreciated! JeremyDCP@hotmail.com




 

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