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Marianne Ferguson deleted the text message she'd been dreading and put her phone on silent mode. He'd found her. He wanted to see her immediately.
Glancing at her reflection in the beautiful antique mirror--beautiful because she'd spotted it and rescued it herself from a rubbish pile--she decided the outfit passed for such a meeting. "Too sexy" gave the wrong impression, but a cheeky part of her still wanted to be attractive in the eyes of her ex-lover.
Four months had passed since she'd seen or spoken to Joe. Her gaze roamed over the small rented room, furnished simply with warmth and style. A familiar thrill spread quietly through her, tickling as it moved, slowly overriding the fear. Her gaze settled back toward the mirror with confidence. This apartment belonged to Marianne, and to her, it meant freedom.
I don't want to see him. After all the cheating, the lying, the games, and all that it took to walk away, she dreaded the moment that loomed inevitably, the minute he would insist she present herself to him. At the same time, she had no choice. If she didn't go, his requests would simply get more convincing. Better to face the music now.
Lost in the thought, staring at the image in the mirror, she decided to stick with the tight red tank top that she wore and even to continue with the no-bra option. Marianne knew Joe didn't want her back, although he might try to sleep with her. A bra that held her large breasts high, lifted, separated, and defined was not going to be a deterrent. Knowing Joe, the braless choice meant good strategy. It stated simply, I did nothing to do myself up for you, and I still look this good. Her long blonde hair fell free,and she wore no makeup. With the simple wrap-around skirt, hers for the last twenty years, she projected an understated but sexy image.
Closing the door to her apartment complex, she stepped out into the dark night. Familiar sounds of sirens and traffic filled the air, heavy with the liquid heat of a typical Sydney summer. Drawing a deep breath--an automatic response when venturing into Kings Cross at night--filled her lungs with damp night air and the ripe scent of a city ready for anything.
Amazing to live right here, on Victoria Road, in the center of the Sydney red-light district. Sydney's brothels and squalid secrets remained hidden away from the public view in other suburbs. Legalization of prostitution made sure you could trade money for a pretty lady anywhere in Sydney--or a not-so-pretty one, if that's what you preferred. However, the infamous Cross overtly paraded the sex trade in its many different guises. The naughtiness of the location invited you to join, promised adventure, excitement, and sexual discoveries. It spoke to a place inside that generally one would try to ignore. It spoke to that place inside Marianne, and every time, she responded with a goose-bumped thrill. But sleaze, not love, ruled the Cross. It was about pole dancers indoors and bouncers outside, hustling people to come in and sample their earthly delights. It was mannequins covered in red lace, black fishnets in every window, and signs with the words "Pussy" and "Nudes" in pink and blue neon. It was about bucks' nights and hens' nights and easy lays. Expectant sailors, hungry marines, busy police, and streetwalkers. Young men getting their first fuck and older women made beautiful in the dark night. It was about parlors. Tattoo parlors, ice cream parlors, and massage parlors.
Marianne had lived in this region ever since Joe brought her to Australia from Thailand, all those years ago. Being of European descent, stepping off the boat onto the sand that day made her feel immediately at home. He'd taken her straight to his place at the rear of The Pink Pussycat, and there she had lived until four months ago, when an unexpected opportunity saw her move into a new apartment alone. The Cross was a real home, the only home she'd ever known, and the only one to which she felt connected. It spoke to her of the kind of sex without intimacy that had defined her life for so long she'd forgotten there could be anything else. Crossing Bayswater Road, she passed a couple holding each other tight. Realistically, she knew those kinds of love affairs existed, but Marianne felt that world couldn't be farther from her reach. It was better not to look too long nor wish too hard. The sleaze defined her world. As she'd done in the past, she pushed any longings deep into the base of her belly. Not until she noticed the prostitute across the road did the sadness subside, leaving all the evidence needed to remind her that this milieu was her home, not the other.
The beautiful prostitute wore a gold bikini top and a tight gold skirt. Her very long hair fell down her back in thick black ringlets and feathered at the top of her skirt, barely concealing a tattoo across her lower back. As she turned around to face Marianne, her enormous, pert nipples remained covered by the thin material of her top, even though her breasts bounced seductively around the edges of the flimsy covering. The woman looked at Marianne and smiled invitingly, moving her hands to the sides of her breasts, in the hopes of seducing an attractive female customer.
Although as straight as they came, the sight had Marianne's heart racing and her vagina waking up. This gorgeous woman stood there for the taking, wantonly making herself available. If only I were gay, Marianne thought to herself.
Maybe one day ... If I had the right guy with me, maybe I could play that game a little.
Like a true businessperson, the woman had already noticed Marianne's lack of interest. The prostitute started to proposition a man across the road. Sex was a commodity here, and one needed to have a stainless-steel spine and a heart of stone to handle it.
Marianne felt she had both.
The experience watching the prostitute had aroused her, however. Reprimanding herself for her foolish sentimentality, she made a promise that she'd visit The Pleasure Chest after meeting with Joe. She thought of her favorite sex store and the little booths at the back, where she could watch and enjoy anything, taking her fancy in private for a few dollars every ten minutes.
Shaking herself out of her train of thought, she realized she'd already walked as far as The Bourbon and Beefsteak. Soon she'd be in Joe's office. Her wandering mind had lowered her guard.
Idiot! she told herself. First looking at couples and then dreaming of fucking a woman with the right guy, and now getting myself hot before I meet with Joe. Where the hell is my brain tonight?
It would be stupid to go to his place with any scent of arousal about her. He'd sense it immediately and assume it an attempt to seduce him. If this happened, rational discussion would be out of the question, and he would try to posses her again. She would have to remove all trace.
A quick look at her watch gave her permission to splash cold water on her face before moving on. Turning into The Bourbon and Beefsteak, she headed straight for the powder room.
The Bourbon wasn't crowded, and as Marianne walked through the main bar, she supposed it might be nice to come back to this restaurant sometime soon. She hadn't eaten at the Bourbon for a while.
If he'll let me leave tonight. She winced at the thought.
Games like that should be over between them, but she knew he didn't like to let anything go. In the powder room, Marianne entered a booth, lifted her skirt, and pulled off some toilet paper. Her soft, wet opening tingled at her touch. It felt good to graze her fingers over her body; an image of the woman in the skimpy gold outfit jumped to her mind. She quickly banished it and threw the paper in the toilet. Dressing properly, she stepped out of the cubicle. Washing her hands, she splashed water on her face, and paused to direct a reprimand at the pretty woman in the mirror.
"Get a grip," she scolded. "You must be in control tonight."
Time ticked on, and she needed to keep going. Moving briskly back through The Bourbon and out onto the street, she turned a hard right to go three doors down to The Pink Pussycat. The bouncer at the door, Jimmy, recognized her straightaway.
"Mary! Where have you been? We all missed you, love!"
Jimmy, a typical, hugely built Aussie bloke with sandy hair, tons of muscles, and piercing blue eyes, moved forward to embrace her in a bear hug. Staring into those eyes gave one a sense of genuine safety. He could almost be hot if it weren't for the fact that he'd had so many fights, his broken nose bore no resemblance to its former state. To complete the horror story, he displayed three giant knife scars across his cheek. He'd been Joe's bouncer for years. He stepped back, the question still in his eyes.
"Babe, I just had to go. You know how it is."
"Yeah, chicks seem to run every now and then. I know he could be bad to you, sweets, but he loves you, really."
Marianne smiled. "Nice try, man, but I'm sure plenty rallied around to help him get over me."
Jimmy shrugged and opened the door for Marianne to step through. A great guy and a real friend in many situations, but he was Joe's man, and that was it. His loyalty stood firm and fixed.
Marianne walked into a room that was dark and already alive with the beginnings of a night of action. A young woman by the name of Chastity, whom Marianne knew from the days of hanging about here, warmed up one of the poles. Around eighty customers watched her. An average turn-out for seven-thirty at night. By ten p.m., there would be over three hundred packed into the small room, including approximately twenty women guests and the regular female workers.
Women did all the work here. They served the drinks, they lap danced, and they escorted customers to the booths at the back for private dances. The hard work taxed the soul; Marianne had tried to be a friend to some of them, though as Joe's girlfriend, her position made it hard to be friends. Most of the females here wanted to be Joe's woman, and on some night or other, most of them were. Eventually, Marianne no longer cared who fucked him; still, these rivals considered her as threat and kept their distance.
However, observing them in action made for a very pleasant pastime. She paused for a minute, watching a naked Chastity draw on her nipples and thrust her pelvis forward, her legs on either side of the pole in front of her. She pulled back, and with a graceful movement, turned her back to the men at the front of the stage. Bending at the waist so they could see clearly between her legs, she ran a finger up and down her slit in front of them. Turning to face them, she lowered herself seductively to the stage, spread her legs, and did the same thing with her fingers from the front. She kept that luscious pussy closed. It would cost the customer a lot more cash to get Chastity to spread the puffy lips apart so they could get a good look inside.
Marianne felt her own pussy getting wet again and decided she'd better get it over with. She checked for a clear path to Joe's office door. Jimmy was nice to her, but she couldn't be sure what the reception would be like from the other employees. She looked toward the rear of the room to a large padded leather door in the far corner. Chastity remained too focused on her work to notice her, and the bar staff served drinks around the other side. She could make it to the door without having to deal with anyone else she knew from her past.
Setting her eyes on her destination, away from Chastity and the men watching her, she stealthily crossed the room, staying in the shadows between the lighting. Within almost an arm's reach of the door, a figure stepped out in front of her, stopping her dead in her tracks.
"Now why would you be crossing the floor as if you had something to hide?"