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In the Night We Trust

Chapter Text

According to Kit, the Blue Banana Club has always been on the seamy side. It's easy to get into. It's easy to find whatever you need: a drink, a diversion, a companion for the night.

You went to the Blue Banana because Kit went to the Blue Banana, not because you're delighted by the atmosphere. You know she's in there now. You know she'd gone there for a diversion. The street life isn't easy, even for someone who chose it. It's even harder for someone who didn't.

Like Skinny Marie. Who was just found dead in a dumpster.

You don't want that to be Kit's fate, but you're scared it won't matter what you want. It rarely matters what you want. For example, you wanted to pay the rent when you woke this evening. However, the travel soap container—and cash stash—hidden in the toilet tank was empty.

You snuck out of the apartment you share with Kit via the fire escape like a fucking criminal. While you were a prostitute, and technically a criminal, you pay the landlord every Saturday.

But Kit ruined that winning streak.

The thumping music spills out of the open door of the Blue Banana. You wind your way around the Harleys parked at the curb, ignoring the attention of the few men in the vestibule. You ask after Kit at the bar, and Pop, the bartender, tells you she's in the pool room.

Ah, shit. You know what that means.

You find Kit wearing sunglasses and obsessively combing her bangs. She's high alright, but coming down. Next to her is Angel and, of fucking course, Carlos.

Kit lights up the second she sees you. "Yo, babe!"

"Is it all gone?" you ask in lieu of a greeting.

She takes off her sunglasses and stumbles to her feet, teetering in her heels. You catch her by the shoulder of her jean jacket. She grabs your forearm to steady herself.

"Is it all gone, Kit?!"

"I—" She braces herself on the table. "I needed a little pick-me-up."

Carlos, the neighborhood pusher and wannabe pimp, intervenes like the nosey little shit he is. "Calm down, chica," he says all rico suave. "She only owes me two hundred more."

You glare at Kit. "Another two hundred?"

"From way before," Kit says.

"Yeah, another two hundred," he replies. "But if you wanna work off her money with me, we can come to some sort of agreement."

Kit takes your elbow and dead-pans, "That's a very sweet offer, Carlos, but not now."

She directs you to the bar as you sputter at his offer. You protest going to the bar because you both have to get to work. There's rent to cover and now an additional two hundred dollars to pay a man who would most definitely knife you both to save face.

Kit insists she needs a snack, and you wonder how she can handle food with that shit running through her veins. She stacks a few cocktail napkins from the bar in her hand and loads it with orange slices and maraschino cherries. Pop chides her, saying it ain't a buffet.

You both duck out of the Blue Banana before anything else can go wrong. The night is mild as usual. There are plenty of cars rolling down Hollywood Boulevard.

"You took it while I was sleeping," you say as you cross the street.

Kit pops a cherry in her mouth. "Unavailable for consultation."

You snort, and Kit retorts, "Besides, it's my apartment."

"Yeah, well, I have to live there, too."

"Look, I gave you money, a place to stay…" She throws a cherry stem on the sidewalk. "And some very valuable vocational advice. Carlos was on my ass, alright? I had to give him something." She nibbles on an orange wedge. "So don't… Don't irritate me."

"Irritate you? Irritate you? I just saw Skinny Marie pulled out of a dumpster."

"Beh! She was a flake—a… a crackhead. Dominic was trying to straighten her out for months."

You want to point out that maybe if Dominic hadn't forced her to fuck strangers and then take most of her money, she wouldn't have been a crackhead. But it's a tired argument.

As you make it to your corner and settle in, a shiny red Beamer rolls by and some cake-eater leans out the window. "Hey, girls!"

Kit smiles at him and pockets the damp napkins half-full of cocktail garnishes. "Hey, yo, baby!"

"How about a freebie? It's my birthday!"

Kit waves the kid away. "Dream on!"

You lean against the closest parking meter. "It's looking really slow tonight."

"Maybe you should get a pimp? Carlos really digs you," she says as she fishes the wad of fruit from her jacket pocket. It's all lint-y now, and she dumps the whole thing in the gutter.

"And then he'll run our lives and take our money. No."

"You're right. We say who, we say when, we say how much."

Before you could say anything more, the terrible screeching of a car's grinding gears comes from the boulevard. The tires chirp as the driver pops the clutch. There comes a honk of a horn and then a man bellowing for the other driver to eat a dick.

Kit's eyes go wide. "Oh yo, oh yo! Catch this!"

You turn to see a steel-gray Lotus Esprit. A fucking Lotus on Hollywood.

"Hold up," you say in awe. "That's a Lotus Esprit."

It's gorgeous and sleek, looking fast even as it jerks to a stop at the curb a few yards ahead.

"No, that's rent. You should go for him. You look hot." Kit adjusts the lapel of your maroon hand-me-down tuxedo jacket. "Don't take less than a hundred. Call me when you're through. Take care of you."

You nod and pull her into a brief hug. "Take care of you."

With a deep breath, you shrug off the jacket and sling it over your big purse. You'd put on your lucky dress tonight. The white halter part clings to your breasts while the blue skirt just covers your ass. The two halves come together with o-rings front and back. You hope it's still lucky.

As you approach the Lotus, you can hear the driver cursing a Jersey-accented storm that you're sure will linger like a miasma of frustration over the boulevard for the rest of the night.

"God-fucking-dammit! Where the fuck is first goddamn gear, you piece of fuck—stupid shit—ass-fucker!"

The squeal of gears finish the tirade, and you cringe for the poor car.

You put on a smile, bend in front of the open passenger-side window, and press your breasts together. "Hey, sugar, you lookin' for a date?"

"No, I wanna find Beverly fucking Hills," the driver snaps, pegging himself as a newcomer of some sort.

He's good-looking and white, younger than you expect, with dark wavy hair that almost brushes his shoulders. He has strong cheekbones and a nearly-Roman nose. His lips are full and pink—downright pretty. He takes up quite a bit of room, too. His hand is huge on the gear shift.

For a john, he looks dangerous. And volatile. Too worked up. Too rich. His creamy skin is flushed with stress—or coke. But a trick is a trick, and you need the money.

"I can get you there," you offer with a smile. "For five bucks."

He finally turns to you, and you realize he is way more handsome than you initially thought. "Are you pushin' fuckin' extortion on me?"

"More like blackmail."

He sarcastically laughs. "Get the fuck outta here."

"Price just went up to ten."

"You can't charge me for shittin' directions."

"I can do whatever I want to, baby. I ain't lost."

You straighten and lean your hip on the car door. You know he's not going anywhere. First, he can barely handle this car. Second, he's lost. Third, it's night in a strange city—which makes being lost even worse.

A string of fucks come from inside the car. "Fine! Alright. Jesus, you win!"

You smirk, but school your features before you open the door. A conceited winner never gets far in life, and you don't want to piss him off.

"You got change for a twenty?" he asks as you install yourself in the passenger seat.

You snatch the bill from between his fingers and stuff it in your thigh-high boot. "For twenty, I'll show you personal. Like where the stars live."

"Tch, don't bother. Already seen Stallone's."

You bet he had.

You point forward. "Keep going straight at the light."

He struggles with the gear shift, snarling curses at the car. You want to point out it's not the car. The car is amazing. But him as a driver? Not so much.

He pulls into traffic, popping the clutch, making the car lurch forward while the tires squeak. You grab the oh-shit handle to keep from jerking into the seatbelt. He mumbles an apology while struggling to find second gear.

It would be cute if he wasn't ruining the car. You catch quick glances at him. Actually, he's cute in his ineptitude. He's trying so hard. You wonder how long he's been driving the Lotus, because he sucks at it. Which is typical for someone who has a lot of money but not a lot of skill. Sometimes, that same principle can be applied to their skill in bed.

The traffic light ahead turns red, and you sigh in relief as you let go of the handle. He brings it to a rough stop and sighs as well.

"How's it like bein' a hooker these days?" he asks.

You know exactly what he's referring to. Everyone thinks you have AIDS these days, either from turning tricks or shooting up. "I always use condoms, okay? And I get checked every month at the clinic." You drum your fingers on the window ledge. "Look, not only am I a better fuck, I'm probably a safer one."

"You got business cards that say that?"

You meet his smiling eyes in the red light. "Why would I need 'em?" you reply as you wave a hand down your posed body.

His gaze follows your hand, and he wets his bottom lip. "I see your point."

Maybe he'll be getting more than directions before the night is through.

He clears his throat. "So, what's your name?"

"Whaddya want it to be?"

He gives you a look that is at once amused and exasperated. You grin with a shrug and tell him the truth. He seems pleased by it, or at least he seems to believe you.

You point out the light has changed. He wrestles to get the balance between gas and clutch to make the car move. You watch his long thighs shift and realize he might need a distraction.

You ask, "What hotel you stayin' at?"

"The, uh…" He gets the car rolling. "Regent Beverly Wilshire."

"Right at the next light."

There's twenty-or-so more minutes of drive-time, and you're not sure the poor car is going to make it. While it might be a high-performance vehicle, it can only take so much. You admire it for a second, knowing this is probably the only time you'll ever sit in one.

"Doesn't this thing blow your mind?" you ask him. "It's gotta corner like it's on rails."


"This is only four-cylinders, baby."

"How you know that?"

"Road and Track. Grew up around gearheads. They bought 'em cheap and fixed 'em up. I paid attention."

He grinds into third gear, and you grimace.

"I think you left your transmission back there." You thumb behind you. "You're not shifting right. This is a standard 'H'."

"Like I know what the fuck that means," he grumbles.

You laugh and are about to offer to teach him—for a price, of course—when he pulls over.

"You ever driven a Lotus?"

You scoff at the idea of a person like you driving something like this. "No."

"You're gonna start now." He unbuckles his seatbelt and checks the side mirror before opening the door.

You're left gawping. "Are you kidding?!"

"Nah, it's the only way to get you off my coat." He gets out of the car.

You notice his nice slacks, his silk shirt, the shine on his belt. You scramble out of the car and walk around the rear to switch places. As he passes you, he gives you a little wink. He towers over you, all broad-shouldered and handsome. You tell yourself the little happy flutter in your gut is because you're about to drive a Lotus Esprit.

You get into the driver's seat and pull it forward so you can fully depress the clutch. After buckling yourself in, you adjust the rear-view mirror. It's heady being in control of such power. You can feel the hum of the engine through the steering wheel and shifter. This car can hit its top speed in under eight seconds. It's incredible.

"Fasten your seatbelt," you say. "I'm gonna show you what this car can really do." You put the car in first gear. "Are you ready?"


"Hang on."


You check the traffic to find it sparse enough to pull out. "Here we go."

You whip the car into traffic, smooth as glass. The transmission doesn't feel worse for wear. You quickly shift through the gears until you're cruising in fourth.

You glance over to see him watching. You offer a smile. "This car has pedals like a race car," you tell him. "They're really close together, so it's probably easier for a woman to drive—because we have smaller feet."

When his says nothing, you hold out your arm. "Did you know your foot's as big as your arm from your elbow to your wrist?"

He smiles.

You ask, "Did you know that?"


"Just a little trivia." You shrug as you take the car out of gear and let it coast to the red light ahead.

After a beat, he asks, "What kinda money you girls make these days?"

"Can't take less than a hundred."

"A hundred dollars a night?"

"For an hour."

"You make a hundred dollars an hour and you got a fuckin' safety pin holding your boot together? Ya gotta be shittin' me."

"I don't joke about money," you reply.

"Neither do I. Jesus, hundred dollars an hour? Pretty fuckin' stiff."

You snake your hand into his lap and touch the soft mound of his cock. "No, but it's got potential."

"Yeah, and my potential's gettin' ideas."

You smirk and return your hand to the shifter as the light changes to green. "Sounds dangerous."

"You got no idea."

The rest of the drive is a comfortable kind of quiet. You softly point out some good places along Santa Monica Boulevard, and he hums in acknowledgement. Not that you've ever visited at any of them, of course, but johns talk.

He points out his hotel as you make a right onto Wilshire. It's stories high with a carved stone exterior and black-and-white awnings over the expansive first-floor windows. You would've missed it if he hadn't directed your attention to it, honestly. Because it's on the other side of the street with no sign.

It's like everyone should just know what it is.

There's a treed median separating the opposing lanes in front of the hotel, and you slow the car down to pull a quick u-turn around the median. The Lotus handles just as you thought. It hugs the road and comes to an easy stop in the pull-off lane for the hotel.

A valet rushes to the passenger side and opens the door. "Good evening, sir! Will you be needing the car anymore tonight?"

Your john unfolds himself from the car with a bark of laughter. "Shit, I hope not!"

With a grin, you turn off the car, leaving the keys in the ignition. You're pretty sure no one's going to be stealing it in this neighborhood. As you get out and walk around to the sidewalk, the valet gives you a once-over.

Ah. Yeah. You're definitely not dressed for the neighborhood.

You slink your jacket on as you meet your john on the very clean sidewalk. "So, ah…" you begin and idly finger the hem of your skirt. "You're here."

"Yeah, thanks," he replies and studies you for a few seconds. "You'll be alright?"

"Yup!" You gesture behind you because it's obvious he's not going to invite you inside. "Gonna grab a cab with my twenty bucks."

"Go back to your office."

"Yeah, my office," you laugh. "Yeah."

"Well, thanks for the ride."

"My pleasure," you warmly say and look at his striking face one last time before turning.

The john that got away.


There's a bus bench a couple yards ahead. The bus is a cheaper option than a cab. Lord knows, you need to save every penny you can right now. You perch on the bench backrest and wonder if Kit's had any luck.

As you tuck your jacket around your middle, you hear:

"No taxis?"

It's the john that got away.

You pivot in his direction and smile. "No, I like the bus."

Maybe he isn't the one that got away.

"You know…" He sidles over, a lightweight trenchcoat draped over an arm. "Shit, I was thinking…" He shrugs. "Did you really say a hundred dollars an hour?"

You tap the soles of your boots on the bench seat. "Yeah."

"Well, if ya got nothing else to do, I'd like it if ya came in."


"Hell yeah."

You smile, and he returns it. "You got it," you say as you bounce to your feet.

You walk next to him for a few steps before asking, "What's your name?"


You laugh at what has to be an alias. "Wait a minute!" you tease, calling him out on his bullshit. "You gave me this look when I didn't tell you my name right away, and now you're offering Pale as yours?"

"It's Jimmy—James," Pale says with a pout, pausing before the main entrance.

"But you prefer Pale?"

He nods.

"Yeah, okay…" You watch as he shakes out his trenchcoat. "Pale it is..." You frown in confusion as he holds it open to you. "What're you doing?"

"Put this on."


"This ain't the sort of establishment that rents rooms by the hour."

"Ah." You get it. You obviously look like a hooker with your short, tight dress and shiny thigh-high boots.

Between the two of you, you get the trenchcoat on. It smells like crisp, expensive cologne. The fabric flows like water as you wrap it loosely around you to belt it closed. It has to be silk, or a silk blend. It probably costs more than your whole wardrobe.

Just like the interior of the Regent Beverly Wilshire probably costs more than the whole neighborhood you live in. It's white marble, crystal chandeliers, dark wood, and huge bouquets of flowers. There are rugs on the floor that have to be real Persians or Orientals or whatever fancy-ass rugs rich people own. Everything is hushed like a museum.

Your heels clack on the polished floor as you follow Pale to the reception counter. He struts through the lobby like he owns the place. You feel every set of eyes on you as you lean against the wall to wait for him. You look down to make sure nothing is exposed.

Except for your painted face, that is. You went ham with the eyeliner and red lipstick when getting ready. With a survey of the lobby, you realize no other woman has such dramatic makeup. It's just you. Looking like a streetwalker.

Which you are. But still...

Pale speaks with the receptionist as you struggle to just maintain. You don't want to gawk. However, that's impossible. Your eyes feel as big as saucers as you notice the high ceilings and the gilding at the top of each column throughout the lobby. Everything is so beautiful. Everyone is so refined and speaking in soft tones.

You glance at Pale to find him watching you as he waits on the receptionist. He gives you a little grin and nod. You struggle to return the grin, but manage to nod back.

The receptionist gives Pale a few messages just as a middle-aged woman walks past you, giving you a snooty look. You eye her right back and straighten to your full height. You will not be cowed by some self-important bitch in a shapeless suit.

When Pale finishes at the reception counter, he takes your hand, leading you to a bank of elevator doors. His hand is large and warm in yours. You remind yourself that no one will judge once you two are alone.

However, you will be judged until then. Because the self-important bitch is waiting for an elevator with her pot-bellied husband. She gives you such a look of disdain, you have to roll your eyes. On the other hand, her husband looks at you like you're dessert.

Beside you, Pale presses the lit "up" button for the elevator a few times. You angle yourself and cock your hip, giving the husband a wink when the bitch is looking. She faintly scoffs and knocks her padded shoulder against her husband's.

The elevator doors open, and you let go of Pale to step forward first. There's a padded bench at the back of the elevator. Along with an elevator attendant operating the controls.

You exclaim, "Well, color me happy! There's a sofa in here for two!" You sit on the bench and kick up a heel onto it. "Or maybe three…?" You beam at the husband and watch him turn beet-red.

Pale smirks at you and says, "Big Aerosmith fan—just heard…" He waves a hand. "Fuckin' 'Love In An Elevator' on the way over."

Nobody buys it, of course. The bitch and her husband awkwardly titter, staying where they are. Pale steps in to stand next to you, and the doors close on the strained faces of the couple. The attendant gets the elevator moving a second later.

"Sorry," you say, though you don't really mean it, and stand. "Couldn't help it."

"Nah, I get it. Buncha assholes."

"Did you catch the look she gave me?"

"Yeah, like her shit don't fuckin' stink." He shakes his head. "Don't worry about broads like that. They're dime-a-dozen."

Somehow, you get the feeling he's saying you're not dime-a-dozen. You've had johns tell you how special you are before, of course. But they said that to make themselves feel better about using your body. This didn't feel like that.

The elevator dings, and the attendant announces, "Penthouse."

You give Pale an impressed look as the doors slide open. "Oh, the penthouse!"

You step into the hallway which only has a double door at either end. Pale tells you to go left. You wait by the door, watching as the attendant leans into the hallway to smile at you.

Pale steps out and turns to him. "Don't get any ideas, bozo."

You duck your head to hide your smirk. It's kind of adorable the way Pale's almost possessive. Guys look at you, eat you up with their eyes, all the time. Some ladies, too. It stopped bothering you a long time ago.

The elevator closes as Pale pulls a keycard from his trouser pocket. There's a brief struggle with the lock, and he lowly curses at it. He seems to do that a lot: cursing and doing battle with technology or machinery.

When the door opens, he stomps into the already-lit suite, turning on an extra lamp at the corner. You follow, closing the door behind you. The suite takes your breath. It's gorgeous in a different way than the lobby. But still huge. Not only is there a big sunken living room, there's a dining room on the left that seats six. Along the back wall is a series of French doors open to a stone terrace.

There's a vaguely Asian twist to the decoration and furniture, which is in shades of rose and mahogany. The lighting is mellow, golden. The carpet squishes underfoot.

"Impressed?" he asks as he passes you with his messages in hand.

"Are you kiddin' me? I come here all the time." You step down to the living room. "As a matter of fact, they do rent this room by the hour."

He crosses to the modest desk between two French doors in the living room. "Sure they do," he says with a joking snort as he turns on the desk lamp.

This far up, the city is quiet. You pass through the open door behind Pale. You've never seen LA's lights twinkle like they do now. You could almost forget what it's like down there.

"I bet you can see all the way to the ocean from out here," you say over your shoulder.

"I'll take your word for it, I don't go out there."

You come back in through the next door. "Why not?"

Pale is sitting at the desk, dwarfing the chair. He looks up from the small stack of papers piled in front of him. You shrug off your purse and nudge it under the footrest of the bergere armchair between the next two French doors.

He replies, "Don't care much for heights."

"So, why're you in the penthouse?"

You unbelt his coat and take it off as you walk around the living room.

"Wasn't my idea. I didn't book it."

Draping the coat over the arm of one of the plush sofas, you ask, "Well… Now that you have me here, what are you going to do with me?"

In the wryest tone, he says, "I thought I'd recite some, ya know, sonnets I wrote about birds."

You laugh and shrug off your tuxedo jacket, making your way to the bergere. "What kinda birds?" you ask and toss the jacket on the footrest.

"All kinds. Not discriminatory over here."

"Good to know."

You put a hand on your hip and watch him study you. His downright pretty brown eyes glint in the lamplight. He seems at once defensive, yet warm. Not cruel, but you can see his stubbornness. There's grim determination and a touch of simmering frustration. Maybe loneliness, too. He's no lonelyheart, though, that much you can tell—he's no open book, either.

"You gotta nice set a tits," Pale finally says.

You bark out a laugh. "Thanks!" You subtly arch your back. "They're hoe-made."

He laughs then. Really laughs. The defensiveness you saw disappears. You smile and saunter around the desk, watching him relax in the chair.

"You know," you say. "You could pay me. That's one way to break the ice."

"Shit. Yeah, fuck, of course. Cash good?"

"Cash is king."

He leans forward, pulling his wallet from his back pocket. "Don't fuckin' remind me," he grumbles good-naturedly as he slaps two fifties on the desk.

You slide the fifties in your boot and perch on the desk. You know it can take your weight and possibly the fucking you're about to receive.

"You're on my fax," he points out.

You purr, "Well, that's one I haven't been on before," then cross your legs away from him and lean to the side.

"Cute." He grins, tugging the papers from under your ass. "Veeery fuckin' cute, thanks."

You chuckle and unzip the top of your other boot to pull out a few condoms. "Alrighty, pick one: I got red, I got green, I got yellow. I'm out of purple, but! I do have one gold circle coin left." You take out the gold foil packet from your boot for him to see. "The condom of champions. The one and only. Nothin's gettin' through this sucker." You raise your eyebrows. "Hm, whaddya say?"

"It's a fuckin'... buffet a safety."

You shrug and flourish the condoms in your hands. "I'm a safety girl."

Pale wets his lips and stands. You drop the condoms on the desk before reaching for his belt to undo it. Only to be thwarted when he places his big hands on top of yours.

He gruffly murmurs, "Lemme get you a drink first."

"A drink?" He's got you for an hour, and he wants to waste time with booze? You reason it's his money, and he can do what he wants with it. You shrug and say, "Sure, a drink."

Right then, a mellow chime rings through the suite. You stiffen in surprise, ready to do something. Like hide or run or plead the fifth.

"What's that?" you ask, tugging your hands from his.


Before you can ask what the hell that means, the chime sounds again. He steps away and heads for the main door. You zip your boot closed, realizing the chime is a doorbell. It's the fanciest sounding doorbell you've ever heard.

He lets in a room service attendant, who greets him. The attendant carries a silver tray holding a champagne bucket, covered dish, and a red rose in a slender vase. Your eyes bug out the same time the attendant's do. It appears neither one of you was expecting the other.

"Good evening!" the attendant says to you, keeping up appearances.

You reply with a "hi" and slip off the desk.

Pale directs the attendant to the small, four-seater bar in corner. After the attendant sets the tray on the bar, Pale tips him five dollars. You blink at him tossing around money, willy-nilly. Five bucks would feed you the whole day with snacks and everything, and here he is, just giving it to a guy for doing his job.

Though, you remember desperately needing tips when you worked at The Big A before you met Kit. But that was valet work, this is simply carrying stuff.

You check yourself, asking if there's any difference. Service is service—a line in which you still work. And you love when johns give you an extra ten on the side.

The attendant discretely thanks Pale and wishes you both a nice evening. You cross the living room as the attendant sees himself out. Pale moves around the bar, hauling the champagne bottle from the bucket as he goes.

You sit on a bar stool and lean an elbow on the counter. "So, you got a wife? Girlfriend?"

"Both," he grunts as he expertly pops the cork on the bottle.

"Where are they? Shopping together?"

"My ex-wife's in Miami with the kids." He puts a champagne flute on the bar and drops a sugar cube in it. "My ex-girlfriend, Anna, 's in New York, packin' my shit as we speak."

You hadn't taken him for a father. He doesn't have that air of fatherhood. He doesn't appear old enough, either. Unless the kids are pretty young. You want to ask after them, but that's way too personal. You're only here for another forty—or so—minutes. At least, that's what your internal clock says.

He uncovers the dish to reveal it stacked with beautiful strawberries and slides it in front of you. He pours a jigger of bitters over the sugar cube as you pick a strawberry. As you bite into it, he fills the flute the rest of the way with champagne.

"Ain't no orange twist to pretty it up, but this should be decent," he states and offers you the cocktail.

It is good, and you make a happy sound of approval. He preens behind the bar as you sip at the drink between bites of juicy strawberry. They really do pair well.

Nevertheless, you're antsy to get the show on the road, but it's never good to pressure a john too much.

Pale gets a snifter and curvy bottle of caramel-colored cognac from below the counter, filling the glass a quarter way. He holds up the snifter, telling you, "This is how I got my nickname."

"Making drinks?"

"Nah, this—" He taps the cognac bottle. "See, VSOP." He points to the letters on the label. "Very Special Old Pale."

You lean forward to read. "This says 'Very Superior Old Pale.'"

He smiles. "I'll take it!"

You raise your flute with an answering grin. "Here's to superiority," you toast and lightly tap his snifter.

"And pretty women."

At the compliment, you huff a laugh through your nose and take a sip. "So tell me, Pale, are you in town for business or pleasure?"

"Business…" He looks at your lips. "Until now."

"Hmm." You hide a grin, knowing you can now maneuver him into what he's paying you for, and finish your drink. "Well… Thanks for the drink, Very Superior Old Pale." You set the delicate flute down. "I appreciate the scene you've set for me, too, but—uh…" You wipe your palms on your thighs and give him a coy look. "I work on an hourly rate, so…?"

He straightens to his full, imposing height. "How much for the night?"

"Stay here?" You glance around with a private snort and just know he's going to be offended by the price you'll quote. "You couldn't afford it."

"Try me."

"Five hundred dollars."

"Done," he announces and plucks the flute off the counter. "Now we can relax." He holds it up. "Want another?"

You nod in shock, watching him place the flute in front of himself.

Kit can pay off Carlos tomorrow night. You'll be able to cover rent for this week and next. It's a miracle—if he's sincere.

"Are you sure you want me for the night?" you ask.

He smiles down at the jigger he's pouring. "Hell yeah." He glances up. "Unless you got something better to do."

"No, I got no one better to do."

Pale snorts in amusement and tips the full jigger into the flute.

You ask, "Ya mind if I take my boots off?"

"Make yourself at home. I'll get the money in a minute."

You go to your purse and stuff the fifties he gave you behind the tatty lining. He doesn't seem the type to rip you off, but you can never be too careful. You sit on the footrest to unzip your boots and roll down the old thigh-high stockings.

Once barefoot, you wiggle your toes in the thick carpet. It's nice, fluffy—feels expensive. You stand to head to the bar and realize you have to pee.

"Where's the bathroom?" you inquire and discreetly pick up your purse.

Pale points to the open doorway on his left. "Straight back."

The carpet continues through the doorway, which leads to a bedroom that has to be the same size as your apartment. The ensuite bathroom is lined in peachy-pink marble. Because, of course. All the fixtures are gold. Naturally. At the head of the swimming-pool size jetted tub is a cut-glass oval window.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Maybe you should've asked for more money.

You close the door and plop your purse on the sink counter before using the facilities. Even the damn toilet paper is luxuriously thick. The maid had folded the end into a neat point, too.

After flushing, you wash your hands and check your teeth in the mirror to see a few strawberry seeds. You sigh as you fish out the spool of floss from the toiletries bag in your purse.

Before you can cut a length to use, a knock sounds and the door opens. You don't know why you do it, but you hide the floss in your fist. Pale pops his head around the door, and you spin to face him with your hand behind your back.

"Hey, I…" He frowns. "Whatcha got there?"

"Nothing!" you promise with a grin. You just know he'll think you're being so prissy about your teeth.

His look darkens as he stomps into the room, approaching like a thundercloud. "Now look, I don't do that shit no more." He grabs your upper arm. "And I don't want anyone doin' drugs around me."

"I don't do drugs, alright!"

You attempt to wiggle out of his hold, but it's like iron as he steers you to the door. That five hundred dollars is slipping away because of goddamn floss! He snatches your purse in his other hand.

"No, wait, please!" you beg and open your damp palm. The spool sticks to your skin.

He looks down and blinks. "Is that fucking dental floss?"

His grip loosens, and you pull away. "Yeah, so?" You turn the little spool in your fingers, showing him it's just normal floss. "There were seeds between my teeth, okay?" You hold it up. "And you shouldn't neglect your gums!"

He stills for a tense second.

"No, yeah, sorry," he grumbles and waves a hand. "Continue."

You turn to the sink, pulling a length of floss out and cutting it loose. You meet his gaze in the mirror as you wind one end around your finger. "You gonna watch?"

"No," he says, looking contrite, and holds out your purse. "Here."

"Thanks." You take it, placing it right where it had been.

"And, uh—" He pulls a thin fold of bills from his pocket and extends it to you. "Here."

You take the bills and slide them temporarily in your bra. "Thanks."

With a relieved sigh, you get a good hold on the floss and bring it to your mouth. You feel him staring, though, and you look over your shoulder to say:

"You're watching."

"I'm going," he replies before stepping out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

You floss and rinse, hide all the money deep in your purse, and return to the living room. Pale's turned off a few lights, making the room softer and more intimate. He lounges in an armchair, snifter on the side table, a stack of papers at his elbow. His long legs stretch out, sock-feet crossed on the floor. In the mellow light, his dark eyes glitter and his wavy hair shines. He really is quite handsome—probably one of the best looking johns you've entertained in a while.

"I gotta make some calls," he says, then gestures to the entertainment curio in the corner. "Feel free to watch TV, or whatevah."

You nod and set your purse on a barstool. Your refreshed cocktail is still cool and bubbly, so you take a sip. It's as delicious as the first one. There's also a basket full of small bags of pretzels, chips, and candy on the counter.

"Got out snacks from the bar—if you're hungry." He adds, "Or there's room service."

This must be his way of an apology. Which is endearing, actually. You remind yourself it's always good business to meet your client at least halfway.

"Snacks are good, thanks!" you chirp and check the selection.

You load up on the salty stuff—because it's been hours since you last ate. From the minifridge behind the bar, you grab the squattest bottle of Pepsi you've ever seen.

You survey the dark dining room, since you don't want to disturb him. However, you don't want to eat there. You haven't eaten at a dining-room table in ages. There's no room for one at your place. You usually sit on your bed when you eat and watch the evening news. It was what you'd done tonight.

That leaves the living room. You ask if he's sure he doesn't mind if you camp out on the floor in front of the television. He reassures you he doesn't as he picks up the handset of the telephone on the side table.

You dump the bags and bottle on the carpet before going back for your cocktail. While you're at the bar, you pick up the wine bucket with the champagne, too. It would be such a shame for it to go to waste.

After opening the curio and finding the remote, you settle on the floor. As you flip through the TV channels, Pale argues—or is simply loud—with someone about Rex Two. You have no idea what that means, but it's none of your business, anyway.

You perk up when you find The Arsenio Hall Show. You hardly ever get to watch it. Kit always talks about going to a show. Plans were never made, though, but it would be fun to skip a day to do it.

Once he ends a second call, you turn to him. He jots something down on a paper. You assume it's one of the messages he picked up at the reception desk.

He meets your gaze, giving you a little grin.

You offer, "Would you like something from my little carpet picnic? Or I can refill your drink?"

His voice is soft as he replies, "Nah, honey, I'm good."

He goes back to his notes, and you pour yourself more champagne. It really is good and goes well with the potato chips. Who knew? Warmth spreads across your cheeks from the alcohol. Your limbs feel watery and languid. It's the most relaxed you've felt in months.

You roll onto your stomach as Arsenio comes back from commercial. The guest is unfamiliar, but funny. Him and Arsenio roll through quips and call-back jokes. You put a hand over your mouth to muffle your laughter. Pale's on another call, with staccato answers and forceful corrections.

At a commercial break, movement catches your attention as Pale stands sans phone. He must've ended the conversation while you were distracted. You watch him pad around you to settle on the nearest sofa.

He watches you as he spreads his arms over the sofa back and closest arm. There's something like an invitation in his movements. You sit up, and he relaxes more.

Yeah, you decide, you're reading him right.

You get on your knees and crawl to him. His eyes darken as he bites his bottom lip. Wordlessly, you maneuver his knees farther apart and skim your hands over his firm thighs.

He murmurs, "Show me what's under that dress."

You slip the top of the dress down to reveal a lacy bra. His eyes dart to look at your breasts, the way they fill the cups of your bra. You sweep the dress down your hips, uncovering equally lacy underwear—which doesn't match the bra, but are the same color.

You discard the dress, leaving it in a pile by his foot, and inch closer. He slumps on the sofa and spreads his knees. You lean in with every intention of unbuttoning his shirt, but the roar of laughter from the television distracts you. You smile at him in apology and haul yourself to your feet to get the remote.

Once muting the television, you return to kneel between his legs and rest your upper body across his. His torso is solid under you. His faint cologne entices you to get closer.

"You got a hot body," he says as he brings his hands down to touch your sides.

"So do you."

You begin unbuttoning his shirt, taking it slow. Each inch of chest revealed is only further confirmation of his attractiveness. His skin is creamy smooth and unblemished, dotted with beauty marks. A thick, flat gold chain snakes around his neck. It could be tacky, but it's not.

You kiss the skin right below the chain before whispering: "What're you into?"

"Whaddaya do?"

"Everything... but I don't kiss on the mouth."

"Yeah," he declares. "Neither do I."

With a grin, you lean close to kiss the side of his neck. He tilts his head with a breath. He slides his warm hands over your back and into your hair. He tastes clean with a hint of salt. You nuzzle under his jaw to kiss his thudding pulse.

Pale subtly rolls against you. His belt buckle digs into your belly, but so does his growing erection. You reach between your bodies to undo his belt and slacks.

He directs your head away from his neck before you get far. You think he's going to try to kiss you, but he doesn't. Your eyes meet, and his burn.

"Gonna show me what that pretty mouth can do?"

You grin. "Yeah."

He smooths his hands down your shoulders to your upper arms, thumbs catching on the straps of your bra.

"Show me," he growls.

You wet your lips and begin kissing a line down his torso. His breath catches every time you add a little teeth. You nip at his skin, peppering him with faint pink marks until you reach his loosened belt.

Sitting back, you undo his slacks. His cock tents the fine fabric, spreading the open fly. You run your palm over the bulge of it and feel its heat and heft. He's not small—just like the rest of him.

You scoot his slacks off his hips, and he lifts himself to help. Together, you get him stripped from the waist down.

There, you pause.

You don't consider yourself a cultured person. The only times you've been to a museum was during school. However, you know if a classical sculptor had seen Pale, they'd want to immortalize him.

His cock rests in the crook of his hip, thick and flushed. His thighs are gracefully corded and covered in fine, dark hair. His balls are plump and tight.

You spread his legs, running your hands up his smooth inner thighs. His dick jerks, and a little dribble of precome trickles around the crown. You gather saliva on your tongue and lick him from the seam of his balls to the tip of his cock.

He groans as you hold his erection away from his torso and do it again. The male musk of him coats your tongue, fills your nose. It's clean and salty. You smear the wetness of his precome over your bottom lip.

In response, he put a hand on the nape of your neck.

"That okay?" he murmurs.

"Of course, baby."

You steady the thick shaft of his cock and wet your lips. You want more of him, the taste of him in your mouth, the heft of his dick on your tongue. Taking the head in your mouth, you suck and swivel your head around so he feels all of you.

His breath catches once more as his head falls back. "Fuck…"

The hand at your nape tightens, but not with a threat. It certainly doesn't thwart you from getting more of him. You take him deeper and moan around his cock, receiving an answering groan.

It all felt good—the heat of him, the taste, the weight of his hand, the knowledge that you were giving him something he needed. You work his dick, using all your skill to give him something amazing. His hands shove their way into your hair and hang on—not to force you down, but to steady himself.

Pale moans as he rolls his hips, pushing his cock farther into your mouth again and again. It's like he can't help it, so driven by need. You don't mind the minute thrusts; your fist encircling the base keeps you from choking and gagging helplessly around his cock.

Maybe later you could take all of him. Deep-throating was something you were still learning. But you imagine him backing you against one of these fancy walls and fucking your mouth until he came down your throat. Your lips would be so puffy and wet and sensitive from his thrusts. His come and sweat would be all you could taste.

Your cunt clenches at the thought.

His hands fist your hair and pull you away. You pop off his cock with a gasp. His dick jerks in your hand as you meet his eyes, which are deep and dark. Like the hungry ocean. His chest heaves, and you pant out of sync.

"Get up here with that fuckin' mouth," he says, breathless, drawing you to your knees with one hand at your nape and the other on your shoulder.

When you're close enough, he grips you under your arms to haul you onto his lap. For a second, it looks like he's drawing you in for a kiss. You stiffen, but he dips his head to kiss under your jaw. You relax and tunnel your fingers into his lush hair.

His kisses are sharp and furious with lust. His hands are all over you, sweeping over your back, gripping your waist, clutching at your ass. It's easy to forget you'd only met him two hours ago. Not that he's familiar in the traditional sense, but because it's easy to relax around him.

You rise up, leading him to your breasts. You want his hands cupping them as he kisses them. He rests his forehead at the hinge of your jaw, smoothing his palms up your sides to your breasts.

"Fuck, these tits."

He massages you through the bra, his thumbs tracing the top edge of the fabric. Your nipples harden at the surprisingly delicate touch, and you push into his hands.

"Yeah, like me touchin' ya like this, princess?"

You nod, biting back a whimper.

Pale reaches behind you for the clasp of your bra. He tugs at it, fumbles for a moment. The band bites into your ribs. You take mercy and lean back, folding your arms behind your chest to help.

"I ain't no good with this shit," he gripes as he lets you undo the bra.

You smile. "I wouldn't expect you to be. It's not your bra."

He laughs and holds your ass. His eyes glued to your chest.

You undo the bra and hold the cups steady as you shimmy on his lap. He groans and thrusts against you. Your underwear clings between your legs as his dick rubs you just right. You're tempted to grind against him, but you don't know how much teasing he can take.

He murmurs, "Lemme see 'em."

You arch your back and use the cups to lift your breasts. When the cups start sliding up, you hold them for a suspenseful second before releasing your breasts. They bounce and jiggle as you lift your arms, tossing the bra onto the pile of your dress.

"Shit, lookit these fuckin' tits. Knew you'd be pretty."

He holds the sides of your ribcage and draws you in kiss your chest. You put your hands in his hair again.

God, it's gorgeous.

As is his mouth. He nips at the side of your breast and then takes a nipple in his mouth. He sucks at it, and the tension goes right between your legs. You angle into it, mewling and squirming as his touch gets firmer, rougher.

You lean on him, holding onto his shoulders. He curses against your skin and moves to the other nipple. His hands are back at your ass, squeezing and spreading your cheeks. You don't know which way to press because it all feels good.

He feels good.

Then he yanks down your underwear. Your body rocks with the force of it until he's gathering you close and slipping his fingers between your legs. You yelp and stare down at the top of his dark head. Johns don't usually bother with this step.

You breathe, "Wha—"

"So fuckin' wet, baby," he groans, resting his chin on your sternum. "Such a good girl."

His fingers feel huge as they slide in your slit, teasing you the whole way. He spreads you, and your pussy flutters. You push out your ass, wanting him to touch your clit.

When he does, your mouth drops open.

"Yeeeah, that's it. That's what you need." His free hand grips one cheek of your ass. "Isn't it?"

"Yes, Pale," you whisper.

After a couple of strokes over your clit, he withdraws his fingers. You cry out in protest, but quickly put a hand over your mouth. This isn't about you. If he gets sick of playing with your body, that's fine. You're not here for your own pleasure.

"Don't worry, I ain't done," he says with a pat to your ass. "Stand up and bend over this couch arm."

You pull up your underwear enough to not hinder yourself before sliding off his lap. Standing in front of him, you let your underwear flop to the floor. As you kick them away, he stares at your body, wrapping a hand around his wet cock.

"Lemme see that ass."

You turn and stretch your arms up, cocking a hip to the side to pose for him. You want to indulge him. He's been so sweet with you. You let your hands float down to your hips as you look over your shoulder. In a bold move, you run your hands over your ass, bend a little, and spread your cheeks.

It's only a tease. You know he can't really see anything. But that's the point.

He purrs. You hear the wet schlick as he gives a few pumps to his dick.

"Like showin' me what ya got, don't ya, ya little slut."

The way he calls you a slut makes heat bloom all over. He says it the same way he called you princess—all affection and dark delight. Like he just discovered something new in you. It almost makes you laugh. Being a slut is part of the job.

You snicker as you straighten and turn, giving him a smile. "Your little slut."

"That so?" He stands as you nod, and says, "I like my sluts bent over and ready for my dick."

"Like over the arm of the couch?" you playfully ask.

He smirks as he approaches, his open shirt the only clothing covering him. With one arm around your waist, he draws you in and brings a hand to cup your cheek. His thumb traces over your bottom lip as his gaze dances over your face.

"Yeah," he murmurs.

You kiss the pad of his thumb in reply. Pale then takes hold of your hips and forces you to turn. His cock smears across your ass and nestles in the cleft when he pulls your back to his front. He purrs again, burying his face in your neck, as he walks you to the sofa.

You drag your feet a little, whispering, "Condom."

"I didn't forget," he replies as he urges you over the arm.

The soft sound of fabric hitting the carpet is all you hear before Pale squeezes your ass around his heavy, spit-slick cock and ruts against you. It's such a tease. You want it in you, filling you, and you know it'll feel wonderful.

You move counter to him. The underside of his dick rubs over your asshole. Just a little more and the head will catch on your rim.

"Please, Pale…"

He growls, "Please, what?"

You bite your bottom lip and close your eyes. "Fuck me."

He sounds pleased when he says, "Gotta get ya ready first."

You want to scream you're ready. You've been ready.

He pulls back, steadies your hip, and slides two thick fingers deep in your juicy cunt. All slow and easy. You moan, writhing towards him. It feels better than you thought. He twists his hand, and his fingers rub every alighted nerve inside you.

Then his thumb is on your clit. He strokes you inside and out. You lean heavily on the sofa arm, bracing yourself on the hard frame. Your knees quake and belly tightens. You try to keep your sounds to yourself, but it's impossible. They keep spilling out.

He leans forward, his bare chest at your back, to kiss your shoulder. You cat into it, laying your temple on his. His cock—feeling huge—presses against your ass.

"You're gonna come on my fingers, princess," he says. "And then on my dick."

You groan with a nod. You could do that.

He strokes harder, faster. You gasp out a curse as your body stiffens. He tells you he can feel it. You can, too. The pleasure converges between your legs. It's bright and tense and so good and too much. Yet you give in to that too-much, letting it flare white through you.

Little by little, it burns away at you. Your pussy throbs as heat courses through your whole body. Sweat gathers under your breasts and on your forehead. Slick drips down your inner thighs.

You moan when Pale withdraws his fingers. He shushes you before asking if you're okay. You huff in amusement.

Are you okay? Are you okay?

You haven't been this okay with a john in a long time—if ever.

"'M great," you answer.

He kisses your skin again and steps away. Over your shoulder, you watch him pick out the green condom from the pile on the desk. He rolls it on and adjusts it so it conforms around the ridge of his cockhead.

"My dick looks like the Jolly Green Giant."

You laugh. It's really not that green. "It's certainly big enough!"

The condom has a green tint, sure, but it doesn't look like a cucumber is sprouting from his crotch. He's just being dramatic.

"Oh yeah?" He grins and holds his erection. "You like 'em big?"

"I like yours."

He pads back to you as he says, "And I like your little pussy."

"Oh yeah?" you repeat his words. "Why doncha show me?"

Pale doesn't reply as he grips his cock. You face front again and arch your back. The smooth head runs between the drenched folds of your pussy. It bumps your sensitive clit, and you can't stop the mewl of his name.

"I know, baby," he whispers. "Me too."

Then his dick pushes inside you. The girth of him makes you groan and spread your legs. He takes his time, grinding the full length of that big cock of his inside you.

He puts an arm around your waist and kisses your neck. His breath tickles in the best way. With each shallow inhalation, your cunt relaxes around him. He's a lot to take. It feels like he fills every available space inside you.

As your breathing deepens, he snakes his large hands over your ribcage to cup your breasts. He fondles you, flicking your nipples with his thumbs.

"Like my dick deep inside you?"

"Yes, Pale."

His hips flex, rocking his dick inside you. As much as you're able, you move counter to him. You attempt to get that delicious friction that'll have you coming again.

"Want more, princess?"

"Give it to me."

And he does. He holds your hips to pump his cock deep inside your cunt. He finds a wild rhythm that has you close to breathless. Each inward stroke fills you completely and pushes a pleasured whimper from you.

It spurs him on until you're bracing yourself with one hand on the back of the sofa while the other grips his hip.

He adjusts his stance. His cock is suddenly angled perfectly; he's pressing you against the sofa arm perfectly. If he keeps going like this, you're going to come. You moan and try to hold your position. It feels impossible, each thrust jostles you forward.

He growls and puts a searing hand around your throat, pulling you back to his chest. His fingers compress the veins on the sides of your neck.

"God, so fuckin' tight," he snaps. "So wet."

Your vision swims. Your pulse is everywhere. You sob as everything boils down to the pistoning of his cock. All you feel is him driving you to this gleaming pinnacle with each savage thrust.

"Come on, baby, lemme..."

You choke out, "Yea—"

Pale works his dick, fighting and sweating and snarling and fucking you, until you scream in ecstasy. Orgasm blinds you, like staring at the sun. It flows in turbulent waves, flooding you until you're gushing around his cock. Over and over, you're pulled down until you live in the pleasure he gives you.

His lips press to the top of your head as he changes his grip to simply holding your throat. He cradles your jaw, panting into your hair. His hips stutter, and his cock feels so big in your fluttering cunt.

He crashes into you a handful of times, and your body shakes with every thrust. Without warning, his muscles lock up when he's tight against your back and deep inside you. He brokenly moans into your hair, drowning in pleasure alongside you. His dick throbs as he fills the condom.

For the first time, you wish you could feel it.