Troubled Nights Ch. 01byDaniellekitten©
*I found this story in one of my writing files. I thought it good enough to see the light of day. I hope you all enjoy it. Take care and keep reading!
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The dark spoke to her.
It whispered and giggled, surrounding her and not letting her rest. It seduced her, calling her to come from the safety of her room, to join with it and to play in its silky caresses until the first hint of dawn chased it away and she would crawl back to her room, climbing into her bed to sleep until her alarm would go off and she'd have to drag herself to work.
She did things she didn't remember. The darkness covered her, blocking out memories of events that should be important. She could feel them, buried deeply inside herself as if a wall, an insurmountable wall, covered them and refused to let her see.
It terrified her, that knowledge that she couldn't remember everything she did. Did she kill people, hunt them down while darkness covered her footsteps, silencing their screams? Did she rob innocent people? Could she be selling herself?
She found money sitting on the front table near the door almost every morning when she was leaving for work, money that she didn't know where it came from. And if it had only been a few dollars, she could have probably shrugged her shoulders and laughed it off. But it wasn't, only this morning she had found six $100 bills, brand new and still crisp laying in a perfect fan on the glossy surface of the table.
She'd taken to scanning the newspapers, searching for articles of robbery or murder. She subscribed to all the daily local papers, after all, with the money she was finding almost every night, she really didn't have to worry about her finances.
Now, though, she stared in frustrated oblivion at the figures that were on her computer screen. Her head ached from her many thwarted attempts to reassemble her movements of the night before. She remembered going to bed, determined to spend the entire night in much needed sleep. But it had seemed as if she'd only just closed her eyes when she'd heard it again, that ghostly whisper of seduction that seemed impossible to resist. An eerie and compelling voice, breathlessly calling her name... Tara, Tara...
She jerked and sat up, looking up at her supervisor, Mrs. Beaks, who scowled down at her in disgust.
"Wake up, girl. Maybe if you didn't spend every night partying, you'd be able to do the work that's assigned to you." The harsh older lady thumped her fist down on the stack of files next to Tara's computer that still needed entering into the system. "I expect these done by lunch time, girl."
"Yes, Mrs. Beaks," Tara McKenna said quietly. But inside a voice raged impotently, bitter old crow, you need to get laid. She turned back to her computer and her fingers flew over the keyboard, inputting data as fast as she could.
She could see the supervisor's shadow still standing over her and didn't look up until it moved away. "Bitch," she hissed almost silently.
The deep voice behind her startled her. "I heard that."
She gasped and whirled in her chair, the wheels creaking as it moved. "Dammit, Chance, don't scare me like that. I'm already in enough trouble, I don't need more."
Chance Matthews was devilishly good looking with dark hair that shone with gold lights in the sun and eyes that looked like a cat's, amber yellow and mysterious. The smile that crossed his face creased dimples into his lean cheeks that seemed eternally tanned. A slight five o'clock shadow of whiskers darkened his jaw, adding to the air of bad boy that seemed to follow him wherever he went.
Tara knew that when he stood up, he would tower over her petite frame, standing just a little above six feet three inches in his stocking feet. His body was muscled and taut, more from being an athlete then any attempts at weights or body building. He played basketball and football, ran four miles every morning and loved rock climbing. He also worked two jobs, this one, doing grunt work for Corp America Banks, inputting information into their data processing system and another as an orderly at a nursing home, downtown.
Women followed Chance with their eyes, offering themselves with teasing smiles and lust in their hearts. Tara had seen him walk to the cafeteria at break and watched the female heads turn, eyes zeroing in on his backside. She couldn't actually blame them, he definitely had a memorable butt.
"So what has you so jumpy tonight, Princess?" he asked in that voice that could send shivers down a woman's spine.
"Nothing, I just... didn't sleep well last night." She couldn't tell him, no matter how close they had become since he'd started working at CAB, having been given the computer behind her.
"You know, Tara, I could help you with that." He stared at the petite red head, wishing she knew how much he wished she would take him up on that offer.
There wasn't much of Tara, but what was there packed a huge punch in a guy's libido. She was tiny, barely reaching his chest, but curved in all the right places. Her breasts were round and full and pushed at the fabric of the thin tee shirts she wore, making him wish he could see exactly how well they would fit his palms. Her hips and butt filled out a pair of jeans in ways that made his dick twitch and come to life in his pants.
With that deep auburn hair that curved under in a perfect swing to caress her shoulders, dark gray eyes that almost seemed stormy, and a spattering of freckles across her tip turned nose, she captivated him. When she smiled, which she didn't do enough of, her face lit up taking a pretty face and making it beautiful.
She scoffed and turned quickly, feeling the evil eyes of Mrs. Beaks combing the room for slackers. Over her shoulder, she hissed one last comment before they got back to work. "You wish."
Oh the things he thought of to say, things that he wanted to do to her. But she would be shocked, he knew that. She treated him like a friend or an older brother, laughing at his attempts at flirtation with her. He didn't know if she thought he was kidding when he said these things or not. He knew he wasn't but how to make her see it, he shook his head sadly.
She was ruining him for other women. He'd had a date last night, a beautiful blonde with huge...assets, that had been more than willing to let him check out her portfolio. And he hadn't been able to do it. The instant she opened her mouth and started some inane babble, his brain had switched to autopilot. He managed to nod at the right time and to interject the appropriate yes or no when necessary. She hadn't seemed to need him to do anything else, keeping up a steady, if annoying, chatter that lasted all evening.
And in the cab, on the way back to her apartment, her red tipped dagger shaped nails had scored lightly down his jacket sleeve, her big blue eyes shining seductively, her lush lips pursed in a tempting pout, she'd invited him up, for coffee and breakfast, she'd said.
He hadn't believed it when he'd heard his voice declining an offer that any man with a pulse would have leapt at. "I have an early morning tomorrow. Maybe next time?"
Maybe next time?! What the fuck was wrong with him?
The blonde, her name Ingrid or Helga or something Scandinavian, had glared through eyes that had turned to icy slits. Her fingers had curved into talons and he could see the disbelief she felt turning to rage. He'd managed to get her up to her door, planting a fleeting kiss upon one perfectly rouged cheek before beating a hasty retreat.
Her voice, shrill with her ire, had followed him down the long hallway. "Lose my number, asshole."
He'd been happy to.
But then, on the cab ride home, he'd glanced across at the park as they passed, his eyes roaming disinterestedly at the women walking the streets that hollered at him, offering him the use of their bodies for a price. He saw the homeless, a vagrant on a park bench, sleeping off his bottle of liquor which was still held tightly to his chest in its plain brown paper bag. And out of the corner of his eye, he'd seen a flash of red. It caught his attention and he watched as a tiny redhead that reminded him so much of Tara, ran down the sidewalk, wending her way through the night people around her with an uncanny instinct. She jumped a leg thrown out to try and trip her up, flashing someone the bird without missing a step.
He was about to turn when he saw her glance his way and his heart stopped. It was Tara, but a Tara he'd never seen before. She was wearing leather in a gray that was as deep and stormy as her eyes. It fit her slender body as if made specifically for her, doing amazing things to her breasts that filled the low necked vest with beautiful cleavage. It traced down to a waist that never seemed so tiny in the baggy slacks she wore to work. Her feet seemed to fly on slim legs encased in leather.
He had his hand up, his mouth opened to stop the cabby when she turned into one of the many entrances of the park and disappeared into the shadows. The only reason he didn't stop was he knew her apartment was back that way, and the shock of seeing her like that had him somewhat stymied.
Now he couldn't wait until lunch time to get his hands on her and ask her what was going on. He wouldn't believe that she was selling her body like common street sluts. She seemed too shy and reserved, too prim was the only word he could think of.
When the clock hit lunch time, there was a mad exodus from the room. Smokers headed for the front doors to go out and around the building to imbibe it their habits before hurrying back in for lunch. Chance grabbed Tara's arm as soon as she stood from pulling her sack lunch from the big carryall she always brought to work.
"I've got to talk to you," he said quietly, steering her down the wide aisle.
She got in line to buy her normal yogurt while he loaded a tray with junk food, topping it off with a large slice of chocolate cake.
"Okay, so talk," she said, staring enviously at the cake. The problem with being so short, five extra pounds looked like twenty and always went to her hips.
He paid for her yogurt, the closest thing to taking her to dinner that he'd been able to manage and then found an empty table in a quiet corner of the cafeteria.
She dumped her lunch on the table, a cut up apple to go with the yogurt and half a turkey sandwich. A bottle of water she hadn't seen him buy was sat in front of her, and she smiled her thanks.
She opened it and took a long sip.
"I saw you last night."
Tara choked, barely keeping from spitting the water all over him. She coughed, and he pounded her back until she held her hand up in surrender. "Okay, I'm fine," she gasped. "What do you mean, you saw me last night?"
"I was on my way back from my date with Gertrude and saw you running into the park."
"I thought her name was Inga and I wasn't at the park last night, you must have just thought you saw me."
"Inga," he slapped a palm against his forehead, "that's right." He chuckled, causing more than a few female heads to turn his way. "And if that wasn't you, Tara, you've got a doppelganger."
"A what?" She stared at him in confusion.
"An evil twin, looks just like you but likes to play on the dark side."
Those words, the dark side, sent a shiver up her spine. He couldn't know how close he was coming to the truth. She had to change the subject.
"You were probably still in a sex induced haze," she tried to laugh but it fell short of being convincing.
"Couldn't have been, Tara. I just dropped her off at her apartment." He could feel his face turning a little red as she looked at him in disbelief.
"Just dropped her off? We are talking about the same Inga, right? The one with the massive..." she held her hands up in front of her, cupping them about six inches away from her own breasts. "No, you wouldn't have let those go to waste." She laughed as she realized she'd embarrassed him.
"Can we change the subject please?"
"Okay," she sighed dramatically. "But I'd really like to know how you turned that down."
"It wasn't hard." He turned even redder when he heard the double meaning behind his words and she choked once more on her water. He slapped her back, until she got herself under control. "That's not what I meant and you know it," he hissed at her, feeling all eyes on them as she continued to giggle. "That's it, tomorrow I find someone else to eat with." He sat back, a very male pout on his handsome features.
She reached out and wrapped her hand around his arm, marveling as always at its firm muscled texture, and leaned her head against it. "I'm sorry, Chance, really. But you have to admit, it was funny."
"I don't have to admit anything, and this isn't helping your case any." Though he did like how it felt when she touched him. He looked down to see her face so close to his own, looking up at him. It would be so easy to move forward those few inches, to get just a taste of those sweet lips that glistened so invitingly. He seemed unable to look away.
"Well, you two are causing quite the scene today, tongues will be wagging for a week over this. Chance, if you're going to kiss her, just do it dammit." A tray banged down, a chair was slid out and a long legged, lithe body plopped down in it.
Tara blushed and moved away while Chance glared at the intruder who peeled off the plastic wrap over her sandwich and took a healthy bite.
"Phoebe," he growled, "you sure know how to make an entrance."
She shrugged but continued to chew. "I'm not the one that's got the entire female population in here today, drooling down their nappies. I'm telling you, Chance, let me stud you out to these," she gestured around the room with her black tipped fingers, "uptight cows and I wouldn't need to work here anymore."
Phoebe Fischer was the third in their tiny group of friends and was as different from Tara as, well, night and day. She was long and lean, with just hints of curves. Her hair was cut short and spiked up in blonde ridges. The tips were usually dyed different colors, today's color of choice was black to match her outfit, tight black tank with a fishnet shirt under it, black hip hugger jeans that left a good three inch of bare stomach to show under the fishnet. The outfit flaunted dress code, coming so close to breaking rules that Mrs. Beaks had been staring at her all night.
But this was the one person in the shift that wasn't impressed by Mrs. Beaks and her seemingly iron fist. Phoebe did her work, always on time, and usually with some to spare. She never missed a day, was never late a minute, and was just under Mrs. Beaks herself in seniority. She'd taken Tara under her wing and then Chance when he'd started following Tara around.
"Phoebe, you know my heart belongs to you, only to you," he said, his normal reply to her semi serious offer.
"Then how come I can't get into your pants either?" She took another bite, chewed as she stared at him with blue eyes ringed with heavy dark kohl.
"Because your girlfriend would cut off my dick and nail it to your door." Chance sat forward, getting into the verbal play.
Tara was happy that the attention was off of her. But she knew these two, if someone didn't stop them, they'd be at it all night long. "Okay, you two. I know the drill." She turned to Phoebe, saying in a voice amazingly like Phoebe's own, "She'd need to find it first."
Then she turned to Chance, "Yeah, cuz it would be buried in your..." she started in a deep voice that almost sounded like his. Chance slapped his hand over her mouth before she could say where it would be buried and they all started laughing.
They finished their lunches, talk returning to normal things and off of Tara's midnight activities. Even when she returned to her desk she couldn't stop thinking about it. Chance had seen her, he'd actually seen her. God, what was she doing at night? Did she prostitute herself?
Her mind elsewhere, her fingers moved automatically on the keys, working her way through the files as she worked her way through her doubts. She'd know if she were having sex, she'd have to know. She didn't feel any differently, no afterglow or sore muscles. It'd been long enough since she'd last had sex, she knew she'd be sore afterwards. She didn't feel that.
So okay, no prostitution. That was one major worry from her mind. Where did the money come from? She needed to tell someone, she had to let someone know, and maybe that someone could follow her and let her know what she was doing.
But who could she tell who wouldn't consider her a complete and total loon?
She glanced back at the only person in the world that would keep her secret. He looked up and gifted her with one of his devastating smiles making her heart race. And then his looked turned quizzical as she seemed to be studying him.
She nodded and made her decision. The not knowing was driving her crazy. "Can I buy you dinner tonight?"
Chance's heart leapt and then pounded for a second in his chest before slowing down. "Ahh, sure."
"Good," she smiled on her sigh. "I need to ask you a favor. What time you done downtown?"
A fist thumped down again on her desk, startling her. She turned quickly to meet the beady eyes of Mrs. Beaks. With a strangled gulp, she scooted back up to her computer and started working once more.
When quitting time came, she was given a note by one of the supervisor's henchmen asking that she come up to the office. With a heavy sigh, she waved good-bye to Chance and Phoebe and headed up.
The dressing down took all of fifteen minutes and by the time she was done, second shift was hard at work. She grabbed her stuff and walked out the door, shaking her head and griping under her breath. There was a note left under the windshield wiper of her beaten up clunker and she unfolded it quickly.
"Hope you told the hag off. I get off work at 9:30 if that's not too late. Call my cell, Chance."
Tara drove home trying to make a decision. Should she call? Shouldn't she call? God, he's going to think she's a complete loon in need of a rubber room when she told him what's been going on. Still trying to decide, she pulled into the parking garage that was a block away from her apartment and then hoofed it the rest of the way there, hurrying through the thickening crowds of people who were getting off of work and heading home the same as her.
She unlocked the six locks on her door, three brand new that needed a key from the inside to unlock them. She thought if she could lock herself in, hide the keys from her nighttime self then maybe she wouldn't do anything stupid. But still, she woke in the morning as tired as she was when she went to bed, her hair windblown, sometimes wet. The door was always locked, her keys were always in the same place and she always found the money sitting on the table by the entryway. Always.
Seeing the money there now made her make her decision. She called Chance's phone and left a message for him to meet her at a diner not far from the nursing home when he got off of work.
Knowing she had a few hours, she went upstairs and pulled off her clothes, letting them lay on the floor as she collapsed into bed naked. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
The dream sucked her in, a strange feeling. She was watching herself, but not herself. This girl was tough, she was no nonsense. She didn't take any shit. She wore leather, something Tara would never let herself do. And she smoked. Tara watched as she exhaled a long trail of smoke curling around her head to disappear in the wind.
The wind, Tara looked around. They were outside, surrounded by trees. It would have to be a park. How had she gotten there?
There was a man and a woman, older and rich looking, the woman in furs with diamonds on her ears, wrist and fingers. The shoes she was wearing looked like they would kill so they had to be expensive. He was wearing designer from the cut of his coat to the tips of his shiny black shoes. She'd bet his underwear was silk. What were they doing in the park at this time of night?