The tattoo started at the fat man's hairline and crawled laboriously over a thick skin fold before mercifully disappearing into the collar of the chauffeur's uniform. The design was as impenetrable as the man's guttural accent and Alice was thankful he had lapsed into silence. The limo had a faint odor of cigar dusting the cracked but highly polished leather of the seats, and the thought came to her that this was a man's car. There were Financial Newspapers in the seat rack and the radio murmured a current business report. This was a car her father would have felt at home in.
A crooked smile skewed her lips as she contrasted transport and destination; one a symbol of male power and the other a dismissal of same. Nervously she dug into her small black purse and fingered the keys of her cell. Images of the club flickered into being and a flutter of excitement and nerves tightened her belly. This was a first visit, indeed a first in many ways. A movement from the acceptance of her hidden desires, and the inevitable stirrings of guilt and wonder. This, the first overt step in satisfying her curiosity, and her desire to meet others like herself. She pressed the home key lightly and briefly thought of texting Tim, but closed the phone, pushing it firmly to the depths of her purse.
It was lighter now as they turned from the highway and into the downtown core. The streetlights stood as erect as sentries, casting a yellow light onto the rain-slicked tarmac. As the nose of the limo found its way north it began to reflect the rainbow of neon lights that were both garish and welcoming. Finally slowing to rest in front of a formidable pair of studded oak doors. Alice hastily checked the highly polished yet discreet brass sign.
She had cash ready and quickly computed the tip, thrusting the dollars into the fat man's hand; struggling against the tightness of skirt upon hips as she leaned forward. The limo door closed with an economic click and her heels sympathetically clicked a path under the multi-striped awning to the doors.
The single brass plate with "Kurious Kat" engraved in a looping sprawl identified the establishment and Alice hesitated, a lone drop of rain falling from her brow to the hand poised at the handle. She glanced around, drew breath and entered.
Unsure of what to expect, Alice drew her coat in tight and allowed her eyes to adjust to the subtle lighting. Shaped and contoured walls and ceilings drew the eye from the entrance hub to a central corridor, leaving Alice with the peculiar impression she had entered a luxurious igloo. The lighting was gentle and hidden, breathing reassurance. Colors were understated and elegant as were the furnishings. Music undulated through the room in breathy waves, flowing around the two couches where half a dozen women chatted.
Alice turned to see the small mahogany desk behind which a receptionist sat. The woman was expensively dressed, with a smile as tight as her suit jacket.
The voice was pleasant but undercut with watchfulness and Alice shook her head briefly. She found the zipper in the lining within the purse and the money tucked aside there. A brief moment of wistfulness feathered up her spine as she thought of the time it had taken to save for this night, her night, her very special night.
As she completed the perfunctory form she felt the woman's eyes on her.
"Who would you like as your hostess tonight?"
"I'm sorry?" Alice asked.
The woman's eyes remained fixed on Alice as she jabbed a hand towards the women chatting on the couch. Alice looked towards them in confusion, feeling a touch of heat on her cheeks. Several of the women were looking at her, not unkindly, but enough to deepen the heat.
"Sorry?" Alice repeated feeling like a complete newb.
"Pick a girl, honey. She'll show you to your seat, get you settled. Fifty dollars."
With her hand already clutching the money tightly, Alice began to breathe again and dropped the cash on the table.
"Anybody. Anybody is fine," she said, and felt a flash of anger as she saw the glint of habitual disdain deep in the woman's eyes. She held the gaze, and said firmly
"Thank you for the welcome."
Fuck you, she thought.
She turned and looked toward the women, catching the faintly amused look of one who had been watching her. Alice raised an eyebrow and the girl came forward.
"Let me help you." She held out a hand and Alice was glad of the contact, realizing how cold her own hand was in the warmth of the handshake. "I'm Zoe. You can check your coat over here." She deftly steered Alice to the corner counter and waited while Alice exchanged her coat for a ticket stub.
"First time here I take it?" Zoe asked with a twist of dryness, and Alice began to relax. Lord oh Lord, a friendly body in the big city, she thought and smiled to herself.
"How could you tell? She asked returning the wry smile, and Zoe grinned as she took Alice's arm and walked her to the corridor.
"It's not too busy yet honey," Zoe murmured, a slight southern accent betraying her roots. "You can have your choice of seats. There's plenty of room at the bar if you like a bit of noise, company and some action. It's a good place if you're meeting friends. There are lots of open tables or banquets. You take your pick." She pushed through a set of heavy glass doors and dropped her hand to the small of Alice's back to guide her.
Inside the room it should have been noisy. The room was spacious with a low ceiling, and a quiet night turned out to be well over a hundred women sitting, chatting and ordering while a few couples danced. Yet it was hushed, with the music and conversation mingling and perfuming the air with a relaxed ambiance. The lighting was muted yet spaciously clear. Alice stood still for a moment, taking it all in. She became aware of Zoe's hand firm against her lower back.
"Is there somewhere I can just sit and watch for a while?" she asked, and Zoe smiled a genuine smile. "You're no player are you?" she said. "Come with me."
She walked Alice to one of the smaller banquets, a deep red leather half-oyster set against the wall, and with enough room to seat four. "You'll see me around here all night. If you need anything, ask me. That's my job. I'm going to look after you, okay?" She smiled. "I'll send Keira over to you; she's going to be your server tonight." Zoe smiled again and rested a warm hand on Alice's arm "Just take your time, look around, enjoy, okay?"
Alice nodded, acutely aware that her skirt had ridden up as she had scooted around to the rear of the table.
"Thank you Zoe," she said and meant it, thankful for the little drop of kindness in this New York ocean.
The damn dress had cost a fortune two years ago and had been perfect for the wedding. She knew she had gained a couple of pounds, and now the damn thing was half way to her ass. She tugged fiercely at the hem. Be nice, be nice, be nice, she repeated to herself. It was three pounds max, and that wasn't bad for two years. Muscle, she thought. It's muscle from the jogging and all those damn yoga classes. Muscle! She tugged again at the hem and looked around the room.
The ice cubes felt hard and slippery as Alice swished them around the heavy squat glass with a forefinger. The music was loud now, with a heavy thumping tribal beat that tugged at her hips, and moved the dancers in unconscious union. She had turned down invitations to join others and was now beginning to regret it, feeling a little lonely. The crowd here was uptown, well dressed and well heeled if the clothes on the tall blonde were anything to judge by. The flash of red soles on the heels gave it away. LeBoutons didn't come cheap and those charcoal grey slacks had to be handmade with the way they hugged those strong thighs. Worth every cent, Alice thought as she admired the way the fabric snuggled the hips, and hooo boy did it ever show off that firm undulating ass................which was no longer undulating and had come to rest. Alice looked up quickly to find a pair of startlingly blue eyes staring back at her. She froze. The blonde stood still for a moment, and then with a half smile, wiggled her fingers in Alice's direction before continuing her mission to the bar.
Alice started to breathe again. Busted, she thought, what a beautiful woman. A light tan face embraced by a swirl of blonde hair. She realized she couldn't truly picture the face, as she hadn't seen it for long enough. Being startled when caught rubbernecking had frozen her upload of the face pic. But hot, baby, hot, she grinned to herself. She leaned forward, neck craning, but although there was a sea of blondness around the bar area, she couldn't catch a flash of hot redness at floor height. Just my luck, she thought ah she's out of my league, anyway.
She finished her drink and carefully wiped her lipstick, checking the napkin for smudging. One more drink and I'll take a walk around the place, she thought, and started to slide out from behind the table, snagging her purse as she did so. And there she was! Walking towards her with a drink in either hand, and smiling broadly, was her blonde in LeBoutons. Alice stopped, uncomfortably half in and half out of the banquet, but determined to let the blonde pass by without making another faux pas. She managed a tight smile. The blonde stopped, leaned in close to Alice's ear and murmured
"I thought you might accept a gift from me?"
Alice returned the smile and plopped back down on the cushions.
"Sorry?" she asked in non-comprehension.
The blonde pushed one of the drinks across the table and gestured towards it.
"Ta Daaaaaa. A gift."
Now this was some kind of gift Alice realized as she gazed at the medley of colors swirling in the flute.
"I'm Susan" the blonde said, and held out a hand that felt cool from holding the flute. Susan sat on the far side of the banquet and managed to wriggle her way completely around until she was close.
"What is this?" Alice asked. "I haven't seen anything like it before."
Susan was having trouble hearing over the pounding bass of the music and moved in closer to Alice.
"It's the house specialty," she said. "It's called a Knickerkicker Glory." She smiled. "It's like a knickerbocker glory ice-cream, except it's got a real glorious kick.
Alice took a sip and felt the warmth hit the back of her throat.
"Peach Snaps," Susan said, "a dash of cherry brandy, some strawberries and Ta Daaaa.......a dollop of real ice-cream. Do you like it?"
The truth was that Alice wasn't sure. It was a strange mix and for sure it had that kick Susan mentioned, but it was strong; real strong. The deeper truth however, was that Alice was very much liking sitting so close to Susan. She checked Susan's throat and wrists. Her Mom had told her this was where a woman's true age showed. Older than I first thought, Alice said to herself, more like early thirties than twenties, but so lovely; so feminine; so self assured. This woman had flawless make-up, professionally applied. Alice's fleeting thought was that this had not been applied over a bathroom sink with a coffee cup balancing close by on a toilet tank. Like some did; like Alice did.
"I love it," she lied.
"I'm glad," Susan said. "I'm driving so I allow myself three over the course of the evening. If I'm feeling wicked, I drink them one after other instead of spacing them out."
"Are you feeling wicked?" Alice asked, surprising herself with her boldness.
Susan leaned forward and whispered in her ear "Why don't we finish these, and find out?"
Alice fished in her purse for the cloakroom tag, while watching Susan hand her tag to the attendant. As she ran a fingernail along the bottom of the purse, she envied the ease with which Susan carried herself. She looked athletic and strong as well as confidant and feminine. The crisp white shirt, artfully cut to enhance the firmly contained breasts, was both sexy and sophisticated, and the gold wrist bangles must have cost a small fortune, not to mention the matching chain that held tight to Susan's throat.
As Alice's coat arrived Susan took it in proprietary fashion and gave both coats and a tag to the waiting valet; a somewhat androgynous woman in black trousers, white shirt and matching black bow tie.
"Come on hon, let's get some fresh air," Susan said, holding out her hand. Alice slipped her hand into Susan's, feeling the warmth of her skin and relishing the softness of the sensation. They moved hand in hand through the thick oak door and out towards the roadside.
It was cold after the warmth of the club and the outside air seemed muted after the constant thrum of music. Susan hugged Alice to her, her hand rubbing up and down Alice's back. Just as Alice was about to complain about losing her coat to the valet, there was a deep guttural roar and a sleek, low slung sports car erupted out of the underground parking entrance close by.
"This is our ride Alice." Susan grinned at Alice's expression. "Jaguar F type, and don't ask what the "F" stands for," she laughed as she deftly slipped a bill into the valet's hand. "Come on, don't just stand there."
As the valet held the door for her, Alice realized too late that entry into such a beast was no easy matter when you had high heels, a tight dress and perhaps a drink or two too many. After a false start where she tried a delicate sideways entrance, she took stock, hiked her skirt and went in backwards, ass-in-seat, and prayed the rest would follow. As she gazed upward she saw the valet's eyes riveted on her long legs and didn't know whether to laugh or glare, but turned away. Still got it, she thought, and smiled to herself, not sure what "it" was, but knowing she was feeling good. Really good. This was the way this night had been thought about, planned and fantasized. She was free to do as she pleased. Free to be with a woman just as she had wanted and imagined all these years. She was with a tall and beautiful woman who clearly was attracted to her. Her heart thudded, and for a moment her mind muddled and she felt a strong emotion. For a second she thought she would cry and then felt a tear burn its way to the surface. She blinked rapidly in curt response. Not going there, she thought.
"Is your seat belt on?" Susan asked. "Good." She reached across and held Alice's hand tightly. "Just twenty minutes to my condo, okay?"
Alice felt the power of the car drive her back into the luxurious leather as Susan pulled into traffic. It had started to rain again and the window-wipers began their hypnotic beat as the heat began to envelope the car. The rain danced smartly on the black tarmac, as the hum of the wipers blended in with soft jazz from a radio station Susan had punched in. Alice began to trace her fingers over the soft Corinthian leather of the seat, and quietly inhaled the mixed olio of smells; that wonderful new car smell and the freshness of leather together with a light fragrance. It was Susan's smell. She had loved it earlier when dancing with her head nestled into Susan's neck. It was the barest hint of -- vanilla?
The dancing had been when Alice had fully committed to the remainder of the evening, whatever it was to be, and fully committed to spending it with Susan. Susan had stood; bending over the table to take Alice's hand and showing a cleavage that made Alice catch her breath. Somewhere during the night an additional button had been undone on Susan's shirt and Alice was sure it was for her. It was a message, and as she took pleasure in the sight, she knew Susan understood, and made her understanding clear with an uninhibited smile. A free and happy smile that found its response in Alice's smile, and her acceptance of Susan's hand.
She had never danced with a woman before. Not counting a few alcohol-fuelled sloppy slow dances and many a multi-girl, screw-the-fellas melee. Unsure where to put her hands, she had held her arms in front of her as Susan had brought her in close with a firm grip on her hips. For a while they had shuffled in a ragged circle, until Alice had dared to lift her hands to Susan's shoulders. Alice relived the memory, bringing it into her present. She saw their bodies close together, as they found a common rhythm with their hips moving in unison. Alice closed her eyes. She deeply inhaled the vanilla aroma. Could it just be expensive soap? Susan's hands slowly climbed to Alice's waist and firmly pressed their bodies together, Alice allowing her arms to encircle Susan's neck in a movement which felt so very natural.
This was it. This was what she had dreamed about; being so close to another woman. A lovely, sexy -- damn it -- hot -- woman. She snuggled even closer, feeling the resistance of Susan's breasts against her own, tightening the contact between their hips, allowing her head to drop to Susan's shoulder and relishing the strength and firmness of Susan's grasp. She felt a delicate shudder of excitement in her low belly and a touch of heat across her shoulders.
As the slow dance came to an end, tympanis began to ripple an entrance into the next song, letting it be known the tempo was climbing.
"I know this may seem a bit sudden," Susan asked, still holding Alice close. "But it's noisy in here, and it's getting pretty hot, and I feel like making a move. Would you like to come and visit my condo? It's not too far from here. I have a car and I can drive us."
Alice pulled back and looked clearly into Susan's eyes. "I'd like to come with you," she said. "I just need to let a friend know where I'll be and how to get in touch with me. At some point to get a cab home"
There was no friend, and she certainly wouldn't be telling Tim anything at all about this evening, but she had planned the line as a measure of safety.
And now here she was. In this luxurious car, with this luxurious woman, probably going to an equally luxurious condo where she would for the very first time make love with another woman. The thought acted upon her like a hastily swallowed gulp of ice water. An unknown fear gripped her and she suddenly became acutely aware of herself and her body. She had hiked her dress up to get into the car and now it had risen even further, exposing the black lace tops of her stockings. Her feet in such high heels were damn near as high as the low-slung seat, meaning her legs looked like they were a mile long and totally exposed. She tightened her thighs together just as Susan's hand came across the centre console, searching out her hand for an affectionate squeeze, before dropping to Alice's thigh where it rested briefly. Alice was frozen. She looked across at Susan who held her gaze briefly.
Then the moment of fear passed. So what if she hadn't been with a woman before. What was there to worry about? She would be honest and tell Susan. Things would be as they would be. She looked at the side profile of Susan's face and felt the warmth of attraction, and as her gaze moved to Susan's lips she felt that familiar tug of wanting. She wondered what it would be like to kiss Susan; to kiss those soft lips. To feel the warmth of a woman's kiss. She felt Susan's hand begin to stroke her thigh, and then stop. Susan squeezed her thigh hard. Alice swallowed and slowly opened her thighs a mere fraction. It was enough. Susan glanced at her, searching her face, then dropping her eyes to Alice's stockings, banded at the top with fine lace.
"Dammit" Susan exclaimed unexpectedly loudly. "I live in that building; the one right there." She pointed with a wave of a manicured hand. At the same time she yanked the wheel hard, ripping the car hard left into the service lane which obviously led to the rear of her building. The car responded well, hugging the road and taking the abuse with ease, while Alice felt the centre console eat into her side.