This New Thing

byKennaColrite©

Real subtle.

"Yeah, well... I'll, uh, be seeing you then," I said to neither of them in particular before making a beeline to the door before I could be stopped again.

As soon as I was in my car and away from their humble abode I finally released the sigh I had been holding in since Xander first saw me. I rubbed a temple with one hand, the elbow resting on the window, while I drove with the other. The drive wasn't a deliberate course back home like I had proclaimed earlier, rather it was a meandering route. A trail to nowhere if you will.

The whole time that I took that trail, I thought. Mostly about Skylar and the strange nature of our relationship. I considered so many things about it -- it's different aspects, stages and such -- but what I kept coming back to was the abuse in it.

I had taken on more than a few clients that had drug addictions either while I was treating them or in the past. That sort of dependency on a substance fascinated me. I was always intrigued to hear the stories of how these people came to rely on something that was essentially killing them.

Despite the constant thoughts I had about those people and their foolishness, it was exactly the same place I found myself in with Skylar at this point in my life. Skylar was like cocaine or heroin. She gave me one hell of a high when we were together but as soon as the dance ended and the music died I remembered how much I fucking hated it all -- and still I wanted one more hit. All of these kids with their 'your love is my drug' foolishness had no idea of the reality of what another person could do to your heart with their so called love.

Amidst my darkening inner monologue my eyes caught sight of something that made me slow my course. It was an old brick building, clearly built in a better time when things were made to last. A faded sign proclaimed that the establishment was the Wayside Tavern. It went on to encourage the reader to come and wet their whistle. A funny old turn of phrase, that one.

"What the fuck. I could use a drink," I muttered to myself and turned into the parking lot.

A good, hard, stiff drink sounded like precisely what I needed right now in fact. The idea hadn't seemed appealing when Xander had offered earlier but now? In a random bar on the opposite side of town? That sounded just fine, thank you.

And so, I entered the Wayside Tavern for the first time.



Chapter Two

Champagne

The Wayside Tavern quickly became my place of solace in the coming days. After work I could stop to have a drink or two, mull over my life and go home. It wasn't a rowdy bar, it was full of regulars, and as a rule regulars generally kept things peaceful because that's how they preferred it.

I hadn't heard from Skylar since the last time we were together but that didn't stop me from thinking about her all the time. For some reason she had been a plague on my mind lately. Constantly coming through my conscious stream of thought at the most random and inopportune times. I literally couldn't get her off of my mind.

It was funny, really. I was like the man drinking poison and hoping that his enemies will die. Except in my case, I couldn't stop thinking about Skylar because I wanted her to be thinking about me. Not in just any way though. I wanted Skylar to be thinking about the real me. Not the me in the bedroom that fucks her better than anyone else had or could but the real me. The person that I am under the person she asks me to be.

That was a moot thought though. Skylar was a sweet fantasy that I was allowed to act out from time to time but even I knew she was, in fact, a cruel reality. Nothing good could come from mixing Skylar and I together for an extended amount of time. It never worked.

It had been a week and a day since last Wednesday when I first started showing up to the Wayside. Most of the nights that I drank her I would sit and mull over the same things again and again so it was no surprise that's where my mind was at today. However, somewhere in those repeating thoughts I noticed the bartender approaching me. There were three bartenders that worked here altogether, a young tattooed guy, an older gentleman and a younger woman. In the last week or so that I had been frequenting the Wayside Tavern, the girl had been working every day but one. We weren't friendly, in fact we had yet to share more than a few words -- which was always my drink order followed up with a sunny 'you got it' -- and I clearly exhibited the signs that I should be left alone so it was a mystery as to why she was coming my way at all.

"Why the long face, stranger?" the bartender asked, amiably enough.

I sipped my rum and coke without looking at her. "It's nothing."

"Doesn't look like nothing."

Why the fuck did she care?

"So?" I asked in a voice that was tempered and pissy.

"So," Wren drawled out with biting sarcasm, "you've been drinking at my bar for the last week with that sour look on your face. A look that says you're thinking of leaving your spouse. Or planning a murder. Or both.

I blinked. This line of thought was as ridiculous as it was far fetched. Couldn't someone be in a bad mood without all the dramatics?

"What if I am?"

"Then it would help me a lot if you could get the fuck out," Wren said nonchalantly as she checked her nails. "You see, I like to steer potential murderers away from here. We don't need that kind of shit."

I chuckled darkly and tossed back the rest of my drink. "I'll take another."

Wren looked up and met my eyes for a quick second before she swiped the glass up and turned away. There was something about her that I instantly liked after her last comment. I think it was the fire in her. You could see it brimming just under the surface of her cool.

Bet if someone stoked that fire it would be a veritable explosion. The result would probably be quite entertaining as well. The psychologist part of my brain thought randomly. I wonder what makes her tick.

When she came strolling back, a fresh rum and coke in her hands, I offered her a placated smile. "I'm not married and I don't have any murder plans."

"Then what's with the murder face?" she asked with an expression that showed genuine curiosity.

"Like I said, it's nothing."

She let out an irritated huff of breath. "C'mon, we're both girls here. Nothing always means something in our language."

I nodded slowly in silent agreement. "Trust me, you don't want to hear my story."

"Sure I do," she said. "I could use the entertainment. Besides, I'm a bartender. It's in my job description to wipe down the counter while patrons sing me their sad stories."

Her use of the old stereotype amused me. "Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah," she said in agreement and grinned.

"What's your name, nosy bartender?" I asked before bringing the fresh glass up to my lips.

"Wren. What's your name, murder face?" Wren shot back.

I chuckled. "Wren? Really? That's interesting."

"It's a nickname," Wren shrugged.

"Then what's your real name?"

"Maybe I'll tell you if you answer my question."

"My name? Aubrey. Which is my real name by the way." I shot her a cheeky grin. "So are you going to tell me now?"

"No," Wren replied flatly.

"Well why not?"

"You won't tell me why you've been sitting in my bar for the last week looking like that." Wren gestured to my face with a wave of her hand.

"You really wanna know?" I asked.

"Yeah, I really wanna know." Wren attempted to stay stoic after her exaggerated, sarcastic remark but was unable to. She laughed under breath once and then shook her head and smiled at me as if I were the most ridiculous and oddly provocative person she had ever met.

I canted my head to the side and observed her as that moment passed, unconsciously analyzing her as I did. Wren was probably in her early to mid twenties and while she was conventionally hot, she was mostly pretty average. There wasn't a whole lot that was spectacular or stood out about her. When she smiled though, I saw something more under the average. It intrigued me a great deal.

"It's a long, sad story," I said. "Sure you're up for it?"

Wren glanced around the mostly empty bar. Only two other patrons resided in the Wayside tonight. Two old men sat at one of the tables far away from the bar with a chess board between them and a beer can besides both of their left hands. The old boys looked pretty occupied with no need of any immediate help from Wren.

"There's not a whole lot else taking up my attention."

She definitely had a point but still, I hesitated. "I mean it. It is a really, really long story. Years in the making sort of deal."

Wren held up one finger to me before turning to grab a stool against the back wall. She put it down and kicked a leg over the side to take a seat. Finally, to really sell her little display, she propped her elbows on the bar, rested her chin in her hands and stared at me with a look of expectancy.

"I'm listening," Wren said.

I seriously considered telling this cute young stranger everything that had been going through my mind tonight. Every piece of bullshit that had been slowly eating away at my insides in these recent years. I knew that it would be better to get it all out rather then letting it fester, even if it was to someone I hadn't known for more than twenty minutes; it was the best thing for my psyche.

She did seem intrigued enough to listen at least. Still, it was bound to be embarrassing. And she called me potential entertainment just a few moments ago. Not exactly inspiring... Eh, fuck it.

"Alright then." I took a long sip from my drink, set it back on the counter and wiped the back of my hand across my mouth. "It all starts a long, long time ago. The year was somewhere in the late two thousands, early twenty-ten era, and I was facing the most difficult battle I had ever faced alone. College tuition."

Wren set me with a dead-eyed stare that expressed how little I was amusing her with my sarcasm. "Are you going to tell this entire story like a fucking smart ass?"

I sighed. "No. I guess not." I took another drink from my glass and looked at Wren with speculation. "How old are you Wren?"

"Twenty-four."

"Well, when I was not much younger than you, twenty-three to be precise, I made the craziest decision of my life," I chuckled dryly. "You ever had a shitty job before?"

Wren looked from one end of the bar to the other and then stared at me with a cocked brow. "Well..."

"I worked as a cashier at a gas station for a while in high school. That was definitely worse than this."

"No, you're right. I was a server at a diner before this. That was worse," Wren said in agreement. "What's your point though?"

"Because," I shrugged, "this whole thing starts with one of the shittiest jobs I've ever had. Not in the ways of cash but in the soul sucking nature of it. You see, I worked as an escort to pay for my college tuition."

"No! Really?" Wren exclaimed and then with a conspiratorial grin, she leaned forward on the counter. "Tell me all about it."

"In due time," I replied casually. "You see, it's something necessary to know but it is in no way the core of this story."

"Mm-hmm. Then what, pray tell, is the core of your story?"

"A girl." I ran my fingertip along the rim of my glass and smiled sadly. "Isn't that what the core of every story is?"

"Alright, well, you've got me all warmed up and I think I have all the info I need, so get into it already. Tell me your sob story, Aubrey."

"Okay then." I nodded. "I was in my third year of college and for almost as long I had been working as an escort on the side for... well, let's just call them the Company. Life had started to become a bit stagnate for me though. I was bored, restless and more than anything, feeling out of control. The funny thing was that I didn't realize it even though I was feeling it. In fact, it never came to my conscious thinking until Opal said something to me."

"Is Opal the girl?" Wren asked. She wasn't even trying to hide the excitement in her voice. To her this must have been like a soap opera.

"No. Opal is not the girl."

"Oh," she replied, clearly disappointed.

"Anyways," I said in a loud and deliberate manner. "I had just concluded conducting, um, business with Opal..."

***

I wasted no time after to start finding my clothes on the floor. It wasn't my style to hang out very long and I knew she didn't want me here now that I had served my purpose. It was an unspoken and mutual understanding. Despite this fact there was usually a friendly banter that we kept while I would dress again. Today, however, it was absent.

"What's up?" I asked while fishing for my jeans on the ground.

"You seemed a bit out of it today," Opal remarked and arched one perfectly manicured brow up in question.

I shrugged and stood up in order to pull my jeans up my legs. "Midterms are coming up. Guess I'm just a bit distracted."

"Hmm." Opal lit a cigarette and smiled. "Well it didn't effect your overall performance so I can't really complain, can I?"

"Yeah," I said in a noncommittal tone and rubbed the back of my neck.

"You want a couple drags before you go?" she asked and held the cigarette out to me.

I glanced over Opal's naked figure as I considered the offer. She was a bit older, in that cougar territory I guess, but she still had a knockout body with these nice, big tits. I was already wet enough from fucking her and I knew there was no release in my immediate future so for the sake of my own health it was probably better not to.

"Uh, no," I stuttered. "Rain check?"

"Of course," Opal said in her warm, husky voice.

"I should probably..." I muttered and looked down. Suddenly feeling ashamed for a reason I couldn't quite pinpoint.

"Mmm. Until next time." Opal took a drag off the cig and then pointed it at me. "Would you be a dear and lock the door on your way out?"

I flashed one more smile her way and assured her that I would and that I would see her in a couple of weeks.

As soon as I turned from Opal my smile dropped, just like the cool facade that I was so good at maintaining with the women I kept company with. It bothered me for some reason that Opal could see how distracted I was. I mean, was it really that obvious?

Sure, I was a little bored with this. It's not like I thought I would be doing it as long as I had. Sometimes it made me feel a little powerless even; to be the subject of someone else's needs while my own were left severely unchecked on most occasions. It was almost a subservient feeling. Something that definitely didn't settle well with my personality.

I let the thoughts fester and bubble into each other while I drove back to campus but I shut them down the moment my shoes hit the concrete on my walk back to the dorm. It was my goal to keep my work life and my real life absolutely separate from each other. As soon as I went to one or the other that other part of my life became as nonexistent as possible in my brain.

Besides, it was much more beneficial for me to think about something I could use to help me get off as quickly as possible. A quick check to my watch told me I had about twenty minutes left before my roommate got back from her debate club meet. Plenty of time to accomplish my goal.

There was a silly grin across my face as I unlocked the door to my room. My mind had been dreaming up some pretty lurid fantasies and I was practically dripping through my panties in anticipation of the sweet release that would be possible on the other side of the door. However, upon seeing Skylar sitting on her bed with her laptop propped on her knees, scanning the screen with a lazy disinterest, my smile -- along with my good mood -- disappeared.

***

"Is Skylar the girl?" Wren almost yelled, not even hiding her excitement now.

Oh dear God. I really have become her soap opera, haven't I? Fuck me.

I looked over my glass pensively before taking a drink. "Yes. Skylar is the girl."

"Oh, goody," Wren said.

If you only knew...

"Any more questions?" I asked.

"Nope." Wren shook her head. "Keep going."

I sighed. "Anyways..."

***

"Hey, Aubrey," Skylar said at the sound of my entrance.

"Hey," I replied flatly. "I thought you had that club thing tonight."

"We had to reschedule. Jonathon has food poisoning. Val thinks he had some bad Chinese or something." Skylar shrugged in a way that showed how little sympathy she held for her captain's condition.

"Shame," I said with a sigh and flopped backward onto my bed.

So much for my plans.

Generally I liked hanging out with Skylar. Or Sky as I called her since I never cared much for the name Skylar -- especially on a girl. After spending two semesters as roommates we had gotten pretty chummy. Friends for sure, although not best friends by any stretch of the imagination. We were just too different for that whole shtick.

Tonight, however, her presence was nothing short of frustrating. I had no desire to hang out or make small talk at all. In fact I was wondering if there was somewhere I could sneak off to in order to get a few precious moments to take care of myself. It was probably more energy than it was worth at this point though.

I heard the sound of Skylar's laptop click shut and then a rustle as the girl turned to face me. "So, how was work?"

The thought of work sent another painful ping of desire down to my loins. I didn't even hide the grimace that came to my face from that particular sensation. If anything it helped sell the story I always fed Skylar -- and everyone else in my life -- about the cashier job I was supposedly at when I was doing my real work.

"Horrible. People are absolute assholes," I replied with a hint of disdain coloring my words. "I hate the lot of them." I had spent a brief stint of time working in customer service during high school so it was never hard to dredge up feelings that made my lies feel authentic.

"Just another day in paradise then, huh?" Skylar said sarcastically.

I lifted my head from the mattress to shoot her an unamused scowl. "Oh, yeah. Just like the fucking tropics, Sky."

"Drama queen," Skylar scoffed and rolled her eyes.

"As the old saying goes, it takes one to know one," I said and let my head fall back on the mattress. Skylar clicked her tongue and I knew a moment later she would be shaking her head at my attitude.

"Real mature," Skylar muttered before opening her laptop once more. I had to fight the smile that tried to creep onto my lips at how predictable my roommate was.

Now that Skylar wasn't forcing me into interacting, I could lay here and do nothing. Since I wouldn't be doing what I wanted, doing nothing and thinking -- daydreaming, essentially -- was the second best option. It was the only time left in my life that didn't belong to school or work or anyone else. Needless to say, I had been daydreaming a lot lately.

Instead of my normal habit of conjuring up some fantasy -- erotic or otherwise -- while I laid here in the (mostly) silent room, I replayed the conversation I had just held with Skylar. I wondered what she would think if she found out about my real work situation. What would my parents think? Or my friends?

As a well-to-do accountant of over thirty years, my father had raised me to hate the concept of debt. I knew that when I left home to go to school I would be working as much as possible so I wouldn't have to rely on loans but I had no idea that I would end up where I did. In all my life I would have never expected to agree to being an escort. The pay was good though and I got to be picky with my clients, so it was a hard offer to decline. The only downside was the sliver of shame that kept me from telling anyone in my life where my paychecks came from.

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byKennaColrite© 58 comments/ 33178 views/ 70 favorites

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