Authors: Leddy Harper
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, dead or alive, are a figment of the author’s imagination and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s mind's eye and are not to be interpreted as real.
Copyright © 2015 Leddy Harper
All rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author.
For Marlo… who pushes me when I need it.
Looking at me, no one would guess what I have lived through. No one would know the demons that dance around inside my head. But I know them. I see them and they taunt me. I’ve been with them for a long time. They remind me of things I haven’t heard since I was young. They won’t let me forget. When my eyes are closed, I’m shown things I haven’t seen since I was eleven. The demons live in the darkest parts of my brain and at times, when I’m weak and afraid, they criticize me until I’m convinced that I’m just like her. I’m no different from her and will have the same fate that she did. Sometimes, they mock and tease me so badly that I will do almost anything to escape them, even if that means seeking help.
I have sought help countless times and they’ve all told me the same thing. I’m a survivor. That’s what the shrinks wanted me to believe, but I know it’s crap. They’d tell me I’m strong and making progress because I had figured out what they wanted to hear and recited the stories obediently. Stories that I had concocted in my demented mind while my demons sat idly by and watched.
I’d sit in front of the doctors and tell them stories of my friends and things we’ve done. I’d tell them all about my boyfriend and the love we shared. My stories would burst with exciting detail and I never forgot the little things like describing what my friends and boyfriend looked like. Describing their features was one of my absolute favorite parts. That was when they’d become real to me. They’d become more than a figment of my imagination because the shrinks didn’t know that the stories I told were all lies. The friends I had spoken so fondly of and the boyfriend I loved so dearly were all made up. The things I did and the emotions I felt couldn’t have been further from the truth. They were not my stories and they never would be my emotions. Regardless, I still pretended that they were because the truth hurt too much and I didn’t want to be tortured any longer.
I could never tell anyone how I really live and what I really do day-to-day. They’d give me the same looks I received when I was eleven. Pity. Worry. Concern.
. I didn’t want their empathy or compassion. It just made me feel shame and like I had let everyone down. I learned long ago that it’s safer to keep to myself and never let anyone in. Never. If anyone really knew what went on inside of me, inside of my head, they would never understand. Not that it mattered anyway, no one ever noticed me. I was like a ghost, a figment of their imagination. I didn’t exist. I was nothing but a warm body with a dark and empty soul. I was lost. Left and never to be found again.
But did I really want to live that way forever? At what point would the demons inside me finally win? How did I feel about that? Sometimes, I felt like giving up and just succumbing to the darkness that has been my existence since day one. But then I would see glimpses of normalcy in the stories that I read, and I’d find myself yearning for a normal existence. Did I want to fight? To live and love like normal people? To feel real intimacy? I was told I was a survivor more than once… I’m sure I could be one again. I just had to try.
The only thing I knew for sure was that I couldn’t do it alone.
I needed help.
I had already read her file several times, but that didn’t stop me from taking another look at it as I waited for the clock to hit six. In the twelve years I had worked as a sexual surrogate, I couldn’t remember a file quite like the one of Ivy Jaymes.
Aside from the personal information she had provided after contacting me, I also had the file from her psychologist. It was mandatory to have that in order to avoid triggers and to understand where the client was coming from. That’s the part I found most intriguing about Ivy’s file. The two sources were complete opposites. It was clear she had a different depiction of herself than her therapist. It’s not strange to view yourself differently than someone who sees you once or twice a month, but the vast differences in her two files were enough to pique my interest.
The minute hand on the clock hit twelve, indicating it was exactly six o’clock. I took in a breath as I walked to the door to greet my newest client. I often dreaded the very first appointment. It was no more than a meet and greet. A pointless interaction between someone who suffered with sexual difficulties for whatever reason and myself. It served no real purpose to me, but again, it was mandatory. Although sexual surrogates were considered therapists, we had to follow a different set of rules.
I opened the door, not knowing what to expect. Her file said she was thirty years old and single. Aside from a brief background history of foster care and an even briefer history of relationships, I had nothing to go by. I typically tried not to set expectations prior to meeting someone, but for some reason, the words in Ivy’s files had me imagining all sorts of things. I had found myself re-reading them, trying to decipher what the words meant, none of which came close to the woman that stood as I opened the door to my office.
I greeted her and waved her inside with an open hand. No smile, no words, nothing but aloofness. She slowly stood and walked in without a sound. She was slightly taller than average with a long, thin body. I couldn’t help but notice her legs, which looked as if they went on for miles in her tight pants. I wasn’t an expert on women’s fashion, but they almost looked like tights the way they stuck to her thin legs. They weren’t overly thin, just lacked the shape or curves that I was used to seeing on women. She was wearing a long and loose-fitting tank top over them, hiding her ass from view. It was such a loose top it also hid the rest of her body, and I found myself wanting to know what was beneath it. I wanted to know if the rest of her body matched her legs. How skinny was she? And was it everywhere, or only her mile-long legs?
She turned and looked at me. It was brief, but it was long enough to notice her unusual eye color. An odd combination of slate and red. I had never seen anything like it before. And the honey color of her hair only made the red in her eyes more pronounced. It wasn’t until she cleared her throat that I realized I hadn’t said anything to her. I had just gawked and checked out every inch of her that was available to my gaze. That had never happened before. My speech always started as soon as I opened the door.
“I’m sorry; please, have a seat.” I gestured to a chair and then sat down in one across from her. “This is only an initial consultation in order to get to know one another before you make the decision to move forward or not. So let me start by introducing myself. My name is Caden Morgan, but you may call me Cade. The atmosphere here is personal, Miss Jaymes. Do you mind if I call you Ivy?”
She nodded as her eyes moved around the room, looking at everything but me. That wasn’t unusual. Most of my clients acted that way in the beginning. They came to me for a reason, and confidence seemed to be a big motivator to seek out professional help. I could work with that.
“I’m sure you must have a lot of questions. Would you like to ask me anything or did you just want to hear my speech?” I wasn’t expecting her to have questions, most didn’t, but I usually offered them the chance to ask anyway. It was all part of the script I went through every time a new person walked into my office. I had repeated the same things for twelve years; I could recite it in my sleep.
Again, she didn’t say anything, only continued to look around.
“Okay, let me begin by explaining what it is that I do. I am a licensed sex therapist that practices sexual surrogacy. Do you know what that is?”
“A licensed prostitute?” she offered with no humor in her voice. Still, her eyes didn’t meet mine nor did a smile form on her lips. I had met many women with low self-esteem in the years I had been practicing, yet I had never met one like her. It was clear there were more pieces to her puzzle than not having confidence.
“Not quite,” I said with a laugh. I had heard that answer before. “You have come to me looking for help. You have some concern in regards to sex and I am here to help you with that. I do not have a set plan of action that I do with every client. It’s something that we work on together to reach the goal you have in mind. Would you mind telling me what the ultimate goal is that you would like to achieve with this sort of therapy?”
“I want to be able to have sex and enjoy it.” Her tone was soft, yet held no emotion behind it.
“Okay, that’s an easy one.” I wanted to make her feel comfortable. Though she wasn’t acting uneasy, there was still something going on with her. I always performed a clinical background check with each new client, and hers came back clean. It only served to intrigue me more. “Why is it you don’t enjoy it? Do you know what it is, or is it sex in general that you don’t particularly like?”
“I don’t like to be touched. Or looked at.”
I wasn’t exactly expecting that one, but it did make sense as to why she wouldn’t hold eye contact with me. “Well, I’m sure we can fix that. There are many things we could do to make it more comfortable for you. Is it touching and looking in general that makes you uncomfortable? Or is it strictly in the bedroom?”
Her head bowed and I heard her take in a deep breath.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do this.” She stood up and began to head to the door.
I moved quickly in front of her, halting her exit. It wasn’t the first time a client felt the need to rush out of the office, but it was the first time that I felt panicky over it. “I understand if you want to leave, but could you please make that decision at the end of this meeting? Could you at least give me that? Hear me out and then make up your mind?”
“You can’t help me,” she practically whispered, leaving a trail of air against my neck.
“You don’t know that. You haven’t given me a chance.”
She bowed her head again, but this time, I reached beneath her chin. As soon as my finger touched her skin, she pulled away. I always approached my new patients slowly, with caution, giving them the time they needed to adjust. But slow wouldn’t help her. I could tell in an instant that everyone around her had always moved at a slow, cautious pace. It clearly hadn’t helped her at all. So instead of easing into my normal routine with her, I did the only thing I could think of to break through the thick layers of ice that surrounded her.
I grabbed her by the back of her neck with one hand and held on to her cheek with the other. “Ivy, look at me.”
Her eyes bounced around to things behind my head before she closed her eyelids all the way. I took a step closer to her, getting my face closer to hers. “Ivy,” I spoke in the softest voice I could find. I wasn’t one to talk softly with my deep baritone voice, but if I almost whispered, I found that I could come close to speaking softly.
“Open your eyes and look at me.”
“I can’t. You’ll see me.” There was something about her tone that concerned me. I questioned if it would be best to let go of her and allow her walk out, as she clearly wanted.
“That’s exactly what I want to do. Let me see you.” My words came out in short breaths and it surprised me. I had said words like those to countless women, encouraging their confidence, but not once did it illicit heavy breathing. Not once did it cause me to feel like the room was spinning around me.
Slowly, her eyes opened. It afforded me an up-close look at the mixture of grey and red I had only caught a glimpse of earlier. The up-close version was so much better. The grey was dark, almost stormy looking, and the red looked like blood. It would be easy to look at her and see a tormented soul, but I didn’t. I looked into her eyes and saw someone much like myself. Someone who battled their demons alone. It solidified my decision to help her.
“Why are you running?” I asked without moving an inch from her. Without untangling my hands from her neck or removing my touch from her face. I knew I needed to break away, not for her sanity, but for mine.
“You can’t help me.” Her voice was soft and shaken, but the words came across as powerful, strong.
“You haven’t let me try, Ivy. Let me try, please.”
“Why do you want to help me so much?”
“You came to me for a reason. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want help. I do this sort of thing for that reason. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to help. It’s a rather simple answer from what I see.” I should’ve moved my hands from her, but I found that I couldn’t. Just like I couldn’t move my eyes from hers—I was frozen in place. I wondered if she could see into me as much as I could her. I wondered if she could see my darkness and if it comforted her. Or did it scare her?
“How does this work?” Her voice was as breathy as mine.
I finally released my hold on her and took a step back. “Let’s sit back down and talk about it.”
I held my breath until Ivy moved back to her seat, but I didn’t take mine until she was seated. I didn’t want to chance her fleeing again. She wasn’t as jumpy as she was before, but she still looked like a scared child sitting in front of me.
“Why don’t you ask me some questions so that you might have a better understanding of what it is that I do here?” I had veered off from my speech so much that I didn’t know what to do next. I was struggling to regain my composure and hoping the words would automatically come to me. I couldn’t remember what I had told her or what was supposed to come next. That had never happened to me before with anyone. Everything in my office was always so routine that straying from it, even for a minute, had completely thrown me off. It also didn’t help that
had me so thrown off.
“Will you have sex with me?”
I knew she meant eventually, at some point during our time together, but to me, it sounded as if she were asking me to fuck her right then and there. It threw me off for a moment before I was able to get my head back in it enough to give her an answer.
“That can be something that we discuss. Sex isn’t automatically part of the plan, but it has happened before, when necessary. My job here is to make you comfortable with the idea of sex first. We work toward you overcoming whatever fear it is you have with it, and then we go from there. Is that why you came here? To have sex?” I thought back to her earlier mention of me being a prostitute and started questioning her motives for coming to see me.
She shook her head.
“Do you mind if I ask you what spurred your interest in seeking help?”
“I like to read.”
I would need more information than that so I waited for her to say more. Her interest in reading had nothing to do with sex. Part of me wondered if she was deflecting. I knew a lot about deflecting. Clients like her did that often, talking about things to keep the heat away from the topics they were trying to avoid. Little did she know, I was a master at deflecting. It was not a new sport to me.
“I run a blog online and I read books to review them.”
Again, she was being vague. So I decided to play along. “Is that your job or just a hobby?”
“I don’t get paid to review, but I do other things that I get paid for. I design book covers, web pages, graphics, and I also organize review tours for authors. That’s how I earn my income, but the reviewing part is for fun. I enjoy reading and it allows me to read a lot.”
Everything she said went right over my head. I understood the covers and web pages, but everything else sounded foreign to me. I made a mental note to look into what it was she said she did. “Okay, and that made you want to come to me to overcome your fears? I don’t understand. What does all of that have to do with your inability to experience sex? What does that have to do with being touched or seen?”
She took in a deep breath and I watched her hands shake. “I read erotic books and they make me want to try the things that are in them. But I can’t.” It looked as if she wanted to say more, but she stopped herself. It infuriated me to see such a broken person sitting before me, keeping more in than letting out. She came to me for fuck’s sake—why was I the one pulling teeth to get her to tell me why?