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Authors: D Jordan Redhawk

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian

The Strange Path (3 page)

BOOK: The Strange Path
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Encased in black marble, the white of porcelain clashed stark against the darkness. A huge shower held multiple faucets, and a built-in seating area. On its back wall, the face of a lion had been carved from the marble, a design re-created on the side of an equally vast bathtub nearby. Thick scarlet towels and washcloths hung on silver racks, awaiting her need. Subdued overhead lighting gave less illumination than the several large candles glowing about the room.

“Fuck.” She gaped at the splendor.

Fiona chuckled at Whiskey’s murmur. “Yes, well, that does depend on one’s religion, doesn’t it, dear Whiskey?” She glanced over her shoulder. “I do believe the doctor is in,” she said, stepping back. “Let’s see to your injuries.”

 

Chapter Three

Waking up in a strange place wasn’t a new experience. Registering the strange softness of clean sheets, Whiskey remained still, eyes closed and breathing even, until she remembered the events that led her here.
Walking to the U District.Paul and his cronies. A beating. She opened her eyes, not stirring. Blood-red sheets, black comforter, a nightstand made of ebony. Fiona’s crew, Doctor Daniel.
The warm comfort felt disquieting, alien. She shifted, testing her ability to move. Stiff and sore as expected, she forced herself to sit up.

Although alone in the large iron bed, it looked like someone had slept beside her. Murky and dark, thick crimson curtains blocked what appeared to be the tail end of daylight from entering the room. She glanced at the digital clock beside the bed. If it could be believed, she’d slept through the night, and most the following day. With ginger movements, she edged out of bed. She didn’t remember getting undressed the night before, and frowned at her nakedness. Lifting her arm to her nose, she smelled soap. Someone had stripped and bathed her. A stab of fear lanced through her.
Shit! How could I let that happen?

She recalled sitting on the bed, letting Daniel examine her. He’d asked the right questions, poked and prodded the right areas, and seemed knowledgeable enough with the stethoscope and blood pressure cuff he’d produced from his medical bag; he had to have had medical training. He spoke with a faint German accent as he applied butterfly bandages to the cut on her face. At one point he’d injected her with something, a deep red liquid that looked very much like blood. He’d said the injection fought possible infection, and accelerated healing. Not long after, she’d lost consciousness.

He drugged me!
She went over herself again, finding nothing else wrong. No other apparent needle marks marred her skin. In fact, the bruises and scrapes on her knuckles looked days old.
What the hell did he give me?

Damned if she’d be found any more vulnerable if Fiona walked in. She forced herself to stand. Her knees had lost their earlier infirmity. Both her stomach and her bladder demanded attention, one grumbling loud enough to wake the dead. No banana in sight. She wondered as she stumbled toward the bathroom whether she’d eaten it, or if it had been returned to the kitchen once she’d passed out.

After urinating, she peered into the toilet. No blood. Grateful for that, she turned toward the large mirror. She grunted at the view, fingers tracing a multicolored map of bruises across her abdomen. Yellow and green blotches stood stark against the skin of her upper arms and her left cheek. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have thought days had passed since they’d been inflicted. She leaned closer to the mirror. Her lip wasn’t swollen near as much as she thought. The butterfly bandages on her left temple itched when she frowned. An inch or so to her right, and she’d be half blind today. She reached up, tugging one aside. The scab beneath appeared to be healing too well to need them. Wondering if Daniel had been overreacting when he’d insisted on them, she pulled both the butterflies off. Seeing the damage, slight though it was, made her shaky again. She leaned heavily against the black marble counter, gathering her energy. Whoever had washed her the night before hadn’t gotten all the blood and dirt from her hair. Streaks of rusty red marred the light blonde tresses at her scalp. She had an overpowering desire to be completely clean, and she looked at the shower through the mirror.

Experimenting with the various knobs and showerheads, she soon had three streams of hot water pouring across her body. She luxuriated in the immersion, her skin humming with joy. A niche carved into the marble near the shower controls held a handful of items—a bar of soap, a selection of shower gels and shampoos, and a razor. “Oh, my God,” she groaned, reaching for the razor.

 

***

 

Thoroughly scrubbed for the first time in weeks, she rinsed off the last vestiges of shampoo from her long hair. She wasn’t finished, not by a long shot. Blinking water away from her eyes, she studied one of the shower gels she hadn’t yet used.

“Mmmm...Very nice.”

Survival instincts functioning at top peak, Whiskey whirled about with the razor in hand. Her world spun a fraction of a minute at the sudden movement. It cleared, and she saw Cora standing at the shower entrance.

Cora’s hands rested against the walls above her head, effectively blocking the entry. The stance caused her silky white shirt to ride up, revealing lacy bikini panties and nothing else. She smiled at Whiskey, ignoring the rudimentary weapon as she sauntered forward. Water hit her blouse, making it translucent, and Whiskey’s mouth went dry.

 

Chapter Four

Cora didn’t leave the bathroom until they were both breathless from their exertions. Languid from the sex, Whiskey loitered in the hot water, leaning against the dark marble to recuperate. She scrubbed herself a second time before turning off the water. On the counter by the sink she found a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. She gladly took the opportunity to clean her teeth.

Wrapped in a towel, her wet hair hanging loose, she left the bathroom. Cora lounged on the wrought iron bed. She’d had time to dress, and wore a black gypsy skirt and corset, the skirt slit up the side to reveal an enticing expanse of thigh.

“Breakfast’s almost ready.” She licked her lips. “I set out clean clothes from your pack.”

While Whiskey had hoped to gain something of monetary value out of this mess, her hard-won paranoia caused her to stand taller. “Why are you doing this? I’ve got nothing to offer in exchange for any of it. What do you want from me?”

Cora’s face sobered as she studied Whiskey. She rose from the bed and approached, pressing against Whiskey as she snuggled her cheek on a damp shoulder. “Maybe you have nothing now, but someday you might. All we ask is that you remember who assisted you when you needed it most,
Ninsumgal.

That language again. Whiskey frowned. She wondered what it was. She’d never heard its like before. Maybe she could do an Internet search at the library to locate some of the words.

Everything had a cost. If she continued with these people, she’d be obligated in some unknown way. It had already happened. They’d ask a favor in the future. She’d learned on the streets to take more than you gave. If Fiona’s little pack of loaded rabble-rousers wanted to spread the wealth on the off chance Whiskey would have something to give in return, so be it. She’d pay that bill when and if it came due.
Hell, it’s not like I’ll be around long enough to deal with it. Once I get back on the streets, chances are good they’ll never find me again.

Deciding to play their game, Whiskey tilted the woman’s face. “I’ll always remember you, Cora,” she said, and kissed her.

It took some prurient time before Whiskey stood clothed. Cora assisted, more a flirtatious hindrance than help. Whiskey wore a pair of form-hugging latex pants, showing off every curve of her legs. She donned her studded belt and the black leather wristband that her best friend, Gin, had given her for her last birthday. Gin’s birthday party was tonight.

Cora tucked Whiskey’s crimson camisole into the latex waistband, pausing to slide her hands along the smooth, tight-fitting plastic.

“Stop that,” Whiskey growled playfully, feeling another swell of arousal as the woman’s hands glided down to her crotch. “We’ll never get out of here at this rate.”

“Would that be such a tragedy?” Innocence glowed in every line of Cora’s face.

“Yes, it would,” a voice said from the door. “We’ve plans tonight, sweet Cora.”

Whiskey turned to see Fiona enter the room.

“You look stunning, though I’m surprised you’re not abed. Cora can be quite the minx when she’s of a mind.”

“I noticed.” Whiskey glanced at Cora, who grinned wickedly at the accusation.
Take more than you give.
“What kind of plans? I have to be somewhere later tonight.” She turned to the vanity to finish brushing out her hair.

Fiona approached and took the brush from her, working her way through the black-streaked blonde tresses. “Oh, I was thinking drinks, dancing, perhaps a hunt or two.” She stopped, and ran one hand up and down Whiskey’s right arm. “What would you say to a tattoo? I think a black dragon would look marvelous there.”

Whiskey stared at Fiona’s reflection. Tattoos were expensive enough that she’d never thought to have the money for one. The best she could hope for was an ex-con who’d do the deed for fifty bucks, and a blowjob. Gin wouldn’t begrudge her this opportunity regardless of what day it was. Besides it wasn’t like they’d get to hang out much with her boyfriend underfoot.

Cora had returned to splay across the bed. “I think a red dragon would be better.”

“How about both?”

Cora sat up and scooted to the foot of the bed. She licked her lips. “Let’s pierce your nipples, too.”

Whiskey quelled a sudden shiver. “Sounds like a plan.”

The two women escorted her to the kitchen, where a fluffy omelet stuffed with mushrooms, ham, cheese and olives awaited her. Whiskey swooned from the aroma, weakened knees buckling when she sat at the dining table. Separate platters held toast and bacon, the latter still sizzling. Daniel dished up a plate for Cora before serving himself, and sitting at the breakfast bar.

Badass street punk, doctor, and now chef. Wonder if he cleans windows?

Alphonse had been in the living room when they’d passed through, kicking ass on some first person shooter video game. He came in long enough to grab food, piling a large amount of bacon onto his plate before returning to the other room, presumably to continue laying digital waste. None of the others appeared to be in residence. Cora joined Whiskey at the table. Fiona retrieved a cup of coffee, setting it before Whiskey before sitting across from her. She had no plate, instead cultivating a glass of deep burgundy wine.

As much as she tried to pace herself, Whiskey couldn’t help but wolf down her meal. She hadn’t had more than a bagel—and maybe a banana—in the last thirty-six hours. She consumed half her omelet before her ravenous appetite abated. Glancing at the others, she flushed at the spectacle she made of herself. Daniel ignored her; Cora gave her a sympathetic smile. Whiskey reddened more. She didn’t know whether she felt miffed at Cora, or embarrassed. She didn’t want anyone’s pity. She’d lay odds on any of them having starved before. Her gaze slid to Fiona, the woman’s expression raising her hackles.

Fiona smiled indulgently at her over the rim of her wineglass. Whiskey had seen the look before, usually on the faces of parents cooing at their ill-mannered, pampered brats. The facial expression hinted at parental possession, and a familiarity Fiona didn’t possess. Whiskey didn’t belong to a street family for exactly this reason—nobody owned her. On the streets, she’d take Fiona to task for her presumption. Here she didn’t know the group dynamics. In any case, a confrontation might get her thrown back onto the streets.
Too soon.
She had too many questions, and wasn’t willing to end this little adventure so quickly. She scowled and forced herself to slow, an easier task now with the worst of her hunger abated. Straightening in her chair, she grabbed a slice of toast, slathering apricot jam on a slice.

The more leisurely pace gave Fiona the signal she awaited. “So, dear Whiskey. Tell us about yourself.”

Whiskey recognized that Fiona’s pleasant tones concealed the interrogation about to begin. It would be to Whiskey’s benefit to show strength from the onset. While the rest of Fiona’s little pack might bow and scrape upon command, Whiskey would not. She wasn’t interested in becoming a member, even with the offers of shelter, money and sex. She took her time responding, eating a bite of toast, and washing it down with coffee. “Not much to tell.”

Fiona gave her a knowing look. “I find that difficult to believe. A beautiful youngling such as yourself, out alone at night, all of her worldly possessions in a backpack?” She tsked. “Where is the family who is taking such little interest in a fascinating child like yourself?”

Bristling at the choice of words, Whiskey eyed her. “I’m no more a child than you are.” She jutted her chin at Fiona. “You’re what? Twenty? Twenty-one? Only two or three years older than me.”

Their amusement met her words. Even Daniel, who’d remained stone-faced from the beginning, snorted. Whiskey’s scowl deepened.

“Thereabouts. That still doesn’t answer my question. You’re under my roof, eating my food, and enjoying my...hospitality.” Fiona’s gaze slid to Cora to complete the innuendo. “Surely you can give us the opportunity to know you better.”

The words sounded sensible, but Whiskey wasn’t fooled. Still, Fiona was the leader of these people. Whiskey debated whether to show strength or rudeness in response. One would gain her respect. The other would get her tossed out like so much garbage, probably in worse shape than she’d been in had she stayed in the clutches of her attackers last night. Though Fiona had been pleasant to the extreme, Whiskey remembered the blood flowing from that boy’s face. She maintained eye contact, not willing to show the least amount of weakness. “I don’t have parents. They’re dead.”

She watched a flash of something cross Fiona’s face. What was that? Beside her, Cora made a noise of sympathy, and stroked her bicep. Whiskey refused to be distracted. She didn’t want Fiona to think she could gain the upper hand with this knowledge.

BOOK: The Strange Path
11.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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