Chapter 5: One Way or Another
Sitting on the windowsill, Rose leaned back against the tall, open window and inhaled deeply on her vape pen. The still solitude of her apartment welcomed the breeze that wafted in from outside. After a moment of savoring, she released a long, languid cloud of smoke, her eyes closed behind a pair of sunglasses.
Lifting her lashes, she gazed through her dark lenses at the array of red chimneys sprawling out before her. They sprouted up from a sea of Haussmann-style buildings, but, unlike herself, none of them emitted any smoke.
The sun was out, so she couldn’t step from her windowsill onto the petit balcony. She had to remain in the protection of the shadow cast by the small awning hanging above. From her window, she spotted a young woman on the streets below lugging a rather large suitcase behind her.
Rose remembered when she first came to the city. She didn’t have any plans; no job lined up, not even an apartment. Just a one-way ticket and what could fit in her biggest suitcase. She stayed in a hostel for a couple weeks while she looked for a place and for work.
When she hopped on that train to Paris, she left behind an abusive boyfriend, an exploitative job, and a painfully small town. She also left behind a former version of herself. It was a different kind of existence, a former life.
“You feel too much,” her therapist had told her after her suicide attempt. Her Catholic mother had cried about it excessively for days, and then never spoke of it again. Her boyfriend had yelled at her, admonishing her for leaving him alone to care for himself for days on end while she luxuriated in a hospital.
What nobody understood about her suicide attempt was that she was trying to escape a toxic existence. The life she was living was unsustainable, and also gravely unsatisfying. What she needed was a complete transformation.
Rose had thrown up the handful of pills she swallowed that day. It was during her stay at the hospital that she decided she needed to reinvent herself, to restart her life.
And it seemed to work. Everything was different here. She felt free in Paris. She felt transformed. A new person. A new life. A whole new kind of living.
When she first met Sophie in a bar and took her home that night, she had no expectations that it would lead to a job.
“You move your body so well,” Sophie had told her. “Have you ever tried dancing?”
Sophie taught Rose moves and tricks, techniques and seductions. She introduced Rose to Madame LeClerc and Theatre La Chatte. Sophie also showed Rose around the city and made her feel at home, comfortable, safe. They quickly learned that “BFFF”—best friends forever who fuck—was the best characterization of their relationship.
There were still times when Rose felt lonely in Paris. There were times she felt sorrow; there were times she felt haunted. When you flee your former life for a big city, ghosts follow you there. No city—no matter how bright the lights—can protect you from occasional darkness.
But looking down at the young woman dragging her giant suitcase, Rose felt proud of her former self for taking such an enormous leap and changing her life. She was grateful for her own strength and scrappiness. She had gotten herself through a dark period, and with the help of her BFFF she had created a new and better life for herself.
Surely she would be able to navigate this newest transition. Sophie was again there for her by her side. Together they would figure out how she could flourish in this new kind of existence, just as they had before.
Rose pushed away thoughts of eternity. She had to, at least for now. When her mind would peek down that incomprehensibly endless alley of immortality, she waved the thoughts away like clouds of smoke.
She wouldn’t allow herself to think about how her “forever” best friend would eventually turn to dust long before she did. She had plenty of time to contemplate all that in the future. For now, she needed to figure out how to survive. And she needed help.
Rose’s phone beside her buzzed and she saw the text from Sophie: “Be there in 5. I’ve got breakfast.”
When Sophie arrived at Rose’s apartment building, she punched in the entry code that she had memorized long ago and marched up the five flights of stairs. Rose had unlocked the door for her, so she was able to come right in.
“Salut, ça va?” they said in near unison. Rose stood as Sophie entered and they greeted each other with cheek kisses.
Sitting down at the table, Sophie set down a to-go coffee cup and a paper bag. She pulled out a croissant. “Ça, c’est pour moi,” she stated. She then pulled a jar from her messenger bag and set it down on the table. “Ça, c’est pour toi.”
Rose picked up the jar and examined it. A thick, dark substance filled it half way up, but swishes of the jar left smears of reddish-brown coating along the glass. “Blood?” she asked for confirmation.
Sophie nodded. “I had this idea a couple days ago—I’ve been saving it up for you. I thought it was worth a try. Today, alas, is my last day on my period.”
“This is your old blood?”
“Exactly,” Sophie answered, laughing briefly at Rose’s frank phrasing. “I got myself one of those menstrual cups and saved what I collected in that jar. I’m dying for you to taste it, to see if it has the same effect as fresh blood. If so, I can save some for you each month!”
Rose removed her sunglasses and regarded Sophie’s grinning face. “Your level of friendship really knows no bounds.” She released a dry yet sincere chuckle.
“Taste it!” Sophie insisted. “You must be hungry, non?”
“I am,” Rose admitted. She unscrewed the jar and dipped a finger into the syrupy liquid, then sucked on her coated finger. Her face grimaced.
“Oh no,” Sophie exhaled disappointedly. “It’s too old, isn’t it?”
“It’s hard to say,” said Rose. “It doesn’t exactly taste bad, it just tastes…stale. Like old bread.” With a shrug, Rose took a swig from the jar. She stood still to see what would happen. Would it give her the energy she needed? Would it make her sick? Would it have some other, unexpected effect on her?
She felt a subtle tingling in her veins and a slight contracting in her muscles. Her eyes felt a tinge less tired, and some of the clouds in her mind dissipated. Sophie was watching her, expectantly, hoping for a positive response.
“It feels a little like I’ve had a weak cup of coffee,” she explained to Sophie. “Bleh—stale coffee. No offense, your fresh brew is exquisite!” They laughed together.
“Fantastic!” Sophie cheered. “So this is worth doing, then? Saving my blood for you? Even if it tastes bad and is less powerful, it can tide you over for a little bit each month, non?”
“Like methadone,” Rose joked.
“We can open a clinic,” Sophie quipped. “For other, um…for others like you.”
“Speaking of,” said Rose, becoming more serious. “I think I need to find him—the client who turned me into this. He could have so much useful information, like whether we can drink old blood, how old the blood can be, is there a proper way to store it, what other options I’m not thinking of, etc…I know Madame LeClerc keeps records of clients. I need to find his name.”
“You don’t even know his name?”
“No, but it has to be in that endless spreadsheet Madame LeClerc keeps. I’ve caught glimpses of it on her computer. Once we have his name, I’m sure we’ll be able to find him, one way or another.”
“And while we’re looking through that spreadsheet,” Sophie began intensely, “I know who else we should look for.” Rose noticed that Sophie was gripping the arms of her chair tightly.
Sophie’s gaze dropped to the floor. She gulped visibly as her eyes blinked rapidly over her downcast eyes. It was as if her long lashes were trying to fan away dark thoughts. Her lips tightened and wrestled with themselves, debating how to utter the words.
Rose knew something serious was up. She went to Sophie, kelt on the floor below her, and took her by the hand. She rested her other hand on Sophie’s knee. “Who?” she repeated softly.
“I’ve never told you about this,” Sophie began. “It happened before you started working at La Chatte. About four years ago now.”
Rose’s brow furrowed, worried about where this story was going.
“Well, you know how clients can get carried away, how they can be assholes, and how they can sometimes get…aggressive,” Sophie continued.
Rose gripped Sophie’s hand tighter and nodded for her to go on.
“Well, I was giving a private dance to this client—Igor, I’ll always remember that name—and I told him I could give him a blow job for an extra tip, and he accepted right away. So, I started going down on him, and after a few minutes—” Sophie paused to take a deep breath. She was visibly shaking.
Rose reached a hand to Sophie’s face and traced a strand of hair behind her ear, adding a gentle caress with the motion. “What did he do to you?” she asked, almost in a whisper.
“He grabbed me by the neck and the back of my head, and he started thrusting hard. Too hard.”
Sophie wiped away a tear that she could no longer hold back. “I was gagging, choking, and I yelled for him to stop, but it was muffled, and I knew he wouldn’t have listened anyway. He came in my mouth and it went down my windpipe. When he finally released me, I was coughing wildly, and my eyes were pouring. He left without paying the extra amount.”
“Did you tell anyone?”
“I only told Madame LeClerc that he left without paying the extra for the blow job,” Sophie responded. “That was enough to get him banned from La Chatte, so I didn’t say any more about it.”
Rose fetched a tissue for Sophie, whose tears were now streaming down her cheeks.
“I know I should have told the police,” Sophie said with a stunted sob. “But I was scared and naïve. I was worried they wouldn’t believe me, especially since I offered the blow job. And I offered it for a price, so there was that layer to explain. They could have charged me for a crime. And would they even believe a sex worker? I didn’t know how to explain the difference between how it started and where it went wrong. For me, I know the exact moment when it switched, it’s when I had this horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach, and I knew I had lost all control. And I felt in every inch of my body that he knew what he was doing, that he knew he was forcing himself on me, that he knew he was wrong. But I didn’t know how to explain that in a way that the police, or anyone, would accept. And so, I didn’t tell Madame LeClerc or anyone else, because I knew they would insist I go to the police. I didn’t know how to explain that I didn’t know how to explain it, and I was just too scared to even try. I was too terrified to even attempt to utter the words. Also, saying it out loud would have made it feel real, and I wasn’t ready to feel that. I didn’t want to have to think about it. And telling people would have meant that I would have had to deal with it, to relive it, over and over. So, I didn’t tell anyone. Honestly, even now I’m barely ready to think of it as real.”
Having finished her story, Sophie collapsed into a full sob as her head fell into her hands. She stayed like that for several minutes, while Rose stroked her hair.
“But knowing that there’s something to do with it now,” Sophie went on, wiping rivulets of tears from her cheeks, “that there’s somewhere to put the old feelings, somewhere to direct the new feelings, makes it seem somehow more manageable. That something can be done about it makes processing it seem more possible.” The strength of her words could not dam the tears, and a fresh flood poured forth. She buried her face again in her hands. “How dare he?!” she screamed through her palms.
Rose stood and brought Sophie’s head against her chest, embracing her tightly. “We’ll find this motherfucker,” Rose spat through her teeth. “And I’ll bite his fucking cock off.”
A hint of a smile broached Sophie’s lips. “That sounds like a special kind of justice. But right now, I’d really like to think about anything else. Give me a distraction.”
Rose handed Sophie her vape pen. Sophie drew in a long, soothing inhalation. “Remember when I said it’s my last day on my period?”
Rose nodded and a knowing smile crept onto her lips. “It’d be a shame to waste that.”
Kneeling again, Rose gently parted Sophie’s legs. She inched herself in close, a breath away from Sophie’s pussy. Rose then lifted Sophie’s skirt and slowly peeled off her panties.
Knowing Sophie was in the throes of traumatic memories, Rose began with soft whispers of kisses upon Sophie’s sweet little vulva. She watched Sophie’s eyes flutter shut and her lips relax into a part. Taking these as cues that it was okay to go a bit harder, Rose extended her tongue and tickled the outer petals of Sophie’s pussy. She kissed the creases of her legs, and grazed her clit with the faintest lick.
A tiny pearl of red peeked out from Sophie’s opening. Since it was her last day, the flow would be a mere trickle. Rose tongued the little droplet and savored its taste.
Slowly, meticulously, Rose guided her tongue further inside Sophie’s velvety cavern. She swirled and twirled her tongue, wanting to be thorough and attend to every inch and lap up every drop of the viscous, saccharine nectar.
But Sophie’s clit refused to be ignored. Inflated and engorged, it called out like a fleshy siren atop the pink and red sea of Sophie’s glorious cunt. Rose pounced on it, giving in to the sucking and rubbing and tonguing it desired.
In tandem, Rose’s finger found its way into the deepest realms of Sophie’s pussy. There, it implored the remaining stash of blood to be released. Rose lowered her mouth and gorged on the bashful yet fruitful stream of blood that trickled forth.
Having lapped up what seemed to be all that was left of Sophie’s period blood, Rose raised herself up and sat on Sophie’s lap, facing her. Rose lowered a hand back to Sophie’s pussy and inserted two fingers, as her mouth found Sophie’s and kissed her deeply.
The two found a rhythm as their making out intensified. Rose fingered Sophie ravenously.
With Sophie’s body pressed hard against her own, Rose felt the tell-tale trembles of an approaching orgasm. Rose thrust her fingers deeper and clamped her thumb down hard against Sophie’s clit, rubbing and twirling it, creating a vice-like sensation that utilized her entire hand.
With her pussy submerged in Rose’s tight and thrusting grasp, Sophie released a wild scream as her arms wrapped around Rose and her nails dug into her back.
Rose withdrew her fingers and found with surprised delight that a dessert course was awaiting her. She licked her blood-streaked fingers clean then thrust them past her panties and into her own pussy where she found a wetness of her own making.
Still on Sophie’s lap, Rose grinded her hips as her fingers swirled inside herself. Sophie reached her hand into Rose’s panties and added her fingers to the mix.
Full to the brim with fingers, Rose grinded and writhed, lifting herself up and down against Sophie’s lap. Using her other hand, Sophie pulled Rose’s face to her own and kissed her passionately.
Rose’s pussy spoke to her from within: just a few more thrusts, keep going! Rose obliged and pounded herself harder and faster against Sophie’s knees, their fingers mingled together deep inside Rose.
Keep going, keep going! Rose’s pussy implored. And then, with a paroxysm and a shriek, lightning bolts shot through the entirety of Rose’s body, reaching her toes, her fingertips, her ears, her nose, the top of her skull. She came with such a force that it almost matched the delectable taste of Sophie’s blood on her tongue. Almost.
Rose felt energized. Sophie’s blood ran through her veins. The afterglow of intense orgasm radiated through her skin. And the tantalizing appeal of hunting Sophie’s attacker—a most deserving victim—excited her mind. She felt like a lioness, a black widow spider, and the Angel of Death all rolled into one. She felt powerful, invincible. She was also more determined than ever to find the one who turned her. If he wouldn’t give her answers, she may just bite off his cock as well.
It was an easy enough plan. Rose and Sophie would wait for the exact right moment at Theatre La Chatte to gather the information they needed. They would wait for Madame LeClerc to open the extensive spreadsheet to register a new client; and before she had a chance to close it and secure it away in the endless folders on her computer, Sophie would distract Madame LeClerc while Rose searched the spreadsheet for the names of their offenders.
Sophie enlisted the help of a loyal client, whose knowledge of the situation was limited to the fact that he would pretend to faint during a private dance, in exchange for a free one the following week.
Sophie gave Rose all the useful information she could think of—the offending client’s name and the rough date of the incident. Rose may not have known the name of her offending client, but she did know the exact time and date she gave him a private dance.
Rose pounced into action as soon as Sophie pulled Madame LeClerc upstairs. Her nerves made her shake but her resolve enabled her to push through the anxiety.
The name she needed for herself she found rather quickly: Nico Dacia. “Unusual name,” she thought to herself as she snapped a photo with her phone. No other information was listed under his name. Some clients had a phone number and/or email associated with their names, and others even an address, but not Nico Dacia.
She quickly moved on. The name she needed for Sophie was more difficult to find, as the exact date was unknown. Her eyes scanned line after line, pleading for the small print in tiny boxes to spell out the name she sought.
Then, at last, there it was. Highlighted unmistakably in red—with the word BANNED in the cell next to it—was the name: Igor Martín.
His phone number and address (though quite likely outdated) were there as well. Rose snapped a photo and shot off a text to Sophie informing her that she was done. Mission complete.
Yet, in a much more real sense, their mission had just begun.
Late that night, after their shifts had ended, Rose and Sophie returned to Rose’s apartment—they couldn’t risk Rose staying too late at Sophie’s place and getting caught in the morning sun—and poured over her laptop. Shrouded by the quiet darkness of the deep night, they engaged search engines and all forms of social media to stalk their prey.
Igor Martín was easy enough to find. They struggled to confirm his current address and phone number, but they did manage to find an email address for him. His name, somewhat unique in Paris, proved to be useful in assuring it was the right person.
They drafted an email to send him—a special kind of invitation. The email would inform him (falsely, of course) that Theatre La Chatte was under new management and that as an act of good faith they were lifting all bans on formerly banned clients. And a free private show was offered as a special welcome back gift. They would have him come on a Monday, Madam LeClerc’s day off.
Nico Dacia proved more difficult to find. He seemed to exist like a ghost, apparently leaving no tracks or trace online. But wasn’t everyone on the internet, somewhere? No one—especially someone so young—was completely offline, right? They were sure he must be lurking somewhere.
Having exhausted all the variations of his name, location, appearance, etc. into search engines, and coming up with no viable results, they at last gave up for the night. They would have to try other strategies going forward.
Neither of them slept well that night. Their minds raced with dark memories and murky futures. They had made some progress, but they had mountains yet to climb and miles yet to go.
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