A/N: So this is it, the last chapter, people. Was very different from what I had assumed it be :) But I like it. I am writing a new story right now and have about 15 chapters of it already. I will probably start posting that in the near future. Perks of #StayTheFuckHome. I usually don't make a lot of social remarks, but I hope that everyone is save and healthy and has decided for themselfes to self-isolate, making this world safer for some people who are considered at risk!
Four months after my acquisition of Pleasure Treasure and a lot of debates, arguments and discussions between me and my family, I was finally able to say we were ready to open. My mother had at some point decided that I was set on my idea and that no nagging on her part would change my mind. She had to come to terms with her daughter owning an adult boutique – though, looking at the result now it wasn't as shady or seedy as it sounded or had looked like a few months prior.
I knew right from the first time I set foot in that store that things needed to change. I wanted a different concept and a different kind of store, changing it around and maybe appealing also to a different set of clientele.
I got rid of the dark colors and the extremely unpleasant lighting. Shelves and cupboards had to go and were replaced with brighter, lighter and more open options that didn't block light inside the shop. The front window got a redo and the odd pictures and foil that made it impossible to look inside was removed and never replaced. I wanted natural light and an open concept – to be able to look inside the shop from the outside.
In regards of merchandise I wasn't really able to change a lot since I didn't want to change the entire store and its purpose. I might have been the biggest femme fatale and also not the most comfortable with the topic of sex – despite the fact that I had my very own and personal sex god right at home – but I knew Trenton thrived on diversity. One could now argue that a sex shop wasn't really needed and not really adding much to diversity, but oddly enough, a conversation with my best friend helped me see a side that I hadn't thought about. And made me overhaul my entire initial idea.
"It is about loving yourself;" Mary Lou declared over a coffee I stopped by for at her place. "You know?"
"I was almost certain that's the point of an adult entertainment store," I said, laughing slightly uneasily.
"Not that way," Mary Lou said almost in a chastening voice. "Though that is obviously a way as well. But… there are a lot of aspects to that. It doesn't mean sex automatically. It just mean… taking care of yourself. For some that is the perfect set of underwear, or … just a pretty bra that makes you like conquering the world. Or cosmetics to take care of yourself. Though maybe your store wouldn't really be the one you'd go and look for in that regards."
I let Mary Lou's words sit with me for the longest part that day and kept thinking about it every once in a while over the course of the next week. I realized that she was right in regards what could be done and the importance of feeling good about yourself – however that was accomplished for each person individually.
When I caught myself during a shopping tour to walk through several department stores lingerie department and finding nothing that actually would excite me – or my guy – and felt the fabric that left me more than just disappointed I decided that maybe my old profession needed to make a return. I still had a contact or two I could hit up in getting that little project on the way and a few weeks later I had drawn up several samples I thought could work nice.
It were only a few pieces that worked well as a set or separately and were ranging from basic and cute to a little raunchy, daring and sexy. I tested my samples on Ranger who seemed more than approving of them and figured it was a go. My rebuilt of the store was underway and so far turned out cheaper than I had anticipated, leaving me with a bit of side-cash to try and dive into this venture of designing my own lingerie line.
My concept for just overhauling the shop in something brighter and more inviting changed into something that would built its idea on looking after yourself – however you wanted see that or do it. So, next to my own designed lingerie line I added to expected toys and general accessories that you'd find in a sex shop – to take the idea of loving yourself literal – as well as Mary Lou's comment about cosmetics. I did a bit of research and was looking for stuff you couldn't buy at your local Target or Macy's, something could also be a bit upscale and pricier without costing fortunes. I compiled a list of stuff that seemed interesting and could work and contacted suppliers just to hear back from some of them within a few hours and their prices and delivery schedules.
All my merchandise arrived about three days ago, just in time for my grand opening. I had a good concept in general and a guy was surprisingly very supportive of my newest venture. It wasn't that he was so supportive that was so surprising but the fact how cool or unaffected he was. For him it was just another line of business and he didn't care whether I'd chose to open an adult boutique or some flower shop. And that's why I loved him even more, especially since I knew there were a lot of guys who'd feel threaten on some level in their masculinity with a girlfriend in that line of work.
I had used the money from the Russian mob, as well as finder's fee from the police and Ranger's borrowed money that he refused to accept back from me wisely. But even with the best of budgeting I needed to take out a loan. I had a solid business proposal and an easy financing plan going forward. Of course you couldn't predict how things would work and how much people would welcome the shop and the idea behind it.
Three days prior opening of course didn't leave a lot of time in getting everything set up, but leave it to Batman and the Merry Men in surprising me but volunteering their work in getting things set up and settled.
I had never been a fan of a lot of attention and all the headlines I managed to general over the years were more of a hassle to me than something I'd really enjoyed or needed in my life. But with my life up and down this past year and the fact that I was about to venture into a new field I figured I needed every bit of promotion I could get and set up a few interviews about my months on the run, knowing fully well they'd lead to the final question of 'and what now?'
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect in regards of crowds or people in general, but decided on approaching things with a positive outlook. I had a good idea I thought to myself and Mary Lou agreed several times. Ranger himself didn't really speak much on the topic and let me do whatever I thought could work. He himself actually hadn't been involved too much in my idea and the process. I knew he would have listened and had advice for me, should I need it, but I tried keeping him out of things as much as possible. Not because I didn't trust him to see my 'vision' but because I figured he already had one business to run, he didn't need to be involved in mine as well. Unless he was of course feeling a desperate need to get involved. But as mentioned before, he stayed away and I loved him even more for it.
The store was a success that no one probably could have predicted. My concept of adding raunchy and sexy with self-care with more literal or less literal meaning seemed to be exactly what Trentonians had been looking for. And that despite the opening having not drawn too much of a big crowd. But after a month of opening, things all of a sudden seemed to explode in an odd and good way. The first thing that made me realize that I might have been on to something was when my own lingerie line was sold out. Given, it hadn't come in huge stocks and therefore wasn't that big of achievement in the long run, but we were talking about two months. So reordered, giving a more generous amount of items this time and was surprised when that was sold out after two months as well. Apparently people liked it. It lot. So much that I got asked if I was planning on designing some new stuff as well. I hadn't really thought about it as such. Given I had been a designer before and it was my first instinct but I hadn't planned on making it some sort of a collection. In my mind I had figured I throw an occasional new item in the mix every now and then and see how well the first designed appealed.
A year into the shop being opened I had named Mary Lou my store manager part time, had a few employees and an established line of lingerie items coming out regularly every few months. Each of the new collections were as successful as the previous one. About two years after opening the store I added another location to it, one year after that a third one outside Trenton.
RangeMan was doing all my security – naturally – and refused to take any payment from me, which in all fairness wasn't surprising to me seeing who was running that company and also sharing my bed nightly. Carlos was as passionate as much as he was a hardhead and a pain to argue with. After a while of arguing in regards of payments we established that he would never take money, so I traded sexual favors, proving once more, I always got what I wanted and I always got my man.
And that was all that really mattered.
****** THE END *********
post A/N: well... I'm a nice person and decided I give you a little sneak peak into what might come your way sooner or later :D Excerpt from the chapter:
Like most people in the world my life wasn't easy. I guess everyone at some stage in their life said that. But in my case… looking back at things it was true. I had a mother who tried making me into the perfect housewife, a boyfriend who shared that idea and a whole neighborhood full of people being stuck in a mindset that equaled the ones from the fifties with an opinion about everything and an interest in nothing that wasn't gossip-related. I had a sister who was at some stage the living and breathing dream my mother always wanted.
In regards of men you'd be surprised to hear I actually had two in my life, with one being more involved romantically speaking than the other. Morelli was a Trenton homicide detective and my occasional boyfriend and once sorta fiancé. Things were complicated and we had a history of being on and off and on again just to be off once more. At this stage we were currently on but it wasn't all roses and sunshine. But then again, with Morelli it never was. He was part Italian and liked talking with wild hand gestures and yelling just as much as he liked home-cooked lasagna. We had our disagreements and differences but who didn't? Love like in the movies doesn't exist. At least I don't know of anyone around who could vouch for anything else.
There was always something new and slightly chaotic happening in my life and this week would most likely not change in that regards. Ranger had been gone to save the world again. Morelli was particulary irritating this week up to a point where I wondered why the hell I was actually putting up with it. But…. the negative highlight of my week would be Friday. High school reunion.
What I didn't know at that point was that my life was about to change around for a lot and that a high school reunion was the least of "bad" this week could offer.