Sinking lower to the floor.
Life was being real good on me. I was enjoying full time my new work, mainly because Jessica had become my only and rather important friend in town, she was really funny and had a way of pulling my inner craziness out, exactly what I needed to forget about my messy past. I was starting to think moving to Vegas had proven to be the best decision I'd ever made.
I wasn't ready yet to indulge in the date scene, my moment with Grey had proven sufficient for quite a while, and though that was a month ago, he was on my thoughts everyday.
Sometimes, when my dreams got too vivid and I woke up drenched in sweat and desire, I got the impulse of calling his damned agency again and schedule another incredible and absolutely unforgettable ride but I'd slap my senses back before I could do such thing. Tips were good but giving out thousands of dollars for a few hours was far from my possibilities. Besides my feelings wouldn't be able to take it, though I rationalize it, something about that man messed with me and I wasn't sure if I could keep the business side out of the emotional one.
I shook my funk out of me and finished doing my make-up, I was getting better at it, but I still preferred to go soft. I wasn't one to wear many things on my face but since today I was going out – thanks to the persistency of Jessica – I opted for a pretty alluring pink-gloss and a nice smoky eyes combination. I smiled and twirled around the mirror looking at my attire. Jessica had landed me some of her clothes, since she was always criticizing mine and refused to let me out with my non-appealing style of the 1940's.
I laughed thinking back at her stern look; being stylish had never been a concern of mine but it appeared that my new-friend was preoccupied for the both of us. I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull this look off, but I was in a Zen-mood these past days, so I'd at least try.
I was wearing a baby-doll dress, tight in the chest area and loose all the way to my mid-tights. It was simple and not too much provocative but I still felt a little weird. I shrugged those feelings away and grabbed my little bag; Jessica would be here any minute now. My heels clipped on the floor and echoed loudly through the house, it was a strange noise and I wasn't sure I'd ever get used to it, no matter how many times I wear heels – and that was almost daily now, thanks to my job.
The door bell ranged and I jumped out of my seat, for some reason I always got surprised when someone knocks on my door, even if I'm expecting it.
"Babe!" Jessica shouted way louder than she needed. "Oh, wow. You look stunning."
"Not as much as you though," I whispered, I didn't wish any harm by saying but it really was the truth.
"Hey! Watch it, I heard you, you know."
I rolled my eyes and stuck my tongue at her. It was one of the great things about our friendship, we are always playfully teasing each other. She was like the sister I wished I had while growing up, I did have one – one that was getting married in a few weeks by the way – but we weren't that much tight.
Through out our childhood Sarah had always drifted to different paths than I had. We weren't very look-alike and we didn't share much common personality traits. She was the princess of the family, the jewel of the community, the beauty of the school, the soul of every party while I was simply… me. Quirky and self-conscious. In a certain way I envied her, Sarah always dealt with things so easily, it made me itch inside but I shoved those feelings away because regardless of it all, she was my blood and whenever I needed it, she's proven to be there for me.
But Jessica, it was a different story, though she was an undeniable beauty too, she was always cheering for me trying to make me feel special and pretty as well. I don't believe most of the stuff she claims about me or my appearance but it's the intention that counts and that means a lot.
"So are we ready?" She asked pacing around my living-room.
"Well then, let's go and have fun!"
It took us only sometime between ten to twelve minutes to get downtown. We were driving in Jessica's car because she felt like her pilot's skill were Nascar worthy. They weren't. She simply drove too fast and too dangerously for someone who's cruising through the city's streets. Still, she wouldn't let me drive myself there. Jessica was nothing if not persistent.
And that's how I ended up looking right into a security guy's scary eyes. I guess he wasn't at the front door keeping troubles at bay for nothing, he really seemed like the kind of person who could kick your ass with the swift of his fingers, and I wasn't one to be comfortable with that.
"James," Jessica chirmed in once again, nudging the guy's arm with her perfectly manicured hands, clearly unafraid of his menacing exterior. "Are you going to let us in or not?"
His eyes were dark and dangerous and he darted his gaze between the two of us for quite a while before speaking. "Are you in the VIP list?" His voice matched his looks.
"No," My friend drawled in a sing-a-song kind of way, batting her eyelashes innocently. "But you could give us a free pass this time, maybe?"
James shook his head gravely. His mouth was turned down in a perpetual scowl that didn't seem to change ever. Jessica sighed and nudged him once again. She was hoping he would let us in. Apparently this was the hottest club at the moment and the line was so big it extended pass the corner. She was trying to play the profession's brotherhood with him but James didn't seem to bulge at that.
"Oh, common, just this one time?" Jessica insisted once more.
"I said no."
"You're being kind of dick here," She whined though she made it look cute instead of petulant.
James didn't seem bother by that insult but me and my fear of being beaten up kicked in. "Jessica," I whispered warningly. "We should go."
"No, this guy here should have a little more empathy to fellow coworkers of the nightlife. We're only two, it wouldn't fucking kill you to let us in." She turned to James once again while saying the last sentence. I sighed, she was a lost cause, if she wanted something she was determined to get it. Or at least get a fuss out f it.
"If I start opening exceptions next thing I know the club's spilling with bodies." He said and he was right on that. That really could happen and I totally understood his side. But I here with Jessica and she was my mate, and girls should partner up while facing situations as this one, so I decided to intervene as well.
"Look James," I said his name crisply just so that he could understand I was on my friend's side. "I get your position, but let's face it, it's clearly an excuse. No one needs to know you allowed us entrance over the rest of the crowd. As far as anyone is concerned we can be on the VIP list. You just need to open the damned door and let us pass through. Now it's one thing if you're a doormat that doesn't want to do that but don't use cheap pretexts to cover your wuss attitude."
I was a bit surprise at myself for pulling that off without any hesitation or stammering. I had been firm and mean just enough to pass on the message. Jessica seemed pleased at my behavior because she strolled closer to me and crossed her arms in front of her chest looking as defiant as a red-headed dressed-up woman could.
James reaction though, was not what we were expecting, to my utter shock the man just laughed. The corners of his mouth turned upwards and I actually noticed he had lips that could do other things besides tipping down on his face.
"You never introduced me your friend Jessica." He stated after his amusement died down.
My partner didn't miss a beat, she unrolled her arms and grabbed one of mine, dragging me to her front and just inches away from Mr. Scowling-Guard. I gulped but tried to act nonchalant.
"Anastasia Steele, she's new in town and works with me at the bar." Jessica added that bit of information as if that was vital to one's introduction.
Apparently it did play on our favor because, though no longer smiling, James stopped looking so frightening and went for the door-handle right after it. "Well then," He said. "In that case, show her how the night works around here."
Jessica didn't bother to hide her tremendous happiness. She smiled and clapped her hands and pushed me towards the entrance as if the door was just about to close any second now. "Thanks." She beamed waving her hand.
"Sure," James nodded politely towards our moving bodies. "If you need anything you know where to find me." He shouted just when we were about to disappear into the club's deepness.
It didn't took us long to find the way to the dance floor. It was packed. Individuals couldn't be identified and the only thing you could see was a mass of bodies rhythmically moving with the beats of the song. I narrowed my eyes to take in my surroundings. It was a fancy place with a classic but very modern vibe to it.
Luckily for us we had entered by the VIP's door and were now on the upper level of the place. Beneath us stood the great, and confusing, sea of people but around us the ambience was a bit calmer. There was a bar at one side just destined to important clients, it reminded me of the bar where I worked but this was one was obviously more private. There were tables and very secret booths all around us, silky drapes conceding protection of prying eyes, and a dim lightning that provided the mysteriously sensual atmosphere we were under.
It was actually a nice place but we weren't important people and we definitely weren't supposed to be upstairs. The only reason why we were even seeing this part, was because James had allow us to enter the club without forcing us to wait an eternity on the front line, but he hadn't said anything about us staying in this private area afterwards.
"Shouldn't we be going downstairs?" I whispered into Jessica's ears.
"What?" She turned towards me with a deep frown on her pretty features. "Of course not."
"But we're not on the VIP list…" I started but she didn't even allow me to finish. With a stern look and a wave of her hand she huffed and shook her head.
"Who cares? We're here now. No way we're wasting this opportunity! Let's enjoy this,"
I wasn't so sure about that, if any kind of management came along asking who we were, it would put both us and James into deep shit but Jessica didn't seem fazed by that possibly and even I have to admit that was unlikely to happen unless we decided to trash the place to bits.
So, to hell with it! I said to myself. We were supposed to have a good, fun, night and that was what I was aiming for. A little clandestine infiltration might just be what we needed to spice things up. I agreed with my friend and went to choose a place to seat while she went to the bar to pick up some drinks.
I found a table in a corner that gave us some requested privacy but wasn't overly far away from the rest of the party. It was next to the wall so one side had full, comfortable, couches while the other one was facing through the bar and had some modern-designed chairs. I sunk low and very unlady-like into the sofa and leaned my head into the cold, dark wall.
Everything felt good, the cold bricks against my brazing skin, the thick air that hung around the atmosphere, the muffled music that came from the lowered floor, the dim lighting that forced my eyes to squint, the warmness that came from the bundle of bodies and made my palms damp, the illicit infringement we were doing by being in the VIP zone unintended. Thinking back a few months this would never have happened. The Anastasia Steele I knew and everybody back home approved would never take this kind of risks, she wouldn't appreciate being squinted into a place such as this one or dress an outfit this provocative. And up until know she had been all I knew, all I think I could be, I was allowed to be.
Everything from my job to my relationship had been safe. Practical. Monotonous. Simple. Every rash decision was taken off my hands by others. My mother. My sister. My fiancé. It seemed as though they thought my skin wasn't thick enough to handle the pressure, as if I'd turn into a puddle of messy feelings if I lived anything too intensely. And so far, it seemed just fine, I wanted that too.
But not anymore. These last few months had been freeing. Liberating. I felt weird and out of my body. But all in a good kind of way.
I had been sitting by the table all alone by some good twenty-minutes now. I had sent a couple of glances towards the bar and saw that Jessica was in full swing flirty mode with the bartender. He was handsome and all smiles and touches on her arm. I blamed neither her to try and get lucky nor him to try and grab the opportunity. They made a nice pair.
I huffed and picked up my phone to play Tetris. It was the one game I couldn't get enough of it and always needed to have it my cellphone in order to distract me whenever boring occasions, such as this one, appeared. Probably it was just the music that entertained me but regardless I couldn't help it.
It wasn't that I was upset my friend was pursuing the hot, young and appealing guy, I was simply disgruntled.
I was on my fourth attempt at the game when a couple passed by me and onto the booth next to my table. It had some drapes nearby that covered most of the view and gave them enough seclusion to get their affairs done privately. I didn't bother to tear my eyes off the screen, I wasn't one to fuel myself on other's businesses, and it was deep rotted in my education that prying others wasn't very polite.
I heard the giggles though. The woman was rambunctious and clearly excited. She talked fast and loud enough to have her voice heard. The man wasn't quite noisy but I could hear his laughter once in a while. It was muffled between the music so I didn't make sense of it.
It was only after another set of fifteen minutes of solitude passed by that I started to pay attention to them, in my defense I had nothing better to do, so I ignore all politeness I had in me and started to stare unabashedly at the pair once they moved to the center of the room to dance.
The light was so gloomy I couldn't really see more than some blurry shapes but I could perceive which one was the man and which one was the giggly woman. There wasn't a dance-floor on this area exactly, it was simply a cleared space, free of table and booths, that allowed free-consciences and lust-filled people, like the couple I was watching, to dance and have their fun.
And fun they were having. There wasn't many bodies occupying the space among them but if they noticed they didn't care. She swung her hips provocatively and he responded by grabbing her waist firmly. She whipped her hair back and forth and he dipped her almost to the floor. She laughed eccentrically and he pressed his body on hers.
In that moment I envied them. I had never been this comfortable with José, this excited, this relaxed. It seemed unfair for me to have them shove their good-mood into my face so explicitly. In reality that made no sense, but in reality too, the heart doesn't always make sense.
I sighed and in that moment Jessica appeared with two colorful drinks in her hands. She had an apologetic grin on her face but a glint in her eyes that said she wasn't truly sorry. I ignored that and simply took my drink out of her grip downing it in one sip. The alcohol burned slightly on my throat but it felt damned good.
"Damn Annie," Jessica said as she sat down on the chair opposite to me. "I won't be able to keep up with you if you're going to be like that."
I shrugged but gave her a slight smile. "I was thirsty."
"I can see. Look, I'm sorry it took me so long, but you see that guy? I mean the bartender. I used to date his friend but he was a douche so we didn't last long. Anyways I've always had a thing for him – Anton, that's the bartender – but we couldn't get involved because I've dated his friend and there's some guy code that prohibited him to do such thing, you know?"
I didn't know because I'd never been in that situation but I nodded anyways as if I understood perfectly. "Yeah."
"Well, anyways, apparently Anton and my ex are no longer friends because like I said, Carl was a douche, and that makes things so much easier. I hadn't seen him in years but it felt like it was yesterday the last time we spoke. He's so chilled. It's crazy. But well, I lost track of time back there but I'm super excited now."
"Because you and Anton can be together?" I supplied.
"I wouldn't put it like that, but yeah, at least we can fuck with no guilty feelings." She winked at me and I laughed. That was Jessica alright. Unafraid to get what she wanted, unashamed to follow her desires.
I looked at my empty margarita glass and scrunched my nose. I wanted to let my inhibitions go too. And if I needed alcohol's help, so be it, I'd get more. "I'm going to get another drink. Do you want something?"
She shook her head and lifted her untouched drink. "Nah, I'm good."
I nodded and got up from my seat, at that moment, another loud giggle made its way to my ears and caught my attention. I turned my head sideways to look at the couple on the dance floor again. Now that I was up I could see better their figures and faces. The woman was tall and nicely built, her hair was long and blonde, her lips surgically full. The man was even taller and even nicer built.
They swirled once again and my blood froze. The empty margarita glass that was tightly gripped on my hand fell to the floor and shattered in a million pieces next to me.
The noise wasn't very audible over the loud music but some eyes turn my way and I didn't think twice about sinking back into my seat. My heart was drumming so vigorously on my chest it physically hurt. My hands became sweaty and shaky. My body simultaneously heated and cooled by the shock I'd suffered.
"Ana?" Jessica asked. I focused my vision on her but her face was nothing but a distorted image. Everything I could see was the couple twirling and laughing on the dance-floor, the incredibly sculpted woman clenching the upper arm of that handsome man. That handsome, troublesome, unforgettable man.
I groaned and covered my face with my palms. Could this really be happening to me?
Why, in the first night I've gone out, had I to encounter my shameful dirty secret with another woman? Had I been such a bad person in my past life that I needed to get punished this way?
"Ana, what is it?" Jessica insisted with a frown on her forehead. "Common, talk to me. Are you alright?"
The only response I managed was another groan and a shake of my head. She kept staring at me, concerned, and expectant, so I opened my fingers slightly and whispered. "That guy…" I didn't finish because I didn't know what to say exactly.
Jessica whipped her head around in a heart beat and then faced me with wide eyes and an open mouth. "Oh my god," She breathed. "Is that guy you're ex-fiancé? Is he here enjoying his night with that skank? What a prick!"
I tried to shake my head once more but she was too worked up to notice my gesture.
"I'm going there right now! Who does he thinks he is? He's an asshole that's what! And I'm going to tell it right to his face." She prepared to get up but I managed to grab her arm just in time.
God, it would be horrific if she went there and did that! It would only bring attention to me and that was the last thing I wanted right now. I sighed and pondered silently my options. Should I tell her the truth? That I had paid a man to have sex with me and that the man was right there dancing and twirling and flirting with another woman? Probably she was another client. Or worst, his girlfriend.
"No!" I exclaimed as firmly as I could. "That's not José."
Jessica quirked her eyebrow up and stared inquisitively at me. I still wasn't sure about the telling part but I liked hanging out with her. And she was truly earning my trust. Perhaps I should just believe in our friendship and say it once and for all. Plus I was trying to be unafraid and unashamed. I had to start somewhere.
"Then who is he?" She tried once more with a calmer tone.
"He's Grey. He works for SilverKnights as an escort. A male escort." I dipped my head farther between my hands – if that was possible – just to prevent my friend from see the heat in my cheeks flaring up.
"Okay… And what does that have to do with you?"
"I hired him." I confessed as quickly as the air in my lungs allowed me to.
"Oh." She said. Then her eyes widen further and she let out a small gasp. "Oh! Ana! You dirty little minx! When did you do that?"
"Just before I started to work at Allure."
"Oh my god! I didn't know you have it in you. So?" She was getting way excited than I imagined she'd be. It's like she was actually having fun with it, and not in a judgmental kind of way. I breathed in relief.
"How was it?" She prompted her elbows on the table leaning slightly forward.
"Un-fucking-believable." I admitted with a giggle.
"Oh, that sounds so dirty." Jessica's head whipped around again. This time she took longer analyzing the pair that still stood on the dancing-space, completely oblivious to our conversation. "He's really hot. I mean smoking hot. His face looks familiar though."
"I served him at Allure once. Perhaps he went there before as well."
"Perhaps," She agreed still ogling the man. I didn't blame her for that, I'd be ogling him too if I didn't felt so ashamed and jealous.
It's not that I had any kind of claim over him. Entertaining me had been his job. I had paid and he had delivered. Simple as that. No feelings should be involved on either part. And so far I've managed just fine with that notion, but now, seeing him with another woman made my blood boil.
Grey had been the turning point in my life. The first rash decision I've made. The first time I'd felt truly desired. The best sex I've ever had.
I wanted to keep that memories bottled up in my mind. I wanted them to be clean and perfect and naughty. But now I was having this visual of what it really had been like, a cold business transaction, and it was shattering my fantasies apart.
Was it asking too much to not want to see your dream-man having the time of his life with other person? I knew he wasn't mine to claim, but couldn't he avoid flaunting his other partners at my face?
"Oh god," I breathed finally releasing my flushed face from my sweaty hands. "I've never sank so low."
Jessica turned towards me again. "What do you mean?"
I rolled my eyes as if her question was too obvious. And it was, for me, at least. "I've paid a man to have sex with me. That's really bordering on desperate."
My friend didn't seem fazed by my confession and she only laughed and took a sip of her drink. "What's wrong with that? I mean, I obviously don't think you need to pay anyone to get down and dirty with you, but male escorts are supposed to be experts in the matter. It's supposed to be one of a kind, earth-shaking, experience."
I smiled, a weight lifted from my shoulders, only Jessica would see the positive side on that and embrace it with no problem. "I suppose. In reality it feels just like prostitution. Only more expensive."
My fiery-haired friend laughed very loudly at that and I couldn't help but join in. I was truly glad to have encountered her along the way. It felt like she just belonged in my new life perfectly.
"Do you want to go away though?" She asked after our guffaws died down.
"Because he's with Miss Fake Double D's." She had a look of pure empathy and concern on her face as if she understood perfectly what I was feeling. Perhaps she did and that was what made me decide we wouldn't go away from the club. Jessica had been wishing to come here and have fun for quite a while and now that we managed to accomplish that I wouldn't ruin the night.
Chicks before dicks. I guess. Or something like that.
The point was that I wouldn't ruin my friend's fun over some guy that happens to be with another woman. Some guy that shouldn't meant nothing for me.
Plus it wasn't even his fault really. He just did his job. I couldn't blame him for being mighty good at it.
"No," I shook my head and tried to appear confident in my decision. "I mean, it's not like I'm enjoying seeing him with other girl, but it's his job and I've only to…"
"Rip the skank's extensions off her head?" Jessica interrupted finishing my sentence with a wicked expression on her face.
That made me giggle too. "That would be funny." I agreed solemnly. "But I really just want to ignore them all together. We're here to enjoy ourselves."
Jessica stamped her hand on the table and grinned widely. "That's my girl!" She beamed. "You're absolutely right. We aren't going anywhere. We're staying right here and showing that freaking escort knight what he's missing out!"
I wasn't so sure about the last part. I was on total agreement with having fun and not going anywhere else but I meant it when I said I wanted to ignore Grey and his date.
Apparently, though, my friend had others ideas because before I could even stop her, she stormed off to the bar and came back with a tray full of shots.
"I'm not sure that's a good idea," I hesitated when she handled me three single shots of tequila.
"Oh, common babe! Where's that girl that hired a damned male prostitute to care for her needs?" Jessica argued back with a stern face. "I want to meet her. I think she fucking rocks and she just needs a little encouragement to come out of her shell a little more."
Her eyes told me she was telling the absolute truth and deep down I was glad. She was right. I needed to be coaxed out off my self-consciousness more. And wasn't I just thinking, earlier in the night, how far I've come from library mouse to rash decision maker? And how good it felt to be free?
I didn't answer, instead I completely ignored the lime and the salt on the table, and drowned the first shot without warning. I let out a little yelp of excitement when I finished and a powerful truly satisfied grin split my face in two.
"You're right." I confessed and then it was shot after shot, lick after lick, suck after suck.
The night started to get very entertaining after that. We talked and laughed and shared jokes and observed others and I was having the most fun I'd remember in years. But after too many drinks my bladder couldn't take it anymore.
I got up a bit too dizzy and made my way to the bathroom with shaky, uncertain steps. I was just entering the private hallway that gave me access to it when I bumped into something incredibly hard. I fell flat on the ground. My heels didn't provide me enough security to keep my balance on and my vision was already too blurry to make anything out. I couldn't be sure if the hard thing I've smashed against had appeared out of nowhere or had already been there.
"I'm sorry." Someone told me. Apparently I'd bumped into a person. A male. And guess my luck? Exactly.
"Ana?" I heard him ask after a while.
"Oh god," I breathed still sprawled on the floor. Neither my position nor my state were very elegant but seeing as Grey was staying just inches away from me, I'd rather be on the ground than looking into his perfectly sculpted and sinful features. My heart wouldn't survive at that.
I cursed mentally and avoid lifting my gaze at all costs.
Unfortunately it seemed as if he wasn't about to let me stay put on the floor, and before I knew it, I had his arms around my waist pulling up and straight into his rocked-hard chest.
Damn. I was so fucked.