Kitty tried to focus her eyes. She was in a strange room; a vague smell of cologne made her stomach turn. The walls were beige with brown and grey trim and the sheets on the bed were … satin? Black satin? Did real people actually own black satin sheets? What sort of den of inequity had she fallen into? A brothel? She must have somehow gotten tricked into going to a brothel and now she was no doubt being held prisoner and would be forced to work there!
She always knew she would end badly if she strayed from the path. Now here she was doomed to a life of … of … whoredom. That was the word: whoredom.
Would they chain her to the bed or was this a high-class place that gave the illusion of freedom of movement and complicity by the girls? Satin sheets—not a double wide with an air mattress.
Her head ached. It was all too much. Clearly, she had drunk too much and someone must have drugged her. Her mouth was so dry—so dry. She was going to die of dehydration. That was next: Her whoredom would be short-lived due to dehydration.
She had to pee. Maybe vomit. It wasn’t looking like a very good morning, all in all. Whoredom, headache, dry mouth, vomit, really, it was the full McDonald’s Happy Meal of bad ways to start a day.
She hauled herself to the edge of the bed and swung her legs over the side. She balanced her head in her hands and anchored her elbows on her knees, in an attempt to make the room stop spinning.
“Good morning, beautiful,” a deep male voice sang at the door. She turned her head to see a man coming, holding a tray. “How are you feeling?” He held the try with one hand and with the other, extended the legs underneath it and set it on the bed next to her.
“You looked like you were feeling a little rough.”
He ripped open a foil package and dropped two Alka-Seltzer in a glass of water and handed it to her. He accepted it unsteadily.
“Thank you,” she whispered, while trying to piece together how Scott was involved in her capture to the brothel. She remembered going to the beach with him last night. She remembered a lot of alcohol—a lot. First liquor and beer, followed by champagne. That probably hadn’t been wise.
“Drink that down and then you can have some toast,” he pointed to the tray. She noticed it also had a Bloody Mary.
Scott followed her eyes. “A little hair of the dog,” he shrugged. “Some people go in for it. I didn’t know where you fell on the spectrum of tried-and-true hangover remedies.”
He swept his hand to indicate the contents of the tray, which also held a cup of black coffee and a glass of what appeared to be plain water. And a rose. There was a rose in bud vase. How had she not noticed that first thing?
Kitty sipped the Alka-Seltzer gratefully and tried to smile. “Thank you, Scott. I thought I was dying.”
“Nothing that hasn’t happened to many people before and won’t happen to many more after you,” he chuckled. “Of course, being myself pure as the driven snow, I have no such experience with such things.”
He laughed again at his joke and leaned in a gave her a rueful smile. “It really is OK,” he said.
She looked around the room and took in more of the surroundings. Her mind was beginning to clear. She wasn’t in a brothel after all. She must be in Scott’s bedroom, which was decorated like Hugh Heffner on a budget: satin sheets, faux bear rug and faux leather furniture.
“Do you think you can handle some toast?” he asked gently.
“Thank you,” she rasped and reached for the water with her other hand. She sipped the water and nibbled the toast, trying to give both her head and stomach time to catch up with her realizations.
“I’m so sorry,” she finally whispered. “I’m sorry for you to see me like this. I’m sorry you are taking care of me. But this really, really is lovely Scott. Thank you. I am sorry.”
“There is nothing to apologize for,” he reassured her. She gave him a questioning and fearful look. “Do you remember much of last night?” he asked.
She shook her head no.
“Well, I do.” He moved the tray to the floor and pulled her into his arms. “It was like nothing I have ever seen before.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, looking up at him fearfully. “How bad was it? How bad was I?”
“Not bad, not bad. But I have never seen a woman drink tequilla like that before. Or beer—let alone chase it all with wine and champ …”
Her face was turning green.
“I’m sorry I will stop talking about liquor. Do you remember dancing on the beach with me? Under the stars?”
She nodded and blushed. They were naked and she could feel him rising to her with anticipation.
“Do you remember what came afterward?”
“Some of it…” she admitted. “I think I passed out.”
“You did, a couple of times,” he agreed. “But that’s OK. You kept coming to and talking with me about Jeffrey Chen.”
Her hands went cold at the mention of Jeffrey’s name. “I did? What did I say?”
“You went on at great length about his death, his ‘murder,’ you called it, and your loathing for the DA. You aren’t alone in that opinion by the way … and let’s see, you also hate the police, the director, the producers, the props guys, our illustrious, and fearless leader at the paper, the judicial system and most of the Hollywood establishment. I might have forgotten one or two, but you did go on at some length.”
She hid her face in her hands “I am so sorry,” she said. “Soooo sorry.”
“Well, it’s not what I had in mind for a first date—but it was most entertaining,” Scott rallied.
“First date?” she echoed in confusion.
“Well, yes.” Scott looked at her. “Unless you don’t want to see me again.”
“But what about … what about…”
“What about what?”
“What about Stacey?” she blurted out.
“Well, she broke up with me. So I am a free agent,” he shrugged. “What about her?”
Everything, Kitty thought. Everything about her. She took a deep breath and steadied herself.
“Scott, I am a basically unsuccessful freelance reporter, who lives with a father who is a glorified grave digger for the federal government. My mother was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run drunk-driving case, and as far as I can tell, I am a total mess with no future. Not to mention, well, Stacey is very beautiful.”
Scott nodded slowly. “She is. She is very beautiful. But so are you.”
“Don’t tease me,” she pulled away.
He pulled her back and fondled her breasts. “At the risk of being crude, she might be pretty but she doesn’t have these,” he smiled. “And you certainly can’t do this with them.”
He buried his face in her cleavage.
She laughed. “OK, thanks.”
“I like you. You might not believe that but I do. I have for a long time. I would like to get to know you when you drop the hard-edged reporter mask and have some fun. As for the future: Well, you have a lot of fire and a lot of potential, and you are going to land on your feet, Kitty. There is something waiting for you—and you work too hard for it not to come to you. Do you think you are the first writer to have a setback?”
She stared at him and tried to decide if she could or should believe him.
‘“Nooooo,” she said slowly. “I don’t suppose I am. Have you ever had one?”
“Of course, and I will again. And so will you. These are not easy jobs we have chosen. But … how about we talk about it more over brunch? Do you think you could handle brunch?” he smiled.
“Well with the fabulous breakfast you just brought me in bed, I’m not really hungry.”
She glanced at him sideways.
“But I could be persuaded to finish up the contents of the tray … in bed.”
His hand crept back toward her breasts. “Could you now?” he circled her right nipple with his finger.
She nodded. “I don’t want to pressure you or anything. I don’t know what kind of plans you had today…”
Gwenyfar Rohler is encore’s fact-or-fiction writer for 2018. Her serial story, “Singing in the Dead of Night,” follows the death of a young movie star and the emotional aftermath that follows, as local media try to uncover the events leading up to the high-profile “murder,” which takes place while filming in Wilmington, NC. Catch up on previous chapters at encorepub.com.