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Authors: Mason N. Forbes

Tags: #Fiction, #Retail, #Suspense, #Thrillers

Bitter Sweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitter Sweet

 

 

 

Mason N. Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Image Mason N. Forbes

Copyrigh
t
©
Mason N. Forbes 2013.

 

The right of Mason N. Forbes to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.

 

All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

Conditions of Sale

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any other form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

 

 

 

Thank you to all the people who made this book possible.

You know who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

“Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.” Shunryu Suzuki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All names
and identities are fictitious; any resemblance to person or persons in real life is merely coincidental.

The geographical locations are intentionally blurred, because as you will find out
identity can in the escort business be of paramount significance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

 

1

 

 

 

I was running late as usual. Mike was waiting at the door to the apartment, he’s always on time. I flashed him a big smile. What did he have in the shopping bag? He’d texted, wanting to drop by with a little something for me. There was still time before the three o’clock client arrived and I decided to invite Mike in, although he didn’t have an appointment. I opened the door and Mike, the perfect gentleman,  stood to the side letting me go first. We both went into the sitting room and sat down, facing each other on the black, leather sofas.

‘Couldn’t resist it,’ Mike said, pulling a Valentine’s teddy out of the bag.

He had that coy smile on his face, not sure whether I would really like the present. But then he knows me well enough and the rules of the trade – never contradict the client.

‘It’s sweet,’ I said, holding the teddy to my chest. It was sweet, although he’d probably got it on the cheap just after Valentine’s Day. I smiled at Mike. It was the gesture, creating one of those little moments of empathy which happen when the façade drops.

My work phone rang. I looked at it, not recognising the number. Mike watched me as I lifted the phone.

‘Hello,’ I said, my attention fully focused. The client wanted an immediate appointment. I told him that the earliest would be five o’clock.

I could see Mike studying me – his insatiable curiosity.

Five o’clock didn’t suit. I hung up.

‘Fascinating,’ Mike said.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Within a few seconds you had the caller made.’

‘He’s off work early.’

Mike frowned.

‘The wife is waiting at home with the kids. She knows when he should be home – opportunity.’

‘I bet you could tell some stories?’

I chuckled and looked at Mike. He
was serious. I grinned, recollecting a few of the funny incidents which had occurred working as an escort. ‘I could, but I won’t.’ I stilled my fingers. I’d been unconsciously fiddling at a piece of skin on my index finger.

My mobile rang again. I was expecting it to be the three o’clock appointment phoning for directions – he would only be given the apartment number just before the appointed time. He was a first-time client and, well, all the listening over the phone helped, but you didn’t know until you opened the door.

I looked at the number, it wasn’t the three o’clock appointment. I pressed the answer button. ‘Hello?’

A man asked in broken English if I was free. I didn’t like the sound of his voice and told him I wasn’t. He said he’
d phone again. I hoped to heck he wouldn’t as his voice was way too freaky.

‘What’s wrong?’ Mike asked, sitting up.

I turned my head and looked out the window. ‘Oh, nothing.’

‘What is it?’ Mike persisted.

‘The caller, sounded a bit odd. I told him I was busy.’

‘And?’

‘He said he’d phone back.’ I stood up. ‘Mike, you’ll have to go, it’s almost three.’ 

I walked him to the door. He gave me a big hug and then took hold of my hands. ‘Take care,’ he said. ‘I’d hate it if something were to happen to you.’

I closed the door behind Mike, took a deep breath and tried to put the weird caller out of my mind.

 

2

 

 

 

 

Two weeks later and
Mike was back. This time he’d made an appointment, and he’d brought a cake with him. Cheeky.

‘I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet,’ I said, pulling up my top, ‘think of what that’ll do to my six-pack look.’

‘You’ve been in the tanning studio.’

‘Didn’t get the tan in this weather.’

I took a deep breath. I couldn’t settle. Was it the upcoming appointments, not yet ready to slip into the role of everything being a frigging bed of roses and big smiles? Or was it the phone call, still nagging at the back of my mind?

I’d taken the call just before lunch, it was the same foreign accent and the same broken English – the same guy who’d phoned two weeks ago. I thought he’d forgotten about me. I’d forgotten about him. Yet again, he’d really set my nerves on edge and I couldn’t work out why he
had this effect upon me. I again told him that I was busy. He didn’t get the hint and said he’d phone again. This time the phrase had stuck, like a blasted earworm, constantly repeating itself. Somehow it was almost a threat – reminded me of the first Terminator film, when Arnold walks into the police station, sizes the place up and says; “I’ll be back.”

‘What’s bothering you?’ Mike asked.

I turned and looked at him. A frown creased his forehead and his eyes were full of concern. ‘I had a hard morning, that’s all.’

‘You’re deflecting—’

‘What do you mean?’

‘It’s part of what you’re good at – avoiding questions, changing the subject, posing a question to avoid answering one.’

I shook my head. ‘Wasn’t doing that with you.’       

‘Okay, but something is troubling you. I can see that.’

Damn, I didn’t want to tell him about the caller . . . and I
had
been deflecting. ‘Forget it.’ I looked at my watch, only a few more hours to go. On Tuesdays I always left early for my Spanish lessons.

I smiled at Mike. ‘Once I close the door at night, it’s all forgotten.’

‘You close the door,’ Mike said, ‘and go home. Two worlds. That’s the idea isn’t it? What happens in here stays in here. But it’s not so easy, is it? Intimacy is in the mind, not the body, that’s the mantra. Doesn’t always work? Some clients are in your head when you walk out the door of this apartment.’ Mike smiled sadly. ‘The good, the bad and the ugly.’

‘Shit, I don’t need psychology from you.’

‘Come on, Nina; I’m not a shrink. You said it yourself. When you take a day off, you can’t sit still on your bum for five minutes.’

‘Mike, that’s enough.’

‘You have to keep yourself busy – anything, clean the house, anything. But for God’s sake you can’t sit down and do nothing.’

‘I said that’s enough. Now get out!’

Mike didn’t move. I sat staring at him, annoyed, but yet somehow fascinated, wanting to know more.

Mike crossed his legs and looked out the window. ‘Do you want me to go?’

‘Damn you.’

I knew what he was getting at. Somehow he was right, but he wasn’t interested in being right. And I was hiding from the truth – there were days when I couldn’t close the door, properly.

Mike really was too nice. He didn’t want sex; he came to see me and to talk. I doubted that any woman who
hadn’t
worked in the sex trade would believe that a man came to visit an escort just to talk. Perversely, I reckoned that were I in a steady relationship and my boyfriend visited an escort I wouldn’t believe him either. And Mike was not the only such client. I had a few who came to talk, for them it was an escape from the demands of work, children and stressed-out marriages, a chance to talk freely without interruption and judgement.

Most clients came to have sex; the married ones often preferring a blowjob, the rationale being that a blowjob didn’t really count as cheating.

Mike was a whole different ballgame. He saw me as a person with the same hopes, fears and desires as anyone else. Illogically that was harder for me to deal with as the average client, who despite appearing to treat me in a natural and respectful way, did ultimately see me as a sex object – theirs to fondle, caress and to screw – and that was it; an exchange of money for a service.

Working as a escort provided a good, solid income
, one which allowed me to pay all the bills including my university fees. There were upsides to the job, the best one being the thrill of having a fat wad of notes at the end of a busy day – it did suck you in. But there was also the darker side. Mike had not been far off when he had called it the good, the bad and the ugly – sex could be any of the three, just as the clients could be any of the three.

3

 

 

 

‘Did the policeman get in contact again?’ Mike asked. He was standing at the window, looking out at the rain teeming down. 

‘He did,’ I said, moving over to the sofa. The last time Mike had been to visit I’d told him about how I’d met a policeman at night school.

‘And?’ Mike asked, turning around.

‘Went out for dinner.’

Mike looked at me. I knew he was waiting for me to say something more. None of his damned business.

‘Good for you, Nina.’             

That threw me. I had been expecting the obvious – are you going to see him again. The cop was definitely at the higher end of the going-out-with scale. Pretty obvious, really, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone on the date. And it’s nice to be able to go on a real date, instead of always having to act the part to the clients – I have my own emotional world.   

‘He’s asked me to go to a dinner-dance.’

‘That will be nice.’

‘He plays golf.’

‘So, what’s the problem?’

Didn’t really want to tell Mike. Well, I’d asked, sort of. ‘A lot of people. If it goes wrong at the start, it’ll be hard to get away.’ I saw Mike raise his eyebrows, not understanding my dilemma. ‘Clients, Mike. High chance of bumping into one.’

‘Nina,’ Mike said. ‘Don’t go down that road, it just leads to paranoia.’

I shook my head. I knew exactly what I was talking about. The parallel lives, both a type of prison. In the life of an escort you learn to automatically tell lies, a life of conforming to the demands of the client, twisting and turning, always covering your true identity. You want to hold on to a semblance of a private life – the worst fear being; exposure.

And then there was the other side – living a private life. Making friends had always been easy and I had a large group of social acquaintances. That, I suppose, was part of the problem. They all led normal lives with boyfriends or husbands, and I
, being an attractive single female had to put up with the inevitable attempts at matchmaking, or the puzzled looks as to why I was single. And then there were the doubts – has someone cottoned-on? Then there were the words and sentences with double meanings; cutting right through your defences, striking your worst fears. Or the innocent innuendos, cropping up in normal conversation; forcing you to laugh, forcing another mask to slip into place – to cover that worry; was it directed at me? Did they know? Had I acted naturally enough that no one noticed?

I pulled my knees up under my chin. It was all getting terribly personal, and that, I didn’t like. It was forcing me to look at things I tried to ignore.

Mike went to place a hand on my shoulder. I pushed him away.

He stood up and went back to staring out the window. After a few minutes, he turned to look at me. ‘So, are you going to go to the dinner-dance?’

‘Maybe,’ I said. ‘But you still don’t get it. You’re at the dance and a client recognises you. That’s it over – your cover’s blown. Will the client keep his yap shut? Or is it only a matter of time before the whispers get back to your date?’

Mike was staring at me. I could see the compassion in his eyes. Now he was beginning to understand my life and its dilemmas.

‘Someone really rattled your cage today.’

‘Yes, Mike;
you
did. You and your curiosity.’

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.’

‘Thank you, apology accepted.’ It was time to get back to the things I wanted to talk about. ‘Did you see the news about the three Czech girls?’

They’d been working out of the apartment block next door. And the cops had been sniffing about
in this
apartment block; the Merchant building.

‘The ones charged with running a brothel?’

‘The law is a real beauty, isn’t it?’

‘What are you getting at?’ Mike asked.

‘The three of them were sharing an apartment. That’s a no-no to start with. What really sank them was the one girl was answering the phones for all of them. She was the only one who could speak English. And, I bet the whole sorry mess goes back to that footballer who was exposed with two girls in his hotel bedroom.’

‘The press had a field day with that,’ Mike said. ‘And to crown it all some local politician then started bleating on about morals.’

‘Today’s judgement will make him feel good. I wonder if he’s given it a thought as to how those girls’ lives have been wrecked.’

‘I doubt it,’ Mike said.

The whole sorry story had gotten me wound up. Alone the misinformation in the press was amazing. They didn’t seem to be clear on the fact that prostitution is legal, but then a lot of clients aren’t sure about that either, never mind Joe Public.

‘One of the girls was saving to get married.’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘Nope. That only came out after today’s judgement.’

‘And now,’ Mike said, shaking his head, ‘she has a criminal record.’

‘That’s the biggie. Think about it, what if that had been me, what chances would I have of getting a job? What’s an employer going to think if he knows I’ve slept with hundreds of men for money?’

‘You’re safe here,’ Mike said, shaking my knee. ‘All perfectly legal, consenting adults and so on.’

‘I know, but “what if?”’

Mike sat upright. ‘That couldn’t happen in this building.’ He turned and looked into my eyes. ‘What should the law do?’

‘There’s always a lot of talk of us being the victims. And those three girls, okay they were either stupid or ignorant of the law, but the law has messed up their lives. They ended up being victims, you know, the press all over them, and then the whole thing being aired in an open court.

‘Any girl who gets caught, first time around, be it in a brothel or soliciting should have the charge dealt with behind closed doors, and if they are convicted their record must be restricted. The pimps, on the other hand, are the criminals, and they should be vilified and locked behind bars.’

My work phone rang. I took the call, it was the next client on his way. ‘Mike you’ve got to go.’

Shit, I’d also been wanting to talk to Mike about the
I’ll phone again
caller. He
had been
to visit Martha, who worked out of the apartment at the end of the corridor. She was long established in the trade with a finely honed ability to judge men. She’d told me he was an Albanian and that he was trouble. She’d turned him away.

I’d talked it over with Ivonne, the girl working next door, and she told me she knows someone who could be called upon if we needed help.

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