Susan staggered back when the door popped open. The exotic beauty, Renata, took one look at her, and her lips slowly curled up into that gorgeous smile of hers.
“Um…oh!” Susan exclaimed.
Officer Schwartz wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree but, even he noticed that Susan’s professional demeanor faltered for half a beat. He leered at Renata and then cut his gaze to Susan with curiosity.
Susan regained her composure quickly but not quickly enough.
Damn it, Schwartz knows I know her. How am I going to explain this?
“Ma’am, we received a noise complaint from your neighbor. Susan said.
“It sounds like someone is under duress. Do you mind if we come in?” Officer Schwartz asked.
Renata’s tone was soft and soothing. Maybe even a little patronizing. “Unfortunately, I do mind. I know my rights, and unless you have probable cause, or are invited in, you are not permitted to enter. I cannot let you enter. Because you see, I am having an adult party. For the discretion of my guests, I do not think it wise to let you come in. However, I can assure you everything is fine. Perhaps things just got a bit – loud…” Renata’s voice trailed off on the last word, and she grinned wickedly.
She’d have to thank Henry later on for coming up behind her just as she was finishing her statement. He sidled up next to her in the doorway. He was only wearing a man-thong and black eye mask. He donned a riding crop in one hand. “Everything okay?” He asked, looking from the officers to Renata.
Schwartz’s face broke into a scrutinizing once-over at Henry’s outfit. Or rather lack thereof. The officer’s disgust oozing from his expression was impossible to miss.
Susan cleared her throat. “Well, it’s on record that you’ve had noise complaints in the past from your parties, ma’am. Just remember the noise curfew in the neighborhood is 2 a.m. on weekends,” Susan said. “As long as everything is okay, we’ll be on our way.”
“Everything is fine,” Renata soothingly reassured.
Officer Schwartz turned immediately to head back to the car, leaving Susan behind. She was about to follow when Renata whispered softly, “It’s good to see you again, Susan.”
Susan didn’t know what to say, so she nodded. “Just – keep it down.”
“It would seem the tables have turned. I am the loud one tonight,” Renata smirked playfully.
Susan opened her mouth to say something and closed it tight.
Henry looked between the two of them and smiled knowingly. He turned on his heel and left them alone.
Susan bowed her head in a parting gesture and tried to turn and leave, but Renata’s hand shot out and gently grabbed Susan’s wrist. Susan stopped and looked up.
“When are you off your shift?” Renata asked.
“I—” Susan hesitated, not sure how to answer. The sexual gratification and emotions she’d felt on that one night hit her like a gale-force wind practically knocking her backward. Sure, she’d love to have a repeat of that night, but this was not the time to discuss it. And yet, what were the odds in a city with millions, she’d see this woman in a chance encounter again?
Renata was studying her face, and sensing her reticence said, “You are busy. I am sorry. I am perhaps out of line to ask you that question. I tell you what. I will be awake until three a.m. Usually, my guests are gone by one. It takes me a bit to clean up and wind down. I will extend an open invitation. Now that you know where I live, come back if you are off before three.” Renata smiled and quickly closed the door before Susan could respond.
Susan slowly made her way down the twenty-foot walkway to the curb where their car was parked and got in.
“What was that about?” Schwartz was on her like a rabid dog who’d just found a meaty bone.
“What was – what – about?” Susan said.
“Don’t give me that bullshit,” He said. “You acted like you knew her. She was talking to you before you left. What did she say?”
None of your damn business… “She was asking me if I went to that Starbucks often?”
“Starbucks!?” Schwartz said incredulously. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I saw her in my local Starbucks this morning. She was actually in line behind me and asked me for the time. She usually uses her Google pay or Fitbit or something, to pay for her drink, but it had just died.”
“No kidding?” Schwartz asked.
“Yeah, uncanny, huh? The line was pretty long. She wasn’t sure if she had time to go back to her car and wait in line again. I offered to hold her place so she could run and get her phone or wallet or whatever.”
Schwartz grunted then mumbled, “Small world.” He glanced over at her, then eyes were back on the road.
Susan sighed and looked out the window. She was unsure if he bought the story or not, but his lack of further interrogation would indicate he did. The best lies were mingled with truth. At least that’s what she’d always heard. She ordinarily hated telling even a little white lie like that, but she’d be damned if she was going to tell her “good ole’ buddy” Schwartz even a sliver of the truth.
The remainder of the evening was quiet – odd for a Saturday night – but Susan was grateful. Her shift ended at one a.m., and Schwartz seemed itching with impatience to be done and gone. Payday had commenced only twelve hours prior – and The Little Lady Bar and Casino was Schwartz’s favorite haunt. Susan only knew this from all the free casino merch that littered his desk. Pens, cups, tokens, a water bottle, little plastic membership cards… One might have questioned if he worked there instead of the LVPD.
What was the difference between vice and addiction? Susan, being no stranger to the addicts’ persona, had maintained a personal philosophy. A vice was a potentially addictive lure that you wanted to indulge in but could ultimately control. An addiction was a leech-like monster that controlled you, through slowly sucking away the essence of your life. The interesting thing was when a vice latched on and morphed into an addiction, you were already half-drained, and a slave to feeding the monster, believing you had to have it to live at all.
For this reason, Susan had always kept a vigilant torch of caution burning in her mind concerning anything that could unsuspectingly latch onto her and drag her to the pits of hell where she was sure her mother resided.
Susan rarely drank. Had never done drugs, even the 4/20. Caffeine, coffee, energy drinks, were something she was careful with as well.
There were only fifteen minutes left on the clock. Schwartz was bellowing out some joke to the dispatch officer who’d gotten off half an hour ago but liked to linger. It was like the dispatch officer Jones didn’t have a life outside of work. The two of them cajoled back and forth about nothing in particular.
Schwartz had barely touched his paperwork. She bit back her anger and forced a mild tone as she suggested that he ‘go ahead and start his weekend early – she’d finish up hers and then do his.’
“You aren’t half bad, Riley. Keep this up and you’ll graduate from being a rookie in no time.” He clapped her on the shoulder as he gathered his things from his desk.
Susan cringed at his touch. She didn’t think she could hide her annoyance even if she tried. She ground her teeth and shifted back to her desk work so he couldn’t see her face. She was tired. It had been a long a week.
As Susan finished up her paperwork and then Schwartz’s, her mind drifted to Renata. Her thoughts hadn’t been far from the woman all evening long. Damn, she had looked sexy in that corset and those leather pants.
She couldn’t lie, she felt the pull of temptation luring her back to the possibility of another earth-shattering night. Renata had all but shouted the invite at her. She didn’t want a relationship though, and she didn’t want to become a slave to casual sex, even if it was with the most alluring woman she’d ever been with.
People argued that sex couldn’t become an addiction, but Susan knew that anything that stimulated endorphins could become an addiction. Besides, she’d never done “the friends with benefits” setup, and she wasn’t about to start now.
As she got in her car to head home, the warning bells were firing off, that she shouldn’t go. Yet, she found herself not traversing the autopilot path homeward. She found herself driving on the roads, which would take her back to Renata’s place. She absolutely knew it was a bad idea to go back. But if she could handle having two to three drinks at a bar and not become an alcoholic, was this any different? She didn’t know, but she was tired of fighting with herself. Struggling to maintain perfect control of every lurid emotion that bubbled up.
Several times she made her way to the turnoff and passed by it, going around the block. After three times around, something like wild abandon, fueled by exhaustion, coursed through her. That place where people say ‘fuck-it’ right before jumping out of the skydiving plane – hoping beyond hope their parachute opens. She knew she was at that place, and honestly, she wasn’t sure she cared.
What could one more night hurt?
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