Lana Gail Taylor is lost in Colorado with a laptop and her salacious imagination. She has published several times in Playgirl Magazine, and has also contributed fiction to Dare for Women. Her stories appear in Sheiner's Ripe Fruit, Leslea Newman's Pillow Talk III, Cara Bruce's Best Bisexual Women's Erotica, and Girl Play, edited by Stacy Reed.
Creamy With a Cherry and Scotch Straight Up
Like a wire: slim, dark, and running through and around the pedestrian traffic. His target is an office building at 17th and Welton. He’s a nine-to-fiver sometimes. I’ve observed his drill week after week.
The legs of his slacks flap as he strides-swaggers, really. The navy jacket looks fitted, professional, but it’s too warm today for formalities. I wear a loose cotton skirt and a silk blouse and even so, or despite that, or because of it, I feel warm. Warm like him. Warm beneath the sun.
I smell grass, trees, nearby flowers, and the sidewalks hot as cookie sheets. I smell myself, too. Anticipation. I haven’t picked a name for him yet, but I think I like Gabriel Rodriquez. My tongue flicks over my bottom lip, tasting beads of sweat mixing with my lip balm, cherry.
* * *
This morning, Blue Eyes sold fruit. She watched me turning an apple over in my hands, the skin as red as a stripper’s lipstick. The stiff little stem twisted between my fingers. When it snapped, Blue Eyes asked me, “Does he love you or love you not?”
“When he knows me, he’ll love me.”
Meanwhile, Gabriel disappears inside an office building, swinging the briefcase in his hand as if he’d like to throw it, and the last watery chunk of apple slides down my throat.
* * *
The bookstore is where he goes when he exits the office building, the revolving door that spins like a carousel. He’s snakes through, around the throng of pedestrians like an ‘S’ while I press through the crowd, following, flicking my hips, head up, eyes on the back of his jacket. Gabriel swaggers. I flick. Swagger. Flick. Swagger. Flick. He shrugs out of his jacket. No briefcase now.
I feel my blouse pull against my breasts, no bra, bouncing. The nipples stand up and the buttons long to unravel from thread. I imagine silk blowing in the wind I create.
Men pass me. They look at the woman in motion: medium height but feeling leggy. Strands of my hair-not quite brown, not quite red-stick to my throat, all frizz-tangles.
* * *
I trail Gabriel down the magazine aisle; my low heels click on the floor. I slide up on his left, still a few feet away, but definitely in line with his peripheral vision. He flips through the pages of New Mystery magazine. I sense him looking in my direction just about the time I reach for my own selections wrapped in plastic: Penthouse, Hustler, Gallery, and Playboy. I line them up in front of him, one at a time.
“Recommend one, please?” I let my gaze meet his blue-brown eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses.
Gabriel appears off guard, like he’s wondering whether I’m kidding or not, trying to decide if he should tell me the truth. New Mystery goes back on the shelf and his finger points to the Penthouse. I study his choice for a moment, and then nod, picking it up, thick cool weight in my hand, before I tuck the magazine under my arm.
“Thank you.” I move to the cashier's line, detecting his indecision like an electrical current. I think of the apple, the twist, the stem coming off.
I’m outside when he catches up. “I was wondering,” he speaks quickly, “why you wanted to know about the magazines?”
“Research,” I state simply.
“A feminist thing?”
I lean into my hip, shrug; my blouse pulls against my nipples. His gaze unravels the thread from the buttons, and then his hand pushes his glasses up; his eyes return to my face. He doesn’t say anything.
“There are all sorts of feminists,” I tell him.
Gabriel scratches his head, oblivious to the strand that sticks up like a wire, a wing. “I can never figure it out.”
“Don’t try.” I smooth down the strand of hair, and it feels thick and a little coarse. My fingernails pierce plastic and rip. It’s sundown now, so I hold the centerfold up to the glow of a streetlight. “Does she turn you on?”
“You mean right this second, or if I were alone?”
Gabriel reaches for the magazine and our fingers bump into each other like two strangers in the street, hesitating, stalling, and then moving on without wanting to, polite. A shard of streetlight catches his glasses and bounces. He studies the color photograph of a woman with her legs parted lasciviously, purple tipped fingernail parting the Red Sea. He flips forward to a black and white pictorial. A pair of lovers with limbs entwined: mouths pressed together, yards of lustrous skin. Surreal.
I remove the magazine from my companion’s hands, tracing a bare thigh, a buttock with one finger. “They’re like poetry.” I look at him through the streetlight.
“You write?” he asks.
I nod, smiling.
“Same here. Mostly mysteries.”
“What sort of mystery are you writing now?”
“I’m still researching possibilities.”
“We’re both busy then.”
I notice a man and a woman coming toward us. The young man’s loafers hit the sidewalk heavy while the woman’s sandals flap beneath her thin heels, ankles. The pair strolls side by side, arms dangling and chins pointed in opposite directions. I’ve seen these two before and know they are together. The man’s hip collides with the woman’s waist. He glances at her and mouths something. She nods, distracted, beside me now, almost missing my stare. Then she stops. A curious smile spreads her lips. Her companion keeps moving and then pauses, befuddled. Penthouse shines beneath the streetlight.
I tell her, “We’ve decided on pages twenty-three through thirty. Take it. See what you think.”
The woman accepts the magazine, gripping it by the spine. The glossy pages flap in a breeze, and I catch a glimpse of breasts, a hip, the slope of an ass. Her companion stays where he is, craning his neck, furrowing blond brows. He calls out to her and she turns then looks back at me. With one quick motion she kisses me on the mouth. The woman returns to her lover. Their fingers interlace, bodies pressing through the crowd.
“Will that work for them?”
I almost feel Gabriel’s breath on my cheek. Heat on top of heat. Close.
“We might never know,” I answer.
Gabriel smiles in a way that piques my interest; his blinking eyes give nothing away. “Do you know them?” he asks, fingers pushing up his glasses.
“I’ve seen them around.” I glance up the block, and then at back at him. “I have somewhere to go.” And I walk. He follows.
* * *
We’re flicking, swaggering, inhaling block after block of persuasion: strip clubs, sex shops, and hard-core movie theaters. The air whistles, catcalls, whispers, and giggles. I feel eyes on my body, on his. At the corner of 47th and Broadway, I spot the cream exterior walls and a fuchsia marquee, a low rooftop. Pink carpet like a tongue leads to the doorway. Doors part like thighs. My partner stands beside me with a half-amused, half-intrigued grin.
Gabriel follows me inside. It feels warm, snug, low light. Sara Mclachlan is singing, "Building a Mystery." I scan the room for a strategically positioned table with excellent eyeshot but in shadows. When I find what I want, I touch my companion’s wrist, guiding him further in. We sit across from each other in bread-plump chairs. We meet each other’s eyes.
“Tell me something no one else knows about you,” I prompt him.
“I’m sitting inside a strip club right now.”
“First time?” I smile. “I would have guessed.”
“A few times.”
“You don’t think it’s degrading to women?” Gabriel grins at me.
“Degrading? This place is a woman’s womb. You’re at her mercy now.”
Gabriel rests his chin on his hand. “I’ve never heard it explained that way.”
“I’m using this place in my book.”
“Right. You’re a writer, too. Would I have read anything of yours?”
“Pretty soon, I bet.”
“What is the book about?”
“I’m not telling you that.”
More grins and a low chuckle.
I let my eyes drift to his mouth, chin, and then back up to his eyes behind the glasses. “Your book will be the second in what will end up a trilogy: tortured detective thing. He’s chasing something internal. What is that?”
Before Gabriel answers, the waitress poses herself beside our table, tray balanced on a thin, jutting hip. She wears a salmon spandex dress.
“What can I bring you?”
Gabriel and I peer at each other. I wait. “Bring her a scotch, straight up,” he says.
“Bring him something creamy with a cherry on top.”
The waitress departs. “I can’t wait to see what you get,” I tell him.
“A mystery?” he asks.
“Have you ever noticed that behind one mystery lurks another?”
I lean across the table. “So the two of us have wandered into a strip club and ordered each other drinks. What do you think we want?”
“Does this loop back to my detective?” Gabriel’s glasses slide down his nose. I push them back up.
The waitress returns with our order. Gabriel pays her quickly, as if to hurry her off. I read her nametag: “Mary,” and flash her a grin.
“Sit for a moment. I have a favor to ask.”
Mary plops into a chair between us.
“What do you think is under the table?” I ask.
Mary thinks a moment and then announces, “Your hand on his dick.”
I smile. “That’s a fine guess. Try again.”
“His hand on your pussy?”
tosses back the cherry and then swallows his drink whole. The glass hits
the table. It’s empty except for trails of cream that stick.
Mary bats blond eyebrows brows at me. “But you’re definitely wet down there.”
“Definitely,” I agree.
“And he’s got a hell of a boner,” Mary asserts. “You can see it in his eyes.”
“Thank you, Mary.” And I give her an extra tip.
I edge my chair around the table, closer to my companion, dipping my finger into my scotch and then pushing it through his lips. I feel the soft scrape of teeth, his hot tongue, slowly wiggling, wrapping around my nail and knuckle. The sides of his mouth massage my fingertip. His lips kiss my finger, my hand, my wrist. I shiver as he leaves trails of saliva on my skin. I lean forward to push my glossed lips against his cheek and leave pink on him.
“Is anticipation the best part?” I wonder aloud. “Not knowing?” I study his hands. I pick them up. I imagine the callous free skin, his fingers with the short, square nails touching my face before sliding down the front of my blouse, over the buds pushing at the silk, undoing the buttons, clasping my breasts as they tumble into his palms, kneading them, making me moan before he releases the bread-soft flesh to push my skirt up. He bends me over the table and grasps my hips to impale me. I open to him like soft apple. I come for him. He comes for me, too, deep inside, against the warm, cozy walls, cream sticking.
He’s watching me, and his eyes are glowing.
“I’ve made up a name for you,” I tell him.
“What is it?”
“Good pen name.”
“Gabriel was an angel behind his tough guy image.”
“I thought Michael was the tough angel?”
“All angels are tough and tortured.”
Gabriel nods, getting into this. “I guess I should make up one for you.” After thinking he says, “Avalon Terry.”
I tilt my head. “Like the myth?”
“Avalon was a magical land controlled by women, or witches depending on your interpretation of Camelot. King Arthur went there to die.”
“Does this mean you’re going to die in my arms tonight?”
“Wasn’t that a song?”
“The name of the band.” I look to center stage. It’s lighting up-diamond shaped platform glowing pink.
Lenny Kravitz sings, "I Belong to You" as the dancer walks onto the stage: timed strides, flicking hips, arms arched above her head. Jet-black hair cascades down her shoulders and back. She wears white leather. Her lips are painted red. Men gather around the stage offering dollars. Her smile looks dreamy, her eyes sharp as stones. She’s a stem twisting. When she finishes her set, she sees me. She knows where to look. Within moments, the dancer kisses my cheek, and I inhale cinnamon and something else I don’t know.
“Would you dance for my friend?” I ask.
Cinnamon’s red mouth parts as she begins to sway, first in front of me, and then in front of Gabriel. She removes her bra, gracefully and lets the strap of silk drop to his lap. His hands gather it up while Cinnamon braces herself on the arms of the chair; her breasts topple forward, dangling, swinging in front of his face. Gabriel’s mouth moves; he says something to her. Cinnamon leans further in, and black hair blankets the bulge in his pants.
I breathe quicker, pushing my crotch against the plump cushions of my seat. Not firm enough. Cinnamon removes all her leather and bends over, inviting Gabriel into the Red Sea. I grab a firm corner of cushion, pushing, pushing, and if he looks at me, touches me…. Cinnamon swings around, hair flying. She dips her face to kiss Gabriel, and I see what he saw a moment before. Red Sea. Cinnamon stands up and the tide rolls in. Gabriel pays her. She blows us a kiss off her palm before dissolving behind a curtain.
Gabriel’s eyes are bright behind his glasses. A clump of bangs flops into his forehead. “I have somewhere to go,” he announces.
I follow. He’s an angel after all, gripping my wrist, pulling me out of the club, across the parking lot. But when Gabriel turns to head up the block, I stop.
“Where are we going?”
“Do you really want to know before we get there?”
“No.” I continue following up four blocks, down two, and then into an alley: a dark alley and silent, except for our footsteps on the concrete. I’m suddenly overly conscious of my situation: a man I don’t really know, a secluded alley. My heart starts to bang rather than beat; a chill goes up my spine. Then the chill turns to a zing between my legs. I’m turned on by the risk I’m taking.
Gabriel points to the building beside us. I look into a large window, two stories up. Curtains are pulled back. Several candles are lit. A couple moves into view. They embrace and kiss, removing each other's clothes. The woman is petite and brunette with brown skin and crimson nipples. I know her-from the street, the couple. The man is the also the same. He’s thin and light-skinned and slightly taller than his lover. They’re beautiful.
“You know them, too?” I blink my eyes at Gabriel, breathlessly giddy.
“I’ve seen them around.”
The man kneels before the woman, burying his face in her belly, kissing her navel, then lower and lower as her head falls back with cascading hair and an arching neck. I imagine her moaning, telling him what to do. He stands up and pulls her into his arms. Hands travel across smooth stretches of back, down sloping asses. The man guides the woman around, bends her over a table, maybe a dresser, and enters her.
I hug Gabriel’s side, burying one side of my face in his broad shoulder. I smell him: cream and male musk, heat from the afternoon still clinging to his clothes, and heat from the moment lifting off his skin and into the breeze that smells like moonlight. My nipples press out like buds behind my blouse.
The man in the window moans loud enough to be heard in the alley. I lift my eyes. The woman echoes her lover’s cries; I see her body shaking, shuddering, before collapsing into the man’s arms. They hold each other and kiss. They move away from the window.
I turn my body all the way into Gabriel’s. I lift my face. His mouth touches my forehead, my temple. How does he see me in this light? I think he sees everything right now. My breasts press his chest. Buttons pull. Our mouths hover, share breath.
“What would you say if I told you I’ve been wanting you for months?”
“Authors often fall for characters.”
“Then you’re falling for me, too.”
“I’ve been waiting for you to catch up.”
“I knew that.”
“You didn’t.” He laughs.
I hear car horns, people calling out names, flirtations, far away. Stars hang over our heads. Gabriel’s mouth touches my tangles, pushes me against the wall of the alley, and kisses me hard. Finally. I taste his heat.
I moan. He moans, too: “Jesus,” into my hair after pulling away from my lips. Gabriel looks up at the window.
“Are they watching us?” I ask.
“Later,” he says.
“What are we having?”
“We’ll know when we get there.”
bet that’s delicious.”
© 2002 Lana Gail Taylor. All rights reserved. Do not copy or post.
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