Dawn Garth took a deep breath and pushed open the door. She took the five or six steps down that led through a curtained archway and into the spacious room. Nervously, the blond woman scanned the entire area. Her eyes swept over the bar, where a few stools were occupied, to the couples on the dance floor. She took in the row of tables on the far side as well as the booths scattered against the back wall.
In spite of her nervousness, her foot twitched to the music pouring from the bandstand in the far right hand corner. The lead singer had a deep, husky voice that made the lyrics come alive. The bass guitarist, the drummer, the keyboarder all were having a good time and their mood seemed to infect the whole club.
It had been a long time wince Dawn had heard a group throw themselves into a song like this one was doing. And even longer since she had heard an all-girl band. But then, after all, that made sense. For every person in the room, from the band to the muscular bouncers standing near her, to the blonde and redheaded bartenders, to each member of every single couple on the dance floor was a woman.
So what was she doing in a lesbian bar? That was the latest brainstorm of her boss, Rick Carter, the head of the News Division at the TV station where she worked.
"Dawn, I know you want to do something beyond fluff pieces. I understand that. I just don't have anything in mind right now."
"Rick, please. Come up with something. I want to be a serious journalist, not just the early morning female with the bright smile and the local weather and sports. God, the other day I saw my description in the newspaper's media guide. Do you know how it feels to be described as 'perky'? That's the equivalent of being described to a blind date as 'having a great personality'."
Rick groaned. "That's dirty pool, Dawn. However, let me look at what we have." He skimmed through the papers on his desk.
"How about investigating some reports of auto shop rip-offs?"
"Not that they don't need to be stopped, but we just did that a few months ago."
"Unlicensed day-care centers? Shoppettes selling out-of-date merchandise? Fast-food restaurant health code violations?"
Dawn shook her head at each one.
Rick grunted, his usual way of showing his patience was running short. Then he grinned, pulling a sheet of paper loose and fluttering it in front of Dawn.
"Here you go. This one you'll find interesting. There's a new club that opened in the downtown district recently, against strong opposition and protests. Why don't you go check it out? No cameras or anything. Just observations and your opinions. Heck, you can make it an editorial piece."
Dawn frowned as she snatched the piece of paper. "What in the world? I don't remember there being any commotion about a new club." Her jaw dropped. "Holy SHIT! 'The Other Side'? That's the lesbian club."
"Yep," Rick leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head.
"Is this some kind of joke Rick? Are we witch-hunting or something?"
"Absolutely not," her boss protested. "In fact, you might see this as an opportunity to disabuse some people of their stereo-types. Perhaps you can show that the women there come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Some may not even be lesbians, or whadda-ya-call them, bisexuals."
"Well, what would they be doing there then?" Dawn demanded.
"How should I know?" Rick shrugged. "YOU'RE the reporter."
Dawn shook her head and found herself back at the present when a calloused hand stroked her forearm.
"Hey there, pretty gal. All dressed up and no one to ride you?" Dawn turned her startled eyes on the woman standing next to her.
Dawn had known more than one lesbian in college and was well aware that they, like all people, came in a great variety of sizes, shapes and styles. This one though, practically screamed testosterone at her. About five-ten and solidly built, she wore cammie pants and a baggy tan shirt along with what looked to be desert boots.
"Maybe you'd like to come over to the private booth that my girlfriend and I have reserved." The butch female pointed towards the back wall, where a matching specimen was waving and pulling on a set of curtains that apparently closed around the booth.
"No, thank you," stammered Dawn. The other woman's grip tightened and she seemed amused by Dawn's confusion and her lack of response.
"Back off, Delaney," came another voice. Dawn looked to see someone she assumed was one of the female bouncers standing by them, her arms folded under her breasts. It surprised Dawn that the woman, although showing signs of a lot of working out, looked remarkably feminine. Her make-up was perfect and the dress she wore was cut to flatter her figure."
"Shit, Gummer, I ain't scared of you," the woman holding Dawn's arm snarled.
"Well that's good Delany, 'cause I sure as hell ain't scared of you, or your pal over there or a dozen more like you. You're free to hit on all the regulars you want, but when someone backs off, you let them back off. Now go sit down and have a beer. Sammie will be in later and you know she loves those games you play."
The butch woman wavered. "What business is this of yours anyway? You don't work here."
"A friend saw you acting your usual demure self towards someone she knows and said something about it. Since I like her I thought I might have a word with you. So I'm having one. Do we need to go beyond words?"
Delaney growled a curse and stalked off. Reaching her booth, she pushed the other female in and pulled the curtains closed behind them.
"Sorry about that," smiled the muscular woman. "Women like her give the term 'Hard-core butch' a bad name." She offered her hand. "I'm Jenn Gumm, but everyone calls me Gin. Except Delaney and her crowd. They think I'm some sort of Uber-femme or domme because I like to work out."
"I'm Dawn," the woman replied without thinking as she shook hands. "Crap," she thought, "I was supposed to use some other name." Upon further consideration she realized that lying probably wouldn't have worked anyway, as whom ever had sent Gin to her rescue must already know who she was. Better to be honest.
Gin lead Dawn towards one of the tables on the far side of the dance floor. Her hand rested lightly on Dawn's shoulder. At first, Dawn wasn't sure how comfortable she was with the other woman's touch. After a moment, she relaxed and accepted it. Gin wasn't stroking her or moving her hand around. It was just a friendly gesture.
Dawn's eyes darted around the club as she followed Gin's lead. There were all sorts of women here. No Deputy Mayor, a detached part of her mind thought to mention, but other women that she recognized. There was the owner of the exclusive book store in the downtown district. Dawn had done a story on her when the shop first opened. Dawn's eyes opened wide as she saw the woman who handled the station employees' 401K plan. She was dancing with another woman she knew, a female police officer who had assisted her one night when her car had broken down.
The only real shock was when she saw Daphne. Daphne was the Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools for the county. She was also married. Dawn could see her ring sparkling on the woman's hand, a hand that was resting on the breast of another woman that Daphne was cuddling with in a booth where the curtains hadn't closed completely.
Lost in the surprises that were unfolding around her, Dawn almost bumped into the table in front of her. Only Gin's steadying hand on her shoulder kept her from doing just that.
"Well, here she is. All safe and sound. The two of you have fun." Gin turned and headed back to the door. Just for a second Dawn thought she felt Gin's hand brush against her side.
"Thanks Gin. Hi Dawn. Fancy meeting you here."
Dawn struggled to keep her mouth from falling open as she looked at the woman sitting at the table. This was a night for surprises. She managed to hold on to her composure. "Ah, hello Mandy."
"Have a seat," the other woman offered, pushing out a chair. Dawn sat down, her gaze fixed on the woman across the small table. Mandy! Who would have thought it?
Mandy Pearson was a customer service representative at the bank Dawn used. She was about the same age as Dawn, right around twenty-five and single. She was slightly taller than Dawn, topping her own five foot, four inch frame by a couple of inches. She was a bit more slender than Dawn. with smaller breasts and narrower hips. Dawn found it surprising that she was comparing Mandy's body with hers.
"The whole place must be affecting me," the reporter thought. She almost giggled to herself. Well, perhaps it was. But it just seemed right to be checking out the other women all of a sudden.
"To repeat myself, this is a surprise Dawn. I never expected to find you here."
"I have to say the same thing Mandy. How did you come to be here yourself?"
Mandy raised her eyebrows. "Now that sounds like a reporter-type question. Are you here doing a piece for your station?"
"No," blurted Dawn. She met Mandy's eyes, and realized that she didn't want to lie to the other woman. "Okay, yes, in a way." Seeing the doubt on Mandy's face she plunged on. "I AM on assignment, but I'm not going to naming anyone's name or bringing a camera crew in here. I'm not bound to any preconceived ideas." She laughed. "In fact, I suspect the whole idea was my boss' idea for getting me off his back and if I don't turn in anything at all he won't care."
"How do you feel about that?"
"About what?" Dawn replied in puzzlement.
"About not turning anything in. Are you going to be feeling that you've wasted your time otherwise?"
.... There is more of this story ...