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 Shoppettes selling out-of-date merchandise?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?"
Dawn, to give her credit, thought before answering. "No, I'm not going to feel like I've wasted my time." She laughed and nodded towards the booths along the wall. Its already been quite an educational evening."
"Okay then," Mandy laughed with her. "How about a drink and then we can gossip about all the other women you keep turning your head to look at.
"Mandy!" Dawn gasped, torn between indignation and laughter. She relaxed and sat back in her chair. Mandy corralled a passing waitress and they decided to share a pitcher of beer. They began to talk over it. Their discussion ranged over a number of subjects but steered clear of the other women and the reasons they might be in the club. Indeed, the club itself wasn't a topic, other than the safe subjects of the coldness of the beer and the loudness of the band.
By the time they had started on the second pitcher they had shifted their chairs to sit next to each other. Dawn had not given the slightest thought in quite a while that Mandy, after all, appeared to be a frequent customer here. She was just an acquaintance who was rapidly becoming a friend.
The band changed gears and Dawn found her fingers tapping the table top in time to the music. Mandy had crossed her legs and leaned back earlier and her foot was swinging to the same beat. She pushed back her chair and stood up.
"Let's dance?" Mandy gestured towards the hardwood floor.
Dawn thought about refusing for all of five seconds. "Why?", she told herself. After all, she reasoned, the band had been playing a series of fast songs. And she DID feel like dancing. She nodded and rose.
"Great." Mandy grabbed Dawn's hand and led her out to the dance floor. Dawn followed, swerving to avoid other tables and couples in the way. Once they reached the hardwood Mandy released Dawn's fingers and the two women began to dance to the music.
Dawn was enjoying herself. After all, it had been a long time since she had been out dancing. With her job normally requiring her to arrive at the station around 4 in the morning, she had rather lost the habit of being out late at night, even thought few people would have considered this hour as "late". She and Mandy danced well together, both of the women enjoying the music. Dawn focused on the beat to such a point that the fact she was dancing with another woman was almost forgotten.
That fact was brought back to her attention with a sudden jerk, as the band segued into a slow number. Without asking, or making any kind of fuss about it, Mandy stepped up to Dawn and took her in her arms. The banker held the journalist close and began to sway her to the softening music as the lights dimmed.
Dawn stiffened in Mandy's embrace and then tried to relax. It was just a dance, it didn't mean anything. After all, she had danced with lots of guys and it didn't mean she was attracted to them or anything like that. But the warmth of Mandy's body, the scent of Mandy's perfume, and the softness of Mandy's breasts against hers made it clear that this was not like dancing with someone she didn't find attractive.
The music slowed, and then stopped. The lights were almost extinguished. Mandy released Dawn, only to cup the other woman's chin and lift it just enough to brush her lips over Dawn's. Dawn closed her eyes, uncertain of how to respond.
"Oh GOD, she must think I'm gay also," swept through Dawn's mind. "What do I do?" But she did nothing as the soft red lips began to cling to her own, as the grasp of Mandy's arm around her waist tightened. Emboldened by Dawn's apparent surrender, Mandy's tongue slipped into Dawn's mouth and the kiss deepened, even as Mandy's other arm circled Dawn's body and drew her close, pulling the reporter's body tightly against her own. The kiss grew deep and Dawn, in spite of herself, felt a feeling coming over her she had never considered. But yes, the kiss of another woman, the feel of another woman's body against hers was sending signals deep into her.
Dawn struggled with herself, not from any feeling of repugnance or disgust, just from the sense that she was crossing a line that she could never go back across. Then, Mandy's hand brushed over her breast. It was such a fleeting touch that its effect on Dawn seemed all out of proportion. Dawn found herself kissing Mandy back. And more than just the press of lips, for a long moment two tongues found themselves sliding over each other.
When that moment passed, Dawn managed to pry open her eyes to see Mandy looking at her. The expression on the other woman's face was just as amazed as the one that Dawn felt was on her own.
"Goodness," said Mandy. "I need to sit down." Suiting her actions to her words, she headed back to their table, where she filled both mugs, drinking off half of hers in one long swallow before sitting down.
Dawn followed slowly, her head still buzzing. "What just happened?" She flushed as she realized that she had spoken aloud.
"I'm not sure," said Mandy. She seemed as confused as Dawn was.
Dawn took a deep breath. Mandy needed to know that what had just happened on the dance floor didn't mean anything. Nothing at all.
"Mandy," Dawn hesitated. The other woman looked at her quizzically. Dawn plowed on. "Mandy, I'm not a lesbian!"
Of all things she expected, Dawn did not expect the corners of Mandy's mouth to turn up. Then she started shaking slightly. Then she was laughing out loud. This time Dawn was unable to keep her mouth from falling open.