Jenny Marie Stephenson was tense. She could sense that her daughter, Dakota was too as the plane's wheels grabbed the pavement of the LaGuardia runway. Her heart fell into her stomach as the flaps behind the engines closed; reversing the thrust and thrusting them forward in their seats. It wasn't so much that she wasn't used to it or expecting it as much as it seemed to summarize the events of her life in the past few days.
Jenny had given up her own dreams of becoming a ballet dancer when she had found herself pregnant seventeen years ago. She had been on the brink of a promising career, only to have her dreams bashed with this surprise. She and her then boyfriend and now husband Joe decided to get married. They had been having marginal success as dancers in different ballet groups.
With her pregnancy, they had decided to go home to live with her parents in Kansas City. Joe was lucky to get a job with the local ballet company. It didn't pay much, but dreams die hard. Over the years, she and Joe had started their own ballet classes, teaching ballet, modern dance and jazz.
From the beginning, their daughter, Dakota seemed to have caught on quickly. With free classes from her parents, she showed plenty of promise. She and Joe had tried to channel her into music rather than dance. They paid for lessons in piano and violin, hoping she would take a different path. Dakota dutifully worked hard on her lessons, practicing several hours a day on each. But whenever she had spare time, she would go with her parents to the studio to mimic the other dancers.
By the time she had graduated from high school, she was only seventeen, and had managed to do it in three years. Each summer she had taken a full load of college classes too.
Jenny and her husband were disappointed to hear her say what they knew was coming; that she wanted to go to New York and try her hand at dancing. They knew she had promise, but just didn't want to see her go through all the rejection they had experienced. Dakota was expecting to go alone, but Jenny knew what life in New York could be like. She decided to go with her for a while; to see how things went. That left Joe at home alone to run the dance studio.
Jenny and her husband had agreed; he would run the dance studio for as long as it took Dakota to either make some inroads with this career, or give up and go back to college. Jenny had found a room. They had found a flat with two other girls; making the rent fairly cheap for New York standards.
Dakota was going to enroll in dance lessons during the evening. During the day she could go around the city for auditions. Jenny was going to go with her, to make sure she was safe. At night, they might both get a job, or she could continue with more classes. In the end, the plan was for her to perform with some ballet company in the evenings.
The first month went about as expected. Auditions were always hopeful; full of promise. The next job was right around the corner. Eventually, Jenny could envision them running out of money before Dakota found work. She had been confronted with this problem before; when she was young.
She had tried to ignore the problem; ignore the solutions. Now the problems were different. She needed desperately to make enough money to keep the two of them in New York.
Jenny had found a job as a waitress; at Guinevere's. It was a high end restaurant near the stadium. Lots of athletes came in during the off-season. She had plenty of propositions for all kinds of requests. Tips weren't coming in that well. The rent was due. Knowing what other girls her age had done when she was dancing, she decided there was little choice. Go in and look; see what it was like.
She had to go past it every day when she got off of the subway. It was an almost unseen store. It had a number on the door. That was it. The bouncer was huge. He stood by the door and didn't say anything. He just let her by. He knew the look; some fear; some trepidation; some curiosity.
He pulled out his cell phone and let the manager know. He was ready when she got to the top of the stairs. The hall widened. The floors were honed limestone. There was a large atrium with wooden pew seating in a rectangle for a waiting area. She sat. He watched her from the security camera. He watched her nervousness.
"Hello, I'm Rene; Rene Morel. How can I help you?" he asked as he extended both hands. His right hand grabbed hers. His left curled enthusiastically around her wrist.
"Older than any of the others," he thought to himself. Still, there was a grace and desperation that intrigued him. She was obviously a woman of taste, manners, possibly comfort. Why she would be here, he wondered.
"My name is Jenny; Jenny Marie Stephenson. I am here to see what kind of work you might have. She tried not to blink. It might signal desperation. I'm working for tips, and I am curious to see if there are places where I could get just a little more," she said as she tried to pull her hand from his without insulting him.
"Well, we are always open to the possibility of adding another person. You certainly seem to have the looks." He replied. Rene tried not to tip his hand; to appear too desperate.
He looked at this unique woman. Most of the girls who apply are half her age; dyed blond hair, surgically enhanced breasts; ridiculously short dresses; some tattoos, chewing gum and wearing gaudy jewelry.
This woman was easily forty. Her long reddish brown hair was woven into a French braid that stopped just above her waist. She had a gray, silk dress that stopped just above the floor. It buttoned down the front. The top two buttons or so were open; tastefully but not provocatively. The bottom buttons from the hem to just above the knee were also open. It was just enough to confuse him. Normal redheads did not tan. They freckle. This woman had a decent tan and the faintest of freckles. Does that mean her hair is dyed? Everything else about her suggested she was some freak of nature; real red hair, real boobs, what you see is what you get. He was pretty sure she had some lipstick; but other than that, no sign of makeup.
"Have a seat," he said as he gestured to the wooden pews. Jenn sat. Rene pulled an oak captain's chair around to face her. "Tell me about yourself and what you really want."
"I ... I ... I would like to make a little more money. Our rent is more than I am comfortable with. What kind of jobs do you have here?" she asked, almost innocently. Down deep, she knew.
It was a strip joint. It had been there since she was her daughter's age. Other dancers had supplemented their income here. She had been opposed to it when she was young. As a young girl, she was prepared to sacrifice her safety, her comfort for her principles. Now it was a little different.
Jenny did not want her daughter to be in the position of having to go home, in defeat, because they could not afford to live there. She wanted her daughter to have every chance to succeed.
Jenny sat there waiting for his response. She realized that her dress was riding up. She realized that her naked, tanned legs, when crossed, pushed the open part of her dress to the sides. As she gestured with her hands or shifted in her seat, each motion would cause the dress to ride up. "What to do?" she wondered. Normally, she would scoot up; pull her dress down and continue the conversation.
On the other hand, she was old enough to know that whenever she really wanted something enough, her looks usually got her through it. She sat there. She tried to ignore Renee's discreet glances. "Just this once," she told herself." It won't hurt.
"Well, Mrs. Stephenson, we never have enough dancers. " Jenn's heart almost stopped. That, deep down, was what she expected the offer to be. Now here it was. She gulped, trying to decide what to say.
"We have a waitress / hostess who I think is pregnant and beginning to show. We have an understanding with the girls that work here, that they are out when that happens."
"Oh, I think I would like to try that; could I?" she asked almost jumping at the chance to not be a dancer. Deep down, she knew how the dancers had to dress and what they had to do. She was relieved to find there would be an opportunity to be around the big tippers and not be almost naked.
"Well, Mrs. Stephenson, the job is almost the same. You won't be on stage; stripping, but your costume will be close. We are here to sell drinks. You are here to sell drinks. We expect you to be friendly and courteous. How are you with strangers?" he asked, trying not to stare at the sudden rise of her dress.
"I ... I ... I have taught ballet and modern dance for almost twenty years. I deal with all kinds of students; of all ages, and their parents. I feel I can be pretty diplomatic if I have too." How degrading, she thought; to have to justify herself to this man named after a fungi.
"It's one thing to tell a ten-year old to jump higher," he said. "It's one thing to tell a parent his child is too fat." It's another thing to try to get a half inebriated man to buy another drink when he is trying to get his hand up your dress. How are you with that, Mrs. Stephenson?" It was almost a snarl.
"I ... I ... I can ... can ... get used to the idea; if ... if ... if I have a chance. I really would like to have a chance at this job; if I can."
"Well, Mrs. Stephenson; let's see what you've got." The snarl was back; subtle, but still almost contemptuous.
"What ... what ... what do you want me to do?"...
"Take off those fucking clothes."
"Take off the fucking clothes; convince me."
"I ... I ... I thought you wanted me to serve drinks. I ... I ... thought a hostess seats people who are new guests."
"You are still in the sales business. You are the first person besides the bouncer to greet them. He tries to scare off anybody who might be trouble. You on the other hand are the first friendly face. When they see you, I want them to say: "Oh, fuck; if this is what the hostess looks like, what do the dancers look like?" It wasn't so much of a snarl now. He knew she was reluctant. He had to test her.
"What ... what ... what..."
"Take of the fucking clothes. Convince me I need to buy a drink," he said calmly.
Jenn thought for a while. She thought how she had missed her chance at fame. She thought about having to go home because of lack of money. She thought how being forced to go home would crush her daughter. She was forty. She had had her chance; whatever that might have been. She wasn't going to let her daughter miss what might come her way.
She parted the hands that had been folded on her lap. Hesitatingly she pushed her fingers to the edge of her dress; just above her knees. She grabbed the first button above her knee; trying to get the courage to push it through the eyelet. Her stomach was roiling. Her fingers were trembling.
"Stand up, Miss Stephenson."
It was like being called to the front of the class to give a speech. Actually it was worse. It was like going to the front of the class and giving the speech; naked.
Jenn put the back of her knees against the cold wooden pew and straightened her legs; levering her body up. She stood; with her hands crossed in front of her crotch; waiting for the command to be repeated; like maybe she hadn't really heard it. Somehow she had misunderstood. But she hadn't.
His eyes locked with hers. They said: "You heard what I said. Don't make me repeat." Jenny swallowed. She took a deep breath; then another, trying to summon the courage in her mind to make this helpless wife do what it had been told. "Do it if you know what's good for you." She told the woman who surely was not her.
Jenn's hands trembled. Her lip quivered, trying to decide where to start; top or bottom? Somehow, it was easier to start at the top. She looked at the floor as she pushed the first button through the first eyelet. She tried not to think about what she was doing. It will stop before my mind explodes; she told herself.
"Is ... is ... is this how I am expected to work? Surely you aren't going to make me work like this are you?" she stuttered.
"Probably not. Some amount of clothes are going to be more sensual than total nudity." He said. "On the other hand, I need to know how committed you are to this job. If I say strip; you need to strip. We have very wealthy customers here. If I ask you to do something, I expect an enthusiastic attitude."
He watched the expanse of skin appear between the buttons of her top.
"I'll do this once," she thought. "Once he sees I am open, he won't make me do this again." Her mind tried to convince her. Her hands moved to the lower buttons; preferring now to work up from the lower end to her waist.
When she had opened all of the buttons, she defensively clutched the front against her with her hands crossed; waiting. She needed to hear it. She couldn't do it on her own without some threat.
Rene was a man who could be both cold and warm. He looked at her with eyes as cold as an Alaskan night. "I'm not telling you again; they seemed to say. Jenny was willing to accept this humiliation; but not with the thought that it was her own idea; that it was being done willingly.
He was playing with her now; capitalizing on her desperation. He would not give her the command again; to strip. He would wait in silence; forcing her to continue. Jenny had no choice. She knew what she was here for. Slowly she lowered her hands; pulling the sides of the dress with it. She arched her back and let the top slide down her shoulders; catching at the crook of her elbows.
Their eyes met; defiantly as she swung the dress around her and hung in her right forearm. She dared not telegraph anger. She dared not telegraph defiance. No sooner than their eyes met, she looked down as she began folding the silk garment.
Rene extended his arm towards her; palm up. She dropped the dress over it. He tossed it to the pew beside her. Jenny crossed her arms in front of her. It was a ridiculous exercise. Her folded arms cradled the bottom of her breasts; hiding nothing. Her bra was something of the past. Now, most women wore heavily padded bras to make them look bigger. Jenny was still using undergarments like when she was growing up. The bra and panties were made of the thin, transparent stretch material that hose used to be made of.
Her coral pink Bai Ling nipples were like ridiculously long pink pearl erasers on a number two pencil; only longer. They stuck out further and stiffer in humiliation and embarrassment. This only added to her humiliation. They were not big; they were not small. They were melon shaped; cantilevering almost beyond belief, with no sag to them.
Her panties were of the same almost transparent material. They were not the bikini thong type worn by the younger girls. They were cut very high on the sides; making her legs look even longer than they truly were. The top band of her panties were just below her navel; the back panel completely covering her butt.
"Okay..." Rene remarked; implying that she continue.
Jenny took a couple of deep breaths again, trying to summon the courage to continue. She thought about her husband; back home, wondering whether he would ever find out. She tried not to look at Renee. She turned her head away from him as she arched her back and reached behind her for the snaps. How long had it been since she had taken off her own bra in front of a man other than her husband? It had been so long she couldn't remember.
She had been a gangly teenager; fourteen years or younger. It was so different then. Awkward, unsure of herself; desperate for acceptance, she had been coerced by some older boys into things she had been too embarrassed to remember. They had been wiped from her mind as she got older. Now those memories were slowly coming back.
She held the bra; uncertainly in front of her. When Rene extended his hand again, she passed it to him. Her embarrassment of being exposed made her hands shake. She crossed them, again under her breasts; not really hiding anything as much as signaling her embarrassment.
She waited. She waited for the order to continue; thinking ridiculously in her subconscious mind that this man named after a fungi would have some moral revelation and stop the outrageous request of her. "So far, so good," he said in an almost reverent whisper.
Jenny brought her hands up to her face. One hand grabbed and removed her wire-rimmed glasses. With the other, she wiped the start of some tears from her face. She put her glasses back on. The effort was more of an attempt of procrastination. She looked over at him for a millisecond. Their eyes met; hers looking for mercy. Again, his expression was the same; like a serpent ready to strike.
Jenny closed her eyes as she reached for her waistband. Her mind was dark. She was shutting down as she pushed her thumbs between her skin and the thin fabric and pushed down. Once the fabric cleared her hips, they slid until they hit the tops of her grey high heel boots. They caught on the tops. With her two hands trying to cover her crotch, she tried to raise one foot; hoping she could free the panty and let it fall without bending over. Didn't work.
Her face reddened as she bent over to free the panty. She felt her breasts start to dangle as she bent over. She felt the cold air conditioning waft between her legs; reminding her what had been bared to view. Just a touch cleared the garment from the zippers on the side of her boots. They flitted to the floor. She stepped out of them.
Again, Rene held out his hand. She wanted to just kick them over to him; let him pick the fucking things up. Instead, she was forced to bend over again to retrieve them. She put one hand over her breasts; holding them against her; so she wouldn't get that dangling feeling as she picked up the garment. In a way, it was helpful; bending over, because it shielded her from his gaze at her cleft.
Rising back up, she placed the garment in his hands. He tossed them over on top of her dress. She stood there; waiting for the next command. What could he possibly do to make this worse?
Rene sat there looking at her; admiring her. He didn't want to let her know how beautiful he thought she was. Women tend to take power away from men if they know how much they are admired or wanted. "Put your hands down to your sides, Miss Jenny," he said, trying to sound casual.
It took everything Jenny had to lower her hands to her sides, letting everything show. Her body shivered in humiliation. The only indication of this was that her delicious red nipples seemed to jiggle from her nervousness, and the double strand of pearls rattled. She started to raise her hands to grab her pearl necklace; mostly out of embarrassment. The necklace dangled almost to her navel. Her grey, high heel boots seemed to frame her body, accenting her beautiful long legs.
Rene couldn't help but stare at her breasts. They were an alabaster white; obviously she did not tan herself in a tanning booth. Her coral pink nipples were double-framed magnificently; first by the white cones holding them, then by the Coppertone finished abdomen.
He continued his stare down past her navel. He couldn't help be captivated by the next picture. It belonged in a museum; next to the Mona Lisa or the Hope Diamond. He struggled not to give himself away. Her pink cleft was bare; shaved from the top of the slit all the way down. Above that, there was a patch. It was a runway configuration; red a dark red, brownish patch of curls that were somewhat thick at the center. From there they almost looked like manicured threads that thinned progressively in number and color towards the edges of the runway. The last strands seemed feathered down to the downy blond texture like a newborn baby. Was this natural or an exotic presentation?
"You're not fucking done yet," he said. "I'm a customer. Come here and convince me to buy a fucking drink."
"I ... I ... I ... Can I order you a drink?" she asked; struggling not to tear up.
"That's no fucking good." He almost spit at her. "How would you do this with your husband?"
"Come over here and sit on my lap. Sit on my lap, or get down on your knees in front of me. You are old enough. You have been married long enough to know how to convince men to do anything. Quit being coy with me. Show me how you get things done at home."
It was coming back to her now; not scenes with her husband, but her time in the guest house, when she was the gangly teenager. On her knees in front of those eighteen year old boys; naked, looking for acceptance.
Jenny took the two steps over to her tormenter. She slid one leg over onto his lap. She put her right hand around the back of his neck to hold herself on; then bringing the other leg over to position herself like a little girl on Santa's lap.
"Can ... can ... can I get ... get ... get you something to drink?" She stammered; embarrassed that her right breast was within a millimeter of his body. She nervously used her left hand to push her wire rimmed glasses up her nose.
Her face turned red and her heart almost stopped as she felt his right hand slide between her knees. The pressure was slight; subtle, but deliberate. Instinctively, she raised her left hand and put it over his to stop him. Her eyes met his. Hers telegraphed desperation and humiliation. His looked like a cobra; waiting for the slightest excuse to strike.
She kept her hand over his; neither resisting nor helping. She squeezed his hand; hoping through telepathy to beg him to stop. She knew the score; of course. She did not resist as his hand crept up the space between her legs. He had won. She was not going to fight him.
"Please..." She whispered as his fingers nibbled at her entrance.
"Is this how you're going to behave in my restaurant?" he said coolly. "I need a waitress; a hostess who is polite and beguiling; not some cold fish." She gulped. She thought about her and Dakota having to go home because they were out of money. She softened her grip on his hand.
"I need this job," her mind screamed silently. This was worse than getting raped she thought. If she was raped, she would have been tied or held down; unable to resist. This was worse. She had her hand over his as the calloused fingers worked their way into her. It was almost as if she was helping? Her lack of resistance felt like she was consenting to her humiliation.
She tried not to scream. This is going to fucking hurt her mind screamed. The man was a giant, with hands to match. His fingers were bigger than her husband's thumbs. She struggled to hold still as he entered her.
They had both seemed to have lost any semblance of the conversation he had started; about what drinks to order.
"When you work here; if you work here; it is because you have such a sophisticated dignity about you that sets you miles apart from the other girls that work here. I want you to dress like you did when you came in here; only forget the panties and forget the bra. Is that okay with you?"
Jenny was almost oblivious to the conversation. She was focused on the animal of a finger that was entering her. It seemed to have a mind of its own. It would slip in a little, then twitch or turn in several directions; as if to see where it wanted to go. Then it would advance a little further. Jenny could feel the rough callouses scraping her sides.
He pulled out. He held his forefinger at the edge of her lips. "Lick my finger. You are dry. If you don't lubricate yourself, you'll be sore and not much good to me." Jenny almost gagged. He closed all of his fingers into a fist with the exception of his forefinger, which pointed against her lips. He was right, and she knew it. Still trying not to gag, she did not resist as his finger entered her mouth. Her mind was about to explode as her tongue mindlessly swirled around the finger.
She repositioned both hands to grasp the invading finger. Her lips were quivering again. He could see her eyes welling up. She kept her hands on him as he lowered the finger to her labia. She must have thought that if she covered his hand with hers, nobody could see what was happening; therefore nothing was happening.
"When you greet somebody and take them to their table, you need to remember what we are doing now. You can sit on their lap to ask what they want to drink. You can get down on your knees. You need to touch them in some manner. If they want you on their lap, I don't want to see any sass out of you. If they want to finger you, I want you to do what you just did for me, understand?"
Jenny would not respond. They both knew anything other than a "No," was really a "Yes." Rene allowed her the dignity of no response.
"If they want to finger you, I want you to raise his hand and lick it; not so much to ease your pain as to signal your acceptance. Understand?" Again she did not answer. Her shoulders slumped. She sobbed. Right now, they were just words. "Surely she would be spared this indignity." Her mind screamed.
"When can you start?" he asked. Jenny was ready to say anything to get out of his lap.
"I can start whenever it is convenient for you," she said, hoping he would withdraw his finger and let her stand. He was quiet for a minute. He continued to explore the inside of her. She thought it would never end. She listened to the "slurp, slurp" of his finger moving in an out of her. Even though she was trying valiantly to cover what he was doing, she could not cover the sound. It was humiliating.
He pulled out. "From time to time, I may have some good friends or exceptional customers in here. I will expect exemplary service from you. You will be paid beyond expectations. I hope you make lots of money her. If you don't, it won't be because you have not had an opportunity."
"Wait a minute," he said as he walked over to his desk. He opened a drawer and pulled out a sack. "Put these on." He said as he tossed her something small.
She looked at it. They were a pair of silk stockings. She sat on the wooden pew and removed her high heel leather boots. She put them on. The stockings were a dark grey to match her dress. They went up to just a inch or so from her crotch. The tops were a band of decorative elastic.
"Put on your boots and stand up. Let me see how you look."