Tatia’s childhood ends on her 12th birthday as she becomes another sad statistic.
For the past few weeks I have been sharing sample chapters of Tatia’s Tattoo. Links to previous chapters are at the end of this post. Following is Chapter 11. Chapter 12 will be posted on Thursday.
CHAPTER 11: STATISTICS
Eric stomped over to the connecting door and flung it open. “Cindy,” he yelled, “Get in here!”
“I’m with a client!”
“Well, hurry it up,” he replied as he slammed the door.
Three minutes later, Cindy came through the door. She didn’t look happy. “What was that all about? Thanks to the interruption, he didn’t even leave a tip.”
Eric grabbed the front of her robe and pulled her up close enough for her to smell what he had for dinner. “Watch your mouth! You can be replaced, you know.”
“Okay, okay. I’m just trying to keep the customers happy. What did you need anyway?”
“I need you to get Tatia ready for her nine o’clock. She’s in the bathroom bawling – and she’ll need something to wear.”
Cindy scanned the room quickly, not missing the rumpled, stained sheets and the torn dress lying on the floor. “Been sampling the merchandise, huh?” she smirked, scurrying back to her room before he could swing the fist he raised threateningly.
“One day you’ll push me too far!” he yelled as he kicked a small silver sandal across the floor and stormed out the door into the parking lot.
Cindy peeked back into the room a minute later and, seeing that the coast was clear, she came in carrying her make-up bag and a robin’s-egg-blue baby-doll nightie. She knocked gently on the bathroom door and called out quietly.
“Hey, honey. It’s me – Cindy. Can I come in?”
The door opened slowly, and Tatia, sobbing and wrapped in a towel, threw herself into Cindy’s arms. “Oh, Cindy. Why did he do that to me? I thought he cared about me. And when he says I have to be nice to his friend, he doesn’t mean…that, does he? I wish I was dead!”
Cindy, definitely not the motherly type, patted Tatia’s back awkwardly, making what she hoped were soothing, calming sounds. “Don’t cry, baby. He’s just like that sometimes, especially when he drinks. His friend won’t be so bad. He’s gettin’ old, and he’ll be done and gone before you know it.”
Her reassurances didn’t help. Tatia drew back in horror. “NO! I won’t do it. He can’t make me.”
“Honey, you don’t want to cross him. He can get real nasty when he doesn’t get what he wants.” She had moved closer to Tatia and encouraged her sit down on the toilet seat. While she dabbed at Tatia’s smeared make-up, her robe fell open revealing a huge bruise on her thigh. Tatia reached out a tentative finger and touched the purplish mark that looked strangely like a hand.
“Did he do that to you?”
“Yeah, but I probably deserved it. I can get pretty mouthy in case you hadn’t already noticed.”
The color drained out of Tatia’s face as her eyes fell on the sheer nightie and she realized the hopelessness of her situation. “Do I have to wear that?”
“Honey, I know it’s not as fancy as that little black number, but it will look sensational on you – much better than it does on me. The blue will really bring out your eyes. Now slip it on and then I’ll see if I can straighten your hair a bit.”
Tatia did as she was told, moving mechanically and keeping her back to the mirror. At the same time, Cindy unwrapped one of the plastic glasses on the bathroom counter and filled it with water. She pulled a small bottle out of her pocket and shook a tiny pill into her hand. She broke it in half, popped half of it in her mouth and held the other half out to Tatia along with the water.
“Here ya’ go. This is just a little something to take the edge off.” Tatia started to object, but Cindy shushed her and continued. “It’s just a mild sedative, nothing that’s gonna hurt you. It’ll just help you deal with everything. It’s a lot for a kid your age. How old are you anyway?”
Tatia took the pill and washed it down with a swallow of water. “Twelve. Today’s my birthday,” Tatia said almost too quietly for Cindy to hear.
Cindy’s face flushed, first with anger and then with tears that threatened to spill over her carefully-lined lids. Then, she visibly pulled her emotional armor back in place and produced a small tube from the other pocket.
“Here, take this. Rub it around, you know, down there. It’ll kind of numb that area so it doesn’t hurt so much. All the new girls use it.”
“All the girls?” Tatia asked, eyes wide with disbelief. “You mean there are more?”
“Oh, yeah! Eric has a stable of a couple dozen fillies. You’re the finest one he’s brought in so far, though.” She knew she’d said too much when Tatia’s eyes became glistening pools, putting her freshly applied make-up at risk. “Now, now, don’t you worry yourself about any of that. Like I said, I let my mouth run away with me sometimes. Just take a deep breath and think how happy Eric will be with you after his friend leaves.”
Cindy went over to the bed and began straightening the disheveled sheets.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Cindy made a strange noise – something between a sob and a laugh. “Don’t worry about that. He’ll know, and he’ll tell you what he wants you to do. And don’t be afraid of this one. He’s pretty easy to please.”
A soft knock at the door made both girls freeze in place, looking into each other’s faces. Cindy saw the terror in Tatia’s eyes, so she winked and said, “Relax and enjoy the ride. You look stunning, and you’ll be amazed at the power you have. See ya’ later.” Before Tatia could reply, Cindy scooted through the connecting door and closed it quietly behind her.
As that door closed, the front door opened a few inches, and a soft voice said, “May I come in?”
Tatia relaxed a little bit when she heard Eric’s voice, but she tensed and stared at the floor as he approached her. She flinched slightly as he reached out and put his index finger under her chin.
“Tatia?” he said tentatively.
He sounded like the Eric she thought she knew, so she allowed him to lift her face until she was looking into his eyes. “I am so sorry I hurt you before. The last thing I want to do is see you unhappy or in pain. You believe that, don’t you?”
She wanted to lash out at him, demanding that he take her home immediately, but she remembered the fear in Cindy’s eyes and the bruise on her leg. There was also a part of her that wanted to believe him, to go back to the way they were yesterday, so she nodded her head and let him draw her into a tender embrace. She laid her head on his chest and felt the vibrations of his voice as he continued to talk.
“This is hard for me, too, you know. I can hardly stand the thought of you with another man, and if there was any other way, I’d take it. But after he’s gone, things will go back to the way they were. Okay?”
She nodded, and he lifted her face again, stared into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity, and brushed her lips lightly with his. The moment was exactly the birthday kiss she had imagined, except that she was in a borrowed nightie instead of her beautiful new dress, and she was about to become one more statistic in the sex-trafficking industry in a small Texas town.
# # #
Want to read more? Buy the complete book on Amazon in either digital ($.99) or paperback.