Tatia hated picking up clients on the street. She never knew whether she was picking up a crazy man or a cop.
For the past few weeks I have been sharing sample chapters of Tatia’s Tattoo and will continue through Chapter 20. Links to previous chapters are at the end of this post. Following is Chapter 19. Chapter 20 will be posted on Thursday.
CHAPTER 19: ON THE STROLL…
The first time she was arrested, she was sporting a dark, shoulder-length pageboy. A new client had requested a brunette, so Eric had purchased a wig for her. The client must have been pleased, because he left her a nice tip. After he left, she went into the bathroom to freshen up and make sure her hair was on straight. She didn’t really like the look. The darker color made her face look harsh and angular, and the darker make-up Cindy had told her to use looked overdone. Still, if the client was happy, Eric was happy – and if Eric was happy, so was she.
Eric had said she was booked almost solid for the next several hours, so she was surprised when her phone rang. When she was working, she set it to let only calls from Eric come through, and he never called her while she was entertaining clients.
“Hello?” she said, wondering what she had done wrong now.
“Hey, Tatia,” Eric said in a pleasant tone. “How’d the guy like you as brunette?”
Tatia relaxed a bit, hoping she wasn’t in trouble after all. “He liked it. He left me an extra twenty bucks.”
“Good job. I’ll split the tip with you.”
Tatia started to protest, but she knew better. At least he was only taking half. “Thanks, Eric.”
“No problem, kiddo. Hey, you had a couple of cancellations and a couple of unfilled time slots, so your next client won’t be there for an hour or so.”
Tatia breathed a silent sigh of relief and thought about the book she had just downloaded today. She always carried her reader with her, just in case, and she felt a rush of hopeful excitement at the prospect of some free time to read. Her hopes were short lived, though, as Eric continued.
“I want you to go out and see if you can scout up a quick walk-in or two, if you know what I mean.”
“Sure, Eric,” she said, careful to keep the disappointment out of her voice.
“Just be sure to be ready when your next client gets there at 1:30.”
“Great! Love ya, babe!”
She hated going on the stroll. It was scary enough when Eric pre-screened the clients on-line, but it terrified her to pick up strangers on the street. Not as much as facing Eric’s anger terrified her, though, so she slid into the clingy red dress and the knee-high black boots she had worn to work. She checked her hair and make-up one last time, grabbed her hot pink phone clutch, and slid her room key card into the pocket next to her fake ID. Then, she hit “Messages,” Cindy’s number, and her frequently used emoticons.
After one of the other girls had been mugged in an alley off the stroll the month before, Cindy had made up some special icons. One showed a screaming girl by a car; another showed the same screaming girl sitting on a bed, and the third showed a policeman. The idea was that, in case one of the girls had a problem, all she had to do was hit the appropriate emoticon, send it to Cindy, and she would send help. They hadn’t really talked about what would happen if Cindy was working, but Eric didn’t want them texting him. Even though Tatia had not run into trouble yet, she wanted to be as prepared as possible. Satisfied that she had covered all her bases, she snapped the gaudy rhinestone clasp closed, stepped out the door, and began the two-block walk to the area where prostitutes and their clients often connected.
Tatia sauntered casually down the sidewalk with the hip-swaying gait Cindy had taught her, the one that was guaranteed to attract attention. As she walked, she thought about her new book. She often browsed through the shelves at the library when she had time, making notes of books she might want to download. Recently, she had come across Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and was instantly captivated. The cover blurb said it was about a girl who was sold into prostitution as a child but later found redemption in the love of God and the love of a godly man. It sounded like a fairy tale, but Tatia couldn’t resist finding out how the author imagined such a miracle might happen.
She was so deep in thought that she was startled when she heard a pleasant male voice say, “Hey there.”
“Oh,” she said, catching her breath as her hand flew up to her chest. “I didn’t hear you drive up.”
One of the reasons this area was so popular with the trade was that the one-way street allowed the drivers to talk to the girls without having to shout across the car or across an oncoming lane of traffic. Tatia recovered her composure and continued to walk slowly forward while offering the driver what she hoped was an inviting smile. He looked to be in his mid-thirties with sandy brown hair that looked as if he ran his hands through it a lot. He also had friendly eyes that crinkled a little bit at the corners when he returned her smile timidly.
“I’m sorry if I scared you,” he said, allowing the car to drift along beside her. “I thought maybe you were looking for some company. Maybe I made a mistake.”
“No, you’re not wrong. I was feeling kinda lonely, so I thought I’d take a walk.” She walked over to the car and leaned into the window. Cindy had taught her that, too. “What did you have in mind?”
“Ummm, I-I-I,” he stuttered. “I’m kinda new at this.”
He certainly wasn’t like a lot of the guys she saw cruising around, acting tough and trying to look cool. Tatia smiled, thinking he might be one of the not-so-bad ones. “Tell you what. I have a room a couple of blocks over. Do you want to come over and have a drink?”
“Sure,” he said, sounding relieved. “That sounds nice.”
Tatia walked around to the passenger’s side and stepped into the car, making sure the hem of her dress slid up provocatively. She buckled herself in and gave him directions to the motel. She told him where to park, led the way to her door, unlocked it, and invited him in.
“By the way,” she said, closing the door behind them, “my name’s Kaitlyn. I don’t really have anything to offer you to drink except a soda from the machine outside.”
“Hi, Kaitlyn. I’m Kevin. I’m not really thirsty anyway,” he said, looking down at the floor.
Tatia chuckled at his innocence. She sat down on the edge of the bed and crossed her long legs.
“Then what do you want, Kevin?” she asked. Knowing the clock was ticking and Eric was expecting results, she began to make suggestions and quote prices. Suddenly, the person in front of her transformed from a timid, insecure mouse into a strong, confident man on a mission, a man she instinctively knew was a cop.
“Crap!” she said under her breath. Her phone clutch was still in her hand, so she flipped open the clasp, touched the third icon, and hit send. “Eric’s gonna kill me.”
# # #
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Preface and Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18