It took us awhile to get in. A black woman escorting a native woman meant the back of the line. I was used to it and so was Saff, but it rankled still. I glanced up at her—she was a couple inches taller than me anyway, but thanks to our shoes the difference was even more pronounced,, since she could get away with a higher heel than I could—and I saw that her jaw was set in a tough line. She got a look to her whenever she was really pissed off, a look that turned her eyes to cold fire.
Eventually I gave in and bribed the door guard, toddling down the frayed red carpet to press two twenties in to his meaty paw. San Fransisco was a funny town like that. It seemed really diverse to outsiders, but even in the gay capital of the U.S. it was impossible to avoid discrimination completely, though I had to admit that San Fran was a lot better about me being a lesbian than the rez ever was.
There was a sign just inside that proclaimed “Level two mind control permitted on the premises. No minors. Patrons must show I.D. at the door.” Level two mind control meant they could influence their patrons indirectly. They couldn’t force people to buy things they didn’t want or do things they didn’t want to do, but they could lower inhibitions, promote relaxation and euphoria, and tease out people’s latent desires. It was the difference between putting a gun to someone’s head and making them take a drink, and soothing a person’s protests so that getting a drink felt like their decision despite it being heavily influenced by outside forces.
The club was in full swing and as I’d guessed it would when I’d visited earlier, it had undergone its night time transformation. The shabby red velvet chairs looked lush now, where before I could pick out all their frayed, musty threads. The bar, along the right wall, gleamed to the point that the patrons clustered there could see their faces in the gloss. The stage, front and center, wore a veil of purple lights, pink undertones picking out the highlights in the strippers’ long, unbound hair as she wrapped her legs around the glittering pole mounted near the audience with the prime seats. She was drop dead gorgeous if you liked conventional beauty, long legs, classic hourglass shape, blonde hair. She struck me as almost too pretty…
There were glamours at work. That must be it. I opened the door on my magical senses, irising open a bit at a time. I could feel those glamours then, like the patter of kitten paws on bare skin. The stink of cinnamon whiskey in the air lent itself to the complex sensations the magic called forth, along with the scent of clean sweat and pipe tobacco. It was hard to ignore, a sexual pulse that made my belly tighten and my pussy clench.
I wrapped us in a little wisp of magic, blunting some of the effects so Saff wouldn’t just outright succumb. As a mortal she didn’t have many defenses, though what she did have were very good; Saff was willful and confident. There was a Fae in here somewhere, probably working their magic from a back room. If they’d been swanning around in the crowd, I surely would have picked up on it unless they were immensely powerful. It was hard for a Fae to hide their light under a bushel.
We found a table off to the side. Maybe I’d get really lucky and the mysterious Carla would make an appearance, but I doubted it. Things were never as neat for real life homicide detectives, not like the movies where everything unfolded in a predictable pattern. Once I settled in to one of those chairs I couldn’t help but watch the show. The girls here were gorgeous, and I realized that the place was a lot nicer than I’d thought before in the unflattering light of day.
Saffie nudged me in the ribs.
“Like you’re not looking.”
A waitress came over and gave us a menu. A skimpy apron hugged the curve of her hips, and cupcake shaped pasties covered each nipple, barely. She set a little box of truffles on the middle of the table, each of them done up to look suggestive. I eyed the little fondant vaginas and frosting penises with a skeptical eye. I picked up the menu just for something to fidget with and a page of onion skin slipped out. I picked it up, peering at it. It looked like a menu, but…
Chocolate and Cooch, market price
I slapped the page to the table top before I could read anything else.
Saff picked it up and immediately started to hoot with laughter.
“You mean you can pay to lick whipped cream off of a stripper’s tits? Like a girl sundae?”
“Oh jesus.” I thought of myself as fairly worldly but that was way beyond the pale.
“Titties Jubilee? That’s not very creative.” Saffie sniffed, examining the menu.
“Please tell me you’re not thinking about pouring chocolate sauce on some stripper’s coochie.”
“It’s better than Fish of the Day. Besides Cherries Jubilee has, you know, cherries in it.”
“That’s not the dessert you set on fire is it?”
“Yeah, but I bet they won’t let you do that part.”
“Unless she’s a a certain kind of therian, I guess. Then she could just heal it. Ugh, why am I trying to apply logic to this situation?”
I put my hands over my eyes, as if that would clear my mind of all the fucked up images the menu was calling up.
“They’re being pretty blatant about this,” Saffie mused, “considering prostitution is illegal.”
“Well, you can apply for a license, like out in Nevada, but he’s probably paying off the cops to look the other way.” I hated acknowledging it, but I knew it had to be true. Otherwise a guy like Fauntleroy wouldn’t have stayed open a week, let alone years. “The license is too expensive for most people to bother. And really, with all the shit we have to deal with in the Tenderloin, I overlook this kind of thing too. Unless he’s hurting his girls, of course.”
It was a sad fact, but there just weren’t enough hours in the day sometimes to run down every little possession charge or seedy nightclub owner.
“I guess they can just call themselves a BDSM club and claim it’s just one big consensual swinger party.” Saff shrugged, her gaze half heartedly trained on the girls in leather straps gyrating on stage.
“We’re going to have to go in the back.” I made myself say it, even though I wasn’t at all eager to watch whatever dire smorgasbord was going on back there. “It’s the best shot I have at questioning someone.”
A lap dance wouldn’t last long enough, and it was otherwise less than conducive to a lengthly interview. The bartender would be far too busy to talk and I didn’t want them to remember the irritating bitch peppering them with questions later.
“Do you want me to, uh, place our order?”
I squeezed my eyes shut.
There was no way I could make myself say I’d like the Twat Tart, please, without either laughing till I cried or flat out dying from sheer embarrassment. Saffie looked at me sinking low in my chair and smirked.
“You’re a total whore and you can’t say any of this stuff out loud?”
“Just because I like casual sex doesn’t mean I know how to order a Minge Mince.”
“Well, I’m guessing I’ll have good luck with the layer cake. Kinda implies you need at least three people.”
It was doubly weird to go in to such a sexually charged situation with Saffie, but this was where circumstances had brought us and the best thing I could do was try to keep my wits about me.
Before I even realized it was happening I’d paid and we were being lead in to the back rooms. It was like an old fashioned brothel back there. The walls were done in velvet, black fleur de lis patterns cut out to show the dark carmine underneath. It was quiet too, thanks to the plush quilting along the lower half of the wall. It meant the primary sounds were moaning and groaning, straight out of a porno flick. Girls were everywhere, posing themselves along the walls and draping themselves over the big circular couches at the place where all the hallways met in the middle.
A busty white blonde and a rawboned East Indian brunette were draped over the closest couch, feeding each other chocolate truffles. The blonde pinched the little chocolates between her fingertips, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from those perfectly manicured nails against the gold dusted truffle. She popped the candy in her friend’s mouth, her finger against the other girl’s lips as the girl swallowed, as if she was beckoning the brunette to silence. They kissed, presumably trading the taste. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a naked black woman sprawled out on another one of those couches, head thrown back. She had chocolate sauce all down her front and a man in a suit was enthusiastically eating her out as she moaned and writhed. His face was so deep in her pussy I couldn’t even tell what race he was.
A pale woman with ample curves enhanced by a corset pulled so tight it was against the Geneva convention came towards us, tearing my attention away from the straight couple. I grabbed Saffie’s hand reflexively; normally I wasn’t intimidated by attractive women, but this situation wasn’t exactly usual. Seeing people be so sexually open was still strange. I could feel myself blush and I wondered if I wasn’t a little more repressed than I realized.
She had perfectly coiffed red hair, like the dregs of a cheap bottle of Merlot. The black feathers pinned to her hairpiece made her look like a crow that had gotten lost in a vintage clothing store, a ragged scarlet jay that was much more interesting for her broken pinions than glossy perfection would have offered. She fixed me with her depthless black crow’s eyes, and only when she was inches away did I realize she had a lollipop in her mouth. She took it out and licked her lips, and the fragrance of juicy candy nestled against a hot tongue wafted over my face.
“Well, aren’t you a big sweet slice of red velvet,” she purred. I backed against the wall before I even realized I was doing it. Saffie came with me, still clutching my hand.
“What does that make you, Saffie?” I laughed, sounding breathless in my own ears. “Death by chocolate?”
“You are testing me, Ginny.”