A Mask of Love
For You Formed Myself Within, and Knitted Me Together
Kendra looked out the window of her airplane; she always chose the window seat. The knot in her stomach came from the anxiety of her decision, not the flight; she was planning to break the law, big time, and possibly mess up the rest of her life; but she couldn’t turn back now.
She thought now of how things had changed, of her desire to have a ‘fun room’. I wasn’t keeping people against their will, she told herself, but somehow there had been a shift in attitude over these few, brief months.
Kendra would likely continue with her dominant role over Carol Douglas; the woman needed that more than she did; but her days of being strictly abusive were over. Lillian had changed her, amazingly, or brought out something that had been within her, but denied. She shook her head, to clear her thoughts.
But then she pondered briefly on her parents; she hardly ever thought of them, rarely spoke to them; they didn’t observe Christmas so her birthday was the only time she received a brief, unemotional note from her mother. Was this all about her mother?
This was too heavy; Kendra decided. When the attendant, approaching now with her cart, arrived Kendra would order whiskey; maybe a double.
Lia looked at the bottom drawer of Holly’s desk and noted that it had a lock on it; none of the drawers on her desk did; why hadn’t she noticed this before? She tugged on the handle but the drawer was indeed locked. What would Holly have in there that needed to be locked; the common file cabinets they used had locks, but both of them had keys and there was a master key in the Senior Correctional Officer’s care?
Interesting, but Lia would need to look into this later; her night shift was over and she was heading home.
Jessica led Meg into the ‘fun room’; it was quite early in the day for this but Jessica wasn’t explaining anything. She fastened Meg’s arms and ankles to the large X-frame and then stood back to regard her naked slave. Pulling her thong off from under her negligee, Jessica held it under Meg’s nose. “Like this, slave?” she asked quietly.
“Uh, ummmm, yes Mistress,” Meg replied, enjoying the familiar scent and arousal.
Jessica chuckled, “Oh my sweet slave, what is there to do with you?” Jessica knelt down and grabbed a handful of Meg’s luxurious, auburn, pubic hair and pulled.
“UUUnnngg!” Meg called out, not expecting this. Jessica spread Meg’s vagina open as far as possible and inhaled the woman’s strong aroma before licking the pink flesh aggressively. She then stood up and kissed Meg, sucking her tongue hard. Meg could in fact taste her own ‘juices’ still on her Mistress’s lips.
“What do you want, Meg?” Jessica whispered into one ear. Meg was a little confused, first with what was happening, so early in the day, and second with the fact that her mistress was using her name. What was she supposed to say? What did her mistress want?
“I, uh, want to b-be yours, Mistress,” she said, breathing hard, fighting emotion.
Jessica stepped back, “Why?” She asked and stood. The look on her face was…sadness? Concern? Meg stared back, unsure of anything at this point.
Kendra paid the taxi and took her small bag and walked to the front door of her house. Everything seemed normal, everything except herself. She entered and stood listening; someone was in the shower, likely Lillian; she went up the four stairs into the living area and saw Meg sitting on the couch; she looked like she had been crying. “Hey there, Kid, what’s up?” Kendra asked, putting her bag down.
Meg shrugged and smiled a small smile, “Oh, not much, Mistress K, you’ve been away?”
Kendra sat down and stroked Meg’s arm in a comforting way, although it was her that could use some comforting. “Yeah, just a little trip. Who’s home?”
Meg wiped her nose and shrugged again, “Um, Lil, and uh Mistress L got home a little while ago and she’s gone to bed.”
“And your, um, Mistress?”
Meg looked up with sad eyes, “She’s gone out too.” She smiled again and Kendra took her in her arms and held her. Both women cried, but for different reasons.
Kendra waited until the afternoon, letting Lia sleep, before gently knocking on her door. Greeting the sleepy face, she took a few minutes to share what she had seen, and then they sat side by side on Lia’s bed.
“So,” Lia grunted, “we’re doin’ this.”
“Damn right, sister,” Kendra replied, the knot in her stomach reappearing.
“Oooh, soundin’ tough there, sister,” Lia chuckled, then became serious. “You really think we can just waltz in there and get these pricks to spill the fuckin’ beans?”
Kendra shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t think it will be a waltz, or that there will be…beans,” she smiled, “but I think both of these guys are cowards, and that works in our favour. Also, they’re criminals, so they won’t be running off looking for justice after we’re, um, done. We need surprise and we need conviction.”
“And your gun,” Lia added.
“And your muscle,” Kendra responded.”
Lia chuckled, “Yeah, and I’ll bring my Tase along, jus’ in case.”
“Good,” Kendra stood and headed for the door.
“Hey, any word from Allie?”
Kendra turned back, “No, not a thing. Weird, eh? I thought she liked it here?”
Lia shrugged her shoulders; who knew what was in people’s minds; Holly, Allie? And who would have ever thought Kendra Chand would be flying off to some small town where she planned to put a gun in the faces of a couple of guys, and make them confess to their sins?
Life is nuts, Lia thought to herself, as her door closed.
Carla Niske sipped her coffee, thinking; she would need to get back home in a few days, she had already stayed longer than she planned. She watched Marcy working behind the counter; she liked this woman, which was unexpected.
She thought of her partner Allan and smiled; he would be surprised. It had been at least three years since he had begun prodding her about ‘trying new things’, without saying explicitly what, although Carla had no doubts. She smiled to herself thinking of the reaction if she proposed bringing in a guy for a threesome; although she had no desire for that.
“So, when did you say you were heading back?” Marcy had now come to stand in front of her guest.
Carla looked up, “A couple of days. I think I have all the info I need.” She paused and smiled. “I’m just enjoying it here.” Marcy smiled too, and Carla carried on, “What’s your last name?”
Marcy smiled self-consciously, “That came out of nowhere.”
Carla laughed, “Yeah, I’m a little ADHD, sorry. Just wondering. You have a certain look to you, like I could drop you into, like, Woodstock and no one would blink. Just wondering about background. I’m a nosey person.” She laughed.
Marcy smiled as well. Why did she enjoy talking to this person so much? She hadn’t had a, um, girlfriend in ages, since before Dan. And this wasn’t like Meg, which was…something else. “My name’s Funar. My parents were Romanian. A lot of my dresses were my mother’s, if you can believe it.”
Carla nodded her head. “I can. So, Funar isn’t your, married name? I noticed you wear no ring.”
Marcy looked at Carla; there seemed to be nothing in her pleasant face but curiosity. “I’m not married,” she said simply, and Carla smiled.
“So what have you been up to, really, Kendra?” Jessica asked, bluntly. They were chatting in the living area, Jessica having returned from whatever her errand was; she wasn’t sharing everything these days.
“I could ask you the same thing?” Kendra smiled, and Jessica looked away. “It’s just a kind of, well, project, is all. I’ll tell you more later, maybe, after I’m finished. It’s no big deal.” The two women regarded each other.
“You’re a lot of things, Kendo-babe, but you’re not a very good liar,” Jessica stated, looking into Kendra’s face, making the woman look away. “I, on the other hand, have been a good liar my whole life. Sometimes I don’t even trust myself.”
Kendra looked up into the light grey eyes. “Meaning…?” Jessica stayed silent, regarding her hands on her lap. “This thing with you and Meg has seemed to come, um… unglued very quickly?”
Jessica slowly nodded her head. “Yeah. I know. But I’m kinda’ like Icarus, you know, that Greek dude, and love is like the sun to me, I guess.”
“That’s harsh, Kid. And I don’t think it’s true,” Kendra replied.
“Yeah, well, I’m tryin’ real hard to be truthful here. And real…and serious, for once. The, like bottom, bottom line is, I care too much for Meg. I know that sounds stupid, but that’s me. I can talk all I want, but I feel what I feel, right?”
They sat for a moment, and then Jessica stood and headed upstairs. ****
Meg looked across at her father. They were in the Purple Barista; Meg and Mary were not on tonight, there was no entertainment on Mondays; Kevin had just asked his daughter here to talk.
“So what would it take to, um, make a CD?” He asked cautiously.
Meg smiled. “To produce a basic CD, not a little EPK, with maybe three thousand copies, would be between nine and ten grand, to get it done at a real studio with a real producer, and artwork and everything.”
“Do you have enough, um, songs, for a CD?” Kevin continued, in territory he was not familiar with.
Meg looked kindly across at the man. “You don’t need to do this, Dad. I’m happy that you’ve come back into my life; I am.” She reached across and stroked his large hand.
Greenfield grinned self-consciously. “I want to do this. I want to help you. And it’s not just ‘cause you’re my daughter, but ‘cause you are very talented. You know, I can’t believe my own flesh and blood could be so talented; I want to shout it out, so there.” He grinned and looked boyish; Meg had to smile at his excitement as he continued, “Are there still radio stations that play, um, your kind of music?”
“It’s contemporary roots, and yeah, there are still stations that play this. But most musicians who have a CD will tour and sell their ‘merch’ at places they play.”
“Then that’s the plan.”
“No arguments, we’ll sit down with Mary and work out how to do this. There. It’s settled.” They smiled at each other, then Greenfield looked away, speaking in the direction of his coffee cup. “Uh, I’m not good with this, and pretty clueless, really, but are you and Mary, what I mean is, um…”
“Are we a couple?” Meg smiled. In response to the stammering and apologies that came forth, she reached across and put her hand over his again. “It’s complicated, Dad, but thanks for askin’.” They both smiled, and Greenfield looked relieved. This parenting thing was tough.
The sign had gone off overhead and Carol Douglas took out her cell phone. She was on her way from Dallas to Los Angeles, her trip now more than half over.
For some reason this morning she was feeling intensely homesick; one can tire of hotels, even luxurious ones. And, since her session in London, she had not had any ‘workouts’, and Kendra was on her mind today. She sent her mistress a text, very detailed and explicit, and then she sat back and tried to relax.
After a few moments, she scrolled through the contacts on her cell; did she have any names in L.A.; she really needed someone to take the edge off?
Even though Meg was not playing tonight, Kevin Greenfield returned to the Barista for the second time that day. After the encouraging conversation with Meg, they had talked to Mary and then Kevin had been in touch with some industry people and already the plan for the girls’ album was in motion.
But he had not told Meg that he had other plans, which he would begin to act on now. He sat at the bar and waited until Marcy approached; she was the one he wanted to speak with.
“Good evening, Kevin. Odd to see you here without Meg,” Marcy smiled. She had asked about ‘the man who comes and watches you’ and was surprised when Meg told her it was her father. They had since chatted briefly a couple of times. “Beer?”
“Yeah, thanks, Marcy,” Kevin replied and then waited until the woman returned with his drink before asking, “Say Marcy, hope you don’t mind me being nosey, but just wondering how this place does for you, you know, how’s business?”
Marcy laughed out loud and Kevin regarded her; his comment wasn’t that funny. Or funny at all. “Sorry,” she chuckled, “it’s just that I’ve been asked that very same question now twice in a coupl’a days, and that’s odd. Why do you want to know?”
Kevin looked up into the woman’s honest face, and smiled.
“Okay,” Lia said, looking up from her tablet, “next Tuesday works.” Kendra regarded her. Next Tuesday; it seemed so…imminent. “So, the plan is like your first run; to fly to Winnipeg, rent a car, drive to Kenora, do the thing with the dirty dickheads, drive back to Winny and fly home, right?”
Kendra nodded her head in silence. That was the plan; did she have the courage to see it through? Tuesday; basically, a week away.
When Marcy looked over to see Carla sitting at the bar she smiled, then went over to her. “I thought you might have already left?” She said.
Carla shook her head, “Tomorrow. But I wanted to chat with you once more before I fly off.”
Marcy tilted her head to one side and regarded this woman. “Hey, here’s something remarkable, someone is interested in buying this place. Oh, and what would you like to drink.”
“I’ll have a vodka and soda tonight, I think. And that is very interesting; what was your reaction?”
Marcy mixed the cocktail and returned, “Here you go. Well, I listened, that only makes sense, right. It was just a chat. He didn’t pull out his cheque book.”
Carla grinned and sipped her drink. “What does your partner think of the idea?”
Marcy smiled and looked down at the counter, giving it a wipe with her cloth. “I haven’t talked with him about it.”
The two women were silent for a moment, the conversational buzz of the room encircling them. Carla spoke quietly, “You know, I’ll need an experienced manager for my place in Vancouver.”
Marcy looked into the woman’s eyes. She smiled.
Lia looked up at the clock; it was almost two a.m., her shift was coming to a close and she still hadn’t been able to talk with Holly; it was almost as if the woman was avoiding her.
She waited until the minute hand had crept past the hour but stayed in her place; at three minutes past, the door opened and Holly came in, stopping suddenly when she saw Lia was still there. “What are you up to, Holly?”
“Why, you checkin’ on me, what the Hell you doin’?”
“What you got locked in that desk, partner?”
Holly’s eyes narrowed, “Just who do you think you are, asking me questions?”
“Stop dancin’ and come out with it. What you got in there that you need to lock it away?” Lia persisted.
“Get out, your shift is over, go home.” Lia stood and took a step toward her partner, “Back off girl, you’re gettin’ close to a big pile of shit,” Holly spat out.
Lia regarded the woman for a minute, “Well, you’d know, ‘cause you’re standin’ in it.”
“Where are you to off to, so early in the morn?” Jessica asked Kendra and Lillian, after glancing at the clock and noting it was just after nine a.m.
“We’re going to get some info on adult education classes, just so Lil has some idea of what’s, you know, expected and then we’re getting her a bus ticket to Winnipeg, so she can visit her dad when she wants, which could be very soon.”
Jessica raised her eyebrows; this was some news. “Hmmm, the bus, how quaint. Why doesn’t Lillian just fly?”
“I wan’na see the, you know, land, eh?” Lillian smiled, looking smart in a white blouse that offset her lovely brown skin. Her thick hair was braided.
“Like my hair? Kendo did it?” Kendra actually blushed at this, though she wasn’t sure why and Jessica laughed.
Lillian’s hair was awesome, however she did it, Jessica mused, then said “Awww, so sweet, you two need to make a coupla’ friendship bracelets, I’m thinking. Next, you’ll be headin’ to the mall and havin’ cokes,” she snorted.
“Yeah, yeah, have your fun, Snooks, we don’t care if people know we’re buds.” They all laughed as Kendra and Lillian headed out the back.
Jessica finished her toast and decided to let Meg hang on the hook in ‘the room’ another ten minutes, and then she’d take her down and scrape the hardened wax off her and let her shower.
And then…who knew? Jessica was just making it up as she went along, like treading water, she mused.
But not for long.
Dan came into the front area of the shop, tying his
apron. He and Marcy were now like the celebrated ships in the night, passing each other in the hallways of their rental home and here. Occasionally, like tonight, their shifts overlapped for an hour or so.
Marcy moved closer to him. “We need to talk. I’m, uh, thinking about selling this place.”
“Just like that?” Dan said, his voice flat.
Marcy sighed; he’s going to be a dick, she said to herself. The majority, well, almost all, of the down-payment for the place had come from her, although since then they had both paid an equal amount each month for the operations, etcetera and split the modest profits.
In the end, if she wanted to sell, there was nothing he could do. And the truth of it was, he was actually happy to hear the news, even if he chose not to show it. It was time to move on, he’d already decided.
Just then Meg and Mary came in and the topic changed; several patrons came in just after that and the place became busy
Dawn Haynes was happy with the news; she had eyes on Cutter in Washington, although there was still nothing specific about Lauren. She believed, however, that wherever Cutter was, Lauren would not be far away. Why Washington? She didn’t know, but she was working on finding out; keeping tabs on Cutter was part of that.
One problem now was what to say to Lauren’s mother. Dawn had tried to contact her but it seemed she was travelling and wouldn’t be back in Ottawa until the end of the month. What would she tell her then?
She’d need to tell her something; Lauren was supposed to be working here with her.
Kendra came into the darkened living room with a glass of wine in one hand and paused; a single candle glowed in one corner; she started when she saw Jessica, sitting on one end of the couch.
“Jeez, Louise, what are you doing, sitting in the dark?”
“There’s a candle,” Jessica said, quietly.
“Yeah, right, that sounds like the beginning of some proverb, as long as there burns a single candle and so on and so on.” The two women smiled at each other. “You want some wine?”
“Sure. You got anything to go with it?” Jessica chuckled and Kendra smiled.
In a moment she had returned with the bottle, a glass and a baggie. A few minutes later, the two were sitting on the floor, wine glasses beside them, as Kendra lit her fat joint.
After Jessica butted the remains of smoke one, and Kendra lit number two, Jessica murmured, “Do you think finding happiness is the purpose of life?”
Kendra inhaled deeply and then talked as she blew out the smoke, “Jeez, Snooks, you love layin’ on the heavy stuff, late at night, don’t ya’?”
Jessica leaned her head back on the couch. “The darkness brings out my insecurity,” she said. “No, really, it’s not that heavy a question. Is it all about being happy?”
Kendra regarded her friend, “Is this going to morph into your love question?”
Jessica sniffed, “Well, everything’s connected, Kend-o, and love’s the other biggie. But it seems like we’re all being pushed all the time to be, you know, happy. To find happiness, and love is supposed to be the answer. Or money…”
“Money can’t buy happiness…” Kendra chuckled.
“Yeah, says who? All the losers with no money, that’s who.”
Kendra smiled. “Yeah, well look at Carol Douglas. Money up the ass but not contented.”
“Yeah, but is contented the same as happy, hmmm?” Jessica smirked.
“Holy shit, Jess, you’re trying to make me crazy aren’t you? That’s your plan, right? Drive Ms. Chand insane and, what, take her house, eh? I’m watchin’ you closely from now on.” Both of them burst out laughing at that, although the third joint they were consuming might have had something to do with it. And the wine.
“I wish I was happy,” Jessica said, her eyes closed, her head on the cushion.
“Meg doesn’t make you happy?” Kendra asked quietly, wondering where that girl was, by the way.
“She makes me…joyful, for a while, and then the darkness comes creeping like, um, aaaah, poison ivy comes a creepin’, while you’re sleepin’…” Jessica started laughing, and some wine came out her nose, which sent both of the women into hysterics.
“Jeez, Louise, let’s watch the carpet, eh?” Kendra chuckled as she dabbed up some wine.
The two then sat in the dark, the candle down to its last bit.
“Thank you for all you’ve done for me, Kend,” Jessica said quietly, and an overwhelming sense of sadness swept over Kendra and she had to turn away.
“So, that’s settled. You leave on Sunday.” Kendra handed the little envelope with Lillian’s tickets to her.
“T’anks, mommers,” Lillian joked. She had just spoken with Charlie and had felt his excitement, and her own, but also Kendra’s concern; and her own…wariness. She had found it better to never get your hopes up, and that was a habit she had not let go of, yet.
But the thought of going back to Winnipeg, of seeing Charlie after all these years, was exciting…and scary. What if he was weird? What if she felt trapped?
“Here, you’ll need some spending cash,” Kendra smiled, handing Lillian another envelope.
“Kend-o, you don’t need to do ‘dat,” Lillian scolded.
“Hush, I want to. We, me and Lia, want to. She wants to help too, so just accept it. There are no strings attached. Take it with…” She paused here, feeling more emotional than she expected.
Lillian stood and draped her arms around the woman, saying quietly, “I get it. Mom.”
They held each other, neither saying anything; the lump in Kendra’s throat made it difficult, anyway.
(End of Chapter 18)