A Mask of Love
Be Not Afraid Of Going Slowly, But Of Standing Still
“So what’s changed, Kend-O?” Jessica asked as they sat, both drinking tea this time. Lillian was in the shower and had been for a while, it being the first shower she had taken, alone, in weeks.
“Whaddya mean, Snooks?” Kendra replied.
“Term of endearment.”
“How sweet,” Jessica smiled demurely and stroked Kendra’s arm, both laughing. “Um, what I mean is, a few weeks back it seemed like you couldn’t wait to get the ol’ mitts on that fine, native ass. And now you’re all Mother Teresa or whatever. You have some kinda’ Epiphany or somethin’?” Jessica was wearing her usual smirk, but she was genuinely curious.
Kendra gazed upon her cup like it held the answer, then looked up and sighed. “I dunno. I don’t. It’s just when I saw her again, something clicked. It’s not right, what is happening to her. Carol-Slave and Allie-Slave and Meg-puppy are all women making a choice. We’re doing stuff to them, right on, babe. They can get up and leave. Not so with Lillian. Now that she’s actually here and Lia is looking at her like a coyote with a pork chop, I’m concerned. This is Goddamn kidnapping, Jess. This is serious shit, like go to jail for a long, long time shit. It’s wrong on so many levels.”
Jessica considered this; you didn’t have to be an officer of the court like Kendra to know that what they were doing was wrong and could mess with their lives. They had both been concerned with what Lia did at her job, and now she had brought that home. “So whadda we do? You keen to take on Lia?”
Kendra put down her cup and looked Jessica in the eyes. She said simply, “Yes.”
Kevin Greenfield sat at the table in his rented condo. It was a second floor unit in a low-rise complex not far from the city centre, or Centre Ville, as now Kevin needed to deal with a certain amount of bilingualism.
He was excited and nervous and experiencing doubt. When it came to business, he had always been clear-headed and decisive, which was one reason he was successful. But with personal or emotional matters, it was a different story. The thought of being face-to-face with Margaret, or Meg as she called herself, was frightening.
He looked at his notes. First stop would be at the bar he had seen her playing at; there were no other notices of her on any local entertainment websites. It would be helpful if he had Facebook info or the like, but he didn’t. He would just need to show up and start searching.
“Ok, so let’s put aside the mistress and slave thing for a moment, are you really serious about doing this, Carol? I’m talking to you now as your lawyer, you see.” Kendra spoke calmly, although her heart was racing.
Carol chuckled softly on the other end. “The fact you’re discussing this at all, and not rushing to make me sign a deal, tells me about your integrity, my dear. I have thought long and hard on this, from several angles, Ms. Chand, (chuckle) and it’s what I want. Let’s go for a three-year deal. I’m prepared to commit to that, aren’t you?”
At the other end of the call, Kendra Chand simply shook her head in disbelief and murmured, “Oh my God.”
After Carol had finished her call to Kendra, she got busy with some paperwork and in an hour had scanned and sent off several documents to Kendra’s law firm, and several of her companies, as well as an ‘update’ text to the office manager of HeyThere! seeking some information. She was just considering having Marissa make some coffee when a gentle rap came to her door and Lauren entered, looking serious.
“Hi, Lauren, what is it? Oh, I just sent off a request for some more info on that company you’re interested in, you know, the one in Montreal?” She smiled at her daughter; she felt good today and generous towards all.
“Thanks, mom. That’s actually what I want to talk with you about. Gotta minute?”
“Of course, Dear. Of course. How can I help?”
Lauren smiled. Where to begin?
“So. You’re good with this, um…Mistress?” Meg asked, from her kneeling positon on the floor. She was not Cindy-Lou at the moment, or ‘The Maid’, or Sapphire; just a naked Meg Greenfield kneeling before Jessica Robb; yet the relationship held. Jessica was the mistress, and Meg belonged to her.
Jessica smiled down; she was good with this; this being Meg going out tonight to perform, for the first time in a while. It was only a little coffee shop and she would only be doing an hour-long set with likely little cash reimbursement, but Meg was excited.
On her side of it, Jessica was actually feeling nervous, as it would be the first time she saw, ‘her girl’ perform in public. Well, perform music that is. Just as she finished reassuring her submissive, Kendra entered the room and stood with a huge grin on her face.
“What the Hell?” Jessica asked, looking at her housemate. “You can’t be going house crazy, you’ve only been home a day.” She smirked, and Kendra motioned for her friend to follow. They went into the kitchen and Kendra leaned against the counter and beckoned Jessica closer. Jessica asked, “What is up with you, sister? You’ve been into the good sherry again, haven’t you?”
Kendra laughed and shook her head, then spoke in a whisper.
“Why are you whispering, crazy K?” Jessica asked.
“I want to share this with just you, so stop yapping and listen,” Kendra admonished.
“Okay.” Jessica replied, moving in and looking with anticipation at her friend.
“Looks like I’ll be working from home a lot over the next while,” Kendra announced.
“You’ve been laid off!” Jessica exclaimed and Kendra laughed out loud.
“No, no you silly mistress. I’ve been designated to look after the affairs of one, and only one, special client.”
“Mommy-Slave, right? What the Hell…?”
Kendra laughed and then explained. “She’s paying my firm one hundred and ninety k, yearly, and I’ll get one-twenty out of that, but I’ll only look after her stuff. How’s that for finding the right submissive, eh?”
Jessica simply stood, a look of bewildered astonishment on her pretty face.
Dawn and Cutter both looked up as the intercom buzzed.
“That’ll be Douglas, let her in, hey.” Cutter stated, not bothering to rise from his laptop. Lauren was to be coming with details of his target company, although why she couldn’t just discuss it over the phone, Cutter didn’t know. At this stage he would have gone to meet her, for Christ’s sakes, if it meant being able to wrap up this business.
The elevator’s arrival was heard and felt and then there was a gentle knock on the door. Dawn opened it, but before she could say something rude to the young woman she expected, she was stopped by the sight of Carol Douglas and two large men standing behind her.
“Uh, Mr. Cutter, you need to come here,” Dawn exclaimed.
“No worries, my dear,” Carol said mildly as she marched past the startled assistant. “I’ll just come in.”
Kendra was sitting with Lillian; she on the couch, the girl on a large cushion on the floor. Kendra had tried to make some small talk but so far, Lillian wasn’t biting.
“Okay, tell me, what can I do to convince you I’m on your side and mean you no harm.” Kendra offered.
The mask Lillian was wearing wavered slightly; one could see there was a struggle beneath it. She was determined to give her captors nothing, but she appeared to have something to say; that angel won out. “Find my mom.”
Kendra looked startled, as had been the case whenever that dark, rich voice emanated from the young, beautiful face. “Uh, sure, but, um, did she run off? What do you think of, you know, what do you mean, when you say ‘find her’?”
Lillian looked up and her face held no resentment, for the moment. “We lived in ‘Winter-peg,” she said, calmly. “That’s the last place I saw her. When I called last um, time, a few months back, like, the number wasn’t working, eh.”
Kendra paused and considered. “Ok, so I’ll try to track her down; um, do you have any, like, I.D.?”
Lillian shook her head, and Kendra registered amazement. How does one function in this world without identification, but all she said was, “Anything else?”
Lillian slyly took the little slip of paper from her jean’s pocket. “Yeah, buy this book.” She looked calmly at Kendra, who read the note and looked back, calmly as well. This was progress.
“Okay,” she said, and smiled. “What’s your mom’s first name?”
“Kadie,” Lillian replied, with no emotion.
“Ok, good,” Kendra paused. “Have you had lunch?”
Lauren had decided to ‘come clean’ as it were. She and her mother may not have had a great relationship growing up, but you only have one mother, and Carol Douglas was not a bad person. Simon Cutter, on the other hand, was unpleasant, questionable, arrogant and unpredictable. He didn’t really have a true hold on Lauren; it was mostly her lack of confidence, state of mind and his dominance.
In the end, when Lauren thought things through practically, the decision to turn to her mother was not hard.
Once Carol Douglas had the information, she planned in her usual direct, organized way. She confronted Cutter to take stock of the man, then made him an offer. She had no personal attachment to the company he desired; it may have weakened his position, her knowing of his strong interest, but she was in the process of selling stuff off anyway, so reaching an agreement wasn’t overly difficult.
She did want Cutter’s hold on her daughter released, though, which was why she had brought along a couple of ‘assistants’. Carol Douglas was not some sweet, middle-aged matron. She had succeeded in a man’s world by being tough and, at times, ruthless, if need be.
By the time she left Cutter’s condo, things were settled to Douglas’s satisfaction; and she would be able, in good conscience, to send her daughter off to something she could make an effort to succeed at. Her daughter now had an opportunity, and Carol was then free to give herself over to her desires. She had found a new purpose; it was personal and rewarding, and on her mind constantly.
Cutter on the other hand reached for the Jack Daniels when the group had left. He needed a drink; to celebrate, sort of. And just because he needed a drink; he had gotten what he wanted, but not in his way. He was, a little, pissed
Kendra put the package down and looked up at the clock; her little trip to a local Chapters had been successful but now it was almost five. She headed downstairs and found Lillian sitting on her bed listening to the device Kendra had given to her; it could play tunes and games. As well, Kendra had hauled a television into this room and the cable guy would be coming Thursday to hook it up. For now Lillian would need to make due with her device; looking at her, one never knew if she was happy about anything or not, her expression gave nothing away. Great at poker, Kendra thought.
“Here,” she said, handing the girl the package. Lillian pulled the book she had ‘requested’ out of the bag and regarded it; then looked up, a tiny smile playing at the corners of her lips. “It looks interesting; I’d like you to tell me what it’s all about, after you get into it,” Kendra remarked.
Lillian nodded her head, and opened the book; reading wasn’t easy for her but she was now motivated and determined.
After letting the girl browse for a moment and thinking of the time, Kendra asked, “What kind of pizza do you like?” Kendra asked.
“Um, whatever. No anchovies, eh.” Another small smile?
“Right. Give you a shout when it’s here.” Kendra turned to head off, when that compelling voice stopped here.
“Um, Kend-ra.” The woman turned to face Lillian, still sitting on her bed. Was this the first time she’d said her name? There was a pause, then Lillian murmured, “Uh, thank you.”
Kendra smiled and felt good. So simple, so easy. “No worries,” she said, and headed back upstairs to call for dinner. It would be the three of them, as Jessica and ‘her girl’ had gone out. Lia would be home for dinner soon; Kendra wasn’t looking forward to the confrontation that she knew had to happen. But that was just the way it was.
Kevin Greenfield left the bar disappointed; Meg had not been back there and the bartender didn’t have any info on anyone; the owner would be back later, but not ‘til nine. Greenfield decided he would just grab some dinner and return. He had no other leads.
It was almost six-thirty before Lia arrived home. Kendra had ordered two medium pizzas, both half-and-halfs, so that Lia had her pepperoni and fresh tomatoes; not Kendra’s favorite.
“Thanks,” Lia said, grabbing a beer from the ‘fridge. “Where’s Lillian?” she asked, as one pizza slice disappeared into her mouth.
“She’s just in the room downstairs. Have your pizza and then let’s talk.” Lia drank some beer and then started on a second slice. “Don’t you think we’ve talked enough already?” Lia asked, and there was a tone in her voice that Kendra noted. Clearly the whole thing with Lillian was bothering her; a lot, and she was running out of patience.
Kendra poured a coffee and bought herself some time as Lia finished off slice number two, washing it down with half of the can of Molson Canadian. Lia belched and looked over at Kendra as she began her third slice. “I didn’t hear an answer, Kendra.”
Kendra deliberately brought her coffee and sat down opposite her larger housemate, then looked at her directly and meaningfully. She waited until Lia had consumed the third slice before she spoke. “What you have planned for Lillian isn’t going to work,” She said simply and directly.
Lia’s brown skin seemed to darken; she focused on the can of beer as she replied. “How do you figure that? I don’t recall discussing my plans with you.” She looked up and her eyes were dark and her demeanor menacing.
Kendra swallowed and continued. “It doesn’t matter what your plans are, whatever they are, it’s not going to happen. We’re not keeping Lillian a prisoner here; this is not up for negotiation, Lia.”
“And who the fuck decided that, you? The queen?” Lia asked, her voice choked.
The two sat in silence, anger oozing from both, but it was Kendra suddenly exploding out of her chair to fling her cup against the wall, smashing it and sending coffee flying. “You’re Goddamn right I decided that, for Christ’s sakes.” She spit out, saliva flying along with words. “If you think you’re going to risk my career, my home, everything I’ve worked for just so you can have a taste of something that doesn’t belong to you, think again Lia.”
Momentarily taken aback, Lia recovered and stood, crushing her beer can in one hand as she grabbed Kendra by the throat with the other and slammed her against the wall. “Do it Lia. Do it, if you want. Go’wan, screw your life up completely. Is it worth that much to you? Is it?” Kendra spoke as loudly as she could, Lia tightening her grip on her throat. Lia began to squeeze harder, her eyes bulging with anger.
“Let ‘er go!” A voice from the doorway shouted, and both heads turned to see Lillian standing, fists clenched, eyes blazing, face darkening almost to purple. “Let her go, you bitch!” Lillian shouted again, and it was as if Lia was a balloon and the words were a pin. She released her hold on Kendra and stood back, seeming to shrink slightly before Lillian’s fury.
Without another word, Lia grabbed her keys and stormed out the back, letting the screen door slam.
The coffee house, and it actually was a house, a converted two-storey with offices on the upper floor and a business and the coffee shop on the lower, was located in central Ottawa not far from Carleton University.
Meg was to go on at nine, and she and Jessica arrived just after eight to get ‘loaded in’. This was not difficult as all Meg had was her guitar; the place had its own little sound system and a little stage in one corner of a room that sat possibly seventy.
The original owners of the Purple Barista had been big live music fans and had always offered as much music as they could, even if the money wasn’t much. The new owners, Dan and Marcy, a couple in their early thirties, greeted their young artist with enthusiasm and got her all set up. The biggest question was who was more nervous: Meg, who hadn’t performed in a while, the couple, who had never seen this act or Jessica, who felt like a mom watching her child at a school presentation?
Whatever, it looked like a decent crowd, as people were arriving in two’s, threes and more.
“This is the hard part,” Meg whispered to Jessica. “Waiting.”
Cutter looked over the top of his glass at Lauren, who was sitting across from him. She still seemed nervous, despite what had happened earlier. Of course, one’s personality is not something that can be turned off and on like a light. Where Carol Douglas was confident and forthright, Lauren was hesitant and doubtful.
Still, the way the negotiations had gone, Lauren’s role was now established and she would not need to deal with Cutter, who had actually already decided to return to Cleveland and send Dawn to Montreal as his manager. He had new projects already in mind.
“So, you played me quite well, for a little mouse,” Cutter murmured.
Lauren did not look up, but she did reply, “I didn’t play you. I did what you asked, and then at the last minute there was a change of plan. What does it matter?” She looked up now, into Simon’s thin, cunning face, “You got what you wanted.” She looked at him hard, her breasts rising and falling.
Cutter smiled, looking a little like a cobra. “Yes, but not how I wanted.” They sat in silence for a moment. “Take off your clothes, Lauren, I think you owe me something.”
Lauren looked up, then stood up and walked to the door. “My debt with you is paid, Simon.” She said as she opened the door and left. In the hallway she smiled; that had felt good.
Kevin left the same bar for the second time that day and without a lot more information, but he did at least have a cell number, for a ‘Mary’. Kevin remembered her as the girl who was singing with his daughter. Well, this was a start, even if it would be awkward to reach out. Still, he needed to start somewhere.
Meg finished her last song, the Brandi Carlisle-like version of ‘Country Roads’, to warm and appreciative applause from the more than fifty people in the coffee shop. Jessica was grinning like a proud mama; she had no idea ‘her girl’ was so talented. Meg had a lovely, warm, alto voice and a pleasant and engaging stage manner. She played mostly song covers, but the three originals Meg did were great; or at least Jessica thought they were great, and the applause was encouraging for her entire hour.
Throughout the performance, Jessica had noted with interest that Marcy the owner was watching her ‘artist’ keenly. Jessica smiled; this could be fun, to see if there was real interest there. She felt no jealousy at all at this; Meg’s feelings for her were so obvious and strong that Jessica knew she could dangle her girl out there to see if any interesting prospects were waiting. The thought made Jessica smile.
As Meg put away her guitar and accepted compliments from several patrons, Jessica kept a casual eye on Marcy; a woman of possibly thirty-five, definitely older than Kendra, a touch taller than Meg, maybe five-seven; long light brown hair parted in the middle, hippy-style, Jessica called it, with slim, modest breasts and hips.
She had a mild, attractive face, not the kind to start bands playing but gentle and, hmmm, Jessica pondered…soft. Yes, this was a soft woman, with her small, pert nose, and decent, definitely kissable lips.
Marcy wore a long skirt and a loose ‘peasant’ blouse with a wool vest, perhaps knitted herself. Jessica smiled as Marcy hurried over once Meg was free and spoke in an animated manner with her artist. Whatever she was saying made Meg smile as well. Meg cast several glances in Jessica’s direction during the conversation, with Jessica smiling in return.
In time Meg made her way to Jessica and they enthusiastically shared positives, including the fact that Marcy had just asked Meg to play on Thursday; then Meg showed the fifty dollars she had earned, with a huge grin on her face.
“Did you tell her you could play?” Jessica asked.
“I just said I’d check, which means I’m asking you. May I, Mistress?”
“Yes, my girl, you may. This is cool.” Meg grinned again and hurried to give the news to Marcy.
It was almost midnight when Lia opened the door as quietly as she could, fumbling a little with her intoxication. She wasn’t completely ‘lit’ but she had had enough beer to make her muddled. She was still aware enough, though, to come in the back way, but it didn’t matter; Kendra was waiting for her, in the darkened kitchen, in her robe, leaning against the counter.
The two women eyed each other silently, before Kendra turned and walked off to the living room. Jessica and Meg had come in about an hour earlier, clearly pumped from the evening. Kendra dampened the mood a little with her summation of the altercation with Lia. They had sat and talked until they heard Lia’s truck pull up and then the two had left. “You’re sure you’re good, Kend?” Jessica had asked with concern.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. It’s better if Lia just deals with me. Don’t worry, really. You two go celebrate in your special way.” Both Jessica and Kendra smirked, then Kendra had readied herself. She wasn’t quite as confident as she let on.
So now she sat, heart beating, unsure of what Lia would do next. The large woman shuffled into the living room and slouched down into an armchair, rubbing a meaty hand over her face. Without making eye contact she mumbled, with a bit of a slur. “I’m sorry, Kend.”
“You’re drunk,” Kendra noted, quietly.
Lia sat up and looked across the space. “Mebbe, but I’m still (she hiccupped) sorry. Fucking sorry, babe, mean that; really. Fuck.” She slouched back and sat, breathing heavily; Kendra just waited. Lia continued. “You’re right, Kend. You’re always fucking right. Fuck.”
Kendra allowed a small smile, but remained quiet for a moment before adding. “Not always, Kid.”
Slowly, like a dormant volcano coming to life, Lia’s chest began to heave as she fought to maintain control. In a moment, large, fat tears were rolling down her face, and her breath was coming in ragged sobs. Kendra moved over and knelt beside the chair, placing her delicate hand over the larger one of her friend. “Fuck,” Lia said again.
“Hey, it’s alright, Kid. I mean that. Let’s put it behind us.” She pressed a tissue into the brown hand. Lia blew her nose noisily and then leaned back, her sobs gradually subsiding.
“I shoun’t ‘ov grabbed ya’. I was wrong, Christ. Ummmmm, I was, ummmmm, wrong ‘bout ev’rything. Shit.”
She wiped her nose again. “Shit. Shit. Shit.”
“Hey, like Scarlet said, tomorrow’s another day.”
Lia looked at her. “Who?”
Kendra chuckled. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. You’d better get to bed.”
Kendra helped Lia to her feet and the woman wavered slightly before gaining control. “Afternoon shift,” She mumbled, and started toward the stairs.
“Okay, we can talk some more tomorrow. Get some sleep.”
“Good night, Snooks.”
Lia paused and looked back. “Snooks?”
Kendra chuckled again. “It’s a term of endearment.”
Lia waved and started slowly up the stairs.
(End of Chapter 8)