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Reece and Faith Collection





Private Dancer

Reece’s Faith

Reece’s Star

Keeping Faith







TJ Vertigo







2018


Reece and Faith Collection

Affinity E-Book Press NZ LTD.

Canterbury, New Zealand


ISBN: 978-1-98-854902-6



Private Dancer

© TJ Vertigo 2005

2nd Edition

Editor: Nat Burns

Cover Design: Nancy Kaufman

Irish Dragon Designs



Reece’s Faith

© TJ Vertigo 2014

2nd Edition

Editor: Editor Nat Burns

Cover Design: Irish Dragon Designs



Reece’s Star

© 2015 by TJ Vertigo

2nd Edition

Editor: Nat Burns

Cover Design: Irish Dragon Designs



Keeping Faith

© 2016 by TJ Vertigo

2nd Edition

Editor: Nat Burns

Proof Editor: Alexis Smith

Cover Design: Irish Dragon Designs1st Edition

Production Design: Affinity Publishing Services



This work is copyrighted and is licensed only for use by the original purchaser and can be copied to the original purchaser's electronic device and its memory card for your personal use. Modifying or making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, without limit, including by email, CD, DVD, memory cards, file transfer, paper printout or any other method, constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses

Back of the Books


Private Dancer


Reece Corbett grew up on the mean streets on New York City, abused, used and in trouble with the law. Pulled from despair, by a mysterious man named, Frank, the obstinate, angry street thug eventually earns respect and makes a name for herself, as well as a reputation, despite the demons that still haunt her.

When Reece inherits a Gentleman's Club called ‘The Lounge’, after Frank's sudden death., protecting her ‘girls,’ especially one freaky little dancer with a heart of gold named, Cori, is the only thing she takes pride in.

Faith Ashford grew up wealthy, with all the creature comforts that money provides. However, faith wasn't like the other spoiled rich girls, and had no desire to follow in those rather shallow footsteps. Instead, the aspiring actress follows her dreams and finds herself in a tenement on New York’s Alphabet City, working the night shift at a rather seedy bar. When Cori wanders into Faith’s bar, she has no idea that she would become Faith’s salvation.


Reece’s Faith

In the return of the main characters from the bestselling novel Private Dancer, we see the blossoming relationship of bar owner, Reece Corbett and actress, Faith Ashford.

The two women explore new, uncertain territory together, using sexual intimacy as a glue of comfort, helping them become strong and whole. A trusting Reece shares with Faith the sordid tale of how she became The Animal and Faith finds herself newly empowered by Reece’s ongoing trust and support.

Jealousy arises when Faith has to kiss a man on her TV show and two amorous women stalk Reece.

When Faith is outed on her television show, things get crazy. With arrival of her parents on the scene, the craziness escalates. As Faith tries to justify her lifestyle and defend her love for Reece, she discovers that nothing about her parents is as she once believed.

This, not to be missed passionate and erotic romance, will have you begging for more.


Reece’s Star

Reece Corbett watches over the dancers in her gentleman’s club with the blue, razor sharp eyes of The Animal. Few know that resting comfortably in her office is her newest love, a tiny MinPin named Smudge. What happened to The Animal, known for her rapacious appetite for women and danger?

Faith Ashford is what happened to The Animal. Faith and Reece have been together a while now and they have settled into something resembling domestic bliss. This bliss alarms Reece. It’s one thing for Faith to see her softer side, that’s vulnerability enough, but to let her friends see it…no. Not the best plan. Under Faith’s guiding, loving hand, will Reece successfully traverse the rocky road of emotion and embrace the positive changes in her life? Or will she panic and be unable to control that Animal part of herself? Will she take that next step to declare herself fully capable of love and devotion?

This third installment in the popular series that began with Private Dancer continues the passionate and often hilarious romance of Reece and Faith as they both grow in love and in trust.


Keeping Faith

You loved them in the previous novels, Private Dancer, Reece’s Faith and Reece’s Star, now join the antics of Reece, Faith, Cori, Vi, and even The Animal, one last time in Keeping Faith.

It’s bad enough that Faith is gone all the time with her success, and being followed by the paparazzi isn’t one of Reece’s favorite things, but the new movie that Faith will be starring in has several love scenes…nude love scenes. To make it worse, her co-star is none other than Faith’s crush, Alicia Alvarez.

Faith has finally made the big screen, but how will Reece handle her success? Will the love that they share be enough to save their relationship and soothe The Animal?








Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

About the Author




Dedication


This book is dedicated to the original, loyal fans of ‘Vertigos World’, whose encouragement and support egged me on in the best way possible.




Chapter One




Reece emerged from the shower and securely wrapped herself in a large, fluffy towel. Turning to grab another towel for her hair, she caught sight of herself in the mirror above the sink. A tired face, intensified by the insistent glare from the harsh lighting, reflected back. Once vibrant blue, her eyes were now tired and dull. Long, black hair plastered erratically against her slumped shoulders and sallow face. She sighed aloud, unhappy with her reflection. Trying on a few of her best smiles and striking her most confident poses, she eventually frowned at the woman in the mirror, unconvinced.

Approaching footfalls broke her out of the perusal. Disgusted with herself, she plopped heavily onto the chaise lounge and continued to dry her hair.

There was a slight tapping followed by a quiet voice. “Hey, you almost done?”

Reece bent her head between her knees to dry the underside of her thick hair, trying hard to recall the woman’s name. Well, at least I remember she’s blonde, she thought as she chuckled dryly.

“There’s a full bath downstairs if you want,” she said and was startled by the feel of hands on her shoulders.

“Mmm, I’d much rather share this one with you, baby.”

Reece stood quickly, nearly throwing the blonde into the toilet. “I gotta get going. I have a busy day today. You have about a half hour ‘til I leave. So, if you want a ride, hurry up.”

She strode out of the room leaving the blonde surely wondering what she had done wrong. What she didn’t know, was that Reece Corbett hated the morning after. Hated herself, hated her needs, hated small talk and hated the women who thought so little of themselves that they would sleep with a stranger. But only for that next morning.

It had taken years for Reece to realize the affect she had on people. Now, she used it to her advantage.



Faith Ashford turned and fluffed her pillow violently for the fifth time. It had been three months, and still her internal clock refused to reset. When she took the job at the bar, it was temporary. “Just until I can land a juicy role” were her exact words. Three months on the night shift and she was completely miserable. Not only did she hate her job, but now it had effectively sabotaged any chance she had at that juicy role. Looking like death warmed over from lack of sleep is definitely not the way to land the acting role of her dreams.

“Aarghh!” She threw herself on her side and squeezed her tired green eyes shut, willing sleep to take her. She allowed images of her family’s beach house in the Hamptons to float behind her eyelids. She could almost smell the sea, reclining on the deck and watching the waves roll in. It was so peaceful.... So quiet....

Slowly she drifted off with the imagined sounds of ocean and seagulls.



Waiting for the signal to turn, Reece’s hair was whipped around her face by the crisp October wind. It’s almost time to put this baby in storage, she thought sadly, revving the Harley between her legs.

She turned onto Greenwich Street on her way to the gym. If there’s one thing in life Reece would admit to loving, it was her Fat Boy. It was the first thing she looked forward to when she woke up. She doted on that machine as if it were her child.

Come September, she was on her way down south, riding with the warm wind, and nothing and nobody would stop her. She was already taking chances, as it was. New York City is not the best place for a motorcycle, regardless of the weather. Now, with the club, she was forced to lock it away as the seasons changed. She was already looking forward to the warm weather.

Circling the block for the zillionth time, Reece wasn’t the least bit surprised that there wasn’t a sliver of space in which to park her baby. Without a second thought, she pulled it to a stop on the sidewalk. After chaining it to her satisfaction, she bounced up the steps to begin her second favorite part of her day.



Cori noticed the familiar rumble outside of the gym. While not a fanatic about working out, she did get the urge to shape up every so often. Especially when the hottest bods in the Village were the main scenery. Reece let her use her guest pass as often as needed, after all, she did have a vested interest in Cori’s body, no matter many tattoos and rings adorned it.

Feeling the tall shadow approaching, the pink haired girl fibbed aloud. “Forty seven, forty eight, forty nine….fifty!” grunting at the end for effect.

“Hey, Boss, fancy meeting you here,” she panted.

Reece continued stretching and smirked. “Fifty leg curls? I’m impressed. And not even a drop of sweat. I wanna be just like you when I grow up.”

“Fuck you, asshole.” Cori stuck out her twice-pierced tongue.

“Eat me, Freak.” Reece wiggled her own pierced tongue at her employee and got comfortable on the arm blaster.

Cori was shocked and amused. “Sooo, Butthead, how long have you had that? Don’t tell me you had it when you chastised me for getting one. That would make you a hypocrite.”

“Settle down, Beavis, I had this when you were plugging your first period,” she strained out between lifts.

“Ew. That was just lovely. Hypocrite.”

“Thanks, Freak. I have to think of the clients. I run an….”

“Upscale establishment for the more respectable clientele. Yeah, yeah.” Cori finished for her.

“But it’s true, they don’t like surprises. Spot me over here, will ya?”

“Um...boss lady, I think they know what they’re getting when they look at me.” She twirled around for Reece’s benefit.

“Freak.”

“Dyke”

“Oh, yeah...that’s mature. And now who’s a hypocrite?”

“Fine. Let’s get this over with, Body by Jake. I’m not here to spot your tight ass all morning.”

“You want me.” Reece chuckled.

“I had you and moved on,” Cori countered.

“I ruined you for everyone else.”

“Only for a week or two. But I got over it, you cocky fuck,” she said, snorting.

Reece only shook her head. She couldn’t, for the life of her, remember why she bedded the freak in the first place. She’d been quite the handful.

Well she did have blonde hair, she thought. I’m a sucker for blonde hair and green eyes. Too bad they had been fake, on both counts.



It was five that evening when Faith crawled out of bed to greet a blast of freezing air. Living in a building such as this, she had long ago taken to sleeping with her sneakers on, and piles of blankets. Not only to avoid the cold, but also to never have the experience of an unwelcome visitor touch any part of her exposed skin again. She was dreading summer.

It had been a shock to the spoiled rich girl when she realized she was completely on her own. But the feisty blonde had perseverance, what with getting used to the odd-looking pierced people, the pathetic junkies and the beggars. She learned the subway, and took self-defense classes at the Y after being followed one night. Unfortunately, this was where she lived and the best she could do on her current salary and tips. The locals called it Alphabet City and before she moved here, she had never even known that anything below 34th Street existed, besides Wall Street, much less have stepped foot in a neighborhood like this.

After all, this was only temporary.

With a sigh, Faith started to strip off the layers. Turning on the illegal hot plates, she began the ritual of heating the pots of water, at the same time filling the bath halfway with tepid tap water. It was bad enough to have a bathtub in the kitchen; she could at least have hot water. Showers were rare. In a building as old as this, the shower stall was out in the hall and the rest of the fifth floor shared it. Only when she was absolutely sure that there was no one else around, she would take a quick shower, armed with a crow bar, just in case. While quickly rinsing the last of the shampoo from her honey blonde hair in the sink, she was already anticipating her wake up coffee and pastry. The neighborhood might be bad, but within blocks were some of the best bakeries and restaurants she could ask for, cheap and delicious. Her favorite, Veniero’s, was only four blocks out of her way.

Grateful that she had gotten used to the chill after bathing and dressing, Faith locked all four locks behind her and gingerly made her way down the narrow stairs, stepping over the occasional junkie and drunk huddled there for warmth.



By the time Reece had set her baby in the garage and had the usual repetitive small talk with Pepe, the attendant, the money machine known as The Lounge was filling up. She sincerely doubted that the attendant’s name was Pepe. If that were true, the fact that the two before him were also named Pepe would be too weird. She nodded toward the bouncer, Sam, once an officer in the Army, now dishonorably discharged. They asked, she told.

“Nice crowd, boss,” Sam mentioned by way of hello.

Reece smiled and took the stairs two at a time. The sound of tacky dance music with way too much bass assaulted her ears. Hurrying through her club, nodding politely as she went, she fished out the keys to her sanctuary, a place of solitude, reached only when the door to her office was closed. Soundproof. It came with the club and she couldn’t have been more thankful.

She loaded the coffee machine and hovered over her big walnut desk. She wanted to sigh, but it would only send the already threatening mountain of paperwork to the floor.

“I need an accountant,” she stated to no one. “A sexy accountant.” She grinned at the thought before bringing her attention back to her desk.

It had been a year since she became owner of the club and Reece was not at all prepared for the job. While she had a head for business, and a strong will to succeed in life, she had no patience for the paperwork. Obviously, Frank had thought otherwise, or he wouldn’t have given it to her. He’d had undying faith in Reece. Something she couldn’t seem to find in herself.

“Faith,” she said aloud, while making smaller hills of paper. “Yeah, thanks, Uncle Frankie. I owe you one.”

She wasn’t ungrateful about being left the club, just angry with Frankie for dying. She was bitter at the circumstances of her good fortune and not quite confident that she could pull this off on her own. There were people depending on her, and it was a whole new concept. There had never been anybody but herself to worry about, or provide for. Now responsibility had a different meaning, and she wasn’t sure she could handle it. She’d much rather be out on the open road, or maybe watching those women who depended on her perform.

The moment her ass hit the chair, there was a knock at the door. A blue haired Cori peeked her head in the door.

“Knock, knock? Ooo, I smell hazelnut?” She was already pouring herself a cup.

Reece glared at her. For some odd reason, she allowed this obnoxious person into her world. There was no explanation. Cori just wouldn’t go away. A big money maker for the business, she was a persistent little fuck who wouldn’t take no for an answer. In some ways, Reece respected her strength of character. Besides, if you’re gonna look like that, you have to be strong, she thought often.

“What? Don’t like the blue? I can just throw the rest of the pink in and make it a tasty lavender….”

“No, not just the blue. It’s the entire image. You look like a clown. And by all means, make yourself comfortable,” she added without raising her eyes from her work.

Cori sang circus music, while balancing on one foot with her cup on her nose.

Reece clapped her hands. “Oh, I’m impressed. You know they have a freak show at the Limelight.”

“Aren’t you hysterical? Wait, I can’t breathe!” Cori fanned herself dramatically.

“And a pathetic little drama club up the street. Shouldn’t you be out there showcasing these magnificent talents?”

“You’d cry if I left you. You need me.”

Reece stopped adding for a moment and stared at the dancer. She was right. She might have acknowledged that fact, but she wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

“So....” Cori took a gulp of caffeine. “It’s Honey’s birthday today and we’re going out to celebrate. You wanna come?”

“Of course I wanna come, but not in a bar full of drunks,” she said with a smirk.

“I’m sure the great pussy-meister has had plenty of bar room quickies.” Cori emptied her cup and stood.

Reece gave a wicked smile, but refused to say anything.

“It’ll be good for you to hang out without the Reece Corbett fan club drooling on your boots for a change.”

“You finished your coffee.” Reece lifted her eyes but not her head.

“Observant. C’mon, it’ll be fun.” Noting that her boss had yet to blink, she added, “Ok, but we’re meeting at The Tavern after hours. It’s across from....”

“Thank you, Cori, I know where it is. I have work to do, so don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

Cori, who had to have the last word, waited ‘til the door was closed. “Tight ass!” she yelled.

Halfway down the hall, Cori heard a muffled “Freak!” and chuckled.



It was exactly three in the morning by the time The Lounge officially closed. Sam was sitting at the bar chatting with Honey about the mind’s ability to play tricks on the body. While it was illegal in NY to serve alcohol in a club where a woman performs nude, it was perfectly okay to serve nonalcoholic beverages without bringing attention to that fact. When the customer asks for beer, he assumes he’s getting beer. Sam had periodically to eject the drunken businessman, whose brain had convinced his body he was drunk. When that happens, the brain is tired and the man begins to think with his dick.

The girls were all prepared to leave when Reece strolled through the brightly lit club and fell into inspection mode. After sufficient scrutiny, she nodded at the employees and proceeded toward the exit. “Happy Birthday, Honey. Lock up, Sam.”

And she was gone.

“You know, Cori,” Sam spoke up. “I think she’s opening up.”

The girls laughed as they migrated to the door.

Suddenly defensive, Cori backhanded Sam in the stomach. “Shut up, Sarge. She’s got...issues.”

Cori didn’t know why, but she suddenly felt bad for her boss. There was a certain pattern to Reece’s actions. She’d figure it out. No one deserves to be that sad. Climbing into the crowded cab, Cori thought about this. If she knew her boss, which she did, Reece would be riding up to Henrietta’s right now, taking control of the pool table effortlessly.

When bored with winning and without saying a word, she’d hand her helmet to one of the many women who’d been up her ass all night, take her home, and fuck her brains out. Cori knew that scenario all too well.

The next morning, Reece would be in a cranky mood. Cori figured her boss was looking to fill a void. Trying to compensate with sex. Shaking her blue head, she decided to forget about it for now.

“Hey, girls! Ready to party?” she called out.



Faith had wiped up what must have been two kegs of beer that night. Her feet were soaked, and the section between her upper thighs and her ribs felt waterlogged with liquor. Looking around at the sea of oddities that called themselves customers, bikers, punks, Goths, and especially teenage frat boys, she couldn’t understand for the life of her why college kids had this need to inebriate themselves so thoroughly night after night.

Dragging her hand through her hair for the hundredth time, she threw the rag on the bar and tried to will, with her mind, that Mr. Politics would shut up already. She had been nodding and smiling for about two hours and if the large tips he left meant anything, she was very convincing. But, if she had to hear the name Monica Lewinsky one more time....

“Hey! Watch it, asshole!”

Well, that got her attention. She looked around until she found the woman attached to the voice and then quite openly stared. Mr. Politics, no longer having an audience, moved on to a table, and the oddest-looking woman sat in his place. She was about five six with electric blue hair. A colorful tattoo snaked its way around the back of her neck, disappearing behind her shoulder. There was a ring with a bead through her left eyebrow, another through her right nostril, and a third through the right side of her bottom lip. Faith, in a moment of insanity, thought about what it would be like to thread a string through the hoops and control the woman’s face like a marionette. Temporarily amused she allowed her first real smile to cross her face. “What can I get you?”

“Cori...my name is Cori.” She pointed out the women at a nearby table. “That’s Debbie, Brandy, and that’s Monica. Can you send a couple of pitchers of Bass over to our table? I got the tab.”

Faith glanced at the table of assorted women. “Sure, Cori. Glasses or mugs?” she asked.

“Whatever....” Blue hair disappeared into the crowd.

The bartender whistled to the waitress, who from the looks of things was going to get laid any second.

Temporary...this is just temporary, she chanted as she weaved through the crowd with two pitchers and six mugs extended well above her head.

“Thanks. This new addition is the birthday girl, Honey, and we intend on celebrating tonight.” Cori gestured to a pretty, bleached blonde.

Honey? Brandy? What are they...hookers?

“I’ll keep an eye out for empties then, ladies. Happy birthday.” She smiled and returned to the bar.

What an odd bunch, she mused. That Cori is a piece of work. She shook her head and smiled again. Gotta get her story.



Reece dropped the eight ball casually for the third time that night, to the hoots and sneers of the crowd. Pool was the only legal sport she excelled at. Living on the streets since the age of thirteen, she had made quite a bundle street fighting and eventually matured into the best debt collector in town. Until she was busted.

Enough of this, I need to get laid.

She scanned the crowd of women surrounding her and swore she could smell the arousal.

As much as she hated it, she used women to play out her frustrations. With her wild libido, sex became the perfect way to release the tension. Not to mention the surge of adrenaline and extra strokes to her ego that came with it. There was always a willing participant. All the talk of her sexual abilities made sure of that.

And Reece lived up to her reputation. She never disappointed and was fierce in bed. She had her limitations; she never went down on anyone. I don’t eat what I don’t know. It ain’t worth dying for, she believed. It was her law. There were a few who tried to sway her, but otherwise, no one complained and she was never at a loss for partners. Besides, by the time she was done with them, they never missed it.

She placed the cue across the table and walked intentionally toward the bar. Needing to release the energy tonight, she waited to see who would follow her. She felt the hand on her lower back. Ah. Bingo! She turned casually and swallowed the woman with her gaze.

Looking up into Reece’s eyes of ice, the woman blinked twice and told Reece her name. Reece narrowed her eyes as the hand on her back worked around to her stomach and fingernails traced her abs. Growling, she leaned into the hand and wrapped her fingers around the back of the woman’s neck. Pulling her nearly to her toes, she then bent down and took control of the offered mouth.

“How’d you like to get fucked?” she asked into an open mouth. A shudder was her only reply. The welcome feeling of power and adrenalin caused Reece’s nostrils to flare. Yessss. Reece handed the stunned woman her helmet and guided her toward the door. Envious stares and dejected faces followed the pair on their path.



After the party had broken up, Cori situated herself at the bar and was determined to get to know the adorable bartender. It was hard, but after a while, the place emptied out and she was able to talk without shouting.

Faith was born and raised in a very rich part of Long Island and Cori assumed that she was not on the best of terms with her family, or she wouldn’t be working here. Why this place? She also learned that she was waiting for the role of her life to fall onto the big oak bar. Okay, so she was a bit naive.

Smirking to herself, Cori figured she could teach her a few things. The more she looked at her, the more she realized that Faith was the exact kind of woman Reece preferred. Blonde, green eyes, compact, fit. Okay, feisty wasn’t on the boss’s list of requirements but, hey, Cori liked feisty.

“So, Faith, what brings you to our fine city in the first place?”

The bartender looked up from washing glasses with a forced smile. “I needed to shake myself out of complacency.”

“Uh huh. I knew it couldn’t be the lure of piss-smelling subways and vomit in the park.” Cori wasn’t buying it. “Why...” She gestured to the door. “Why take a job in this neighborhood? Pardon me for assuming, but I think you’re a mite too pure for hell just yet.”

Offended and caught, Faith shot back. “For your information, I took this job because it was close to home. And what makes you so sure I’m pure? You don’t know me, and I really hope you’re not basing your judgment on looks....”

“Home? You live here?” A hoop lifted with an eyebrow. No way!

“Yes. I live within walking distance. Now if you’ll excuse me,” Faith turned to finish cleaning but was stopped short by a belt loop caught on something. Reaching behind her she found it was a hand attached to fingers...holding her “Um, you can let go of me.”

“Listen, Faith, I’m sorry. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me. I seem to get involved in peoples’ lives without their consent.”

“Ya think?”

“No, actually I don’t, that’s my problem. Let’s start over. I like this bar and come here a lot. I’ve never seen you before and you just look a little out of place. I didn’t mean any harm.” Cori looked sincerely at softening green eyes.

Faith stuck out her hand. “Truce. I’m a little on the defensive myself,” she admitted. “I’m tired, I’m hungry, and my pants are fermenting.”

Shaking the offered hand, Cori stood up to pull the backpack off her shoulder. Producing a pair of rumpled jeans, and a very tiny thong, she pushed it into the blonde’s chest. “Here, I always have clothes with me. Go change into this.”

“Thank you! Oh God, you don’t know how happy this makes me! I’ll give them back, I promise. You know I’ve been here for months and I haven’t met one single decent person yet.”

Cori grinned at Faith’s excitement. “Well, you’re batting a thousand. Would you settle for slightly disturbed?”

“I’m pretty sure you’re safe,” Faith called from the kitchen. “They’re a bit big, but they’ll do. How the hell do you wear this thing all day?” She came through the door with one hand tugging behind her in obvious discomfort.

Cori laughed. “You just pretend it’s not there. Eventually you forget about it. Besides, there’s no panty lines.”

“It doesn’t feel like it’s not there. Ugh,” Faith groaned. “My stomach is protesting. I gotta get food.”

Cori liked Faith. It was a warm kinda feeling. A friend. She could easily care for her. “Wanna go for breakfast or something? My treat?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

They grabbed the bartender’s coat and headed out the door.

“You wanna go to Christine’s?” Faith offered.

“You bet. I’m starved about now. I’m glad I got money.” They both laughed this time. The sun was just rising as the strangest of friends made their way through the quiet streets.



Reece opened her eyes at exactly nine fifty eight. It never failed. No matter what time the alarm was set for, she preceded it by mere minutes. She stretched her long body, anticipating the kinks and cramps from last night’s bout with Mary Lou Retton. Damn that girl could bend! Taking a mental inventory of her body, she felt good. Nodding to herself, she left the comfort of the huge, cast iron, canopy bed and headed to the kitchen. As if detached from her body, her hands readied the coffee pot as she fought to keep her eyes open. Leaving the coffee to brew, Reece started toward the downstairs bathroom only banging her shin once on the dreadful table in the living room.

“Fuck!”

It was almost expected. Walk by the couch, knock your shin. For the life of her, she couldn’t imagine a use for a table so close to the ground. But this is how the house came to her and she kept it that way.

“One day, though, I’ll get around to that fuckin’ table,” she told herself.

Standing in the shower, Reece made a mental note to herself to start buying furniture for humans. Just throw a few acrobats on that canopy bed and I can charge admission. She brought the washcloth between her legs and was not surprised that it felt good. No matter how many times she came with these women, it was never satisfying enough. It’s like a Tylenol for a toothache; it just takes the edge off. It never really goes away. She knew that one day it would be there; the all-encompassing feeling of a mind-blowing orgasm. She knew it was possible, but she was pretty sure that love had something to do with it. Actually, it was sort of the reason why she kept trying. Reece never needed love to accomplish anything, and this would be no different, she’d be the proof of that.

The aroma of coffee wafted under the door. Drawn like a moth to a flame, she wrapped her hair in a towel and walked naked toward the scent. This time she avoided the table. If she could, Reece would erect a shrine to Juan Valdez and worship the coffee bean.



Cori fell out of bed to the sounds of chaos filtering through her bedroom door. “Shit,” she groaned. “Not again.”

Her roommates were having yet another loud argument. They had been the best of friends, had a brief romance, and now it was impossible to live with them. Monica left Debbie for a man and Debbie was pitiful for weeks.

This is why friends should stay friends, Cori thought.

She threatened to throw them out, but always relented when they promised to behave, but that never lasted. Cori played referee, devil’s advocate, and Dr. Ruth until she gave up, announcing that they could kill one another for all she cared, as long as they did it quietly. And of course, not get blood on her couch. Throwing open the door and hoping to deter stained furniture, she stalked into the living room right into the path of a flying vase full of roses. The yelp of pain effectively silenced the two battling women.

“You know....” She picked a few thorns out of her skin.

“Cor....”

“No.” She held up a hand. “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Cori got to her feet and promptly fell back down, dizzy.

“Cori, I swear, it was an accident. It just slipped. Are you okay?” Monica, the thrower, was kneeling at her side.

“God, Monica, she’s bleeding! You are such an asshole! What if you killed her!” Debbie yelled.

“I didn’t mean it...the vase was too heavy.”

Cori, who was not feeling all too well, thought she might mention that she was about to pass out. “Um, ladies, I think I might hurl....” and she did.

“Ewww!” Both Debbie and Monica voiced their disgust.



Reece had been called off the leg press machine by the receptionist.

“Are you sure it’s for me? Who would call me at the gym?” she asked.

“Hysterical woman says she’s Monica and she thinks she killed Cori.”

“What? Those fucking idiots! I told her to throw their asses out.” Reece was at the phone in a flash. “No...listen, Mon...but...Monica! Shut UP! What hospital? I’ll be right over. Calm down, and stay away from Debbie ‘til I get there.”

Aware that her mouth had gone dry and her heart was pounding more than it should, she realized with disdain that she was feeling fear. She actually cared about the little, weird dancer.

“Christ!” she muttered, “I knew it. I let her get to me, and now I’m fucked.” She flung open her locker. “Goody, I have a friend.” She threw on her jacket and left.

Ugh. Reece was sweaty and uncomfortable and had a ways to go before she reached the hospital. Rumbling toward the Battery tunnel, she was feeling the cold bite through her soaking wet sweats. She hadn’t bothered changing and was just now realizing the practicality of her chaps and boots in winter, not to mention a dry shirt.

“This better be the last time I have to do this,” she said aloud. “Those two are out of there tonight.”

Out of the tunnel and still freezing, she fished money out of her jacket. “Where the hell is Methodist Hospital?” she yelled a little louder than she should have at the guy in the tollbooth. He shrugged in response. Welcome to fucking Brooklyn, she thought sarcastically.

Finally, after much cursing and the occasional finger, Reece found the hospital and a parking spot.

Hmm, she thought, it doesn’t smell like a hospital...or look like one. Practically running through the corridor, she found the three disheveled women walking toward her.



Cori looked up at the sound of squeaky sneakers. “You called her?” She was shocked. More so that Reece had actually come all the way here.

“What the fuck happened?” Reece asked.

Monica hid behind Debbie, who hid behind the injured party.

“Well? Talk to me!” Blue eyes were fuming.

“The FTD guy took a wrong turn and flew into me.”

Reece crossed her arms on her chest and tapped her foot. If looks could kill, they would be administering last rites in the hallway.

Monica started to cry. “It was an accident! It slipped….”

“Well, Monica, I don’t think we have to worry about that happening again.” Uncrossing her arms and putting one around each of the cowering women’s shoulders, she led them away from Cori. “Go sit there for a sec....”

“Boss lady, really, it’s okay. We already talked about it….” Cory said.

“And they’re moving tomorrow. Right? I don’t need to worry about….”

“You were worried?” Cori was suddenly standing in front of Reece.

The other women took their chance and high tailed it out the door.

Reece walked to the bench and put her helmet down. “Yeah, I was. You happy? Don’t ask me why. I don’t know yet myself....” She was cut off as arms grabbed her around the waist and a bloodstained bandage lodged under her chin.

“Why, boss lady...if I didn’t know better, I’d be inclined to think you cared about me,” Cori teased.

Reece threw her hands up in the air in protest.

Sensing the argument, Cori looked up into a concerned face. “C’mon take me home. I’m okay. I just can’t sleep tonight and I’m sure you can keep me awake.” She wiggled her eyebrows, which made her head throb. She heard her new friend swallow nervously.

“Cori...I....” Reece backed away a step

“Stop, I’m just kidding. A night with you would kill me in my state.” She tried to ease her friend’s discomfort, leaving herself wide open for the reply.

“It would kill you in Jersey, too.” Reece took the bait.

“Ha, ha,” Cori stated dryly. “Seriously though, I was wondering how long it would take for you to realize that you can care about someone and not have to fuck ‘em. Really, Legs, I’m honored.”

“I don’t care about the people I fuck,” she said defensively.

“You do now.” Cori felt the body tense and silently gloated. “We can talk about my adventures in the bar last night. I met a sweet blonde you’d die for.”

A dark eyebrow went up. “Yeah? Do tell.” She grinned.

“Later. Let’s just go, Arnold. You’re killing me with your pits.”

“You’ll have to sit in front. I need to keep my eye on you. “

“Oh, and your arms too. Didn’t you ever hear of deodorant?”

“Shut up, Freak.”

“Fuck you, asshole.” Yes, this is going to be fun.

“Puke on my bike and I’ll kill you.”

“Can you feel the warmth? Thanks for your concern.”

“Anytime.”



Faith was wandering through the West Village. This is more like it, she thought. I could live here. No, I want to live here. The streets were much cleaner and tons quieter, the homes nicer, the people friendlier. She sighed. She wondered how this could be Manhattan. It looked as if it were a separate small town tucked into the city. Historic looking brownstones and redbricks lined the narrow, tree-lined streets. She wandered into the quaint little shops and bars, occasionally drawn to a help wanted sign. Unfortunately, with her clothes obviously from the second hand stores, and her resume only being a bar in Alphabet City, Faith would not find employment here. She started to feel helpless and out of place, then angry with herself for it. God, get a grip girl! You wanted this!

It was near the time to go home and start the whole getting ready for work ritual. Work, she snorted. This isn’t exactly how I pictured it.

Walking back in the direction of the subway, the usually perky woman was dragging her feet. She suddenly found herself feeling very homesick and horribly lonely. She became acutely aware of where she was, and why. Tears started to fall and, try as she might; they wouldn’t go away. Growing up, she had never been allowed to show this kind of emotion. It wasn’t proper or ladylike. Besides, it would embarrass her mother.

And we couldn’t have that.

So, for the first time that she could remember, Faith Ashford cried her eyes out, on the stoop of 12 Bank Street, wearing someone else’s jeans, and feeling very alone.




Chapter Two




The ride home was pretty uneventful for the two women. Reece had insisted they go to her house. She had a guest room and privacy. Cori feigned protest, but she really wanted to be there. It was all she thought about on the ride through the tunnel. The place was gorgeous. Some things were a bit tacky, but what do you expect from a titty club owner. It was two floors of decadence. There were two huge bathrooms, three bedrooms, a den, the kind of kitchen you see in magazines and a living room to die for. You could rent out the hall closet as a room. It was bigger than her whole apartment.

Cori had lived in Brooklyn all her life, knowing she’d never be able to live in Manhattan. Especially this area. Shit, she had to have roommates where she was now! As soon as she was able, she had moved to Park Slope, using the excuse that it was closer to Manhattan, and really, it was the next best thing to being there. Truth be known, the neighborhood was nicknamed Dyke Slope and Cori just had to live there.

Turning off the West Side Highway, she got a childlike thrill of anticipation. Her nosy disposition was killing her. She’d heard the rumors that Reece had inherited the place from Frank as well, but Reece made it clear that she didn’t want to talk about Uncle Frankie. So Cori never got the whole story. Now, she figured, with this little love fest she was feeling from the boss, it wouldn’t be as hard to get her to open up as it had been. So many things Cori wanted to know. So many blanks to fill in. She smiled, always loving a challenge. Her smile faded as they rounded the corner on Bank Street and Cori thought she saw the pretty bartender from last night. Is that her? Is she crying?

The bike circled the block again for a spot and Cori yelled to Reece. “Just drop me in front of the house. I’ll wait on the stoop for you.” Knowing there was a glare aimed at her behind the sunglasses, she continued. “I promise, Boss. I’ll just sit there. You go get a spot. I don’t feel much like walking.” The bike came to a stop in front of number twelve.

That is her! What the...? She waited for Reece to pull away then approached the bartender. “Faith? Is everything okay?”

No response.

She touched the sniffling woman. “Hey.” She smoothed the blonde’s hair. “What’s wrong? Don’t cry.”

Faith looked up at the only person in the world who cared. Cori opened her arms and Faith fell into them with a loud sob. “Oh Cori...I’m so sorry...” she hiccupped. “I don’t know why this happened...I just can’t stop crying.”

Cori pulled back and looked into the swollen green eyes, which widened when Faith noticed the bandage and rapidly bruising eye.

“Oh God, Cori...what happened?”

“It’s nothing. I’m okay. It’s you I’m worried about.”

“No dodging, you’re hurt! What’s up?”

“When dye jobs attack...it was a horrible thing.” She mock shuddered. “Please, tell me why you’re sitting here crying.” She lifted the blonde’s chin.

Faith knew when to back off. “I guess it’s all hitting me at once. You know, what we talked about this morning. I just....” Faith answered,

Reece drove by again and paused. Upon seeing Cori’s thumb up and a smile, she drove away on her quest for a parking space.

“Who was that?” Faith asked, suddenly feeling embarrassed.

Cori hesitated.

Reading the pause all wrong, Faith stood quickly. “Oh shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interfere. I’ll get going...I’m such an idiot.”

“No wait! Faith, don’t make me yell...please!” Cori grabbed for her aching head.

“No, I feel like such a moron. I should have realized...” She saw the tall figure approaching from the corner. “I’m okay. Really. I gotta go.”

“I’m coming to see you at the bar...Faith!”



Reece raised an eyebrow in the direction of the attractive blonde, who was walking away at a rapid pace.

“That was the bartender I met yesterday.” Cori followed Reece into the house and locked the door.

“Oh? She looked kind of upset. I figured that’s why you wanted off the bike. Break her heart?” She smirked. “Coffee?”

“Absofuckinlutely. And down girl, she’s just a friend. Straight as a pin. Aahh.” She sank deeply into the couch. “This is heaven. Marry me?”

“Ha! In your dreams. Isn’t this the one you said would be right up my alley? A hysterical straight girl?” She disappeared into her bedroom.

“I could divorce you and get half. Yeah. I know it looks bad, but...she’s adorable, has a hard little body, and incredible green eyes....”

“Is she a freak, too?” Reece popped her head out of the doorway to meet the thrown pillow head on. “I’m taking a shower. If you want, you can have a bath in the guest room.”

“No, she’s quite the loaf of Wonder.” Cori stood up and got a little dizzy. She fell down into the couch.

“Whoa there. You all right?” Reece rushed to her side.

“Just a bit woozy. I think I’ll have that coffee before I move again.” She opened her eyes to a naked goddess hovering above her. “Sweet Jesus!”

Holy shit! She’s beautiful!

“Jesus? Cor? You goin’ God on me?” she joked.

“No, but I just had an epiphany.” She couldn’t take her eyes off the boss’s nakedness.

“I think I could sue you for some kind of sexual harassment.” Reece grinned, and walked slowly back to her shower.

“Like you’d turn it down. Hey, why you walkin’ like you’re all sexy?”

Thinking that a cool bath might be a good idea after all, Cori stood cautiously and headed toward the guest room. She hit the coffee table. “Fuck!” Rubbing her shin, she shouted, “Who buys a table like that?”

She heard a chuckle from the other room.

Later that afternoon, the two sat swallowed up in the couch and talked. Well, one talked, the other nodded on occasion and kept an eye on the TV.

“And then Mothra descended on the bar and casually ordered a Shirley Temple.”

“Mmm hmm.”

“By that time, the cute blonde bartender was gyrating naked on the soda tap....”

“Mmm...What?”

“You know, you could at least make it appear you are listening to me.”

“Who was naked?”

“No one, pig. I was trying to get your attention. Now that I have it, you wanna know what I think?”

“No. This is the best part...they’re going to cross the Bog of Stench.” Reece broke into guffaws as rude flatulent sounds came out of the TV. In stereo.

Cori, not getting the humor, shook her head in wonder. “So if I sat here and farted, you’d listen to me?” She pouted.

“Aw c’mon...that’s funny!” Reece snorted on the inhale.

“Ooo, that’s attractive. Do your ho’s get to hear that? Or do you save it for your close warm personals?”

“Apparently, I’m not going to watch this movie without you yapping.” She flicked off the TV and turned around to stare at Cori in mock awe.

“Stop that. I can’t concentrate when you do that. It’s like looking into a hot flame.”

“Well, I’m listening. So talk.”

Averting her eyes from the blue gaze, she started to tell her about the bartender. “...and I think it might be a good idea to ask her maybe to work at the club.” She looked up, hopeful.

“How do you do that without breathing?’

“Really, what do you think?”

“Well, you said she’s a mean bartender, and feisty. We need feisty.” Reece thought about it.

Cori started a nice shoulder massage on Reece. “She’s real cute, too. I bet she’d bring in a lot of repeat customers.”

The boss’s head fell forward and she groaned. “Mmm, we do need another girl behind the bar on weekends.”

She had already made up her mind, but hell if she was giving up this massage. “Coax me more.”

“You fuck head. You’re taking advantage of a sick woman.”

“Okay, bring her in tomorrow. Since there’s no work for you ‘til Friday, it’ll give you the opportunity to get Little Miss Hardbody with the green eyes into your bed.”

“I...” She slapped Reece in the back of the head, “am not a pig like you. Besides, I have the wrong parts. But I’m sure you can work around it,” she teased.

“Well, just bring her in. I have no more room for toasters.”



Cori was having a magnificent dream. It was this afternoon again, but this time the scene played out differently. The tall, muscular, naked body was moving on top of hers...she could hear the sounds of sex loud and clear. She bolted upright at the sound of a crash.

“Fuckin’ ay!” Reflex caused her to curse her roommates. Her pounding head caused her to flop back into the pillow.

“Oh, man,” she whined.

After realizing she was in the guest room at the boss’s place, she froze at the moan that accompanied a loud thud.

“Shit, Reece!”

Still disoriented, and a bit pissed that she was roused out of a much-deserved sleep, not to mention the dream, she stumbled to the door. The sight that confronted her took a while to filter through her sleep-fogged brain. What the fuck is that? Ok, that’s definitely Reece, but...Oh! She blushed furiously.

The boss had grown an appendage in the shape of a woman—a half-naked, gyrating woman, a woman whose legs were wrapped tightly around the taller woman’s waist. By the looks of things, she was about to be mauled right there against the wall.

Oh, God...I shouldn’t be watching this... she thought, still wound up from the images in her dream. But when it came time for her feet to move...they wouldn’t.

Reece had started toward the stairs, then turned and aimed for the couch.

No, go upstairs, Cori groaned inwardly.

Reece growled and assisted the body around hers in its movement.

I’m supposed to sleep now? Cori thought.

She watched as Reece sat with the appendage still firmly attached, and buried her face in breasts. Heavy breathing filled the room, Cori’s included. Then the woman threw her head back and groaned loudly, obviously on the receiving end of a talented tongue. Reece dug her nails harder into the humping ass and grunted. Reece swept a booted foot across the table, clearing it of its contents. She leaned forward, depositing the flavor of the evening on her back, apparently not the least bit worried about waking her houseguest.

Gee, thanks, boss lady. You’re a gem.

By this time, Reece was aware of the voyeur and, for her benefit, started going on in detail about what she was going to do to the woman. The appendage shuddered and groaned in anticipation.

Cori did too, in sympathy. Reece shot a lecherous glare at Cori. “Gonna stand there all night?”

Mortified, Cori gave her the finger. “Geez, didn’t anybody ever tell you it’s rude to talk with a nipple in your teeth?” She stalked off, back to the guest room. She heard her boss chuckle. It would seem the appendage was oblivious.

Morning saw the two women sitting across from one another. One fidgeting and staring into her coffee, the other highly amused at her friend’s discomfort.

“Get any sleep last night, Cor?”

“Fuck you, animal.”

Reece chuckled. “No, I fucked her like an animal. I knew I’d find a use for that table.”

“Yeah, so I heard.” Cori got up to leave the room. “I’ll never be able to look at that table the same way.”

“You jealous?” Reece clicked her tongue piercing against her teeth. “I heard you too, you know.”

“What?” Cori quickly turned back around.

“When we came in. I heard you, moaning and such. You were having some dream, huh?” She wasn’t going to tell her she heard her saying her name. Cori would never look her in the eye again.

“No, actually I felt sick to my stomach. And I don’t know how you could have heard anything other than that tramp you were carrying around.”

The blush was betraying her, so she hurried out of the kitchen, heading to the guest room. “I’m jumping in the shower so I can get home. I’m gonna stop by the bar tonight and talk to Faith about the job. Oh, thanks by the way.”

“What, for last night? My pleasure.”

“You’re so fuckin’ full of yourself, you know that?” Cori yelled from the bathroom.

A bit later, while standing under the hot spray, a teasing voice wafted through the closed door. “The shower massage detaches, horn dog.”

Blushing again, Cori thought about it. She never did finish that dream, and after listening to those two…. What the hell. She took full advantage of the situation.



Reece was well into finishing her allotted work for the evening when there was a knock on her office door.

“Go away,” she bellowed. She had every intention of celebrating her accounting skills by going home, ordering Chinese, and sitting like a lump in front of the television. No one will ruin my party, she thought.

The door opened and a purple head appeared.

“Woman, you’re gonna be bald come Thursday. What do you want?”

“I, um, I brought a friend...okay?”

“Ooo, for me?” she wiggled her eyebrows. “You gonna watch this time, too?”

Cori shot her a glare that said be nice! “You know it took me a lot of convincing today to get her to come here. I actually had to tell her you were nice.”

Reece rolled her eyes and waved her hand in the air. “Yeah, yeah...come in.” She stood up to walk around her desk. “Does she do bookkeeping? I could use a bookkeeper….”

She was struck speechless by the woman standing in front of her. Shit! It’s her! Shitfuckpiss!

Faith looked up at the sound of Reece’s voice. Then kept looking up and up, until she reached Reece’s eyes.

God damn! She is gorgeous! Reece finally had a second thought

Cori, seeming extremely amused by the two women staring slack jawed at one another, took their hands and clasped them together in a handshake. They both jumped at the contact.

Faith blushed furiously as if at her very unusual reaction.

Reece cleared her throat and shook her head as if to shake the feeling loose. It didn’t work. She had been looking for this woman for as long as she could remember. And it took Cori, her freak, to find her.

Finally Cori spoke. “Um, Reece Corbett, Faith Ashford. This is the woman I met at the bar.”

Silence.

“Boss? You were going to talk to her about employment opportunities?” She stressed the last two words to get Reece’s attention back to earth.

“Yeah, the bartender.” She blinked a few times. “Sure, um, so….”

What happened to my tongue?

Faith just stood there silently. She seemed embarrassed. Reece knew she thought it was something she had done. That Reece didn’t like her.

“Why don’t I go show her around the place first? You can meet us by the bar, boss lady.” Cori stared at Reece and Reece knew that Cori had never seen her so uncomfortable before. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear she was smitten.

After the two left, Reece sat down on the edge of her desk.

“What the hell was that?” she wondered. “A woman steps out of my dreams and into my office and I become an asshole?”

She pounded her leg with a fist. “Get a grip!” she scolded herself.

The great Casanova was about to fall.



Walking through the club, Faith was more than a bit surprised. So this is what a strip joint looks like, she thought. It was nothing like what she had assumed. It was far from sleazy or dirty. The customers were wearing ties, and the girls looked healthy and clean. She began recognizing faces. Ah... Now she put two and two together from the first night she’d met Cori at the bar. “So, is Cori your real name?”

“Yeah. But I’m the only dancer who uses my real name here.” Cori smiled at her. “Let me take your coat and I’ll introduce you to a few people.”

Faith spied Reece when one of the moving lights caught the owner’s crystal blue eyes.

What the heck? Faith felt all the hair stand up on her body and instinctively turned toward the source. God...why is this happening to me? She was getting worried. Maybe she was getting sick. No, she felt wonderful.

Maybe she needed sleep. Yeah, that’s it. Sleep. Like that was going to happen anytime soon. The pipes in her building were banging so loud now, it wasn’t even funny, and the new neighbors played speed metal all day.

“Hon? Are you listening to me?”

“Oh, Cori, I’m sorry. I am so tired, I must have zoned out for a moment.”

There it was again! Blue eyes watched her then averted their gaze and disappeared in the darkness. “So. She owns this place? Unusual for a woman, isn’t it?”

“Sure, but we don’t consider her a woman.”

“Oh? So tell me about her. What’s it like working for her? Is she nice? Does she treat you well?”

After answering all the questions, and being bombarded by more, all about Reece, Cori laughed out loud, eyes holding a cocky cast. Reece was making a rare appearance at the bar.

Faith took stock of the woman as she approached. Long, strong legs wrapped neatly in black denim and thick, square-toed boots. A silky looking cotton turtleneck, maybe Egyptian cotton, she thought, covering well developed but not bulky arms, nice lean abdomen, perfect breasts….


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