“So, you and Ramona,” the reporter says, with her tweedy Chanel jacket and her barrel-curled lob and her delicate implications. Destiny’s never liked people who think they have her figured out. The reporter said one of her parents was a therapist, and she talks like it- like she already knows what Destiny’s problem is, and if she gives Destiny enough understanding head nods and sympathetic silences she expects Destiny to fall in line.
Fuck’s sake, does she think there were never psychiatrists at the club?
“Me and Ramona?” Destiny says, leaving the reporter to finish that sentence.
“Well, the way you talk about her, the feelings you focus on and this clear hurt whenever she had someone younger and newer to dote on, I can’t help but wonder if…”
“If you were, ever, well.” The reporter is flailing a little under her manufactured calm. “If you were ever… together?”
Destiny blinks, makes it long and slow. “I’d have saved a lot of stress and a few grand on lawyers if we hadn’t been together.”
“I meant, if you were something more than that.”
“Our daughters had a standing play date. She bought my grandma Christmas presents. We were family.”
“I’m trying to ask if you were ever intimate.”
“She adjusted my boobs for me twice a day, six days a week. Extra if we went shopping.”
“That’s not what I-”
“Oh,” Destiny says, so very surprised at the question the reporter wants to know the answer to without having to ask. “You wanted to know if we fucked.”
“Well, I… yes,” the reporter says. She probably means that hedging to come off as embarrassment, but Destiny can smell the relief on her. She’d only learned it from every guy every night who wanted to know soooo much about who she really was, why she was working here when she was totally hot enough to be someone’s third wife if she got her tits done, what was her real name c’mon babe I won’t tell anyone, pretty please?
Destiny gives the reporter her shiniest smile, veneers gleaming white. “Did you want an itemized list? If you give me a minute I could remember how much the cost jumped between Frenching and frottage.”
“What?” says the reporter, shocked, and Destiny’s off.
“God, this is another fucking myth, isn’t it? Strippers are all such sluts, we’re all insatiable or we wouldn’t have our tits out at three AM on a Tuesday, we have to want it so it’s no problem if Craig from Accounting sticks his hands where he shouldn’t. Your cashier at McDonald’s doesn’t care how your day was, I don’t care if the guy I’m dancing for is hot. The hot ones can be worse, actually, because they have themselves convinced this isn’t about the money.
“Which, again, it is. Everything at the club is about the money. Who gets the watered-down well shit at the bar and who gets it poured into a primo bottle first. Who gets the best shifts. Who gets to touch, where, and when.
“The guys can’t touch us, unless they have enough money to go where there’s no cameras. But we can touch each other, obviously, and a lot of times we’re working together.”
The reporter frowns. “You’re not competing?”
Great, Destiny thinks. Stealing, slutty, and selfish. We’re really hitting every stereotype.
Outwardly, Destiny adjusts the giant gold bangle on her perfect wrist. Giant, but tasteful. “It’s safer and better for business. Guys can say no to one beautiful woman, but add a few more and they go from ‘what a gold digger’ to ‘this must be my lucky night.’”
“Ah,” the reporter says, clearly not understanding.
“If you put two, three, however many women in a room with a guy who’s used to money getting him whatever he wants, and you tell him he can’t touch anyone but they can all touch each other? He’s going to put two and two together real quick. I’ve made out with about half of my coworkers, done heavy petting with- let’s say a quarter, and I’ve gotten to second base with every woman I work with. It’s easier money and a way better view than trying to get a sixty-something VP’s dick to work, and that’s all it is. Everyone does it whether they’re into it or not, and frankly, whether or not they’re any good at it. You ever had a straight girl lick champagne off your boobs?”
The reporter’s eyebrows fly up into her subtly-Botoxed hairline. “I- can’t say I have.”
“It’s happened too many times for me to count. Most of them were game, but you got a few bad fakers. This one redhead looked like she was writing her grocery list in her head, she was so bad that the client could tell she wasn’t into it. Completely unprofessional.”
“Yes. Unprofessional. Because,” and Destiny puts extra emphasis here, “it was her job to lick champagne off my tits. It was her job to look like she loved it. It was her job to make the guy with the bills peel off another hundred, and he wasn’t doing that if he didn’t get a show worth watching. You think it says something about us that we’re willing to do it, right? Nymphomania, repressed bi-whatever. It doesn’t. It’s about what the guys want, and what we don’t hate enough to say no to. It’s a job, and we do our job, and we get paid. Whether we like it isn’t part of the equation.”
“I think he’s passed out,” Destiny said, pitching it as a sexy whisper in case Burgundy-Adriano-Stefanelli-Loafers was still conscious.
Ramona rolled her body against Destiny’s, slow as syrup, and leaned up next to her so that their hair hid their lips. “Probably.” Her breath tickled the sensitive skin behind Destiny’s ears; the delicate gold links of her body chain trailed on Destiny’s abs. The bright red panties Destiny was wearing- six hundred dollars; back then she was still green enough to think of it as a year of groceries- had exactly two cut-outs, thin as knife slashes and positioned right at her hips, where the guys always tried to grab. Where the guys weren’t allowed to grab.
Ramona had both her hands on those slivers of bare skin.
“So,” Destiny said, and then stopped, because Ramona’s hair smelled like her winter perfume and Ramona’s bra had come off five minutes ago and Ramona’s nails had found the cut-outs, and they were digging in.
Not enough to leave marks, obviously. Well. Not lasting ones.
Destiny gathered what was left of her wits. “So, our personal ATM is taking a nap, and we’re still putting a show on, when-” Ramona’s thigh was in between Destiny’s, suddenly, and she was mostly Destiny’s favorite person but fuck her. “We’re- still going, when nobody’s paying for it.”
Ramona sighed- again, right in Destiny’s ear- and said, “You really care about that?”
“It’s your rule,” Destiny said.
“Alright.” And Ramona tucked Destiny’s hair behind her ear and- pulled back? She walked over to Loafers, flicked through his stack, and tucked a twenty into one of her garters. Then she picked another one out and made for Destiny’s waist.
“What are you doing?”
“The same thing he’d do if he were awake enough to appreciate it,” Ramona said. She tucked the twenty into Destiny’s waistband. She didn’t move her hand away afterward.
“And he isn’t.”
“And I don’t hear you complaining. Look, it’s just- we’d be here either way. He brought all this money either way. We’re still working for it, only we’ve- added a middleman to the process,” she said, and now her thigh was back, and her thigh was moving.
Destiny pulled closer, ground into it a little. “This third party. What are the terms?”
“Very reasonable.” Ramona put another twenty in Destiny’s bra, not even pretending she wasn’t feeling up her back to do it. “You get the money you were going to get anyway.” One twenty in each of her panties’ cut-outs. “And you take what you want on top of it.”
There was a frozen, drawn pause. Ramona, waiting for an answer, looked the closest to unsure that Destiny had ever seen her.
Destiny looked from Ramona to the money. Back to Ramona. And Dorothy crashed their mouths together.