Kate’s roommate was a whore. Not in the way you call someone a whore because they wronged you in some way, but in the way that she took money in exchange for sexual acts. While it was hardly the friend she thought she needed, a whore was exactly the kind of companion that could help Kate shed the disappointment of the life which had chased her across the Atlantic to Europe seven months prior.
At first, Kate thought living with Tatiana was a short term solution to a short term problem. Her hostel had a one week limit on the daily bed rate and Kate couldn’t commit to staying a whole month since her bank account had far fewer digits in it than she was comfortable with.
Her momentum of running from reality had managed to propel her through most major European countries and each time she skipped town, her possessions underwent a Darwinian selection process, whereby the survival of the fittest had resulted in a backpack full of sequined bar-star outfits, makeup, and birth control pills. Now, she was stranded halfway between Milan and the ski resorts of France in an Italian border town named Rhonde.
“Is declined,” the grumpy Italian woman behind the hostel desk looked very unsurprised, but Kate felt a cold chill as the word she had feared hearing every time she swiped the card for weeks finally ambushed her.
The game was up, the blinders she had put on when she left America were being tugged at and the anxiety of having to grovel to her parents for a ticket home was enough to make her search the hostel bulletin board one more time for a scrap of hope.
“Girl Roomfriend Wanted.” a single piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it stood out to Kate as a desperate plea from another like-minded refugee. A crude map consisting of two lines and an x-marks-the-spot filled the rest of the ripped scrap of paper. The use of the term “roomfriend” was an accident resulting from Tatiana’s imperfect command of the English language, but it was, in fact, the perfect term for what she intended and Kate later argued that the word should be immediately adopted by all the world’s dictionaries and made part of children’s education.
Two foreign girls living in northern Italy with shoddy immigration statuses are definitely in need of a roomfriend much more than a roommate. For the term “roommate” inspires everything predictable and boring about a living situation that is cured by the substitution of the informal for the formal.
Their first conversation was a clear indication that Kate had finally found her mischievous counterpart,
“Hi, I’m calling about the room for rent, is it still available?” Kate put on her professional voice.
“Are you police?” Tatiana responded.
“If you are police you have to say you are police. There is rule.”
“No, I’m not police.”
“Excellent, when are you coming?”
“I was wondering if I could just rent until the end of the month.”
“No problem. You can sleep in my bed. Come before 6 o’clock.”
Then she hung up. The last comment had her on her heels but before her creepy-radar could put up any defenses she was already laughing. Something about the confidence and direct nature of the girl’s voice convinced her that she had to find out what the hell she meant by ‘you can sleep in my bed’.
On her way to the apartment, Kate’s enthusiasm for meeting the crazy person on the phone began to slip as she considered what it must mean for her life that her options had been reduced to sleeping in a stranger’s bed. But, when the door opened, her heart renewed with hunger for the adventure.
It was massive, the living room and dining room were really one giant square room, separated by a six inch step in the hard cement floor and decorated by only 3 pieces of furniture. The decrepit couch was definitely not an option for sleeping on, but the apartment had its charms. It was old and European, the walls were hand laid stone, the roof had a gap in it where something had broken but no one fixed it. Sunshine slid in sideways through the cracks and windows and highlighted exactly what it was to Kate: the shitty European backpacking adventure she had left America for.
Tatiana herself inspired enough intrigue for Kate to let her state her case before running back to America. The long-haired Russian filled the doorframe with her tall, slender frame and big eyes, but that’s not what Kate noticed. Instead, she was lured in by the entertaining Hello Kitty sweatshirt and neon leg warmers she was wearing.
“Hi, I’m Kate,” she held her hand out,
“Tatiana, nice to meet you,” the black-haired stranger gripped her hand hard and smiled at her with genuine friendliness, as though Kate was the first friend Tatiana ever had the opportunity to make.
“There is roommate already, but she is moving at end of month,” Tatiana pointed at a closed bedroom door, “you stay with me until then.”
Once Kate understood Tatiana’s logic, she allowed herself to consider it. Since there was hardly any usable furniture and the floor was solid stone, there wasn’t much alternative other than to embrace the stranger-sleepover and share a bed with the odd, but likable girl.
If Tatiana hadn’t been dressed quite so ridiculously or been quite so friendly, Kate would not have found an excuse to stay, but Kate let herself be reminded of her teenage slumber parties with her then best friend, Chelsea Kruderberg, and something in her pined for the security of familiarity that sharing close quarters with another girl could bring.
“Ok, what’s the rent?”
“First week free!” Tatiana laughed and took Kate’s backpack into the bedroom. Kate followed the porcelain woman to see her new living arrangement. The bedroom floor was covered in enough thrift shop clothes to be Macklemore’s secret lair and the bed was hardly bigger than a double.
Tatiana threw the backpack on the bed and saw Kate’s concern at its size. What Kate didn’t realize was that her face showed far more emotion than she intended. The stress of running for so long, only to be rewarded at the end with half of a twin bed, was the hair on the camel’s back for Kate’s emotional stability.
Tatiana was moved by Kate’s distress and took her shoulders in her hands to look her in the eyes.
“Kate,” she started, “everything is going to be ok.”
The camel’s back broke and Kate started crying in front of Tatiana, who pulled her in close for a long hug. Unknown to each of them, the moment between them was made beautiful in the objective perspective by the sociological divide between them. Kate, the girl with the last name that could get a reservation anywhere in DC and Tatiana with her history of forced prostitution for organized crime.
“Ok?” Tatiana pulled away.
“Sorry, I just…” Kate wiped her tears and smiled at the unexpected moment.
“It’s ok,” Tatiana became solemn, “for now we go drinking.”
Tatiana’s eyebrows and pursed lips showed she was assessing Kate’s emotional state as a serious and complex problem. The suggestion to go drinking was not exactly the most logical form of therapy, but Kate found comfort in the humor of her situation.
“Yes,” Kate adopted Tatiana’s serious face, “for now we go drinking.” Kate was sold on her new best friend.
Tatiana procured a bottle of vodka and they mixed the last of it with water for lack of a better mixer. After discussing the great benefits of using water as a mixer for vodka, they dressed up for a night on the town. Kate wore her sparkly black tank with black stretch jeans that competed with her skin for tightness.
Tatiana had no problem wearing a black leather jacket with metal studs and torn jeans. Her look would have been completely fashionable if it weren’t for the pattern of rhinestones the previous owner had bedazzled into the back of the jacket with in the shape of a unicorn.
There was one big pub in Rhonde called Il Terrazzo, an American style Irish pub disguised as an Italian Trattoria. It could fit enough drunk skiers on their way back from the slopes to have a good time, but the ski season was ending and the summer hadn’t picked up so the girls were short of a crowd to blend into.
Sitting on the bar stool next to The Girl with the Unicorn Tattoo, Kate couldn’t help but compare herself to her. Kate had always known she was one of the pretty girls, but that was hardly enough to satisfy the need to wonder the what-ifs of being one of the even-prettier girls.
Kate had hips where Tatiana’s body was straight and a little extra flesh gave Kate a pinch-worthy curve to her ass which seemed a little hefty in comparison to the bones that Tatiana sat on. Although, the Russian prostitute carried skinny well, not letting Kate dismiss her as anorexic in her typical skinny-girl defense maneuver.
It was hard to judge Tatiana’s face because she wore an absurd amount of poorly applied makeup, but there was no denying she was beautiful. Her black hair fell in a catastrophic tumble, but it fit her look and despite being dressed with no sense of style at all, there was still enough to attract the eye beneath the camouflage.
Kate wasn’t able to hate Tatiana the way she normally hated skinnier girls, because there was a naivety to the way she carried her looks that made Kate feel she could be trusted despite being attractive. Instead, she saw herself as the trusty sidekick, Tatiana had black hair, Kate had blond hair, Tatiana had a less prominent chest, Kate had a decent rack, Tatiana was nearly five foot ten, Kate was only five seven. She liked the image of the two polar opposite desirables in her mind and decided she would embrace playing Robin to her new Batwoman.
There were probably men in the world that would prefer either of them based on their body types, but Kate decided the key differentiator was in the face. Tatiana had stark features, eyes that shone despite the 1985 makeup job, whereas Kate’s version of the girl next door gave her the gift of prettiness due to a lack of ugliness rather than anything particularly remarkable unto herself. Sort of an Emma Watson, Taylor Swift mashup with a mildly distracting nose.
It had been a long time since Kate wasn’t the main attraction in any bar she had walked into in Europe, her blonde hair and American accent was the icing on the cake for her athletic but curvy body. But now there were two women equally apt at drawing the attention of the half cut middle-aged local men at the bar while the sun was still well above the horizon.
But, there was only so much dancing alone to 90’s pop music before Tatiana declared her boredom,
“We need more liquor,” Tatiana told Kate in a voice only she could hear.
“I’ll get you a drink,” Kate responded,
“No, for house. We need more liquor for house.”
Before Kate could question, Tatiana made a run for the counter and jumped on it. Kate was just as surprised as the two dozen men and a handful of women in the bar. Whatever sexiness Tatiana lost in thrift shop couture, she gained back the moment she started gyrating her body.
Unsure of how the dance routine was supposed to result in “liquor for house,” Kate just watched the show. Tatiana’s dancing was nothing spectacular, but she combined her dance with erotic positions, involving the audience like a stripper but less conservative, which ensured everyone was at least shocked into inaction, if not entertained. Kate thought that if Tatiana didn’t look the way she did, the girls would probably be kicked out of the bar right away.
Tatiana looked at Kate with raised eyebrows as though she was supposed to be doing something. Kate shook her head in confusion as Tatiana pointed with her eyes to the liquor behind the bar.
Kate laughed as the plan became clear. Slipping the bottle of gin out of the bar well should have only taken a second, but she found herself watching Tatiana longer than she should have.
Kate felt her heart rate increase from the excitement of stealing, but she couldn’t help but feel some of the same excitement as the men who watched with open mouths when Tatiana started to her touch herself over her jeans and twerk her pelvis faster than any girl with no booty had any right in doing.
When she finally took the gin, she found herself flushed with jealousy of a new kind, not like the last time a girl flirted with her ex-boyfriend, but the kind that arises when you see something you can’t have. The way Tatiana moved was a little too close to the real thing for daytime television and Kate was getting a little warm in the pants from the show.
She didn’t have anything to hide the bottle in so she had to just book it out the door with Tatiana running after her, leaving a herd of boners behind. They ran to the apartment, Kate still giddy with juvenile post-shoplifting excitement.
Kate was excited to realize why she wasn’t intimidated by the other woman. She didn’t see her as a threat, she saw her as an ally. With their powers of femininity combined, they could stick it to the world together. With Kate’s tits and Tatiana’s lips, they could both be a little less afraid of the world.
“Tatiana, I am so glad I called you,” Kate announced as she poured a gin and water for her roomfriend.
“Me too, Kate,” again Tatiana smiled with a richness Kate hadn’t seen since she was a child. Tatiana lit a cigarette and sat on the window ledge.
The window at the back of the apartment was the pièce de résistance of their brokedown palace, the type of spot that smokers hold sacred. A stone arch over a flat bottom, the giant window gave way to a view straight down the mountainside which also included the back of several taverns and their deep-fryer dumping grounds as well as a noisy highway, but these were easily pardoned for the million dollar view beyond of Piedmont’s finest backdrop of sunset-reflecting hills.
“How long have you been in this town?” Kate started the small talk.
“Three weeks,” Tat grinned.
“You sticking around long?”
“As long as the world will let me,” Tatiana threw her arms up to the view of the sun setting on the hills, “and you?”
“I don’t know really. I’m out of money so I’ll probably have to go home soon.”
“You can leave whenever you like?”
“I guess, yeah.”
“You have ruby slippers. Click-click.” Tat touched her dangling heels together.
“Yes, like Dorothy,” Kate thought of herself as Dorothy and Tatiana as the lollipop queen but kept it to herself, “but I think I’d rather stay here with you.”
“Then you stay here with me.”
“Tatiana, I can’t even afford rent.”
“I don’t need money, I have high paying job.”
“What’s your job?”
“I am very good prostitute.” Tatiana punctuated her last remark by tipping her nose the sky with sarcastic pride. Kate had to laugh, there was no other way her situation could devolve any further and her need to stop running from her life in America embraced rock bottom with a satisfying thump.
Her first day with Tatiana convinced Kate that sleeping in the same bed as a fashion-challenged prostitute was not just ok, it was exactly where she needed to be. She followed Tatiana to the bedroom where the hooker stripped down to her panties without so much as a look towards her new bedmate.
The scene gave Kate a much more in-depth understanding of who she was about to be sleeping with. The mostly naked girl with the smaller tits was sculpted and lean, elegant and flawless. A natural beauty that belonged as much on a movie screen as on a runway.
Kate embraced her strange new life as she stripped down herself and put on her sleeping t-shirt. The cold air pouring in the large open window and holes in the roof gave her extra incentive to get into the bed.
Kate could see Tatiana’s breath as she jumped in and pulled her roomfriend close, forgetting their general lack of clothing as she warmed up her Slavic savior. She wrapped her legs around Tatiana and squeezed her torso to her chest and felt the warmth being conserved between herself and the frozen string bean in her bed. Kate lay awake, her face holding a highly amused grin at the almost romantic scene of Tatiana sleeping in her arms.
The week passed and Kate never looked back on her decision to sleep in the prostitute’s bed. They barely went anywhere for the entire seven days. They just hung out around the house, smoked a lot of cigarettes and usually got drunk in the evening by themselves.
Kate felt at ease for the first time in a long while, years perhaps, and she had the feeling Tatiana was in the same boat. However, neither of them talked about it, afraid of spoiling the moment with the annoyance of reality.
The other roommate, the whole reason Kate was staying in Tatiana’s bed for the week, was an Italian woman who didn’t speak to Kate or Tatiana and worked hard to avoid their schedule, so when the day she left came and went, Kate and Tat actually forgot to notice. It wasn’t until the third day into the next month that either of them breached the issue that they were still sleeping in the same bed.
“You think we should find another roomfriend?”
“No!” Kate answered with authority before she had sufficient consideration of the fact she had absolutely no say in the matter as she wasn’t even paying rent. Already, Kate found herself worrying about when it was all going to end. She was old enough to know that these perfect friendships have a shelf life. But, she wanted to hold on for dear life to this one. Just one more time before being hurled into the mundane realities of adulthood could she live out a bizarre story of “this one time I lived in a prostitute’s bed” that would be dropped like a bomb on her future children when they were old enough to think she was totally lame.
But, after she said no, Kate knew it wasn’t just about her perfect European story-collecting experience. She knew it was because Tat was all she had. The process of self-destruction on the way to self-reinvention is extremely lonely and Tatiana was the only person that fit with Kate’s imploding life.
In that first week, Tatiana had become Kate’s best friend, without a doubt, ever. More so than Chelsea Krudeberg who had shared pinky swears and boyfriends from the second grade through high school, until Chelsea went to college and Kate began embarrassing her parents with her lack of ambition. More than Rob Erickson whom she had broken up with at least 3 times between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, and more than her mom who she only knew in the way that moms want you to know them. Tatiana was more important to Kate at that moment than any other human being in the world and she just couldn’t bear to share her with anyone.
Tatiana said what only Tatiana could say with a straight face.
“Ok, we make this sex room.”
And as though she had already planned on it, Tatiana procured a thick Sharpie pen and wrote SEX across their former roommate’s door.
Kate noticed that if the other room was the sex room, then there was an assumption that they were going to continue to share the same bedroom. It was one thing to have a week-long slumber party when there was nowhere else to sleep, but sleeping half naked with a beautiful prostitute by choice seemed to be more than she should be comfortable with.
But she didn’t want to get her own room, she wanted to sleep in the same bed as her new friend. The thought of having to be alone again in the night gave her a chill and as long as Tatiana wasn’t kicking her out, she was happy to stay. She pretended it was just for the feeling of security, but she did notice the feeling of excitement from the privilege of being allowed to share the bed of someone who looked like Tatiana.
According to Tatiana, rent was only four hundred euros a month. Which was, on one hand, a steal if you valued the space the way the un-lesbians who lived there did, but considering it was basically uninhabitable for six months of the year, the landlord was nearly stunned by the fact it was worth anything at all.
The girls used the term landlord lightly for the illegal slumlord named Emilio. The girls were literally paying for him to not have the roof repaired which would automatically double, if not triple, the rent. They counted on Emilio being lazy and non-entrepreneurial based on their stereotypes of Italian men, which in this case turned out to be entirely accurate.
Tat made her half of rent in a night, and then some. So she only had to work a few nights a month in order to pay Kate’s rent, buy groceries, and pay whoever it was that made sure no one beat her up.
Kate didn’t know how the prostitution circuit worked, but it seemed strange that she didn’t have someone knocking at her door regularly demanding “where’s ma money, ho”. In fact, Tatiana’s life seemed stable to a degree that flew in the face of every television drama she had seen about prostitutes, crack whores, and call-girls. The premise she had been brought up on was that taking money for sex inevitably led to heroin addiction and someone cutting their arm off in jail.
Shortly after Tatiana invented the Sex Room, Kate was able to get an intimate demonstration of the life of a whore in small town Italy. The first client was so extremely polite to Kate that she couldn’t help but wonder if he didn’t really know he was going to bed with a hooker.
“Hi, you must be Kate. Much-a nice-a to meet you,” He slurred as he kissed her cheeks. Kate was surprised at the state of the man. He wasn’t ugly, in fact, he was as good looking as several of her European one night stands.
She got to listen to Tatiana work for just over fifteen minutes that first night. Kate couldn’t help but get worked up over the sound of the skinny girl getting pounded on the squeaky bed by the eager gentleman. She kept replaying the memory of her crawling along the bar at the Terrazzo while the polite Italian man in the Sex Room shouted foreign profanities.
The second time this happened, Kate was so moved by Tatiana’s offer to let her stay for free that she embraced her situation as whore’s housewife and decided to increase the service offering to Tat’s clients as much as she felt comfortable doing. While the client was making silly noises in the Sex Room, Kate went about fixing up a plate of cheese and pouring a glass of port. When the satisfied customer emerged with his clothes mostly on, Kate greeted him with the glass and escorted him to the Smoking Spot and lit him a cigarette.
As they smoked their cigarettes and practiced basic English conjugation, Kate felt a sense of belonging. And, strangely enough, each time she performed this ritual, she felt the men become humble, even respectful towards her, often finishing their port and cigarette in silence together over the highway below before thanking her in English and taking a slice of sharp cheese from the plate on their way out.
Each time she felt satisfied with the way she handled the men and over time she believed that she was restoring their dignity before they left. No matter how drunk or horny these men were when they entered, they all left a whore’s den with the anticipation of sex drained from their bodies.
There was no way they could walk out the door without at least the slightest tinge of shame for having paid for sex, even if Tatiana was worth ten times whatever they paid, in her eyes. She saw herself as a finisher, an essential service to ensure the most worthwhile memory of their night with Tatiana could be maintained in her clients’ mind.
One night, the client decided to pay Kate instead of Tatiana directly. After his port, he pulled two hundred euros from his wallet and passed it to Kate as though he was paying for gas. Kate smoothly slipped it into her bra and offered to top his glass. He declined and took his cheese on his way out.
In their second month of supporting Tatiana’s trade, the client entering the Sex Room was actually really hot. He had a stubbly chin with hairs at the perfect length between five o’clock shadow and scruffy, and black wavy hair that suggested he rode a motorcycle.
Kate paid closer attention to the sounds coming from the Sex Room that night, trying to imagine the scene more clearly as the rhythms and pacing sounded more like the affections of an attentive lover than a paying customer.
For over an hour she listened to Tatiana come again and again as her lover made tastefully non-interfering moans of confirmation. The bed squeaked more slowly with this man, showing restraint and professionalism in his dedication to getting his money’s worth out of Tat’s pussy.
Kate could hear how wet Tatiana was by the sound their skin made when their bodies slapped together. She even thought she could tell when he was behind her or on top of her by the pace of his cock in her and the way the bed bounced off the thin wall between them.
When he came, his voice boomed with depth compared to the hour of high pitched yelping from her girlfriend. When she heard him come in, or on, her roomie, Kate went to the kitchen to get ready.
She met him at the door with port and walked him to the window to light his smoke. Once they sat down, he broke out in an American accent,
“Thanks, you’re an angel, you know that?”
His voice was as smooth as his sex. But, there had always been an awkward language barrier between herself and her guests that protected her from questions that she might not want to answer. Now she was exposed. She wasn’t some exotic ending to a wild night, she was a girl from Rhode Island and she was not at all interested in living out a night of reminiscing about American pop culture. She said nothing, thinking of answers to his potentially uncomfortable questions, sipping her port, when he solved her problem for her.
“You don’t speak any English, do you?”
She stared at him and realized if she didn’t say anything that her situation would be quite the opposite. If she said nothing, she would be the exotic Italian mistress that procured cigarettes on behalf of her whore friend. She said nothing. They smoked and drank in silence.
She wanted to jump his bones right there on the window sill. The longer they sat in their unspoken masquerade the more she wanted to make passionate pretend-Italian love to his American body. It had been a while since she had really craved a guy like that, not just to do him for sport, but really, really wanted him like teenagers sneaking out at summer camp. The effect of the resulting lubrication was pronounced by the cold stone she sat on.
Of course, she didn’t do anything but sit there in silence, giving away free sex after paying for it seemed like some contradiction of unspoken business ethics. She waited for him to leave with his cheese and give her his two hundred euros before she jumped into bed and ran her hand between her legs.
She couldn’t wait to touch herself, it was rare that she had to restrain herself in the presence of a man she wanted. There is no doubt that she could have had him right there on the window ledge, but out of respect for the profession of her roommate, she had stopped herself from taking him, or even from speaking. The restraint excited her and she felt the pleasure build pressure within her, begging to be released.
She smiled under her own covers as she imagined the American bending her over the window ledge, thinking she was Italian or Russian like Tatiana. She slipped her middle finger inside herself and opened her mouth in a playful laugh with her eyes closed as the giant cock in her mind penetrated her from behind as her imaginary American pulled her foreign hair.
Kate had never really enjoyed masturbating before, it always seemed dirty and embarrassing as though the universe was going to call her a slut for what she did in the privacy of her own bedroom. But with Tatiana getting fucked for money on the other side of the paper-thin wall, rubbing pleasure into her own pelvis seemed as innocent as taking communion and Kate finally found the secret to good masturbation was that it was not to be taken too seriously.
Kate let herself enjoy the freedom of masturbating without fear of judgment. Her panting mouth always ended in a smile, and her lip biting and moaning were always with a fun and happy tone. She lifted her legs as she got into it, pounding herself a little harder with her finger, letting her palm slap her clitoris as her breathing went from shallow to long drawn out moans.
Forgetting to be quiet, Kate surprised herself with an orgasm that snapped her legs back down and lifted her back from the bed. Struggling to keep her finger against her exposed clit she shook violently, forgetting her fantasy of the American and just getting lost in her own new enjoyment of self-pleasure.
As she caught her breath through a big grin, she opened her eyes to see Tatiana open the door and jump in the bed. She obviously had heard the whole thing, and as Kate turned red and hid her head under the pillow, Tatiana giggled like a schoolgirl before passing out in her own post-orgasm euphoria.
Kate only once spoke openly about the prostitution that paid for their lives in those first months. It was regarding a subject she couldn’t let slide.
“Tat, are we safe?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, with men coming to the house, I wonder how you know none of them are going to try anything…”
“No no. They don’t fuck with protected girl.”
“What is a protected girl?”
“Each month I pay two hundred euro for bouncer at pub. I introduce bouncer to every client.”
“How do you know they’ll be afraid of the bouncer?”
“Because bouncer is mafia.”
And that was all Kate wanted to know about why no one was coming to their door demanding money or why the Johns were so polite to her. It also told Kate that Tat wasn’t taking all her work home with her, she had to be working somewhere else to make rent and pay for all the food.
The thought made Kate guilty for freeloading off of a working girl, but it also warmed her heart just the tiniest bit because in the most selfish way it meant that Tat really did want Kate to stay with her and Kate felt a wave of relief at the thought that the need for a temporary life partner was mutual.
Something clicked for Kate as she realized Tat’s vagina was paying for her food and the roof over her head. Kate was like Tatiana’s pimp, the men even gave her the money instead of Tatiana. The twisted thought that Tatiana was fucking guys for Kate made her feel more involved in the process and she let herself ponder the sexy idea that maybe Tatiana was thinking about her while men paid to make her scream.
Instead of acting like a pimp, Kate saw themselves fulfill roles she had seen married couples fulfill. Tat brought in the money and Kate kept house. She looked for work every day of course, but until tourist season there wasn’t much more that could be done other than make her rounds of the local bars and hint that she was handy with a serving tray.
Tatiana made it clear that she didn’t want any apologies for Kate’s free ride. So, Kate did the best she could to accept the charity with dignity and continued to play housewife to the prostitute she considered the closest thing to a soul-mate she had ever found.
Those precious weeks that turned into months before the tourists came were the happiest days of Kate’s short adult life. The nights Tatiana brought home a rent-maker were only a part of the picture. They were exciting and important nights, but they were still only a fraction of their time together. Kate liked to think of it as the stand-in for the sexual relationship that was missing from their little marriage.
In some ways, it wasn’t really a stand-in at all. Kate was living off the sex Tatiana was having. And, ever since the hot American, Kate fucked herself with her hands every time Tat was working in the Sex Room, timing her orgasms with Tatiana’s to the sound of dick pounding wet pussy.
Touching herself made her feel more attractive. The size of her own tits filled her hands when she groped herself and when she let her fingertips explore the curves of her own body, she remembered that she was one of the pretty ones, something to be desired as well.
Kate had so much fun with her new-found discovery of the joys of self-pleasure, that she started doing it when Tatiana was working somewhere else in town. Kate would sit on the couch and claim the space as her own as she let her imagination guide her through one of Tatiana’s work shifts. She could make the man as handsome as she liked in her mind, in a fancy Italian estate with silk bed sheets. She’d imagine herself watching from behind a curtain, fantasizing the muscular man railing his giant cock into the woman she admired.
It was precisely during one of these evenings that Tatiana came home an hour or so earlier than expected and caught Kate with her knees up on the couch in mid-orgasm. Kate’s shameful instincts returned and she scrambled to cover herself, dying of embarrassment once again.
“Oh my god, oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Kate shouted into the couch cushion, hoping to disappear into it before having to face Tat again.
Tatiana only laughed, but not in a mocking way. She laughed from the belly and couldn’t stop, eventually falling onto the couch with Kate and holding her close as they both giggled the incident into the annals of their future secret stories about each other.
They spent every night they weren’t working together, partying with the scant few tourists with many attempts to push the limits of what could be done to get into trouble in a small town, window shopping at the same handful of overpriced boutiques, but most often enjoying a home-cooked meal of salad and wine, both bought in bags.
Neither of them ever, ever, ever spoke of home unless it had to do with a story that had to be shared due to its entirely embarrassing nature or its direct relevance to the conversation at hand. Family was not an open topic. Though, Kate did tell a particularly funny story that included her brother being arrested and consequently being kicked out of Yale Law. The betrayal of a small piece of her family identity had been worth it to see Tat literally spit wine in her salad upon hearing the punch line involving Kate framing her brother for stealing and crashing a catering truck at the dean’s daughter’s wedding.
The walk to the corner store where they bought bags of salad and wine was a quick jaunt down the alley behind the taverns and across the cobbled street in front of Punto Del Armeria, the “fancy” restaurant and boutique hotel which had a round driveway in the front built back in the day when carriages needed a wide berth to turn around.
During tourist season the Punto was the only place you were really likely to see any real money in town. Mostly just skiers on their way to and from the French Alps, the ones with enough money to have a cabin on the hills, but not enough to afford to fly in and out as they pleased. Nothing more than a Gallardo, or as Kate called them “the spacey cars”, or maybe a Carrera.
Rhonde was not a high-brow town, but the combination of the view and the benefit of some ancient architecture managed to attract enough of the entry-level rich to the Punto that it made it the crown jewel of the otherwise poor and shitty town. The spillover of the tiny inn afforded a short street of boutiques with a few recognizable brands and a few that you had to earn a few more figures to be able to recognize.
On the corner facing the Punto was a Cartier boutique. The front window had the most prime real estate in town, with the glowing white logo and fancy hanging clock clearly visible from the window of the Punto. Every man woman and child who walked out of the Punto would see the logo hung over the cobbled ground and would have time to contemplate it as they waited for the valet to bring their car. The view was a picture perfect advertisement for Cartier, and as a result, the Cartier boutique in Rhonde did some amazing numbers and was actually considered a very important store at the regional Cartier headquarters.
Even if Kate and Tatiana knew nothing of the sales or profitability of the Cartier store in Rhonde, it could not be missed for its symbolic pretentiousness. Everyone in Rhonde knew the Cartier store and it was often used as a meeting place for teenagers and their dates before heading back down the hill to the McDonalds and movie theatre several blocks away. The roomfriends always made a point to stop at the Cartier window if they did a grocery run together.
“Kate, buy me a new watch,” Tatiana started the charade one day.
“What the fuck is wrong with the Montblanc I bought you?” Kate fell into character easily.
“I don’t like it, is the same as that bitch Isadora has. I am worth more than her, you should buy me this Cartier, is better.”
“Ok, but bitch you better wear it naked, that watch is worth more than the fucking Luis Vuitton I bought you to shut you up about cheating with Isadora.”
“You fucking asshole, you fucked Isadora? I shit you, I shit you.”
By this point, Tatiana was hitting Kate with her purse while Kate was trying to think of a comeback through her fits of laughter.
“Fine, I’ll buy you the watch and the tennis bracelet if you promise to wear them naked and let me call you my whore.”
The response from Tat was a solid slap in the face, almost knocking Kate to the ground and immediately ending the laughter.
“You never call me whore!”
“Tat, oh my God, I’m so sorry… I didn’t… I was just playing…” Kate couldn’t even look up at Tat, her face went red. Tatiana searched through her Russian-English mental dictionary.
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have used that word, it was just…”
Tat realized her error and turned desperate,
“Oh! You think I’m angry because I hit you in the face. No, no it was only joke.”
“Really? I thought…”
“No, you can call me whore any time. Please, it is ok.” As she said this she instinctively pulled Kate in to prove that she really wasn’t offended. She wrapped her arms around her in apology to allay her fears. The light of the Cartier sign overhead cast a spotlight on them and the half dozen people in the courtyard in front of the Punto were watching them like a Broadway musical.
Kate was normally only that close to Tat’s face when they were nestled in their dark room together. A few inches from her face, in the bright light of the clock, Kate made a new assessment of her playmate.
Her eyes were the green side of hazel, unnaturally wide and bright, and above all, she had the bone structure of a goddess. She inspected the layer of makeup, the mask over the face below. Her eyes made far too dark beneath unnecessary amounts of shadow and liner, her eyebrows over-plucked to misrepresent her eye ridge, even her powder was the wrong color for her porcelain complexion.
Tat let Kate look at her face for a long moment. She wanted her to believe that she was not actually offended by her use of the term ‘whore’. But in the long pause, Kate understood Tat more clearly. She could see that she was doing it on purpose.
It would make logical sense for a prostitute to make herself as pretty as possible, to draw on her strengths to get the most out of her Johns, but Tat was doing the opposite. She was covering it up. Why? She didn’t know, but it was obvious on that brightly lit street corner that her best friend was one of the most beautiful women she had ever known and she did not want anyone finding out.
Until then, she thought the awfully outdated and mismatched clothes was a symptom of a kitschy style consistent with a girl who lived on the edge and didn’t give a shit what people thought. But Kate now knew Tat’s secret plan to distract the world from the undeniable beauty beneath the jeggings and crocs.
Kate moved her face closer and Tatiana squeezed Kate a little in encouragement as Kate put her hands up to Tat’s face, touching the cheek of her friend out of curious wonder. Tat flinched, suddenly uncertain as to what Kate was up to, but trusting enough to let her carry out whatever she needed to do. Kate held Tat’s face within kissing distance and let her own heart rate elevate before cutting the tension with a word,
Tat laughed and planted a kiss on Kate’s cheek. They held hands all the way home.
After that night at the Cartier clock, their fake abusive arguments over jewelry purchases escalated greatly and quickly became extremely inappropriate. Once Tatiana held Kate’s face against the display window and shouted, “how the fuck do you expect pretty things if you can’t even take it in the ass.” Through which Kate could not contain her laughter, though to onlookers her hysterics appeared to be tragic sobs. The worst Kate did was stand a few feet from Tat while throwing pennies at her feet shouting, “I’ll buy you the fucking bracelet if you take your clothes off right now.” Tat went along with it with Tony-worthy acting.
“Please, I’m sorry, I won’t ask for these things any more…”
“Shut up bitch, just take your fucking pants off and I’ll buy you whatever the fuck you want.”
Tatiana fake-cried and actually pulled her pants right to the ground along with her panties. Kate couldn’t handle it, and bolted, doubled over in pain from laughing by the time she got home. When Tatiana got home, Kate got an earful for leaving her there with the tourists staring at her bare ass.
The Cartier clock was Kate’s therapy. She hated that display case and every time she saw it she wanted to pull the clock from the wall and smash it through the window. The sparkly tennis bracelets and classic watches did not inspire the princess effect in her, only spite and rage. For they were the exact kind of things her father’s girlfriends wore. She used to call them whores, but now that Tatiana was her whore, the word was too good for them.
Tatiana had spent many nights of her life wearing such items but never owned them. Rather it was the men who owned her who used such trinkets to increase her perceived value to whomever she was being offered to. She knew Kate was improvising during their fake arguments, but Tat was reciting mostly from memory.
The humor made her let go of things that she never thought she could, Kate’s lightness of heart was a salve that made the unimaginable become ridiculous. And, one night, in the summer when Kate was working as a beer whore, Tat decided to share this with Kate.
They were smoking in the smoking spot. It was a work night so Tat was waiting for the call on her cell to meet whoever she was being set up with. The hooker was wearing a skin-tight skirt over fishnets, which was completely expected for her profession, but then she made it all very weird with a pair of cowboy boots and a yellow leather jacket from 1985 with shoulders that stuck out sideways. A perfect distraction that must have reduced her nightly rate by at least a hundred euros.
“Kate.” Tat was on cigarette number two.
“Why are you living with a prostitute?”
Kate swallowed hard. The question had to come someday, but Kate had thought Tatiana was the strong silent type that didn’t need to talk about things like that. What if this was the beginning of the end where they would start talking about the reality of their circumstance and wake them from the bubble they had created. She kept her answer as simple as possible to avoid a downward spiral of sensible discussions.
“Because my best friend is a prostitute.”
Tatiana smiled more than Kate thought was normal.
“I am happy you are here now.” Tat continued her thought, “I have no ruby slippers so I have only what makes me happy now. This is you.”
Kate was crushed by the weight of her words. She knew Tat was not likely from the same circumstances as herself, but the confidence and strength with which she carried herself never gave Kate a reason to think Tat had anything in the world to be afraid of.
Of course, Kate was the spoiled brat vacationing from reality and Tatiana was the prostitute from a dark past and dismal future. Kate stared at Tat in awe of her suddenly reversed perception until Tat spoke again.
“When you make me laugh, I feel like all the bad things are really just funny things.”
It was really more than Kate was ready to hear. She felt tears in her throat as Tatiana just smiled at her with grace and warmth. The cell phone buzzed and Tatiana jumped to her feet.
“Work,” is all she said before heading out.
Kate sat on the ledge and cried while her girlfriend went to make rent doing something she never could do herself. She had no idea what Tat had been through but every possible scenario she could think of was so undeserving of the happy, supportive, and genuine friend she shared a bed with. The more she let her imagination run away with her, the harder she cried for the imagined tragedies heaped upon Tatiana over the years.
Once the catharsis of her own imagination ran its course, she cleaned the apartment and bought groceries with Tatiana’s money, then went back to the store to buy a few extra things. Kate went through Tat’s laundry and washed everything that needed to be washed by hand. She got a few things in the kitchen ready and took a seat on their only chair to wait for her whore to come home from a hard night’s work.
It was a relatively early night, about half-past one when Tat came home. Kate met her at the door and handed her a hot tea as she stepped in. Tatiana didn’t greet Kate with open arms and actually turned away when Kate surprised her.
“No thank you,” Tatiana tried to pass by without facing Kate, but stopped as she noticed the candles lit at the table.
“I made you dinner,” Kate was happy to show off her evening’s work, “come eat something before bed.” Kate led her to the table without any real choice on Tatiana’s part. Some bruschetta, a glass of port, and a small pile of ceviche. “It’s made from scratch, I think you’ll like it,” Kate explained.
When Tat sat down, Kate could see why she had tried to avoid her on the way to the shower. Tat’s lipstick was smeared, mascara run, and even though a rudimentary attempt to wipe it off had been made, there was still quite a bit of cum on her face, neck, and chest. Lines of semen across her cheek and forehead mixed with her mascara and the whole left side of her face glimmered from a puddle of cum that had dripped down her cheek and off her chin.
Kate could tell she was tired and just wanted to shower. She looked a little embarrassed as she faced Kate, who made the extra effort to smile back and show she didn’t care about the evidence of Tat’s profession.
“Stay right there,” Kate got a warm, wet cloth and wiped the semen off Tat’s forehead and neck, “rough night?”
“It was ok, I just wanted to come home.”
“That’s fine, I got you covered,” Kate gave her a glass of water to gargle with and smiled as she mopped up what was at least two men’s load off her face. Tat let Kate wipe her down before she tasted the ceviche, taking a deep breath to let herself enjoy the treatment.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted,” Tatiana told her.
“Tat. I don’t know how hard it is to do what you do for a living, and I don’t know what you’ve been through before now. But I’m here for you, for whatever you need, and if you’ll let me, I’ll do everything I can to support you.”
The hooker chewed her ceviche slowly, not knowing how to respond to the American girl who stole her heart. Before she had to answer, Kate was up and boiling some more water for the tea.
“When I started being whore, I promised myself I would not become like other girls.” Tatiana started, “the other girls became ugly inside, they were not really who they were. But not for me. I decided I was going to stay me.”
“And you are. I mean, I think you are.”
“Before you, I was almost gone. I was starting to be like them, but you…” She stopped. Kate took several seconds to notice Tat was crying softly, “now when you are gone, I don’t know…”
“Shhh, don’t say that. I’m right here.” Kate knelt behind Tatiana to hold on to her.
“It won’t last forever. And then this will be gone.”
Tatiana let real tears loose, pulling Kate’s arms tighter around her as she bent over with the stomach pains of genuine crying.
Kate couldn’t argue, the weeks were passing too fast and she knew they didn’t have forever together. But for the first time she no longer feared for her own future after their fantasy ended, it was only Tatiana that mattered now. Whatever the world had in store for Kate, she was sure it was going to be worse for Tatiana. Kate hated herself for ever thinking she had anything to really worry about and just wished there was something she could do to change the world for her dear friend.
Kate helped Tat take off her clothes and get into bed before wrapping up the leftovers. When she crawled under the covers with her girl, she found the skinny Russian shaking.
“Don’t be sad. I can’t see you sad.”
“Not sad, afraid.”
Kate cringed at this explanation and pulled the precious girl closer, kissing the side of her face with all the tenderness she could feel in her bones.
“I love you, Tatiana.”
It just came out, sweet and real.
Tat faced the American and froze for a half moment before plunging her face onto the girl’s mouth with her own. She grabbed Kate’s face and let the tears pour down her cheeks and into their mouths. Sobbing she groped for her best friend’s body beneath the covers, grabbing at the parts she never before considered grabbing. Kate began to cry as well, Tatiana misinterpreted and pulled away. Kate pulled her head back to fill her mouth with Tat’s.
“I’m so sorry,” Kate managed between kisses.
“Shut up,” Tat chided.
The command to be quiet gave Kate the excuse she needed to continue the exploration of her bedmate’s body without having to explain herself. She didn’t want to answer any questions about why she was making out with a girl when she wasn’t gay. She enjoyed the feel of Tatiana’s skin under her fingertips and it gave her a thrill to reach under the skinny girl’s t-shirt to feel the hardened nipple of another woman. She sucked the saliva from Tatiana’s mouth and enjoyed the big girlie lips against her own as her heart raced.
Never crossing the line too far, Kate let her hands explore everywhere except between Tat’s legs. Tat’s neck was long and begged to be stroked as she kept her tongue in the other girl’s mouth. The ribs felt delicate in her hands as she stroked her way down to the hips of her hooker.
She took off her own shirt and pressed Tatiana’s nipples against her own much larger breasts. The contact of forbidden skin shot adrenaline through Kate’s veins and she let herself grab Tatiana’s ass as she rolled on top of her.
Tatiana stayed still, letting Kate explore her and enjoying the innocence of the exchange. She loved that Kate wouldn’t stop kissing her, she loved that every touch was gentle and full of electric discovery. She loved that Kate was happy to enjoy her and would never hurt her and the foreign sensations against their skin deleted all unhappy thoughts.
Kate felt the desire to tear away the few pieces of fabric between them and let the growing passion within her unleash upon her hyper-attractive girlfriend by fucking her. But, somehow she felt she would ruin something by doing so and instead she kept it PG, kissing, caressing, touching, and always smiling.