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Near Life Experience 2/14

Title: Near Life Experience
Disclaimer: Not my characters – except for one or two. The rest of the ladies and gentleman contained herein belong to entities with a higher pay grade. Thanks for allowing li’l ole me to play; I promise to return them as I found them…just like the tools I borrowed from dad when I was a kid. Also, this is unbeta’d so…mistakes are really all me. Sorry about that.
Fandom: Nikki & Nora
Pairing: Nikki/Nora
Rating: PG-13-ish, there are some adult concetps and themes, but nothing too over the top.

Summary: Nikki's not really "Nikki" and Nora's sings a differnt tune.

A/N: I think I forgot to mention this, but I know people that read what I write are used to weekly updates on stories, this story is going to be updated every other week. Sorry about that, but I needed the slack to get the story together. Enjoy this chapter and see you people in two weeks. =0D

Ch. 2 – The Crooks, the Felons and the Rest

Stripping the warm cocoon of soft down and cotton away, I roll out of bed, planting my bare feet on the cold hard wood floor. I rock forward and stand, stretching my interlaced fingers above me towards the vaulted ceiling of my bedroom. Muscles tense from sleep and more than likely too little water intake during work and the drinks afterwards protest against my forced movement. They burn, the fire they produce licks its way up my body until I bend from the waist and touch my toes.

My body lets loose a series of pops, cracks and snaps as I right myself and reach for my purse on the floor by my nightstand. The pack of cigarettes pokes up from the opening. I snatch them and the lighter up then make my way towards the kitchen to start a fresh pot of coffee. I bypass the living room and look at the clock above the mantle.

Two in the afternoon. Not bad considering I went to bed around eight this morning. Not something I normally do, but shaking that blonde from last night proved more difficult that I thought. She was there with her friend until the place shut down. I was half tempted to give her my number, but…

My lack of courage concerning her makes me pull a cigarette from the half-empty pack and tuck the filtered end between my lips. Lighting it up as I enter the kitchen, the lighter and pack is tossed on my kitchen counter and I pull the smoke into my lungs, relishing the feel of the first wash of nicotine entering my bloodstream.

Prepping the coffee maker, I wait patiently while the carafe fills, flicking the ash from the burning cancer stick into the kitchen sink. My head’s still fuzzy from sleep, but it doesn’t prevent me from taking stock. Thirty years old, living in a less than stellar neighborhood, feeding two, maybe three if you count my shoes, addictions. I snicker, a little bitterer than what I’d like after a pretty lucrative night at Rusty’s.

If my daddy could see me now…

I suck on the last bit of cigarette before letting it drop in to a cold cup of two day old coffee in the sink.

I’m sure he’d have a few choice words to give his one and only child. I know my mama’s probably rolling over in her grave as she looks down on her little angel from on high. She should have known when I put away the cotillion gowns in favor of miniskirts, thigh highs and halter tops. It was mostly by choice, but a necessity best not dwelled on so early in the day. As it stands, it’s probably best she died before she found out her princess shakes her ass for singles slipped between skintight lace.

Pulling a coffee cup from the cupboard above the counter, I fill it up with the strong, black brew and take a healthy sip. The warmth chases away the last remaining cobwebs of sleep. I should get a move on, I have a meeting and work to get to. Topping off my cup, I head back towards my room, hearing the distinct chirp of my laptop’s alert to new mail.

Padding my way over to the small work station I have set up, I hit the down arrow on the keyboard to wake the screen up. I scroll down the list of the new messages. The usual offenders are sitting there. I key through a quick response from my boss, letting him know everything’s good then direct my attention to the soft beep of my phone.

The electronic leashes I’m subjected to regularly should annoy me, but I’d bet a nights tips that it’s actually Darius confirming our meeting. I slide the icon on the touchscreen right and unlock the device. Sure enough Darius’ message is the first on the screen, ‘We still on?’

I use my right index finger to reply with ‘Y’ and hit send. I need to get a move on and set my half empty cup next to my phone to hit the shower. Generally, I take my time. The hot water messages some of the stiffer parts of my legs and back away, but I need to get a move on. Would hate to keep my boy waiting.

So this afternoon, I go through my routine and am out of the shower quickly, wrapping my hair in one of the towels hanging on the back of my door. Getting ready for work takes less time than one would imagine. I slip on a blue sports bra and matching boy shorts before tugging on cut off jean shorts and a fitted t-shirt. Most of my prep work is done at club. No sense in getting all done up before I need to. I unwrap the towel, run a brush through damp hair and toss it in a ponytail.

I collect my phone, dump it into my purse and take my empty coffee cup to the kitchen sink. The green, canvas gym bag I take with me to work is sitting where I left it this morning, next to the couch. My Vera Wang plum, peep toe flats are there too. I slip those and my sunglasses on and head towards the car port.

My Evo sits in her assigned parking space. All shiny, pretty and black, she gleams under the afternoon sun. I fish the keys from my purse, hit the fob to disarm and unlock her. My purse and bag go on the passenger seat as I slip inside the warmed interior. The key slides into the ignition and I turn her over, letting the engine rev a second before I pop the break, depress the clutch and put her in reverse.

The car grumbles backing up and as I shift to first, she starts to purr. Hanging a right out of my little apartment complex, I head towards Washington Park for my rendezvous with Darius. The streets I amble down are lined with mostly single family homes that have seen far better days than today. Most are in bad need of some paint and TLC. I’m sure with some patience and a little bit extra money the homes could be fixed.

Of course, that’s the sticking point. When the choices are food and clothing for you and your family or paint for the house, the latter will lose every time. I’ve been in New Orleans just shy of eight of months. Spent a good bit of time in St. Louis, six months, less a week or two, in Detroit and nearly a year in Pittsburgh, all of the cities had their fair share of economically depressed neighborhoods. Detroit chief among them, but New Orleans, for some reason, has upset me the most.

The city and surrounding areas have so much history. The people, by and large, are friendly enough…affecting a small southern twang to your voice will get you by better of course. There’s a charm and air here that leaves me feeling like I may just be able to put some stakes in the ground.

I stop at the intersection of Burgundy and Marigny and hang a left. The one hang up I have with this city is the one-way streets. It took some time getting used to. Down Marigny, I swing a right on to Royal for a block and a half to pull up and park behind a rusted out green pickup.

I make sure the car’s alarm is engaged before hiking my purse higher on my shoulder and head towards my usual spot. There are a few things in my life that’ve been consistent over the past four years, my car, dance and Darius. A rudder in the most turbulent of storms, I was and have been thankful of our paths crossing in Miami when they did. The idea that we have been on a similar journey since then is the one true comfort I’ve afforded myself since the initial move to Pennsylvania.

And just as consistent as always, he’s sitting in our usual spot, right under a tall oak tree. His feet are planted on the picnic bench, his elbows rest on his knees as he leans over and watches me approach. I add a little extra sway to my hips to tease him. His dark brown skin hides most any embarrassment he may feel when I tease him.

Instead, he tilts his head and licks his lips. His nose ring reflects some of the afternoon sun and his braids are pulled back into a high ponytail that swishes against the nape of his neck as he moves. His outfit is standard, baggy pants, baggy layers of shirts. Today it’s black jeans, a lime green and orange button up over a black t-shirt. The shoes, God love that man and his shoes, he’s nearly as bad as me, are a pair of Nike Jordan Spizikes that are the same colors as the rest of his clothes. He matches so well and I love him for it.

“Well if you aren’t just as pretty as a picture,” I coo during my approach. “I feel a tad underdressed for our little gathering today.”

“Pshaw, chickadee, you could come see me in a potato sack and still look betta.” He wiggles his eyebrows, the ring above his right eye jingles softly due to the charm I put on it when he first got it done. His eyes rake up my body and then back down. “You do be lookin’ a little skinnier than last week though. You good?”

I shrug as I set my oversized Chloe shoulder bag on top of the table next to him. “Been fine. I’m only working three days a week right now, so…”

“Yeah, but still,” he chides.

I slip on top of the table next to him and look behind his back. A sack of food and two drinks are behind him. I shake my head and ask, “You feedin’ me today, too?”

He just nods his head. “I be feedin’ you a couple things today.” He smiles and bumps my shoulder. A small waxed paper packet appears in the palm of his left hand, he slips it to me by tucking it down the front of my shirt. The ‘care package’ sits warm and heavy on top of my left breast. I take a minute to remember to put it somewhere safer before work.

“Thank you kind, gentleman,” I purr at him and rest my head on his shoulder. I feel his cheek come to rest on top of my head as we look out over the quiet park.

“Someone’s gotta take care of you,” he says quietly.

I snicker and retort, “You’re cut this week’s in my purse.”

I feel his lips press my hair down and he mutters, “You do me proud, boo.”

I toy with the bourbon Mike poured for me, using the tip of a small red straw to swirl the ice around in the rock glass. The bar is in full swing. Assessing the large crowd in the mirror behind the bar, I figure it’s a worthwhile night. Every time there’s movement at the entrance, I half expect it to be her, Nora. It’s been awhile since anyone’s caught my eye the way she did. Shy and tongue tied one second then bold and smooth the next. A girl could get use to that kind of sweetness.

I shake my head to rid that type of foolishness from my mind. Better to focus on the job and then things I can’t have. My first dance tonight pulled a good take. I may need to pull an extra job tonight if I don’t make enough for Darius’ books, but that shouldn’t be too bad. I’m sure there’s someone here tonight that is willing to pay my rates.

I snicker at the thought.

I look back down at my drink before I feel someone slip on to the stool next to me. Briefly, I close my eyes and let my features relax. I swivel slightly to face the person and open my eyes, offering a warm smile in greeting. The man next to me smiles a bit wider, charming I’m sure for most people. The cheap suit he has on does endear me to him. The charcoal gray pinstripe is of questionable blend and cut. While I’m not a snob when it comes to other people’s attire, I do appreciate a bit of effort.

The man in front of me looks to have pulled the suit from a discount clothing store rack and did little to make alterations to fit is stocky frame. He’s not fat, trim from what I can tell, but his shoulders are expansive and his angular jaw line is pronounced by the thin line of beard along its length. His nose was broken once, that much is told by the bump in the bridge. His brown eyes are a tilting towards buzzed.

“Hi,” he starts off and I bat my lashes. I’ve learned to be nice to the patrons. It took a little getting used to, but I’ve learned it’s impolite to bite the hand that feeds. “I saw your dance earlier,” he bobs his head, “hot.”

“Well, thank you,” I say sweetly, flicking my hair back with a swipe of my wrist. I look down at his shoes, mama always said if you wanted to truly gauge a person, look at their shoes. His are uncared for, scuffed and cheap. You can get away with cheap footwear if you care for it. One of the sweetest men I ever met only bought his shoes from Payless, but he cared for them, kept them cleaned and polished. I cannot say the same thing for the man in front of me.

“I’m Andrew,” he offers and then directs Mike who stopped in front of us, “Another drink for the lady, Daquri and a vodka and cranberry for me.”

Mike’s eyebrow rises as he looks to me and I shrug. “If Mr. Andrew doesn’t mind,” I say and pat the man’s arm, “I’d like a refill of Knob, Mike.”

Andrew shrugs and says, “That’s fine. I like a woman who can drink.” His smile gets a little more leer-like. I remove my hand and push my glass forward for Mike to top off. “So,” he starts up again, sipping at the mostly cranberry juice, “do you give private shows?”

“Why of course I do, sweetness.” I sip my drink and wait for the usual response.

“What kind?” he asks. I swear I should just have cards made up that give my going rates. His eyes skim the top of my halter, lingering on the swell of cleavage. “I’d like a full show…” he trails off the implication clear.

I suppress the roll of my eyes. Most guys do want the full show, but I was pretty strict with the contract I signed with Geno. I only do topless for private shows and I set my own rates. Normally, in a strip club, you request a girl and the rates are flat for everyone. We make our money in the tips and a percentage of the private dances we give.

Going into this four years ago, I decided that what I could offer and what I was willing to offer were two separate things. Darius manages that piece, has since I’ve met him. With him behind me, I’ve been able to negotiate separate terms, depending on the bar that I work. For Rusty’s, my hourly rate is seventy-five dollars plus my tips when I dance – no full or half nudity. I’ve learned pasties can be a girl’s best friend next to diamonds and Jimmy Choos.

“Well,” I lean into the man and run a short, French-tipped nail up his arm, “if you want a private show it’s a flat two-fifty, lap dance only. Topless will add another two. If you want a full, unobstructed view, sug, I can give you one for five.”

I see the sweat pop and bead along his forehead and upper lip. I know he’s not got that kind of money to spend. He licks the sweat away from his upper lip and says, “What about after?”

I pull back and shake my head. “I don’t do ‘after.’” I say it gently, but firm. He’s not the first to ask. He won’t be the last.

The change in him is subtle; he sits up a little straighter. “You would for me.”

“Sorry, sweetness, but I won’t,” I tell him immediately. No reason to string him along. “I may strip for a living, but I’m not a whore.”

His upper lip curls and he chuckles, “Ain’t that the definition of a whore, a bitch who takes her clothes off for a living?” He grabs on to my wrist and gives a tug, “I think maybe you should quit playing hard to get and just come with me.”

I wrench my hand free and shake my head. “I think it’s time for you to go.”

We stand at the same time. I don’t take my eyes off Andrew, but I see Mike from over the man’s shoulder signal for Geno. Andrew steps into me, pressing our bodies together. His erection presses against my naked thigh and I bite my tongue, trying to maintain my calm.

“I think,” a voice from over my shoulder snarls, “the lady said it was time for you to go.” I know that voice.

“I think it’s time for you to stay out of my business, bitch,” Andrew snarls as I see Nora step up to me so that we’re shoulder to shoulder for the briefest of moments. I step back and she slips between me and Andrew.

“I think you should learn some manners,” Nora retorts as Geno’s hand swings back. Before it gains forward momentum, I watch slack jawed as she lashes out. Her right hand shoots up, catches him on the side of head and slams the right side of his face down on the edge of the bar. “When a lady tells you to leave, you do as requested,” she hisses on impact.

He yelps just as Geno grabs him by the arms and throws him away from the bar onto the floor. Andrew sputters, spits a few curse words before Geno plants his foot in the man’s ass when he tries to stand. The kick sends Andrew forward. He sprawls out a few feet forward from where he landed the first time. He tries again, rising on all fours. Geno repeats the kick.

I laugh. I’ve seen him do this once before. It’s his version of a frog march for unruly patrons.

Andrew just got black listed from Rusty’s.

“You okay?” Nora interrupts my entertainment. I look at her, green eyes full of concern and sympathy. Her hand reaches out and gently takes hold of the forearm Andrew clamped down on. It’s a little red, but no serious damage. The woman inspects it, her eyes narrowing at the temporary markings.

“I’m fine,” I whisper leaning closer to her. “Really. No worse for the wear, ma’am.”

Her scowl slowly dissipates as I continue to smile at her and run a hand along her arm. “Thank you, for the rescue.”

“I, uh…” her confidence evaporates before me and she licks her lips, stammering, “I, uh, well, you looked, and he seemed like an asshole.”

I giggle and offer her the stool that Andrew just vacated.

“I can offer you a drink?” she asks quietly. “You don’t have to have alcohol, but a pop or something else…if, you, uhm, if you don’t like liquor?”

“I’m okay right now. Thank you, though,” I let her off the hook as Mike refills my glass and looks at Nora. She shakes her head and he nods, offering her a small thankful smile.

“I’ll let you get back to…” she tries to leave me.

My hand on her tensing thigh stops her words and her attempt to stand. “Stay and chat with me before I go on again?” I ask, titling my head to the side and batting my eyelashes.

She releases her lower lip she was worrying and breaks out into a small, genuine smile. “I’d like that.”



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 21st, 2012 01:12 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... but whyyyyyy??? And it looks like she is carrying for Darius.

Waiting for more :)
Sep. 28th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
But why, what?

And Nikki does a lot for Darius. You may get to see it all. ;0)

Sep. 22nd, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
Smoking! Drugs?!? Say it ain't so! Really, really can't wait for the next update!......

Has it been two weeks yet? :p just kidding!
Sep. 28th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
I thought I warned you that Nikki was different here...Nora is as well, but Nikki's a different creature. I'd like to think she's still Nikki at her core, she's just coming from a different set of experiences that have shaped her, y'know?

And thanks...more on the sooner side.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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