"No! I said a small town, Snake!" the loud voice was only muted by the heavy wooden door. There was a pause, as she listened to whatever the reply was.

I stood naked in the hallway outside of the room, leaning lightly against the ivory wall right next to the door. She had sent me out a couple of minutes ago, when her server had come over on the intercom to tell her a call from San Diego had come through.

She was furious. Her minions knew not to call her unless someone was dying. Nevertheless, seething, she politely requested my leaving the room for a short while so she could set the perpetrator straight about his unwelcome interruption of her private activities.

The call had been going on for a few minutes now, and I jadedly look out of the window at the end of the hall. The clouds outside broke with rays of sunshine, alerting creation to the rising sun. It must be around five in the morning, now. The birds would be awake soon, informing the world further that it was time to wake up.

"Well he won't do me any good if San Diego is his idea of a fucking small town!" she shouted from the inside of her room.

"No! You listen to me, Snake, I—no, boy, shut the fuck up when I talk to you! You tell that twat to call me—well of course from a pay phone, you idiota, what, you want the feds to listen in on my conversations? Of course you're sorry! Now listen closely—tell the motherfucker to call me. No, tomorrow! What do you take me for, you stupid fucker, of course today! Yes! Right now! Go find that bitch, and relay my message to him. Tell him I expect a call from him in the next hour, or I will personally fly down there to put a fucking bullet in his head, and serve his brain as a delicacy at my next party! In the next hour, Snake!"

It's always amazed me how much she could yell. Her voice never got tired, it seemed, and it never started to crack from over—excretion of raising her voice, whether it was from rage, annoyance, or pleasure.

The call was ended, and I heard the phone being slammed down into its home roughly. She would come get me now. Any second, she would appear in the doorway and beckon me to continue our earlier activities.

The house was warm. It had an almost tropical climate which was carefully regulated by her main control room. I had never been inside of her control room, but I would think that it would look like one of those rooms you see on TV, surrounded by monitors showing endless feed from several cameras outside. Her house almost reminded me of that Disney movie about that state-of-the-art house which eventually turned out to be evil and wanted to be a mother...

"I apologize." her voice was pure velvet, breathed so close to my ear that I jumped.

"No problem." I muttered, because, what else was I to say? She put her hands lightly on my shoulders and turned me around to face her, studying every inch of my face with dark, blazing eyes.

"We should get dressed," She decided with an air of finality. "I'm expecting a call in the next hour. It would be pointless to start anything just to be interrupted…" Her voice faded as she walked back into the bedroom.

She never did anything without a good reason for doing so, I found, and she always explained herself and her reasoning even when I didn't ask. I was the only one she did this to. Her other associates were better with the least amount of information she could possibly give them. Most people called her paranoid, but when you were of her status you had to be. She explained the whole process to me once, but I was hardly paying attention, so I don't really remember. I just know that her reasoning for telling me is because it helped her to speak her plans out loud, and because a commoner like me could never have the audacity to backstab her.

I followed her into the bedroom and stood in the doorway awkwardly, watching her sort out her clothes from mine out of the tangled masses that they were on the floor of her spacious bedroom.

Her bedroom was fantastically simple. A huge, Victorian canopy bed stood proudly against the left wall. The floor was a shiny, reflective white. The walls were charcoal. There was a dresser which was so thoroughly carved with miraculous designs it didn't even look like a dresser. On the ceiling hung a moderate-sized chandelier. The left wall was almost wholly occupied by a huge dance-studio mirror. There were no windows, and only one door leading in and out of the room. The bedroom was nestled in the heart of the house, built meticulously so that no one could possibly attempt an assassination of its inhabitant without walking into the room itself. She even, once, told me that for her further safety she made sure the walls were layered by a three-inch-thick pure titanium sheets, which were covered my an inch of sheetrock on both sides.

"I'd like to see a bullet go through that." She had bragged, rapping her knuckles on the wall.

"That must have cost quite a bit." I mused.

She had waved my point off as though it was an annoying fly. "A small price to pay for my privacy and safety."

It was, indisputably, the safest room in the house. But then, the rest of the house was pretty damn safe too. With guards and several advanced technology bobby traps. Or so I think. I wouldn't put it past her paranoia to set both up. Because let face it, she wouldn't do all of her business in her bedroom.

I finished getting dressed with her in comfortable silence, and once we were both clothed she patted her thighs and smiled at me. "Would you like a drink?"

I actually would have loved one. She once told me that she imports all of her wine right from the vineyards of France and Italy. Vineyards which she owns…

"…after they arrive here they are tested in the labs, sorted by alphabet, and put in climate controlled underground cellars." She took a dusty bottle of Nero d'Avola from the shelf, inspecting it expectantly. "Every type of wine has specific characteristics which cannot be overlooked when they are put into the cellars to age. Left exposed to heat, light, vibration, or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they mature." She explained, her voice taking on a warm, factual murmur. She lightly brushed the dust from the bottle and looked to me, smiling.

"Shall we test the flavor of this one?"

I really wasn't a huge fan of wine. Except dessert wine. She, however, I had quickly found, was not only in love with it, but was in the business.

"My great-grandfather was a bootlegger during the Prohibition Era, you know? Made millions. He worked in the vineyards in California before the era began. Then, when his vineyard had closed, he took to making his own wine." She was not completely sober, I could tell so by the loose way she gripped the grass with her drink, and flailed it around while she told her story.

She often told stories when drunk. Stories about her history, her family and all of their money-making exploits of the past. It was hilarious, really, how she would get so into the stories that she would start mimicking voices, and scrunching up her face to show the various emotions of her characters.

"After the era ended, my family was one of the largest providers of wine in the country. My great-grandfather died at the age of fifty-three. Passed the family business onto my grandfather, who screwed all of his hard work up, the bastard." She sneered and took a large gulp of wine, making a satisfied ahh sound and continuing. "After that motherfucker died, thank God, my father took it all over. Not easy, you know, building back a wealth that was in ruins because of my grandfather. My father managed to do it though." she looked proud, and took another swig of wine. "My father was not the most successful businessman, though. I helped him out, a bit. Now, its mine. And as you can see," she gestured wildly around the mansion. "I have made quite the profit from my business deals."

I was zoned out for so long, that the only thing which brought me back was her waving a flute of champagne in my face. I jumped slightly and she smiled apologetically.

"Sorry to startle you. You want it? You never responded."

I shook my head. "No thank you."

She shrugged lightly and drained the whole glass. "Suit yourself."


"I'm home." I shout into the apartment as soon as I cross the threshold. I pause, waiting for any noise at all to let me know that I was not alone.

"Momma?" my youngest, Timmy, is the first to greet me. He looks half asleep, rubbing his blue eyes with a tiny fist.

"Hello sweetheart." I bend down to him and scoop him up easily. He doesn't weigh much, even if he is around four years old. "Where's your daddy?"

Timmy shrugs. "He's asleep."

I make a nonchalant noise and set my boy down again. Artie is always asleep around this time. I don't know why, because its not like he does anything all day but watch TV and eat. I guess being a lazy ass takes lots of mental concentration.

"Go back to bed, baby." I tell Timmy. The blond boy shrugs and shuffles away, disappearing in one of the two bedrooms in the apartment.

Artie and I got married seven years ago. I guess if someone told me, on my wedding day, that seven years later my children would be near starving, my husband would be a lazy ass, and I would have to work two jobs (one of which was to basically sell myself to an undoubtedly criminally linked millionaire) just to make sure there was a tiny amount of food on the table, I would have walked out of that Goddamned church, away from my wedding, in a heartbeat.

But no one told me that. So I married, and was pregnant a month later with my first daughter.

Being pregnant was one of the most gratifying things that has ever happened to me. It was amazing, even with all of the unpleasant side effect. Artie was frantic, too, never leaving my side for more that a couple of hours when he would have to go to class, because he was studying to become an engineer. He nearly lost it when I went into labor, but the moment he got to hold her for the first time, he looked at me eagerly with tears in his eyes, and whispered "I want another one."

So a popped out another one. Another girl, Traci, who was around six now, and then another, Timmy.

After that, Artie was satisfied. I think he wanted a son all along, and that's why he was urging me to keep getting pregnant. Well he got his son, whom he now probably doesn't even care exists. He graduated, barely, but couldn't get a job. After a while, he just kind of gave up looking for one, which brings us back here, where he is a lazy slob who doesn't do squat.


There were many parties on those fateful summer nights at her house.

In her multicolored gardens men, women, girls, and boys came and went like ants. It rained champagne, there was music, and nine foot solid ice statues, and chocolate fountains the size of full grown men, and waiters scampering around with trays full of unearthly delicacies and flasks of any liquor one could name.

On weekends, in the afternoons, I watched her guests diving from the tower of her raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of her private, manmade beaches while her dozen motor-boats slit the waters of the her private manmade lake, drawing aquaplanes over cascades of foam. Her Hummers became omnibuses, bringing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while her Land Rovers scurried like a brisk black bugs to meet all of the in-flights which carried the ones who didn't live in the driving vicinity. On Mondays dozens of servants, including extra gardeners, labored all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the havoc of the night before.

People were not invited to these extravaganzas. No one was, but a few of the very rich who often flew in for the parties on their private jets from D.C., L.A., Chicago, New York, and Detroit. Everyone who wasn't invited just kind of came, because they thought a party would undoubtedly be here. Their musing was never far from the truth.

The lavishness of these affaires soon clued me in on how well-to-do she really was. Far passed the millionaire status I had her pegged under. Maybe multimillionaire, even, one who didn't hide her wealth from the rest of the world.

In the midst of these scandalous incidents, she was often found talking to her associates, the ones who flew in by private jet, about many of business deals and goings. She would laugh, and tell outrageous stories to entertain her crowd. On other nights she was to be found leaning against the railing of the balcony of the upper floor, which contained bedrooms, and looking over the crowd below with an almost angrily possessive look. And yet still on others she would be standing by the front door, waiting for me of all people, just to take me through the crowds, introduce me to several blurry faces with mute names, get me tipsy on champagne, and take me upstairs for a wilder time that any of her parties had ever accomplished.

One Saturday I came as per usual, expecting to see the masses of cars and swarms of people in her lavish front yard, but instead the number was reduced to just her Hummers and Land Rovers and several other types of SUVs which regularly occupied the main driveway. The house was calm and quiet with no signs of party. The bottom of the four stories was lit, indicating life, but no silhouette of dancing people occupied the windows.

Confused and cautious, I shuffled to the front door. She had told me to never ring the bell, reasons of which I never understood, but right now I felt unwelcome in her ever familiar house. My hand made motions towards the bronze button, but before it could make contact the heavy Verawood front door swung open.

"Ah. It's you. Come in." her words were slurred, but she was not drunk if the sharpness of her eyes had anything to say about that.

"Don't you have a party today, or is it already over?" I asked, confused.

"No, no," she did a careless, fluttering wave of her hand. "I have private guests today. Follow me." she was restlessly impatient, for some reason, and took my hand to lead me through the house into the back business room, which had an enormously long, slender table in the middle that was framed my three dozen identical office chairs. One wall, the right, was complete glass and gave a fantastic view of rolling hills, docks, bays, and beaches which she owned.

One would think that this room would be more guarded and wouldn't have a wall of pure glass where creation could see her business deals, and possibly stage an assassination, but she told me once that her guests liked natural light, and she was more than willing to show off her fantastic assets.

I had been in here several times. She often did business in this room. That, and other things.

The men around the table looked like thugs. Half of them were decked out in showy business suits and pure gold jewelry, with slightly smoking cigars hanging from their lips. The other half were in suits too, but looked prim and proper. Amongst that half, I recognized some as politicians and White House delegates. They looked much older than her or I, maybe in their mid-forties and fifties, and their mutterings were quieted when we entered the room.

"Gentlemen. Good to have you." she addressed the crowd.

I immediately felt flushed. I had on my party wear, which included a skimpy blood-red dress, there wasn't a place for me among old, corrupt men but when I made motions to leave, she grabbed my hip and steered me to a chair right next to the foot of the table, where she would undoubtedly be sitting. I crossed my legs self-consciously, and noticed several of the table members leering blatantly.

"So. Let us get to our first order of business..." her voice faded away from my mind as I tuned out, instead looking anywhere than the probing eyes of men almost twice my age.

She talked for a long time about God knows what. No one was paying attention to her though, because all eyes were trained on me, and one glance in her eyes told me she was pleased that they were. Eventually, she split the meeting up, and her guests took their cigars and coats, drained their liquor, and made their way out of the room to get in their expensive cars and drive away.

"Ah! William! Could you stay for dinner?" she called out to one of them, a tall, thin man with a mop of curly brown hair who was one of the eldest out of the whole group.

He smiled, dimples showing, and chuckled at her antics. "Of course." he said before exiting the room with the rest.

Once we were alone, she turned to me and grinned dazzlingly. "That went extremely well!" she chirped. "Those grandpas looked like they had never seen a sexy woman before." she laughed joyfully. "The bastards didn't pay attention to a word I said." she placed her hand on my knee. "Always pay attention in a business meeting, Brittany, or else you will be cheated out of millions of dollars. Like they were today."

I knew she was immoral. I had quickly found that out from our in-bed activities. I didn't know she was a crook, though, who used people for her own benefit. I guess I should have made the connection sooner to save my feeling the way I was right now. Like I was used. Another piece in her twisted game.

But hadn't I been used all this time? She and I had sex on a regular basis. Sex which she payed me for.

"Hey," she cooed. She gripped my chin and turned me towards her. "Did I do something wrong?"

I didn't respond, looking blankly at her. Her smile disappeared.

"What's wrong?" she asked. I shook my head.

Yes, I was another piece in her game and I knew it. She did use me. But she payed me for my time. And money was something I desperately needed to keep my kids alive. So as long as she payed me I would stay, and I would have sex with her, and I would be used by her, because I had to do what I had to do for my children.

"Nothing. Just thinking about some things. Shouldn't you entertain your guest?"

Her whole face lit up. It was strange.

"Oh! Yes! I want you to meet him. He was my father's best friend and strongest tie in the White House. He's a good family friend..." I stopped listening and let her drag me out of the oppressing room by the hand.


Whew!

What do you guys think? There'll be more coming.