1. Chapter 1 by squibalicous
2. Chapter 2 by squibalicous
She never slept after an appointment with a client. It was one of her rules.
Never break an appointment, never kiss on the lips, never stay the night and never, ever get involved. But after her third time with Dan he had passed out with his arms tightly wound around her. Usually she would have detached herself and woken the man, letting him know she was leaving and to confirm their next appointment. But Dan was different. He was restless as he slept, quietly muttering names of people and strange places. Jack, Sam, Tealek, Esgsea and Vala. His voice would always become so earnest and desperate when he called out for Vala. She would gently sooth him, caressing his damp forehead until he settled.
The service had tried out several girls with him but none seemed to suit his tastes. Finally he had asked for someone with dark hair and an accent. Although she had lived in the States for several years, she never lost her Sydney accent. As many, she had come to the States with the dreams of becoming someone famous.
She had made it through her first semester at fashion design school on her savings but found her dream slipping away when she could no longer afford to go to school and live in the city. Another girl had introduced her to the service. It was hardly as sorted and vulgar as it was made out in films. The service would set up an appointment with a man. She would show up. Sometimes they would go through the motions of a “date” but there were never any illusions that it was a romantic relationship. It was an arrangement. It was business.
The last girl had made the mistake of asking Dan about his leg. Thinking him a vet from Iraq she had upset him, tainting their pillow talk with questions. The service called her to take him on because they knew she would keep it professional.
She should have passed him onto another girl after the first time she stayed the whole night. He made her coffee in the morning and asked if she wanted some breakfast. She declined. After confirming their next appointment, she had headed for the door, assuring herself that one broken rule was okay. So long as she kept the others.
She broke another a month later.
It was as she finished up in the bathroom one morning that she noticed the medicine bottle. A month’s supply of Oxycotin. The date on the label was only a week old but the vial was less than half full. It was after her next appointment with him that she left a pamphlet for Narcotics Anonymous on his kitchen table.
Two weeks later there were only over the counter pain killers in his medicine cabinet.
For six more months she kept every appointment with Dan.
As she lay with him curled into her body, his arm holding her close, she knew that she had to tell him that this would be the last time.
He made a quiet mmhph sound, as he nuzzled her hair at the base of her neck.
“Dan, I need to tell you something.” She turned out of the embrace and sat up. He looked at her, bleary-eyed.
“I’m quitting the service.” This seemed to get his attention. He sat up with her, leaning his weight on the side of his good leg.
“I’m finishing school in two weeks and I have a job offer.” Nodding his head he stared at her, his eyes tracing the contours of her face. She had already informed all her other clients that she was moving on weeks ago. She had held off telling Dan for as long as possible.
“I won’t be…I can’t do this anymore.” Playing with the edge of the bedsheet, she kept her eyes away from his face, fearing what she would see.
Taking one hand he gently brushed her hair away from her shoulder and caressed the skin.
“I understand.” He replied.
She stilled his hand with hers. Finally she brought her eyes up to his face.
“They can send someone else.”
His eyes wandered to where her hand held his.
“There is something else I am suppose to do with my life.” She hadn’t meant it to sound as profound or desperate as in came out.
His eyes moved back to hers. It was unspoken but from the play of emotions across his face, dragging him back to another place, another time, she knew that he understood better than anyone else what she meant.
Moving her hand to his cheek she leaned over and placed a chaste kiss on his lips, their first. He had closed his eyes and kept them so as she eased herself out of the bed. Gathering her things she refused to look at him as she dressed.
Finally she turned her eyes to him as she stopped at the door. He was watching her with a lost look.
Catching her breath, she couldn’t help the words from coming out, “I’ll see you…next week.”
He nodded to her. Turning quickly she hastened down the hall to his door. Once outside his apartment, she braced herself against the wall. The tears now streaming down her face because she knew she would have to break her last and final rule.
AN: The specter of the original drabble visited recently and made me write this. Not my best but at least I exorcised the demon and hopefully can get back to my other works now.
"What's on the schedule today Veronica?" Bindi Zadow asked her assistant as she walked the aisle of her Washington DC clothing boutique Zadowtopia. It had been three years since she graduated from design school and launched her own clothing line, first selling through her website. A year later she used the profits from the website sales and begged and borrowed the rest needed to finally open her boutique.
"Agostino, the buyer from Milan is coming at one and we need to finalize the selection for the Vogue photo shoot before the courier comes at four."
"Okay, order lunch from Byblos. I hung out the pieces for Vogue last night but we'll make the final cut before the end of the day. Add the bandeau and challis wrap."
Veronica nodded, writing down her instructions.
"And Skype the Singapore factory and find out why our orders are taking so long clearing customs."
Veronica continued to scribble her instructions as Bindi walked to her office.
"Oh," Veronica stopped her, "a client is coming in at ten to view the fall line."
"Have Herme handle it."
"I would but when I booked the appointment she asked for you specifically and you had flagged her account, so I thought you wouldn't mind." Veronica handed her the appointment sheet.
'V. Mal Doran'
Of course, Bindi thought to herself. V. Mal Doran had been one of her first internet sales. In the past three years she had purchased nearly ever piece in Bindi's line. She had joked that V. Mal Doran had almost singlehandily funded the start-up money for the boutique.
"Do you want me to have Herme take the appointment?"
"No, I'll do it." Bindi replied. "Let me know when she arrives."
An hour later Veronica politely knocked on the door frame on her office.
"Ms Mal Doran is here."
Bindi walked out from the back of boutique. Standing before a rack of scarlet red, silk bustieres was a striking woman with sharp, angular features. Although she was shorter than Bindi, it occurred to her how similar their features were to one another.
"Ms Mal Doran, Bindi Zapdow. It is a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Oh, please, it's Vala. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here. I simply adore your clothing. It reminds me of the Armosians style, nicely cut and fitted to the body, except your pieces don't have a opening for a prehensile tail."
Bindi was stunned for a moment, unsure if she heard the woman correctly. Following the adage that 'the customer is always right' she quickly decided to ignore the strange comment.
"When you booked your appointment with my assistant you mentioned that you are looking for an ensemble for a special event."
"Oh yes! Our dear friends Samantha and General Jack are performing a binding ceremony next month. I am to act as quarawta to Samantha."
Again, Bindi fell silent, trying to decipher Vala's odd comments. That and the strangely familiar lilt to her accent.
"If you don't mind me asking Vala, where are you from originally?"
Without missing a beat she replied, "Wisconia." Bindi raised an eyebrow, unsure if the woman was serious.
Seeing Bindi's confusion, Vala called out. "Oh Daniel."
It was then Bindi noticed the man standing by an accessory display. From behind she could see that he was tall with broad, muscular shoulders that were well fitted into a tweed jacket. He turned at his name. Behind the glasses he wore was the kind of face that reminded a woman of her first childhood crush.
"Daniel, I was just telling Bindi about how I am from Wis..con.."
"Wisconsin." He finished for her. "Vala's from Wisconsin."
"Go Pikers!" Vala cheered.
"Packers." Daniel corrected her quietly.
With Daniel now standing only a few feet from her, Bindi studied him. There was something so familiar about him. Quickly a deep blush rose to her face. It had been over three years since she had really thought about what she did for work when she was in design school. It was a few of her former clients that she had gone to with her business proposal for her internet business. Several had put up a large portion of the capital needed to start her business. She had made sure they were the first of her investors to be paid off. Although she was certain the man standing before her was never a client she could not shake the unnerving sense of knowing him, intimately.
Daniel broke her from her thoughts as he reached out his hand in greeting, "Dr. Daniel Jackson."
Daniel pushed his eyeglasses back up his nose as he took in the woman before him. "You're from Sydney but you spent time in Perth as well, right?"
"Yes, I am from Sydney but my family lived three years in Perth when I was a child. How could you know that?"
"Oh, Daniel here is a brilliant linguist and archaeologist for the military."
"Vala." Daniel lowly hissed in warning.
Looking at Bindi once more, a curious look come upon his face. "Ms Zadow, have we met before?"
Bindi due a sharp breath. In a brief span of a of few seconds she could imagine herself with this man. How it would feel to be in his embrace, laying next to him. Then it occurred to her. She would never had taken him on as a client for the simple fact that she was undoubtedly attracted to him. Had he been a client, it would have only led to complications, for both them. Yet, as familiar as he seemed to her, there was something missing from his eyes. She couldn't place what it was.
"No, we've never met before."
"What do you think of these darling?" Vala held up a crimson bustiere and matching thong.
"Vala, that is not appropriate for a wedding." Daniel replied sternly, appraising the garments over the top rim of his glasses.
"Of course not Daniel dear, I was thinking of the wedding night." She baited him.
"You're not the one getting married Vala."
"Well a girl can dream can't she?" She teased, winking at Bindi, as if she was in on a private joke.
Daniel let out a defeated sigh. He pulled out his wallet and selected a creditcard. Holding it aloft between two fingers.
"My meeting is in a half hour so I'm going to leave you here to shop..." Vala reached out to grab the creditcard but Daniel snatched his hand away quickly, "for one outfit for the wedding." He finished, finally handing the card over to her.
Snatching it from his hand, Vala quickly deposited a kiss upon his cheek. Now blushing, Daniel shifted his weight.
"I'll meet you back at the hotel for lunch in two hours Vala." Daniel nodded politely to Bindi then turned and walked to the front door. Watching his retreating form, Bindi hardly noticed the chatter from her doppelganger. Finally she shook herself out of the stupor.
"The new line is in the back." Bindi motioned to her assistant, "Veronica will show you there."
"I'd like to try this on first." Vala smiled and held up the bustiere once more.
"Our changing rooms are along the way."
As Veronica and Vala walked to the back, Bindi turned and could see out the front window as Daniel hailed a cab on the street. As she watched him, he turned and briefly halted before entering the cab. A small smile came upon his face and he gestured a wave at her in farewell.
She stood watching him until he disappeared into the backseat and the cab drove off. Then it occurred to her what was missing from his eyes. There was no sadness in them and for some reason it made her happy.