When my alarm went off I groaned and rolled onto the side where the sun couldn't hit my eyes. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my day in that stupid cubicle and fight off advances from sex deprived Brandon. A moment passed before I remembered I didn’t have to anymore.
Two weeks passed by and I was enrolled in intense Cherry training. The memory of my time in unpaid hell faded more each day, except for when I first wake up. The wooden bedroom floor froze my feet and I fought the urge to dive back under the covers. I made a mental note to invest in rugs. My last roommate stole them all when she moved to California.
Dedicated to ignoring how tired I still felt, I went straight to the bathroom to get clean before another day of exercise, assigned by Kitty. Despite appearances, Pink Cherry required a lot more dedication than I anticipated. A mandatory two hours in the work gym kept all the Cherries in their best physical condition, although it felt like hell. All the Cherries assured me I would get accustomed to it, but for someone who considered walking up one flight of stairs as extreme fitness, I had a hard time believing it.
Before I stripped out of my pajamas, I adjusted the shower temperature and hoped it wouldn’t take too long to warm up. I glanced at my abdomen, still no sign of a six-pack, but I figured that took a lot more than a few weeks of half-assed sit-ups. Frizzy bunches of my hair fell over my chest and made my skin appear lighter. When was the last time I spent time in the sun?
Two more weeks and I would be the equivalent to a Vitamin D deficient doll for a stranger. Since I still needed the money to pay for upcoming bills, I needed the most generous stranger I could snag. When I finished brushing my teeth to get rid of the morning taste in my mouth, I took a steamy shower. The hot water soothed some of the aches in my shoulders and I released my stress for a few moments.
I examined the bruises on my hips, there were so many from falling on stage but they had started to fade. After a lifetime of avoiding all sports, I learned how deeply uncoordinated I was. My brother, the shining child that every mother prays for, must have sucked up all the natural talent allotted to our family before I could be born.
After a much longer shower than I intended, I had no choice but to throw on whatever clean clothes I could find in my disorganized closet and throw and granola bar in my bag for later. The training, while torture, proved its worth as I sprinted down to Pink Cherry. Kitty waited for me behind the front desk with two cups of coffee and grinned as soon as I rushed through the door.
She glanced up at the clock on the wall, one of the only non-erotic pieces of wall decor, “You’re late.”
I grimaced, “I know, I’m so sorry.” Kitty scanned my appearance, taking special note of my wet hair.
“You’re fine, we’ve all been there.” She winked and slid a cup of coffee my way. I could still see the steam coming off the top. “Showers have a way of stealing time.”
My cheeks were hot and I avoided eye contact. Somehow she always knew what happened or what I thought. My running theory included her installing cameras in my apartment and a microchip in my brain while I slept from a post-cardio coma; I filed away the unsettling idea.
“So, are you excited?” She asked while taking a sip of her equally hot coffee. How could that not burn her tongue off?
She pushed a strand of hair out of her face and gave me a peculiar look, “Today is the end of your training.”
The vague memory of her mentioning it from the night before came back to me. I could take in so much after finishing seventy-five push-ups, she should have known that already.
Still, I sighed in relief, “I don’t think I could take one more test on the names of toys that we carry.” Over five hundred and more being added to the collection each month.
“I know the feeling,” Jade jumped into the conversation. She had just come out of the back room with a sexy black garment in her hand. On my second day of training, I learned Jade did a lot of the sewing and design work for event nights. The theme nights were the most elaborate and she spent most of her time preparing for them.
Her eye for colors and attention-grabbing designs made every show more incredible than the last. When she wasn’t in the room, Kitty told me she would be doomed without her. “When I started here there were only, like, a hundred toys and my brain nearly imploded in on itself.”
“See?” I motioned to Kitty. “It’s just inhumane.”
She held her hands up, “It’s Jason’s rule, not mine.”
Jason, The invisible owner who never seemed to come out of his workshop. There were a lot of rumors about him being passed from Cherry to Cherry but I had no way of telling which were true. Because no one could describe him the same way, it appeared likely that no one had actually gotten a close enough look or they weren’t saying if they had.
According to Sarah, The Toy Maker had dark brown hair and green eyes but Jade challenged her, saying he was blonde with blue eyes. But Kitty never joined in their debates about how he looked or what astrological sign he could be. She just nodded along and laughed when we suggested our own ideas about his life.
“Are you ready to be official?” Jade asked with a soft nudge to my side. She could really be a delight when not under stress.
The last time I had hear the term ‘official’ I was under the bleachers with Matt Kennedy, “Never been more ready in my life.” While the exercise brought a lot of soreness and ice packs into my daily routine, it also brought a lot of exhaustion induced honesty between all the Cherries. Who were mostly there to stave off student loan debt. Being a part of their world for two weeks had already given me more to look forward to than years at my old firm.
Sarah sprinted from the gym and skidded to a stop in front of the desk, “Have you told her about the induction? Did I miss it?” She had piled her blonde hair into a loose bun on her head that wobbled whenever she moved or talked.
Kitty looked at her in the same way my mom looked at me when I said too much to strangers, “Not yet.”
I scanned all of their faces for information, Jade had a grin plastered across her face and a camera strap around her neck.
“What’s going on?” I asked before making the decision to run, run far away.
Kitty shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal, “Just play,”
Play? “Play with what?” As soon as the question left my lips, I realized how stupid I sounded.
But the smiles they exchanged made it clear I gave them the opening they hoped for, “Any toy you want.” My heart jumped to my throat, “In front of all the Cherries.”
My jaw went slack and a camera flash captured my reaction to the bombshell. I clung to disbelief. “Oh,” I said with a nervous laugh, “I get it, this is a joke.”
Their faces remained steady. This wasn’t a joke. I remembered the giant corkboard in the backroom with over a hundred polaroids pinned to it, each one with a different Cherry looking just as stunned as I did.
“You could have told me sooner,” I tried to keep my voice from sounding too sharp, it didn’t work.
“It’s supposed to be a surprise, Tara.” Sarah said with no remorse, “Surprise.”
I half-expected dollar store confetti to fall from the ceiling, at least then I could tilt my head back and choke on it.
Jade shook her head, “How do you expect to fuck yourself in front of strangers if you can’t even do it in front of us?”
It wasn’t that the thought never occurred to me, I had just refrained from thinking about it. Still, She made a solid point. “Fine,” I sucked in a shaky breath, “When am I doing this?” And did I have time to go to the liquor store before it starts?
“Two hours,” Kitty answered, “Being late didn’t help. We only have so much time to get you ready.”
My stomach churned with anxiety, “Don’t barf,” Jade grabbed my hand. “We’ve all done it and it’s not so bad when you get up there.”
“Yeah, the only intimidating part is that Jason will be watching,” Sarah added which earned a glare from Kitty and Jade. “But, no one ever really sees him.”
I cringed with no intention of hiding it, I hoped they would take pity and let me off the hook. Instead, they declared ‘showtime’ and ushered me to the backroom. A few other Cherries pitched in with the extensive prep-work, everyone seemed excited to witness my transformation from grimy trainee to pristine Cherry. They dried the wet mop of hair on my head and curled every unruly strand while repainting my chipped nails which I had been biting since middle school, an unfortunate habit.
They applied makeup I never heard of and insisted on lipstick, something I rarely dared to pull off. But after all the fuss, I felt forced to admit that the Cherries were entirely too skilled with eyeliner. No one should be that good at making a cat eye look; If the wings were any sharper I could cut someone. I didn’t complain, I admired it until Jade led me to the dressing rooms. She handed me the black lace set she prepared especially for me and a pair of golden stilettos. I stared at the stilts she expected me to wear. Did no one around here wear flats?
“Relax, you’re only going to be in them for ten minutes.” She said it like that could make me feel better like anything could make me feel better.
“The rest of the time you’re going to be naked.” Kitty joined us and decided to make my nerves skyrocket to new heights. I shut the curtain on them but groaned so they could hear my discomfort with their ritual. I took my time putting on the simple panties and bralette Jade gave me; The longer I stalled, the more time I had to create a way out. My nipples were visible through the fabric, a deliberate design flaw by Jade, as I opened the curtain to show the girls.
Sarah, who joined the other two after getting out of the shower, whistled.
Kitty applauded, “You did it again, Jade.”
“It’s a gift,” Jade bowed before checking her watch. “It’s time.” It’s time to throw up.
Entering the main room sent a panic attack through every part of my body; Over thirty Cherries started congregating in front of the stage. Kitty walked beside me while Jade and Sarah looked for space to stand, after making several ill-formed ‘wet zone’ jokes.
A wide selection of toys was laid out on a table next to a mattress. “Do I have to use all of them?” I’d be up there for ages.
“No,” Kitty responded, “But you get to keep the ones you do, so usually we have a long show.”
I nodded despite my instinct to create a distraction and disappear into the chaos.
Kitty caught on, “Just close your eyes and pretend you’re at home.”
Easier said than done. When she left, I stood alone on the stage in ridiculously high heels. I couldn’t swallow the panic forming in my throat; I remembered every nightmare about school reports I ever had and this was so much worse. The lights dimmed and I found little relief from not being in direct light.
I felt the Cherries staring at every inch of my exposed body. From the front of the crowd, I could barely make out Sarah’s blue eyes and a nod. She gave me the cue, I just needed to move.
I forced a deep breath and unhooked the bralette. As I let it slide off my shoulders and onto the floor, a series of whistles echoed through the crowd. I wouldn’t let myself listen to their whispers while I peeled my feet from the stage floor and laid on the mattress.
My legs were open and I commended myself for not having a stroke, yet. But now the panic had morphed into something different; A familiar heat grew in between my legs and I forced myself to focus on the sensation of being watched. No use in pretending they’re not there. I just hoped Jade forgot her camera.
I dragged a nail over my thigh with the intent of teasing the crowd. If I had to suffer, so did they. Instead of pulling the panties off in one movement, I moved them an inch at a time. When I was finished they were still on one ankle. The Cherries and special guest had an unobstructed view of my body glistening underneath the warm stage lights.
Breath. I stroked myself in tantalizing circles with the goal of creating more pleasure than panic. The feeling of being on display, combined with the unexpected excitement, convinced me to push a finger inside of me and drag it out, over and over.
I moaned and added a second finger when the other became noticeably soaked. Still, I lacked the satisfaction I needed. Next to me, a simple dildo with stimulating features tempted me. I grabbed it and dared to spread my legs even wider for the onlookers.
The dildo slipped in with little resistance. After I adjusted to the feeling, I didn’t hold back. My gasps came out louder than I expected when the tip pressed against my g-spot and numbed the world around me. Then, my finger slipped down and hit a button, sending vibrations over me. The stimulation took me by surprise and another moan echoed over the crowd.
The electricity of a mind-bending climax swelled like an oncoming wave. My movements became more frantic; I was on the edge of intense pleasure. So close, it almost hurt.
I imagined what I looked like, completely exposed and vulnerable in front of dozens of people. I felt dizzy and then my breath was stolen from me. The wave crashed down on me with so much force my thoughts went silent; I forgot my surroundings and the desperate noises coming out of me. With the world spinning, I could only focus on myself.