Chapter 8: The Business
“I don’t know that I can do this.” I say as we stand outside on the tarmac next to Samantha’s personal plane. The staircase is lowered and the staff is waiting for us to enter.
“You can, there’s nothing to it.” She says confidently.
“Nothing to it? I suppose you fly all the time and go all over the world, right? Yes, I’m right. I have never flown before. It’s scary, I have no clue what will happen and if something goes wrong, we’re going to die.” I say my thoughts out-loud without allowing her to answer until I am done.
“There’s nothing to worry about.” Samantha grabs my hand and leads me up the stairs and to the door of the plane. She enters and I move my arms up and place them on the door. I take a deep breath. You can do this! There’s nothing to it, like Samantha said. Trust her, it will be okay. I can’t do this...I’ll have no control over what happens. We could all die because of someone or something.
“Take this.” Samantha appears with what a cocktail glass that appears to be a martini. I down it, take a deep breath, and enter the plane. It seems to be more spacious than I thought. It didn’t look that big from the outside. There are four seats around a table and a couch that seats three or four along the side of the plane. There is an open door behind the seating area leading to the bathroom and a luxurious, modern style bedroom.
I sit at the corner of the couch facing the rest of the plane. The couch is so comfortable. I feel like I would be able to sleep here no problem. I let out a yawn at the thought. “Are you tired?” I hear Samantha’s question.
“No, maybe just a little, but I will be okay.”
“If you want, you could take a nap. It will make the trip faster. We will also be staying up late tonight.”
“In that case, a nap may be good.” I swing my legs up on the couch and lie down.
“The bed will be more comfortable.” She suggests and holds her hand out to me.
“I’ll be okay here, it is super comfy. I’ll just need a small blanket.” I say.
“Come.” Samantha demands. I take her hand, rise, and follow her into the bedroom. “Shoes here.” She points to a mat just inside the room.
I take my shoes off. “I’ll be...”
“Shh,” she cuts me off. Samantha opens the covers on one side of the bed, “here.” I lay down in the space before her. She covers me, kisses my forehead, and walks to the door. She then turns, smiles at me, and turns out the light.
I must have fallen asleep quickly. Before I know it, Samantha is waking me by saying, “It may be a little rough now that we’re close to landing.”
“Oh fuck!” I say as the plane bounces with turbulence. “I don’t like this.” I grab Samantha’s hand, sit up, and turn away from her.
“It will be okay.” She says comfortingly.
There was another jolt. I squeeze her hand hard. She starts to rub my back to calm me. The plane lands and slows down quickly.
“See, everything was alright. The flight is over and we will soon be at the Escape.”
“The Escape?” I question. What kind of name is Escape? I guess it’s a place where people escape for something. I look out of the window into the dark sky above the lit up silhouettes of buildings in the distance.
“The name of our new business is Escape. I thought you knew that.”
“Oh, I must have missed that. It seems like an unusual name.”
“The clientele find a type of escape from the harsh reality there, so I would say it is fitting.” Samantha explains.
“Wait, what kind of business is it? I thought it was a bar.”
“You weren’t paying attention at all, were you? Well it will be a surprise.” She says. “The driver’s here, let’s go.”
We exit the plane and enter the car. “I have some questions for you if that is okay?”
“If you must.” she responds.
“What would you like me to call you: Samantha, Sam, Sammy, or something else?”
“Samantha or Sam is okay for now.”
“Okay Sam...Where are you from?” I test out her name. Sam seems suitable.
“Is your family still there? When did you come to the U.S.?”
“I left Romania when I was 18. I do not have a family anymore.” She said with a serious tone in her voice. She seems unaffected by the question.
“Doesn’t that make you lonely?”
“No, there are always people around. Any more questions?” She hides any negative feelings towards her sad family situation. I wonder if she will open up to me about this? I shouldn’t pry too deep.
“Where do you live now?”
“Las Vegas is my primary residence; however, I travel quite a bit. What would be your dream job and where would you want to live? I know you haven’t traveled far from home since you haven’t been on a plane before.” She asks, turning the questions on me.
“Well, I would like to travel and be an archaeologist. The history of mankind interests me so much. I have no idea where to start for that or even if I could. I feel like I have to take over the family farm since I am an only child. There is a lot I would need to learn and my dad probably only has five years of work left in him.”
“You can decide your future. They can’t force you to take over the farm. And, you will need to overcome your fear of flying.” Sam smiles at me endearingly.
“I know, but I feel like it is my obligation. I need to stay at the farm. I am the only one who can take care of everything. Plus, my parents will still need to live there and it’s been in our family for three generations already. I can’t just let their hard work go to waste.” I explain the strong belief I have of taking over the farm.
“How do you know that?”
“I don’t know…I just know it. I have known it was my job to take over ever since I was a child.”
“There is so much you do not know or understand about the world, Ileana. There’s an infinite amount of desires, experiences, and outcomes.” She explains, “I’m sure that this business endeavor will do wonders for you.”
Sam did make a good point. I don’t know anything outside of my secluded town. There is so much to learn and discover; it will never happen if I stay at home. Maybe I don’t have to take over the farm. Maybe I can go to college. Maybe I will become an archaeologist and be able to travel and discover so many old things. My future now seems like I can accomplish my dreams. Why now? Why was Sam the one who could change my thoughts? Why was she the one to change my feelings? She gives me hope. She gives me desires. What is it about her mysterious demeanor? She is able to get logic across my stubborn head.
What did she mean by the business doing wonders for me? How can having part of a business do wonders? What kind of business is it anyways? It has to be more than just a bar. It’s an escape for others, she said. What are people escaping to? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
The Escape is a dark building on a pretty well-lit street. There is not a huge sign to distinguish the club. It looks more like an office building without windows. There is however, a guard by the door that checks ID’s with a tablet before people can enter.
We walk to the guard and he asks for our ID’s. Good thing I brought mine. I hand it over and the tall, intimidating man searches the tables.
“It doesn’t seem like you’re on the list. Please move along.” The guard says as he hands back my ID.
“Not on the list? She happens to be one of the new business partners. Let us in, or you won’t be employed in the state of California again.” Samantha says sternly to the guard. The guard turns and talks in his headset to someone. Shortly after, he apologizes and opens the door.
“He didn’t know us. You only became the business partner earlier today. You didn’t have to be so mean.” I say to Samantha thinking about how she treated him.
“Mean? You think that was mean? It should be the job of the guards to know what is happening to the establishments before they happen. We need to create a new safety policy, which will be one of the first changes. Now, let’s see what this place has to offer.”
We walk through the door into a dim lit room. It seems comfortable and relaxing with deep maroon benches and mahogany tables. The walls seem to be dark wood planks and there is a bar in the center of the room.
Each side of the room has double doors with one propped open. It seems like each side room is brighter with fancy spot lights and lasers. I wonder what’s happening in those rooms.
“How about we start with looking over the menu?” Samantha suggests as we walk together towards the bar.
“Okay.” I respond and look around. I actually own part of this. Wow, that is crazy. I wonder what is in those rooms. It seems to be some type of show. This place doesn’t seem like it needs a lot of work. I wonder what will be upgraded with all of the money.
Sam orders a couple of martinis and hands me one when the bartender finishes making them. I take a sip almost immediately. I don’t think I’ll be drinking too much. I definitely don’t want to do anything that I’ll regret and I drank a lot last week. I wonder where we will be staying tonight. Will we get a hotel room? Will we each get our own? Share one? Share a bed? Oh boy. I can’t even think about that right now.
“Let’s check out this room.” I say pointing to the room on the right.
There are a lot of comfortable chairs and small tables scattered throughout the room. There is also a well-lit stage that no one is on right now.
The room is about half full of women and a few men scattered around. Oh Jear Desus. I see a couple men wearing only thongs walk out and start mingling with the audience as they start making money. I guess I own part of a strip club. A male strip club. They are fit men, but not really appealing to me. How can that be? Maybe I do like girls...What would my parents think? Oh boy, I’m never going to tell them!
“So, what do you think?” Sam asks as she is watching me.
“I don’t know what to think.” I let out a small, nervous laugh and turn towards the door we just entered.
“Perhaps you’ll like the other room better.” Sam suggests.
“I’d say that probability is high.” I’d say almost anything would be better than watching men strip tease and dance in so little clothing.
“So you’re not into men then?”
“I don’t know, I have never been with anyone...like ever. But I don’t have any desire for them. Even seeing them like that.” I gesture to the performers and the sight before me validates the words I spoke.
“Interesting. I knew you lacked experience, but I had no clue you were a virgin.”
“Shh...someone will hear.” I blush and my cheeks get hot from the embarrassment.
“Since you don’t desire them. Who do you desire?” Samantha says as she leans in closer. “Women?”
I get a whiff of her perfume and smile. “Maybe…” I say quietly. “I don’t know though. How can I know? I have no experience.”
“Oh, believe me doll, I can change that.” Samantha says with a nod and licks her lips.
“Uhh....” I had no clue what to say. Uh, what? What did she say? She could change my lack of experience? So, she wants to have sex with me? No, that can’t be. Why would she want that? Do I want that? I don’t know. Was that her plan for this trip? I barely know her. I couldn’t do that. But the way she looks at me sometimes, it’s like I’m her next meal. Maybe that’s what she was actually thinking. Oh boy...hopefully we have different rooms.
“This way.” Samantha grabs my hand and leads me towards the other room.
This time, there are two female performers on stage. One is wearing a black chest harness with her breasts exposed, a thong, and a collar. The other is in a fluffy pink bra with matching panties. I look away. This is not what I was expecting. But it does appeal to me more than the guys. I guess I must like women more then. Why though? Am I attracted to them? Yes... Oh great. Maybe it’s just temporary and I’ll grow out of it. How can I grow out of it? All my life, I have never been attracted to guys. I haven’t really been attracted to girls either, but I didn’t know it was an option. And now that they are in front of me flaunting, I can’t help but to watch them.
“Do you like this better?” Samantha’s words pulled me from my contemplating mind.
“I think so.” I say shyly.
I follow Sam to the front of the stage. She picked seats in the center of the front row. I sit next to her with a small table between us. Why would she pick seats here? She must be trying to make me uncomfortable...or something.
“How long are we going to stay here?” I ask. I hope I don’t sound rude. We did just get here. But I’m anxious. I don’t know if I like this place or not. It’s a little intense. It’s also hard to try to deny liking something that is right in front of you.
“I ordered some food for us to try. I got us an assortment of things on the menu so we can assess the quality. After that, we can go to the hotel if you don’t want to stay and enjoy the show.”
“I’d like to leave after the food.” I say, “Looks like it’s done.”
The waitress walks up from behind Samantha and sets down three plates. One plate has a stuffed pork chop and a giant sweet potato. The next plate has a steak smothered in onions and mushrooms with potato wedges. The last plate was filled with a variety of appetizers that looked weird.
“Wow, that’s pretty fancy. What are all the appetizers?”
“I ordered some fried calamari, the ones that look like mini onion rings. Next to those is a sushi roll with ahi tuna. And we have caviar on a crostini.”
“Those sound too fancy for me. I think I’ll pass on the appetizers this time.”
“You will try one. You can pick which one.” Samantha demands.
“Okay...” I pick up a piece of fried calamari. How bad can it be? It’s fried and has a marinara sauce. I dunk it and eat while expecting the worst. “It’s actually not that bad.”
“See, new things can often be delectable. You can also choose which meal to eat.” She says as she picks up a caviar crostini.
I grab the pork chop and sweet potato. I slowly cut my pork chop and watch the women on the stage. I wonder how many people actually go to strip clubs. It’s not all that bad I suppose. The music is good and the food is delicious. I guess it’s more awkward being around a bunch of strangers. I’m glad this is an exclusive club and they don’t let everyone in.
“What do you think?” Sam asks me.
“About?” I take the last few bites of my sweet potato.
“What do you think about the food, the show, me?”
“Well the food is great; the show is like nothing I’ve seen before. So many boobs. And you...I don’t know about you. I really enjoy my time with you. I like you...but I’m unsure the extent or what it means. My life is vastly different than yours. I don’t even know that much about you or your life, but mine has been pretty boring.”
“I can agree with you. You will have a lot more adventures in the near future. I will make sure of that.”
“I think you will. Thank you for expanding my views a little.” I say expressing my gratitude. She didn’t change my views a little. She rerouted my brain. I no longer think the way I used to. I want more with my life. I want more with her. I finally have an attraction and a desire for something more in my life.
“You’re welcome, Ileana. Let’s go to the hotel now.” She gets up before I have a chance to respond.