Ashley had spent almost two hours in the tub downing an entire bottle of wine after that horrible day. First, she had been terrified about seeing Jean, and when she did, she had been just as flustered as she had expected. And then, there was the whole thing in the bathroom. Yes, Jean kneeing her in the groin had hurt like a bitch, but she had also registered the touch of Jean’s body against hers.
Fucking bitch, she just had to get the last word in, Ashley thought angrily.
Mary insisted she bring her cell phone into the bathroom with her, probably afraid Ashley was going to drown herself, or something. Ashley laughed. She had never met a woman that she would die for, but then Jean hurt her emotionally more than any other woman she’d known.
She laid her head back against the tub. What was really sad was that she still wanted to be with Jean again. Seeing her today, stirred feelings that Ashley didn’t want to admit she had for the woman. Ashley knew she was drawn to Jean in a bizarre way when it came to all the rough sex and she was more attracted to Jean than she had realized. Seeing her today made her want to beg Jean to take her back, but she wasn’t doing that. She was going to find someone who she could have a real relationship with, someone she could kiss and hold hands with. She might even try to find a job at a different law firm so she wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught out with a girlfriend.
Mary and Jackie were still in that honeymoon stage where they never wanted to go out anywhere. Mary had always been a homebody, and Ashley suspected that Jackie was the same way. Of course, being that way, they were less likely to run into someone from the office.
Ashley, on the other hand, loved to go out to bars, restaurants, and theaters. She wanted to be able to go out with a girlfriend and do all those things.
Her phone playing a song about pain snapped Ashley out of her thoughts. That was The Judge’s ring tone. Why on earth would Jean be calling her and at ten o’clock at night on a Tuesday, especially after everything that had happened? She stared at the phone, and then snatched it up angrily, “What the hell do you want?”
“Ashley!” Jean cried, “Thank God you answered.”
Ashley pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at. Judge Jean Carlisle, the ice queen was crying. “What…” Ashley started to ask but Jean cut her off.
“I need your help,” she cried, “I…I can’t tell you everything over the phone, but this couple played me and now I’m handcuffed naked to a bed in the Carlton.”
Standing up and almost falling, Ashley practically shouted, “Are you jerking my chain just to get me to come out there?”
“I swear, Ashley. I swear I’m telling you the truth. There was no one else I could call. Please, please, I’m begging you. Please come help me.”
Ashley got out of the tub and grabbed a towel. She knew this had to be serious. Jean never used her real name when she talked to her on the phone and she would never beg for help, or even use the word please. “What room are you in?”
“Eight eleven,” Jean said with another sob. “They took the room key. They said they’d come back in the morning. I’ll tell you everything when you get here. But, please, please come right away.”
“I’ll be right there,” Ashley assured her and started to hang up.
“Please don’t hang up, Ashley. If I drop the phone, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to it to call you back. I’m so afraid. I’m afraid they will come back, or worse, send someone else back for me.”
Ashley was panicking now. This was not the woman of steel who loved to torment her. She had never heard Jean like this. “I’ll stay on the phone,” Ashley promised. She grabbed her clothes and quickly dressed. “I’m going to get Mary and her girlfriend to come help. We might need the back up.”
“Okay,” Jean agreed with obvious reluctance.
Mary and Jackie were sitting on the couch watching television. “I need you your help,” Ashley blurted, rushing into the living room, “Jean is in trouble. We have to go help her.”
“Jean?” Mary asked with a raised eyebrow, “Like Judge Jean?”
“Yes, come on I’ll fill you guys in as much as I can on the road,” Ashley insisted and grabbed her jacket.
Mary and Jackie got up, put their shoes on, and grabbed their coats. The three of them hurried down to the parking lot and jumped into the front seat of Ashley’s car. Ashley started telling Mary and Jackie what was going on as she started the car and took off. She spoke into the phone, “Jean, you still there?”
“Yes,” Jean replied with a sob.
Mary looked at Ashley. “This is bad. Something really bad has to have happened to make her cry.”
“I know,” Ashley agreed. She raced across town to the familiar hotel and encouraged Jean to stay calm.
When they got there, Ashley told Jean, “We’re here. We’ll be right up.”
Okay,” Jean answered quietly.
When they entered the hotel Ashley stopped both women just inside the door. “Jackie, I’m not sure who we are looking for, but can you stay down here and keep an eye out for anyone who might look suspicious?”
Jackie nodded, “Sure.” She took her phone out of her jacket pocket, “If she gives you guys a description, call me so I’ll know what I’m looking for.”
Ashley nodded, and then took Mary by the hand. She approached the counter. Cedric, a young, black, gay man who worked the night desk, and whom Ashley had befriended when she and Jean used to meet here, came up to the counter. “Well, there you are Sugar. I was wondering why your lady friend came in here with that other woman. I guess they were doing a different kind of business because that woman left with a man a little while after they got here.”
“Really?” Ashley asked. “What did they look like?”
“The woman reminded me a lot of you, but not near as pretty,” he said smiled, “The guy, he looked like a weasel, except with a badger head, tall, dark brown hair, potbelly, and just mean looking.”
Ashley frowned. Strangely, that kind of reminded her of John Garrett. Surely, he didn’t follow the judge here. Could he have known about her going to the bar? There was something seriously wrong going on here. Ashley turned and motioned for Jackie to come over to the counter. “She’s in room eight eleven. You got an extra key for me?”
“She left one just like she always does,” he smiled and then winked.
“My friend and I are going to go up and visit with her for a little bit. Please tell my other friend here,” she explained, pointing to Jackie, “about the guy and point him out if he comes back in, okay?”
“You got it, girl,” Cedric assured her.
“Come on,” Ashley took Mary by the hand again. They waited for the elevator. When it finally came down, Ashley and Mary got in.
“What do you think happened?” Mary asked as they rode up to the eighth floor.
“I’m not sure. It’s not like The Judge to pick up someone at the bar and bring them the hotel. She told me when she brought me here the first time that she only does this with people she feels completely safe with.”
“Do you think she might be as flipped out about seeing you today as you were about her?”
Ashley blushed, “That would be sweet, but I find it hard to believe. She never said she cared about me. It was always about the pleasure we gave each other.”
“You might be surprised,” Mary remarked. She studied Ashley for a minute, and then marveled, “You call getting a beating with a leather whip, being pleasured?”
Blushing more deeply, Ashley shrugged and looked up at the lights counting off the floor numbers, “It’s hard to explain.”
Finally, they reached the eighth floor. Ashley stepped out of the elevator first and looked up and down the hall. She motioned for Mary to follow her. They rushed to room eight eleven. Ashley slid the door key card in and unlocked the door. She was still holding the phone in her hand and realized that Jean had heard the entire elevator conversation. Well, it was too late to be worried about that now.
Ashley pushed the door open and gasped at what she saw. Jean was completely naked, handcuffed to the bed with her arms stretched awkwardly over her head, and her head pressed to her shoulder where she was holding the phone. Her body shook with her sobs.
“Oh my God!” Ashley cried, dropping the room key, her phone, and her purse. She rushed to Jean, got on her knees next to her, and wrapped her arms around her, “Oh my God, Jean!” She rubbed Jean’s arms, already a bluish red from lack of circulation, and pulled her up onto her knees.
“Mary, hand me my purse.”
Mary grabbed the purse off the floor and handed it to Ashley. Ashley dug through it until she found the extra handcuff key that she always kept with her. She unlocked the cuffs around Jean’s wrists. Jean immediately wrapped her arms around Ashley’s neck and sobbed even harder.
“Shhhhh,” Ashley cooed, “I’ve got you. It’s going to be okay.”
Jean shook her head and sobbed, “It’s not. It’s not. It’s never going to be okay again.”
Ashley leaned back so she could look at Jean’s face, “Let’s get you dressed and out of here, and then you can tell us what happened.”
Jean was so shaken that she was having a hard time getting dressed. Ashley and Mary both helped her. Then they searched the whole room and made certain there was nothing of Jean’s left behind.
Downstairs in the lobby, Jackie saw the guy Cedric had described come in. He looked too confident for someone who was dressed like a construction worker. This was a two hundred dollar a night hotel, this guy didn’t look like he made two hundred a week. Jackie had talked to Cedric for a little bit about the guy who had come down with The Judge’s earlier date and this guy fit the description. She turned and looked at Cedric who pointed to the guy after he passed Cedric to go to the elevators.
Jackie quickly called Mary’s cell. Mary answered on the first ring. “That guy is getting on the elevators.”
“Thanks Babe,” Mary replied and turned to Ashley, “The guy is getting on the elevator.”
Ashley grabbed Jean’s hand, “Come on. We have to get out of here.”
When they got out of the room, Ashley looked around for an escape and saw the stairs sign. “The stairs, come on.”
They three of them hit the stairs running. They took all eight flights straight down. Mary called Jackie as they ran and told her to be waiting by the car. They came into the lobby in a run. “You didn’t see us, I’ll explain later, Cedric,” Ashley called to him as they ran past.
Cedric just stared as they rushed by him.
Outside, Ashley hit the electric locks. Jackie jumped into the driver’s seat. Ashley slid in the back with Jean and handed Jackie the keys.
“Duck down,” Jackie ordered Jean. Mary got in front with Jackie. Jackie started the car and pulled out of the parking spot. The man ran out of the hotel lobby and almost ran into their car. Ashley was lying over Jean so even if the guy looked into the backseat he would only see Ashley’s back. After they got out onto the street, and it didn’t look like the guy had caught on and followed them, Jackie reassured them, “It’s clear.”
Jean and Ashley sat up in the back seat, “Was that who I think it was?” Ashley asked.
Jean nodded, “John Garrett.”
“Oh my God!” Ashley exclaimed, “How on earth did he find you at that hotel?”
Jean looked at her lap and muttered, “He and his girlfriend set me up.”
“What?” Ashley breathed, “You left the bar with someone you didn’t know?”
Jean dropped her head in her hands and started crying again. Ashley pulled her into her arms, “Shhh. Please don’t cry.”
“I’m such an idiot,” Jean sobbed, “I knew better. It felt wrong, but…but,”
“But ?” Ashley probed gently, she lifted Jean’s chin, but she wouldn’t look at her, “Tell me.”
Jean looked at her and Ashley could see the sadness in her eyes, even in the dark. “I was trying to get you out of my mind. Seeing you today, touching you today,” she dropped her head again, “was too much.”
“Shhhh…“Ashley whispered again and kissed Jean on her forehead.
Jean looked up at Ashley. She gently touched her cheek with her palm and let her thumb rub Ashley’s lower lip. “You messed me up when you kissed me,” Jean explained.
“Yeah, it messed me up too,” Ashley admitted.
Leaning forward, Jean let her lips touch Ashley’s. She let out a sigh and pressed her lips completely against Ashley’s. Ashley cupped her face with both hands and brought her lips to Jean’s again. Jean gave up the resistance she was trying to hold onto and opened her mouth to Ashley. Their moans were deep and simultaneous, bringing a couple of chuckles from the front seat, but Ashley ignored them. She wasn’t about to let anything ruin this moment. Jean Carlisle was kissing her, really kissing her for the very first time.