What’s in a Name?
Rebecca stood just off the corner of Abercrombie and 5th, not quite leaning against the front wall of Nicco’s Cafe. She wished she could lean back against it, as she figured to be in for a long wait, and she had been in heels all day. But she was dressed just on the Moral Majority side of “party time”, and didn’t want to mess up her tan silk blouse by leaning against a dirty wall.
The big, front picture window of Nicco’s was between her and the door, and Rebecca turned occasionally to peek inside. It was just a small cafe, apparently one where you couldn’t even get a full meal... just appetizers, deserts and the like. But it was the society watering hole, and a place where the city’s movers, shakers, and “celebrities” could get together to make new deals, to close old deals, and to simply schmooze and be seen.
Rebecca was here to close a deal. She would rather have done it in someone’s office, or at the museum itself, but Audrey Chambers wanted to start and end their relationship here, so here was where it would be.
One didn’t argue with the likes of Audrey Chambers.
One didn’t, that is, if one wanted what Audrey Chambers had in abundance... money.
Rebecca wanted Ms. Chambers’ money rather badly. Or at least the museum that Rebecca worked for wanted it. Needed it, was a more apt term, as with the current economy and state funding cutbacks, the museum had fallen on hard times. Donations were down, attendance was down, and without a quick infusion of working capital, the whole museum might be forced to close.
Everyone who worked there, from the Procurement Department to the Booking Department... hell, all the way down to the Custodial Department, had been schooled, and were on the lookout for, new sources of funding. Obviously, such funding consisted mainly of corporate and private donations.
So, in order to save her job (and frankly, because she truly loved the musty old place), Rebecca, just an accounts payable clerk, had taken it upon herself to track down businesses and people who might be able to contribute.
They had laughed at her in the office when she’d told them she was going after the city’s most well-known and notorious heiress, Audrey Chambers. Yes, they had laughed, as Ms. Chambers was also well known to be notoriously Scrooge-like. But Rebecca has persevered somehow, and was now within minutes of closing a deal that could literally save the museum for the foreseeable future, and make her something of a hero, to boot.
Rebecca hadn’t met the reclusive young heiress yet, though, and that was making her more nervous than she would have liked. This should be a simple “sign the papers, take the check” thing, after all, and barring some unforeseen calamity, should go rather easily.
She glanced at her watch... 7:00 PM on the button. Sighing, and knowing that Ms. Chambers would probably show up any damn time she wanted, Rebecca opened her purse to get a smoke. She was trying to quit, but right now she needed something to steady her nerves and to kill some time. While she rooted around for the pack and her lighter, she checked one last time to make sure she had all her paperwork.
Certificate of Gift... check! ‘Thank You’ brochures... check! Ceremonial museum signing pen... check! She laughed aloud at the last. The pen she’d ripped off from the gift shop was not a cheesy thing, but Rebecca was certain it wouldn’t remotely impresss a woman who probably went through $200 Cross Pens like Rebecca went through kleenex.
Oh well. It’s the thought that counts... right? she said to herself as she lit her cigarette, dumped the lighter, and closed her purse.
As she puffed on it and looked around, she was almost glad she hadn’t dressed any better. She had gone home after work and tried to spiff up a bit, exchanging her normal work outfit for something just a little racier... a sheerer, frillier blouse and a bit shorter skirt. She had also exchanged her pantyhose for a garter and some tan, silk stockings, along with a dressier pair of heels. Still...
If I was dressed any finer, I’d look like some hooker just hanging out on the corner, she thought with bemusement, taking another drag.
She almost choked on it, though, when out of the corner of her eye she saw a stretch limo turn the corner just up the block. And what a limo! Rebecca had seen some boats in her day, but this one was a trawler. She wondered briefly if there were a swimming pool behind its mirrored windows, when it dawned on her that she didn’t want to be seen quite like this. So, she quickly stepped around the corner, her heart beginning to hammer a bit.
Rebecca needed to pull herself together, and didn’t want to be caught smoking, knowing how some people felt about that. So, she hit it and quit it, taking one last puff before dropping the cigarette onto the sidewalk and stepping it out. She reached into her purse to grab her mouth freshener, gave herself a spritz, then put it away. Finally, she checked her clothes, her hair, took a few deep breaths, and moved back around the corner.
The huge limousine was just pulling up to the unloading area in front of the cafe. Rebecca walked up to stand beside it, but kept a respectable distance away, for now. The passenger doors were very big, and she wanted to leave room for them to open.
She watched as the driver got out and rushed around to open them, more than a bit surprised to see that the driver was a young woman. Though her brunette hair was very closely cropped, and the chauffeur’s uniform was totally asexual, the way that uniform was filled out left no doubt about that.
For a moment, Rebecca panicked, remembering where she was, and that there was more than a small chance that this wasn’t even Ms. Chambers’ car. That thought hit her even harder when the first person stepped out of the limo.
It was a tall, Japanese woman, mid-20’s, about Rebecca’s age, who appeared to be dressed more for a night of clubbing than a business meeting. She was all done up in black leather... a color which completely matched her long, straight hair... wearing knee-high, low-heeled leather boots, a thong-tied leather vest (which showed off an almost indecent amount of cleavage), and a leather skirt so short the tops of her of her black stockings were clearly visible, along with the suspenders holding them up.
For the briefest of moments, Rebecca wondered if she was a prostitute.
The woman looked at her. Actually, she glared at Rebecca for a moment, as if sizing her up. Then she smiled, and quickly looked all around, apparently checking out their surroundings. She motioned behind her with her hand... a bodyguard?... and Rebecca saw the second person climb out.
She relaxed then, having seen enough of her pictures to know this was, indeed, Audrey Chambers. The pictures hadn’t done her justice though, as in person, Ms. Chambers seemed far younger than her 45 years, and much more elegant.
In fact, to Rebecca, she was stunning. With a billowing mane of wavy blonde hair, dark green eyes, and a luscious womanly figure beneath what must have been a hideously expensive azure evening gown, she reminded the rather dazed account clerk of a Hollywood glamour girl of the 40’s. Ms. Chambers only enhanced this image when the Asian woman stepped out of their way and she approached Rebecca.
“Hello, my darling,” she said, extending her right hand to Rebecca. “You must be Rebecca Abrams. Thank you for being punctual. I so hate to wait.”
More then a bit nonplussed by all of this, Rebecca took the proffered hand in her own, barely managing to keep from shaking it; she simply gripped it for a moment, then let it go, managing to say, “I hate to wait, too. So thank you very much for being right on time, Ms. Chambers.”
“Okay. Rebecca is fine for me.”
“Excellent, Rebecca. I want us to be good friends, or at least get to know each other a bit. I would hate the idea of handing a million-dollar check over to a total stranger.”
Even knowing the amount that Audrey had pledged to give, hearing the other say “a million-dollar check” sent shivers up and down Rebecca’s spine. With that amount of money, the museum could renovate a couple of their aging halls and afford to bring in some of the more intriguing traveling exhibitions, the kind of new and exciting displays that they could advertise, that would bring people back to the museum and make it a viable entity once again.
With the help of this woman, Rebecca was going to save the museum.
“Then let’s be friends, Audrey, as your wonderful gift is going to be so important to us.”
“Perfect. Karen was so right about you. You are a fine young woman.”
Rebecca found herself blushing at Audrey’s compliment, but recovered by asking, “Is Karen with you? I wanted to thank her again for all her help in this.”
She had met Karen in one of Ms. Chamber’s downtown offices, hoping to start there and eventually work her way up the chain until she could speak to the heiress herself, to make her pitch and plead her case in person.
But Karen had been more than helpful, hearing Rebecca out, promising her that she would bring the matter to Ms. Chambers’ attention, personally. She had seemed so sweet, sincere, and genuinely enthusiastic that Rebecca had believed her, had felt that she wasn’t just getting the smooth brush off. And from that one conversation, all this had happened.
“No, dear, I’m sorry. She wanted to, as she really likes you, and was very impressed with you. But I’m afraid she’s tied up tonight attending to some personal matters for me, and can’t join us. She did send her warmest regards, though.”
Rebecca sighed, having hoped there would be someone here tonight she actually knew a bit, just to help smooth out the rough edges. But she could go it alone, and would, until the deal was complete. The whole thing wouldn’t take that long, anyway.
Apparently, there had been at least someone else in the limo, however, as Rebecca saw another attractive Asian woman moving up behind the museum’s newest benefactor. An Indian this time, she looked to be about midway in age between Audrey and her bodyguard.
Audrey noted where she was looking, turned, stepped back, and said, “Oh, how rude of me. Let me introduce you to the others. This is my good friend and associate, Shivangi Gameesh. I’m certain she wouldn’t mind if you called her Shiva, would you, dear?”
“Not at all, Audrey. How are you, Rebecca?” she said, with only the slightest trace of an accent, gracefully extending her hand. Rebecca reached for it automatically as she stared at Shiva and into her dark, brown eyes.
She was gorgeous, too. Slim, yet finely proportioned, with flawless skin and an air of the mystical about her, Shiva’s hand felt warm and comfortable in Rebecca’s own. Her crescent-red dress, though far simpler and shorter than Audrey’s flowing gown, somehow seemed even more elegant, simply by nature of the woman who wore it.
“I... I’m fine, Shiva. So very nice to meet you.”
“The honor is truly mine, to meet one so dedicated as yourself.”
Rebecca sighed. “I doubt I deserve that, Shiva. I’m just trying to save my job.”
“Nonsense! I’ve talked to Karen, too, and trust her instincts completely. Tell me... you’d be doing this anyway, just to save the museum, even if it meant you’d lose your job... wouldn’t you?”
Rebecca just stared at her, and finally nodded, as that was the truth. “But if you could just stand in it for awhile, or could’ve seen how the children reacted to the dinosaur exhibit... we had a big one a couple of years ago, you know, with this huge moveable T-Rex, and the kids would stand there so wide-eyed, and you’d hear these little screams when one of them would turn and see...” She stopped, ducking her head in embarrassment at starting to run off like that.
Shiva reached out to Rebecca’s chin, tilting her head up until their eyes met again.
“See? You have a good soul, Rebecca Abrams, and that makes you an open book to others,” she stated, smiling softly. “Would you do one small thing for me, though?”
“Certainly. What is it?”
“Would you just take a step back and do a slow turn for me?”
Rebecca was confused, and more than a bit flustered by this point. But she figured, why not?, as it was easier to acquiesce then to challenge Shiva’s polite, is strange, request. Besides, until she had that check in her hand, she wasn’t going to do anything that might upset the applecart.
She mumbled an “Okay,” then took a step back and spun around slowly for Shiva’s benefit.
When she finished, she saw the Indian woman look over to Audrey, who stood there with a huge smile on her face, and say, “Karen was correct... she is perfect.”
“Perfect?” Now Rebecca was totally confused. What was so perfect about her?
She was startled then when Audrey put an arm around her shoulders and gave her a gentle hug. “Perfectly beautiful, dear. You really are a lovely creature.”
Rebecca looked to see Shiva smiling and nodding. Even the bodyguard seemed to be in agreement. She wasn’t sure why... perhaps from the embarrassment, or her continuing nervousness, but the sudden approval of these three very attractive women left her all tingly inside, and she struggled not to blush again.
Still holding on to Rebecca, Audrey pointed to the bodyguard. “And this is Yumi Tanaka, my personal assistant, trainer, bodyguard... you name it. My strong right arm. Did you know that both Shivangi and Yumi mean either ‘beautiful’ or ‘beauty’ in their respective languages?”
Rebecca looked at them both again, whispering a “No”, but finding it easy enough to believe.
Yumi stretched out the aforementioned strong right arm to shake Rebecca’s hand. “It’s a pleasure, Rebecca. And don’t let Audrey fool you. My ‘respective’ language is English... born and raised in California.”
“My pleasure too, Yumi. I think it’s a lovely name, though I imagine you get ‘Yummy’ a lot, too.”
She watched the other’s smile change just slightly. “I do get that a lot,” she said quietly, the strength of her grip on Rebecca’s hand suddenly increasing. “But I only get that once from anyone, if you catch my meaning.”
“Oh, I do,” Rebecca said, feeling Yumi release her hand. Not allowing herself to rub it, she changed the subject quickly. “That’s really a, um... killer outfit you have on there.”
“You like?” Yumi asked, turning a bit from side to side, almost preening, giving Rebecca an even greater view of her nearly exposed breasts and impressive, athletic behind.
“Yes, it’s very, very...” Rebecca’s mind groaned, at a loss for the proper adjective.
“Revealing?” Yumi prompted.
“Practically non-existent,” Rebecca replied, before she could check herself.
She was gratified when the other three laughed heartily at her quip, feeling Audrey’s body shaking against her.
“Ohh, I like her, Audrey,” Yumi said, a big smile on her face. Then she winked at Rebecca. “But remind me that I owe you one, okay?”
Rebecca nodded; just happy she hadn’t screwed things up before they’d even started. She turned her head, along with the others, at a polite cough to her left.
The driver stood there, looking impassive, almost at military attention. “Will there be anything else, Ms. Chambers?”
“No, Brenda. Go find a place to park for a bit and we’ll call you when needed.” She gave Rebecca’s shoulders one more gentle squeeze before letting her go. “I doubt it will take us too long, as I can tell Rebecca is very anxious for all this to happen. Am I right, dear?”
Rebecca smiled, starting to like this woman, to like all of them. “Yes, Audrey.”
With that, the driver nodded, then left them to get into the limo. As it was pulling out into traffic, Audrey was ushering the four of them into Nicco’s, with Rebecca feeling more excited then she could remember feeling in a long time.
The hostess led them through the room to their table; Yumi in the lead, followed by Audrey, Rebecca, then Shiva. Rebecca couldn’t help but admire the style and grace with which Audrey carried herself, seeming to flow between the tables, her loose, elegant gown swishing around her legs like a blue cloud.
She could tell that underneath all that expensive fabric was a fit body, too, simply by the wonderful balance that the middle-aged woman showed as she moved. She seemed to handle all the greetings and comments from the other patrons with the same skill and aplomb, hardly ever slowing down, but still leaving a trail of smiling faces in her wake.
Rebecca was impressed, wondering what the other customers were thinking about her.
The way I’m dressed compared to them, they probably think I’m her secretary. It suddenly dawned on her that Shiva might be checking her out the same way she was checking out Audrey, and was surprised to feel that shiver down her spine again at the thought.
Rebecca didn’t have any serious bisexual tendencies that she knew of, but it had been quite a while since other women, especially ones as attractive as these three, had viewed her so appreciatively. So she forgave herself, blaming it on her own excitement, and did her best to ignore the tingles within her.
They finally reached their table, where Rebecca ended up in the chair that left her with her back to the wall, looking out into the rest of the cafe. She had to admit that she was impressed with the place, too.
It hadn’t looked like “all that” when she’d peeked in the window, hadn’t seemed all that big. However, the inside had turned out to be rather expansive, with expensive decor and great low lighting that set it off just right. There was soft music playing, set at the perfect volume to be able to chat in a normal voice, yet not be easily overheard at the next tables. The tables themselves were small, four-legged ones—very cozy, very intimate. A bright, white tablecloth, with a decorative, lit candle in the middle, covered each.
She could see why it was such a good meeting place.
Almost before they were fully seated, a young, very enthusiastic waitress accosted them. ”So wonderful to see you again, Ms. Chambers, Ms. Rameesh. You’re both looking so wonderful tonight, and it will be such a pleasure to serve you again.”
Rebecca hadn’t seen this much obvious fawning since “Bambi”, but managed not to say so aloud. In a place like this, with clientele like this, it was probably expected, anyway. It certainly didn’t faze Audrey at all.
“Clarisse... darling. Very nice to see you again, too. I think just drinks and some of your wonderful desserts tonight. If you could give us a couple of minutes, we’ll be all ready for you.”
“Very good, Ms. Chambers. I’ll be back momentarily to take your order.”
“Thank you, Clarisse,” Audrey said, pausing until the waitress turned and left them. “Do you have anything specifically you’d like to order, Rebecca?” she went on, reaching out to rest her hand lightly on Rebecca’s arm. “Everything tonight is on me, so please know that the sky’s the limit for you.”
Rebecca’s automatic reaction was to say “Thanks, but no thank you”, as she was not the greatest person at receiving such gifts, always preferring to make her own way in the world. But she realized that would be insulting to Audrey here, in “her” place. So, after a moment’s hesitation, she simply replied, “Nothing I can think of this second, but thank you... you are too kind. I’ll try not to push you over your credit limit, though.”
Audrey laughed, then said, “Excellent. I am liking you more and more, sweetness. No wasting time, no phony haggling about the bill, a disarming sense of humor.” She was lightly rubbing Rebecca’s arm now, and the young woman could do nothing to suppress the goosebumps that caused. “Would you mind if I made another suggestion, dear?”
“No... please do.”
“Do you like scotch?”
“Occasionally, though only the single malts, although they are very expen...” She stopped, again realizing whom she was with.
Audrey was smiling at her, as were the others. “Then if might suggest a bit of single malt scotch and their chocolate cheesecake, as I find the two of them make a wonderful combo.”
“Okay. I’m game, Audrey.”
“You certainly are, Rebecca... you certainly are,” Audrey said with a laugh, taking her hand from Rebecca’s arm to wave it in Clarisse’s direction, who instantly hustled over to them.
“Yes, Ms. Chambers?”
“Four Johnnie Walker Blues, Clarisse... doubles on the rocks... a fresh pitcher of water, and four big pieces of your delicious chocolate cheesecake.”
“Yes Ma’am... Anything else?”
“That will be fine for now, thank you.”
Nodding, Clarisse left with their order, leaving the four of them alone.
Audrey turned back to Rebecca. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to hear a bit more about you, about what you do at the museum, and just how you envision my money being spent there.”
This surprised Rebecca, but also pleased her, that such a rich and famous woman would take such an interest in her and what she had to say. So, she started to talk, telling her everything she wanted to know. As their conversation lengthened, and Clarisse returned with their drinks and desserts, Rebecca found, much to her chagrin, that she’d stereotyped the beautiful Ms. Chambers as just some lucky, if non-intellectual, widow, as someone only interested in the glamorous things in life.
Instead, she found Audrey to be intelligent and funny, and once Rebecca got past her slightly affected speaking style (which actually seemed rather charming), she realized that the older woman’s questions were both cogent and informed. That Audrey was beautiful, went without saying.
The two of them did most of the talking, with Rebecca’s side of the conversation becoming more enthusiastic as she warmed to the older woman, and the excellent scotch warmed her insides. Occasionally Yumi would interject a comment, or whisper something humorous or scandalous in Rebecca’s ear. Shiva, on the other hand, said almost nothing, but just sat there opposite Rebecca, smiling and nodding as she ate and drank and listened.
This was a bit disconcerting to Rebecca at first, and it didn’t help that every time she looked over at the attractive Indian, the other was staring back at her. Also, with the soft lighting in the room, it sometimes appeared that Shiva was merely a disembodied head, hovering just over the flame of the candle that separated them.
Rebecca put that out of her mind as best she could, though, and started to really enjoy herself... the food and drink were delicious, the conversation stimulating, the atmosphere pleasant and soothing. The three others even continued to laugh at her silly jokes, and that was always a huge plus to her. She had lost all track of time, when it suddenly dawned on her that she had not taken care of business yet.
“I’m sorry to bring this up, Audrey, as I’m enjoying this a lot, but shouldn’t we finish up the paperwork and the check transfer before I get too buzzed to remember it?”
“Are you buzzed, dear?” Audrey asked, reaching out to touch Rebecca’s forearm for what seemed like the tenth time.
“A little... I think someone’s freshened my drink a couple of times while I wasn’t looking.”
They all laughed, and Audrey turned to Yumi. “Rebecca wants all that money I promised her, so let’s finish that up for the sweet thing. Could I have the check, please.”
Rebecca had started to reach under the table to get the papers out of her purse, but stopped when she saw the stricken look on Yumi’s face.
“Um... the check is in my purse, Audrey.”
“And... " Audrey said, looking none-too-happy now, herself.
“And my purse is in the car. I’m sorry, Audrey. I’m sorry, Rebecca. I’ll go and get it right now! I’ll call and find the car and...”
“Yumi! Settle down... settle down,” Audrey soothed. “As long as it’s in the car there’s no problem. Right, Rebecca?”
“Well, sure... no problem.” Despite her answer and all her good feelings, Rebecca was slightly taken aback by this development. Audrey looked concerned, too, but apparently for a different reason.
“I’m sorry... don’t you believe me? Do you think I’m trying to stiff you, break my promise to you?”
“Oh god, no, Audrey. It’s not that at all. I trust you completely.” And Rebecca did. She had gotten close enough to them now that she really did. She was grateful to see both Audrey and Yumi relax a little.
“Well, if you’re sure, dear. Because, like you, I’m having a grand time here, and I’d like to stay and chat a little while longer. Otherwise, I can call for the car and we can leave right now.”
Rebecca found that she didn’t want this to end, either. She truly did trust them, and tonight was turning into something really special and memorable to her. She smiled and said, “No, that’s okay. We can’t leave yet anyway. I haven’t finished my drink.”
She raised her scotch and took a sip, watching Audrey beaming at her, then being surprised as Yumi gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and whispered, “Thank you”.
She didn’t blush at that, but did when Audrey leaned closer to her, touched her arm again, stared at her intently, and said, “I would give up my entire fortune before I cheated a young woman as wonderful as you are, Rebecca.”
Rebecca simply stared, unable to comment, feeling as if her insides were melting. This meeting had gone nothing like she’d ever expected, and between the scotch and her confusion and happiness, her mind was refusing to function properly. She couldn’t even make herself whisper her own “thank you”.
That’s when she first felt it... a soft, insistent sliding along the inside of her right knee, something moving across her tight stocking there, attempting to push her knee outward a bit. It was a warm, delicious, intimate feeling, and she couldn’t contain a gasp of surprise. She turned her head to stare over the candle at Shiva, who expression hadn’t changed at all, except that her eyes seemed dreamier somehow, even more attractive.
Rebecca heard Audrey say, “Shiva! Are you being naughty again?”
Shiva nodded her head, saying simply, “It is time, and she belongs with us, desires to submit. I knew it from the moment she spun around for me.”
Though Shiva’s words made no sense to her, the intent in them, the certainty with which she’d said them, somehow forced a weak moan from Rebecca’s mouth, and sent shudders through her everywhere before she could even try to clamp a lid on her disjointed, and aroused, feelings.