I’d been pretty apprehensive when my best friend Sasha had invited me to her favorite club. I was well aware that Sasha was far wilder than I was, as far as I knew there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t try at least once and that held true in every facet of her life. The particular facet she had coaxed me into sharing with her; however, was propelling me into uncharted territory and I couldn’t calm the butterflies in my stomach.
It wasn’t that I was sexually repressed or inexperienced, I simply hadn’t ventured too far outside the boundaries set by society at large. And now here I was, dressed in a dress chosen by Sasha and following her into the dark interior of the club.
The feel of the place wasn’t what I had expected. Basing my expectations on the few strip clubs I’d been in I found the dim lighting unsurprising, but that’s where the similarities ended. There was no stage, no visible DJ spinning loud bass heavy songs for the girls to dance to, and the air didn’t smell of unwashed bodies.
Small groupings of soft chairs and love seats surrounded low tables and filled the enormous room, lit warmly by candlelight that illuminated so many faces. Soothing music of the vocal jazz variety flowed from invisible speakers, filling the air like mist and I could almost feel it beading up on my eyelashes.
Sasha took me by the hand and led me to the far back corner of the club, motioning for me to sit as she settled herself into the burgundy chair across from me. The blueberry velvet of my own chair felt especially soft under my fingertips and I couldn’t resist petting it idly.
Our server appeared and I had to do a double take, again surprised by the unexpected. The scantily clad woman I’d anticipated was nothing at all like the tall, handsome man who smiled down at me after giving Sasha a kiss on the cheek, a gesture that looked to me like he’d done it before. How often did Sasha come here I wondered.
I barely noticed when Sasha ordered champagne for us, simply staring like a fool as the server walked away with a wink in my direction. “What is this place?” I asked Sasha, keeping my voice low. Her bark of laughter was in no way muted and I tried to shush her, to no avail.
“Oh my darling Jess,” she replied with a wide smile, patting my knee, “You have no idea the treats you are in for tonight.”
Finding myself both intrigued and alarmed by that statement I sat back and watched. I watched people talking quietly over drinks or h'ordeuvres. I watched as pairs and groups wandered off together and disappeared behind a heavy black curtain I hadn’t noticed before, and I couldn’t help but wonder what was back there.
When our server returned he popped the champagne and poured two glasses, holding one out to me while sinking down into the chair beside me with the other. I passed a confused look to Sasha who rose to her feet as our server sat, as though choreographed, and all I got from her was an encouraging wink as she walked away.
The clinking of his glass against mine brought my gaze back to his face and he beamed a brilliant smile at me. “What shall we drink to?” he asked. His voice was like mink; soft, silky and it should have been totally illegal.
“I’m sorry, this is my first time here and I’m not sure what the protocol is.” I replied honestly, feeling very out of my depth. “I mean, is this allowed?” I punctuated my question by gesturing at him sitting there with his glass of wine.
He laughed, rich and thick like chocolate that clings to your tongue, his blue eyes sparkling in the candlelight. “My dear, in this place nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted.”
As we raised our glasses to drink to that I knew this would be a night I would never forget.