Two chapters were uploaded at once – there may be a chapter before this that you need to read.
Anyway, this is the last chapter, and a mega note at the bottom about this fic, and also what is to come afterwards. You can skip most of it if you like. There's no big loss. Right at the very bottom is details about the next fics – but tldr here is that there will be 2 weeks until the fic starts (8th August), and I'll actually be releasing two stories – but they will alternate. So, one week you'll get one, and then you'll get the other in the second week. More details on why at the bottom – but the basics is that it'll make it easier for me to plan the chapters, and should improve their quality.
Cover Art: Z-ComiX
Lisa Lavender stepped into the VIP section of the Golden Oyster and fought the urge to fidget. Here, no one bothered to ask what a well-known figure such as her was doing, nor did they judge her for it. Here, she could enjoy her guilty hobby without fear of persecution. And what a guilty one it was. If her mother ever knew… well, dear mom would never find out – but that wasn't the point. The VIP section was unusually busy tonight, but she knew why. It was for the same reason she'd booked off on what could have otherwise been a busy night. She had work in the morning, but this was worth it.
It always was.
She made her way past tables crammed with people, and soon realised she'd need to bite the bullet and ask someone to share if she wanted a seat of her own. A table off by the wall caught her attention, partly because it was out of the way and secluded, but also because there was only a single woman sat at it. Lisa swallowed her nerves and walked over.
The woman looked up as she approached, but it wasn't with any kind of malice. She was fairly young, with blonde hair and eyes a curious shade of lilac. Lisa instantly felt a little embarrassed and shuffled awkwardly. Luckily for her, the woman seemed aware of her problem.
"None," Lisa admitted with a nervous laugh. "I'm sorry to ask, but could I…?"
She breathed a sigh of relief and sat down, flashing the younger girl a grateful smile. It seemed to break the ice for a moment, and it certainly helped when the girl offered her a glass from the bottle of wine she had on the table. As the lights dimmed, she found it hard to hide her excitement.
"I heard he's come back for a show," she babbled. "He used to perform all the time, but something changed. Now, he only does the odd one, but it's always packed when he does."
"I know," the girl replied. "I come here every time."
"A dedicated fan, huh?"
The girl smiled cheekily. "You could say that."
"Ah, me too, though it's a little embarrassing to admit it." Normally it was anyway, but Lisa found herself strangely relaxed around the other woman. "I wonder what made him slow down. He was always popular, and I didn't hear of anything going wrong…"
"Maybe he fancied a change of pace."
"Hmm…" Lisa brought the wine glass to her lips and savoured the taste. "I guess so. Well, it's his choice in the end. I think the show would lose some of its charm if he did it against his will. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned."
"No. I think you're on the right track. Look, the show's starting."
Lisa's head snapped around so quick she thought she might have caught whiplash, and it hardly helped when her tablemate laughed. Any such thoughts of embarrassment were quickly washed away when a low beat began. It started slow, and ramped up even slower – but it worked the crowd into a frenzy. Some clapped along, others stamped their feet. Lisa's hand tapped on the table, even if she felt like a child for doing it.
The lights flashed out – and then back on again.
And suddenly, he was there.
It was the red hair that caught her eyes, too red to be natural, and yet too undeniably powerful to be fake. His eyes, dark like deep pools, stared out over the crowd. A black mask hid the top half of his face from view, but his lips curved upwards in a cocky – and dare she say it, sexy – smirk. He'd always had that aura around him, one of sensual power and raw control, but lately… lately, it seemed more dominating than ever.
It didn't seem possible, but his shows had become harder, stronger, better. Just the thought of it made her skin tingle, and that was before he'd so much as popped a button! She hid her face in her glass, praying that the strong scent of berries would snap her out of her torpor. No such luck. It was red wine, and the strong scent only made her imagine far naughtier things. Curse him.
Lisa sighed. Crimson was incredible…
It wasn't just the way he looked, but also the energy he brought, one that revitalised even her body – jaded as it was from news, politics and newspaper deadlines. There was no deceit there, except for his identity, and the show itself was nothing but raw, unbridled passion.
She'd always been a fool for it, but he'd stepped his game up, and now she was naught but a slave.
Crimson teased them on the stage, playing with each button for a moment, before letting go – baiting their disappointment – and then drawing them back in once more. He turned, flexing his back, and revealing muscles toned and well-used. As his shirt fell to a crumpled pile at his feet, she noticed that there wasn't a single hair on his back or chest. She liked that.
Judging from the whistles and cheers, she wasn't the only one who liked what she saw. Curious, she turned to the girl she shared a table with, but the blonde simply smiled and sipped at her wine.
Lisa wasn't sure what right a girl so much younger than her had to look so composed, but such thoughts were stolen away when Crimson's belt buckle clicked. Her eyes zeroed in on it, and she groaned under her breath when he taunted them, tantalised them, but then went back to dancing. He always left them wanting like that. They were putty to in his hands. She wanted to be putty in his.
Her heart stopped when he looked at her. For a second, she paused – certain that he would look away, that she'd imagined it, that he was just casting his eyes out over the crowd, but no… he was looking at her. He was looking right at her!
Do something, her mind begged. Smile, wave, mouth something – anything. Just don't sit there with a stupid-ass look on your face.
Lisa swallowed and smiled back. It was a weak, nervous and shy little thing.
Her mind howled at the injustice, more so when he turned back to the dance, his attention gone. She wanted to slam her head on the table, or maybe lock herself in the bathroom and scream at the ceiling. There she went, celebrated newscaster and someone capable of speaking to tens of thousands of people live – and she couldn't even smile flirtatiously at a guy who was definitely younger than her.
"Good job, Liz," she whispered. "Way to show him what you're made of, for crying out loud…"
She wanted to mope off and feel stupid. She settled for watching his trousers part, and then slowly slip down his toned legs. Her mouth was dry. She tried to take a drink, but it was empty. When she turned around, the other girl already had the bottle extended for her.
"Thanks-" Lisa gasped. The atmosphere had robbed her of the capability for rational speech. She guzzled the strong drink.
"No problem," the girl chuckled.
The show ended far too soon for her tastes, and for everyone else's. Many called for an encore, some wept – and there were definitely articles of underwear thrown in among the lien that rained on the stage. Crimson didn't pick any of it up. He never did. He didn't bow for them, nor get on his knees. His allure would have been lost if he did, and she breathed a sigh of frustration, but also satisfaction, as he sauntered off the stage. His nakedness didn't seem to bother him. It never did.
Someone else came out to collect the lien for him, and she already knew she'd be putting some into the tip jar as she left. She wasn't going to throw it on the stage like a dog in heat, though.
"He's incredible," she said once the lighting returned. "I just… I can't even explain it. There's something about him that sets my blood alight."
"He has that effect on people," the girl said, smiling.
"I hear he used to do private shows," Lisa went on. "I can't even imagine how good those were. I never built up the courage to try, and now they're not available." She sighed and slumped at the table. "You never know how good something is until you lose it."
"That's a good lesson to learn, I think." The girl rose to her feet and pulled on a light brown jacket. "Have a good night."
"Y-You're going already?" Lisa blinked and looked at the table. "You forgot your wine!"
"Keep it. Consider it a gift."
She blinked and looked down at the glass, and then to the girl walking away. "T-Thank you," she stammered. The whole thing just felt too surreal. She lifted the bottle and poured herself some more, then went wide-eyed and slapped herself in the face. "I didn't even ask for her name."
Some newscaster she was…
Crimson stood within his private room and buckled a fresh set of trousers on. He hummed to himself, fixing the belt about his waist as he selected a shirt, white, from the hidden cupboard at the back. As he laid it down on the couch, he paused, suddenly aware of a presence behind him.
"I'm sorry, but this area is off limits."
"I'm here for a private show."
He reached down and picked up the shirt, pulling it on quickly. He only buttoned the bottom half of it, before he turned with a sigh. "I don't do those anymore. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to le-" His words trailed off.
The woman who was leaned against the doorframe smiled cheekily. She tossed her hair to one side.
"I think you'll make an exception for me."
Crimson, Jaune, slowly buttoned the rest of his shirt up. Without answering, he turned back around and reached over for the mini fridge. He pulled out some ingredients and quickly mixed up a cocktail the colour of his hair.
"Strawberry sunrise," he said. "I've a feeling it suits you."
"It even has an umbrella." She took it and brushed past him, hair flowing past his nose. With a spin and a flick, she made sure to catch his cheek with her golden locks, before she sat down on his couch and crossed her long legs. Her foot tapped gently against his shin, but she grinned unapologetically. "I'm here for a private show. I'm not sure you'll be enough to satisfy me, though."
"Is that so?" he asked. He placed both hands down on the armrests on either side of her and leaned in. His face hovered an inch before hers, but she didn't respond. All she did was raise an eyebrow. "And tell me, what should I call you tonight?"
"My name's Clover," the girl whispered. "But you can't tell anyone I'm here. My boyfriend doesn't know."
Her lilac eyes sparkled.
His sapphire ones burned.
"And you want me to give you a show, huh?" He leaned close and breathed warmly against her neck, delighting in the way she shivered. "I don't come cheap, I'm afraid. I'm not sure you can afford an hour with me."
"Name your price," Clover breathed out. Her voice was faint, and she gasped for breath when he bit lightly at her throat.
"It'll be steep," he warned. "I'm not sure you'll be willing to pay it."
"Very." He nipped at her again. "The price is you."
"Me, huh? Is that my body, my soul – or are you after something else?" She played with her blouse. "Maybe my heart?"
"All of it." He leaned back to look her in the eye. "I warned you. I'm expensive."
Yang, Clover, whatever she wanted to be called, reached out with her arms and linked them behind his neck. Her cheeks were dusted with red, but it was nothing compared to how it had once been when they did this. She smiled and brushed her lips against his. He knew she noticed his barely concealed growl. She knew he wanted her.
"Well…" she whispered. "This private show of yours had better be worth it then, hadn't it?"
Nina and Brian paused outside the door to Jaune's room. It was ajar, which was unusual enough, but there were also sounds coming from within. They waited for a second; unsure on what to do, but the sound of someone pausing for breath, and then losing it once more, quickly answered the unspoken question.
A feminine moan served to confirm it.
The two of them shared a look, and then Brian hooked his arms under his wife's shoulders a second before she could barge into the room. Sighing to himself, he hooked a foot under the door and pulled it shut.
"Brian, no!" Nina gasped. "I helped raise him. I'm practically his mother. I have a right – nay, a duty – to burst in there and embarrass them!"
He rolled his eyes and turned her away, ignoring her tearful protests as he carried his wife away. It was the rule, after all. When a performer was doing a private show, they weren't to be disturbed. From the sounds of it, Jaune was very busy with one right now.
He always was whenever Yang Xiao-Long came around.
So, I'd just like to say that in terms of confidence in my own fics, I probably would rate this as the one I'm least pleased with. I don't think it's a bad story per se, but it ran afoul of several problems early on. Most of them involved planning and execution, and a part of me thinks this would have been better if I'd just stuck with what was originally the plan. Sadly, I kind of gave in to pressure and sanitised it a lot – and it lost some things. Originally, this was going to be much darker and more emotional, and even involved prostitution wherein Yang built up courage (and desperation) and paid for a night with Crimson, and then went on to regret it afterwards.
Maybe it's a cultural thing however, as I live in the UK where brothels are illegal (but probably still do exist), but escorts are not illegal. Attitudes towards those in the sex industry honestly aren't very bad over here, though - at least where I live. I actually met with a male escort as inspiration for this, which was a funny and amusing meeting – especially when he learned what it was for. We chatted and talked for a few hours, shared drinks, and he even told me stories of what he normally does, how, and what kind, of results he gets from both female and male clients.
I intended to incorporate a lot of that in this story, but never got around to it. One of the reasons was that a lot of reviewers had strong cultural views of their own, which I obviously don't disparage. Maybe things are different in some places like the US, or maybe things are different here in the UK. Maybe it's apples and oranges, and the guy I met is nothing like escorts in the US. Either way, there was quite a lot of reviews that convinced me that the story needed to be watered down from that initial plan or I'd face a lot of flak.
Honestly, I should have pushed on regardless. That was my mistake, and no one deserves blame but me for it. I think that in the future, I'll learn from this and accept that sometimes I have to court ideas people will hate, and be prepared to take criticism for it, especially when the alternative is to try and hotfix a story mid-plan, which is never a good idea. As such, it left the dramatic tension a little low – especially towards the end. The black moment would have been much heavier with the additional baggage, but with that taken out, it was somewhat flimsy. In my attempts to please everyone, I fell into the most obvious trap of pleasing no one. I should have stuck with my initial plan and done a good job on something less people read, as opposed to a mediocre job on something more people read.
Tl:dr, this story suffered because I was a pu55y! I should have gone with the original plan and just had a thicker skin. I'm not asking anyone to blame others, nor am I blaming them myself. Please don't think that way. The only one at fault is myself, and certainly not people who expressed their opinion. Most were actually pretty polite about it. Just things like "If this is a fic about prostitution, then I want nothing to do with it." or "I think the sex industry is immoral" etc… I received very few flames (and far less than my Cinder x Jaune fic, lol).
The next fic is actually going to be two fics. Now, before people start to worry about this making the quality even lower, I want to instead take a moment to explain why the opposite will actually be true. As people may have noted, I'm actually more than able to write a lot of words each day. I don't have many problems writing or finishing chapters.
My problem comes from a lack of time to plan them in some cases. Everyone who's ever written will know what it's like to find yourself in a situation, where you're just not sure what to do in a given scene. There's something missing, or it just needs a little something extra. My advice is always to take a day or two to think on it, and see what comes up – but with only 7 days between updates, I don't have that luxury.
It makes things hard at times, and I've longed to go back to when I had 14 days between chapters, since that let me think up ideas, throw them around, test them – and then decide if I want to use them or not. It gives me time to plot and think.
So, I've decided to release two stories on alternating time frames. Essentially, it'll still be a chapter every Tuesday, but first one fic, then the other, etc…
Those two fics are on my profile and will be "Service with a Smile" and "Captain Dragon". One will start in two weeks, the other in three, with a single week in the middle to let me write and plan ahead. See the dates below for details.
Service with a Smile: 8th August
Captain Dragon: 15th August
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur