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Authors: Isabelle Aren

Lasting Damage

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Lasting Damage

Isabelle Aren

 

Lasting Damage

Published by Isabelle
Aren

Copyright 2014

 

 This work has been previously published as a short story
written by Isabelle Aren under a pen name. It has been lengthened from its
original word count and the plot had been changed considerably.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you are reading this
ebook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then
please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the
author and her work.

This if a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead is entirely coincidental

This book contains adult content, sexual situations and graphic
language which may be considered offensive by some readers.

All sexual participants in this work are 18 years of age or older.

 

Cover Design: Slippery Elm Designs

Feel
free to email me-

[email protected]

 

 

 

Dedications

 My Friday Night Girls-Shawna and
Beth.

You kept me sane and you kept me
moving forward and this book would not exist without you

And to A.

You told me it was okay to create an
unlikable heroine, you said if I loved her other people would also love her.
Let’s hope you’re right, but if you aren’t I still love you.

To my sisters, Rachel and
Tracey…always

 

 

Second Round of Dedications:

AKA

-The Track List-

“Dancing Anymore,” Is Tropical

“Dripping,” Blonde Redhead

“23,” Blonde Redhead

“Dissolved Girl,” Massive Attack

“Sycamore Feeling,” Trentemoller

“Fade into You,” Mazzy Star

“Three Seed,” Silversun Pickups

“Wishes,” Beach House 

“Ambrosia,” A Reminiscent Drive

“Missing,” Everything But The Girl

“Roads,” Portishead

“Blue Jeans,” Lana Del Ray

“Born to Die,” Lana Del Ray

“Heavy In Your Arms,” Florence and the Machine

“Skinny Love,” Birdy

“The Blower’s Daughter,” Damien Rice 

 “Nicest Thing,” Kate Nash

“Sweet Jane,” Cowboy Junkies

“Criminal,” Fiona Apple

“Shadowboxer,” Fiona Apple

“Worry About You,” Ivy

“First Day of Spring,” Noah and the Whale

“Watching You Without Me,” Kate Bush

 “Far Far,” Yael Naim

 

Prologue

 

A long time
ago in a
high school far, far away...

Jane Hollis was
seventeen when she woke up one wintery morning in February and realized she was
in love with her chemistry partner, the beautiful and tightly wound, Robin
Geary. As her realization evolved she understood that being in love was a good
thing. It meant that she possessed the ability to rise above her craptastick
parenting and care about another human being in a deep, meaningful way.

So, as she lay on
her bed examining the intricate pattern of her tiled ceiling she knew being in
love with Robin Geary was not the problem.

No, the problem a girl
called Sara Jacobs.

Sara, the new girl
in town, was small boned and fragile. She carried the ‘Collected Works of
Sylvia Plath’ everywhere she went. She was constantly seen scribbling in thick
notebooks with vintage fountain pens she’d bought on her summer trip to Europe
and Paris appeared to be the center of her personal universe.

Jane didn’t bother
to point out that an obsession with Sylvia Plath and Paris was a bad cliché
because Sarah appeared to be a special snowflake. Since Jane had never met a special
snowflake that didn’t love playing the part of the victim she decided it was
better to ignore, and avoid Sarah Jacobs until she crawled back under her rock.

That particular
tactic,
ignore and avoid
, didn’t work out the way she planned. It seemed
Robin and Sara made every effort to accidently run into one another and then,
out of the blue, Robin’s schedule changed and her grades in French dropped.
Robin now needed a new chemistry partner and a French tutor and Sarah was ready
to jump in and help in any way she could.

Jane held out hope
that she wasn’t being replaced by the girl with the big brown eyes and Louise
Brooks haircut but the day she walked into the library and caught Robin and
Sara swapping spit in the American Literature section she knew her time was up.

Jane rolled over in
bed and closed her eyes. She’d told everyone in the house she was going to take
a mental health day, so she was free to linger under the covers for as long as
she wanted. She already knew there was an envelope full of cash waiting for her
kitchen island. Her father always used money as an incentive to rejoin the
human race and she never failed to take the bait. She just needed a few more
hours of lying around feeling sorry for her broken heart as she was still struggling
with the idea that it hurt to lose something you didn’t even know you wanted.

 

1.

Jane stood on her
side of the bar watching
four giggling blonds squeeze into a corner booth when she realized she’d never
be able to tell them apart.
Maybe it was her
, she thought, or maybe it
was because they looked like they went to the same hair stylist, shopped at the
same stores and frequented the same spray tanning salon. Jane knew it was a
combination of everything. She was having difficulty distinguishing between
humans because so many people were desperate to look like everyone else and
because she didn’t actually like most people.

Jane ran a clean
rag over the bar and counted to ten. As much as she wanted to stand behind the
bar and contemplate the sad commentary on society, she was already bored with
the topic and ready to move in. She took a look around the empty club and knew
the turnout for tonight’s hand wasn’t going to be good. They’d be lucky to see
thirty people before last call and her boss would be looking for someone to
blame after the receipts were tallied.

It was getting time
to jump ship. The clientele had changed, hipsters with money and a love for
live music moved on as soon as the twenty-somethings showed up looking for
over-compressed remixes and jello shots served by glittery girls in halter tops.
The club still managed to do a decent business on the weekends, when they got a
bigger name act in from New York or Boston, but there were too many nights like
this.

“Earth to Jane.”

She shifted her
gaze from the empty club to the girl standing on the other side of the bar.

“Hey, Chloe,” she
said before returning to her compulsive wipe down.

“You mixing drinks
tonight or taking the varnish off that thing?” Chloe Anderson, her best friend
and roommate, and the world’s worst waitress, placed her serving tray in front
of Jane and leaned against the bar.

She
thought about saying something snarky but stopped. She, and the highly
medicated Lily Hastings, had to live with the Chloe, and it wasn’t going to
help either one of them if she was in a bad mood.

“Hello?”
Chloe laughed. “May I have your attention, please?”

“Sorry,”
Jane mumbled, “I think I forgot to eat lunch.”

“Sure.”
Chloe eyed her carefully before tucking a stray lock of cherry red hair behind
one ear and shaking her head. “You do know that being full of shit turns your
eyes brown?”

Jane tried her best
not to crack a smile but it was difficult. Chloe knew what to say and how to
say it and Jane was a goner. “Do you have a drinks order or did you just come
over here to bother me?”

“Well,” she began. “You
did look a little bored.”

“That’s because I
am bored.”

“We’re
all bored around here.” Chloe nodded. “But, I need a round of Patron margaritas
for the creampuffs in the corner.”

“You
show them the drink menu? Right? I don't want you get into fisticuffs when you
bring them the bill.” She grabbed four fresh glasses from the rack and start setting
up the round.

“Of
course,” She sighed with a roll of her eyes. “I pointed out the price list and
one of them started waving a credit card around like it was the only one left
in existence.”

“Let’s
hope it’s not maxed out.” Jane grumbled as she salted the glasses.

“They
don’t look the type.”

“How’s
that?” asked Jane.

“Because
it's Wednesday and we've got some crap, no name band playing, and those girlies
traveled all the way from Taunton to hear them play.”

“Four
groupies?” Jane cocks an eyebrow at the empty stage before measuring out the
tequila. “That’s impressive.”

“Four
groupies isn’t impressive.” Chloe turned to look at the giggling blondes and
made a sad little noise. “And let’s be honest those aren’t groupies. Those are
wives and girlfriends.”

“True.”
Jane decided it was useless to fight with the obvious and made herself busy
measuring out Cointreau and Patron in equal amounts. “If we're really lucky a
whole tour bus will park outside with a bunch of horny, thirsty girls.”

“Yep,
and I bet they’ll all be straight,” Chloe groaned.

“And
order appletinis.” Jane gave each glass a healthy slice of lime before placing
each one onto Chloe’s tray. “It’ll be a sad parade of
Sex on the Beach
,
Fuzzy
Nipples
and
Long Island Iced Teas
.”

“You’re
making me depressed.” Chloe set her elbow on the bar and rested her chin in the
palm of her hand. “Set me up one of those.”

“Kinda
early for you isn't it?”  Jane smiled as she made room for Charlie, the
underpaid and often mistreated bar-back.  

“But
I’m so thirsty.” Chloe whined, her eyes going all sad and pleading.

“You
know the rules.” Jane crossed her arms over her chest and stood firm. “No
drinking till we turn on the lights and send the yucky people home.”

“God,”
Chloe huffed as she jumped off her stool.

“Be
good and I'll use the top shelf stuff when Jimmy’s not paying attention.” Jane
assured her

“When
is Jimmy ever paying attention?” Chloe asked with a laugh.

“When
it’s time to tally up and count his cash.”Jane grimaced as the stage door
entrance swung open and a group of haggard looking men came stumbling in. “Oh
look, the band finally decided to show up. Just in time to skip sound check and
start playing.”

“Let’s
just hope they've got enough brains to stay sober till their sets are finished.”
Chloe picked up the tray and took a step away from the bar.

“By
the looks of them it'd doubtful if they have a fully functioning brain between
them,” Jane muttered. “But we can always hope.”

“Hope
doesn’t pay the rent,” Chloe laughed. “And it doesn’t clean vomit off the drum
kit.”  

“Good
thing Charlie gets paid to do it.”

“True.”
Chloe shrugged and nodded toward the front of the club where a fifth customer
stood. “Oh, look. Wednesday night and we've got another live body.”

Jane
tossed the dirty rag under the bar and grabbed a clean one. She was tempted to
chuck it at Chloe’s head but with her luck she’d miss and spill the drinks. “Can
you please go and serve those before you dump the tray and I have to make them
all over again?”

“Fine.” She gave
her head a little flip, sending her thick red ponytail into the air as she
turned. “But you better find a way to make us some money tonight because it’s
your turn to buy dinner.”

“Thanks for
reminding me.” Jane shot back before turning her attention to the other end of
the bar where her new customer was waiting.

 

*****

 

Harper
Merrick sat at the end of the bar trying to look like she wasn’t staring at the
beautiful girl tending bar, but it was difficult. She had a weakness for leggy
brunettes with pouty lips and big green eyes.

“So
what are you drinking tonight?” The lovely bartender eyed her carefully, but
didn’t move one step closer

It
took Harper a second to come up with an answer. She wasn’t sure if the other
woman was waiting for an invisible signal or code word to but sure as hell
seemed like it. “Bourbon, on the rocks.”

“Do
you have a preference?” She took a few steps closer before stopping.

“Not
really?”

“Do
you have a budget?” The bartender smiled and a matching set of dimples appeared
on both sides of her face.

“No,”
Harper replied.  

“You
sure about that?” She touched the toe of her black Doc Martins on the edge of
the stepstool in front of her and cocked an eyebrow. “We've got some pricey
stock.”

“How
about I let you call it?” Harper reached into the front pocket of her jeans,
produced a crisp hundred-dollar bill and placed it on the bar.

The
smile on the bartender’s face turned into a wide grin and the dimples grew
deeper. “A.H. Hirsch Reserve?” she queried before stepping up on the stool.

“Sounds
like a plan,” Harper said only to realize why the bartender asked for a price
point before risking the climb. It was all about the length of her miniature
kilt in comparison to how far she was going to have to reach for the bottle of
booze. More than likely, she wanted to get confirmation before she put on a
free show for the customers. 

“So,
what do you hear about the band tonight?” Harper struggled to look away. She
knew it was wrong to know the color of another person’s underpants before
learning their first name, but her eyes didn’t want to cooperate with her moral
compass.

“Those
guys? I have no idea who they are.” The bartender hesitated before extending
her reach and exposed the lush curve where her ass met her thigh. “I can't even
remember their name.”

Harper
felt her face flush as she watched the bartender rise to the tips of her toes,
this time the skirt moved high enough to reveal most of her purple polka-dotted
backside. “That's not a good sign,” she said, averting her eyes before the girl
started stepping down. The last thing she wanted to do was look like a pervert.

Which, she figured she was, because she’d ogled a strangers butt
in public.

“They
were preceded but four groupies of rather questionable quality.” She picked up
a shot glass from the stack behind the bar and shrugged. “Never a good sign.”

“Four
is better than none,” Harper responded.

“Four?”
She sidled up to the bar in long, easy strides. “Come on. My cousin Hamish
plays the banjo in a folkpunk band and he's beating the lovelies off with a
stick.”

“So,
you can tell the quality of a band just by its groupies?” Harper asked while the
bartender set the shot glass in front of her and filled it to the brim with
amber colored liquid. “Isn't this a little small for the drink I ordered?”

“This
is a free preview.” She laughed. “I thought you might want to taste what you're
paying for before I fuck it up with ice.”

“What's
wrong with ice?” Harper made a concerted effort to push the memory of those
pale thighs as far into the back of her head as it could so she could meet
those green eyes with a clear conscience.

“Waters
down the taste.” She shook her head and sighed.  “You really want to spend that
kind of money on something and not really taste it?”

“I
guess not.” Harper answered.

“Go
on.” The bartended nodded. “Give it a go.”

Harper
picked up the shotglass, let out a breath before tipping her head to do the
shot. To her surprise, the bartender placed a fast hand on her wrist stopping
her from taking the shot.

“Hold
on there, Cowgirl,” she laughed.  “Just because I’m serving it a small glass
doesn't mean you gulp it down.”

“This
is what you do with a shot.”

“I
told you, this isn’t a shot.” She announced. “And even if it was this is not
like your average alcohol. It isn't Stoli or Jäger. This is a work of fucking
art. It has aged and mellowed into a rich, warm, honey flavored piece of
American awesomeness. It's like a beautiful Kentucky woman. Long dark hair,
bright blue eyes, a nice southern drawl. The kind of woman who will kiss you till
you’re blind and shoot you when you run. You would not rush a woman like that.
You'd take your time. You'd go slow and enjoy every second.”

Harper
sat back. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears and her skin felt like
she’d just been rolled onto hot sand. “I can't tell if you're being serious or
not?” She looked down at her wrist. The bartender’s hand resting on her skin and
it took every ounce of brainpower she had to move her eyes away from those
long, slim fingers.

“Neither
can I.” she answered, moving her hand away. “I just sort of opened my mouth and
all that crap just sorta came out.”

“Do
you do that a lot?”

“All
the damn time.” She set her elbows on the bar and leaned forward a little. “Now,
take a nice slow sip and tell me what you think.”

Harper
eyed the small glass for a moment and tried to remember that thing about a
woman with long dark hair and bright eyes and how you were supposed to move
slow, so as to enjoy every second. Harper took a sip, the taste was smooth on
the tongue with a nice hot burn down the throat.

“Did
you know that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month?” The bartender
asked with a sweet laugh. “I figured you might want to know.”

Harper
took another sip and let out a deep breath before setting the glass down on the
bar. She figured it was time she asked the question bothering her for the last
few minutes. “Do you really have a cousin named Hamish that plays the banjo?”

She
gave Harper a wicked grin. “Does the bear shit in the woods?”

“I
guess the one about the Pope being Polish doesn't really work anymore.” She
picked up her drink and swallowed the last of it down.

“That
was quite a few popes ago.” She teased. “So, was I right about the bourbon with
no ice?”

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