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She smiles. “I’m Emily, one of the scene attendants here. Mr. Andrews sent me to help you get ready.” “Oh.” I relax, though I don’t drop the costume that’s covering my breasts. “I can do your hair if you like,” she says, “and I’m supposed to give you a quick rundown of rules and procedure.” “Rules?” She smiles again. “Don’t worry, there’s not many. The safe word is ‘red.’ If something happens, you shout that and security will be in here in ten seconds. I doubt you’ll have need of that with Mr. Andrews, but you need to know.” I nod. “Safe sex is required here at Club Deep. Even if you and your partner agree that it’s not necessary, it’s required here. Last rule, make sure you put your costume in the laundry bin.” “Sounds easy enough,” I say. “Good. Can I help you with the rest of the costume? Believe me, I’ve seen more naked people than I can count.” I look down at the costume I forgot I was holding. “Right. Okay.” That makes sense, working in a place like this. I hold out the glittery top to her, and she helps me into it, cinching the ties in the back so that it fits properly. I remember that she offered to do my hair. “I think I want to leave my hair down, if that’s okay.” “Of course,” she says. “The only thing Mr. Andrews asked is that I blindfold you and make sure you’re in place before I leave.” “A blindfold? Why?” She grins at me. “I think he wants to keep his entrance a surprise. Oh, and he’ll make sure you two are not disturbed in here. All the rooms are monitored by security, but no one else will play while you’re here.” “Good.” She retrieves what looks like a long blue silk scarf the same color as my costume. “He said something about not wanting it to be too overwhelming.” I laugh. I’ll have to emphasize a different word next time and see how he uses it. I wonder what would have happened if I had told him that it was ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ or any other word. “Anything else you’d like for your costume?” I look down at myself, and I love it. My skin peeks out from underneath the sparkling fabric, both mysterious and obvious at the same time. “No,” I say, “This is good.” “All right.” She leads me out into the main room, which is much bigger than I thought from just observing the entrance. The silk hangings and strewn pillows are just the beginning. The silks are actually a tent, and Emily pushes them aside so we can enter what looks like pure luxury straight out of an Arabian fairytale. Oriental carpets cover the ground with cushions and there are a few low velvet couches. It’s warm, the low light coming from salt lamps filled with chunks of the rock, and the rich scent of incense fills the air. I would never know I’m in an underground club in the middle of Phoenix. “Wow.” It’s the only word that comes to mind. Emily is in the center of the room. “I think here will be the best view, if you want to do some surprising of your own,” she says with a wink. “Sure.” I kneel down on the thick carpet, and Emily wraps the scarf around my eyes. It’s soft, but I can’t see through it at all. “I’ll let him know you’re ready, and Mr. Andrews will be with you shortly,” she says with a hand on my shoulder. And then I’m alone and I hear the outer door click shut. It’s weird to wait in darkness like this. The silence is loud, rich, and I imagine this game we’re playing is real. I imagine I’m the girl waiting for the King, and my gut begins to churn with nervousness. But there’s a thrill there, too. Anticipation. I imagine I saw the King earlier, and thought that at least he was handsome. That maybe he would be kind. That maybe this would be a good thing. I’m not sure how long I wait—time doesn’t seem real when you can’t see. It could be minutes or hours, either one making me aware of the space around me until it feels like I can see without using my eyes. My toes brush the thick carpet, digging into the fibers. I feel wavering heat on the left side of my face from one of the lamps. I inhale the scent of the incense and try to figure out exactly that scent is. Oak, orange, earth.
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