After the date a week ago, Zoe had decided she wanted nothing to do with Tim, even if he was the best looking man she’d seen in ages that noticed her. She didn’t want to think about the club, or Boris, or any of that stuff. Normal people didn’t do things like that. That resolve had lasted about two days. She’d walked into Booker’s Nook, and there in the front display was that book everyone either loved or hated, having to do with BDSM. She was too embarrassed to pick it up.
When she got home, she called Claire and asked her about the book. “Really? It was good? I’ve heard lots of people thought it was terrible,” Zoe said. Claire rabbited on about how it was so cool and then suggested a couple of websites that Zoe wrote down. Zoe thanked her and ended the call. She crumpled up the paper she’d written the websites on and threw it in the trash.
On Thursday, Zoe sat down at her computer and looked at the websites Claire had given her after she dug the paper out of the trash. She flipped through page after page on the Internet. Leather lifestyle, Doms, subs, BDSM clubs, videos, stories. She couldn’t believe all the blogs out there that dealt with this stuff. It was like some huge iceberg. The ten or twenty percent that everyone saw was just the tip of it.
She watched a few videos on one of the porn channels. They didn’t match what she’d seen at the club. Then she read through a bunch of entries on Wikipedia. Some of that information sounded like what Tim had talked about. Then she started reading the blogs. After about the third blog, she realized that she was embarrassed, turned on and even more confused than she had been before. How on earth could a woman like her be turned on by this stuff? She turned off her computer and took a cold shower.
Friday night, she drove past the Rosy Thorn on her way to a dinner party. Part of her wanted to stop in and see if Tim was there. Part of her wanted to forget she’d ever seen him. The dinner party was alright, but three half drunk workmates kept hitting on her. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but they all thought they were ‘God’s gift to women’. One of them grabbed Zoe’s arm, as he told her how she just needed to be put in her place, and tried to kiss her. She kneed him, walked away and went to find Jamie to say her goodbyes. It took her almost thirty minutes to get Jamie to understand that she was upset by the co-workers, and that Jamie wasn’t helping.
She drove home shaking. Zoe was angry, and upset. At the stop light, the tears began to well up and cascade down her face. She was angry that the assholes had thought it was okay to objectify women and upset that Jamie had just laughed it off as the antics of a couple of drunks. She wiped her eyes and got out of her car. Zoe was half way up the stairs when a vehicle pulled up behind hers and parked. Zoe turned to see who was parking so close to her car when she thought she recognized it. As she stood there, a man stood up out of the truck. It was Tim.
“Hello Zoe,” he said as he started to walk towards her.
“Hi Tim. I’m not much in the mood for company tonight. Sorry you wasted your time coming by,” she said in haste, trying to unlock her door.
“Zoe? Are you alright?” he asked as he walked up next to her. He’d seen the tears on her face from the porch light and had moved quickly.
“No, and I don’t want to talk about it. Just go away,” she said and dropped her keys. She tried to pick them up and Tim reached them first.
“You’re upset. Let’s go inside,” he said unlocking her door. “Let’s make some coffee. If you want to talk about it, fine. If you don’t fine. However, I’m not leaving until I’m sure you’re okay.”
“Why do you even care? And… And what were you doing here? I haven’t called you or anything. Hell, I’m not even sure I want to date you,” she said sitting down on one of her kitchen chairs while Tim dug around in her cupboards and found the coffee and began to make some.
“I am here because I like you. I was also concerned about you.”
“Okay, so you have some ‘spidey’ sense that tingled and so you just dropped by at 9:30pm to see if I was date material?” Zoe asked getting angry once more, although the tears were still just there on the edge.
“No, not really. Before I left the club to drive over here, I turned four assholes over to Dirk. They came into the Rosy Thorn for a drink after a party they’d gone to had turned a little nasty. Seems they thought it was perfectly okay to play grab ass on a co-worker they thought was a right little piece of ass. Now normally, I wouldn’t think twice about stuff like that, except that they were talking about how ‘little miz potter’ better watch her attitude before she got her ass beaten right. That some women just didn’t know how to bow to a real man when they saw one,” Tim said.
“So, when I heard the name Potter, I wondered if it was you, especially as I’d seen your car pass the club as I opened up tonight. Wondered if you were alright,” he said.
“Oh,” she sniffed and hiccuped at the same time.
“And when I arrive, what do I find? You in tears, fumbling for your keys. What am I suppose to do? Walk away?” he asked as he knelt in front of her.
“Oh. I’m sssorry,” she said softly.
Tim took her head in his hands and looked her in the face. “Now, what do you want in your coffee?”
Zoe blinked a few times and looked at Tim. “Some… some of the creamer in the fridge.”
“Alright. How about you go blow your nose and wash your face and I’ll pour coffee,” he suggested.
Zoe nodded and headed for the bathroom. When she got there, she realized that her mascara had run. She quickly washed her face and blew her nose. When she felt presentable, she walked back to the kitchen.
“Thank you for being concerned. I’ll be okay, they just upset me and my friend thought that their behavior was okay because they were ‘just drunk’. It’s just been a long week and I probably shouldn’t have gone to the party in the first place,” she said trying to make everything alright.
“Yes, I am concerned. They were asses and so was your ‘friend’. No one should ever act that way, although they frequently do. And before you get it in your head that what you just said makes everything okay for me to leave, you are wrong.”
“I’m fine. You… you can go home,” she said.
“No, you are not fine. You are still upset. I can hear it in your voice, and see the tears just waiting to spill over the edge,” he said softly.
Zoe looked at him, trying to keep a stoic facade. She looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to keep from crying. Her head was pulled level by Tim’s finger and the tears rolled as she sobbed.
They ended up sitting on her couch while she cried and he held her. In the end, Zoe began to talk about the party and the men’s attitudes and even the physical side of it. Tim listened and made comments only when absolutely necessary. Zoe finally began to calm down and was drinking the last of her coffee when Tim’s phone buzzed.
Tim looked at his phone. It was a text message from Dirk. “What do we do with the pond scum?” it read. “Zoe, let me respond to this quickly and then I’ll turn my phone off,” he said.
Tim texted back. “Give ’em to the cops. Drunken nuisance. She’s going to be okay.” Once he’d sent the message, he turned his phone off and put it in his pocket.
“Who was that?” she asked at last.
“Dirk. He wondered if you were okay.”
“Oh? Why?” she asked.
“Simple. I work with Dirk. He’s a good guy in spite of being rather rough around the edges. He was at the club the night you were there, and so when I went out the door, he was concerned,” said Tim.
“Okay, I guess. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome Zoe. I really do like you and would like to have a date or three with you,” he said softly.
Zoe sat her cup on the table and leaned back on the couch. “I’m still not sure I want to date.”
“Is that because I work at the Rosy Thorn? Or are you afraid I consider you a pity case?” he asked.
Zoe blinked and tried to look offended. “I am not a pity case!”
“No, but you are nervous about something, and tonight’s incident hasn’t helped,” he said.
“No I’m not and and…” she started.
“Zoe, please don’t try that lie,” he said softly. “You are nervous. What Boris said has been making you think and you aren’t happy with your conclusions. Tonight’s incident threw in your face what you were concerned about and made it all too real.”
She looked at him, knowing he was right, but the last thing she wanted to admit was that he was right, in any way. She wasn’t like those women she read about on the blogs. She couldn’t be. Never in a million years would she admit that. She sighed.
“Can we just date? Vanilla date?” she asked after a few minutes.
“Yes, you’re in control,” he said. Then he picked up the cups and took them to the kitchen.
Zoe followed him to see him washing the cups. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“No, but I have. Now you need to go to bed and I need to go back to the club.” He put his hands on her shoulders, kissed her forehead and then headed for the door. “Don’t forget to lock the door,” he said and then left. Tim waited outside the door until he heard the lock click. He smiled and headed back to the club.