Emancipating Emily – Chapter 4
“Night comes way too soon now,” Emily said with a bit of a snarl from the open doorway as she stood there with the door open wide, letting in the sweltering summer night air.
Two dogs lay at her feet, curled around each other, as if they were asleep, though neither were.
Both were listening intently.
“It’s almost October,” the short woman with the arm crutches remarked a bit acerbically.
She’d been upset ever since Jane… I mean Emily had come back and Caleb hadn’t.
“But where is he?” she’d asked just as soon as Emily had called her about licensing a brothel.
“Technically it’s not legal in Texas,” she’d advised.
“It is in Arizona,” Emily remarked matter-of-factly.
“This isn’t Arizona.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“There are rumors the real threat isn’t technically the legality, rather it’s the competition. From what I hear, Police Chief Dan Clemens is running most of the prostitution rings in town, and anyone who poses a threat gets the police set on them.”
“The chief of police?” Emily asked as if she hadn’t already heard.
I mean… everyone knew. Everyone she knew, anyway. Still, it was nice knowing she could trust her old friend to always tell her the truth.
“You think I shouldn’t do it?”
“I think you can do anything you put your mind to. But you’ll need leverage. You’ll need to grow quick and fast, and you’ll need staff. It’s a lot of work.”
“You sound like you want to help,” the five-foot-seven woman told her friend who would look about as tall if her legs weren’t bent in funny ways.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Emily asked her, her voice never as friendly as she imagined it was.
Ashlyn eyed the only place to sit, a dusty and rusty chair leftover by the previous owner.
She wrinkled her cute brown nose, which was situated on a gorgeous face, and then smiled at her friend. Her only friend, as it so happened.
“I should be going. But first. Tell me. Why didn’t Caleb return? Where is he?”
Emily contemplated her friend for a moment, and then she took a seat on the rusty chair, causing both dogs to grunt and groan as they followed her to their new resting spot.
After what felt like eternity, she finally told her friend the truth she’d sworn not to tell.
“He’s gone to kill his demons.”
Ashlyn, a non-religious person if ever there was one, crossed herself and then said a quick prayer. Which caused one of Emily’s eyebrows to race up one side of her face.
“Please tell me you’re speaking figuratively,” Ashlyn demanded but there was only trepidation in her voice.
Emily shook her head, her short blonde bob shaking almost playfully. But her face was grave, and her skin had lost its colour.
“He said they will hunt him until they catch him and when they catch him they’ll chop him into bits, to make an example of him. So, he’s gotta do it first. Gotta take the war to them before they can come here and destroy him and everything he loves.”
Emily didn’t know how to be coy with Ashlyn. Men Emily could wrap around her little finger a dozen times, but Ashlyn could always fetch a straight answer from Emily, the former sex slave.
“You can’t mean literally… chop him into bits…”
Ashlyn was a detective with the Austin, Texas Special Crimes Unit, so she knew the likelihood Emily was being quite literal was high. But still… she did not want to believe.
“He loves you, ya know?” Emily asked suddenly out of nowhere, taking Ashlyn totally by surprise.
“Why would you think that?”
“You’re all he talked about the whole entire trip. I think he thought he’d die fighting the Welshman and his men, but when that didn’t happen he knew he couldn’t be with you until they were taken care of.”
“His former employers. The people who hired him to kill. They didn’t appreciate his resignation quite as much as he hoped they would.”
Ashlyn’s hands shook. Shook hard.
She’d never loved a man. Not really. Not until that green eyed man had slithered into her life like some kind of magic snake… come to hypnotize her and then leave.
She wanted to call him. She wanted to tell him those few hours of happiness were everything to her and that she’d cherish them forever, if they were really all she was ever to have.
Oh god, how much she wanted to fall just one more time into his steady embrace, to feel safe… just one more time.
With the back of her hand she wiped away some tears while the snot drained from her nose unimpeded.
“I wish I could tell him I love him,” she whispered, as she moved down the steps and started towards her car.
“He knew,” Emily reminded her. “He Knew.”
“None of our lives have been easy, none of us came from money. All of us have worked and worked and worked so that other people’s lives could be made better. While we slowly lose everything that matters to us.”
Emily had a group of a dozen women gathered in the newly renovated home.
Caleb had lent her the money to buy and fix up the modest 4-bedroom home in the lower east side of Austin.
Which technically made him her silent partner. Or, he would be, once he returned.
“Just keep it clean,” he had told her on the long drive home. That had been his only real request. Because the man knew if anyone was gonna run a brothel that looked after its girls it was gonna be Emily.
Caleb didn’t really think he’d return though. Emily had known that by the look in the man’s eyes. She’d seen death come to call way too often to be mistaken by the signs. She knew the look in his eyes, and what he’d gone off to face. Alone.
“Can’t I come with?” she’d begged when he’d handed her the bag of money and his simple set of instructions.
“Of course not. This isn’t an outright attack. This is gorilla warfare. I’m going to play to my strengths.”
Emily’s eyebrow had asked the question her mouth just wasn’t up to.
“I’m a liar, Em. Always have been. Especially while I was a priest. Oh, I told myself it was faith, or at least hope, as often as I could. But the truth is, I’m a killer and a liar. I’ve done terrible bad things, and I’m mighty damn good at it too. Got a streak of meanness in me a mile long… Em. I don’t know… maybe this will help. Maybe once I know the people who want to see me and my loved ones dead are dead and gone themselves… gone and buried once and for all… maybe then I can try to be good.”
Caleb’s green eyes had shone in the lamp light like some kind of demon, but Emily didn’t remark on it at the time.
Instead, she pulled him in for a quick hug, that turned out to be a long one.
“Be good,” he instructed, just before he drove off.
“I’ll try,” Emily had lied. And that was that.
Now, she was building a business, and setting people free. And quietly, inch-by-inch, layer after layer, she was building an army. A troupe of players in a production that was either gonna get them all killed or was gonna change the world forever. Change it finally in her favor.
“All along we’ve been told to play by the rules… their rules, where they set the pay for jobs – so of course all of ours pay half or a quarter as much. Rules… where they are made glorious in all of the TV shows and movies that feed our kids a fake and sick and perverted reality. Rules… where even decent and good sex has been criminalized because we are the rulers of sex. And they know it. Because they all know… they’ve always known… the meek inherit the earth.”
All of the woman smiled and applauded and then turned back towards the opulent display of food and entertainment.
“It’s time ladies. It’s time we live like we’re meant to.”
And with that a door opened and a half dozen naked men came prancing into the room.
“Have at em ladies, everything and anything you want – it’s on the house tonight.”
Emily leaned over her second client of the day and whispered into his exhausted ear, “what if I told you you can live forever?”
It took a second, but only a second, and suddenly there was a lot more life in the old judge.
“What do you mean?” he asked with a huff as he flopped himself onto his side and propped his head up with one hand.
“How do you feel about artificial intelligence?” she asked the man who was easily thirty years her senior.
You see, the old judge with the spry heart liked his young ladies dripping with other men’s cum so she always took two clients just before him on days he came to call. Two, or just Lance. Cuz Lance could shoot for days.
“Why?” the man who was on two very important scientific subcommittees asked.
“Remember that client I was telling you about? The tech upstart?”
“Spiderwebwells? I looked into them. They look like they’re set to go public. But their website is rather cryptic.”
Emily had designed the website herself, so she knew just how cryptic it was.
“Yes, but that’s because they’re not looking for outside funding.”
“No? But you said you had investment advice for me?”
The judge’s tone was pedantic, almost petulant.
“I told you I knew how you could make loads of money. I never said anything about investment.”
The man’s white eyebrows clung to the rocky face of his forehead like terrified climbers.
“It’s risky. But I think together we can not only piggyback on their success but capitalize on it in a way they haven’t yet considered. But if we don’t do it now. I mean, right now… the chance is gone.”
The old man with more connections than hair follicles smiled wide at the woman who liked to play as dirty as he did.
“Tell me the details.”
© Raena Exe 2023
*All characters, places, and events are completely fictional.
*All rights reserved.
“Look like the innocent flower,