It happened during my last session with my court-appointed therapist. She’d given me two pieces of advice that I decided to follow. The first was to not let anyone define who I was, to be an individual who was comfortable in her own skin. The second was to have a healthy sex life. I remember thinking that was kind of strange, considering I was only eighteen at the time.

Somehow, I doubted this was what she pictured when she’d imparted those words of wisdom.

The man beneath me moaned as I rode him. The muscles in my thighs were starting to burn with each rise and fall, but I didn’t slow. I kept my eyes open, my head down, but I barely registered the pretty-boy features of the young man I’d picked up just an hour ago. My hands splayed on his muscular chest, helping me balance.

“Fuck, babe, you’re so tight.”

Okay, so I hadn’t picked the guy for his eloquence, but he had a nice thick cock and no issues with me calling the shots. That’s what mattered.

I flexed my muscles the way I’d been taught, and he swore again. “I work out,” I said and flexed again.

I leaned forward, and he pushed himself up on his elbows, his mouth latching on to a pale pink nipple. My eyelids fluttered as he sucked on it, his tongue and teeth teasing, but I didn’t close my eyes. I always fucked with my eyes open… always. Lights on. No exceptions.

“Harder,” I said and ground down, the angle allowing just the right amount of friction on my clit. I was close. The pressure inside me was at the point where I had to come or explode. “Come on… baby.” I almost tripped over not knowing his name, but I caught myself. “Suck harder. Make me come.”

Technically, I was doing most of the work, but he deserved a little credit for his nice cock and the wonderful things his mouth was doing to my breast, especially when he followed my directions. Never underestimate the importance of a man who does what he’s told.

“Ah,” I moaned as the suction increased, sending jolts of intense pleasure from my breasts straight to my throbbing pussy. I moved one of my hands to the place where my body joined with his and my fingers found my clit. I rubbed it with quick, rapid circles, the combined friction and pressure making it hurt beautifully. I always needed that edge.

“Fuck, I’m gonna…” The guy’s words turned into a loud grunt as his hips jerked up against me, his final thrusts hard and fast.

The hand not between my legs moved to my breast. Even as I felt my partner’s cock begin to pulse inside the condom, it was my turn. A light pinch and twist to my nipple, and I was there. My muscles tensed and my pussy contracted around the thick shaft inside. The nameless young man swore again, his face a mask of pain-pleasure. As I descended from my high, I rolled off him, and his now-sensitive cock slipped out. I lay on my side, breathing heavily and enjoying the little bursts of electricity racing along my nerves, the aftershocks of a pretty good orgasm. Eight on a scale of ten.

He moved closer and I immediately stiffened, adrenaline flooding my system. I jerked upright, pushing myself back until I was well out of arm’s reach.

“Easy, babe.” He gave me a smile, showing a set of deep dimples that went perfectly with his baby blues. He leaned on his elbow. “That was amazing.”

I nodded in agreement and climbed off the narrow dorm bed. College boys were easy, but their beds were generally shit. I picked up my underwear and bra.

“Leaving already?”

I glanced at him as I dressed. He hadn’t moved, even to cover himself.

“Come back,” he continued. “Give me ten minutes and an energy drink from the mini-fridge, I’ll be good to go again.”

It wasn’t even remotely tempting since that would mean at least ten minutes of small talk, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I wasn’t a bitch, no matter how often I’d been called one. “Thanks, but no. I have to go to work.”

He glanced at the clock, a puzzled expression settling on his handsome face. “It’s three in the afternoon.”

I smiled and shrugged as I adjusted my tank top. His eyes locked onto the bit of cleavage the tight black top exposed. I didn’t say anything. He’d seen them bare. As long as he kept his hands to himself now, he could look all he wanted.

“Will I see you around?” He sat up, but didn’t reach for me.

“Probably not for a while,” I answered truthfully. While I liked coming to campus, I generally tried not to frequent the same places when I had an itch to scratch. No matter how good the sex, I rarely repeated. I knew society liked to pretend it was the women who got clingy, but I’d met plenty of men who thought a couple roles in the hay meant we were a regular thing.

I smoothed down my miniskirt and pulled on my nearly knee-high boots. I had two pairs, but these were my favorites. The four-inch heels raised me close to five-eight and I preferred being tall. Plus, if I ran into any trouble, they packed a hell of a kick.

“Where do you work?”

I gave him a small smile, but didn’t answer. I scanned the carpet. One of my earrings had fallen out. I still had the other three in my right earlobe, but the hoop from the cartilage at the top was missing.

“Let me guess.”

I rolled my eyes, knowing he couldn’t see my face. I knew what was coming. I knew how people saw me. I’d dyed my hair several times over the years, but for the past six months, I had rocked a bright blue. It was cropped short, angled at my chin in a way that kept my heart-shaped face from looking too delicate. My eyes were a pale gray that most people thought were contacts though they were one hundred percent natural. Aside from the multiple piercings in my ears, I also had an eyebrow ring and one in my bellybutton. That, plus my numerous tattoos and the way I dressed, meant people generally made the wrong assumptions regarding my occupation.

“Dancer at The Blue Moon?”

At least he’d picked one of the classier strip clubs in the area. I had a feeling more than one of my conquests over the past three and a half years had gone trolling clubs looking for me. The thought was amusing. What did it say about the state of feminism in society when a woman couldn’t express herself through her appearance without people assuming she was a stripper?

I finally spotted the small silver hoop and slid it back into place with practiced ease. “It was fun,” I said as I headed out the door.

By the time I reached the dorm lobby, I was already running through my schedule for the day, my encounter all but forgotten. I only had two jobs today, but the second had a long list of things I needed to do, most of which had to wait until everyone at the company had gone home. Those were my second favorite kind of jobs, because it meant I rarely had anyone staring at me or trying to talk to me while I worked. The best work was, of course, the kind I could do from home. I liked crowds at clubs and concerts, the anonymity that came with being part of the masses, but I wasn’t a social person. There was only so much personal interaction I could handle at a time. I’d heard half a dozen psychological diagnosis as well as a multitude of reasons behind them. I had a simpler explanation that I preferred.

I didn’t play well with others.

***

The brisk wind that greeted me as I stepped outside was much chillier than it had been less than an hour ago. Autumn really had come to Colorado. I shivered and pulled my long-sleeved shirt more tightly around me. I’d been debating about stopping home before hitting my first appointment—the weather just cinched it. Coming home late tonight without a jacket would suck.

I headed toward the apartments that sat on the edge of the Colorado State University campus. They were a nice mix of graduate students, married students and recent graduates in the transition stage between college and real life. Age-wise, I fit in with them, even though I’d graduated three years ago. I didn’t really hang out with any of them though. I preferred my own company. I could trust myself.

I didn’t even give the ‘out of order’ sign by the elevator a second glance; it had only worked the first year I’d lived here. I didn’t mind the walk up three flights of stairs most of the time. Less time I had to spend on the treadmill at the gym. It was a real bitch when I had to carry stuff though.

The apartment was small, but I didn’t need a big place. When you grow up with hardly any room to move, a one-bedroom with a kitchen, bathroom and living room all to myself was a luxury. The place was neat and simple, the furniture a mismatch of clunky college thrift store finds and the nicer pieces I’d been slowly buying. A bedroom suite had been my first purchase, a celebration of my first self-employment check. I didn’t go in the bedroom though. I didn’t need to. Still, I paused at its doorway and looked at my place, allowing myself to feel the satisfaction of knowing I’d accomplished all this on my own.

I swapped my outer shirt for my favorite leather jacket and headed back out. Nothing like a good fuck and then a little affirmation of how far I’d brought myself. I wasn’t a shrink, but I thought I was pretty well-adjusted. Considering other people who’d gone through the same things I had were either dead, drug addicts or prostitutes, I felt a pat on the back was well-deserved.

I was still in a good mood when I strolled in to Khan and Associates, and the secretary glaring at me only brightened my day. She was a new addition since the last time I’d been here, which meant I was going to enjoy this.

“May I help you?”

If she’d had glasses, she would’ve glared at me over their rims. I plunked my backpack down on her desk just to see her eye twitch.

“I’m here to see Ms. Khan.” I kept my tone polite and professional. “She’s expecting me.”

“Take a seat.” The secretary gave me one of those condescending looks that women like her seemed to reserve for people like me. “I’ll get to you when I get to you.”

I laughed and the scowl deepened, creating an array of tiny wrinkles on her forehead. If she kept that up, she’d make herself look years older than she was. “Check your appointment book. Lang Tech Consulting.”

She didn’t even pretend to look at her computer or the calendar on the desk. Instead, she pointed toward the chairs and looked at me like I was something to scrape off the bottom of her shoe. My mild annoyance started to turn into actual anger. I didn’t show it though. Even as good as I was at my job, if I got too mouthy, people wouldn’t overlook my appearance to hire me.

“Ma’am,” I spoke through gritted teeth. “I’m going to say this one more time and then I’m going to make a call that you really don’t want me to make. Let Ms. Khan know I’m here.”

“Excuse me?” She stood up, leaning toward me with her hands on the desk.

I was sure the look she was giving me had quelled plenty of people who seemed tougher than me. Unfortunately for her, my past was full of people a hell of a lot scarier than a middle-aged secretary with a superiority complex.

I sighed and straightened. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I pulled my phone from my bag and scrolled through my business contacts. I tapped on the right name and waited.

“Yes?”

“Ms. Khan, this is Jenna Lang.”

“You’re late, Ms. Lang.” My client’s voice was sharp.

“Yes,” I agreed. “I’ve run into a bit of a snag and it doesn’t look like I’ll make it in.”

“Ms. Lang,” Ms. Khan interrupted. “Is there a point to this? You’re far too professional to sound so flippant about canceling at the last minute.”

“Indeed,” I said. “Your secretary seems to be under the impression that my presence here is unwelcome.”

Ms. Khan muttered something under her breath that could have been a series of swear words. “I’ll be right there.”

I ended the call, put my phone back in my bag and then gave the secretary a sugar-sweet smile. “It’ll be just a minute.”

“Young lady,” she said, far from threatened. “And I use that term very loosely, if you don’t turn around and start walking toward that door, I will call security and watch them haul your slutty little ass right out of here.”

A door at the end of the hall opened, then closed, and I took a step back from the desk. A flash of triumph crossed the secretary’s face and I knew she thought she’d won.

“Sandra!”

I couldn’t stop the smirk when I saw the secretary’s face go pale. I didn’t want her to get fired, but I’d have been lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to witnessing her bubble get popped.

“Ms. Khan.”

“Didn’t Ms. Lang tell you that she had an appointment with me?”

The secretary glared at me, crossed her arms and turned back to her boss. “No, ma’am, she just marched right in here and demanded to see you.”

My smile disappeared. She was seriously going to stand there and lie? I glanced at Ms. Khan. The woman was impeccably dressed, as always, the picture perfect business woman. She didn’t look at me, but I could tell her face was blank.

“Your job, Sandra, is to make inquiries in situations such as this, not prevent work from getting done. Something to keep in mind for the future.” Ms. Khan turned back the way she’d come, making an impatient gesture over her shoulder. “Come on, Ms. Lang. I’m not letting you bill me for the time you’ve wasted.”

I pressed my lips into a flat line and followed. I’d done four jobs for Khan and Associates and had always thought she’d been at least indifferent about me. Apparently, I’d been giving her too much credit. As we walked down the hallway to her office, I realized she was just a good actress. She’d been tolerating me because I was good at what I did and still new enough to charge a lower rate than my competitors. I didn’t feel any anger though, just resignation. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last.

Fuck them all.

I didn’t care. I was who I was. No one would ever change that.