The location was one of those sad old mansions in Bel Air. Ostentatious, but had seen better days. Money is so fickle here in L.A. and a big old house is like an aging mistress with a plastic surgery fetish. It’s more economical to just buy a cheap, flashy new one than keep on renovating the old one. Otherwise, you wind up renting the place out for porn shoots just to break even on the roofing bills.

There was a pair of twisted pomegranate trees guarding the open gate and the ground beneath them was gory with broken crimson fruit that crunched and splattered under the wheels of my little black Mini. Pulling into the wide circular driveway, I kept expecting to spot Norma Desmond burying her pet chimpanzee in the overgrown rose garden. I felt better once I saw Sam’s red ‘84 Corvette with its vanity plates that read HAMRXXX. It was parked near a massive wooden door that looked like it ought to open into a medieval Spanish dungeon. I parked behind Sam and got my old shoot bag off the passenger seat. There were a few other cars I didn’t recognize in front of Sam’s, a generic mid-sized rental and a tricked out, over-the-top black Ferrari that had to be Jesse’s. Car like that just screamed dick-for-hire.

I’ve spent a lot of time since then going over and over those short minutes in the driveway, wondering why I didn’t sense something wrong, why I just waltzed right in like some barely legal bimbo from Indiana. I try to tell myself it was because I trusted Sam, because he was my friend for nearly twenty years, but if I’m honest I have to admit that was only part of it. The simple truth is, I had a girl boner. All the blood had run out of my brain and down between my legs. I’d had this semi-regular thing with a rockabilly bass player that had lasted nearly six months, but it had recently gotten stale and predictable and I’d decided it was time to move on. It had been nearly three weeks since I’d gotten any new action. Now I found myself in a ditzy hormonal fog, gone blonde at the thought of putting Jesse Black’s lean, hard, twenty-one-year-old body through its paces. So I walked, crotch-first, right into a trap.

The wheels of my little roller suitcase bumped along over the cracked pavement and the lonely echoing sound seemed way too loud in the deserted courtyard. The door wasn’t locked. I thought they might be shooting some dialog or pick-up footage so I didn’t knock. I just slipped quietly inside.

The first thing I noticed was that there was no furniture. It was a huge, hollow room with a cathedral ceiling, Spanish tile floors and a massive iron chandelier on a chain that looked like something Zorro would use to swing over the heads of the bad guys. There were several large windows, but they were covered with opaque plastic, letting in only a soft, muted fraction of the afternoon sun. It smelled like fresh paint.

"Angel?" Sam’s voice called from the top of an elegant, curving staircase. "That you?"

"Yeah," I replied, squinting up the stairs.

"We’re up here," Sam said.

I pushed down the telescoping handle on my case and hefted it to carry it up the stairs. Luckily, it was just the small shoot bag and nearly empty. Sam said I’d only need lingerie and heels so I had run by the house on my way over and thrown together a couple of sets and stockings to give him some options. It’s been years since I had my shoot bags packed and ready all the time, everything organized into neatly labeled Ziploc bags and categorized with titles like fetish, slut or GND, which stood for Girl Next Door.

"Sam?" I called when I got to the top of the steps.

"Come on in." Sam’s voice came from the far end of a long hallway.

There was a partially open door with a bright light inside and I walked toward it. There were no fat yellow cords duct-taped to the floor, no adjacent rooms full of giggling girls powdering their implant scars and gluing on false eyelashes. There was no one hanging around smoking or talking on a cell phone. Just that long empty hallway. I like to think I was starting to wonder a little at that point, but I didn’t leave. I just pushed the door the rest of the way open and went right in.

The room at the end of the hall was mostly empty, except for a large wrought-iron bed with a bare mattress covered in plastic. Sam stood against the far wall, beside an empty fireplace. There were two other men I didn’t recognize, but I didn’t get much of a look at them because Jesse was right by the door looking delicious, dark hair tousled and blue eyes smoldering, ready to go. He wore leather pants that hung so low on his lean hips that you would have seen his pubic hair if he hadn’t shaved it off. His sleek, lanky torso was bare and sheened with sweat that highlighted the symmetrical perfection of every muscle. He stepped up to me, gave me an appreciative once-over and smiled.

"Angel Dare," he said. "Wow. You look amazing. This is gonna be awesome."

He reached down and squeezed his most famous feature through his tight leather pants. Then he punched me in the face.

Copyright © 2008 by Christa Faust.

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