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Chapter Ten

The poster on the sterile gray wall to the left of Pamela featured a chiropractic chart of the vertebrae column and a list of its most common ailments, such as osteoporosis, scoliosis, and disc herniation. She took a long moment to eyeball the central illustration and marveled at the many ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bones of the spine which was, literally, the backbone of her ability to move, sleep and function properly.

When her pain worsened overnight and became almost unbearable in the morning — to where listening and talking were even difficult, let alone walking to the kitchen and brewing a pot of coffee — Pamela had no choice but to allow Colt to rush her to the nearest emergency room some twenty-five miles south in Caliente, Nevada.

Dr. Middleton spoke at length with the couple about Pamela’s medical history and recent injuries, performed a thorough physical exam, and ordered a battery of tests for her throbbing back, including a CBC, X-rays, a CT scan, a DEXA, and a biopsy. Ever the eternal optimist, Pamela trusted the good doctor would cure whatever her ailment — hopefully it’s just a pulled muscle — was.

Because he had to.

Her livelihood depended on it.

A few days of recuperation away from work would be fine, if that’s what he suggested, but anything beyond that would be unacceptable. The summer months were always busy for the house, with Vegas tourism near its peak, and there was plenty of money to be made.

She already had appointments scheduled with three of her regulars for later in the week, too. I can’t let Mikey, Paul, and Jovi down! She had to be healthy enough to see them. I may lose them as clients if I’m not.

Pamela looked away from the poster and again rested her chin in the crook of Colt’s neck. Seated beside her on the small, hard-as-brick bed, he offered all the love and support he could, one gentle arm across her back, the other holding her head in an endless embrace.

“In a brothel, what do you call an injured employee?”

“Hmm?” Colt drew his head back, the concern etched across his features. “What, babe?”

“A hoe down.” Pamela laughed at the silly joke as a tear tumbled down her cheek.

The door opened and Dr. Middleton entered with a smile, but something seemed off. His smile was tense, almost forewarning. Pamela swallowed over the sudden lump in her throat and Colt sat up, alert and straight.

“What’s the news?” She was full of anxious nerves as the older gentleman opened a manila folder, surely with her test results inside, and began sifting through its contents. “Good news, I hope?”

“I’m afraid not.” Dr. Middleton pulled a stool to bedside, took a seat, and motioned to the dark sheet in hand. “The analysis came back, and it shows you have an L3, non-displaced transverse process fracture of the spine.”

Pamela turned white as a ghost. “A what?

“Whoa, wait a minute! What does that mean?” His worst fear realized, Colt’s heart literally ruptured within his chest. A fractured spine? How could this be? “Is she going to be okay?”

The physician pointed to a spot on the lower portion of the X-ray, continuing, “L3 refers to the specific vertebrae in the spine. L means lumbar, three means the third from the top in the lumbar section. The transverse process is part of the vertebrae, it’s bone. Think about it like a wing — you see here — there’s two of them on each vertebrae that stick out. One to the right, one to the left. Here, Mrs. McCarron, you’ve suffered a fracture to one of those so-called wings and it’s non-displaced, meaning it hasn’t moved. See it? That is what’s causing most of your pain.”

The disbelief and fear in Pamela’s eyes were palpable.

“Now, I know a fractured spine sounds bad, but not all fractured spines are created equally, especially lower ones. You are very lucky, because this could’ve been a lot worse. You have a mild, stable fracture that probably happened during a moment where you were flexed and rotated, because at L3, you have a muscle called the psoas major muscle which takes on stress during those movements, especially when loaded, and can chip off some of the bone. An individual in your… line of work… Mrs. McCarron, has an elevated risk for these and other similar injuries.”

For one of the few times in her life, Pamela felt ashamed because of the career she’d chosen. The way he said… line of work. Ugh. However, she had more pressing concerns than being embarrassed or even ridiculed right now. “What is the long-term outlook? What are you telling me?” I’m not in traction, right? I can still move… somewhat. This will get better, won’t it? “When will I be able to go back to work?

“The good news is, the key, is that you have an isolated fracture, and it’s stable. It should heal over time, naturally, and neither a brace nor surgery are necessary. The question then becomes, are you at further ankarada yeni escortlar risk with a mild stable isolated transverse process fracture? The risk is quite low by itself for someone with a routine, nine-to-five job; it’s more about being able to tolerate pain, and pain control.

“But as for you, as a sex worker, you’re forced to endure a host of unnatural, unhealthy positions day-in and day-out. You said you’ve been doing this for twelve years, correct? That’s a long time, a lot of wear-and-tear. You already suffer from fibromyalgia and spinal osteoarthritis. You have chronic pain in your feet, your neck, and occasional tingling in your fingertips. You take five prescription medications daily.” Dr. Middleton stood up. “The fact you’re only thirty concerns me because I wonder what shape your back, even your whole body, will be in some twenty, thirty years from now if you continue to do… what it is you’re doing.” Colt held his breath as the man added, “The human body can only withstand so much, Mrs. McCarron, and in my professional opinion, yours has had enough.”

“It hasn’t had enough!” She refused to accept that notion. “You said it’s mild, it’s stable, I don’t need surgery. What are the treatment options? It’ll heal naturally, right?” Her voice was rushed and panicky. “How do we fix this so I can get back to work ASAP?”

“Bed rest for five days will alleviate the inflammation, and the pain itself, and I recommend an additional six to eight weeks after that of limited activity, with regular visits to an orthopedist, as well as a physiotherapist.”

“Taking two months off is not an option!” she snapped. “I can’t afford to do that! There has to be another way, something you can do to help me.”

“I don’t think you understand how serious this is.”

“You’re doing what the man says,” Colt said firmly. “Period, Pamela. End of story.”

She felt sick to her stomach. Her whole body trembled and shook, and her back burned with excruciating torment.

“Sweetheart, we’ll be fine. We can afford it easily. It won’t be an issue.” Colt spoke softer now and draped an arm across her shoulder. “The important thing is your health. It’s the only thing that matters.”

“As for your future in the sex industry, Mrs. McCarron, if you continue to subject your body to such intense, unnatural rigors — day after day, week after week, month after month — there’s an increased probability for more extensive damage to your spine, the type that may require complex surgery, one that could compromise your quality of life in future years.” Dr. Middleton placed a box of tissues at her side. “I’m talking a permanent, debilitating, life-altering injury where you could conceivably be bound to a wheelchair.” He paused momentarily, allowing those words to sink in and register. “I strongly suggest you step away from sex work and find another career.”

Pamela gritted her teeth and fought back the onslaught of tears. “So, I’m supposed to quit the job that I’ve been doing since 2006, just like that, you say?” Anguish bounced and ricocheted in her head. No. God, please no. “The only thing I know how to do? You don’t understand! It’s our family business!”

“The only thing you know how to do?” The hurt in Colt’s eyes nearly did Pamela in. “C’mon, now, honey. You know that’s not true. You have a college degree and are working on your graduate’s. You’re way smart enough; you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Pamela knew several former working ladies who’d been in this exact predicament and had to step away when their bodies betrayed them. Some struggled in the aftermath and now led terrible, arduous lives wrought with domestic abuse and drug and alcohol addiction. How am I going to pull my weight in our marriage if I can’t make any money? Will Colt divorce me, leave me? What good would I be to him? The transition from sex work to a “regular” life was certainly not easy. How would I gain any respect when people, especially potential employers, find out about my past? The thought of having to go through that transition horrified her to no end. I’m Pamela McCarron, dammit! She was at the height of her career, the top of the industry. One of the most sought-after courtesans in all of LPIN.

How could this be happening to her?

“Please tell me there’s an alternative.” Her mind was spinning. “Please, doctor! I have to work.”

He frowned. “I wish there was, but there’s not.”

Lindsay’s bare feet were settled atop the coffee table as she balanced a laptop on her thighs and her fingers typed away furiously. She was putting the finishing touches on her latest e-mail to Sammy. They had gotten into a back-and-forth earlier today and exchanged several explicit messages.

“Hey!” Sahara, literally appearing out of nowhere, almost like an apparition, took a seat beside Lindsay and offered a glittering smile.

“Hey, yourself.” Startled bayan escort elvankent at the unexpected company, Lindsay composed herself, saved the latest draft, and closed the laptop. She didn’t want Sahara (or anyone else) to know that she was making plans to get together with a client outside the house two weeks from now. Sammy was interested according to his responses and Lindsay was determined to make their meetup a reality.

“Whatcha doin’, Kayleigh? Baby boo?” Wearing a white tank-top and a knee-length green skirt, Sahara reached out and rubbed Lindsay’s knee in a flirtatious manner.

“Umm, trying to answer all my e-mails on the website and add to the public discussions. Get myself and my brand out there, as Jim says.” That was a lie. Aside from the e-mail system, Lindsay hadn’t touched the website at all today. Her sole focus was on Sammy and trying to hammer out the details for their secret rendezvous in Salt Lake City. It promised to be epic. “What do you want?”

“I wanna hang out with you.” Sahara’s brown hair was piled loosely on top of her head and highlighted the elegant curve of her neck. “Just got back from the bar in Ambridge. I was hanging out with Riley and Jenn. We had a great time! Jim was gonna take us, but he had to stay here instead and watch the house with Colt being… preoccupied.”

“Is that where you’ve been? At a bar? On a Sunday?”

“Sundays are slooooow around here. Customers seem to blow their wads on us on Saturdays. It’s ten times worse during the football season; this place is a fucking graveyard. I think the sport of football is barbaric.” Sahara lifted her shoulders in an I-don’t-care shrug. “Monday is a good bounce-back day, though. I don’t know why. You did party for five hours yesterday, right? That’s an awesome Saturday.” Sahara tried to pry open the laptop and get a peek at what Lindsay had been working on.

“What’s wrong with you?” Why, the fucking nerve! Upset, Lindsay clutched the laptop to her chest and held on tight. I can’t let anyone see my messages to Sammy. If Colt finds out, I’ll lose my job!

“I don’t know! I missed you today. You’re my favorite working girl! Other than Riley, of course.”

What’s wrong with you? You’re not acting right.

Sahara put her elbow on the sofa and propped her head up. She was laughing and Lindsay stared back at her, confused. “I thought I’d come downstairs and hang out with you.”

“You missed me?” Lindsay’s tone was incredulous before she glanced at an incoming text message on her phone from Evie. Hmm, Evie keeps asking what it is I’m up to here in Nevada. Should Lindsay be honest with her, like she’d always been, and admit to working as a whore in a brothel? What would Evie think? Can I trust she won’t tell my mom and dad about it? My sisters? Or anyone else? I’d die if Zack ever found out!

Before fees and her loan payback, Lindsay netted $2,800 over just three days of work last week. Fucking incredible! She was positive that Evie would love to make that type of money, too. Maybe I could get her a job here!

“Yes, I’ve missed you!” Sahara was chomping on some bubblegum and was in way too good of a mood.

“Okay….” Lindsay had learned this past week that Sahara’s moods were tenuous and subject to change in the blink of an eye.

“Why didn’t you go out with us? I’m sure you could use some time away from the house.”

Lindsay lowered her phone and her jaw followed as realization dawned. “You’re wasted.” Yes, it was true — Sahara was stone-cold drunk.

“I’m… what? No!”

“Look at you.” Sahara glared at her with narrow eyes as Lindsay added, “Yeah, go to your room. You need to lie down and rest.” I guess you have no idea what happened with Aaliyah earlier, huh? Oh, trust me, Sahara. You will.

“No, no,” Sahara said. “I wanna hang out with you! I love you, Kayleigh. You’re so hot.” Lindsay tried to back away on the sofa, but Sahara latched onto her wrist and reeled her closer. “Hey, you know what? You should come hang out with me and Riley next time we leave the house. We’ll even get your buddy Jim to go with us!”

“No, I think I’ll pass.” Lindsay knew both ladies had a wild reputation and feared they’d somehow get her drunk, too. She’d never taken a sip of alcohol in her life, and at eighteen, wasn’t allowed to by law yet. I don’t need to get arrested by Sheriff Spaeth or any other Nevada lawman. She valued her freedom too much to take such a risk.

“Riley and I could show you a good time. You need to loosen up, baby.” With a beaming smile, Sahara ran her index finger along Lindsay’s thigh. “Didn’t you tell us you wanted to get away from your mommy and daddy in California and live your own life?

Lindsay didn’t want to be rude, but Sahara was making her feel awkward now. “All right, okay. I’m gonna try to finish my work on the computer.” Since her arrival, Lindsay had gotten along with Sahara and Riley fine. escort bayan etimesgut It’s just right now, Sahara came across as too forceful in her inebriated state. “Go lie down, will you? Please?”

“No! You sound like my mom when I used to drink in high school and come home after parties. I wanna hang out with… what are you doing on the Internet?”

“Hang out? What do you mean, hang out?”

Sahara laughed. “I think you’re cute! I wanna hang out with you. Lez be friends, okay?”

Why isn’t Sahara taking the hint? Lindsay wasn’t interested at the moment. Does excess alcohol affect her this much? Why do people drink if all they do is wind up soused like this? Makes no sense. “Listen, you need to go to sleep.” Lindsay’s tone sounded distant — detached — as if she was underwater. I don’t need this. “Please, leave me alone, Sahara.”

“I don’t need to go to sleep! I don’t want to leave you alone, either!” There was an outburst of anger with Sahara’s response, but soon she lightened up. “Hey, come here. Come here! Wanna go to the bar in Ambridge and hang out with me and Riley? Let’s go right now.” Lindsay tugged at the nearby fleece throw and wrapped both arms around her stomach. “Jenn will be glad to take us right back there, but you may have to lick her pussy. We like to repay her for everything she does for us.”

“Wow.” Lindsay’s nose scrunched and her eyebrows crinkled at the thought of Jenn, normally the night bartender, offering her favors in exchange for oral sex. She’d come to know and respect Jenn a lot this week — as a friend — and didn’t think of her that way. “No. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m fine. Listen, leave me alone, okay? I want to get back to…”

Sahara leaned forward and rubbed Lindsay’s crotch through her shorts with an open palm.

“Hey! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” The look on Lindsay’s face changed to confusion and then outrage. Such behavior was commonplace in a brothel –widely accepted — amongst the bisexual working girls. No secrets, no inhibitions. Anywhere else it would be sexual harassment, so Lindsay had to remember where she was. Calm down; I signed up for this job. Still, that didn’t mean she had to like being treated this way.

Or accept it.

Sahara pulled her hand away. “I wanna hang out with you!” She turned shy, demure. “I think you’re… incredibly sexy.” Sahara’s voice became loud and energized again. “Riley thinks that way, too. Maybe you should come and hang out with us in Los Angeles when we’re on break in two weeks. You’re on break that week, too, right? We can go to some nightclubs in West Hollywood, and we’d make sure you’d get all the dick you could handle.” Lindsay’s mouth dropped open as Sahara added, “You’d be fucking drowning in it!”

It was time for Lindsay to put her foot down and end this. “Sahara, you’re a nice girl, and you’ve been good to me. I appreciate all the help and advice you’ve given me since I started. But I can smell every drink you’ve had today on your breath.” It’s not appealing in the slightest. “Please, go get some rest.”

“No! I… want to be by you.” She reached out and grasped both of Lindsay’s elbows.

“You’re pulling on my shirt.”

Sahara giggled. “Who gives a shit? It’s just a shirt.” She tilted her head back-and-forth several times and moved her lips close. “You smell all the alcohol, huh? Does it turn you on?”

“No. Can you go? Please?” Lindsay gave a tiny whimper and tried to squirm away. “Right now? I need to get some work done on the computer.”

Sahara laughed hysterically. “No! Why don’t you want to hang out with me? Don’t you like me?” She offered a sexy trout-pout. “I think you’re so hot.” Sahara made chomping motions with her mouth like a hungry shark. “I wanna eat you up!”

“No, I need to…”

“What type of porn do you watch?”

“What?” Lindsay couldn’t believe Sahara had asked her such a question. “What type of porn do I watch? None! I don’t watch porn at all! What the… kind of question…?”

Sahara flicked her chin, sending her mahogany-brown tresses flying over her shoulder with a snicker. “The walls here are thin, honey. Real thin. I heard porn walking by your room earlier. Sounded like some hardcore BDSM and I heard the girl in the video calling the guy Daddy.”

Lindsay’s cheeks flamed a crimson red.

“You into that kinky, freaky shit, baby? Daddy and daughter stuff turn you on?” The twenty-three-year-old lunged forward and kissed Lindsay on the lips. “How about I be your daddy and give you a good, hardcore fucking? Even bend you over my knee for a whipping?”

“Sahara!”

Her body recoiled and in a defensive position, Lindsay turned at the sound of that scream and noticed Jim at the top of the staircase.

“Sahara, get up here right now! I have some aspirin and water; you’re going to take a nap with Riley. She’s already passed out. You need several hours to detox alongside her.”

Sahara stomped a high heel on the floor. “Do I have to?”

Jim nodded. “Colt’s orders.”

“Ughhhhh! Fuck Colt! Fuck Colt and tell him I said that, too!” She turned back toward Lindsay and murmured in a seductive tone, “We’ll pick this discussion up at another time.”

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