Amorous Goods: The Sapphic Earrings

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Prologue:

A lifelong collector of goods and objects from far and wide has passed and left the entire collection and the business built around them to the only remaining relative, a niece on a career path of her own. Vikki has taken on the task of administering the estate and liquidating the business and collection. However, she has come to find out that many of the goods have been cursed or enchanted with amorous powers that affect those who encounter them. These are the stories of some of those encounters with objects found at Amorous Goods.

DISCOVERY

Andrea discovered something she didn’t know existed.

A new store.

And it was ‘new’ only in the sense that she hadn’t seen it before. It was an old house just outside town and she spotted it as she drove home from work Thursday afternoon. Luckily her career trajectory in IT allowed her to work from home most days. Today was the exception during COVID, not the rule. She noticed the store, really an old house, for the first time today. She wasn’t even sure she saw that house on her drive home from work two weeks ago. Or two weeks before that. Or the other times she came down this stretch of highway. How odd.

The old house, gray and foreboding, would have made a perfect location for a horror movie. It was tucked back from the road, nestled in the tall evergreens that lined the highway.

Andrea pulled in to the small parking lot big enough for only six cars. She maneuvered to a middle spot as macadam crunched under the tires. There was only one other car, a silver Honda, parked in the lot. She looked up at the house, still mildly concerned as to how she didn’t notice it before and walked toward the front door. She ascended the sagging steps leading to a veranda wrapping around the house. She stopped a second before her hand touched the doorknob. A small shiver flittered through her. Maybe it was just a residence before the pandemic and only now was it available for shopping. Seriously, how had she not seen this place before? Hell, who knew these days?

She adjusted her mask and walked inside. Door chimes twinkled above. The smell of old books and comfortable furniture from a grandmother’s house met her as she stepped over the threshold. It was almost 6:00 pm and night came early to Michigan in late October. Street lights shone through the big picture window facing the street. The store was dim, lit by overhead chandeliers with electric candles in place of lightbulbs. The shelves cast long shadows into nooks and crannies and there seemed to be no order to the curious goods and antiques. Yet everything was clean on the shelves and Andrea was impressed at the dedication to dusting the surfaces.

“Hello,” a female voice called out from the back.

“Oh, hi,” Andrea replied to the voice.

“The two of us are back here! Call out if you need anything!” The voice sounded young, 20s maybe, whereas Andrea had expected a great-aunt to be working the store. The great-aunt would at least have stories about all the items in the place. She would have lived the history, not just recited it.

Andrea enjoyed looking through the items. She found an old microscope, from what seemed like the early 1900s. She looked at hardware, home goods, decorations, and ran into stacks of books. Many were rotting away or in less-than-perfect shape. Andrea imagined that was what people wanted when they came here: a sense of antiquity.

Here’s a book! She selected an old atlas that could fit into a coat pocket. She flipped through it and she could tell it was out of date despite having no education in maps and geo-political current events. She saw countries she hadn’t ever heard of. Luke would love it. The price was right too. It was had a $6 sticker on it. Sold.

She held the book, enjoying the musty scent of the aged, yellowed paper, and strolled purposefully to the jewelry. Now she had an excuse to get something for herself. She looked at the baubles and earrings and necklaces and bracelets with interest. She liked colors and sparkles and flashes of gold and silver.

Ah! Here we go!

She held up the sapphire earrings, glinting beautiful blue in the low light.

“Those would look good on you,” the young woman said. She was wearing a smock identifying her as an employee and she pushed her glasses up her nose and squinted, “I’m certain from the way you’re looking at them that they’re not a gift for someone else.”

“I like shiny things,” Andrea said without apology. The woman not much younger than her, in her mid-20s, laughed and nodded. Shiny silver earrings bounced on her earlobes.

“Oooh,” said another voice, male, “Sapphires! Muy sexy!”

The woman rolled her eyes at the guy. “That’s Dylan and I’m Vikki. We’re glad to have you at our place.” The guy looked at Andrea with interest.

“Your place? You own it?” Andrea asked, surprised. They seemed a bit young to be business owners.

“It was bequeathed to us,” Dylan said with mock formality. He peered at the earrings in bakırköy escort Andrea’s hand.

“Sapphires,” he said, now with a goofy professorial air, “come from the isle of Sapphos. And we all know what kind of women lived there …”

“No,” Vikki corrected him, her fingers massaging her temples. Andrea thought she looked like she was fighting an oncoming migraine and imagined working with Dylan would do that to a person. “Sappho was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. “And the name ‘sapphire’ comes from the French word “Saphir” which derives from a Latin word. It’s related to Saturn, not lesbians. And I’ll not have you harass the customers!”

Dylan took a necklace off the shelf and twirled it around a finger.

“I don’t know,” he said while hissing the S sounds like a snake, “Sapphire … sapphic … Sapphos … sssssssure ssssssssssounds ssssssssssssssexy to me.”

An eyeroll from Vikki.

“But, if you inssssissst,” he said, “I still like my etymology more. No lesbians? I’m out.”

He turned and walked away but not before gently placing the necklace back where it came from. Vikki turned with an apology in her eyes and shook her head. She informed Andrea that Dylan came with the place He inherited it and she couldn’t very well get rid of him. He was light entertainment for her and he was trying to learn the business, at least when he wasn’t being a chowderhead.

“These earrings do have an interesting history, though,” Vikki said, “The woman who brought them in many years ago had an arranged marriage. She must not have liked her husband because she misbehaved in every way possible to get him to divorce her. He must have been terrible to her because they finally did divorce and she swore off men forever,” she paused, “And maybe Dylan is right. Rumor was, back then, she had any number of lady friends she entertained in her house. Nothing was ever official but she had an awful lot of fun and was known for having loud parties with women in the area. It was quite the scandal at the time!” this last bit was almost whispered.

“Luckily,” Vikki continued, straightening up and taking the earrings and the book from Andrea, “We womenfolk are allowed to have a good time without them,” and poked her head toward Dylan lurking in the storeroom. “Shall I ring you up?”

Andrea nodded. They walked through the aisles of curiosities and came to an old-timey register that had a “NO SALE” sign on it. Andrea paid, declined a bag or gift-wrapping, and thanked Vikki.

“You’ll enjoy them,” Nikki said with a knowing smile. Andrea smiled, slightly confused, and found her way out of the odd little shop.

BAR NIGHT

Luke and Andrea sat the tall stools at their two-top. Bars and restaurants were open with limited capacity in the state and Kildare’s was their favorite place in town. It was a mix of professors from the university, aging hipsters who flocked to the quirky town, run-down parents escaping their children for a night of freedom, bikers, watchers of sports, and an eclectic mishmash of humanity. The bar didn’t define itself as being a hipster bar, a sports bar, a dive bar, or any other type of bar. The crowd was joyfully diverse

And somehow, by God, it worked. Everyone generally got along and the various cliques of life rubbed elbows amicably and with great show of tolerance, even acceptance, for each other.

Andrea loved the old building. Exposed beams ran overhead and original wood floors and walls from the late 1800s tied the bar together. Luke could see his games on the TVs scattered throughout and she could sip her beer and observe the various walks of life.

Things were quieter with COVID but the bar was still popular. Killean, the massive pile of Irish muscles and frowns serving as doorman, took the virus more seriously than he did Catholicism. One was to wear his or her mask while away from his or her table. There were no second chances. He had a short temper and a long memory and those unimpressed by science were motivated by fear of not being invited back. It was all very civilized as Killean cruised the stained creaking wooden floor of the bar hunting for anyone daring to go mask-free while up and about. He nodded politely at Andrea and Luke as he rumbled by their table.

An all-girl band called The Kicks was setting up in the corner. Andrea enjoyed live music and looked forward to hearing something different than the same pop hits over and over on the radio. The band was late-20s, looked lively, and a scattering of applause rippled through the bar while they quickly warmed up.

Andrea turned to Luke.

“I have something for you,” she said. Luke laughed. Andrea went shopping, huh?

“I’m sure you got something for me because you first got something for you,” he said. Andrea shrugged and owned it. She loved the earrings but hadn’t put them on yet. She wanted to surprise him first.

“Not incorrect,” she said, “But you’ll like this. Here.”

She handed başakşehir escort the book to him. Delight lit up his eyes as he looked at it. A hurrump of approval escaped his throat as he flipped through the atlas. Andrea thought she was rather clever picking it up. Luke wasn’t one for presents but he loved his geography what with being a cartographer for the USGS. He paged through the old book, studying the images and investigating the insets. Andrea took this opportunity to slip the earrings out of her pocket. She unclipped the hooks and ran them through her piercings. She snapped them on.

“So?” she asked him, “How do I look?”

He glanced up and assessed her.

“Those look like heirlooms,” he said thoughtfully, “They look intricate. Where’d you get them and should I ask how much?”

She laughed and waved a hand, “Twenty bucks for these and six for your book there,” she said, “What a deal!”

“Sounds like a good one,” he nodded, “And on that note, we should take advantage of the Harp special going on. I heard they ordered too many kegs and need to drain them. I’ll take two pints when the waitress comes over.” With that, his head dropped back into the book.

Andrea turned to locate the waitress. She found her and was taken aback.

What was this? Did the waitress change her outfit? Andrea saw her in passing as they picked a table but now she looked … different. Better. Andrea caught herself staring a bit as the waitress’s shirt pulled tightly around her body when she pivoted around a chair. Her breasts, unnoticeable before, looked soft, heavy, and perfect.

Andrea shook her head to clear it. Was something in the air? It was getting closer to Halloween and she suspected a full moon tonight. She never internally commented on another woman’s body; that wasn’t her style. She glanced back. Apparently, she had a change of heart. The waitress had on dark red lipstick and Andrea more than idly wondered what it would be like to kiss those soft warm lips. She could plunge her hands into that thick red hair, rip the twist-tie holding the ponytail, and drag the woman’s face to her own.

She felt warm in the face, her stomach, and between her thighs. She looked down and took a shaky breath. Luke hadn’t noticed anything. She looked back up. The waitress headed directly toward their table. Andrea was attracted to how lightly she moved and how agile she was. She had never seen the young woman all the other times they came here. She must be a new hire.

Be cool. Be cool.

Andrea ignored Luke’s request for a pair for himself and ordered only two beers. She caught herself batting her eyelashes and smiling a little extra, flirting with the waitress, who’s nametag introduced her as “FAYE.” Faye smiled back for an extra heartbeat and turned away. Andrea’s eyes slid down her back to her ass and watched her wiggle off.

“What’cha doin’?”

Shit. Luke caught her.

“Nothing, just impressed she can handle the work load,” Andrea said in a failed attempt to answer lightly.

Luke looked around the bar. It was not packed. He looked back at Andrea.

“Is that a blush?” he poked, “Do you have a little crush on our girl?”

“She’s not our girl and that’s not nice!” Andrea said with more venom then she meant. She was taken aback by her reaction. Luke was too and sobered immediately, the playful grin on his face wiped off by her words.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t know what came over me there.” Luke waved it away. He was, if anything, never one to linger on an insult or an argument. He moved on quickly and thanked her for the book. Just then, the band started up in earnest and the opening chords of Stealers Wheel pumped through the bar. Cheers and approval flooded the bar.

“Aren’t Joe and Gerry Scottish?” Luke asked, “I wouldn’t think Killean would abide. Maybe he’s just anti-English.”

“Shhh!” Andrea hissed at him.

“Since when have you seriously cared about a live music sideshow?” Luke asked, baffled by her reaction.

Andrea didn’t answer. She had never cared before. But now she watched the lead singer with interest. The light-haired woman could sing well and move even better. Her husky voice touched Andrea like a live wire.

“Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight … I got a feeling that something ain’t right … “

Wasn’t that the truth? The singer’s hips swayed, her feet moved effortlessly to the music, and Andrea found herself attracted to her. This was confusing since Andrea had never been aroused by a female body. And now two in one night? She couldn’t figure out what had changed.

And her hearing apparently had gone too. Luke was holding her wrist.

“Hey,” he said, perplexed, “I was just trying to talk to you! What’s wrong?”

Andrea shrugged, warmth kindling inside her. Her gaze flicked from the singer, who was rolling her hips with considerably skill, and turned to face Luke. Her eyes focused over his shoulder. Faye beşiktaş escort was headed toward them. Faye’s breasts were magnificent, drawing Andrea’s attention.

Is this what it’s like to be a man?

Faye came up to their table.

“Would you like another round? Maybe something more potent?” Faye asked, directing her attention at Andrea.

“Two shots of Jamison, please,” Andrea said. Luke maintained his composure. Andrea hadn’t done a shot of whiskey in front of him before. She often excused herself when a round appeared.

The whiskey arrived shortly after and she knocked back the amber liquid with nary a grimace. Luke followed suit, not even finding time to clink glasses. He looked at her with questions in his eyes.

Andrea felt insatiable. Thoughts swirled in her head and it occurred to her that men stared at women all the time because women were just so goddamn sexy. How could one not? Take the waitress and the singer, their curves and how they moved. They oozed sensuality. They radiated sex. Andrea found herself pleasantly warm despite the chill in the crisp October air pouring in from front doors that constantly banged open and close.

Luke could tell something was in the air as well.

“Okay, you know your eyes change color when you lie and you haven’t lied to me in years,” he told her, “So fill me in on what’s going on.”

She paused and thought it over. They had over three years of dating and things were going well. He was right in that they didn’t keep many secrets from each other. Neither of them were into secrets to begin with. Whatever was happening to her shouldn’t be a deal-breaker and it wasn’t like she was doing something wrong. He’d probably be happy to hear about it since he was a guy.

“Our waitress … ” She started. Luke nodded, prompting her. “I wanted to …,” she said, “She’s so hot,” she finished lamely.

Luke, if anything, was a patient and thorough listener. He always gave her time to explain without interruption. He let her finish before asking for clarification. He believed a person knew when they weren’t making sense to others and would seek to make themselves understood. It’s impolite to interrupt with asking a person what they meant while they were trying to figure it out themselves.

He should have been a therapist.

She tried the next several minutes to explain the change that came over her. She suddenly found women beautiful and sexy and gorgeous and had thoughts about them. Luke laughed while listening.

“It was like that for me too, you know,” he added, “One day it was baseball and trucks and mud and then BAM! Girls.”

“It’s not like that, though,” Andrea said, slapping at his arm.

“You just told me it was exactly like that,” he countered. She couldn’t argue.

He slid his chair closer to her and put his warm hand on her thigh. He rubbed her leg under the denim and her feet moved wider apart. He took that as a good sign and moved his palm up her leg.

“At least you’re still interested in men,” he said with a grin. She nodded and turned back to watch the singer dance. She wasn’t into PDA but she didn’t stop him when his touch moved between her legs.

“Keep doing that,” she breathed. His fingers knew her body and he circled over her sensitive spot. Just then a waitress rounded the table with empty mugs on a tray. Andrea clapped her legs together before the waitress could see what Luke was doing. The waitress glided by and Andrea drank in the sight of her.

“I wanted to touch that one,” she said, watching the waitress, a dark-haired beauty, head toward the batwings to the kitchen.

“I have an idea,” Luke said, “Let’s go.” He threw some money on the table, more than enough for a tip, tucked his atlas into his coat pocket, and led Andrea out the door

AFTER HOURS

Two blocks down 4th Street, Andrea and Luke descended the stairs off the street to a muted green door. They pulled it open and went in to what could only be described as an antechamber. Two small backless love seats sat on the marble floor. A heater hummed loudly, the only sound in small room. A doorman stood ready to check their IDs in front of the brass doors leading in.

He held an arm out, his face covered by a beaked plague mask, worn by physicians in the 17th century. It added to the surreal environment. He granted passage through the doorway into the club.

“You know, as hard as they’re trying, you’d think they would come up with a better name than Big Red One,” Luke observed.

The bar, Big Red One, was classy in a way that made drinkers wonder if it was trying to take itself seriously or if it was enjoying a joke at its own expense. Tasteful nude art, black and white and strictly female forms, graced the walls. The drinks were expensive and each took the bartenders no fewer than two minutes to concoct, beer from the taps included. Low chairs, oddly-shaped tables, and high-end decorations populated the floor. Neither Luke nor Andrea had been here before.

People, well-dressed and faking one night of high society, casually draped themselves over the knee-high couches.

The weather has cool but most of the women were in beautiful shimmering dresses. The men wore jackets or fancier and Andrea was mildly surprised they were allowed in even though she was wearing her ‘good jeans.’

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