The arcades seemed like a good place to start her search, as the casinos were heavily guarded, and one would be foolish to attempt anything, unless there was an inside connection. Besides, the arcades were even bigger scams than the rigged games—which were privately owned and independently run. It was easy to pick the pockets of someone who was distracted because their attention was focused on winning. The same was true for arcades, only it was the machines that paid off instead of the people. Hitting a machine required great skill, and that is how Sacha convinced herself she would find Jesse. Narrowing down the possibilities would take some time, as there were at least a dozen arcades along the boardwalk. Nonchalantly strolling into each one to look around, she would stop and play a few games so as not to arouse suspicion. Sacha grew tired after yet another round of the token-giving slot machine, and decided to sit down to eat a late lunch, keeping an eye on the Lucky Lady. It was the only arcade that she did not investigate yet, and Jesse had to be inside. While she tried not to lose her patience, it was difficult when she had spent so many hours trying to find him.
Just then, four young men dressed in blue jeans and short-sleeved white T-shirts headed in her direction from the beach. His black leather boots kicked up pale sand; silver wallet chains shimmered in the sun as did perfectly sculpted hair. Jesse was slightly ahead of the others, standing out with a button-down red shirt that was open to expose his heavily tattooed chest. They passed a joint between them, laughing as catcalls were directed towards the sunbathing women, their tan skin glistening with oil. Sacha was hit with panic, afraid that he might see her, and so hurried into the Lucky Lady, situating herself behind a skill crane and automaton gypsy that could deliver the future for a penny. She watched the four friends ascend the stairs, cross the boardwalk and breeze into the arcade. They were greeted by a change boy and shown to the new bingo pinball games. Jesse exchanged a twenty for rolls of nickels and occupied himself at one of the colorful machines, chucking in the coins. A smile danced on her lips as Sacha observed him, for she witnessed the casual off-stage side of Jesse, and so far there was not anything about his behavior that dissuaded her feelings. In fact, there more she gave him attention, the more she became totally captivated by him.
People slowly filtered into the arcade and soon their voices collided with the games that buzzed and generally created a racket. Jesse was focused on hitting a five bagger, as he had already scored three and four-in-a-row without the need to try for an extra ball. A few beads of sweat pooled on his forehead as the pulled back the plunger, shooting that final silver orb into the playing field. He was in the process of skillfully hoofing it towards the right hole when several boys walked by. One of them deliberately ran into Jesse, causing him to bump the machine hard enough for it to scream ‘TILT’ in bright red letters. At first it seemed as though Jesse was just going to let it slide. He took a long drag from the joint and slowly turned around, his eyes focused on the rude young lad who had cost him a potential 600 points. Jesse’s friends circled around him, their gazes fixed on the same boy as they held a hushed discussion. Sacha had no idea what they were saying, but she could see the anger in his violet-tinted eyes. She followed his icy glare to the brown-haired boy dressed in khaki pants, paired with a white polo shirt and matching leather loafers.
The air was humid and hazy as the sun hung low in the sky, seagulls pecking at crabs that had washed up during high tide. Jesse and Sacha sat out on the back porch, snorting lines of coke off each other while watching the waves gently rolled onto the shore. Their arms were draped over the wooden rods of beach chairs, fingers touching from time to time as they listened to some down home country on the radio.
“I want to talk with you,” Jesse said as he shifted in the chair to face her. “You never told me if you wanted in or not.”
“Absolutely!” Sacha exclaimed. “I want to be by your side every step of the way, and I have nothing to lose with you as my partner.”
“You will not regret this,” he replied with a smile.
“I would like to meet this Boss of yours,” she continued. “I feel that I deserve to know who is in charge of everything.”
“No one sees him,” Jesse growled slightly.
Sacha frowned. “Why not?”
“I explained it to you already,” he said, growing annoyed.
“You know who he is,” she accused, leaning forward, “and there is a reason you are keeping him a secret.”
“How the fuck do you know that?” Jesse demanded, the anger rising in his eyes. “Did someone give you that information?”
“There are certain things that I just know,” Sacha calmly replied. “Whatever your perception of me and my life is, you may find it to be quite wrong. You might be surprised at how similar we are.”
“You are full of it,” he scoffed. “You are just trying to fuck with me.”
“Tell me who he is,” she persisted, “or I shall find out for myself.”
“Alright! I lied when I said no one sees him. It was not my intention for you to become involved with everything right away.”
“Well it is a bit late for that now.” Sacha tipped over her chair as she stood up. “I want to be in your life, but you will not let me get close. How come?”
Jesse slowly rose to his feet. “Fuck it. You want to know so fucking bad? I will show you everything.” He reached out and gently stroked her face.
A smile danced on her lips, fingers dancing across his belt. “Would you like to go inside with me?”
He could feel the lust pumping in his throat. “Sounds good.”
They walked into the house with arms linked, locking the door behind them and drawing the curtains closed. Jesse settled onto the couch and removed his shirt, motioning for her to join him. Sacha could feel her cheeks flush with nervousness, but chose to ignore it and sat down. He stared at her for a moment, entertaining perverse thoughts and absently licking his lips.
“What acts do you know?” Jesse inquired to break the silence.
“Fire, swords, snake charming…you know, the standard stuff.”
“You ever done burlesque?”
This time Sacha blushed horribly. “I have never been able to—”
“Would you feel comfortable doing it with me?”
Her brow furrowed. “How do you mean?”
“It would be real simple,” Jesse explained, pulling her off the couch and holding her close. “We dance a little and strip—but not all the way of course. Make the routine real suggestive without really doing anything.” Fingers tangled in her brilliant white-blonde locks, the faint scent of rosewater on her smooth neck. “Honey, those rubes would absolutely die for you.”
“Sounds as though it could work,” she replied, running her hands up his tattooed back. “It would be awful hard to behave myself though.”
“You have no idea what I want to do to you,” he whispered, tugging those curls slightly while still processing that smell.
“Perhaps you could give me a little taste?”
Jesse’s hand trembled slightly as it stroked her face. “Are you sure you want that?”
“Why are you always second-guessing yourself?”
“Sometimes I cannot control myself,” he calmly replied, slipping his hand down to that smooth tattooed neck. “There are urges and desires which brew inside of me,” he continued, voice quavering, “and my emotions can become dangerous.”
“You aren’t going to hurt me, right?” Sacha asked, wondering if the warm embrace she was being held in would suddenly become deadly.
“Not that I want to,” Jesse quickly explained, taking a step back. “You will understand when you see it for yourself. Sort of like today outside the arcade.”
“That sort of thing happens often?”
“More than I would like it to,” he confessed, unable to look in her eyes.
Sacha was perfectly aware of what he wanted to say. She remembered being a scared little girl while watching her own father become a viciously violent madman. He was a loving man otherwise and so she grew to accept the behavior, especially since he protected her life with that rage. She was quite familiar with the Hyde Syndrome, and knew exactly how to handle herself around someone who suffered from it. The best thing to do was not interfere with her father’s outbursts, even if that meant putting herself in harm’s way. That was something she would do for Jesse without question.
“It is alright,” she assured him. “You might not think that I understand, but I do. Please, there is no need to hide this from me.”
Jesse lifted his head to meet her gaze. “Are you serious?”
“Of course!” Sacha exclaimed taking his hand.
“That means a lot to me, really it does.” He paused to stroke her chin. “You are an alright girl, you know that?”
“Do not make a big deal out of it,” she said, blushing.
“Fair enough.” Jesse flashed her a smile.
The raging lust formed a hard lump in his throat, and Jesse did everything he could to dismiss those explicit thoughts that begged to be carried out. Pulling a flask from the back pocket of his jeans, Jesse took a long drink, face contorting as the whiskey burned its way to his stomach. The coke had already taken effect, but he did not want to kill the alcoholic buzz he had been on since the late afternoon. His mind was highly stimulated and no longer ashamed of those perverted images that were gaining his attention, and it was only a matter of time before he had the courage to act upon them. Business always came first though, then pleasure. However, Jesse could not resist pinning Sacha against the wall and kissing her with intensity. His forcefulness sent waves of pleasure through her body, and she was slightly disappointed when he gently pulled away. She knew that there was work to be done, and the reward would be well worth the wait.