It had been another in what was becoming a worryingly frequent trend of rough nights. The evening had started off slow, a few regulars dotting the tables and lingering at the bar. A bit of banter with the security guard before she went up on stage, downing a cocktail with one of her favourite patrons (an older man who seemed to come largely for the company these days, after his wife had left him- a bit of pervert at times, but completely harmless and even sweet in a way) before going back up for her second set. It had been during her third set and final performance that things had gone to hell. It had started with a few catcalls and crude phrases being slung her way; easy to brush off, it was hardly the first time that had happened after all. A look was thrown over her shoulder, a raised brow and a narrowed gaze- a warning. If they had continued, they would be escorted out, as was the way of the place.
Unfortunately that look, that act of defiance brought about a far more vicious onslaught. Where before the men had been oddly complimentary (if lude, and entirely inappropriate) it now turned to flat out insults. Derogatory comments regarding her colour, her weight, her personality- of which they knew nothing- everything they could think of, they threw her way. For a while she was able to ignore it, to block out the voices and turn them to white noise, certain that the bouncers would take care of the issue sooner or later. When it became clear that it wasn’t going to be so simple, for the lads were evading the bouncers in efforts not unlike a cliché cartoon escapade- she stopped. Signalling for the music to be cut, she’d descended from the stage and taken refuge within her dressing room, well aware of the cries of disappointment as she fled through the door.
Willing the tears back as the owner of the establishment came to talk to her; both to ensure she was alright, and to chide her for leaving the stage so abruptly without giving him time to arrange a quick switch over- she held her tongue and nodded, in no mood to argue. Her request to leave early was accepted, and she dressed herself; lifting her hair out of the way so he could assist with her zipper. When he lingered a little too long, and inhaled the scent of her perfume she pretended not to notice. When his hand drifted a little too low as he wished her a safe journey home- she did not respond. She kept the disgust within, hidden behind a pretty smile and a wave as she stepped out of the door and onto the street.
Pulling her coat tighter around her against the bitter chill of the evening, she set off down the street. She’d taken the front door this time, rather than the back-alley staff entrance; just in case the troublemakers were lurking. It had happened before after all, and she wasn’t about to risk it. Even if that occurrence had led to her making a new friend- the bruise on her jaw had only just faded, she wasn’t keen on earning another badge of honour quite so soon.
As she walked past the alley she quickened her step, but too late. An all-too familiar shout echoed down the space and she ran, heels clicking on the pavement as the two young men followed suit. As she ran, something stirred in the recesses of her mind; vague memories of bare feet running down cobbled stones, of fire, of screaming- and suddenly she was screaming again, as a hand grabbed the back of her coat and used her momentum to swing her around into the wall of the next alley. Her head bounce off the wall and silenced her cries- wide eyes staring up into the gleeful, twisted grin of her attacker. He stank of cheap vodka and she gagged on the strength of the scent, turning her face away only to feel his fingers gripping her chin, forcing her to look up at him.
“Fucking look at us that way will ya, ya uppity cunt?”
He shook her, other hand at her wrist and knee wedged between her legs, keeping her pinned against the wall. “What, think you’re too good for me and Jake here? You’re nothing more than a whore, you know. Up there, dancing the way ya do, wearin' fuck all. Obviously beggin' for a good fuck." Jake lingered at the edge of the alley, watching out for trouble while his companion let his free hand wander slowly down, squeezing at her breast through the opening in the coat. Rain had begun to fall and with it came clarity, and Esme’s eyes snapped up from the offending hand right into the bastards face.
“I am better than you. You are nothing more than scum, attacking women in the night because you can’t get a girl to spend a night with you the honest way!”
Her accent came out thick and French with her anger, and she swung her right hand round- with every intention of punching him right in the jaw. Her sudden rage had him off guard and she succeeded- though was soon hit right back with a solid slap to the face. Reeling from the pain in both her cheek and her hand, she gasped for breath, looking up just in time to see a third man enter the alleyway. Jake confronted him, and her unnamed assailant turned to utter a low warning; “Fuck off old man, she’s ours. We got a score to settle.” As he spoke, he grabbed both her wrists and pinned them above her head, obviously eager to avoid another bruise.