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By:Leddy Harper

For Marlo …  who pushes me when I need it.

Looking at me, no one would guess what I have lived through. No one  would know the demons that dance around inside my head. But I know them.  I see them and they taunt me. I've been with them for a long time. They  remind me of things I haven't heard since I was young. They won't let  me forget. When my eyes are closed, I'm shown things I haven't seen  since I was eleven. The demons live in the darkest parts of my brain and  at times, when I'm weak and afraid, they criticize me until I'm  convinced that I'm just like her. I'm no different from her and will  have the same fate that she did. Sometimes, they mock and tease me so  badly that I will do almost anything to escape them, even if that means  seeking help.

I have sought help countless times and they've all told me the same  thing. I'm a survivor. That's what the shrinks wanted me to believe, but  I know it's crap. They'd tell me I'm strong and making progress because  I had figured out what they wanted to hear and recited the stories  obediently. Stories that I had concocted in my demented mind while my  demons sat idly by and watched.

I'd sit in front of the doctors and tell them stories of my friends and  things we've done. I'd tell them all about my boyfriend and the love we  shared. My stories would burst with exciting detail and I never forgot  the little things like describing what my friends and boyfriend looked  like. Describing their features was one of my absolute favorite parts.  That was when they'd become real to me. They'd become more than a  figment of my imagination because the shrinks didn't know that the  stories I told were all lies. The friends I had spoken so fondly of and  the boyfriend I loved so dearly were all made up. The things I did and  the emotions I felt couldn't have been further from the truth. They were  not my stories and they never would be my emotions. Regardless, I still  pretended that they were because the truth hurt too much and I didn't  want to be tortured any longer.

I could never tell anyone how I really live and what I really do  day-to-day. They'd give me the same looks I received when I was eleven.  Pity. Worry. Concern. Disgust. I didn't want their empathy or  compassion. It just made me feel shame and like I had let everyone down.  I learned long ago that it's safer to keep to myself and never let  anyone in. Never. If anyone really knew what went on inside of me,  inside of my head, they would never understand. Not that it mattered  anyway, no one ever noticed me. I was like a ghost, a figment of their  imagination. I didn't exist. I was nothing but a warm body with a dark  and empty soul. I was lost. Left and never to be found again.

But did I really want to live that way forever? At what point would the  demons inside me finally win? How did I feel about that? Sometimes, I  felt like giving up and just succumbing to the darkness that has been my  existence since day one. But then I would see glimpses of normalcy in  the stories that I read, and I'd find myself yearning for a normal  existence. Did I want to fight? To live and love like normal people? To  feel real intimacy? I was told I was a survivor more than once …  I'm sure  I could be one again. I just had to try.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I couldn't do it alone.

I needed help.

I had already read her file several times, but that didn't stop me from  taking another look at it as I waited for the clock to hit six. In the  twelve years I had worked as a sexual surrogate, I couldn't remember a  file quite like the one of Ivy Jaymes.

Aside from the personal information she had provided after contacting  me, I also had the file from her psychologist. It was mandatory to have  that in order to avoid triggers and to understand where the client was  coming from. That's the part I found most intriguing about Ivy's file.  The two sources were complete opposites. It was clear she had a  different depiction of herself than her therapist. It's not strange to  view yourself differently than someone who sees you once or twice a  month, but the vast differences in her two files were enough to pique my  interest.

The minute hand on the clock hit twelve, indicating it was exactly six  o'clock. I took in a breath as I walked to the door to greet my newest  client. I often dreaded the very first appointment. It was no more than a  meet and greet. A pointless interaction between someone who suffered  with sexual difficulties for whatever reason and myself. It served no  real purpose to me, but again, it was mandatory. Although sexual  surrogates were considered therapists, we had to follow a different set  of rules.

I opened the door, not knowing what to expect. Her file said she was  thirty years old and single. Aside from a brief background history of  foster care and an even briefer history of relationships, I had nothing  to go by. I typically tried not to set expectations prior to meeting  someone, but for some reason, the words in Ivy's files had me imagining  all sorts of things. I had found myself re-reading them, trying to  decipher what the words meant, none of which came close to the woman  that stood as I opened the door to my office.         



I greeted her and waved her inside with an open hand. No smile, no  words, nothing but aloofness. She slowly stood and walked in without a  sound. She was slightly taller than average with a long, thin body. I  couldn't help but notice her legs, which looked as if they went on for  miles in her tight pants. I wasn't an expert on women's fashion, but  they almost looked like tights the way they stuck to her thin legs. They  weren't overly thin, just lacked the shape or curves that I was used to  seeing on women. She was wearing a long and loose-fitting tank top over  them, hiding her ass from view. It was such a loose top it also hid the  rest of her body, and I found myself wanting to know what was beneath  it. I wanted to know if the rest of her body matched her legs. How  skinny was she? And was it everywhere, or only her mile-long legs?

She turned and looked at me. It was brief, but it was long enough to  notice her unusual eye color. An odd combination of slate and red. I had  never seen anything like it before. And the honey color of her hair  only made the red in her eyes more pronounced. It wasn't until she  cleared her throat that I realized I hadn't said anything to her. I had  just gawked and checked out every inch of her that was available to my  gaze. That had never happened before. My speech always started as soon  as I opened the door.

"I'm sorry; please, have a seat." I gestured to a chair and then sat  down in one across from her. "This is only an initial consultation in  order to get to know one another before you make the decision to move  forward or not. So let me start by introducing myself. My name is Caden  Morgan, but you may call me Cade. The atmosphere here is personal, Miss  Jaymes. Do you mind if I call you Ivy?"

She nodded as her eyes moved around the room, looking at everything but  me. That wasn't unusual. Most of my clients acted that way in the  beginning. They came to me for a reason, and confidence seemed to be a  big motivator to seek out professional help. I could work with that.

"I'm sure you must have a lot of questions. Would you like to ask me  anything or did you just want to hear my speech?" I wasn't expecting her  to have questions, most didn't, but I usually offered them the chance  to ask anyway. It was all part of the script I went through every time a  new person walked into my office. I had repeated the same things for  twelve years; I could recite it in my sleep.

Again, she didn't say anything, only continued to look around.

"Okay, let me begin by explaining what it is that I do. I am a licensed  sex therapist that practices sexual surrogacy. Do you know what that  is?"

"A licensed prostitute?" she offered with no humor in her voice. Still,  her eyes didn't meet mine nor did a smile form on her lips. I had met  many women with low self-esteem in the years I had been practicing, yet I  had never met one like her. It was clear there were more pieces to her  puzzle than not having confidence.

"Not quite," I said with a laugh. I had heard that answer before. "You  have come to me looking for help. You have some concern in regards to  sex and I am here to help you with that. I do not have a set plan of  action that I do with every client. It's something that we work on  together to reach the goal you have in mind. Would you mind telling me  what the ultimate goal is that you would like to achieve with this sort  of therapy?"

"I want to be able to have sex and enjoy it." Her tone was soft, yet held no emotion behind it.

"Okay, that's an easy one." I wanted to make her feel comfortable.  Though she wasn't acting uneasy, there was still something going on with  her. I always performed a clinical background check with each new  client, and hers came back clean. It only served to intrigue me more.  "Why is it you don't enjoy it? Do you know what it is, or is it sex in  general that you don't particularly like?"