Chapter 1 Snippet

Chapter 1 Snippet


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Copyright © 2021 TM McGee All rights reserved


The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.


No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.




Cover design by: TM McGee


Printed in the United States of America

Author’s Note
Be forewarned that this story is intended for mature audiences—it contains dark, demonic imagery, racial slurs, gore, infant death, murder, strong language and sexual content.
This work is a book of fiction. Any similarities to that and real situations and people are purely coincidence.
For Better Understanding
The structure, grammar and syntax of this novel are written using conversational form and creative liberties. You will see purposely misspelled words, slang, and verbiage unique to the characters and author’s own interpretations. Demons – Fae – and other supernatural beings mentioned in this novel have been changed—altered and creatively reimagined to fit the narrative of the story


Chapter One

Please have your boarding passes ready. Flight number 957 arriving at terminal 2-A.

The luggage area was overly crowded and noisy. People scurried to and fro like ants. Tiana slouched forward, rubbing her temples, trying to ease the building pressure in the back of her skull. The elderly man, a few seats down from her, smelled like mothballs, and… she couldn't think of the smell… what is that? rotten cabbage? His odor conflicted with the overly sweet scent of morning pastries from the airport bakery a few stalls down. Everything about the airport was nauseating. Her nerves were getting the best of her, and a migraine was about to rear its ugly head.

She grabbed her cell phone from the pocket of her denim jacket and pulled up her itinerary. Current time: 10:53am. Check-in, 12:00 pm. Schedule free until 5:45pm, medical conference dinner. Tiana did a once-over on a few work emails, then cast a tired look in Tao's direction.

Tao was slumped over like a wilting flower. A red White Sox cap sat low on his head. He stood with his hands folded in front of him.

 That's weird

Tao was normally the stoic type, a stickler for proper posture and poise. But today, well… Tiana's assistant was taking a page out of her book.

 Looks like I'm not the only one, she thought… The tension radiating off Tao was palpable, even from where Tiana sat near the luggage claim.

"When we left O'Hare all our bags were accounted for please look again sir!" Tao growled as he leaned into the concierge desk, staring aggressively at the prune faced concierge.

"Yes, yes ve Find yes Ve finds," replied the concierge that kept tapping away on the keyboard barely paying Tao any mind.

His distinct Japanese features hardened as his eyes narrowed at the airport concierge. Tao's jaw kept clenching; he was normally the peaceful one between them, the lover and Tiana… well, she was the fighter. To see him minutes away from losing his temper was unusual. Tiana chuckled. It was rare for anyone to get Tao this worked up.

Tiana's mind drifted back a few years, when a 6'3 muscle-bound Asian had come strolling into her office, persistent about interviewing with her. Tiana was taken aback by his appearance. He looked every bit like those yakuza types from her fantasy novels. He was totally her type, since Tiana had a thing for handsome, mysterious men.

His dark hair was cut short on the side with a bit more length left at the top, almost like a Mohawk but not quite. He had seductive, slanted eyes and tattooed, muscular arms. Tiana assumed he was there to interview for the security job posted on Linked IN. Despite her assumptions, Tao blew her away during the interview. Turning the Japanese bad boy into her paper pushing assistant. After a few weeks of working with him, Tiana discovered Tao was the complete opposite of everything she had preconceived.

 He was a stickler for calmness, punctuality, and respect. It was like working with a monk, martial arts instructor, and life guru all in one. Probably why he and her bestie Yolanda, the vegan nut, hit it off so well.

Tiana's amusement was short-lived. The longer she continued to watch their interaction. The more anxious she became. Whatever the concierge was saying to him couldn't be good. She reached into her purse, fumbling around a few minutes before finding her Excedrin.

  She was quickly regretting this last-minute trip to Berlin. The moment they had landed, they were met with snarky glances and hushed whispers. Sure, her chocolate complexion and his slightly brown skin were rare in this part of the world. But this shit was getting old pretty quick; being here was like stepping back in time. She could have sworn she saw a few men still rocking the Charlie Chaplin mustache.

 She sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time since arriving. Her hackles rose as she watched a security guard approach the concierge Tao was talking to.

Tiana shook her head as her fingers danced over her phone keypad as she dialed up her best friend. She had promised to let her know they had arrived safely. The phone barely had enough time to ring before Yolanda’s soft, husky voice came through.

"Hun, have you made it safely?" Yolanda asked. "It's nighttime here. So I'm guessing I should tell you good morning… so what's it like over there, anyway?"

Tiana smirked. "That's like five questions in one breath. You may have set a record." 

"I'm hyped up on caffeine, Sorry!"

Tiana sat forward on the uncomfortable airport bench and clutched her purse strap. "Well, it's different here. They look like they still throw their hands up and shout, "Hail Hitler'." The security personnel's suspicious stare turned toward Tiana as she rose from her seat.

Tiana strolled around the luggage area, looking for the least crowded place. Beside the concierge desk were two doors labeled Mannlich and Frau.

"What was the app that translates words from German to English again?" Tiana muttered into the phone.

 "Tiana," Yolanda hissed, "I told you to download the Google translator app before you left. If you weren't so busy running out of here, you would have been better prepared."

"Yeah, yeah… I'm sorry. You know I had to hurry and get out of town. The College Alumni Board kept hounding me about giving that graduation speech."

Tiana's fingers twirled through her long, kinky coils. This wasn't the smartest of decisions she'd ever made. But she couldn't see herself speaking to thousands of people. Jumping on a plane at O'Hare and flying halfway across the world to Berlin just seemed like a better option in her introverted mind.

 "Yeah, I bet," Yolanda fussed back. Tiana shut her eyes and imagined her best friend, her cinnamon- skinned, high cheek-boned face, all puffed out and pouting. She was probably standing in her kitchen with her Betty Boop robe (she looked exactly like her) and leaning against the countertop while boiling some vegan sea moss concoction. 

In a fake, motherly tone, Yolanda replied, "No, you are not sorry, missy. You did what you wanted to do. I couldn't have stopped you. You know how you get whenever any social interactions are required. But I'm still mad at you, heffa. You knew I needed you to help me paint the salon this week. But no, Dr. Tiana just had to run off to some fancy-shmancy maternal health conference in Berlin."

"I mean, really. Who would have thought my CHD job would come before our friendship?" Tiana chuckled. "I'll make it up to you. I'll be done with this conference in a few days, and I'd be back before you know it."

Yolanda clicked her tongue. "The salon will be painted by then. So you'll owe me a spa date."

"A spa date…. you sure? What if I promise to eat one of your weird vegan casseroles again instead?"

Yolanda giggled. "Come on, Titi. The last eggplant casserole I made was sort of good."

Tiana snickered as she idly kicked her sneaker against the adjacent wall. "You know, doggone well, it was nasty!"

"What I do know is that you aren't slick, trying to change the subject!"

"Oh, whatever do you mean, my dear friend," Tiana replied.

            "You know exactly what I mean. You picked Berlin over giving the keynote address at your old university. Plus, you left me to paint all by myself!" 

"Uh-uh. Lay it on thick, why don't you." Tiana leaned against the wall, clutching her purse strap, her phone resting against her left ear. She looked back over to the desk, where Tao still seemed to be struggling with the concierge over their baggage.

 "Yoyo," she said. "You know I hate any type of social situation. This conference is smaller. I couldn't even imagine standing there before thousands of people, telling them their futures are all set out before them like everything they'll face after graduating will be smooth sailing and easy. When the truth is, they'll be lucky to land a damn job in their field, and those hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on that pretty Ph.D. won't mean shit if they can't find a damn job!"

"Well damn, tell us how you really feel… Alright, alright. I gotchu. I'm going to look for someone else to help me paint. It's just a—"

The sound of surprised gasps and a crowd gathering caught Tiana's attention. "Yoyo, I have to go now. They've messed around and pissed off Tao."

"Tao pissed? They better leave my My-Ty Alone. I'll fly out there and kick su—"

Tiana hung up before Yolanda could finish. She pushed her way through the small crowd gathering around the concierge desk. With a bit of force, she was able to squeeze her way over to Tao's side. The stocky pale guard was talking to the concierge in German, pointing at the luggage on the floor. Tiana hesitantly walked over to the luggage track and whispered to Tao, "What's the problem here?"

Tao's jaw clenched once again, as if he had to take a moment to compose himself before speaking. Tiana wrapped her hands in his as she looked up at Tao's face. She noticed the lack of shine in Tao's dark eyes, and his hands felt clammy.

"Tao, are you alright?"

"Why, yes? I am."

Because of Tao's raised emotions, his Japanese accent was showing a bit more. He gave Tiana a reassuring nod. 

The hell you are, she thought to herself. Tao withdrew his hand from hers and pointed to the luggage beside them. "I don't get what the delay is. He's been checking the same screens for over fifteen minutes. But don't worry Tiana, I'll sort it out." 

The guard standing behind the desk stepped forward. His murky grey eyes rolled over Tiana's face, lingering a bit too long on her chest. The guard cleared his throat. His perverted gawking was cut off by Tiana, folding her arms across her chest.

He gestured at the three bags—one brown Gucci hard-side bag with spinner wheels that held her files and documents, a red laptop bag sitting on top — and one blue rolling suitcase, with its white tag still attached to its side handle. 

She quickly counted the luggage, noting that they were missing one piece: one large green travel bag. The bag that held all her clothes, makeup, and toiletries. "You have to be fucking kidding me!" She yelled. "You lost my damn bag?"

"Ja, Ze bag will be returned upon finding, yes?" The guard's smug face smirked, finding pleasure in their unfortunate circumstances. Tao removed his hat and ran his large hand over his face. Tiana rubbed her temples, praying this wasn't karma biting her in the ass for not staying in Chicago for that goddamn speech.

"Ja, it will be found," said the guard. "Of course, yuh vil be staying at a BHH, no? Ve can keep you updated if somesing is found?"

Tao worriedly looked over at Tiana. He knew Tiana was a spitfire. In the last three years working for her, he had to play fireman on plenty of occasions.

"So my bag is not in there? It's out there somewhere, lost or stolen or something?" Tiana looked at the guard, impatiently waiting for someone to tell her something. "You keep looking at me? What seems to be the problem, sir?" "Vi need to zearch bag, ma'am."

 "What bag?" Tiana looked at Tao, who also looked just as confused as she was. The guard repeated himself, still not making a lick of sense. The guard's heavy accent reminded her of a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator, the way his heavy tongue fell on each vowel like a hammer.

 "Ze bag on yur showdur ma'am."

"What does my purse have to do with my missing bag? Are you fucking kidding me right now? We are Americans; we already passed through customs. Are we a risk right now because we're mad about the luggage you lost?" Her tone was short and clipped. "You need to start searching all over Germany for my missing bag, not asking me about the bag on my shoulder."

"Tiz iz pour-seizure." The guard's smug face was pissing her off the more she looked at it. Tiana shook her arms, attempting to shake off her rising temper. No wonder the ordinarily cool-headed Tao was at his limit. In less than ten minutes of talking, Tiana felt like she would end up in some German prison for assaulting an airport security guard.

Their little skirmish had gotten the attention of quite a few people. When Tiana looked their way, the small crowd began to disperse. Another guard stood near the Frau and Mannlich door, which on closer inspection were probably the bathrooms. Duh, Tiana said to herself.

 She took a deep breath and put on her professional smile. "Look." She pointed over to the older white woman a few feet down behind the glass barricades. "That lady over there issued a stamp on me and my assistant's passports. Our papers were already verified, which I'm sure you already know." She waived the stamped passport in his face, making sure he saw the very bright fluorescent stamp.

 "Ja, zo it zeems yes." His narrowed eyes scrutinized Tao before motioning to his colleague standing a few feet away.

"Diese braunen verdammten Affen müssen sich beeilen und gehen. Die Taschen werden gefunden, wenn sie gefunden werden. Bring sie einfach aus meinen Augen."

Tao's eyebrows rose as he stared at his Samsung note, silently nudging Tiana to get her attention. Her eyes widened as she looked at his screen. The Google translator app had just installed, unbeknownst to the guard:

 Google Translate: "these brown fucking monkeys need to hurry and go. The bags will be found when they are found. Just get them out of my sight."

Tiana was about to say something when Tao grabbed her shoulder, shaking his head.

He held the phone up to his mouth as he spoke rapid Japanese, then extended the phone out to the guard for him to read.

Google Translation: "Alright, no problem. If this fake fat ass wannabe Arnold Schwarzenegger here wants to check your luggage, he can. He's not aware that we understand his racist remarks or that you are a doctor that probably makes 500 times more than he ever will in a lifetime. So let's just play nice before we have to call our contact at the local embassy and report this back to his superiors."

By the look on the guard's face, Tiana assumed Tao had written something that put the guard in his place. She smirked at Tao. That's my boy.

Tiana placed her hands on her hip, demanding answers. The concierge looked at the guard, and they both nodded. "Zill ve one moment ja, zill gets the supervizor?" Finally, someone was calling the higher-ups.

A few minutes later, two female representatives entered the luggage claim area. The shorter blonde wore a fashionable black hat, red lipstick, and a uniquely styled shirt dress; the other taller woman was dressed plainly, donning regular everyday office attire. As they approached, their heels clunked on the shiny, cream vinyl floor. The woman wearing red lipstick spoke first: "Tee-anha McGur-e?"

Tiana nodded in reply, but Tao quickly corrected her. "It's Doctor McGuire, ma'am." 

"Ah I see vell, aud ur hur gurd?" The woman narrowed her eyes and looked him over.

The door on the adjacent side of the room opened, causing Tiana to turn her head. A tall, attractive man wearing an impeccably cut blue business suit stepped out, followed closely by two guards.

Tiana couldn't help but steal a few glances at him as he stood to the side of the desk, reading over some documents. Something about him was mesmerizing. The woman with the bright red lipstick must have been looking, because her reply was cut short. Tiana raised her hand and cleared her throat. "Yes, that's me, Dr. McGuire."

"Ve aur from de ale port sick-urity organization," she said. Her lipstick smudged her two front teeth as she forced a smile. The attractive man in the corner gestured for her to step over. She hurried to his side, leaning in close to hear him. Tiana couldn't make out what he said because he spoke to her in German. She glanced over at Tiana, and then her eyes roamed over Tao, slowly narrowing with every other word spoken by the man in the suit. With a shrug, she straightened herself and walked back over to Tiana and Tao. The man shot Tiana a sly wink, causing her to blush.

The representative stopped halfway to whisper something into the ear of her female companion. After a firm nod, the second woman finally spoke.

            "They vunt to check the purse you carried on during the flight. But don't vurry, it will take only a little time."

"I'm only missing one bag—a big green one with all my clothes, and you know everything I would need. My purse is the least of your concerns," Tiana responded in her best, nice-nasty tone. The second woman's English was easier to understand. But no one explained why they wanted to look through her things. It was her bag missing, not theirs. Tiana rubbed the back of her neck; the migraine was throbbing full force now.

"Tiana, please!" Tao pleaded. "We're both tired; let's just let them do this so we can hurry and replace the things they lost. They are wrong. There's no question about it. But we can't keep going in circles. I need to get you checked into the hotel as soon as possible and ready for your presentation at the conference."

Tiana pushed down her anger. If it wasn't for Tao looking under the weather, she wouldn't have given in. But Tiana knew this wasn't a battle worth fighting, at least not with their energy tanks on E.

 Tiana nodded stiffly while handing her bag over to Tao. It was a petty move, but she refused to hand the purse over to them herself. As they poured the contents of her purse on the counter, her cell began vibrating in the pocket of her denim jacket. Tiana reached in her pocket, garnering the attention of the two blondes. She shot them a smug look before answering her phone.

"Yoyo, Sorry about hanging up on you—"

"What's going on out there? Is Tao okay?"

Tiana walked away from the desk, shooting a look at Tao to make sure he kept an eye on them as they went through her purse. "Well, it looks like I'll be presenting at the medical conference in some jeans and a denim jacket."

"Don't tell me they lost your luggage? O-M-G, girl, okay, let's look at the bright side. You can just have an international shopping spree, courtesy of your employer!"

Tiana smirked at the way her friend could find the silver lining to any messed-up situation. "Have I ever told you that you would make an excellent counselor?"

Yolanda laughed. "Umm, you tell me every time we talk, call it a trick of the trade hairdressers just give off those therapeutic vibes."

 Yolanda was right. The bag was gone, so there was no use sitting around waiting for it to reappear. "It's inconvenient, but you're right. I'll just buy a few things before the presentation. I'm here to do a job. The quicker I present, the faster I can come home."

"That's my girl, you got this. Shake that negative energy off you. You were chosen to do this presentation because you're the best in your field. Doctor McGuire, you've helped thousands of pregnant women and children get their lives on track, your booty is big, and your edges are flourishing; remember who the Hell you are!!—"

Tiana smiled. 

"Don't let those British fuckers mess with you, alright?"

  "It's Berlin, Yoyo. Not Britain."

            "Oh." Then after a beat, she added, "Well, same shit, different name. Have you seen any Nazis?" 

"They don't have Nazis anymore — well, at least I don't think they do."

"Um huh, you ain't seen those TV shows about them, have you? How they are everywhere now, even in the good old United States of A."

As Tiana talked on her Phone, Tao watched the guard slowly probing the contents of Tiana's purse. He was struggling to stay in control. Despite all his meditation and training, he had reached his bottom line.

            "You've done your search and found nothing," Tao said. "So we are free to be on our way, correct?"

Tiana could hear the anger in Tao's voice. There had only been one other time she'd heard Tao raise his voice. That night had concluded with her bonding him out of a cook county jail for breaking the nose of a guy that wouldn't take no for an answer when Tiana refused to dance with him.

"Yoyo," she said, "I'm going to have to go again."

`"What?" Yolanda says. "Be careful out there and don't get locked up in a Berlin jail cell. My money is long, but it can't reach you there."

"Later." Tiana hangs up and walks back to Tao's side.

 Tao gives her a slight nod.

 "How is your head feeling?" He reached down, cupping the back of her neck, applying just the right amount of pressure. Tiana leaned into his embrace. A hug was exactly what she needed. Because of her five-foot stature, he practically dwarfed her.

But right now, she just needed some comfort. Tiana wrapped her arms around Tao and looked up. He was looking better, less pale and more his usual self. "The healing power of hugs, huh?" Tao smiled down at her. Like Yolanda always said –

"The power of positivity," they said in unison, releasing each other from the embrace.

 "We shouldn't be delayed any further. They've finished their search and should allow us to be on our way soon." Tiana peeked over at the two women. Both seem to be glowering at them with disapproval. Is physical touch frowned on in this culture?

"Ten men-nuts, at the most," said the plainly dressed woman, as Tiana returned their gawking stares. Tiana's eyes once again drifted to where the man in the suit stood. The two guards were now speaking to him as well. By the looks of it, they were being reprimanded by their superior. A few moments later, they both returned to the concierge desk with new attitudes.

The guard that was standing by the bathroom asked something in broken English, "Ve ur zory fur the mis-undo-stands kave vu zelt safe since kuming her? Caz hun-eone zrethens vu?"

 "Uh-uh. Of course not. My bag is missing. I'm scared I might go missing, too, if I stay here any longer." Tiana gestured at Tao. "Along with my hunky assistant here."

The guards smiled awkwardly. "Superb. Ur vree to go now."

Only the word 'superb' is pronounced as Siuperb. Tiana tried to smile, but the attempt fell flat. She walked away slowly and stopped just at the edge of the cubicle, where she waited for Tao to grab their luggage.

Just as Tao grabbed the last bag, the blonde with the red lips stepped into Tiana's path. "Ve got off to a poor start, no? My name is Charlotte Wagner." She introduced the other female as Corinna Schmidt. Their heels clacked against the floor with every step as they escorted Tiana and Tao out of the luggage area. Tao looked down at his watch—12:45pm. He huffed as he quickly made a mental note to adjust Tiana's schedule.

Tao waved his large hand in the air, flagging down a taxi. A car quickly pulled up, and the driver hopped out to help load the luggage. As Tao helped the driver place the suitcases in the back seat, Tiana opened the car door. Corina was the one to step in her way this time. "Ve have made provisions to make up for the zelay aund loss of the package, Dense You've ur not be used to German efficiency—"

Tiana took a step back. "What the—"

            Tao quickly made his way to her side in time enough to grab her elbow, lightly restraining her.

Charlotte caught the irritation in Tiana's voice. Charlotte quickly interjected, "Oh, Fraulein. No, she duz not mean it that vway. You must forgives our use of English. Zoon, you'll be meeting with the odors ove zur Amerikan, kind yes? I as-cure you; you vill be spared any further disasters, ja."

Subconsciously, after a few deep breaths, her shoulders softened. Tao gave her a quick nod. He hustled back to the trunk to make sure the driver loaded everything in.

 Charlotte opened a bag, produced a large brown envelope, and extended it towards Tiana.

"A gift from our organization, zumething to comp-in sate for the delay ja." The woman flashed a smile.

"What's in there?"

"Vou'll see." Charlotte flashed that toothy grin again, creeping Tiana out for what she could only pray was the last time. Tiana timidly took the envelope and felt around it before passing it to Tao, who opened it and extracted a cash voucher. He turned and showed it to Tiana.

"Oh, and just when I thought Berlin lacked class," Tiana crassly responded.

Charlotte cleared her throat. "Aund de car ride is on us too."

The car ride was uneventful, and Tiana was grateful for the brief reprieve. By the time the taxi parked in front of the Berlin Honors Hotel, most of Tiana's tension had melted away. Tao had been silent for the entire ride. Which wasn't surprising since they were both jet-lagged and in need of a good rest? Before Tao could even help Tiana out of the car, a young bellhop appeared beside him to help take their luggage into the hotel.

Tao held out his hand, gently guiding Tiana to the curb before directing the bellhop where to place the luggage. Tiana took the time to stretch her back and take in her surroundings. Tao's phone rang. He shot a quick nod, excusing himself off to the side.

Tiana paid him no mind as her eyes darted about in admiration. Well, this is nice! The hotel was richly decorated; warm tones and brass adornments were placed strategically throughout the lobby. Two enormous chandeliers illuminated the foyer, crystals sparkling as Tiana walked beneath them. Everything was posh, from the gorgeous gold and black ceramic floors to the canvases lining the walls.

Tiana slowly made her way to the front desk. A small line was forming; quite a few tourists were also standing around, admiring the paintings. So far, the hotel was everything the tripadvisor website said it would be. Things were looking up.

 Tiana inhaled deeply. There was a citrus fragrance lingering in the air, but it wasn't unpleasant. Tiana yawned as she finally reached the front of the line.

The sound of movement behind her caused Tiana to look back. A woman walked in dressed in a long sapphire gown. A man in a tuxedo escorted her.

“There must be a ball here tonight.” Tiana uttered to herself. They walked past Tiana, turning their noses up as they glanced over at her attire. Without sparing her a second glance, they stepped into the elevator, out of sight.

She glanced down, suddenly more conscious of her clothing—she wore a stylish but comfortable denim jacket. Her curly blackish-brown hair had a life of its own, with some form-fitting jeans.

Oh well, not much I can do since they lost my bag. Tiana placed her purse on the front desk, waiting for the concierge to check them in. The hotel lobby hummed with a cacophony of tongues—bad to moderate English, bad to average German, French, and a couple of other languages too obscure for Tiana to place. A regular-looking man, who Tiana assumes is the concierge, stared at her but made no effort to approach. Maybe he's doing something for another guess?

"Have you checked in yet?" Tao inquired. "Sorry I took so long coming in. I had a personal call."            Tiana slapped his shoulder playfully. "Had to check in with your bae, huh?"

"Come on, stop that." Tao chuckled while hoisting the satchel bag higher onto his shoulder. Another person stepped in behind the desk, so Tiana waved her hand to get the female's attention. The girl's face froze when she saw Tiana. 

"Entschuldigung, haben Sie sich verlaufen?" the girl asked.

 Tiana shrugged and asked, "English? Do you speak English?"

"Excuse me, are you lost?"

Tiana looked at Tao, her lips parting slowly. Tao scratched his jaw; his eyes looked bloodshot, like he needed some quality sleep.

 "Did she just ask if I'm lost… is this déjà vu the airport all over again?" Tiana asked Tao, who nodded, his shoulders slumping with defeat. "Yes, it feels like the twilight zone—" Tiana thought it best to remain silent. But the girl asked the same question again, thinking Tiana did not get it the first time. And this time, the girl asked more slowly and with plenty of condescension in her voice.

"Sind Sie im falschen Hotel?" she said. "Are you in the wrong hotel?"

Tiana looked at Tao, praying for him to intercede on her behalf.

            He said, "No, we have a reservation here."

The girl looked at Tiana, then back to Tao. "One moment, please." The girl quickly left the desk area. A tall, well-dressed male took her place. "Good day to you, Mister and ma'am. How may I help you this evening? Perhaps you have a different hotel in mind?"

Tiana gasps. "Well, goddamn…"

The man didn't bat an eye. Like sending them away was an everyday occurrence. His icy blue gaze was sharp and penetrating. His stare appeared to favor Tao with a more favorable light than Tiana. Tao stepped to the desk, resting his elbows on the counter, lowering himself to be eye level with the pompous front desk staff. 

"Check the computer for a reservation right now," said Tao, "it will be under the name Tiana McGuire. Dr. Tiana McGuire."

The concierge's face fell slightly, his lips parting as if he wanted to argue his rebuttal. However, Tao could be quite an intimidating force. With a huff, he glanced back down at his computer screen, glancing up every so often. His brown eyes throw some not-so-subtle shade off Tiana's way.

"Eva!" He called the girl from earlier back to his side. "Please check the name. It must be a… er… mix-up somewhere." He coughed and tried to lower his voice. "Dr. McGuire is a speaker at this week's conference in the main ballroom. Please find their reservations."

Tiana smirked at Tao, who nodded his head back at her. "It's a shame I have to drop my credentials to get better respect around here."

Tiana stepped back from the desk, allowing Tao to handle the stuck-up front desk staff.

Meanwhile, Tiana took a few moments to people watch. From the sounds of the various conversations in the lobby, there must have been a large mixture of American, German, and French guests in the hotel. Tiana's ears perked up as she listened to a French couple discussing one of the paintings in the lobby. French was a bit more pleasing to her ears; it sounded romantic. Her lips moved and wrinkled in an amusing little smirk at the act of a man holding his—wife, or maybe girlfriend? — Around the waist, his lips falling and rising in enunciation; it was like watching music play instead of hearing it.

"Excuse me, ma'am?"

She turned and met the concierge's eyes. He sighed and said, "I am so sorry very much. I misjudged you for a different guest of ours from the States. You share a strong resemblance. To make up for the inconveniences you've experienced, I have upgraded your suite to a better and bigger one. Now, if you follow me, I can take you to your suite."

Tao signaled a hotel assistant who was standing with their luggage. Together, the procession followed the concierge.

"I have just received word about the incident at the airport. I'm sorry about it," the concierge continued.

"Will they find the bag?" Tao asked, his deep voice echoing through the richly decorated hallway.

The concierge clicked his tongue in disgust. "Berlin has many great things. Our airport is not one of them."

Oh, we are painfully aware of that little fact. But out loud, Tiana said, "I can imagine."

The concierge stopped at the elevators, pressed a button, and the doors slid open. Everyone stepped in. The elevator numbers flickered 1-5, finally stopping at the fifth floor.

 Tiana gasped. The hallway itself was a view, very picturesque; one side of the wall was lined with more paintings, some grotesque, abstract, while others looked like original works of art. She made a mental note to take a closer look at them when she has settled in. Art history was one of her favorite electives during university, but she could never find the time since taking the CHD job.

The concierge stood before a door at the end of the hallway. Beyond that was a hallway leading to another stairway. "And here we are," he proclaimed, as he deposited her luggage in the middle of the suite before swiftly making his way out the door.

Just as Tao grabbed the door and attempted to shut it, the concierge stepped back in. "One last thing," he said. He removed a card from his breast pocket, opened it, and placed it seductively in Tao's hands.

"Please, as a compliment from us, for your troubles." Then he whispered, "My number is on the back." The man bowed and left.

Tao cringed.

"What is it?"

"You've just been offered a pool pass, and wait—" Tao's slanted eyes opened wide, his mouth hung open. 

Tiana snatched the card from his hand and gawked at it; her face began to replicate the expression on her assistant's own. "Oh, wow!" She looked at Tao and shook her head. "The pool is probably crowded, with you know people…" Tiana shivered. She had already surpassed her limit for social interactions.

 Tao's expression quickly switched from an excited grin to a frown. He said, "Oh no, you don't, you need to unwind; it's been a long day, Tiana. It's just free shopping for a bathing suit. It's nothing really."

"Shut up, Tao. You expect me to trek down there and get a bathing suit. You've already seen how unwelcoming they are." Without another word, Tiana turned and scurried away from Tao before he could refute her. She quickly called up Yolanda to give her the latest tea.

Yolanda answered with a yawn. "You know it's midnight here, right?"

"Yep, and I know you're wide awake watching people eat food or some other weird ASMR thing."

 Yolanda couldn't help but laugh. "Gahhhh, you know me so well. I can't eat meat, but watching other people do it is so fascinating."

Tiana related everything from the beginning again, her lousy fortune at the luggage check-in the airport, the hotel welcome downstairs, and how Germany seemed to have some serious racial discrimination.

Tao rolled his eyes, flopping on the couch with a thud. His eyes began to shut as he watched Tiana paced back and forth while on the phone.

Yolanda yawned into the phone. "So make sure you get a bikini, something that flatters that banging cornbread fed body of yours."

Tiana growled, "Uh-uh, Yoyo. I'm not going out to the pool. I'd rather walk around and look at all their exclusive art pieces; it's the main reason I had Tao book this hotel. Plus, they aren't too welcoming of our kind here. I'll just sit in my suite and eat sweets until the dinner reception tonight. That way, I can fake a stomach ache and worm my way out of it—"

She looked around the place. There was a complimentary pile of chocolates in three baskets in the middle of the carpet; red drapes covered the wall from the ceiling to the floor, but a gap was left open, leading out to a small balcony. A quaint chunk of Berlin was visible from where she stood.

"Girl, you can't do that to yourself," said Yolanda. "Go downstairs and do some shopping. Get a bikini and dip in the water. You're a big girl. Stop letting your social anxiety dictate your every move."


"Right, so tell me, what are you gonna do, Tiana?"

"I just told you, Yoyo."

"Nah, I meant about the vouchers and things, the pool pass," Yolanda clarified. "What are you going to do about them? Throw them away?"

Tiana glanced at Tao, his head lolling as he started to doze off. She told Yolanda she'd probably have Tao go down to the pool to represent her or something. Tao gave her a seditious glare, as if it would take Buddha himself to move him from the couch.

She chuckled. And whispered to Tao, "I'm joking; get some rest."

"Girl, I'm going to curse you out if you do that," said Yolanda's singsong voice.

"Okay, okay. You want me to do me; I'll do me."

Tiana dropped the call and sprawled out on the nearest couch. Closing her eyes as the stress of travel slowly weighed her down.

Tao sighed, then grabbed his laptop from his shoulder bag; he'd been carrying it since they left Chicago. Once again, Tiana was amused by his efficiency. The rim of his cap cast a shadow over his eyes and nose. But he looked a lot better than he did at the airport. 

He tapped and tapped, then said to her, "You should take Yolanda's advice. Your calendar is free the whole of the weekend; the dinner isn't mandatory, so we can scratch it off." He smirked as Tiana did a short, little happy dance on her side of the couch. "You don't have any mandatory engagements." He paused. "Until Monday, when you're expected at a small meeting before the main event itself." He finished and looked at her.

Tiana nodded, happy to have at least one ally on her side. There was no way she was mentally ready to wine and dine with the international medical conference members tonight. She'd had quite enough of the pretentious, snotty types.

Tao added, "As your assistant and a best male friend, I endorse the swimming pool."

"Have you seen the pool?"

"Nope," confessed Tao. "Neither have you. You want me to check it out for you?"

"Nope. I don't trust your judgment. You are as much a part of the conspiracy as Yoyo."

Tao grinned. He was tired too. Plus, his girlfriend texted him, and he had yet to respond. He quickly dismissed himself, telling Tiana that he'd like to check his own suite out, while she took her swim.

As the door closed behind him, Tiana stumbled over to the balcony. Sucking in the crisp late summer air, she peered down at the street. Taxis from the airport dropped more people off. The bellhop teetered up and down the steps, carrying luggage.

Tiana looked across Berlin's skyline: the red roofs of Gendarmenmarkt, the horses on Brandenburg Gate and a section of the graffiti-ridden Berlin Wall. She smiled at the sight of one of the cities that shaped Europe for a quarter of a century. She exhaled, imagining the rich history of this place. How much tragedy and mourning this city had endured because of outlandish ideologies of sociopathic men and their brutality. With a history so deep-set in prejudice and anti-Semitism, today's events shouldn't surprise her. Despite the current times, there were still people like the Nazis living among us. Just look at how things had been going back in America. In her own country, hate was brewing something even worse; racism wasn't just in Berlin; but in every corner of the world, every state in the United States, and every neighborhood.

Tiana shook her head, ridding herself of the dark thoughts, and drifted back into her suite. She pulled off her denim jacket, revealing a white t-shirt pulled tight over her ample bosom that was decorated with the cartoon head of sponge Bob Square Pants in all his yellowy glory. Then she removed her form-fitting pair of blue jeans and white sneakers. She glances at herself in the gold inlay mirror in the suite's entry while giving herself a pep talk. They want me to shop for a bikini, and shop for a bikini, I will.

The hotel's mall covered most of the ground floor in the back. The pool was the size of half a football field and teaming with people. From here, the water looked crystal clear, with wispy white clouds reflecting off it. Beach chairs were set on one side, with people laying out enjoying themselves.

Well, isn't this great? It's a whole sausage fest out there. She regretted leaving her room. Most of the pool goers were men: there were old guys, middle-aged sugar daddies, young muscular jocks, and flabby hairy-chested men.

 Tiana was introverted, but she enjoyed the beach like anyone else. It was only the people and unnecessary interactions she didn't like. She'd been everywhere, from Bali, Spain, Dubai, Hawaii twice with the girls and once in Sao Paulo on an office retreat. But this was her first time in Berlin.

About ten feet from the sunbathing area, Tiana saw the sign: Pool Shop. With a deep breath, she forced herself to walk in, her sweaty hands squeezing the voucher in her pocket.

The young woman behind the counter smiled at her as she entered. Tiana nervously presented the voucher to the woman at the small desk by the entrance. The woman smiled again before asking Tiana. "French? Or English?"

"English." Tiana replied with a smile.

 "Okay, great," the woman looked at the voucher, "you are entitled to a five-hundred-euro worth of purchase. You can split this spending over the rest of your stay. Or you can do everything now." She smiled again and hands Tiana back her voucher. Her face was flushed, as if she were more nervous than Tiana. The woman's warm smile and chipper attitude was probably the first genuine interaction Tiana had experienced since arriving, helping to put her more at ease.

"So, what would you like to purchase?"

"I'd like a… er…" She hesitated. Tiana quickly glanced around the large place before pointing to the female clothing section. "A bikini."

"You like to swim, yes?"

"Yes, I'd like to swim."

The woman gave Tiana's figure a quick assessment; her eyes roamed over her large chest, then fell to her hips. Even on the trip down, the security guards and bellhop ogled her.

After the woman was done looking at Tiana's figure, she nodded her head then took off towards the back of the shop. Her flared skirt flicked every time the woman's stubby legs turned a corner. She looks like she may be thirty at the least, but her dirty blonde hair and warm smile made her look younger.

Tiana stood before the racks of bikinis, at a complete loss. There were hundreds of them, in every type and style. She hesitantly walked into the rows. A sea of colors and materials. It felt like a maze. The woman extended her hand, inviting Tiana to step forward for a better look. "With your shape, anything will look good. Ring me if you need me."

She glanced back as the woman walked away. Tiana smiled. Well, she was lovely. She made a mental note to herself to inquire her name later; hopefully, she could leave her an excellent review. But For now, she had to find a bikini.

Ten minutes later, Tiana had it narrowed down to two. But the one she truly wanted ended up being a bit too small. Her eyes narrowed on the blue velvet Fendi bikini. It was pricey, but cute. Tiana placed the bikini against her body and stood before a long mirror on the wall. “Okay, I'll admit this would look wicked on my body,” she murmured to herself. She stretched the material checking to see if it would fit her wide hips. As much as she loved her body, it was hard finding clothes to fit her coke- bottle figure, especially in international sizes. Tiana looked around to make sure no one was looking before turning to check out her own ass. She could hear Yoyo's voice in her mind:

You'd make a straight girl change her mind!

She giggled while checking the bikini one more time to make sure there was nothing better. Tiana looked around and notices a few other women prowling the racks of clothes… As she made her way to the changing room to swap out her jeans and t-shirt, a bright orange Nike sports bag and a light blue kimono swim robe caught her attention.

 The pool seemed even more crowded than before as she made her way out of the shop. People were having a merry time, laughing, talking, and clinking glasses, half-filled with drinks. Tiana looked up. The temperature was hotter now. The late afternoon sun burned low, hidden behind low, floating clouds.

Tiana rummaged around in her purse, pulling out a pair of dark shades while exiting the shop. She looked up and down the narrow passageway, toward the private baths. The stucco floor was gritty under her bare feet. “ should have purchased some flip-flops. Hopefully, I won't fall and embarrass myself.” She strolled on, reminiscing about last year in Ibiza. The beautiful private beaches and warm, clean sand. Her favorite thing about the trip was that people kept to themselves.

She stopped at a vending machine and selected a drink that had a picture of a strawberry on it. After a quick sip, she soon regretted it. It tasted more like strawberry seltzer water than actual pop, but it would have to do for now. The kimono was pulled snug around her waist. Despite her best efforts, it did little to hide her ample bosom. She walked forward, a can of soda in one hand and the bags in the other.

The sound of water splashing caused her to look over to the pool area. Everyone seemed to be trying to escape the heat. Folks were sitting, standing, and talking beside the pool. She looked around, trying to find the least congested area, spotting a few vacant lounge chairs on the deep side of the pool.

 She quickly made her way to the vacant seats; no one seemed to notice her scurrying along. Only a few heads turned when she reached the chairs. Picking one in the middle of a collection of five, she dropped her bags and made herself comfortable.

Tiana jumped, roused out of her shallow rest when she heard the laughter of a young girl. She looked to her side, where a teenage girl with milk-colored skin jumped off the side of the pool. A lanky-armed, prepubescent boy cheered her on. She smiled.

The innocence of youth.

A moment later, two women and a man strolled over to where Tiana lounged on the chair. They waved a quick greeting. As the women sat down, they began removing their bikini tops and slathering each other with suntan lotion, with a bit more intimacy shared between just friends.

 Okay, gone with your bad selves.

 Tiana couldn't help but steal a few glances before leaving the women to their privacy and heading towards the pool.

Oh yeah.

She blushed, slightly embarrassed at having to circle back to remove her shades. Tiana also removed the kimono and grabbed a towel from the rack stationed behind her. Her white towel was fluffy and warm, crested with the hotel's insignia—a purple lion, its tail curling underneath the initials BHH, for Berlin Honors Hotel. She quickly made her way to the edge of the pool, her thick thighs jiggling with timid steps.

Shiiiiiit ouch ouch. The hot concrete under her bare feet was just a few degrees away from unbearable. Just as she dipped her toes into the water, the catcalls began.

 "Oh gosh," "look at how big her bum is," growled someone from behind.

And just like magic, the heads started to turn. She looked down the side of the pool and was bombarded by squinting eyes, open mouths and lustful gazes—most of them from men, though there were a few admiring smiles from women.

 Dammit, I should have stayed in my room. She was acutely aware of eyes on her butt and thick thighs.

What the fuck? The actual fuck? Tiana's eyes widened at the sight of the bulging erection stretching the shorts of a nearby man. She shook her head.

Nooooo Nope, this isn't gonna work. She was no prude, but there was a difference between attention you want and unsolicited staring. Just as quickly as she came, Tiana hightailed it back to her chair. She quickly picked up her towel and wrapped her body. She took the kimono and tucked it away in the bag before walking to the bar. A few men huffed out disapproving groans and grunts.

Tiana ignored them and pulled up a stool. The bartender was a young, broad-shouldered stud with sandy brown hair. He placed a fruity cocktail before Tiana and put a plastic straw in. She gave a weak, grateful smile. From her peripheral, she could see a man standing to her side, idling by, hoping to get her attention. She purposely avoided his gaze, concentrating on her drink, sucking it slowly. Tiana wasn't ashamed of her body by any means, but introverts just weren't big on attention.

“Yoyo, you were wrong. I shouldn't have listened to you.”

When people stared, expectations were heightened, forcing Tiana to become super self-aware. Just like in Ibiza last summer with Yoyo and Laura, Tiana had confined herself in her hotel room following a failed attempt to enjoy the water when some couple kept soliciting her to be their third because her husband liked her chocolate skin. Tiana remembered that night like it was still fresh in her mind.

"I mean, come on, Titi, it could be seen as a compliment, and you aren't upset by that, right?" Yoyo had asked Tiana as she stomped through the sand, away from the beach.

"And why not?"

"You have a body—" Yolanda stumbled after her, "You have a body that many girls have to go under the knife to get. At top dollar, if I may add. Wait, Titi!"

"No, I'm going back to my room."

Yolanda got a hold of her hands and tried to pull her back. Tiana reluctantly let her. They stood in silence for a bit, letting the anger simmer down. 

Yolanda took a deep breath. "Titi, you can't just run away from everything that makes you uncomfortable."

"What do you mean?"

"You can't live shut off from the world forever. You spend all your time trying to heal this world of shit, but you won't take even the slightest piece of it for yourself. You won't meet someone—"

"Well, apparently, meeting people isn't an issue. Hell, a couple just asked me to be their ebony fucking fantasy."

"It's the way of the world, Titi. You're fine as Hell; it's fun. Come on, you go on like you ain't got the body. Girl, you are attractive as fuck, and it's not like you this is your first rodeo…"

Yolanda smirked." You got a little freak in you. I know you better than most."

Tiana had sighed.

Her shoulders slumped. "I just can't do it, Yoyo." Yolanda had looked back at the spread of clear Blue Ocean, the dots of people scattered throughout the beach, bikinis and bare-chested men in colorful shorts. One of those men had asked Yolanda to have dinner with him that night, and Yolanda had already said yes. He was a sexy black marine, too. Yolanda bit her lower lip, not wanting to abandon her best friend over a free meal and a sexy one-night stand. Maybe they'd have sex by the end of the night, perhaps not. But she was prepared to take the holiday and make it something memorable.

Yolanda looked at her friend and wondered what Tiana wanted to make of it.

"Alright, let's go," Yolanda said finally.

"What? You need to go back. Your dates' going to be looking for you soon—"

Yolanda dipped her hand in the corner of her tight bikini, showing Tiana a piece of paper with a number scrawled on it. "I can call him." She winked.

"I don't want to make you do this. I'll manage on my own."

Yolanda slung her hand around Tiana's neck. "Shut up, Titi. You've made me do worse shit, you bitch. Let's go on up and get high and drink wine—"

"And watch old movies and eat cake—"

"And mope about how your life is such a bore—"

"While doing nothing about it—"

"Except maybe, make trouble with the hotel attendants—"

"Or we can go wake up Tao and make him play some cards with us."

They both smirked. "Sounds like a plan—"

Tiana was so deep into her memory that she didn't realize she was flicking her straw with her tongue. Her tongue worked the straw in her open mouth. Flicking it round and round, she hadn't noticed two men sitting across the bar, enthralled by her performance. Tiana was lost in thoughts of her luggage and fretting over parts of her speech during the conference on Monday.

The burly middle-aged man sitting across from Tiana carefully laid his bottle of Sternberg on the bar top, his lips slightly parting, his tongue licking dry lips. His lustful gaze roamed over her as he leaned forward. His companion swallowed some of his beer, sat back, and spread his legs open, granting Tiana a view right up his shorts.

She choked on her drink as she hurried to avert her eyes.

Are those his balls hanging—?

After an exchange of awkward stares, Tiana pushed her drink away. The younger guy left his place at the table. His friend gives him an encouraging nod. He slowly made his way to her side, pulling up a stool to sit beside her. Tiana said nothing, not wanting to give him the impression she was interested.

Tiana now understood what she'd done. In her head is a picture of her twirling tongue—it must have looked like an open invitation. She rolled her eyes, angry at herself for not being aware of her surroundings. A bitchy sneer ruffled her lips. She averted her eyes as he waited for her to look at him. He gripped the bottle of Stenberg in his hands. He looked German or some European mix; maybe Nordic, sandy brown hair, soft blue eyes. He was not very attractive. His face was too long.

"Having a great time schwarze schonheit?" he asks with a toothy grin.

Tiana shrugged and replied that she was trying her best. The man nodded and smiled at her.

"I'm just here to check the scenery and enjoy some time alone," she said.

"Berlin is a beautiful place, isn't it?"

Tiana glanced around. "Yes, one could say it is. Beautiful."

"You are, indeed," he said.

Tiana looked at him and tried to fight back a gag.

 "I mean. You are gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous. That's how they say it in English, yes?"

Tiana nodded uncomfortably, looking for a way out of the conversation.

"And you don't say much either. It is good. Where I'm from, a smart woman says less."

"And how much does a smart man say?" Tiana said, trying to mimic the man's peculiar inflection.

"A man says his mind, I guess."

"Does a woman say hers?"

"Of course. She's free to." He leaned towards Tiana, adding, "But mostly not with her voice, if you know what I'm talking about." He winked, and for a moment, after a tiny microsecond, Tiana felt flirtatious. But she feigned ignorance, refusing to meet his probing eyes, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Umm, I could show you, better than tell you."

Tiana's eyes widened at his bluntness. She shook her head. Pushing her drink further away, she then grabbed her belongings from the adjacent stool, leaving him at the bar by himself.

He will rather show me. Tiana shakes her head, slowly chuckling to herself.

She took another route on a whim, meandering through wide hallways, passing hotel staff and other tourists. Her ears perked up as she picked up on the conversation between two men on her way to the elevator. "Excuse me."

The French guy said, "Ja?"

"I don't know much French or German, but it sounded like you both were talking about a steam room or sauna?"

 The blonde middle-aged man replied first, "Yeah, it's a cool place. You should see it."

"If you have a voucher, you don't pay," said the younger male in clear English.

Tiana fingered the side of her kimono. Her voucher is not there. She panicked for a second, before remembering that it was in the bag with her clothes. She nodded at the two men and stepped back from the door of the lift.

"Thank you."

 "Ja. No problem. Go to the steam room, you will love it," the older guy advised again.

Tiana nodded, stepping further away from the elevator doors, and opened her bag. She picks out her voucher and turns it over in the yellow light of the hotel lobby. It said nothing on it about a steam room. The French guy said her voucher would get her in. She pushed the voucher back in the bag and glanced around the expansive lobby. It was not as crowded as earlier.

 The concierge from earlier was out of sight. Tiana stared at the new female working at the front desk. Making her way to the line, she positioned herself behind an old, rich-looking woman.

"How may I help you, please?" the girl asked when it was Tiana's turn. 

"Is there a steam room here?"

"The sauna?"

 The girl's eyes narrowed as she pointed to the left of the lobby, towards an archway. "That way, please."

Tiana thanked her and started that way. She stopped at the archway entrance and dropped her bag on the floor. She placed her ear pods in, her fingers quickly swiping to her YouTube playlist. Chris Brown's Indigo filled her head as she walked down the long hallway. She looked back when a glimmer of something moving dashed past the corner of her vision.

She removed one earbud, cautiously looking around for a few moments. After a few seconds of silence, she placed the earbud back in and continued walking, tapping the side of her thigh to the rhythm of the music.

At the end of the hallway, there were giant, golden double doors. She looked back the way she came, still unable to shake the uneasy feeling from before. But there was nothing there.

The hallway was well lit, no one lurking about. Tiana shrugged it off as she pushed the doors open and stepped inside.

Entering the sauna feels like stepping into a different world. The room is enormous, bigger than any steam room she's ever visited. It was humid with a faint sulfuric smell. The scones cast an eerie blue light throughout the room. There were no guards or security, no one was working the check-in desk. She shrugged it off and kept walking down the short streak of concrete steps. The room appeared to be empty. She surveyed the sauna and instantly liked the solitude it provided.

The polished wooden seats, spanning three sides of the room, beckon her. Tiana's knees wobble; the day's fatigue is finally wearing her thin. A puff of steam rose from the middle of the room. The temperature was at least eighty-five. She set her bag on the floor. She took off her kimono and wadded it into a ball. She chose a space in the sauna's furthest corner. She placed her rolled kimono beside her and flopped down, wincing when the hot wood seared her soft brown skin. Once her skin adjusted, she sat back, closing her eyes as Chris Brown's song, Sex you back to sleep, played softly in her ear. The steam rose all around her as her mind drifted off.

She imagined what would take place come Monday morning. She was scheduled to meet the maternal health council of Berlin’s CHD chapter.

Tiana took a deep breath praying her research topic would be well received amongst her international peers. She succors herself with the thought that her community health plan could address the health disparities plaguing the women of Berlin. 

As always, her mind haunts her with the faces of the women and children she had failed to save years prior—broken faces, bloodshot eyes, quivering lips, and mournful cries. She squeezes her eyes shut, praying to shut it all out in the gloom of her mind's eye, willing away the negative thoughts.

“You can't save them all, Tiana, you can't save them all.”

Her eyes crack open the tiniest bit at the sound of sucking and slurping. The room is filled with steam, white mist rising from the center to the roof. The wood walls are shiny with perspiration. Something moves again. Her eyes squint as she tracks the movement in the shadows. The sound intensifies.

Tiana removes her earbud. The sound of hushed voices comes through clearly now. She frowns, mourning the loss of her solitude. As she peers through the steam at the blurry image to her left. Tiana's mouth drops open as her eyes adjust to the suffused light. The tendrils of steam disburse, revealing the naked forms of three people…

Aren't they the people from the pool?

 The blonde that waved earlier is sitting on the man's face, grinding her pussy on his mouth while the other's head bobs up and down on his penis. Tiana gasps, dumbfounded, looking around to make sure it wasn't a hallucination.

What the Hell… let me get out of here?

Tiana quickly and quietly gathers her things. As she reaches down to grab her bag, she and the man lock eyes.

His eyes are a fierce green, stark against the sea of white. It is like gazing into the eyes of some green abyss. The girl with her mouth on his cock moans; her eyes are shut tight as his fist grips her blonde hair between his fingers. Her naked plump breasts dangle as she works the man's shaft with both hands.

The slurping noise fills Tiana's head, and she takes out the other bud in her ear. The second female rises off his face, only to taste herself on his lips. Her short blonde hair tousles wildly as she bites and nibbles the man's lips. Her fingers grip the man's spiky black hair with her thin fingers. Her eyes shut suddenly as dark veins start to blotch over her skin, her complexion turning from creamy white to a sickly grey parlor, but her kisses seem even more possessive and forceful. She hungrily drives her tongue in and out of his mouth.

Strange as it is, Tiana can't seem to look away. The man's eyes never leave hers. The girls seem oblivious to Tiana's presence. Both were enthralled with bringing him to completion. The man's cock grows longer, thicker, stretching the girl's mouth wide. Dribble foams around the corners of her mouth with every thrust of his enormous cock.
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