Elaine mumbled. There was an arm over her as she woke.
"Woah, that was wild, watching you change shape,"
a male voice said. A male voice that was not her husband. "Can you do a blonde next?"
Elaine grabbed for a blanket and pulled it up to cover herself. "Don't touch me! You stay away!"
Her eyes darted wildly around the room, and she saw Billie's clothes scattered around the bed.
"Hey hey, what's the matter? We were having fun, weren't we?"
"I'm not her! The woman you were having fun with is not me!"
Elaine said. She got to her feet, pulling the blanket with her, even though it left the man exposed. She just had to avoid looking at him, that's all. "I'm going to get my clothes and leave."
That time it was easy. The man only protested a bit, more in confusion than anything. Other times, she had to work harder to get away.
"I paid for all night, you ****ing bitch!"
Elaine grabbed a handful of money out of Billy's handbag, threw it, and ran while the man was trying to pick it up.
"You're even prettier than your friend,"
he said, while stroking her face. "A pretty girl like you might get hurt out there on the streets. Just stay here tonight. I'll take care of you."
He kissed her then, despite her protests, so she bit his tongue, hard, then spit the blood in his face. He went from soft words to rage, and gave her a few bruises before throwing her out on the street. She was still wearing Billie's dress, though it was hiked up around her waist and pushed off one shoulder.
It wasn't always like that. Usually it was easier. Usually the change happened in better circumstances, where she at least had clothes on. And if she did find herself alone with a man, usually the man was willing to accept her apologies and let her go, even if he was clearly unhappy about it.
But sometimes. Sometimes it was worse.
He was swearing at her, saying filthy words she'd never heard directed at her before. He had her pinned down, sitting on her, and slapping her face over and over. Finally, through her tears, she promised she'd do anything he wanted, anything at all. But once she had her hands free, she grabbed him where he was most sensitive and pulled.
She fled naked, leaving him curled up and howling in pain.
...This is why I hate you. I hate you for every bruise, for every fear, for every man who has seen the body that I promised only to my beloved husband. I hate you for exposing me to the immorality of your lifestyle. I hate you for my lost innocence. I hate you for the tears that Henry shed on my behalf.
If we're going to swap more often, you have to stop this. I don't want to wake up with any more strange men. I can't bear it. It's dangerous and distressing.
Find a way to make it stop, Billie. I beg you.
She read over the letter again, folded it, and handed it to Vinny. It was good to have a go-between other than her son, for the stories she'd told in the letter were ones she'd never want Jacob to hear. "Please make sure she reads it. And tell her what happened when you walked me home. She needs to understand what this is doing."
Vinny placed the letter in the inner pocket of his suit jacket.
Elaine went back inside, back into her safe place, where she could break down and cry in safety.