It was a truth universally acknowledged that every city had a pedestrian mall devoted specifically to rip the non-locals off. The same principle applied to a particular zone that men went to "release" themselves.
Le Zhou was a mere fourth-tier city by the standards of its economic development. However, situated at the foot of Mt Emei, the city managed to put on an appearance of prosperity.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai walked about aimlessly and found nothing particularly interesting. They were ready to return to the hotel by the time dusk set in. Passing a street, they found plenty of health saloons lining up on either side, all with exquisite facade and spacious interior in spite of the narrow front doors. Some of them had already lighted up their shop fronts.
"Wanna have a foot massage?" She took a look and made a suggestion out of the blue.
Fighting against his inner conflict, he replied, "Anything will do for me. Have a massage if you're tired."
"In that case, let's go! My treat!"
Xiaozhai could not find anything better to do and dragged him into a salon out of boredom.
As soon as they set foot in the shop, a slender waitress greeted them with a smile. "Are you two here for a massage?"
They went to the second floor and walked into female and male rooms respectively. This floor was for the customers to wash themselves and get changed in individual private rooms.
Gu Yu found this rather unusual. He was from the North where public bathhouses were open spaces packed with men of different sizes, chatting and prattling while cleaning themselves.
Back in the university he used to have a classmate from the South who was scared out of his wits the first time he went to a bathhouse. After squirming for a long time outside, he ended up going in wearing his underpants and did not even dare to bring a soap. That was his first and last visit to the bathhouse. From then on, that classmate would only wash himself in his dormitory.
No one would go so far as to say that all places were like that. But generally, the northerners preferred open-spaced bathhouses, while the southerners liked their individual cubes.
Gu Yu took a brief shower, changed into a bathrobe and went up to the third floor, which was taken up by a lobby and private rooms. Both male and female customers were walking around. He found a room and lay down for a while before Xiaozhai showed up.
She was wearing a white bathrobe, revealing arms and shins even fairer than the white cloth.
"Would you like to have a massage?" A waiter came up to them and asked.
"Yes, and a pot of green tea, please."
The waiter paused before asking, "Does the lady need a masseur?"
"Sure, please wait a moment."
After he left, Gu Yu switched on the small television and asked randomly, "Do you get massages often in Shengtian?"
"Depends on my mood. Maybe once every two or three months."
"Oh, I went to bathhouses quite often back then, so I didn't really go get massaged."
"Those with girlfriends do not have the need for massage salons."
"Tsk, I meant the proper massages!" The comment was giving him a headache again.
"Aren't all massages proper?" Xiaozhai retorted with a surprised look.
He wouldn't dignify that question with an answer and turned to watch TV on his own.
Before long, a tap came at the door and two masseuses entered. One was in her early twenties with relatively pretty features, but wearing so much makeup that her face looked muddy.
The other was in her thirties with slightly curled hair and a curvaceous body. Her almond-shaped eyes glistening with moisture. The woman put down her small case and smiled. "Good evening. Would you like a package or a massage on a particular part?"
"Just a foot massage."
"Yes, no problem."
Her smile was not disturbed to the slightest. Dragging over a stool, she sat down opposite Xiaozhai. The younger one did not speak much and turned to serve Gu Yu.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai exchanged a look, both somewhat amazed. The woman would score a 75 on a 1-100 scale at most, but once she smiled, she reminded them of a pink peach blossom in the spring breeze. She was charming but not showy, and was enchanting in a non-vulgar way. To put it short, she looked stunning.
"Is this your first time here?"
Her nimble fingers were rubbing and squeezing Xiaozhai's feet with the right amount of strength.
"Yes, it's our first time here."
"That's why I did not recognize you two. I never forget the face of a customer."
"Is that so?"
"He's so handsome and you're so pretty. How could one forget anyone that good-looking?"
They both chuckled. She was obviously trying to flatter them, but her expression did not make them feel repulsed. What was more, with her soft voice, even her fawning words sounded more pleasant.
Gu Yu could not help but look at her name tag, which had a "3" written on it.
Being sharp-eyed, she smiled at this, "My surname is Du and I'm No. 3. My little sister here is Miss Wu and she's No.6. She does not talk much, but is very good at her job. It's a pleasure to serve you two today."
The younger one smiled at her words and grew more attentive with the massage.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were not the type of people that would dive into conversations with random strangers, but chatting with this woman was indeed very enjoyable. The subject of their conversation went from Emei and Bodhisattva to kidney therapy and gallstones, chattering away about anywhere and anything under the sun.
Before they realized, forty minutes had passed and the woman was finishing up the treatment by applying an even layer of essential oil to the feet. She then smiled, "All done. Please let me have a look at your wrist tag."
Xiaozhai flipped her wrist and the woman said, "Ok, we'll leave you here! We look forward to seeing you again!"
With that, she left the room with her co-worker.
Gu Yu checked the time and found it still quite early. He asked, "So, what now? Do you wanna go back or hang around for a bit?"
"Let's stay here for a while. It's not like we've got anything to do back in the hotel."
Xiaozhai yawned lazily and slouched back down.
After leaving their room, the woman had yet to return to the lounge when a waiter called after her. "Sister Hong, I've been looking for you. That customer have been waiting for ages!"
"Ok, I'm on my way. Thanks."
Du Hong sent her companion back first and turned to the other corridor herself. She walked into Room Six, where the only furniture was two beds. A middle-aged man was lying on one of them, and grinned at her, "Hong Hong!"
"Aiya, what did I tell you about not using that name? It sounds so cloying."
Despite her apparent complaints, Du Hong approached him with deft movements, lowering her limp body into his arms.
"Haha, they know all about us here. It's not like you're afraid of anyone hearing it. Hong Hong! Hong Hong!"
"You're unbelievable… I'm leaving!"
She made a gesture as if to stand up. The man held her down at once and appeased her, "Ok, ok, I won't call you that."
The relationship between these two had evolved in a way most fitting the law of development of such things. That was to say, they had turned from a customer-masseuse pair to a frequent visitor-mistress one.
One was in it for the money while the other for the pleasure. They had formed some sort of emotional bond, but exactly how genuine their feelings were? Well, not that much.
As the two chit-chatted in their sickeningly sweet manner, Du Hong extended out her hand, as if unknowingly, and stroked the inside of his thighs lightly.
The man shivered. A ticklish sensation rose inside him, which spread out to every pore of his.
He kept on talking, but his eyes were filled with anticipation. He longed for the hand to reach into his pants and twiddle, rub, push, pull and lift as usual… the five fingering skills worked well into one another, bringing him the most sensational experience.
However, Du Hong seemed to have other plans and kept her hand near his crotch. Her fingers were pressing down lightly to some seemingly acupoints.
The man was tingling and squirming with the aroused desire. "Take a leave tonight."
"Why? You can't hold it back anymore?" Du Hong giggled.
"You naughty girl. Where did you learn stuff like this? I'll give you a good spanking tonight!"
"Hehe, it's still so early. And what about my quota?"
"You won't go unpaid. Bill me for a 368-yuan package."
"I knew you're the best!"
She moved closer and gave him a loud kiss.
A short while later, Du Hong came out with the bill and went to the foreman to ask for a leave. She was wearing an odd smile all the way back to her dormitory.
'That lousy book actually works. I'll try again tonight…'