Authors: Glenna Maynard
I saw him—Parker— last night watching her. So now it seems I have a choice to make. I love her more than I ever thought I could love her. Giving Kingsley up was hard, but watching him watch her, knowing that now that he has seen her he will have her hurts more. I can’t let him have her— not this time. Parker once took what belonged to me and taking it back cost me everything.
Let it be known now I hate public transit, but there was no way I was staying at my mom’s any longer than I had to. It’s times like this I wonder why I ever ride to the fights with Kline. I try really hard not to breathe during my twenty minute ride back to normalcy. The buses here smell of a cross between body odor and vomit. Not to mention all of the strange people I encounter every time I find myself without my jeep.
Good the apartment is empty Kline is probably at the gym. I love having the place to myself, I’d move out but neither of us can afford to live on our own. It sure as hell beats living with Charlie. I can’t help but feel anxious about working tonight after the stare down I shared with Parker Garrett last night. He rarely comes to the club and I doubt he’d recognize me from the fight. As far as I know he’s never seen me without the signature masks that we are required to wear at the club, if he has ever even laid eyes on me at all. Well other than last night but he doesn’t know me. I guess you might say I’m not one of the classy girls he dates.
He’s rumored to buy a private dance on occasion, but there are many rumors surrounding that man. Stepping into the shower I imagine what it would be like to give him a private dance—what his hands would feel like roaming my curves as I dance for him. Would he want to do more than just touch me? Touching is prohibited, but Parker doesn’t strike me as a man who follows rules—but one who makes them just as good as he breaks them.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been with a man. There’s only ever been Royce and we broke up three months ago. Most guys are afraid to ask me out because of my brother. Sure it sucks, but that just means that they aren’t man enough for me anyways. I twist my hair in a knot on my head and grab my bag for work. I hope Sug is working tonight, she always knows what to do with my unruly waves. My hair seems to have a mind of its own—it never does what I want it to. If I want it curly it lies stick straight and if I want it straight it curls up.
I park my jeep in the casino parking garage and make my way into the dancer’s lounge to get ready to shake my ass. There is no shame in my game; I get paid to make men sweat. It doesn’t make any difference to me if they are gay, straight, married or single, at the end of the night their money spends the same and I don’t have to take them home.
I place my bag inside my locker and lock it; you can’t trust people — especially in this city. Speaking of sketchy bitches I see that Sasha is working tonight. She used to see my brother, but that’s not why I don’t like her. She tried to put the moves on me one night when Kline wasn’t home. That’s just sick. Not because she is bisexual, but because she fucked my brother —eww.
“Sug, I need you to work your magic on this.” I point to the nest on top of my head.
“Girl what would you ever do without me?” She undoes the knot on my head and starts working her fingers through my tangles. She pins my hair half back on my head leaving the rest laying across my shoulders.
“Thanks doll. You are a life saver.”
I undo my button down baby blue shirt, lay it on the back of my chair and shimmy out of my skinny jeans so I can get ready for tonight’s show. Modesty is something you get over quick around here and if you don’t then you are in the wrong place. I change into my nude under garments and roll my fishnet stockings up my legs and over my hips. Tonight I am wearing a gold masquerade mask with a turquoise bodice and matching shorts. I ignore Sasha’s presence completely as she stands behind me, checking my ass out no doubt as I bend down and grab my heels before I head on stage.
The DJ calls my stage name, “Honey takes the stage.” Honey is my stage name it was given to me by Sug— she says my eyes are the color of honey. You can’t work at a big club like this in Vegas and not have a stage name. There are too many crazies in this world not to. I’ve been working here three months and still don’t know over half the people who work here’s real names.
‘Like a Virgin’ begins to play. I seductively walk to the end of the stage and wink at the first guy I lock eyes with. There is something oddly familiar about his face, but hell this is Vegas after a while everyone seems to blend and look the same. There is no black or white everything and everyone has turned grey. Another night of masked faces—let’s do it. I select my next target and smile seductively while licking my lips, he’s my regular. I can always count on him. This guy has been coming in since I started. He has mysterious grey eyes that look like they hold a thousand secrets. One day I won’t have to count on this place to live.
If I hate it why do I dance here? It’s simple I want to pay my way through nursing school. The song switches to ‘Do what you want’ and I begin my tease. I lock eyes with my target once more as I suggestively trace the curves of my body. The masked gentleman licks his lips, a sure indication he is getting aroused from my performance. Hopefully this number nets me a private dance— the sooner I make my tuition for nursing school the faster my dancing days will be over. Good money can be made here, but between rent and simply living it is going to take me a while to save up enough money. Not to mention the shit Charlie drags Kline into, which usually ends up in my paying most of the bills as of recently.
My first set of the night is over and I am in need of a drink. Preferably something clear and liquor. Nothing like liquid courage to get me through the night. Tony, the night manager, informs me that I have a guest waiting in a private room. Looks like I’ve still got my temptress skills—even with my mind filtering through a million thoughts a minute. I freshen up and make my way to the private rooms. The gentleman—my regular who was so transfixed on me merely moments ago is waiting for me.
I escort him to our room. He abruptly stops me taking me by my elbow once we are inside and behind the privacy of the curtain— security does a check every few minutes to make sure the girls are okay and that things don’t get too heated. “Relax you seem so tense.” He smiles at me excitedly.
Who does this cat think he is putting his hands on me like that? Just because he is my regular does not mean he can be that comfortable with me. I jerk my elbow from his grip and ignore his comment. He’s lucky I don’t call for security. He knows the rule—no touching. I don’t like being man-handled— with the way I grew up it brings to many unwelcome memories even if it is done non-maliciously. The music is playing and I am so annoyed I can’t even tell you what the name of the song is.
“You don’t like me much do you?” He lets out a slight chuckle like he finds it amusing that I’m not crawling all over him. I overlook his comment and start grooving to the beat of the music. I hope the rhythm carries me away from my worries about my brother and my annoyance of this dude. I back away from him slightly so he isn’t able to quite touch me, but he can still enjoy the view.
My back is facing his direction and I sway my hips seductively to the music. Before I register my motions, I have managed to unlace the front of my bustier. The gentleman though I shouldn’t call him one places his hand on my hip in a firm grip and turns me so that I am facing him once more. With confident fingers he loosens the ties of my corset exposing my breasts.
“Hey grabby hands— no touching! We do have rules here…”
“I’ve never been much on following rules. I prefer to make my own.”
I lose all form of coherent thought as he pulls me forward once more placing me on his lap. “Has anyone ever told you that looking into your eyes is like staring into a pot of honey?”
“I get that a lot actually.” I smirk at him and try to stand, but he tightens his grip in protest. His free hand roams my chest stopping right over my tight bud. I can’t help my body’s reaction to being touched there. But it doesn’t mean I am willing to get fired for it.
“Look buddy you are sexy and mysterious I’m sure, but you can’t put your hands on me. Shows over.” I stomp on his Italian leather shoe with the heel of my stiletto. He lets out a grunt.
“You’re a feisty one aren’t you?” He lets me go, but not before confusing the hell out of me. “You just passed the test. Names Parker Garrett.” He removes his mask. I am embarrassed, intrigued and so confused. Parker extends his hand to me for a proper shake and all I can do is stare at him like a babbling idiot.
“I’m Honey.” I let out in breathless jumble that comes out sounding like I money. He probably thinks I’m bipolar—one minute I am flirty, the next I’m pissy before going back to flirty.
“Clever,” he stifles a laugh almost like we are two old friends sharing a private joke. “Have we met before? There’s something familiar about you. Like a word hanging on the tip of my tongue, but I just can’t figure out what I want to say.”
I am not about to tell him I’m the girl whose been fantasizing about him since we locked eyes at the fight last night and that I… well my brother is responsible for the huge dent in the hood of his car. I go with the most reasonable explanation, “I’m sure you’ve seen me around the club and casino, you do own the place.” I look down realizing that my breasts are still within his touch and hurry to lace my top.
“No, I don’t think that’s it.”
“Am I free to go now?” I need to get away before he remembers and wants to hold the cost to repair his car from my pay, and before I am straddling my boss and daring him to break his own rules.
“Ah yes get back to it you are on the clock.”
I nod and practically run down the hall trying not to let out a school girl squeal of excitement. Parker Garrett just had his hands on me—me. He is my regular—the guy that comes in at least twice a week to watch me. I am unable to focus on anything else the rest of the night. I keep replaying the scene over and over again in my mind. Was he flirting with me? Was it really a test? Fuck, I’ve got it bad for a playboy millionaire who is completely out of my league. My mom always has called me a daydreamer.
“Girl, is you feeling alright?” Sug lays a concerned hand across my forehead. “You look flushed.”
“I’m… I don’t know what I am Sug. I desperately want someone I can’t have.”
Her big brown doe eyes go soft, “sounds like you got bit by the love bug baby, nothing wrong with that… Mmm. Tell me about it. You know I love a good story about a sexy man.”
“Maybe some other time. I’ve gotta head out. I’m just waiting for Tony to walk me to my car.”
“Alright I got you. You aren’t ready to talk about it but when you are Sug will be ready to hear all about it. I’ll be seeing you girl.” She shoots me a wink and sashays her ass back out to the floor.
“You all set to go Kingsley?” Tony pokes his head into the lounge.
“Yeah,” I grab my bag from the floor and do a once over to make sure I’m not leaving anything behind. I learned that lesson the hard way. I’ve lost too many expensive heels by forgetting them after I have changed into my street clothes.
I’ve been watching her dance for months now. Her face makes me weak in the knees. She looks so much like her… I miss her… I loved her…I lost her… But after talking to her I know she’s not her. I should have known Royce would know her. I couldn’t stop myself from touching her I had to know if it was her. I almost blew it, good thing I came up with an excuse for why I am in my own club checking out the dancers. I could have told her she looked like her, but I didn’t want to freak her out. I wonder if she knows how much she looks like her. Did Royce tell her? I doubt he did. But now the million dollar question is who will get her, because now that I have gotten close to her I want her… I need her…she will be mine.
“Come on slacker show me what you got.” Kline dances around me hitting me with playful jabs to the gut.
“Kline, I’m not in the mood to spar with you today. I have a hair appointment and I am getting my nails done before I head into work tonight. Do you want to grab lunch with me?”
“Can’t I’ve got another fight this weekend, gotta stay in tip top condition.” He flexes his biceps and kisses one of them after taking a bite off of his banana.
“Suit yourself, I’m starving. What night is the fight?”
“Saturday, early in the evening— so you’ll come with right?”
“Yeah like I ever miss one, but I’m driving. One of us actually has to work for a living. Do you need the bathroom before I start getting ready?”
Kline doesn’t even bother answering he takes off in mad dash to the bathroom. I really wish we had gotten a place with two so we wouldn’t have to share. “Turn the fan on!” Trust me if you had to share a bathroom with my brother you’d want to make sure the fan is on. Men are pigs plain and simple. I straighten up our tiny place; it doesn’t take much to keep it livable even with my slob of a brother. Neither of us is usually home long enough to make a mess and Kline is pretty decent about cleaning up after himself. He got the message loud and clear that I am not his maid the day I picked up all of mess and dumped it in a pile on the center of his bed. He makes sure to throw away his power bar wrappers now. He will make a great husband for a lucky woman one day now that I am getting him house trained.
The thought of my brother and I parting ways to start families of our own is bittersweet. It’s always been Kline and I looking out for each other. I shouldn’t dwell over it too much being that he hasn’t been able to hold onto a single girlfriend since we were in junior high. And well my track record doesn’t really exist now does it. Parker Garrett creeps his way into my mind and again I am thinking of his hands touching me and all of the things I should have said instead of making a fool of myself.
“Hello earth to Kingsley,” my brother waves his hands across my eyes. “Bathrooms all yours dream weaver.”
“Girl that brother of yours is one fine piece of man candy. You let him know that Roberto is single and ready to mingle.”
“If he starts looking for a fine piece of dark chocolate I’ll let you know.”
Roberto is such a cut up. He has been doing my hair for a few years now. He and the girls are always teasing me about Kline. Shit I feel like I can’t go anywhere without someone wanting me to hook them up with Kline in some shape or form. I leave the salon with new highlights in my hair and a new French manicure. I still haven’t had a bite to eat no thanks to Kline hogging the bathroom earlier.
I hate to eat something heavy before I go in to work so I decide to hit up one of those bread places that always have awesome soups and salads. This place is always crowded, I can’t ever get a decent table, but the food is definitely worth it. Scanning the dining area for a table I spot Royce of all people. I hope he doesn’t see me. Maybe I’ll ask for my food to go instead. I’m not above eating in my car if it means avoiding a run in with him.
I have got to be one of the unluckiest people in Vegas. “Kings,” Royce calls my name and waves me over to the table he is sharing with a few of his asshole buddies. What makes them assholes? When Royce and I broke-up they came into the club and made asses of themselves. They treated me like a hooker—a piece of ass they could do whatever they wanted with. Needless to say it didn’t go over well when I let it slip to Kline, further fueling their rivalry.
Weighing my options I decide what’s the worst that can happen? We are in public. Maybe my luck will turn around and they are getting ready to leave and I can have their table. I look at my tray and sigh, here goes nothing.
“Royce, assholes. What’s up?”
Asshole number one speaks first, “my dick if you’ll be around later tonight. What’s your going rate?”
Before I have time to react and let the first tear well up, Royce kicks his chair, “get lost Jake. And you don’t ever talk like that to Kingsley again. I will end you if you do.”
“Whatever man, if you want to waste your time on a slut be my guest. Come on Brad.” Asshole one and two leaves the restaurant.
I want to be upset with what Jake said but the fact that Royce just stood up for me has me rendered speechless. “Have a seat Kingsley, we need to talk.”
His wanting to talk can only mean one of two things. A he wants to get back together or B this is about Kline. “Okay, I’ll eat you talk.”
“How are things, you still dancing?”
I nod that I am while I spear a baby tomato with my fork and bite in. I dab my chin with a napkin since he’s clearly waiting for more of an answer. “I’m good still saving up for school.”
“That’s good. I’m glad. I mean I’m glad you still want to go to school that is. Look I’m sorry about the other night. What I said at the fight. I was being a total dick.” He reaches across the table and takes my hand. I want to deny him the right to touch me, but it’s hard. He’s the only guy who’s ever remotely cared for me other than my brother. “I want you back Kings, I miss you.”
“Royce,” I pause and take another bite of my salad while debating on the right way to say this. “Why do you want me back? You dumped me. Remember?” Royce and I first met at the gym my brother trains at. When we first met he was in a bad place. It was a long time before he opened up to me about what it was that kept him so guarded with me.
Royce was in love once before me, with a girl named
Elizabeth, but he wasn’t the only one. His best friend whom I have never learned the name of, because Royce always would leave out his name, loved her as well. It tore their friendship apart. Long story short Elizabeth was killed in a car wreck. Royce and the other guy were pressuring her to make a choice. She took off driving while distraught, and when she crashed her car the trauma killed her, but the most fucked up part is that when she died she suffered a miscarriage. Elizabeth was carrying a child, which no one knew she was pregnant with. When she died, Royce and the other guy were left not knowing which one of them was the father or who she was going to choose. Royce has never been able to forgive himself or fully be the man I deserved because of his guilt. He thinks if he would have stepped aside and let his friend be with her…she’d still be alive. The accident wasn’t Royce’s fault though, or the other guys. Elizabeth had no business getting behind the wheel of her car while she was so hysterical.
“Yeah, I know but I miss us. I miss your smile, fuck I even miss the way you laugh. This is hard for me Kings to even ask but will you take me back?” He rubs my cheek lovingly with his rough, calloused hand.
I take too hard of a drink of my soda, and nearly choke for a moment. It would be easy to fall right back in with Royce, but just because he misses me doesn’t mean I am ready to forget the past three months since we’ve been apart. Royce has made no secret of his bachelor lifestyle full of booze and skanks at the gym and the fights.
“Royce, I wasn’t expecting this from you. I thought maybe you wanted to talk about Kline or something. I need to think about it. I just need time.”
“I get it I fucked up. Can I call you this weekend? I’m not fighting. We could watch Kline’s next fight together.”
“You hate Kline.”
“Hate is a strong word. I just don’t like him very much, we disagree on some things. Just say you’ll think about it. You know you want to.” He smiles at me and pierces me with his dimple; a guy with dimples wins me every time.
“Fine call me Saturday, but make it early. I have to work after the fight.”
Royce stands and plants a kiss on my cheek. “Saturday, I won’t forget.”
I can’t help but blush at the turn in today’s events. I’ve got to talk to Tiffany, before I make a mistake and call Royce back over here before he walks out of the door and back into my heart.
I have a chance. I won’t ruin it this time. She still cares for me, I can tell. If she was seeing him she wouldn’t have even gave me a second look, because if he was lucky enough to get her, he wouldn’t make my mistake and let her go. But not this time, I will get her back…she will be mine. I won’t let her go this time.
‘Tiff I’m dying here. Royce wants me back. What do I do?’
‘What do you want to do? Do you love him? Because I don’t remember you being to broken up about it when he dumped you. Honestly I think you’re too good for him.’
‘I know buuttt… he was so genuine and he was sweet like he used to be. Okay enough about me. How are you?’
I dump my tray and start walking to my car while Tiffany chews my ear off about Kline not calling her since the other night.
‘Tiff I warned you, you know what kind of guy my brother is. But here I am calling you asking if I should take Royce back when he’s more of a dick than Kline.’
‘We got it bad for them bad boys with tattoos that like to throw down.’
‘I know kill me now. I gotta head to the club. I’ll talk to you later and maybe I’ll tell my brother to get his head out of his ass and call you. Love you, mean it.’
We always end our calls with that line. We’ve been saying it since the ninth grade when we had a horrible falling out. One of our classmates was killed in a hit and run. It made us realize to always make sure we tell the people we love most that we really love them. Nothing in this life is guaranteed.
Let’s hope I can make it through work tonight without making an ass of myself in front of Parker Garrett. Not that I expect to see him again but I wouldn’t mind another encounter with him. A girl can dream though. I go through my routine like I do every night that I work. Hair, makeup and costume check. I look over to see that Sasha is sitting on the makeup table beside of me a little too close for comfort. I make an excuse of leaving something in my car just so I can get away from her. But I am really going to hide in the bathroom until it’s my turn to work the floor. I don’t have to dance on stage tonight.
‘Turn Me On’ is thumping through the speakers and it puts me in a better mood as I work my way into the crowd of masked men. It’s a house rule that all patrons and employees wear their mask at all times, identities are meant o be kept secret. Tonight I only have to walk around looking pretty and try to generate private dances. I prefer nights like tonight. I can make more money by doing private dances than I can up on the stage. The men who buy dances tip more. I swing my hips with a little extra sway to them as I scout the patrons for my first candidate of the night. Finding a man who looks sharply dressed I begin my pursuit. I feel like a skilled huntress ready to make her kill. He won’t know what’s hit him.
Casually I drop to the floor in front of him, “Oh no, I’ve lost my earring, would you be a gentle man and help me look for it? I felt it fall across my breasts. It has to be here somewhere.” I look up at him through my mask and casually toss my earring on the floor behind me while he’s busy staring at my ample chest. He leans down in front of me and begins combing the floor beside me.
The gentleman reaches around behind me, “here you go.”
“Thank you so much, my mom bought these for me. I would have been devastated to have lost it. My names Honey. Please let me show you my appreciation with a drink on me.”
“I’d love to take a drink off of your body, but I didn’t know they sold body shots here.”
“We don’t. I meant I would buy you a drink.”
This isn’t going the way I had planned. Feeling slightly annoyed I decide to find a new target. Well that is the idea until I am stopped by a whisper in my ear, “you’re good Honey, and you almost had me going for a moment.”
Whipping my head around I am face to face once again with Parker Garrett. “Twice in one week are you stalking me Mr. Garrett. There are laws against that but I’m not sure they’d handle a restraining order by an employee who works in your establishment.” What did I just say to him? He must think I am an idiot.
“Maybe I really enjoy honey. I like the way it taste and feels when I slowly lick it.”
He did not just say that. Once again I find myself unable to say anything that is comprehendible.
I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t play Royce’s game. But he knows I know who she is and it’s a challenge I can’t refuse. He will know that I am the better man. He doesn’t deserve her…he was never worthy of Elizabeth and he took her away from me. It won’t happen again. I won’t lose another woman at his hands. She looks so much like her; I know this is the world’s way of giving me a second chance to be with her.