The floors were all hardwood. Since it was fairly dark in here I couldn’t be sure, but if I had to guess, I would say the floors had seen better days but still had a high gloss so I figured it was being waxed or cleaned.
The walls were all black but were lit up with bright-pink neon signs in the shape of curvy women, top hats, and martini glasses. From the ceiling, lights hung that looked like giant orbs of low light, kind of like there were a million moons shining in the sky.
But the lights, the tables, and the neon signs weren’t what the people in here came for.
They were here for what was on stage.
The stage sat directly across from the bar and ran the entire length of the building. It was currently dark and empty, with wide black curtains hanging on each side. A part of the stage jutted out between the tables like a runway, and I could see the rope lights lining the edges, but they were dark as well.
A waitress walked by and my mouth about fell open. She wore black shorts that were smaller than most of my underwear, black fishnet stockings, black stiletto heels, and no shirt.
Okay, she was wearing a shirt. But, really, I don’t know why she bothered. It covered nothing.
It was basically a pastel-pink string bikini top—no, scratch that—it was a pair of nipple pasties on strings.
She had really long, straight bleach-blond hair pulled up in a super-high ponytail and a black bowtie around her neck. As she moved, the light reflected off the shimmering body powder she had applied liberally to all her exposed upper body.
She moved through the crowd with a tray, handing out drinks, smiling, flirting, and leaning down over men suggestively.
Were they going to want me to do that?
No, Harlow. They’re going to ask you to wear less.
If that thought wasn’t enough to scare the flowers off my sundress, the music playing over the sound system cut off and people began to cat call and cheer. Then a new song began to play. One that didn’t have words. It was one of those sexy songs that accompanied people jumping out of cakes on TV shows.
There was some movement on the darkened stage, and I watched, wondering what was going to happen next. As the music played, a blue-ish toned spotlight came on over the center of the stage.
The crowd fell silent for one long moment.
She was standing in the center of the light, framed in electric blue. Her back was turned, one of her legs was up on a chair, and a hand was on her hip. She wore what looked like a strapless one-piece bathing suit in black. Long hair was wound up and secured in a clip at the top of her head.
The music grew louder and she began to move. First reaching up with slow, deliberate movements and pulling the clip out of her hair. Blond curls cascaded down her back, concealing some of her body.
The men all cheered.
Then she tilted her head back, looking up toward the ceiling, and ran her hands roughly through the long strands. With a jerk of her hips, she turned to the side, placing both hands on her foot propped up on the chair, and she caressed her leg all the way up to the juncture of her thighs. Her very ample chest heaved with her deep breaths, straining against the outfit that contained them.
The beat to the music deepened and she shoved the chair away with her foot, sending it flying over into the darkened space, and she turned to finally face the crowd.
Placing both her hands over her breasts, she squeezed them, then ran her fingers down the curves of her body. She started moving then, squatting, rolling her hips forward and back, bending over to touch her toes while pointing her ass to the eager and drooling men. She worked the stage like she owned it. Like she was the last woman on the planet and she had enough goods to go around for every man that came a calling.
And then she reached for the zipper on her top.
She slid it down, revealing a little more skin with every little tug. She pretended like she would pull it open and then she would drop her hands, which created quite the frenzy near the stage.
I watched as she lowered it, lower, lower, lower, until the garment slid off her arms completely and she was totally exposed. Now she was just down to her undies and high heels.
Then she started touching herself.
They want me to do that?
There was no way in hell.
I spun around, ready to race out of there like a bat out of hell, but someone was blocking my path.
“Are you Harlow McAlister?”
It was a man in a business suit with a handful of papers. He had very short dark hair, a shaven jaw, and a tan.
“I’m Adam Greene. We spoke earlier on the phone.”
“Yes, of course. You’re the owner of this place.”
“And you’re here for the job interview.” As he spoke, he looked me over, starting at my toes, sweeping up my legs, my chest, and settling on the top of my head.
“I think I made a mistake,” I said quickly. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
I started to run. Literally run away from the topless girls and drunk men.
“Whoa, wait a minute,” Adam said, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me back into his side. “I’ll buy you a drink.”
“I’m driving home after this.”
“Okay, I’ll drink. You can watch.”
“With smooth lines like that, you must be on your way to wife number three,” I blurted out, then slapped my hand over my lips. Oh my God! Did I just insult him?
He threw back his head and laughed. Then he slung an arm around my shoulders and led me to the final barstools. “Actually, I’m on wife number four.”
If I were him, I wouldn’t have willingly admitted that out loud.
“So, Harlow. Why do you want to be a stripper?”
“Well, it’s my lifelong dream,” I said, pressing a hand to my chest and batting my eyes.
“Uh-huh,” he said as the bartender set a drink in front of him. He picked it up and took a sip, studying me over the rim of the glass.
I sighed. “I need the money.”
He nodded. “Do you have experience?”
“Well, no. But I undress myself every day, and that seems to be the most important thing I need to know.”
He laughed again. “I like you.”
That probably wasn’t a good thing.
“Tell you what. You come in tomorrow night at seven. I’ll give you a trial run. If you can take it off like a pro, then the job is yours.”
“How much is the pay?” I asked.
“You and how good you work the crowd.”
Work the crowd?
“See you at seven tomorrow night,” Adam said, stood up, downed the entire contents of his glass, and then walked away.