Neither one of us said a word. There were no words that could possibly even come close to what we just experienced.
I’m pretty sure the little pieces of my heart he’d been collecting since the night we met were no longer just pieces. I’m pretty sure my heart had given itself over to him while our bodies were joined.
Part of me panicked; part of me wanted to snatch it back.
But the fact remained: I couldn’t have it back. It was no longer mine.
Cam now held my heart in the palm of his hands. I wondered if he knew it. If he felt the shift between us while he made love to me. Because that was not sex. No sex could ever come close to that. I wondered if he felt powerful, if he realized the extent of the power he now held over me.
I wasn’t about to ask.
I wasn’t about to make him aware that he now had the total power to completely destroy me. Is this what love felt like? Did it strip a person so bare that it terrified them?
“Hey,” Cam said gently, peeling me off his chest and holding me out to search my face. “That was intense. You okay?”
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he vowed, almost like he could read my thoughts.
Or maybe his thoughts mirrored my own.
“I’m not going to hurt you either.”
He gave me a lopsided smile. “You look good in my hat.”
“I think your shorts now belong to the sea.”
There was no doubt in my mind. My heart belonged to Cam.
Cam was already behind the bar when I walked into the Mad Hatter. He was wearing his standard uniform of black pants, no shirt, and a bowtie. Tonight his hat was nowhere to be seen and his hair was still partially messy, which reminded me of the way I ran my fingers through it just a couple hours before.
The heat that flooded my limbs over the memory was momentarily cut off when a bimbo with her butt cheeks hanging out of her shorts and a top that probably was actually a bra leaned over the bar and grabbed Cam’s hand.
“Hey there, gorgeous. I need a refill.”
Cam smiled and reached for her glass. “No problem.”
“I’ll take your number too.”
I wasn’t a violent person, but in that split second, I thought about doing some bodily damage.
“Here’s you drink,” he said, handing over her glass. “On the house.”
“What about your number?”
“I’m taken,” he said and moved off down the bar. Her and her nasty butt cheeks stomped away.
Only then did I walk past the bar on my way backstage. Cam caught my eye and winked.
He knew I was watching.
I chuckled under my breath as I weaved through the crowd and backstage. Roxy was at her table, applying makeup to her eyes. “I heard from the cops,” she said, lowering her voice.
“You did?” I leaned in, placing my elbows on her table.
Roxie nodded and then moved over to line her other eye as she spoke. “Apparently, Craig has an ironclad alibi for the other night.”
“What kind of alibi?” An uncomfortable feeling clawed at my insides.
“Apparently he was out of town the night in question. That’s why it took so long for the cops to bring him in. He just got back today.”
“Convenient,” I said, mulling over that information.
“That’s what I said. But apparently he has several witnesses and a bunch of photos of him and the people he was with—including his new girlfriend.”
I made a sound of disgust. “It never ceases to amaze me how dirt bags like him get women.”
“It’s the whole bad boy thing. Every woman thinks she wants one—until she actually has one. Then she can’t run fast enough.”
I guess I couldn’t really say if that were true. My ex in high school was a jerk and spread rumors about me, but he wasn’t really a bad boy. Since then, I pretty much avoided dating at all costs. It all seemed like too much trouble. Until I met Cam.
I wondered what the police were going to do now. What did it mean for our case if they eliminated the only suspect we had?
“Are you as tired as I am?” she asked wearily, setting down her makeup and looking at me.
“Yes. Cam said he was going to stay at our place tonight. Maybe we can get some sleep.”
“Well, I will,” she said, giving me the eye. I felt my cheeks flush and she laughed. “I don’t know how you manage as a stripper, Violet. I really don’t.”
“Do you think Adam would just let me wait tables?” I asked, quieting my voice.
She pinned me with her purple stare. “You want to quit?”
I didn’t know what I wanted. All I knew was the slightly queasy, nervous, shy part of me wasn’t really going away. “I’m not sure. But I like working here.”
“Usually the girls here have to dance.”
“Yeah,” I said. I knew that.
“Have that man of yours give you some sexy lessons,” she called out as I walked to my table.
Oh, he’d given me some lessons. I already knew more about sex and pleasure than I ever thought I would. But that was part of the problem. I only wanted to share that part of myself with him. It seemed wrong somehow to give it to anyone else. Especially after today at the beach.
I took out one of my outfits (the one with the see-through purple stars) and the purple wig. I felt like I needed to really channel Violet tonight to get through the dancing.
I made it through the first couple of hours and dances okay. Whenever I felt like my nerve was slipping, my eyes would seek out Cam. We would lock eyes and I would pretend it was just him and me and my moves were for him.
I managed once again to not bare anything I didn’t want to bare, but by the end of my second dance, some of the men in the back were yelling for me to take it all off.
I retreated off the stage without showing any of my… unmentionables. I wondered how long I could stall before Adam pulled me into his office and gave me the old heave-ho (aka, I get fired).
“Violet,” Adam called, poking his head backstage just as I was heading to my dressing table.
That was a lot faster than I thought it would be.
Geez, a couple drunken idiots start complaining and I’m out of a job.
“Yes?” I said, pivoting around to face him.
“My office. Now.”
I felt like I was about to walk the plank. All the girls looked at me as I headed out the door to my doom.
“Adam,” I said, walking in without knocking. “I can do bet—” I started to say, even while I wondered why I was bothering to lie.