“Someone’s requesting a private dance.”
“Excuse me?” I said, my previous sentence dying a swift and painless death.
“We got a guy out front that wants a private lap dance in the VIP room.”
I’d never been in the VIP room. I knew it was there, sure. I’d seen the girls go in and out on a nightly basis. I never asked what went on in there, but I knew it was more risqué than the stage… If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a need for a private room.
“I haven’t… I mean… I don’t know what to do,” I said miserably.
He sighed heavily and sat down behind his desk. “I told him no at first. I figured you weren’t ready. But he was persistent. And then he gave me a number. I figured I would give you the option.”
A number? An option? “You aren’t going to make me?”
“Hell no,” he said. “I may own a strip club, I may make money off girls shaking their tits and showing some skin, but I respect women.”
I don’t know why, but I laughed.
He glared at me and the sound died on my lips. “I’m sorry.”
He grinned. “Please. You don’t think I know how I look? What everyone thinks of me?” He sat back in his leather chair and wiped a hand over the top of his ultra-short hair.
“I may not be a choir boy. Hell, I may have never stepped foot in a church. But I don’t force women. The girls that work for me get better hourly pay than any other strip joint down here. I’ve got bouncers that know the girls come first, and I enforce a strict no-touching policy. You girls don’t have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with, and I think you know that.” He glared directly at my boobs. “If I were anyone else, you’d already be fired.”
“About that—” I said nervously.
He held up a hand. “We’ll talk about it later.” He looked up, studying me with blue eyes. I never really noticed how blue they were before. “I like you. Roxie likes you. You’ve been good to her. You convinced her to move out and live with you.” He paused. “And somehow you’ve managed to catch and hold the eye of a guy I’ve never seen with the same girl more than a handful of times.”
“Says the man on wife number four,” I muttered, not really caring for his insult of Cam.
He laughed. “Didn’t you hear? She moved out.”
I rolled my eyes. But that was interesting news… I wondered what that meant for him and Roxie. “I can’t imagine why. You’re such a charmer.”
“What?” I said, not following the quick change of conversation.
“He offered to pay you two grand for fifteen minutes in the VIP room.”
My mouth opened. It closed. It fell open again. “Is that normal?”
“I’ve seen some girls walk outta there with a hefty wad of cash, but never that much.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m thinking that little hard-to-get act you got going on the stage has made someone real curious about what’s underneath those clothes.”
“Like they leave anything to the imagination,” I muttered.
“Someone’s got two grand that says they do.”
That was a lot of money. Like a lot. That would almost pay for an entire semester of school. I’d be a fool to turn that down. “What will I have to do?”
“Nothing you don’t want to do.”
“But what will he expect?” Surely that amount of money demanded certain things.
“A lap dance. Basically standing over him, shaking it. You’re going to have to lose your top. I hope you got a thong because that wouldn’t hurt.”
I chewed my lower lip while I weighed my options.
“You can touch him.” Adam continued. “But the same club rules apply. He cannot under any circumstances touch you.”
“He can look, but he can’t touch,” I murmured.
Part of me wondered what Cam would say about me going into a private room with another man where I was expected to take off my clothes. But this wasn’t about Cam. It was about me. My willingness to do this and my need for the money.
If I did this one job, I could stop stripping altogether. I could get another job waiting tables. Fifteen minutes of my life for an entire semester of school without stress.
“I’ll do it.”
Adam seemed surprised. “You’re sure?”
I nodded. “I need that money.”
He studied me. “You in some kind of trouble?”
“What? No. Nothing like that. I lost my financial aid for school, and if I don’t come up with the money, I’m going to have to drop out and move home.”
“How much college you have left?”
“All right. I’ll tell him you’ll do it. I’m going to put Ty at the door. If he even breathes on you funny, you yell for him.”
I nodded and headed for the door.
“Violet,” he called.
I looked over my shoulder.
“Even if you yell for help, you still get paid. The minute he walks into that VIP room, that money is yours.”
“What’s your cut?”
“None. It’s all yours.”
Now I understood why some of the girls always wanted to go to the VIP room.
“How long do I have?”
“Go change, do whatever you need to do, and then get to the room. He’ll be waiting. When your fifteen minutes are up, Ty will tell you.”
I walked out of his office and my eyes went straight to the bar. Cam was watching the door. He looked a little more subdued than usual. I gave him all the smile I could muster and then turned and fled backstage.
I was a coward.
I didn’t want to see the disappointment or the hurt on his face by what I was about to do.
I stared down at my outfits, trying to decide what to wear. Suddenly I wondered what the hell I’d been thinking choosing any of it. It was all tiny. It wouldn’t take long at all to remove.
I decided on the hot-pink bodice with the black satin laces up the front and the tiny black boy shorts with the pink skulls. Maybe I could take my time untying the lace and waste time.
I put it all on, added my black stilettos, and then sat at the mirror, trying to calm my nerves. I lifted my eyeliner but couldn’t apply it because my hand was trembling.
Why would someone—anyone—pay that much money to see me dance? It was beyond ridiculous. Didn’t he have better things to buy? He was probably some colossal nerd who couldn’t get a date. Or maybe he was some pervert who wanted to stare at me while he jerked off.