What’s more was the scent of his cologne lingered on me… wrapping around my senses and invading my feeling of relief that he was gone. It was an older scent, something that had been out for several years, a popular men’s brand. I knew it well because it came out while I was still in high school, and I swear every guy at school went out and bought it. The hallways smelled just like it the entire year.
The police kept asking questions, and I repeated what happened, the exact words he said, and what I was feeling/doing while he said them. Cam remained eerily silent through my story and that gave me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
When I was done talking, the only thing he said was directed at the police. “When are you going to catch this rapist?”
“He didn’t rape me.” Why did he keep saying that? It was making me sick. And really, I didn’t know if he planned to rape me or not. I really hadn’t known at all what he was going to do. Although, whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
“We’re going to do everything we can to catch this guy. If you see him or think he might be close by, please call 9-1-1 immediately,” the officer replied in a no-nonsense tone.
“Let’s go,” Cam said, placing his hand on the small of my back.
“Shouldn’t we stay? Help clean up?”
Adam overheard and approached, his feet crunching over broken glass as he walked. “I’ll just call in the cleaning service I use. I’ll get them here tomorrow morning and then we’ll open up at four tomorrow evening. Business as usual.”
I took a breath. “I’m going to have to give my notice. I’m just not cut out to be a stripper. I can stay on until you find a replacement but, I—I don’t think I can dance anymore.”
Adam held up a hand. “You’re not quitting.”
When I opened my mouth to protest, he just kept right on talking. Like a train on a track, he sped over my words.
“You don’t have to dance. You can just wait tables.”
He nodded. “But you’re going to have to wear skimpy clothes while you do it. Can you handle that?”
I nodded. “Definitely.”
“Good. I’m sorry about what happened tonight. Ty should have been there at the door. That shouldn’t have happened.”
“It’s okay. I’m sure Ty was just trying to help out here.”
Adam’s lips drew into a thin line. “That asshole even so much as steps foot in the parking lot of this place and he’s going to wish he was still in jail.”
“Which one?” I asked, wondering if we were talking about my attacker or Roxie’s.
“Both of them,” Adam and Cam answered at the exact same time.
The testosterone in here was getting a bit thick.
“So is it okay for me to leave, then?” I asked Adam, deciding that a change of subject was probably best. Roxie approached as I spoke, looking as tired as I felt.
“Of course. If you don’t feel up to coming in tomorrow night, just call. I understand. You went through a lot tonight.”
“What happened!” Roxie gasped. “Did you get caught up in the fight?”
I shot Cam a glare, just daring him to use the R word again. He seemed to get my message and kept his mouth shut. “I was in the VIP room. Things didn’t go well.”
“What do you mean?” she said, taking in my appearance and the fact I was wearing Cam’s jacket over my clothes.
“I’ll explain later.”
I glanced at Cam. “Are you still staying at our place?” I asked, wondering if he changed his mind.
“Definitely,” he replied.
“Thank God,” Roxie muttered, mirroring my own thoughts exactly. “I feel like the walking dead.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t sleep?” Adam said, looking at Roxie with genuine concern.
“Because it’s not your problem.”
His lips thinned again. “I’ll drive you home. And then I’m sleeping on the couch.”
I thought she might argue, but she didn’t. Instead, she nodded and went over to the bar and sat down. I went into the back to grab my duffle, too tired to bother changing, instead just leaving Cam’s jacket over my outfit. Cam stood in the doorway and watched me like he was afraid to let me out of his sight.
On the way to the door, Adam called my name and strode across the room, extending a white envelope to me. “What’s this?”
“It’s your two grand.”
I looked at the envelope like it was a rattlesnake. “You don’t have to pay me that.”
He snorted. “He paid it before he went into the VIP room. This money is yours. I know it doesn’t make up for what happened, but I know you could use it.”
I swallowed, reaching out and taking the money. “Thank you,” I murmured, stuffing the envelope into my bag. It felt like blood money. I felt dirty accepting it. But he was right; I did need it, especially now that I wasn’t going to be stripping anymore.
I drove home, leaving the radio off, not needing the added noise to my already loud thoughts. Cam followed close behind on his bike, almost as if I were some celebrity with a police escort or a bodyguard.
What a freaking mess everything was.
First someone steals my barrette; then someone forces himself into my apartment, attacks Roxie, but leaves behind my barrette. Then Craig bursts into the club, angry about being accused of something he probably thought about doing, and tried to attack Roxie. Meanwhile, I was in the back giving a freaking striptease to a man who… well… It did seem like he wanted to rape me.
I mean, I guess I got why a man would rape a woman. But in the middle of a club? And everything that happened before led me to believe this guy might have been watching me for a while.
I shivered, fear clawing its way up my spine and squeezing my chest.
Cam’s headlight in the rearview mirror caught my eye. Cam. He was always so chill, so calm and easy. He rocked that “surfer dude” stereotype like no one else I’d ever met… but tonight I’d seen a different side of him. The steely core beneath his easygoing exterior. He was angry—beyond angry—and the way he looked at me… It made me wonder if he decided maybe I wasn’t worth all the trouble that seemed to rain down upon us.
And yeah… maybe part of me—a very small part—wondered. Wondered if maybe he was so attracted to me because up until him, I had basically been untouched. Yes, I made out with guys before. Yes, I did things… sexy things… But what Cam and I had? What we shared? He was my one. He was my only. I knew he liked that. What guy wouldn’t?