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From Chapter One - She Sells Sanctuary

.....I hadn’t been here in a while, so after I moved past the counter, I took in the room before joining my friends. This interior looked similar to other topless clubs. The walls were all covered with black fabric and large mirrors. There were three stages, each one with its own lighting system and a stripper pole. It was one big rectangle with a bar in front and another in the back. Two-thirds of the floor plan sat a couple of feet higher than the rest, which helped the space look larger.
“James!” said a waitress walking in my direction, one hand under a tray full of drinks and the other wrapped around three longneck beers. “It’s good to see you,” she continued as she whizzed by me. “I saved you guys a table up by the main stage. I’ll be there in a minute to take everyone’s order.”
I rushed out a “Thanks,” but I think she was already out of earshot.
My eyes trailed back to the front bar when I noticed a dancer on the stage closest to me staring in my direction. She was holding onto the pole, looking me straight in the eye. I squinted a bit to get a better look. Did I know her?
There was a disheveled girl-next-door quality to her appearance. She didn’t have that “big 80s hair” that was still holding strong even though it was 1991. Hers went just past her shoulders and, though tousled, didn’t look like she used an ounce of Aqua Net.
Maybe she thought I was someone else?
She offered me an amused smile and turned away, strutting up the catwalk-shaped stage with nothing on except a thong and a pair of suicide-high heels. Her stride was languid and teasing, as if she had nothing better to do than let people admire her. I rushed down the stairs and over to the stage to tip her. I must aleady know her.
She spun around without warning as I approached. I stopped jogging, pasted a goofy grin on my face, and continued walking up to the stage. She bent her knees and gracefully lowered herself to the floor. As she crawled over, I got a better look at her face. She had a soft Eastern European quality to her features, with dark brown almond-shaped eyes and full pouty lips. Being a bartender, I met a lot of women, but I didn’t forget many faces, especially those I considered beautiful. I definitely didn’t know her—but I sure wanted to.
Her seductive hooded eyes conveyed a desire I wanted to get lost in. Why was I so taken with her?
She took her messy blond head, starting at my left shoulder, and dragged it teasingly down the side of my body. She stopped for just a second at the top of my shorts. From there, she moved across my belly button.
The places where her face and head touched me burned a trail of heat through the button-down I was wearing. A slow rolling ball of energy picked up speed inside me. The hairs on my arms pricked to attention, and a twitch-inducing shiver climbed up my spine.
As she traveled back up, I let myself enjoy the view of her muscular back and heart-shaped bottom. There was an intimacy to the way she touched me, like we were the only two people in the bar and didn’t have anything—or anyone—holding us back.
She dragged her head up the right side of my chest. “Thank you for the tip,” she whispered into the most sensitive place on my neck.
She sat back on her knees and smiled at me, coy and demure. I melted a bit as I tried to understand my attraction. Her eyes drifted from my face to the middle of my chest. I followed her gaze, only to realize she had somehow unbuttoned my entire shirt.
I tossed my head back and laughed when I heard Brad say, “Ah, I see January indoctrinated you.”
Her smile turned from coy to mischievous as she held out the side of her panties and waited for me to tip her.
“Looking good, January,” Brad said. “We’re celebrating my birthday tonight. Come over when you have time.”
January nodded and smiled as she watched me button my clothes back up. Then she strutted away to get a tip from another guy.
Brad nudged me. “You okay, dude?”
“Any chick can be hot,” I said. “But to be hot, playful, cunning, and devilish in eleven seconds takes talent.” I wondered what had just happened back there? Why was my pulse thrumming in my ears? Who was this girl?
When I swallowed, the back of my throat felt dry and tight; I needed a drink....

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