Some nights I couldn’t get into it.
For whatever reason, backstage drama with one of the girls. Some asshole in the front row, leering in a way that told me a disgusting story about what he wanted to do to me. Or this suicide plan to save my sister making my brain twitch with fear and impatience.
On those nights when I felt cheap and vulnerable and thin I just tucked myself inside a memory.
Hot sand, cool breeze. The sunlight so thick and bright it poured like honey down over me. My sister safe. All my bad decisions still on the horizon.
Florida was a weird choice considering how nuclear it all went. But whatever.
Tonight, however was not one of those nights. Tonight, I was into it. There was an electricity in the air, sparked undoubtedly by the bikers that had started coming in, doing dark business in the back rooms.
Some of the brothers of the Skulls MC tipped great. And according to the girls who’d already fallen to their Neanderthal charms they fucked like studs.
All of them except the gorgeous President.
Because Max Daniels didn’t fuck anyone. He didn’t act like the rest of those guys either. He was aloof. Cool. I don’t think I’d heard him speak three words to anyone. I’d caught his eye, once or twice though and lightening had arced between us, bright and real. But I’d turned away each time because I had a plan and no headspace for distractions.
Half the girls were rabid for a taste for him. And I had to admit, down deep in my belly pulsed a certain…curiosity. Because I didn’t fuck anyone either. Rumours about me (is she gay? Is she bi?) were hot and heavy in the club, but I had my reasons and whatever other’s might think of them – I was just trying to keep everyone from getting hurt.
But what were his reasons?
There was so much pussy here for him to just take.
See…curious. And what was that saying about curiosity? Well, chances were I wasn’t going to live out the next six months. I’d rather go out with Max than what I had planned.
The first hard beats of Maroon 5’s Animal thrummed through the stage, up my high heeled boots to settle in my chest and lungs. My stomach and my pussy. Adam Levine’s voice roared through the speakers promising a kind of sex that would hurt in the morning and that suited me so hard, right now.
I took those first loose-hipped steps onto the stage, tossing my hair, my tits straining against the lace binding I was wrapped in. I was an angry goth-girl tonight. A vengeful ghost story come to life. My eyes were lined in dark liner, my wig jet black. I wore lace fingerless gloves that stretched up over my elbows. The short skirt that just barely covered my ass was a waterfall of ruffles in the back.
I didn’t give a shit if the men watching me take it off liked this costume. I loved it. I felt sexy and evil in this get-up.
My commitment to the show rippled across the club and by the time I took my first slow, indifferent twirl around the poll I had everyone watching me.
Their eyes stripped me, worshiped me.
The bassline filled my body.
Yeah. Nights like this I felt all-powerful. A goddess. A sex-bitch. Look, boys, I thought, summoning all their attention. Look and want, but you will never – not ever – touch me.
The MC guys were filing in the front door and heading right towards the back hallway and the dark room where they conducted their deadly business.
Their leather gleamed, their rings flashed. The deep thrum of their voices, the dark magic of their laughter brushed over my skin like hands. My body was hyper-aware of a general lust in the air, indiscriminate and vague. But real and powerful and putting everyone in the club under it’s spell. The air was close and stuffy and perfumed with beer and sex.
But then, like a bright cold wind off the ocean, sweeping away the clutter of lesser men – I felt him.
He was a few paces behind his brothers. He wore dark denim and leather, jewelry at his throat and wrists. Across his fingers. A magpie king. A devilish overlord.
Trouble in all the best ways.
Blue-eyed, bearded. Murderous. Wild but calm. Deadly potential held in check in a whipcord body, long and lean. He watched everything. Every person. His boys ran around half-cocked ready to burn the world down.
But Max waited for his moment.
His patience lit me on fire and I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to have sex with him. To touch him. To have those hands on my body. Like he could feel my attention he looked my way and in the pulsing dark our eyes locked. For one wild breathless knife-like moment I couldn’t hide how much I wanted him. I wasn’t even interested in pretending.
And to my surprise, he didn’t bother to hide how much he wanted me. The dark chemistry between us was electric and terrible. A disaster waiting to happen.
That was us; a disaster waiting to happen.
I leaned back against the pool, tilted my head until the black plastic strands of the cheap wig tangled in my lip gloss and I smiled at him. He didn’t smile back. He didn’t do anything but watch me, motionless under the lights of the entrance.
I turned on the stage, the ruffles of my skirt kicked up, revealing the bottom curves of my ass. I rocked my ass side to side just a little, my legs locked, my hair falling down in a long thick ponytail that gave every single man here visions of wrapping their fists in it and holding me still while they fucked me.
“Fuck,” I heard one man swear and I smiled towards the back of the theater and lifted my arms up over my and pulled off one long lace glove.
When I turned, Max had taken a seat in the front row at the head of the stage. He slouched in the big leather seat, his fingers stroking his beard, his eyes burning down the distance between us.
I nearly tripped. That’s how powerful his attention was. His focus. It was like a solid thing- a rope between him and me. He nodded once and I went down to my hands and knees and crawled across the stage right towards him. Licking my lips and sticking my ass out – an animal on the hunt.
An animal in heat.
When I was close enough I threw the end of my glove across his lap, the lace stroking across the denim of his crotch. He watched that lace, seemed to lift his hips into it, for just a moment. One breathless moment.
All the hair rose up on my arms, across my back and it was as if every other thing on the planet was gone and it was just him and me. Just us and all of our damage. Our damage and our lust.
He looked up at me through his dark lashes and I had to breath through my mouth to get enough air.
Show me, his eyes demanded. Show me what you’ve got.
And I did. My shirt was simply a long length of black lace twined around my body, I untucked the end from where I’d secured it under my arm and began to unwind it from my chest. When he held up his hand, I gave the loose end to him and I spun in tight circles as he stripped me bare.
In one glove, my skirt and my dark boots, I got to my feet and danced around the pole again, giving myself a second or I would climb down into his lap and let him do whatever he wanted to me.
Sometimes the fact that I might die, that my sister might die before I could save her– sometimes it filled me with a poison that I could not exorcize. I could not drink it away, or fuck it away. I could not hurt myself enough to make the poison go away.
But when I faced him again, I saw a kind of promise carved in his unforgiving features. Blazing in his hot eyes. He leaned forward, his elbows braced on the edge of the stage. His ringed fingers – the fingers of a king – crossed as he contemplated me.
I can make it go away. He told me without saying a word. I will hurt you so you can stop hurting yourself. I will fuck you so the demons will leave you alone at night. I can give you that.
And between one guitar lick and Levine’s animal howl – that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want space to get myself together. I wanted Max Daniels to screw the poison out. Release the demons.
The rest of the show was all for him. I didn’t work the stage or the pole, I laid down on the cold tile, the lights flickering across my body and I gave him a glimpse into all of me. Not just the way I held my legs open, or I cradled my breasts like I was offering them to him. I showed him me.
The girl from Wisconsin, the fuck up in Florida. The sister scared out of her mind. The woman dying to change it all.
I showed him how guilty I was. How sad. How the ground I was standing on was shrinking beneath my feet and I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on.
I stroked my pussy, licked my fingers, stared right into the hot blue center of his eyes and all but begged him to fuck me.
The last long note of the song faded into silence and Dwayne, our MC, got on the mic and applause and cat calls and the frenzy of the crowd I’d forgotten about shattered the moment between Max and I. Broke it into a thousand pieces. And suddenly I was standing there naked, getting death glares from the next girl due on stage. All my armor on the ground around me.
I grabbed my clothes and didn’t even bother to bow, or gather up the singles that littered the side of the stage. I ran back stage and collapsed against the wall, sucking in air through lungs that had shrunk down to nothing.
“Jesus, baby, you better get back stage and get ready,” Maxine said as she walked by, in her neon green bikini, counting the money she’d earned in one of the VIP rooms.
“For what,” I gasped.
“For that MC President to come back there and fuck the shit out of you.”
Yes. I thought. Yes. That made so much sense. That would be so…right.
I ran back into the dressing room and only one girl was back there. Tara, working on her pink wig. Tara was the kind of girl I liked – a girl next door who took a wrong turn into the dark part of the forest. And from the looks she gave me, I was the kind of girl she liked – a big bad wolf, waiting to eat her up. I’d kept my distance because I was on a suicide mission and I’d already hurt enough people. I thought of the waitress, Denise, whom I’d used to make myself feel better.
But I didn’t care about that right now. My pussy clenched and my nipples got hard and I wanted to fuck her and fuck Max. I wanted to fuck everyone.
“Joan,” she said, all kind concern. “Are you okay?”
“A man might come back here,” I gasped, out of breath, my heart pounding as I stepped into my skirt. A man might come back here and bend me over the make-up table and fuck me till I scream.
“Yeah?” she asked, with a knowing smirk.
“You might want to get lost unless you want a show.”
She hummed in her throat and I felt my entire body contract, my skin was too tight – my need too damn much inside my body. Please, I thought, looking at my lust-blown eyes in the mirror, please I’ve been so alone for so long.
But one minute turned to another. And then five. And the desire in my veins didn’t just grow cold. It turned to lead and I wasn’t sure I could move.
He wasn’t coming back.
“Joan?” Tara said, coming close enough to stroke my shoulder. “You okay?”
No, I thought. No. I’m not okay. I’m terrified and I’m alone and I was fine with that – I was dealing with that. Until Max sat down in that chair.
And now I was in ruins.
“I’m fine,” I lied.
“I can help you,” she said. “I can make you feel better.” Oh god, I closed my eyes against the temptation she was offering. “Unless I’ve been reading you wrong?”
“No,” I said. “You’ve been reading me right, but it wouldn’t be fair. I’m… this is about him.”
“That’s funny,” she said. “I think it’s about you.”
I shook my head, denying what she was offering and she shrugged. “Well, you know where I work if you change your mind.”
I laughed a little and Tara walked away and in the rare quiet moment I got myself back together. Fuck him, I thought. Fuck him for asking for all of that. And fuck me for giving it to him.
What a pleasure it would be to be able to leave. To give Zo and this place the middle finger as I drove off. But I was here for my sister, because the man who had her locked away was part of those back door dealings with The Skulls.
I had to stay for my sister. Which meant right now I had to stuff my tits in a black bikini top and go out and serve shooters. If Max Daniels was out there I would ignore him. I would give him my blankest smile and most vacant stare and I would pretend that show I gave him, those pieces of myself I revealed had meant nothing to me.
An act. My whole life – just one long act.
I steeled my spine, squared my shoulders and went out into the dark club. I grabbed the tray of shooters from the bar and headed out into the sea of low black leather chairs.
Immediately I could tell he wasn’t there. The air didn’t taste of sex and ammunition. My skin didn’t smoke and sizzle under an unseen gaze.
Max had left. All the Skulls had, vanished no doubt into the back room with Zo and the devil Lagan to cook up their drug deal.
Good, I thought, a manic tension draining out of me. From now on I would stay away from him. In a few days I’d take Tara up on her offer to make me feel better and I, in turn would rock her world.
And I’d forget about Max Daniels.
Because nothing good would come from him.
Of that I was sure