Authors: Evan Grace
Love Stings Series, Book 2
By Evan Grace
Copyright © 2016 by Evan Grace.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: July 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
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Table of Contents
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The envelope in my hand is what I’ve been waiting for, and my nerves are shot as I stare at it. Inside are the results of my nursing boards, which will reveal if I can become a registered nurse. Even though I studied so hard for the test, it was brutal. When I finished, I went out to my car and bawled like a baby. I’m just glad my parents aren’t home in case it’s bad news. If I pass, then I can get a job at Lutheran Hospital as a nurse instead of working there as an aide. I love what I do, but being an ER nurse is my dream job and the pay is significantly better.
I slip my finger under the edge of the envelope and slowly drag my fingertip under and across it until it’s completely open. I carefully pull the folded paper out, sit down on my bed, and unfold it. As I look it over, my heart sinks. I read the bold print words
HAS NOT PASSED
over and over. Tears immediately fill my eyes because again I’m a failure. I didn’t pass.
I grab my laptop, quickly pull up the website to see when I can retake it, and swallow the lump in my throat when it says forty-five days. That’s another two hundred dollars I’ll have to pay. Dammit, this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Abby, my best friend and cousin, and I are moving in together. We’ve already put the deposit down on the new place, but there’s no way I’ll be able to afford it on my CNA wages. I have no clue what I’m going to do.
Before my parents or brother get home, I grab my bag and make my way out of the house. Seeing the look of disappointment on my parents’ faces is the last thing I need right now. They already think I’m a fuck up, and this will just be the icing on the cake. I need to come up with a plan until I can take the test again.
I drive toward the hospital I work at in Charleston, contemplating my next move. I pull into the parking lot of The Thirsty Beaver Gentleman’s Club. I’ve passed it so many times, but I’ve never really noticed it before. The place looks nice on the outside: paved parking lot, landscaped areas with various flowers, and shrubbery. There is even a little shelter area, maybe for smokers. The parking lot is well lit, and most of the cars are expensive looking.
I’ve met a few dancers before, and they always talked about how much money they made. I sit in my car and stare at the building in front of me. Could I do it? Could I take my clothes off in front of strangers? I’ve never been the shy type. I’ve been dancing in front of people since I can remember. I’ve always been an overly sexual person, so how hard could it be? My parents would freak the fuck out, but if I do this I won’t tell anyone.
I’m not really dressed for a gentleman’s club
, I think as I look down at myself. Since I work at the hospital and change into scrubs there, I’m in my usual pre-work attire. Nothing fancy, just an off-the-shoulder t-shirt, cut-off jean shorts, and Chuck Taylor shoes on my feet—not your typical sexy outfit, but it’ll work to just talk to the manager.
I take a deep breath and head inside. The slap of my shoes against the tiled floors echoes around me while I make my way down the short hallway that leads to a set of double doors that are so heavily tinted, I can’t see inside. With a deep breath, I grab the handle and pull the doors open.
I’ve never been to a strip club before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The strip clubs and gentleman’s clubs in the movies always looked seedy, more like whorehouses. This one doesn’t look seedy at all. A beautiful wood bar runs along one side of the building. Black and white leather furniture is spread throughout the space with matching tables. Booths line the perimeter.
There’s one main stage with three different poles placed in various spots on the stage. Two smaller stages are on opposite sides of the main one. The DJ booth is in the corner, and I can see a guy standing up there. Right now, the music is a lot lower than one might expect. A group of men in suits are all sitting around one table with drinks in their hands. There’s no one dancing, but a girl in a bikini is standing by the table of men.
“Can I help you?”
The voice behind me causes me to jump and then turn around. The woman is gorgeous. She has to be at least six feet tall. Her blonde hair is slicked back, giving the illusion of a Mohawk.
“Um, yes. Hi, I was wondering if you were hiring.”
She looks me over and surprisingly makes me feel like a piece of meat. For a second, I think I’m imagining it until the woman very slowly lets her gaze travel down my body and then settle on my breasts. She bites into her lower lip before she looks back up at my face.
“Follow me.” She starts walking toward the bar, so I follow behind her. My palms become sweaty as we step behind the bar and head down a hallway that leads to a huge office. “Have a seat. What’s your name, sweetheart?” Her voice is husky, and she has a slight accent that I can’t place.
“It’s Carrington Carter.”
“You want to be a dancer here?” I nod my head. “Have you danced before?”
“I’ve been dancing since before I could even walk. Now, I’ve never stripped before, but I don’t have a problem showing off my body.” I sound confident even though, under this woman’s scrutiny, I’m feeling self-conscious.
“You are beautiful. Our customers are going to love you. I’m Bridgette, by the way, and I’m in charge of all of the girls. We don’t need any more dancers right now, but we can always bring you on as a cocktail server until a spot opens up. You’ll make sure the customers have full glasses, help serve during private parties, flirt, and make sure everyone is having a good time. What do you think?”
I’m a little disappointed that there are no dancer positions open, which I find odd. Don’t most strip clubs take as many dancers as they can get?
“Okay, I’ll take it.”
She goes over my starting wage, which is pretty amazing. Plus, I’ll get to keep all of my tips. She hands me an application and tells me to fill it out while she goes to get me my uniform. I fill it out quickly and am just finishing it up when she steps back into the office.
“All right, here you go.” I take the pile of miniscule clothing from her. “We’ll get you your own locker so you can change when you get here. When can you start?”
“I can start in two weeks. I just need to give my current job notice.”
“Okay, let’s have you come in two weeks from Thursday. You’ll work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. You get paid weekly, and of course you get to keep your tips. Any questions?”
“Um, no, I don’t think so. I appreciate you giving me the job. I promise I’ll do great.”
She smiles, and again the way she looks at me makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe she’s a lesbian, and that’s cool if she is, but I’m not into girls. Oh sure, I’ve kissed one once or twice, but it’s just not my thing.
Before I leave, she takes me into the dressing room, where a couple of girls are sitting in front of mirrors that line the wall. They turn and look at me and then quickly dismiss me.
Bridgette shows me my locker and hands me the padlock with the combination. I hang my uniform, if the two little scraps of material could be called that, inside and shut and lock it. With a wave, I head out into the parking lot and climb into my car. Now I just need to go to work and tell them that I am dropping down to prn status, which means as needed and if I’m available, and I’ll still keep my seniority.
As I make my way toward Charleston, I hope that the extra money I’ll make will be enough. If not, hopefully a spot will open up for a dancer sooner rather than later.
I shove everything I’ll need for the club into my bag: some makeup, makeup remover, toothbrush, and deodorant. On top of that, I throw in two pair of heels and my hair products. In preparation for my new job, I spent this past week getting my hair done and a mani and pedi. I even got spray tanned and waxed. Hopefully, the tips will be good. Otherwise I may not have enough to cover my portion of the bills for the apartment.
Bridgette called me yesterday to confirm I was still coming. Then she told me that I should get there early enough to get ready and be on the floor by eight. Thirsty Beaver can’t possibly be busy that early, but maybe Bridgette wants me to come so early so they can show me the ropes. There’s a knock at the door while I zip up my bag. I hear the door open and close.
Abby pokes her head in through the open door. “Hey you. Getting ready to head to work?”
Over a year and a half ago, we lived together in a different apartment, and one night while I was out, a monster followed her home and sexually assaulted her right in our living room. I had been on a date and had found her curled up on the floor when I got home. The images of her huddled up on the floor still plague me, and I can’t even imagine what it’s been like for her.
She was in such a bad state after it happened. She started using drugs, picking up skeezy guys, and having one-night stands until finally she tried to take her life. I thank the Lord that my uncle was home when she made the attempt and was able to get help before she succeeded. Abby’s still not the same as she was before it happened, but I can slowly see her becoming the girl she used to be, or at least a modified version of that girl.
“Yeah. How was the studio tonight?” Abby teaches at the dance studio owned by our grandma. Now my mom and aunt Stacy run it.
“It was good. Those little girls are the most eager little things I’ve ever seen. There’s this one, Natalie, who has to be my favorite. She’s got the biggest attitude when she dances. It’s adorable.” A small smile touches Abby’s lips.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I hate leaving you here at night.” Abby hates the dark, and usually, once the sun starts to set, she doesn’t leave the apartment.
“I promise I’m okay. Your dad installed the extra deadbolt and the motion light outside the door. My dad’s a phone call away. Don’t worry about me; I promise I’m okay when you leave. You know me, I don’t sleep that great anyway.” Abby has terrible insomnia, and unless she takes a sleeping pill she’s up and down all night. She wraps her arms around me. “Stop worrying, okay? I’m getting used to being here alone.”
“Okay. Well, lock up behind me. I love you.”
I hug her tight. She’s two years older than I am, and we’ve been more like sisters than cousins. People assume I’m older than she is because I’m a good four inches or so taller than her. Abby’s barely over five feet tall.
My palms sweat the whole drive to The Thirsty Beaver. The uncertainty about how the night is going to go is what’s causing my stomach to twist and turn. I know how to flirt and I know how to tease, it’s just something that comes easily to me, but is this going to be the kind of place where the men paw and grab at me all night? I guess I’ll just have to see.
Once I reach The Thirsty Beaver, I park toward the back of the parking lot and under one of the lights. With a deep breath, I climb out of my car, grab my bag, and make my way inside. I can feel the vibration of the bass as I get closer to the double doors. Pulling them open, I step inside and look around. There’s a woman in a thong twirling around a pole on the main stage. The place isn’t filled up yet, but it’s early. Most clubs don’t start hopping until around ten, so I’m sure in time this place will fill up.
I find Bridgette by the bar talking to a man whose back is to me. She spots me and waves me over.
“Hi, doll.” She turns to the man standing next to her. “This is the girl I was telling you about. Carrington, this is Rafe. He and his brother Tucker own this place. This is your new cocktail waitress, Carrington. Hopefully we’ll be able to make her a dancer soon. Isn’t she hot?”
I just stand there, mute. I have no clue what to say to either of them. He stares at me for a second before he lets his eyes travel up and down my body, and then he leans in.
“Welcome. I hope you like working here,” he says near my ear. His hot breath causes goose bumps to pop up all over my skin.
“Rafe, leave her alone. She needs to get ready. Come on, Carrington.”
She loops her arm through mine and leads me back into the dressing room. It’s a lot more crowded than it was the day I got hired. Some of the girls don’t even acknowledge me, some offer me a small smile, some scowl in my direction, and one comes running excitedly.
“Oh my God! New girl, I’m Taylor. We’re going to have so much fun!”
Taylor wraps her arms around me and hugs me tight. Taylor is a beautiful short brunette who has the curves I wish I had. She’s in a tiny pleated skirt and a white bikini top that can barely contain her breasts. Her hair is in pigtails.
“Hi, I’m Carrington.”
Her smile and energy are contagious, and I think this could be a good friendship.
Bridgette says she’ll see us out front in a little bit. I grab my bag and stand in front of the mirror. The whole time I’m making my eyes smoky and my cheeks dewy, Taylor is talking my ear off. She’s a single mom to a six-year-old boy who is her reason for living. Taylor says she works at the Thirsty Beaver because what she makes here in only three days a week takes five days a week at other clubs.