Authors: Lexie Ray
THE BIG SISTER
Part 1of 2
L E X I E R A Y
Published by: Rascal Hearts
All Rights Reserved
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Cover Art: Rosy England Fisher
When the opening bars of my song began, the pants-splitting bass and vocal pattern throbbing throughout the establishment, I smiled. It never failed — the clientele always whooped and hollered at the very recognizable intro. Who knew that a song from the 1990s would hold so much sway over my life today?
Before the intro ended and launched into the first verse, I stalked on stage, not hesitating for a second as I pounded down the catwalk in my stilettos. There had been a time when I was afraid of this moment. People who didn’t know any better always assumed that the dancing part was the hardest thing about my job. No, it was getting to the pole unscathed that had always scared me the most. These shoes were high as hell.
The lyrics starting served as my cue to mount the pole like I owned it, swinging around as the crowd hooted and catcalled. It had taken a surprising amount of work to be able to incorporate the pole into my routine, and I was always eager to show it off to the club’s clientele. The gutsier the tricks were, the more my tips usually turned out to be.
“Pony” was such a great song to dance to. A lot of my colleagues always tried to stay on the cutting edge of music, sometimes requesting songs to dance to that they hadn’t even had the time to develop a routine for. It often led to sloppy dancing — though, to the non-discerning eyes of the majority of the clientele, it often didn’t matter. To me, however, it did matter. I chose my music carefully, choreographed my dances with painstaking precision, and took care of my costumes and makeup. The better I performed, the more I earned. There was a direct correlation between the two actions, one I sought to exploit as much as I could. If I made more money, well, life would be better for both Luke and me. That’s what it came down to.
For the popular chorus, nearly all of my audience were on their feet, chanting along with the words. I thrust my pelvis suggestively to the bass, riding an imaginary “pony” of my own. My body movement was flawless, honed by hours of practice in front of mirrors both here and at home — away from Luke, of course. My little brother could never know what I was doing to keep us afloat.
The first verse often got more cheering than the chorus. The dirtier the lyrics got, the louder the crowd became. I let a flirty smirk play about my lips as I gave everyone a gander at just what my style was — or at least what I wanted them to think it was.
I’d always been moderately fashion forward, in my own opinion, crafting trendy outfits and accessories from thrift finds or my own existing wardrobe. And I definitely enjoyed coordinating my costumes with the songs I was performing. If I ever had the time, inclination, or opportunity to go to a themed party, I was pretty sure it would quickly become my thing. For “Pony,” I rocked a tight faux leather vest, partially unbuttoned to accommodate the leverage my push-up bra created. I wore matching faux leather short shorts on the bottom — so micro that the bottom half of my rear peeked out. There might’ve been a time when that would’ve intimidated me, having at least part of my assets on display, but that time had long passed. I completed the look with a beaten-up pair of black cowboy boots I’d found discarded in the alley behind our apartment building. They were disinfected and repaired to the very best of my abilities, and I doubted I could’ve pulled off “Pony” without them.
Costuming was only half the battle, though. My hair and makeup had to finish the illusion, make my clientele believe anything. I added long, blond extensions to my chin-length bob, French-braiding them in to look even more authentic. That braided ponytail hung halfway down my back, and I swung it rhythmically to the beat, narrowing my heavily enhanced eyes to try to see past the bright lights to the clientele. Who were the members of my audience who were the most into my performance? Later, I could target them for more intimate dances. Or maybe they could be future possibilities for escort work. I never knew what would come out of my dances, or who would become my fans, but my goal was always simple: money.
The chorus struck and I galloped around the pole in a practiced gait, swinging my arm above my head in a pantomime of a lasso. I’d been thinking about getting an actual lasso — or a length of rope, at any rate — to add yet another dimension to this performance, but that had yet to happen. Incorporating something like that would take extra practice, and I wasn’t sure I had the time to pull it off.
I dipped low and shook everything I had for all it was worth, the whistles and whoops multiplying and letting me know I was doing a good job of reeling the audience in. I tried not to smile, tried to maintain my game face even as I pondered the often-bizarre lyrics of my song. I’d been so preoccupied with the lasso prop before that I hadn’t ever thought about the possibilities with this particular portion of the song, singing about jockey teams and the like. Jockeys had several other connotations, things I could take further than purely cowgirl territory. A riding crop, for example, would be easier to master than a lasso, and it could reshape the entire performance. Less sexy cowgirl and more sexy BDSM queen. I could try it out one night and see how it worked. Something told me that it would work out better than fine.
The final reprise of the chorus echoed through the club and I finished the performance by climbing all the way to the top of the pole and gyrating my hips, sliding down in tune with the song’s fading bass. I reached the floor while doing the splits to epic applause, applause I knew I’d earned. I’d worked on my ability to do the splits for months until I mastered it, watching TV with my pelvis balanced on a couple of phonebooks, gradually easing myself down farther as I helped Luke with his schoolwork, eventually eliminating them altogether as I chatted with Jennet, my roommate, or Nick, our neighbor. I’d worked for this because anything worth doing was worth doing well, and I had big plans for the money I was going to be pocketing tonight.
“Everyone, a big round of applause for our sexy little Faith,” Parker, my boss, growled in her sex kitten voice over the speakers. “Don’t forget to show her how much you love her.”
The dollar bills paved the stage at my feet, and I vamped it up, pouting until the piles grew larger. It was then that I flashed a grin that was less acting and more genuine. I was so close to affording a year’s tuition for Luke’s private school. So close I could taste it. So close that I was already investigating the school supplies list for his grade and warily eyeing the deadline for payment.
“Faith, baby, come see me in the DJ booth, would you?” Parker purred. “Next up is the lovely Soledad. Do we have any scholars out in the audience tonight? Anyone who knows what Soledad means in Spanish?”
I left the gathering of my cash to one of the bouncers and stepped gingerly down the steps of the stage, giving Soledad a peck on the cheek as she waited for me.
“Good luck, Sol,” I said, winking at her. “I hope they make it rain.”
“If only,” she said in a wonderful accent that she chipped away at with every English class she took. I tried to explain to her that a lot of the clientele would find it even sexier if she just kept it, but she was adamant on improving her command of the language — including its proper pronunciation.
“Soledad means solitary,” Parker explained patiently, giving up on the clientele solving her little riddle. “Don’t let our Soledad be alone for very long, ladies and gentlemen.”
“Here I go,” Sol said, flashing a bright and brilliant smile. She was so gorgeous — toned body, cinnamon-colored skin, and dark eyes — that the bouncers often had to stop men from making physical passes at her while she was dancing. She also happened to be my best friend at the club. I trusted Jennet with my life and everything that was dear to me, but my roommate was a little spacey sometimes and could never really understand the intricacies of my job. Sol, on the other hand, knew them intimately.
A blistering salsa beat bounced from the speakers and she was off, shaking the beaded bib necklace in a shimmy as she stepped intricately to the nuances of the music. I wanted to watch her, but I knew Parker was waiting for me. Retrieving a satisfyingly thick stack of bills from a bouncer, I sidled through the clusters of tables the clientele were grouped around. More than a few eyes — and wolf whistles — followed my path.
The DJ booth overlooked the stage and the floor of the club, and even when Parker hired somebody from the outside to manage the music and the schedule of dancers, she still sat up there, preferring to keep an eye on things from above. I glanced down and saw Sol shimmying around the pole as if it were her dance partner at a ball.
“She’s getting better and better,” Parker observed, not looking at me.
“She’s a natural,” I offered, eyeing my boss and wondering if she called me all the way up here just to small talk. What I really liked to do after dancing was walk the club, picking out any potential customers for my escort services. I always followed the money — the biggest tippers during my performance. The bigger the bills, the more interested they usually were.
“I think it’s less natural ability and more of you coaching her,” Parker said, looking at me for the first time. “When Sol first started, I remember her being a timid thing with mismatched lingerie.”
“We all have to start from somewhere,” I said, shrugging. Parker herself had started off a dancer before she’d made enough to buy this club right from underneath its former owner — or at least that was the rumor. She was the one who’d hired me, and even though she still had a nice figure for her age, I couldn’t imagine her slipping into a costume and shaking it for the clientele. She still dressed sexy, but these days, it was a well-fitted business suit and expensive pumps. Parker kept her makeup tasteful but bold, her dark hair swept back in a chic bun.
“How apt that you put it like that,” she said. “We do all have to start from somewhere, and I’d like to give you a chance to start something tonight.”
Parker looked perplexingly pained as the words left her mouth, a tiny wrinkle creasing her usually impeccable forehead. That made me more than a little anxious. What did she have in mind, exactly?
“If the price is right, I’m game,” I said, licking my dry lips. “You know that.”
Parker had taken a chance on me when I first got here, hiring me even though I didn’t have any dance experience whatsoever. She’d said she saw a little of herself in me, when I was just starting off. Every girl danced for different reasons, even if the most common one was money. It was the fact that my money was going toward my little brother’s future that had won Parker over in the end. As tough of a façade as she put up, she was really just a big softie, deep down.
“Follow me,” Parker said, looking at me for the briefest of moments before appearing to have come to a decision. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet … someone who’s dying to meet you.”
“Potential escort?” I asked brightly, following her carefully down the spiral staircase to the club floor.
“More than potential,” she said over her shoulder. Then, quiet enough that I almost missed it, “And much more than an escort.”
I didn’t have long to puzzle over that before Parker touched the shoulder of a man seated at one of the VIP tables. An older gentleman — if I had to guess, I’d put him somewhere in his 40s — tipped his head back and smiled fondly at her.
“Marcus, I’m pleased to introduce Faith,” Parker said, her voice as smooth as silk.
“Wonderful to meet you,” I said, flashing a smile as I held out my hand. I could tell his suit was expensive, as it draped expertly on his large frame.
“The pleasure’s mine,” the man said, his grip warm and firm. “Parker, I think you know me a little too well.”
Parker smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “That’s what old friends do, darling,” she said. “Know things about each other the other would rather they didn’t.” It was an odd thing to say, but if it struck Marcus that way, he didn’t comment on it.
“Well, Faith,” Marcus said. “I’d ask you if you wanted to join me here at my table for a drink, but I suspect you already spend an ample amount of time at this particular club.”
“You’re right about that,” I said, smiling. “Where would you like to go so I can change accordingly?”
“A late dinner, if you’d like,” he said. “Dancing. I also have champagne in my suite. I’m only in town for business.”
An involuntary shiver worked its way up my spine. Dinner? Dancing? Champagne, back in a hotel suite? This sounded more like a date than a regular escorting opportunity.
I was very choosy about my escorting, usually. It was one thing to dance here at the club, making enough money to put away for Luke’s education. There had been parts of it, initially, that had made me uncomfortable — namely, the clientele drooling over my body just at the edge of my vision, clambering around the stage, just a bouncer away from doing whatever they wanted with me.