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By LOGAN BELLE
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Logan Belle
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMallory Dale glanced out the twenty-first-floor conference room window of the law firm. Park Avenue was still lined with traffic, but rush hour was technically over. She was looking at Friday night, out-on-the-town traffic, and this meant she was late. Extremely late.
Across the table, her boss flipped through the files she had spent all week painstakingly organizing.
She fidgeted with the handbag in her lap. Inside, her Black-Berry vibrated every few minutes. It had been like that all day, text after text:
I love you.
Or: don't be mad.
She imagined now the messages were more likely along the lines of:
Where the fuck are you?
"I think we're in good shape," her boss said, moving the color-coded manila folders into a box. The top button of his blue oxford shirt was undone, his tie loose. Not for the first time, Mallory thought how lucky she was to have a hot boss. Paralegal work was boring, and working late sucked, but at least she had something nice to look at across the conference room. Although on a night like this, when she was seriously late for her night job, her real job—her real life, actually—Gavin Stone's considerable attractiveness was small consolation.
"We're done?" She jumped up, pulling her bag onto her shoulder.
Gavin smiled at her, shaking his head.
"Am I making you late for clubbing ... or whatever it is you kids do on a Friday night?"
"Yeah. Something like that." Let him think she was clubbing. Or drinking. Or just running out to get laid. Anything but the truth. The thought of her day-job boss knowing about her night gig made her stomach knot up like a rope. She wondered how she would ever reconcile the two halves of her life—the two halves of herself, actually: Mallory, the responsible person who wanted to earn a decent salary, save for retirement, and have a solid, committed relationship with her boyfriend, and "Moxie," the burlesque performer who loved her boyfriend so much she used to let him talk her into stretching the definition of the word monogamy.
As for her boss, he always called her a kid, but was himself only about seven years older. Although with his big lawyer job—he was one of the top divorce attorneys in Manhattan with his own boutique firm—it seemed like there was a generation between them. And his unflappable, Manhattan born-and-bred cool also made her feel like he was a real "adult" and she was just barely passing as one.
Mallory looked down at her hands. She noticed a chip in her Chanel Noir nail polish. Did she have more in her bag? It was getting harder and harder to find the color—a metallic black with the most subtle flecks of silver and gold. Thank God for eBay, or she would have run out a year ago.
"All right—get lost." He smiled and winked at her, professionally of course. She was sure she wasn't his type. She'd seen the photos of his preppy blond girlfriend on his desk.
She checked the time on her BlackBerry—7:45. And on the screen, the latest text from her boyfriend, Alec:
I know you're still pissed at me, but the show must go on. Where are you?
The cab sat in traffic around Union Square. Mallory leaned her face near the open window, trying to catch street lighting as she smoothed gold glitter over her eyelids and a dark smear of MAC's Russian Red on her lips. She pulled on her garter belt and thigh-high stockings underneath her ugly (but functional) khaki Gap work skirt. The cab driver didn't seem to notice the shuffle in the backseat. Next came the four-inch white stilettos. And that was about all she could manage without the rest of her costume, which was waiting for her at the Blue Angel.
She pressed play on her iPod, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Heads Will Roll" started. She was performing to that tonight. She'd been inspired watching Sofia Coppola's film, Marie Antoinette, and she'd convinced her boss, Agnes, to make her a French Revolution corset dress—with a seam down the back for easy removal, of course. Her pasties were in the form of the French flag. Agnes made those, too. When she'd planned the French Revolution–themed number, she'd anticipated that part of the fun would be sharing a wink with her boyfriend, Alec. They would laugh about it after, and maybe she would even keep her towering, blond Marie Antoinette wig on while he fucked her. One of his favorite sayings was the rallying cry of the youth revolt in France in the spring of 1968: vivre sans contrainte et jouir sans entrave. Live without limit and enjoy without restraint—with the word enjoy serving as a double entendre for come. And for a while—three years into their relationship, in fact—this philosophy had worked for them. The perfect open relationship. It wasn't easy, but they had wanted each other badly enough to try. So they were monogamous, except when she gave the green light for him to bring another woman into the bed. It didn't happen that often, and it was usually just some random, attractive stranger they both ended up chatting up at a bar and never saw again. They typically never even exchanged real names, and it was never someone they knew. That had been the unspoken rule. Until last night.
"Late, late! Late, late, late," Agnes yelled, ushering Mallory in the side door that circumvented the front of the club. "I've been asking everyone, where's Moxie? Where's Moxie. And no one knows!"
Moxie was her stage name—they all had one. Alec said her choice in name was sexy and spunky, just like she was.
She could hear him already on stage, the host of the evening, warming up the crowd with his usual biting pop commentary laced with double entendres. He was a great writer—the Bill Maher of burlesque, Mallory always said. Back when she was speaking to him.
Last year, his "day job," Gruff magazine, had assigned him a story about the growing burlesque scene in New York. He had become fascinated with the subculture and brought Mallory to her first show on her birthday. Before she could say "shake your ass," she had abandoned her plans to practice law and, instead, auditioned for a place on the Blue Angel stage. Now, a year later, she was one of the top draws at the club. And Alec had made a place for himself as occasional MC.
"Sorry—I'm half-dressed." Mallory pointed feebly to her stockings.
"What does that mean?" Agnes said, her Polish accent thick and her attitude even thicker. "Half-dressed, undressed, late is late. You have to try costume on and what if it doesn't fit?" Agnes drew fitfully on her cigarette, the no-smoking ordinances be damned.
"You've been making costumes for me for a year—when has anything not fit? You're a genius!" Flattery got you everywhere with Agnes.
"Yes, this is true."
A corner of the backstage area, wood-planked and poorly lit, was the makeshift dressing room. It looked like the chaotic backstage of a fashion show; clothes were scattered everywhere, along with compacts and stray lipstick tubes and stockings of every color, and no one had any privacy. In one corner was a black sheet, thumbtacked diagonally to make a closed space, but no one bothered to use it. Next to it was a signed copy of a photo from this season's Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign that was plastered all over New York, a campaign featuring Bette Noir. Last year, Bette had been just another girl performing on the Blue Angel stage. But then she started dating a pop star, Us Weekly featured her on the cover twice, and the next thing everyone knew she had an agent, a cameo in an indie film, and then the national Dolce & Gabbana print campaign. Needless to say, she hadn't been back to the Angel since the first Us cover.
Mallory shed her skirt and tank top, avoiding Agnes's disapproving gaze. "You know, Christian Louboutin made a pair of limited edition Marie Antoinette heels," Mallory said. "They were incredible—only thirty-six pairs, and they were all sold. Six thousand dollars for a pair of shoes."
"Yellow, I think."
Agnes waved her hand in dismissal. "I wouldn't pay six dollars for yellow shoes. I make your dress a proper color!"
Behind her, Agnes removed a pouf of the palest blue satin from her garment bag. She shook it out in front of Mallory with a flourish.
"Oh, my God. It's gorgeous!" Louboutin shoes be damned—Agnes's dress was the greatest homage to the queen she could imagine. The bustier was baby blue satin threaded with white lace and five delicate, pink velvet bows from the décolletage to the waist. The back of the dress was nearly floor length, and supported by the mini-corset it would be full in the back, with a shorter bustle in the front that would brush her mid-thigh. She would pair the dress with a baby blue garter belt and white thigh-high stockings.
"It's perfect," Mallory breathed, stepping inside the dress.
"Pull this side seam, off it comes," Agnes said, appraising her clinically. "It fits. You find someone to lace up the back. I can't be bothered when you show up so late."
She shuffled away, on the lookout for any girls who might be goofing off with a smoke outside or one too many pre-show shots of vodka instead of getting ready to perform. She was like a bizarro-world dorm mother.
Mallory was happy to have the dressing room to herself—a rarity. The universe was rewarding her for being late.
"That dress is worth losing your head over. And I don't mean the one on my shoulders."
Mallory turned around, searching for the French phrase for fuck off. But she could only come up with merde. That was the thing about Alec—when he was close to her, she couldn't think for shit.
"I know, I know—where's the guillotine when you need it, right?" He grinned at her, his sexy smile with the slight gap between his front teeth, the dimple on the right, and two days worth of scruff that she couldn't look at without imagining how it would feel between her legs.
It was difficult for her not to smile back at him. But she didn't.
"I'm late, so just ... go."
"I'll help you with the back. Come over here where there's more light."
He steered her to the back of the room where it was obviously darker.
"Stop it, Alec. I don't have time for joking around."
He pulled the corset tight with the first band of ribbon in the back, then traced the line of her spine with his finger. "I'm not joking."
He pressed her forward to the black sheet, the makeshift dressing room.
From the stage, she heard the first chords of "Mercy" by Duffy. That meant Cookies 'n' Cream was on stage—a petite, pretty redhead with the hips of a ten-year-old boy and the double-D breasts she bought when she still worked at Goldman Sachs.
Only two performances to go before it was her turn.
"Finish tying this thing," Mallory said. But Alec's fingers moved away from the dress to her ribcage and forward still until he cupped her breasts with both hands. His index fingers played gently with her nipples, and her breath quickened despite herself.
"I need to get dressed," she said feebly, her body automatically arching back to meet his erection pressing against her ass. He rubbed it against her, and she reached behind to press her palm against the length of him. He pushed her hand away, maneuvering her slightly off balance, so she was forced to reach forward and steady herself on a wooden stool covered with weeks' worth of odds and ends of discarded clothes.
He traced the edge of her panties, then slipped a finger inside her, perfectly slowly.
"Yes," she breathed, and he moved it in and out, in and out, the pressure growing slightly with each stroke.
"I don't know why you're so upset with me," he breathed, his face against her own. "Regardless of what you think, I only have eyes for you. And I definitely only have this for you." He took her hand and pressed it against his cock, hard in his pants.
"Sometimes you make that very difficult to believe," she said.
"You're crazy." He pressed a finger against her clit, barely rubbing her. She felt her heart racing, her mind entering that fugue state that only he could send her to. She arched herself against him, and he dipped his finger inside her again. She knew she was going to come, but didn't want to—didn't want to give him the satisfaction. She made a feeble attempt to pull his hand away.
"Sometimes I think you like fighting just so we can make up," he said, and then she came, her pussy shuddering against him in waves that made her moan much too loudly.
He pulled up her underwear and kissed her neck.
"Come here." He turned her around and cupped her face in his hands. Her mind was already switching back to logic mode, worrying about the cum on her costume, the time she had left before going on stage, whether anyone had heard them.
"I have to get ready," she said.
"Look at me," he said. She did. His eyes were so beautiful, green and gold and blue. She loved his eyes, and nothing made her feel sexier than having his eyes focused on her. The gaze of a thrilled audience was nothing compared to a single look from Alec.
"We are great," he said. "That's all you need to think about."
He kissed her, and she opened her mouth to him, her stomach doing the little flip it always did, still, five years into their relationship.
He smacked her playfully on the ass.
"Are we cool?" he said.
"It's not that simple."
"I think it should be."
The first chords of "Heads Will Roll" played over the sound system: showtime.
The thirty seconds before she stepped onto the stage were always the same for her: sheer, unmitigated terror. And then the music kicked in, and the darkness gave way to a stage light, and she tugged off a glove or a stocking, and the crowd met her gesture with applause or catcalls or whistles—the usual give-and-take between burlesque performer and audience that was as much a part of the show as the exposure of any body part.
Tonight, she stepped out in her slutty Marie Antoinette garb (complete with towering blond wig), and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs filled the room with the opening refrain: "Off with your head ... off with your head ..." The crowd erupted in laughter and applause. They get it, she thought, and that initial connection to the crowd fueled her through the first minute of her act.
She slowly draped herself over a chair, pulling up her dress to reveal her garter. The crowd screamed and clapped, and she turned to flash her ass. She felt the heat of the stage lights on her skin, and she realized her pussy was still throbbing slightly from Alec's touch.
The song pulsed toward the middle, and she had to fight the urge to race through her act. The foreplay with Alec had left her oddly unsatisfied, and the only thing that would make her feel better now was the rush that came with baring her body to the eyes of dozens of strangers. But going too quickly wouldn't be fair to the audience, and when she was on stage, they were the most important part of the show. It wasn't really about her at all, and her recognition of that fact made her a better performer than most.
When it was finally time, the tempo high and the song peaking, Mallory tugged on the dress's easy-off seam—and she turned in front of the crowd with bare breasts, her nipples covered with sequined French flag pasties (which elicited yet another round of frenzied applause and shrieks). Her pussy was barely concealed by her white lace Belabumbum thong, and her legs stretched long and invitingly thanks to four-inch Celine heels (thank you, paralegal paycheck).
She circled to the rear of the stage, then up toward the front. She cupped her breasts as if offering them to the audience, and the crescendo of applause was almost as good as the pressure of Alec's fingers inside of her. She slowly eased out of her thong and felt the surge of adrenaline that always came with the knowledge that forty strangers were staring at her shaved pussy. She moved back to the chair, crouched with her bare ass to the audience, and rested her head as if in a guillotine.
Stage to black.
Chapter TwoMallory made her exit as a striking blonde rushed to the stage: Violet Offender. She was Agnes's latest discovery, a performer who put punk before pussy, with tattoos above her crotch and ass to prove it. The first time Mallory saw Violet take off her clothes to reveal the words inscribed below her navel and on her lower back, she couldn't believe her eyes: on Violet's front, the tattoo read Merci; on the rear, a centimeter above her ass, it read No Mercy.
Mallory tried to make a quick getaway. The sight of Violet killed her post-performance buzz.
"Hey—that was very cool," Violet said, grabbing Mallory's arm. Mallory pulled back as if touched by something hot.
Excerpted from Fallen Angel by LOGAN BELLE Copyright © 2011 by Logan Belle. Excerpted by permission of APHRODISIA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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