Strip Pokerby Lisa Lawrence
For Teresa Knight, it is a game like no other. A game of bluff and chance whose stakes go far beyond erotic titillation. Where violence and voyeurism collide and sex is about to become the last line of defense. Hired to find out who’s blackmailing a prominent black politician who likes her sex on the wild side, Teresa becomes a player in an underground game of… See more details below
For Teresa Knight, it is a game like no other. A game of bluff and chance whose stakes go far beyond erotic titillation. Where violence and voyeurism collide and sex is about to become the last line of defense. Hired to find out who’s blackmailing a prominent black politician who likes her sex on the wild side, Teresa becomes a player in an underground game of strip poker. It’s a quest that will tap into her own voracious sexual appetites and introduce her to some wildly uninhibited men and women, all of whom are leading secret lives.
But as the reluctant sleuth descends deeper into a world of pleasure and fantasy, murder suddenly ups the ante. From smoky underground clubs to uptown mansions to a shadowy corporate entity whose tentacles reach into the highest levels of government, Teresa is on an increasingly obsessive search to expose a killer, unravel a mystery—and have a little fun along the way. . . .
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By Lisa Lawrence
DeltaCopyright © 2007 Lisa Lawrence
All right reserved.
Please be advised that this excerpt contains adult material, unsuitable for younger readers.
Stretch limos don't normally impress me. Except I wouldn't think you could get a full-size massage table in one. Goes to show you how good my depth perception is. The legs were sawed off like those of a stool, but I was high enough to look through the tinted windows at all the kids smoking pot and the frustrated map readers at the Eros fountain in Piccadilly. I was lying on my back, nude, which was okay by me because Fitz was naked as well, kneeling at the end of the table, cradling my right foot in one hand.
He had spent the last forty minutes reducing me to a pliant mass of soft flesh, practically every muscle in my body relaxed while the whole limo smelled like lavender and a couple of other massage oils. Alicia Keys's new album was playing on the portable stereo. And there was Fitz, nut-brown biceps flexing and swelling as his fingers worked the ball of my foot, that wide chest of his falling and rising with each breath. When he inched his way forward on one knee, I looked at the vanity mirror he had propped up and got a terrific view of his ass in the reflection.
He smiled down at me, warm brown eyes and flashing white teeth framed by his funky dreads. I had this honey glaze from the oil on my dark skin, and he was getting this polish sheen of sweat from his efforts. Myeyes kept straying to his long, thick dick that kept insistently pointing north. Fitz and I don't have much of a relationship. Sure, we sleep together regularly, but he's more like . . . I don't know, sexual comfort food.
As the car made its wide turn onto Regent Street like a sea barge, I glanced down and thought: I'm gonna have to do something soon about that gorgeous cock. Only I was a little busy. His right hand kneading my toes, while his left was working the lubed-up dildo in my pussy, and I heard his voice say gently over the music, "Hey, I don't think I ever showed you this trick. Doesn't work on everyone, but . . ."
That tiny buzzing sound of the dildo motor as he plunged it in deeper just as the pad of his thumb pressed hard on this point (don't ask me where the hell it is!) in the arch of my foot. And then I was spontaneously, violently, coming. "Shit! Oh, shit, Fitz, do that again, baby!"
My head fell back against the cushioned headpiece of the massage table, my back arching, and I was clawing at the white sheet. I told him hoarsely that I thought we better close the sunroof. They'd probably hear me out there in Oxford Circus.
And then my mobile rang.
I was going to ignore it. Fitz was ignoring it. He sent me into another small convulsion and as I floated down from the high, that damn phone kept ringing on and on, and I saw the number on the caller ID. Helena.
Fitz worked for my friend Helena Willoughby these days. He was with me tonight "on loan" as a way to get me to do a favour for her. I wasn't sure what the favour was going to be, but I was certain it would be a bit dodgy. Of course, if I really wanted or needed to see Fitz, I could call him up any time I liked, but it was Helena who tossed in the frills–what she liked to call "OTT TLC." Over-the-top tender loving care. The limo, the champagne on ice with the Belgian chocolates I loved, not to mention the chocolate-coloured man I could just eat up as well. Seeing Fitz as a "client" made things less complicated, and if Helena wanted to pick up the tab, hey, why not? I could always say no.
"Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah!"
Oh, I was pretty far from saying no.
That damn phone.
"Helena, your timing absolutely sucks."
Evil giggling at the other end. "Sounds like you're having a good time. Can I count on you?"
"You know it's going to cost you more than a couple of foot rubs."
I expected her to wind me up further with how he was rubbing more than my feet, but she turned serious. In fact, I could hear a trace of fear in her voice. She was doing her best to keep the tone light, but she was deeply troubled.
"Cost is no object, really. When you guys finish up, can you come out to the house?"
"Listen, honey, if it's that bad, I'll swing over now–"
"No, no," she said briskly. Long nervous breath down through the line. "An hour or two will be fine. I appreciate it, I really do. And you'll be handsomely compensated. Teresa . . . ?"
"I haven't, um, seen you for a while," she said carefully. "You kept yourself up, haven't you?"
I laughed in disbelief into the phone. "What?"
"I mean you still work out, don't you?"
I checked myself out in the mirror for Helena's sake. Damn her for making me self-conscious about my body. Had I kept myself up? Mmmmm, yes. I saw a young woman closing in on thirty but not showing it too much, I hoped. My legs were still long and toned. I always thought my ass was a little too big, but hey, why was she asking me this? The neck. You start to show age in the neck and around the eyes, don't you? Jesus, she was making me paranoid.
"Helena, why don't you ask Fitz for his opinion when we come in?"
"I'm sorry, darling." A quick goodbye, and then she rang off.
"She wants me to come out to the house," I told Fitz, my fingertips reaching for his still-hard penis, "but we have some time. You know any other pressure points like that one?"
Helena lived out in Richmond-upon-Thames, in a five- bedroom house that was twenty minutes' walk from the rail station and ten minutes' drive from the Park. She was always destined to be out there or somewhere in SW land, bred from oh-so-respectable middle-tier Knightsbridge stock. The surprise was that her mortgage payments came from good-looking hunks taking out London's female rich and elite, women in their late thirties, forties and fifties. The guys took the ladies to dinner, to premieres and to galas and sometimes to bed. Helena probably ran the most successful male escort agency for "straight dates" in London.
I came to know her because I was initially a friend of her sister Susan. It was that "interesting" period of my life, as I call it, when I dropped out of Uni at Oxford and thoroughly pissed off my family. I was looking for ways to make money that didn't involve long stretches of boredom. Susan put me onto Helena, about ten or fifteen years older than us, who needed someone to do a bit of snooping on a competitor. Long story with a couple of ugly details, but let's just say the guy from the Met who wanted his kickback ended up being bounced from the force.
Since Helena and I had hit it off, we socialised now and then. And she asked me if I knew any guys who were reasonably intelligent, could conduct themselves well and would be discreet enough for her business. The pay was good, and a "date" for an evening didn't necessarily imply sex. That was always negotiated beforehand very, very carefully, and Helena expected her cut. At the time, my fling was winding down with Fitz. I knew he had a dream of opening his own massage centre one day that would offer Swedish, Shiatsu, aromatherapy–you get the idea. Banks don't always care for tall black men coming in and asking for business loans. Hell, banks don't like anybody. If he could get his stake together, good luck to him.
So Fitz went off to work for Helena, and I moved on to other jobs. I've been an international courier, spending my nights on red-eye flights back and forth to Chicago. I did a bit of work in Geneva trying to help another friend sell modern art through her gallery (that's the one that paid for brief gracious living in the Nuba Mountains). And when the appraisals got a bit shady I was asked to look into that, too. Little by little over time, I've wound up earning my keep by solving unpleasant little problems for people. Sometimes all of London looks like it's on the fiddle or has a small secret business going on to get around Inland Revenue.
Helena's trouble came along at the right moment. Rent was due soon on my flat in Earl's Court, and if I didn't have anything else, I would have to temp again at a media clipping service (yecchh) or at a reception desk (double-yecchh) or scrounge from my friend Richard to lead a few classes at his women's self-defence and kickboxing school, but that would only be good for a few trips to Sainsbury's. So naturally I was prepared to accept Helena's chore. Only the first rule of business is: never show your client how eagerly you want them.
Fitz hadn't quite learned that one yet. As the limo left Hammersmith and snaked its way towards Chiswick and onto North Sheen, he filled me in one smooth, delicious stroke. . . .
Excerpted from Strip Poker by Lisa Lawrence Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Lawrence. Excerpted by permission.
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