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Lola executed another high kick as, with a graceful arch of her back, she held on for another torrid revolution around the large chrome pole mounted in the center of the stage. The shaft, polished by the oils of a thousand previous hands, and other assorted body parts as well, somehow felt calming and reassuring. The clientele expected the pole and one was standard in almost every club, even an upscale "gown club" like Clyde's. Lola worked it now with an expertise borne of familiarity. Over the past five years she'd gained prestige, and as the headliner, she now performed during the "money hours," between five and nine o'clock when weary businessmen came in for a little R & R before returning home to their families. Though the work was now second nature to her and she could do her routine with minimal mental involvement, making "eye candy" with the customers was a crucial component of generating more tips. An appreciative crowd roared its approval, and Lola knew she was giving a stellar performance.
Clyde's prided itself on having dancers with real class and talent, and a clientele that behaved accordingly. The gold silk lamé dress and long white opera gloves she'd initially worn were very traditional, as was her upswept hairdo. If not for her outrageous curves, it would not have been difficult to imagine that she was out for an evening at the opera. However, as the genteel delicacy of Mozart gave way to the driving hard rock beat of Storm Crow, she'd quickly doffed her elegant affectations and released the wild stage persona she was noted for. Her glorious mane of crinkly black hair whipping wildly about her head, her hips grinding out the furious beat, Lola had the crowdin the palm of her hand and she knew it. The stage was littered with bills, most of them small denominations, but she saw quite a few twenties also. Her G-string bulged with even more bills. As much as she hated it, dancers were always richly rewarded when they approached the meat rack, the periphery of the stage where patrons congregated for a chance to show their appreciation for a girl's performance. "Accidental" groping was the norm and made a sleazy exchange even worse. The floor managers usually kept that type of thing to a minimum, but some jerk always had to try his luck.
Her fiery image reflected by several mirrors on the stage, Lola whirled around with movements purposely designed to raise the blood pressure of any man present. Her hips gyrated as though they were set on ball bearings, adding even more heat to the explosive dance. The spangled gold G-string and matching bikini top had no hope of containing a body that seemed endowed by Venus herself, and the crowd waited breathlessly for the costume to relinquish its beauteous bounty. They were somewhat pacified when the top gave way to reveal wonderfully firm, golden-hued breasts totally free of silicone enhancement. If they were expecting more, they were doomed to disappointment as, with a thunderous downbeat, Lola dropped to the floor in an explosive scissors split before hastily exiting the stage.
Back in the dressing room, Lola hurriedly wiped a towel over her sweaty limbs. She had to get back into the club as quickly as possible after her set to begin the hustle, the individual table dances that generated the bulk of her income. Customers were fickle, and if she didn't return quickly they could easily be distracted by another girl's performance. She took slow deep breaths to calm her racing pulse. Despite the artificially cool building and daily workouts, dancing a four-song set in six-inch stilettos usually left her gasping for breath and dripping with sweat. Fortunately, the clientele that sat near the stage tended to think her glistening limbs were sexy, so it did not deter them. However, in the close proximity of a table dance, she needed to be as pristine as possible. She paused for a moment thinking about the large blond man who had risen to his feet as if in a daze and stood there near the edge of the stage throughout her whole set. Without her glasses, she couldn't really make out his face, but the poor guy was obviously entranced. Juicy, the bartender, had indicated that he and his friends were big spenders. Juicy didn't do that for all the girls--only the ones who were savvy enough to tip out with him at the end of the night. Experience had taught Lola that it paid to tip out with the bartender, the deejay, and the floor managers. They could make or break a dancer in a very short time. The upfront expenditure more than paid off in profitable dividends in the end as she got the benefit of Juicy's leads, security, and the assurance of having her music played in the order she directed.
With the guy standing there so transfixed, Lola had kicked up the intensity of her performance and intended to hustle that table as hard as she could when she returned to the floor. She briefly considered changing costumes, then shook her head. The gold lamé was the best she had, and the color accentuated the rich radiant tones of her skin. The Costume Lady had made it as a custom order, and it had cost her dearly. Customer reaction more than justified the expense. One of her regulars had told her it was hard to tell where the costume ended and she began, but he certainly enjoyed trying.
Guzzling thirstily from the large bottle of water the bartender kept just for her, she checked herself over. She'd never had to pay any appearance fines before, and had no intention of doing so now. Confident that her exertions were no longer evident, she pushed her hair back off her face and squared her shoulders as she prepared to rejoin the fray. She almost felt sorry for the guy--poor thing would never know what hit him.
"Jesus, man, will you please sit down! You act like you've never been in a titty bar before!"
Koss ignored the exasperated demand. Indeed, he had hardly heard his friend. If truth be told, he had never been in such a place before, and D-Day knew it. Besides, he had no intention of returning to their table, at least not until the dancer he was watching completed her set and left the stage. He'd never seen such an incredible woman before and desperately wanted to meet her. Mesmerized by the sleek movement of feminine muscles beneath the gleam of her golden brown skin, he continued his vigil as she ended her dance in an explosive split then exited the stage. He stood there bereft until D-Day approached him and led him back to the table.
"Come on man, she'll be back out. They always come around to do table dances."
Koss frowned dubiously as he studied the spindly table. There was no way a woman of such Amazonian proportions could dance on that thing. "Table dances?"
"Damn, dude, where have you been? Living in a cave somewhere? They always do table dances. Matter of fact, in some places they do even lap dances. But not here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, of course. They can't make any contact at all." He sighed regretfully. "But a table dance is still good." He caught Koss's puzzled glance. "She'll dance at the table, not on it!" D-Day shook his head at him, but Koss didn't really notice. His friend was a certified expert on the seamier side of life. Indeed, he could've gotten a PhD on the subject long before he left high school. He'd been trying to corrupt Koss for a while. It was tough going at best, and their visit to Clyde's was the latest attempt in his campaign. They and several more of their friends from Birmingham University were out celebrating D-Day's successful dissertation defense. D-Day led such a debauched life it was a seven-day wonder that he'd ever acquired his doctorate. Everyone asked, only half-jokingly, who he had slept with to get his final. He had lingered in the ABD realm for so long, the betting pool had run two to one that he'd be in rehab or prison long before he came close to completing the program requirements.
As they returned to the table he sighed in his usual melodramatic fashion. "Wouldn't you know it. I work my ass off to corrupt Koss, and what does he do? Falls in love with the first dancer he sees! And a hot black chick at that. Poor bastard doesn't have a chance. Poor schmuck." He shook his head mournfully--a tragicomic figure. "Where did I go wrong?"
Koss continued to ignore him, watching avidly for the dancer's return to the floor. When he saw her approach the bar he immediately moved in that direction also, but she slipped backstage before he could reach her. He caught the bartender's eye and asked if she would be returning soon. The bartender replied in the affirmative, and handed him the Newcastle he'd ordered. Seeing Koss so totally focused on the backstage door, the man gave him a fierce look. "Hey man, if you're just looking to score a piece of ass, Sin's not the one."
Jarred from his reverie, Koss beetled his brow as he gave the man a bewildered look. "What?"
The bartender repeated himself with emphasis. "I said, Sin's not the one if you're just wanting to get some. Some of the girls do the mileage thing, but Sin doesn't."
Koss gave the man his full attention. At six-four and two hundred and thirty pounds, he rarely met anyone as large as himself, but this man outweighed him by at least fifty pounds. His dark skin gleamed and bulged with muscle that belied any notion that his size might be attributable to fat. No, this guy was solid through and through. Koss wondered if he freelanced as a bouncer in addition to his bartending duties.
"Mileage? What the hell are you talking about?"
The bartender gave him a quizzical glance, then shook his head. "Mileage is sexual stuff some of the girls do, but Sin doesn't go there."
"Is that her name? Sin?" Koss asked, thinking that no name could be more appropriate for a woman who made him want to violate all seven of the deadly ones and create a few of his own.
The bartender frowned deeply, the movement drawing attention to a large scar that bisected his face, contributing to his fiercely intimidating look. "It's not her real name, it's her stage name. All the girls use them."
Koss shifted uneasily at the big man's unwavering stare. He wondered what he was thinking as he seemed to be making some type of assessment. Apparently he'd found what he was looking for as he suddenly smiled.
"Tell you what, man. How about I ask her to join y'all at your table?"
Koss paused, unsure what had caused the change in the guy's manner. He nodded as he moved back toward his table. "I appreciate it."
Juicy made a thumbs-up gesture. "No problem, man. Glad to do it." He shook his head as Koss walked away, wondering what the hell someone that innocent was doing in a place like Clyde's. Lola's going to take him for everything he's got. I hope she at least leaves the poor boy with cab fare home.
"Y'all looking for a little company?" Lola murmured as she walked up to the table of high rollers Juicy had directed her to, watching closely for the big blond man she'd noted during her performance. When she finally located him she felt light-headed as her heartbeat stuttered to a near halt.
Oh, shit! What in the hell is Dr. Koss doing here?
She watched breathlessly as the star professor in her department stood at her approach. He extracted his wallet from his back pocket and took out a twenty dollar bill, the going rate for a table dance. Breathing didn't get any easier when he gestured toward a chair and invited her to join them.
Lola backed away, her mind frantically racing as she tried to come up with an excuse for leaving. Finally, with a woefully inadequate "I forgot something," she ran from the table, breaking all land speed records for a woman in six-inch heels.
Koss immediately moved to follow, but D-Day grabbed his arm to keep him from chasing after Sin's rapidly retreating figure.
"Hey, man," he insisted. "No point in getting your ass whupped tonight. They're not going to let you go after her." He gestured toward the bouncers, politely known as floor managers, who had immediately moved in their direction. He shook his head in their direction and they backed off, apparently accepting his indication that they wouldn't be giving them any further trouble.
Koss studied the other men briefly, then turned and returned to their table, his hands extended to his sides in a helpless gesture as he shook his head. "What the hell just happened here? What did I do wrong?"
D-Day slipped back into his seat, shaking his head in puzzlement. "Damn! That's the first time I've ever seen a stripper run away from money!" He turned to look at Koss. "I swear to God, man, you could fall into a barrel full of naked women and come out sucking your thumb."