Sam Richmond is a workaholic in danger of becoming the very man he despises—his father. Stressed and sick with worry, he’s desperate to shake off the shackles that bind him to his current path and embark on a life lived only for himself.
His friends are determined to pull him out of his funk and decide to drag him to a strip club that caters to both men and women. Sam is shocked when he develops an attraction to the show’s male headliner: Rico McIntyre. The two men end up in a backroom for a private lap dance that ends up being a game-changer for them.
Because, despite the fact that they both identify themselves as heterosexual, they decide to explore their strange attraction for one another—if only for one night. But one night quickly becomes another and then another, until a misunderstanding tears the two apart. Both men attempt to forget about the other, only for life to unexpectedly reunite them.
Can Sam and Rico embark on a relationship and come to terms with their new understandings of themselves and who they love? Or are they doomed from the start?
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Strip Me 1 Sam
You know those friends you have? The good-time Charlies. The class clowns. The party-’til-you-drop—out of college, in some cases—guys. The ones you wonder why you’re still friends with the next morning after a banging night, and yet you still manage to get dragged out (of your comfort zone) by them again. On repeat. Those friends?
It would appear all of my buddies—and I’m using the term loosely here—have morphed into those type of friends with this latest scheme to “make Sam less boring.” What can I say? I’m a busy guy with a high-pressure job. I don’t have the time—or the luxury—to party like we did in college. I have countless responsibilities at work. Deadlines to meet, clients to satisfy.
People rely on me. Some to get the job done, others for a paycheck. If I slack off in my responsibilities, people suffer. I know this better than anyone. Hell, it’s been drilled into me since I was a kid by a father who made no secret of where his priorities lay, and they weren’t at home with the wife and kids, that’s for shit sure. And he fully expects me to take right after him.
But my friends can’t relate because they weren’t raised by the emotionless, work-driven bastard that is my father, otherwise known as Samuel Carlton Richmond, the first.
What a fucking pretentious name. Too bad I’m the second—and he fully expects my firstborn son to be the third. Wonder what he’d think if I told him I’ve decided not to have kids. With him as a role model, I’d rather cut off his precious family line at my balls and save any unborn children the indignity of being reared by the man. And, seriously, who brands their kid with such a pretentious name and expects him to wear it with pride—like it’s a badge of honor or some such shit? So whatever you do, don’t ever triple-name me. Call me Sam and we’ll get along fine. A lesson all my buddies learned the hard way.
Here’s another lesson, my friends: this is not my idea of a fun way to unwind.
“You brought me to a fucking strip club?” I demand when we first enter the building and I catch a glimpse of our playground for the night. “On my birthday?”
Oh right, did I forget to mention that part? Today, I marked thirty-two years in the can with breakfast alone at my condo, lunch with some VIP clients, a conservative dinner with my family—hence my current attire of business formal in my favorite shade of navy—and now this.
I know what you’re thinking. How could I not have known where they were taking me once we arrived here, right? Well, let me tell you, the exterior of this place does not prepare one for what’s inside; it’s a nondescript building with a simple sign, in calligraphy, proclaiming it “The Executive Suite.” For all I knew it was an exclusive club catering to the needs of men of a certain demographic. Oh, it caters to men, all right. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—when the women dance. Thursday and Friday, it’s all about the ladies with the men performing. What about the weekend? Well, according to the discreet sign on the wall in the lobby, Saturday is coed night with both sexes sharing the stage, and Sunday the club is closed—unless there’s an MMA event in the basement. So they cater to all types of needs here—sport and pleasure.
And this year my birthday just so happened to land on a . . . Saturday. Convenient, huh? Thank fuck it didn’t land on a Friday—I might’ve ended up here on an all-male night. I wouldn’t put it past these fuckers. They’ll do anything to shake me up or get a good laugh, and if it happens at the same time—all the better.
Still, there’s no getting around the fact that, at some point tonight, men will be getting just as naked as their female counterparts. And I’m going to be forced to watch it. Because I know, now that they finally got me here, there’s no chance in hell they’re letting me leave until they’ve shown me a “proper good time.” In other words, getting drunk on good booze and naked bodies.
Not my scene at all. So of course, I balk at this. “Oh, you’ve got to be shitting me,” I grumble as I start to turn back, desperate to get out of here. But my friends won’t let me.
“Come on, Sammy, it’ll be fun,” says my oldest friend from childhood, Parker “Just call me Park” Evanston. As he literally holds me back from leaving. The bastard. He even gives me that sideways smile he claims can get him anything he wants—from either gender, if he’s so inclined. But not from me. I’m too well acquainted with that smile to fall for its tricks. I’m also not susceptible to his Sinatra-blue eyes or golden-boy looks or charm. Sell it somewhere else, brother, I’m not buying.
To convey that message, I give Park my best “I’m a Richmond, I look down on you” glare, but it has no effect on him; the guy’s grown immune to it over the years of knowing me, just as I’ve grown immune to him. Most of the time. “In what lifetime did you think this”—I jerk my head toward the sign behind the bouncer—“would be fun for me? And on my fucking birthday—are you kidding me with this shit?”
Of all the friends I have, and I have quite a few, Park knows better than anyone else how I feel about things like this. Raised as I was by an absentee father with less sentiment than my smartphone and a mother so caught up in the struggle of raising a child with health issues—that’d be my much-younger sister, Lisa—she barely had time for me and my normal problems, I’m not exactly comfortable in situations like this. PDA? Keep it behind closed doors, please. Public nudity? Isn’t there a law about that? So me, in a strip club? On my birthday—the day infamous for putting you at the center of attention? Not in this lifetime, bud.
If only my friends felt the same way.
I push; they pull. I push harder. They just redouble their efforts, dragging me into a vast, low-lit room that can only be the location of the main attraction: the strippers. I mean, there’s the stage, at the end of the long, rectangular room that opens up to the right of the entrance. The stage is in the far-left corner. The empty stage. Of course we got here before the show started—my buddies wouldn’t want me to miss a damn thing, now would they? Assholes.
With a shake of my head, I hone in on the massive bar polished to a high sheen that takes up most of the back wall; only a doorway to a hallway separates it from the equally impressive stage. Since it’s still early yet, there’s plenty of real estate available at the massive structure—more than enough for five of us to inhabit for the night. Perfect. If I must mark my thirty-second year in a strip club, I’d prefer to do it as far away from the stage as possible within the confines of the building. I make a move in that direction.
But I barely make it two steps before my so-called friends grab me by the arms to drag me in the other direction—toward the stage. Of fucking course.
I can only imagine what a sight we must make. Me, in my Michael Kors business suit being manhandled by four guys who look like they wandered in off the set of the latest Boston-based crime movie: Park, with his carefully-styled, trying-to-hide-the-curls blond locks and his Men’s Wearhouse suit jacket over mismatched trousers and a blue-striped button-down; Marco, with his riot of dark curls and olive eyes proclaiming his Italian heritage, in a maroon Henley and back jeans; Dean, with his sandy-brown hair parted to the side and his blue-green eyes taking everything in, sporting a denim blazer over a polo shirt and jeans; and Quince, with his dark hair buzzed down to his scalp and his all-seeing gray eyes, so tall (he’s got to be over six-five) most of his clothes have to be custom-fit. Yeah, we look like a regular group of wiseguys, but all of us work well within the confines of the law. Well, maybe with the exception of Marco, who heads up his own PI firm; he hates it when we call it that—he likes to refer to it as an “intelligence agency.”
Yeah, so, there I am, being dragged through a strip club—on coed dancer night—by my motley crew of friends. And feeling more awkward, not to mention pissed off, the closer we get to our destination.
Sure enough, my suspicions are confirmed about a minute later when we finally reach it: a table directly in front of the slightly elevated—it’s only about a foot off the ground—stage. With a reserved sign on it.
The fuckers reserved the table for us.
I didn’t even know you could do that.
And what’s worse: the table is decorated to fit the occasion, party hats and noisemakers included. Oh, you’ve got to be shitting me. The reserved sign even states, “For the Birthday Boy.”
There’s no getting out of this shit now.
I cast another murderous glare at my friends that goes unnoticed—or should I say, unacknowledged—as we take our places at the table, me closest to the stage, of course. Hello, birthday boy here.
That’s it. Next year, I’m going to Cabo for the weeks before and after my birthday—alone. No way I’m getting sucked into something like this again.
That decided, I settle into the comfortable sofa-like seat that curves around a bistro table in a semicircle of hard wood and black microfiber. Nice. A casual glance around at my surprisingly sophisticated surroundings—it almost looks like the inside of a fancy country club with its low lighting and semiprivate seating; I can see many business deals going down at these tables—puts me more at ease. Quite a few tables boast small groups of men among our rowdier female counterparts.
For some reason, that makes me relax a little more, and when the drinks start to freely flow my way—I guess there are some perks to being the birthday boy, after all—I let down my guard a bit. Even start to enjoy myself despite being so close to the center of attention, with the performers catering to me when they realize it’s my birthday. What can I say? The booze is top shelf, the music hypnotic, and the dancers are, well, actual dancers—not just some toned bodies wrapping themselves around stripper poles and calling it art. They actually know how to dance and they’re good at it. Even the men.
I didn’t mean to watch them. Once I realized what the set-up was—how they alternate, every other dance, between genders—I figured I’d ignore the stage while the male dancers were performing. At least that was my intention. But a drink or three in, my plan is shot to shit when a certain performer snags my attention—and holds it.
I try to look away.
But I can’t.
There’s just something about the way the Zorro-masked dancer, “Rocco Starr,” undulates onstage that’s sensual as fuck. I may not swing that way, but hell, even I can appreciate it. As evidenced by the semi I sprout watching him move across the glossy platform. Fucking hell.
What can I say? The guy is mesmerizing. The way he rolls his oil-slicked body and bucks his leather-clad—fucking leather—hips; it’s like he’s emulating fucking up there.
And now I’m thinking about getting laid.
While watching a dude dance.
What the fuck? I’m not even bi-curious, let alone gay, but I’m intrigued about this guy? Shit. How much did I have to drink?
Fuck, he’s doing it again. The undulating thing. Does he buck his hips like that when he thrusts into his partner?
Shit, why am I thinking about this?
Are his movements slow and sensuous, like they are to this song? Or does he move hard and fast?
Why can’t I stop thinking about this?
Or maybe he does a combination of both. Ahh, fuuuck.
Why am I so interested in this? In him? It’s not like I’m ever going to be there to see him in action. Hell, after this night, I’ll never see him again, period. This is a one-shot deal, so . . . why not make the most of it? It’s my birthday, after all; I can do whatever I want on this day and file it under birthday perks or some shit, no worries about repercussions—kind of like that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” rule. Yeah, that’s it.
Besides, it can’t hurt to watch . . . and wonder. No harm in that. I bet I’m not the only one here doing it, men included. This guy is just that good. He’s got everyone’s attention, and all of them, right down to the very last dick in the house, are enthralled by his sensuous motions up on that stage. Hell, at least I’m in good company tonight.
So I fantasize as I watch the dude dance. Imagine what he’s like in bed—not hard to do when he pairs up with a female dancer and they all but burn up the stage with their dirty moves. It’s so damn hot, I find myself shifting in my seat to ease—and hide—my growing erection. And I’m not the only one. All around me, I notice guys, my friends included, doing the same. And the women? They’re about out of their fucking minds, literally screaming for release as they fan themselves with whatever’s handy. All throughout the room, it’s one big fucking orgasm waiting to happen.
And it’s sexy as fuck.
Shit, a few more drinks and a few less clothes and inhibitions, and we could have ourselves one hell of an orgy right here. Hell, we practically are already. And I’m . . . okay with that. More than okay—and I’m not even into that shit. Issues with PDA, remember? But the idea of it is mind-blowing. I almost want to try it. Almost.
Just like I almost want to take that woman’s place onstage with Mr. Rocco Starr.
Where’d that thought come from?
The mind can’t be trusted when it’s soaked in alcohol, especially alcohol of this quality. So I can’t be held responsible for what I think tonight, right? Or how my cock responds to a certain dancer.
But the thing is, I don’t feel drunk—at least not on booze. I know my limits, a hard-learned lesson in college, and I haven’t yet reached them. I’m not even close to the point of no return, so this is all on me. This drunk feeling I’m experiencing? It’s not from booze; it’s pure adrenaline. I’m high on the fantasy of watching another man fuck, something I never really got off on—until tonight.
What. The. Fuck.
My discomfort must be obvious despite my best efforts to hide it because, at one point during the night, Park leans over to me to ask, “You okay there, buddy?” He flicks his gaze down at my crotch. “You know they can take care of that in a private room.”
I nearly choke on my drink at his words. “What?” I lean closer to him so no one overhears what I say next. “They let you have sex in the club? With the dancers?”
“Well, not necessarily. But they will give you a private lap dance, and if you come, you come—they won’t charge you extra for it.” He says this last with a little chuckle. A devious one. Fucker—he must know exactly what I was thinking. “Want us to set that up for you? Consider it a birthday present.”
No fucking way. Never mind the heat that suffuses my body at the idea. To cover my reaction, I hide behind my glass, muttering, “Thanks, but I’m good.”
And that is the end of that.
Or so I thought.