“For fuck’s sake,” Dawg muttered. He glanced at the digital clock that was hidden behind the bar for the tenth time.
The bitch was late.
She’d begged him for an audition, even though his stable was full.
Her soft, husky voice over the phone finally convinced him to say yes. Against his better judgement, of course. Because when he asked her if she was experienced, she beat around the fucking bush.
Which meant she wasn’t. And he had no patience for amateurs or novices.
Scrubbing a hand over his beard, he shot a glance at the front entrance, then at the clock once more.
He grabbed a cold Iron City beer from the cooler behind the bar, popped the tab on the can and lifted it to his lips.
He was done.
No bitch was worth the wait.
He’d been stood up. Almost like a bad date. Though it had been a long time since he’d been on anything that was even remotely similar to one.
Well, unless fucking some random snatch until she came all over him was considered a date. Most likely it wasn’t. An actual date probably included flowers, a movie and even dinner.
Or at least a shot of whiskey and a little fingering, before busting a nut.
“Fuck you, bitch. Dawg waits for no one,” he muttered to the sweating beer can in his hand, then took another swallow of the ice-cold brew.
But, fuck him, if he didn’t stand there and wait even longer. Again, it was that smooth as warm honey voice that made him keep his ass planted right where he was. He’d give her until he finished his beer. Then he’d head back up to his apartment, knock a quick one out with his own palm, and catch some more zzz’s.
He slammed the can onto the bar, causing it to splash over his fist. With another curse, he wiped his dripping hand along his jeans.
Then he heard the door open down the front corridor and a sliver of ass-crack-of-dawn sunlight reflected off the wall. Suddenly a woman was standing at the end of the hall, pale as shit and eyes wide. Like a skittish doe about to be plowed down by a Mack truck.
Raking his gaze over her from top to toe, the first thing that hit him was she had sweet fucking tits. If they were real, she already had a leg up on this audition. The second was...
She was wearing a fucking high-neck blouse.
Who the fuck wore a boring beige top that covered her as much as a turtleneck to a stripper audition?
Her waist was narrow, her hips curvy, and...
She wore a skirt all the way to her fucking ankles.
And she wasn’t even wearing heels!
“What the fuck,” he muttered.
Maybe she was confused and was looking for a church nearby.
While there were a lot of “Oh Gods!” being said in his establishment, they were usually during private lap dances.
“Are you Dawson?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw as his teeth clenched. Dawson? He hadn’t heard that name spoken out loud in a long damn time.
“Dawg,” he grunted.
She blinked, but remained at the end of the corridor. He wanted to see what color those eyes of hers were and if they matched the husky tone of her voice.
“Dog? Like the woof-woof kind of dog?”
“What the fuck,” he muttered once more. “No, like Dawg... D-A-W-G.”
She tilted her head and studied him. There was another thing wrong with her... Her hair was pulled up high and tight. His customers liked his girls’ hair long and loose. So they could swing it when they danced. So the men could imagine fisting it while they fantasized about one of his girls sucking them off. Or picture pulling it like the reins of a pony while fucking one of them doggy-style and slapping their ass.
Which never happened on his watch. Fuck no. His girls weren’t whores. They were “exotic entertainers.” They didn’t put out for money. If they did, and he found out about it, they were outside looking in faster than they could say “G-string.” He ran a respectable joint and certainly didn’t need Shadow Valley PD breathing down his goddamn neck.
Though some of them did give it up to his brothers in the Dirty Angels MC, that was their choice and not for money. None were forced to do it. It had to be a mutual agreement between the brother and the girl.
A little reciprocal pleasure.
As he stared at the woman still hovering by the nearest escape route, he doubted this woman would give it up to any biker. She seemed way too uptight for that.
“I-I think I made a mistake.”
That was an understatement. “I’d fuckin’ say so.”
Dawg finished off his beer, crumpled the can in his hand and whipped it into the recycle bin under the counter, then rounded the end of the bar.
Her eyes widened once again when he approached her. Which kind of, sort of, bothered him.
Yeah, he knew he could be a little intimidating. He was a big dude. He had a beard. He had a bunch of tats. He wore bulky silver rings on his thick fingers and a cut proclaiming that he was DAMC and damn proud of it. But he wasn’t a man who hurt women.
Fuck no. When they screamed it was because he was licking their pussy so good that...
Fuck. Now he had half a fucking hard-on. And if he yanked on it to adjust it to a more comfortable position, she might just pee her panties. Or bloomers. Or whatever the fuck she wore under that awful shit-brown skirt.
“Don’t know what you’re lookin’ for, but it ain’t here.”
He couldn’t miss how hard she swallowed before taking a tentative step forward. “I called you about an audition.”
Dawg eyeballed her up and down in slow motion on purpose, so she’d realize this place wasn’t for her. When color flooded her cheeks, it cemented his opinion.
“What fuckin’ stripper wears a goddamn shirt that don’t show any cleavage an’ a skirt—” he lifted a ringed finger, “—not short and leather, fuck no. One that covers her down to her ankles?”
She glanced down at herself for a second, then looked back up at him and shrugged slightly. “A kindergarten teacher.”
Dawg’s head jerked back. “A fuckin’ what?”
She cleared her throat and pulled her shoulders back. Which he just happened to notice emphasized those big-ass tits. “A kindergarten teacher.”
He blinked and let what she said sink in. “You wanna role play when you strip? My clientele might like that. Kinda like a sexy librarian. Or a sexy teacher who knows how to use a wooden ruler in a good way, but you gotta drop the ‘kindergarten’ shit. That might be a turnoff.”
She shook her head and bravely took another step forward. Now she was only a few feet from him, causing his nostrils to flare when he caught a whiff of her scent. Flowers. Or something light. Nothing heavy and clingy like his girls wore.
And from where he stood, he didn’t think she had a stitch of makeup on.
“No. I’m a real teacher. I teach kindergarten. You know, with children?”
He frowned. If she was a teacher, what the fuck was she doing in his club? Dawg waved his arm around Heaven’s Angels Gentlemen’s Club. “Does this look like a fuckin’ kiddie school to you?”
Her head lifted slightly higher when she answered, “No.”
He studied her for a second and decided he needed a better look. “Step under the light so I can see you better,” he ordered. In no way was this woman here for any kind of audition. He pointed to the recessed light in the ceiling that was closest to him.
After a slight hesitation she did it. She bit her bottom lip and held it between her teeth as he checked her out once more. The lip thing was pushing the blood into his dick at an alarming rate. Which was surprising since the way she was dressed did nothing for him.
He took a step closer and her body wavered slightly, but she didn’t back up even though she barely came up to his chin.
“Look up,” he demanded. And when she did, he finally saw how blue her big eyes were.
Even though she held his gaze, she was nervous, and he could see the determination in her. She had a fire in her belly. He liked that. The woman was here for a reason and that reason was important, whatever it was.
Her blonde hair looked like her real color. Not all bleached out like some of his girls. He hated that shit and yelled at them all the time for it. He wanted his girls to look as natural as possible, but it was a losing battle.
But all that blonde hair was pulled back tight at the back of her head in a bun or whatever they were called. Similar to how Bella wore her hair when she was working in the bakery to keep it out of the cupcakes and icing and shit.
Her face was, just as he thought, clean of any makeup, naturally pretty, even wholesome looking. A perfect example of the girl-next-door.
But something about her was definitely not girl-next-door if she was here for a job.
“If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you already got a job,” he murmured, fighting to keep from reaching out and running a knuckle along her cheek to test how soft her flawless ivory skin felt.
“I need the money,” she whispered back, not breaking his gaze. A spark had flared in her eyes when she admitted that.
Being a stripper wasn’t one of her career goals. Fuck no. Probably wasn’t even on her bucket list. She needed cold, hard cash. That was the real reason she was standing before him, trying desperately to hide her fear of him. She thought that flashing her tits would be a windfall, would get her out of whatever financial jam she was in.
She dropped her gaze and shook her head. “That’s personal.”
This woman was here for the wrong reasons.
Suddenly, he was feeling generous. “Look, if you need some scratch... a loan...”
Her eyes flicked back up to him. “No, no loan. I’m already in debt because of...”
“’Cause of what?”
She swallowed hard. “Nothing.”
She sucked in a breath. “Just forget it. I’m sure there are other clubs in the area who will give me a chance.”
Though he needed fresh faces and fresh bodies to bring in new clientele, and to keep the regulars coming back, he didn’t need any right now and he was sure he would regret his next decision.
When she turned to leave, he grabbed her wrist. “Hold up.”
She stared at where he held her, her wrist looking tiny in his hand. He loosened his grip slightly since he didn’t want the bulky rings on his fingers to bruise her, but not enough where she could slip away.
“What’s your name?”
“Your name. What’s your name?” Dawg barked.
He already knew her real name; she had told him it on the phone. “No. Your stage name.”
The confusion on her face was another telling sign that she didn’t belong in his club, or even on a stage. And certainly not naked in front of a crowd of men, for fuck’s sake.
“Em...” She hesitated. Then with a look of understanding, she began again, “Em... Ember!”
Ember. Fitting for that flame inside her. “Better. Can’t have a kiddie-garden teacher named Emma on my fuckin’ stage.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “You’re going to give me a shot?”
Fuck. His big dumb ass was going to regret this. “Gonna give you an audition. Nothin’ more ‘til I see what you can do.”
Relief crossed her face, and it made him shake his head.
He was such a fucking sucker.
He released her wrist. “Got an outfit you need to change into?” He jerked his chin toward the back of the club. “Dressin’ room’s in the back.”
She glanced down at what she was wearing again. As if she didn’t find anything wrong with that shit she covered herself up with from neck to toe. She could be going door to door, preaching religious shit and handing out pamphlets, dressed like that.
“I’m wearing it.”
His lips twitched. Sure she was. “Got you. Wearin’ it underneath that getup.”
Her mouth opened, then it snapped shut. Right.
“I-I have to dance for my audition?”
His eyebrows shot up his forehead. “No, you’re gonna hand me your fuckin’ resume an’ I’m gonna look it over... Of fuckin’ course you gotta dance. Jesus fuckin’ Christ.” He turned on his heels and ducked behind the bar.
Normally on busy nights he had a DJ playing. During the day and on slow nights, he just used the high-tech sound system that was wired throughout the club. Each VIP room had their own smaller system, so the girls could pick whatever music they wanted for private dances. Then there was also a room off the main stage area for private parties, VIPs and special traveling entertainment troupes. It was a smaller version of the main club area, with its own stage and a bar.
He had to admit that his club was the shit and the nicest in the greater Pittsburgh area, if he said so himself.
He glanced at the woman who remained frozen in place near the entrance. “What music?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you wanna dance to?”
She blinked at him.
“Ah, fuck. You don’t have a routine ready an’ a song picked out?” Of course not. All the red flags in his head were whipping in the wind.
“Should I have?”
This whole thing was going to be a disaster. He should just chase her out of there and stop wasting both of their time.
But he couldn’t. He was dying to see what was underneath that virgin-like outfit of hers. If she had potential, he could get one of his seasoned dancers to give her a few pointers.
Yep, that’s what he told himself. Had nothing to do with him wanting to check her out for himself. Fuck no. She didn’t make him curious at all.
“Rock? Country? R&B? What?” he prodded.
When she didn’t answer, he scrolled through his music and found a song that worked well to get his girls moving on stage. He set up the track and, grabbing the remote, headed down the long, narrow stage that was dead center in the main club area. It had a pole, from stage to ceiling, on each end and the bar was attached to the end closest to the entrance.
He settled his bulk into one of the low, vinyl club chairs that sat directly in front of one of the poles. He wanted a good seat and a very clear view.
He glanced her way. “Need help gettin’ up on stage?” He jerked his chin toward the steps. “Stairs are down on this end.”
She unfroze herself, shook her head and moved toward the back of the club where the three steps led to the lighted stage.
“Might wanna take those things off your fuckin’ feet first,” he suggested. He wasn’t sure what they were called, but they were the most unsexy shoes he’d ever seen on a woman. Besides Crocs. Those gave him limp dick. Her shoes were a close second. Some kind of brown pleather shit.
She got to the end of the stage, bent over to unstrap her shoes, then kicked them off. Straightening her spine, she blew out a breath and climbed onto the stage.
Dawg leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “Lemme know when you’re ready, Ember. I’ll hit the music.”
She nodded and eyeballed the pole.
“Poles are clean,” he reassured her. “Cleaning crew just left ‘bout an hour ago.”
With a little nod, she wrapped a hand around it. He really wanted her to fist that hot little hand around his dick instead.
He sighed. “Gotta plan, right?”
Her gaze dropped to him. “Yes. Get naked.”
Well, damn. “Normally gotta keep your bottoms on. Ain’t legal to take ‘em off when we’re open to the public. But since the club’s closed, leavin’ that up to you. Sometimes I give private parties for my VIPs an’ the girls go totally naked. They really rake in the tips those nights.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that,” Dawg said and then snorted, shaking his head.
“Okay,” she said softly, staring up at the pole.
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “Okay, what?”
Dawg pinned his lips together. “Sure?”
She nodded, a determined look on her face.
Dawg shrugged and hit play on the remote. Ginuwine’s Pony began to blast through the hidden speakers.
Her body jerked at the sound. “What’s this?”
“Music. Just go with it.”
She bit her bottom lip again, and that went straight to his dick.
Then she began to move...
He was hoping he’d been wrong, and she was a secret little slut with hot moves that would make him want to bust a nut. But fuck no, she wasn’t. Her hips moved in a wooden circular motion as she held a death grip onto the pole with one hand.
Dawg groaned. This was going to be worse than he thought. As she tried to match the rhythm of the song, she threw her head back and closed her eyes, letting the music move through her.
Dawg sat forward in his chair. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad...
She reached up to pull her hair clip out, and her golden hair cascaded down around her.
All that blonde hair and her natural looks...
He lost his breath as she continued to shift around awkwardly but reached for the top button of her blouse. Which was promising...
With visibly shaking hands, she worked the buttons out of their holes one by one, and as the fabric gaped, he caught glimpses of a black bra underneath.
He attempted to swallow the lump in his throat and he willed her fingers to move faster.
The little he saw was no grandma panty set. Fuck no, it wasn’t. He swore he got a glimpse of see-through lace.
She stopped unbuttoning when she got to her waist and reached around to the back of her skirt. Suddenly it shifted when it became loose and she caught his gaze as she began to push it down her hips.
The “suggestive” wink she gave him looked more like an eye twitch.
Even though this woman had the seduction skills of an eighty-year-old virgin, Dawg’s breath caught.
She stopped moving around the stage as she rolled the long skirt down her thighs. But he couldn’t see shit since her baggy blouse covered the V of her legs. He wouldn’t be surprised if the woman had a huge untrimmed bush trying to escape her panties.
Finally, the skirt dropped to her feet and she stepped out of it, almost tripping herself. He jerked forward as if he could catch her, but she caught her own balance and then stood there unsure, wearing just her blouse partially unbuttoned.
His eyes slid from her face down to her legs. What the fuck?
She was wearing thigh-high stockings!
Maybe she wasn’t lying about wearing an “outfit” under her conservative clothing.
But she just stood there, staring at him!
She shook her head. And, fuck him, she bit that bottom lip of hers again. That was going to be her signature move. She could do some sort of naughty teacher routine, and bite her bottom lip, while giving his customers an I-need-to-be-fucked look.
They’d be throwing twenties at her. Fuck, maybe even fifties.
She had no idea just how dick-hardening sexy she appeared with all that blonde hair loose, wearing thigh-highs and that half-open blouse. Like her brains had just been fucked out, and she was in a sex coma.
Jesus. He needed to see the rest of her. But not up on that stage. That was too impersonal, and he wanted to get so much more personal.
“Maybe that big stage’s makin’ you nervous. How ‘bout makin’ this dance a little more personal.”
Her brows furrowed. “How?”
“Gotta show me somethin’. Some kinda skill. Right now, you ain’t showin’ me nothin’ I wanna see.”
For the most part anyway. Nothing a strip club manager would want to see. Dawg, the man? Fuck yeah. That was different.
He pushed to his feet and came around to the steps, holding out his hand. She stayed where she was on the stage, her skirt pooled at her feet, her blouse hanging crooked. She stared at his hand as if it was going to bite her.
“All my girls gotta do private dances... you know, lap dances. Get up close an’ personal with my customers. Makes both of us some extra scratch. Better than the tips you’ll make on stage. The stage is just used to entice these fuckers into the VIP rooms. Got me? It’s the tease. Gotta get ‘em droolin’ for you, get ‘em rock hard. Make ‘em think they got a shot with you. They pay big money for that personal time. That’s where you make most of your scratch. You act like they’re special to you, not just any regular Joe, an’ they’ll become regulars. The regulars are the best. They’ll even ask you out. You always say no, got me? No datin’ the customers. No fuckin’ ‘em, either.”
“Am I hired?” she asked, surprise clearly in her voice.
No shit. He was just as surprised that he was wasting time on this woman who had no fucking clue what she was getting herself into.
“Nope. Ain’t hirin’ you yet. Gotta convince me to. Just like you gotta convince the customers to throw those dollar bills on that stage. Right now, you’ve only convinced me that you’re lost.”
“What do you mean?”
“That you don’t belong here. This ain’t for you.”
She nodded. “You’re right. That’s exactly what I am. I’m lost.”
Well, damn. He hadn’t expected for her to agree.
Dawg dragged a hand through his hair that needed a damn cut and shook his head. “Woman, you’re crazy for bein’ here. This ain’t you. Anyone can see it.”
“No. I’m not crazy. I’m... I’m desperate. I need this... this job.”
“Strippin’ ain’t a job, it’s a career.” One that could be lucrative for the right woman. Only she wasn’t the right woman.
“What do I need to do to get this job?”
The desperation in her voice, in her eyes, killed him, twisted his gut.
“Like I said. Money’s in the lap dance. Gotta sell yourself. Right now, you ain’t sellin’ nothin’ ‘cept that you’re an uptight teacher up there. C’mon down.” He held out his hand again. She grabbed her skirt and approached the end of the stage, but avoided his assistance. She took two steps down until her gaze was level with his.
“I need this,” she whispered.
He wanted to close his eyes and savor that honeyed voice of hers. But he didn’t. He had to remind himself that this was business. “Why?”
“I-I have to make a lot of money and make it fast.” The desperation was thick in her voice. And that bugged him.
Instead of answering him, she shook her head.
“Girls ain’t got no secrets from me.”
“So you think.”
Damn. She was probably right. But when they were down on their luck, and they needed help, he was always there for them. He took care of his girls, made sure they didn’t want for anything, and in turn, they took care of him. They came to work with a good attitude, and that spilled out on stage.
Happy strippers made the club money, ones with problems didn’t. It was difficult to shake off a bad attitude when you were in the spotlight swinging around a pole only wearing a thong. There was nothing to hide up there.
He knew it. The clientele knew it. So he kept his girls happy.
“I’m going to ask again. What do I need to do to get this job?”