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Love Hate Love by Marita A. Hansen (1)



~ 1 ~

I didn’t want to be here, felt way out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t for me, wasn’t the kind of thing I did. Unfortunately, it was exactly what my best friend would do, a friend who was right now shaking with excitement at the thought of entering the strip joint, or in her words, ‘the male review’.

“Why do they call it that?” I asked Julia.

My best friend turned to look up at me. Even in her six-inch heels, she was still a couple of inches shorter. Though, I was tall for a girl at five ten, or what Julia called, ‘model height’, which was why I usually wore flats since I was always self-conscious of being taller than guys.

“What are you talking about?” Julia asked, stopping in the cloakroom to hand over her white leather jacket.

“A review,” I answered. “What’s there to review? The way the guys shake their butts? Or the size of their willies?”

Julia barked out a laugh. “Not a review, dummy, a revue,” she said, spelling it out. “Now, hand over your jacket to the... mmm... rather nice man.” She ran her tongue over her teeth, giving the bare-chested guy behind the counter a flirty wink. He was wearing a black, silky apron with the name Molly’s printed across the nether regions, his rather impressive torso making me blush. I wondered how I was going to handle watching guys pump and grind in even less if I couldn’t even handle the cloakroom guy.

I quickly handed my jacket over to him, getting a ticket in return. He gave Julia a cheeky smile, clearly having heard what she’d said about him, then turned around to hang up our jackets, giving us a whole different kind of cheekiness. His arse was barer than my uncle’s bald head, minus the shine, though he had a lipstick tattoo on his right butt cheek.

Julia giggled, while her older sister—who was wearing a white veil for her hen night—told him she’d love to give him a matching kiss on his other cheek. The man didn’t respond, other than to take another woman’s jacket, probably used to a whole lot more than what Katie had said.

Feeling embarrassed, I grabbed Julia’s arm and pulled her through the doorway that led into the main room. The space was much brighter than I expected, the disco balls above our heads sending shards of light everywhere, making me think of Saturday Night Fever. I could just imagine John Travolta strutting out on stage, thrusting his finger up in the air to the cheers of women yelling, ‘Get them off!’ And there were a lot of women filling the space, from short to tall, skinny to fat, young and old. I was probably one of the youngest since I was eighteen, though Julia was even younger at seventeen, her fake I.D. working a treat to get her in.

A waiter holding an empty tray, and dressed in the same black apron as the cloakroom man, slipped past Julia, capturing her attention. It was as though he was holding an invisible string, yanking Julia’s head around to follow his bare arse.

Jules,” I said, tugging on her hand. “We’ll lose your sister if you keep stopping to look at every male butt.”

Worth it,” she sighed, giving me a smile brighter than the tacky disco ball above our heads—something that might’ve looked great in 1975, but not 2005.

“Anyway, I know where our seats are,” she added.

She entwined our fingers and pulled me through the throng of women and a few men, who looked just as excited as the women, a couple of them as camp as Liberace. The show was undeniably popular, the wall-to-wall throng of people not what I’d expected for a tacky strip joint that was hidden in a side-alley off K Road. And it wasn’t just middle-class women filling it either, some of the patrons dressed to the nines—like Julia. My best friend always dressed to impress, and she did look great, her sleek white dress matching her even sleeker blonde hair that was smoothed back into a high ponytail, or what she called a ‘power’ ponytail, something she said all the stars wore, and since she was a star she should wear it too. I’d laughed at that comment, saying that her ‘daddy’ calling her a star didn’t mean she was one. She’d lifted her chin up in a haughty fashion, declaring that she was a star in her own right since she’d been in a Herald article about New Zealand’s young elite society. I’d held back from reminding her that she’d only been in there because her dad was one of the richest men in the country.

She tugged me towards the stage, where Katie and her group of friends were already seated in the front row, the Jachmanns always getting the best seats.

Julia sat down in the chair next to her sister, leaving me the aisle seat. “I hope you’ve got a stack of ten-dollar bills,” she said a bit too loudly, her grin pretty much telling me where I’d be stuffing them.

“It better not be that kind of show,” I said, not wanting to waste money on a stripper, especially since I needed every penny for university.

Julia didn’t have the same worries as I did. Unlike her parents, mine weren’t paying for me since they were no longer in my life, and even if they were, they couldn’t have afforded it. Only my uncle was wealthy, and I was too proud to take the handout he’d offered me. I’d turned it down, pretending that my Fine Arts scholarship would cover everything. It was a lie, since it only covered board and my university fees, not extending to food and other necessities. It was why I was being so frugal with my money, needing every penny from the fast food job I’d acquired a few days ago. Julia had gaped at me in horror when I’d told her about the job, thinking I was mad for lowering myself to... What did she say? I couldn’t remember, but it hadn’t been very flattering, highlighting just how elitist she could be. And when she’d learned that I’d turned down my uncle’s money, she’d told me off, basically calling me an idiot. She just didn’t understand that I didn’t feel right about taking money from him. Nor did she understand that I wanted to survive on my own, instead of taking handouts from someone who was only offering because he felt obliged to.

The music changed from a slow jazzy tune to a much faster pop beat, sending the women around us into a frenzy, everyone probably thinking that a stripper was about to appear. But instead of a male hunk strutting onto the stage, a bleached-blonde woman tottered out in heels that defied gravity, making her look even skinnier. I was sure she could hide behind the pole in the centre of the stage if it weren’t for her fake boobs, because those two things definitely didn’t look like Mother Nature had played a part in making them.

She raised her free hand to quieten down the women. “Welcome, ladies!” She laughed. “And a few gents.” She waved at them with her fingers, clearly knowing the guys. “You’re all in for a real treat tonight, with some sweet young things ready to strip for your pleasure.”

“Sweet young things?” I muttered to Julia. “Hope they’re not going to come out dressed as schoolboys, because if they do, I’m out of here.”

“Don’t be stupid,” she said, elbowing me, though her broad grin lit up the room, my comment amusing her. “Anyone under forty would be a sweet young thing to that old biddy.”

“She doesn’t look that old, late forties at a guess.”

That is old, like your taste in clothes.” She flicked the pale-green scarf around my neck. “Take it off. If you’ve got the goods, you might as well flaunt them.”

I adjusted the silk scarf, far too shy to take it off, my black dress not covering enough of my chest. Julia had basically bullied me into wearing the tight little number, saying it looked, ‘Wonderful!’ And she was right, but it didn’t mean I felt comfortable wearing it without the scarf. I almost felt like one of those eighteenth-century damsels on a Mills & Boon cover, with my breasts doing their best to escape the bustier—or whatever they called it back then.

The music changed again, this time rolling into a raunchy number that I liked, but couldn’t remember the name of, my brain not working, the anticipation starting to get to me. The rail-thin blonde presenter raised her toothpick arms over her head and began to clap with her microphone still in her hand, amplifying the sound. The crowd started clapping along with her, some of the women yelling out in excitement. One of the camp guys let out an ear-splitting wolf whistle so loud I quickly covered my ears. Julia elbowed me, throwing a look that told me to clap along with everyone else. I did, feeling stupid for doing it, just not wanting to feel out of place even more than I already did.

A girl across the row from us started stomping her feet on the ground, setting off more women doing it. She looked about my age, very pretty, with gorgeous gypsy-like earrings that hung down to her bare shoulders, the straps on her red dress almost non-existent.

The presenter hollered, drawing my attention back to her. “And here he is!” She moved to the side, sweeping her arm out for whoever he was. The audience went crazy, cheering for the stripper to come out on stage. And he did, oh, he certainly did.

My mouth dropped open at the man sauntering onto the stage. He was dressed in black leather-like pants and a biker jacket over a white singlet. But it wasn’t his clothes and confident swagger that sent the women into a frenzy. Simply put...

He was drop-dead gorgeous.

He was young, eighteen or nineteen at a guess, with a face that looked like it belonged on a fashion magazine rather in a tacky strip joint. He also looked a touch too sweet to be a stripper, no hardened features staring out at the crowd, just innocence dressed in fake leathers. But that innocence was clearly an illusion, because the sweet visage vanished as a wicked grin swept across his face, his sinful lips looking like they’d kissed many girls—and their mothers too.

He stopped by the pole, sweeping the soft curls off his face. His hair was brown, just highlighted with golden hues. It looked like the sun had kissed it as well as his skin, his golden-brown tan suggesting he surfed rather than rode a Harley.

Julia gasped, “Oh. My. God. He’s beautiful,” she said, stating the obvious.

The music merged into another song I knew, but couldn’t remember the name of either, the stripper killing all of my brain cells—and decimating my ovaries at the same time.

He leaned his back against the pole in a languid, self-assured fashion, jutting out his groin. He toyed with his pants zipper, giving the screaming crowd a cheeky wink.

“Get them off, already!” Julia’s sister hollered, setting Julia off into a fit of giggles.

The stripper removed his hand from the zipper and opened up his leather jacket, lifting up his white singlet to show us a teasing peek of his torso, and it was one I definitely wanted to see more of, his stomach ripped.

“I’d love to lick that six-pack,” Julia said, breaking out into another fit of giggles.

The stripper lowered his singlet and closed his jacket, holding it together as he sauntered towards the front of the stage, stopping to open his jacket once more.

“Take it off!” Julia’s sister hollered louder, her friends seconding that, the women not shy, the rich girls used to getting what they wanted.

The stripper slipped one side off, slow and sexy, treating us to the other side next. He threw the jacket to the side of the stage, revealing a line tattoo circling the middle of his right forearm. There was writing above it, the words illegible from where I was sitting. He also had another tattooed line circling his left wrist, this one thicker, with words both above and under it.

Feet started stomping for him to hurry up, the tease dominating the strip part of the show. He raised a brow at the impatient hollers and lifted his singlet up, then lowered it down, raising his other hand as though he was asking us to shout louder. And Julia most certainly did, getting right into the swing of things, hollering, “Off! Off! Off!”

The stripper looked Julia’s way, giving her a smile, then in one swift move the singlet came off, revealing his naked torso, making the crowd go wild. Then, in the blink of an eye, he did a backflip, landing on his hands. He lowered himself into a breakdancing move, basically humping the floor. For a moment, I wondered what it would be like to be lying underneath him as he did that, causing me to flush at the thought.

Then he was back on his feet, jerking and moving his hips to the music, drawing closer to where I was sitting, so close that I could see the seams up the side of his shiny fake-leather pants. I soon found out that the seams weren’t purely for keeping his pants together when he ripped them off, revealing muscular thighs and a rather large bulge hidden beneath a jockstrap, making my own eyes bulge.

He turned to face away from us, revealing his naked butt, the black elastic of the jockstrap running above and under it, emphasising his assets even more.

Julia put her fingers in her mouth and let rip with an ear-splitting wolf-whistle that her ‘daddy’ would most definitely not think was becoming of her. The stripper turned his head in her direction, but instead of his eyes landing on Julia, they landed on me. That wicked smile returned. Horrified he thought I’d whistled at him, I shrank in my seat, so embarrassed I could die.

Julia’s sister hollered, “Shake that booty!”

And he did, all the while looking at me. I covered my eyes, now too embarrassed to watch. A thump made me uncover them. The stripper was standing next to me, all that naked flesh hovering over me. He was tall, just over six foot at a guess, and perfectly proportioned, the cut of his body mouth-watering to say the least. I basically gaped up at him, not knowing what to do, let alone think—unlike Julia. She reached past me, running her hand down his abs. Before she could go even lower, he picked me up, chair and all. I let out a shriek and grabbed around his neck, worried he was going to drop me, because I was far from light, my curvy figure closer to Marilyn Monroe’s than Kate Moss’s.

He lifted my chair onto the stage, causing me to let go of him. He then hoisted himself back up onto the stage and grabbed my chair, carrying me away from the edge. I could hear Julia and the rest of the hen party yelling out things, but I was in too much shock to understand a single word they were saying.

He placed my chair down and shimmied my dress up my legs before I’d realised what he’d done, the way he was looking at me so distracting. But I most certainly noticed when he jerked my legs apart, another shriek following. Grinning in response, he moved in between my legs and placed a finger under my chin, lifting it so I looked directly into his eyes. They were the freakiest eyes I’d ever seen. His right iris was a moss green, with hints of brown around the pupil, while his left one had the same brown hints, just with blue instead of green surrounding it.

Not taking his eyes off me, he backed up a bit and snapped my legs shut, then climbed onto my lap. I almost choked as he lifted my hands to his arse, yet I kept them there as though he’d superglued my palms to his bare flesh. Then he started grinding against me, his arse cheeks clenching beneath my hands, knocking my pulse rate out of the park, sending it to the heavens.

He wrapped a hand around my long brown hair and pulled my head back, forcing me to look up at him while he continued to grind against me, the way his jockstrap was filling out telling me he was enjoying his job a bit too much.

He let go of my hair and adjusted himself, then removed my hands from his arse, which I hadn’t realised were still there, too distracted by his intense stare. He climbed off me and dropped to the floor, doing another breakdancing move, then was back up on his feet, gyrating his crotch in front of my face. My eyes widened, because I could see the tip of his cock trying to escape the confines of his jockstrap. He gave me a knowing smile before adjusting himself once more, covering his cock, though I could still see its outline clear as day.

With my eyes locked on his package, I didn’t see his next move coming. In the blink of an eye his hands shot out, shoving my chair, causing me to let out a loud cry of fright as I tipped over backwards. But he caught the chair in a move I couldn’t quite comprehend, using it to do a flip over me, catching me on the other side.

I stared up at him as he looked down at me, that wicked smile of his morphing into a serious expression. He lowered his head and planted a kiss on my lips, knocking the breath out of me. His tongue swept between my lips, sneaking into my mouth. Forgetting where I was, I tangled my tongue with his, losing myself in the kiss.

Then his lips were gone, just like that. I gasped as he pushed my chair back up into its correct position, the suddenness of it all leaving my head spinning. He picked me up, placing my chair on the edge of the stage, doing a backflip into the aisle to a very rowdy and rude applause. He picked me up again, returning me and my chair to our original position next to Julia. He winked at me, then climbed back up onto the stage, blowing kisses to the crowd of screaming horny men and women. Then he turned away from us, removing his jockstrap, setting the room on fire, the audience going nuts. He threw the jockstrap over his shoulder and turned around to face us, covering his crotch with both hands. He backed up slowly, grinning as he did it. As he reached the back of the stage he lifted his hands for the briefest of moments, flashing us, then he was gone, disappearing behind the red curtains.

The audience yelled out, demanding that he return, but instead of the stripper the blonde presenter appeared, walking toward the stripper’s discarded jockstrap. She picked it up with a dirty smile, waving it in front of her.

“Did you love Nico?!” she shouted into her microphone.

A collective “Yeees!” bounced off the walls like bullets ricocheting everywhere.

Julia started yelling, “Bring him back! Bring him back!” which set off the other women in the hen party, causing a domino effect, everyone but me joining in.

The presenter waggled her finger at us as though we were naughty school girls. “No, no, no, lovely ladies and gents, you tired my poor Nico out. The sweet young thing needs his beauty rest. But we have more lovely men for your entertainment.” She swept her arm out. “Like Danny!”

An Italian-looking male strutted out onto the stage as though he thought he was every woman’s wildest dream. The audience welcomed him with cheers as he started pumping and grinding to the music, but my mind remained on Nico, all the strippers coming after him poor comparisons.



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