A few swallows. A deep breath. Keep it together, Ellie.
I could almost feel his smile. “Everything okay, Nevaeh?” He whispered.
Good God, I loved the way his voice purred my name. He was teasing me, I knew it, but my elation at finding him here in place of my nemesis was far too pleasing for me to care. I smiled and nodded again. He then stroked my face with his hand, my skin glowing at his touch. He caressed my right cheek, then reached for the left – I cringed. He pulled back.
“Sorry,” he whispered.
“One of my rules,” I replied.
For a moment, I thought he might remove the blindfold and allow me to finally see him. Oh, I wanted to so badly. But he didn’t.
“You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, almost as if he hadn’t meant to vocalize it. He cleared his throat. “Please, keep dancing.”
He breathed those words as if he’d just asked me to perform a Beethoven sonata. He stepped back a pace, releasing me. I was a bit uncertain at first. I wasn’t used to such a close and, well, presumably attractive audience. But as I worked my way back into my routine, my instincts took over. I worked the pole slowly, rolling my pelvis up and down, throwing my hand out, ruffling my hair, and enjoying every minute of my exhibitionism. I peeled my clothes off one by one, all the way down to my top and g-string, keeping a torturously slow rhythm to draw out his excitement. I wanted so badly for him to be rock hard.
My pulse was pumping. I could feel my groin swelling. I wanted to feel him touch me so badly.
And then my moment came. I felt him step close to me again, this time more cautiously. He didn’t move; I knew he was waiting my permission. He was standing just inches behind me so I reached my hand back, groping for his. When I found it, I placed it lightly on my hip, just overtop my g-string, and repeated the action with his other hand. I could hear his breathe take, his fingers twitching nervously. And then I began to move.
He moved with me – quite impressively actually. Some men have a really hard time with smooth, sexy movements – instead they rock their hips like they’re doing an amateur robot dance – but his movements were fluid and oh, so sensual. I drank in the feel of his fingers at my hips. My observation from the stage the other night had been correct: they were strong and slender, though somewhat insecure. I couldn’t blame him for that. Men had been kicked out indefinitely for this before. But I had worked with Fred for a while and he knew I’d signal if things got out of hand.
My admirer pulled me closer against his body so I could feel the boldness of his pleasure. I ground into him, low and deep. He followed me down, his breath on my neck as we rose back up. I could feel his nose nuzzling my hair, inhaling deeply as if trying to memorize the scent. We continued to rub against each other, each movement more intimate than the last. His hands crawled slowly up my hips to my bare belly as we danced. His pinkie finger slipped discreetly into my belly button, giving me a little tickle. I giggled.
“I’ve been wanting to touch that belly button,” he whispered and I could tell he was smiling. How adorable: a belly button enthusiast.
“I wish I could return the favor,” I mewed, almost too caught up in the moment to finish the phrase. I pushed back from the pole, bending at the waste and reaching for the floor, my butt still grinding at his pelvis. God, it was so much fun.
He laughed. “I wouldn’t have taken you for a twerker.”
He rested his index finger at the top of my spine at the base of my neck and trailed it softly down each vertebra until he reached the edge of my g-string. He traced the lace back around to my belly, pulled me in even tighter than before, and then we were rolling with each other again. His hands rubbed me more deeply this time, tracing a pattern from my hips to my underarms and back again. I wanted him to reach for more but I knew he wouldn’t. I don’t know how I knew – call it instinct – but I was right. He didn’t stray into any clothed territory.
I knew our time was drawing short. I turned to face him and ran my hands up his arms and across his chest. Oh Lord, he was in good shape. His hand cupped my face and for a moment I thought he might kiss me. The thought excited and terrified me in equal measure. I placed my hand softly over his. I ran my fingers over his skin and came across an unexpected stump at the end of his middle finger. My forehead crinkled in confusion as I rubbed my fingers over the end to confirm that the tip – from the third knuckle up – was indeed missing.
“Steel mill accident,” he whispered. I nodded. So he’s an industrial worker. He must own the steel mill, I thought. Can’t afford this kind of entertainment on a layman’ salary.
His hand withdrew from my face. I could feel him moving away, but this time not towards his seat.
He was heading for the door.
No! No! What if he leaves and I never see him again? I panicked and grabbed for his arm.
“Who are you?” I croaked. I could’ve stabbed myself in the throat for how ridiculous my voice sounded.
He stiffened under my grip. I heard a sigh – not a sigh of defeat but one of frustration. He didn’t move for a minute. Two minutes. He squirmed awkwardly. Three minutes.
“Please,” I begged. I knew it would take weeks to mentally let go of him if I didn’t get this chance to find out who he was.
He removed my hand from his arm, giving it a squeeze before letting it fall to my side.
“I’m sorry,” he ached, whispering almost inaudibly. I could feel the pain in his voice.
And then he left. Just like that. My heart thumped harder than ever as his footsteps faded and then disappeared completely behind the sound of the shutting door. I considered calling out to him again, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. He was gone.
I was flabbergasted. What was that? WHO was that? What the fuck just happened?
I sank to the floor. I felt defeated. Maybe even a little silly. Of course he wasn’t going to tell me who he was, why else would he have required I be blindfolded? But why did he leave so suddenly? What in god’s name was he sorry about?
Did I just run him off forever?
My audience vacated, I removed my blindfold and headed towards the door to face the rest of the evening. As I walked out I came face-to-face with Randy.
Aw, fuck, he’s probably pissed.
But to my surprise, he smiled.
“Very nice, Nevaeh!” He congratulated. “I’ve got some cash for you before you leave. You’ll want to take it straight to the ATM, if you know what I mean.”
I feigned a smile and tried to remind myself of the silver lining.
“Look, you’ve done great tonight, why don’t you handle the bar for the rest of the evening? The tips are decent tonight and you won’t have to dance for your buddy over there.” I glanced over to see the Pot. So he was there. He flashed me a hideous smile and I raced to the bar with intense relief. Silver lining indeed!
Crystal accosted me halfway there.
“Nevaeh, how was it? Tell me all about it! Did you see him? What does he look like? Did he get your number? Are you gonna go out with him?” This girl was so naive sometimes.
I groaned, “Let me get to the bar and then I’ll fill you in.” I threw on an apron, excused Rain back to the dance floor, and turned back to an eager and anxious Crystal.
“It’s no big deal,” I muttered. “I had to wear a blindfold so I didn’t see him. And he left early. So I don’t really know what that whole thing was all about.”
I didn’t want her to know the intimate details of our encounter. It would only prompt more questions and plus… I kind of liked it being my own little secret.
Crystal’s face fell as if I’d just revealed that Santa Claus isn’t real. “What?” she cried in my defense, “Blindfolded? Are they allowed to do that? Why did he leave? What are you going to do? What if he doesn’t come back?”
I massaged my temples; I didn’t have the patience for this. “Crystal, I’m fine, just get back to work, okay, we’ve got customers waiting.” I turned my back on her to fill cocktails and she slinked back to the floor.
At closing time I was one of the last to leave. I was okay with that. I wanted to keep my mind busy and going home early would have thwarted that plan. Mia was the only other dancer left, off flirting with Randy somewhere. I really didn’t understand what she saw in him. I guess he had some redeemable moments – he did seem legitimately grateful this evening. Maybe he was under more stress than I realized.
I finished sweeping, changed back into my jeans and t-shirt, and opened the back door, ready to head out to the far lot across the street where employees where required to park. The evening would be peaceful anywhere else, but the poorly lit streetlights casting nebulous shadows across the alleyway behind the club always squashed any feelings of security that might give way to enjoyment of the deep night sky. I took a step into the alley. Something flashed out if the corner of my eye. My eyes raced to catch sight of a shadow that I thought had flickered around the side of the building.
I reached my hand in my bag and gripped tightly the ridiculously stupid little girly gun I had bought. We all had one of these for our own protection. Randy insisted on it and in that moment I felt grateful; perhaps he did care just a little bit. But I also felt a tinge of regret: I’d much rather have been holding the cold steel of a Glock G43. It would have made me feel much safer and welding it would feel much more natural should it come to that.
I took a couple more cautious steps toward the corner, angling my direction outward to avoid any surprises. My father’s hunting training was finally paying off. A moment’s pause to listen for movement…still nothing. There was a teeny tiny part of me that hoped it was my ball-capped stalker. But the more practical side of my brain knew the more likely scenario was that a desperate and insecure admirer with a lack of patience for the word “no” was waiting despondently for me. I took another step forward just to be sure…
I think I’m just going to stop there. Yeah, that’s a good place, right?
Oh get over yourself! I’ve been sitting with my ass on this hard bench for over an hour now, I’m hungry, over-coffee’ed, pissed off, and frankly ready to graduate from over-caffeinated hot beverages to more adult fare. Trust me, this story will get waaaaaaaaaaay more interesting once I have a fucking margarita in my hand (okay, that is the FOURTH TIME my auto-correct has tried to replace the word “fucking” with “ducking”. Haven’t you figured it yet, stupid phone? I cuss like a ducking sailor! Accept it and move on!).
I stand up, just a little bit wobbly from all the caffeine, and waddle my way over to the nearest bar. I order a margarita on the rocks from the cute bartender and I’m half-tempted to ask him if I can have him on the side. But I resist. I’m not quite prepared to tell a sex story in the present tense.
Don’t pretend you wouldn’t like it, ladies.
I take a sip. And another. Maybe a couple more. Aaaaaaaaah.
Ok, girls, NOW we can really get into the good stuff!
There was no one there, by the way. At least not that I could see. Disappointed, are you? I’m very flattered that you’re so anxious to see me flogged and dragged away by a complete stranger, really I am, but you’ll forgive me for not throwing my life at the feet of a crazed and horny psycho for your own personal entertainment.
Wait, hang on, I’m a stripper… Okay, you win this time.
Anyways, Mia and Randy came stumbling out the club door next, laughing raucously. I thought I caught a shadowy movement by the building again, but it’s hard to say. Whoever it was no doubt ran off at the sight of potential witnesses. As usual, Randy started yelling at me.
“Ellie, what the fuck are you doing out here by yourself?”. He only calls me “Ellie” when he’s REALLY pissed. Sort of the pimp’s version of the parental full-name scolding, if you will. “You know the rules, you always leave in pairs. Do you have any idea how dangerous this could be this time of night?”
I looked at Mia, hoping for some defense but she just shrugged. “He’s got a point” she seemed to say.
I didn’t really have a defense either, unfortunately.
“Since you clearly have no fucking concern for your own safety, from now on you will check in with me before you leave.” Despite his anger, I sensed a tone of authentic concern in his voice. I’d never noticed this before. Was this new? My forehead crinkled in grateful recognition of his kindness. He shifted uncomfortably. “I’m liable for each one of you, okay? If any of you gets hurt in my watch, it’s my ass on the line.”
It was kinda cute watching him attempting to recover from his brief revelation of vulnerability. I suppressed a giggle and winked at Mia. “Now come on, we’ll walk you to your car.”
I headed home while Mia and Randy walked from my car to the bus stop, hand-in-hand. They really were quite good for each other. It would take a certain kind of person to see past the mask Randy put on – a facade I was still trying to understand – and no one more up to the task than the indomitable Mia.
I threw my hair back in a ponytail and navigated to the main thoroughfare for the drive to my warm, inviting, and most importantly deranged-customerless neighborhood.
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Still being stubborn? Sigh. Ellie says “never say die” – so here’s Chapter 6!