Dirty Bad Strangers(9)

By: Jade West

“Fine.” I submitted to my fate. My calves were tight, my right leg still tense despite the physio the day before. I considered asking for a massage but shelved it, easing it myself instead.

It drew her attention. “Injury?”

“Physio say it’s minor. Felt it yesterday, though.”

“Figures. You played like shit yesterday.”

I kicked my feet out of bed, wide fucking awake. “Thanks, coach.”

“You were sloppy. Left the box wide open for that second goal.”

“Yeah, and caught a couple of really decent passes on the break.”

“It’s the goals that make the papers, Jase. Nobody gives a shit about the rest.” She sighed. “Fifteen games left this season. Fifteen measly games left to prove yourself fit for another contract. We can’t afford slip-ups.”

“Just worry your pretty little head about Veronica Ashdown’s outfit. Priorities, right?”

She gave me the finger. “It’s not my fault you’re off your game.”

“How are perfume sales, April? How’s the new Cherry Electric single coming along?”

I struck gold, her face bloomed like a slapped arse. “You really are a cunt, Jason. Just as well you’ve got a chatline girlfriend, nobody real would put up with half the shit I do.”

“Want a fucking medal?”

“I don’t want a fucking medal, Jase.” She paused in the doorway long enough to work up a really good slam. “I want a fucking divorce!”

That made fucking two of us.


Chapter Three


Sundays can be quiet on chat, and as Tessa works a double shift at the hospital three out of every four, it seemed the best timeslot to take up a new class. Pole Fitness at Dirty Angels dance studio in Camden seemed a good choice. I found it online with rave reviews. Apparently the instructor was qualified in classical ballet as well as taking classes of the more exotic variety. I love that kind of eclectic mash-up.

I was nervous as I got the tube, leggings and a sports top hidden under a long floaty cardigan. I caught my reflection in the underground windows. Crazy hair, freckled face, lots of eyeliner. Same old bubbly, slutty Gemma Taylor. I allowed myself a little smile, past the brunt of the pain, but despite the rebound of confidence I was still over half an hour early, determined to check out the pole weight restrictions before the crowds arrived.

The studio was open but empty. I made my way along the corridor, peering into vacant rooms until I found my destination. A pretty little brunette was setting up mats around the pole bases. She looked up as I approached, a big warm smile on her face. Her eyes were deep and dark, like chocolate pools.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hi. I’m here for pole fitness...”

Her big smile grew even bigger. “Great! A newbie!” she stood and offered a tiny hand. “I’m Cara, pole instructor.”


“Nice to meet you, Gemma.” She flicked her hair back from her eyes and tied it up in a pony. “Have you done pole before?”

I shook my head. “No. I dance, though, general dance, I mean.”

“You’ll be a natural, I’m sure.”

Looking between her tiny little frame and the skinny poles, I wasn’t so sure.

Cara led me to a bench at the side. “You can leave your cardi here, if you like. The other ladies will be here soon. We do classes in cycles, but we’re only a couple in, you’ll pick it up no problem, just go at your own pace.”

I felt the burn of embarrassment across my cheeks. “I, um, I just wanted to check... I’m ok for this? Not too heavy, I mean.”

Her eyes were so friendly. She grabbed the nearest pole, yanking it with all her weight. “No way! These babies could take four of you without breaking a sweat.”

Relief flooded me. I shrugged off my cardigan, checking myself out in the mirrored wall. Leggings weren’t forgiving, highlighting all too well the thick trunks of my thighs and the hefty curve of my rump, but I nipped in sharp at the waist, my saving grace. I caught Cara checking out my reflection.

“You’ll look amazing on the pole,” she said. “You have a really great shape.”

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