The Tycoon's Stowaway(8)By: Stefanie London
‘Fine.’ She dropped her hand by her side and forced away the desire to slap the club owner across his smarmy, wrinkled face.
She was a big girl—she could handle this. Besides, she’d had her fair share of promo girl gigs whilst trying out for dance schools the first time. She’d strutted around in tiny shorts to sell energy drinks and race-car merchandise on more than one occasion. This wouldn’t be so different… would it?
Sighing, she made her way to the change room where the other dancers were getting ready. She still had that funny, niggling feeling that something wasn’t quite right… and it wasn’t just that she’d somehow landed herself in a strip club.
She concentrated for a moment, analysing the feeling. It had grown stronger since her audition—an incessant tugging of her senses that wouldn’t abate. She unpacked her make-up and plucked a face wipe from her bag. Smoothing the cloth over her face, she thought back to the director. He’d looked so familiar, and he hadn’t seemed to be able to look her in the eye.
A memory crashed into her with such force she stopped in her tracks, hand in midair. An old photo, taken a few years before she’d first started dating Derek—that was where she’d seen his face before. He was a friend of her ex-husband’s, and that couldn’t be a coincidence.
Rage surged through her. Her hands trembling, she sorted through her make-up for foundation. That smarmy, good-for-nothing ex-husband of hers had put her name forward for this skanky bar. He probably found the idea hilarious.
If I ever come across that spiteful SOB again I’m going to kill him!
An hour and a half later Chantal prepared to go on stage. She looked at herself in the mirror, hoping to hell that it was the fluorescent lighting which made her look white as a ghost and just as sickly. But the alarming contrast against her dark eye make-up and glossed lips would look great under the stage lighting. She’d seem alluring, mysterious.
Not that any of the patrons of such a bar would be interested in ‘mysterious’. No, she assumed it was a ‘more is more’ kind of place.
She sighed, smoothing her hair out of her face and adding a touch of hairspray to the front so it didn’t fall into her eyes. The other dancers seemed friendly, and there were actually two burlesque performers—though they didn’t look as if they danced on the mainstream circuit. When she’d asked if all the dancers stripped down she’d received a wink and an unexpected view of the older lady’s ‘pasties’.
Well, she wouldn’t be taking off her clothes—though her outfit wasn’t exactly covering much of her body anyway. She looked down at the top which wrapped around her bust and rib cage in thick black strips, and at the matching shorts that barely came down to her thighs. She might as well have been naked for how exposed she felt.
It wasn’t normal for her to be so filled with nerves before going onstage. But butterflies warmed her stomach and her every breath was more ragged than the last. She pressed her fingertips to her temples and shut her eyes, concentrating on relaxing her breathing. After a few attempts her heart rate slowed, and the air was coming more easily into her lungs.
Her act would be different—and she wouldn’t be dancing for the audience… she would be dancing for herself. Taking a deep breath, she hovered at the entrance to the stage, waiting for the dancer before her to finish.
It was now or never.
‘ARE YOU SURE we’re in the right place?’ Brodie looked around the run-down bar and shook his head. ‘She can’t be dancing here.’
‘I double-checked the address,’ Willa said, her dark brows pinched into a frown. ‘This is definitely it.’
‘Looks like there’s an upstairs section to this place.’ Kate pointed to a set of stairs on the other side of the room.
A single guy sat in the middle of the stage, playing old country-and-western hits, his voice not quite up to par. The bottom half of the bar was crowded and Brodie stayed close to the girls, given a few of the patrons were looking at them a little too closely for his liking. The group wove through the crowd until they reached the staircase at the back of the room, filing one by one up to the next level.