Charlie’s ass looked bigger than she’d realized. Seeing it now in the bathroom mirror, she wondered if she could go through with this. The bra and panties were cute though. She’d only worn them once, just the week before actually, but Cody told her they made her look like a trashy stripper. Go figure. She’d thought the quick release snaps on the sides of the g-string would be perfect for a guy who treated foreplay like a timed event. When it came to love making, Cody always went at it like he was racing the clock. Well, it was a cute set and it was about to finally get some use. As for the stilettos Cody was so against? She was wearing them tonight, after all.
She put her foot up on the bathroom counter and pulled her panties aside, checking for toilet paper. Good, none. That would be a helluva way to make a debut, with toilet paper stuck to your ass.
She tugged the brim of her hat down and gave herself one last long look. It was all so crazy. When she’d strapped on her dusty rose chaps that afternoon, she’d never dreamed she’d be wearing them on stage just a few hours later. She swallowed hard, unsure she could follow through. Of course she could do it. She just rode Gypsy Wind for the eight.
Charlie stepped timidly into the DJ booth and glanced toward the boys. Chester was beaming away. Idiot. Jim was chatting up the busty blond dancer. Typical. Riley was staring down into his drink. She wanted him to look at her, to give her support, or approval, or something. He refused to meet her eyes. He’d already had his say. He’d followed her back to the motel to talk her out of it. But she was too wild with the fire and revenge to see any other course of action.
She felt sick in the pit of her stomach, but it had already gone too far. She wasn’t backing out now.
“Any requests,” the DJ asked her.
“Something country. Something about cheating dogs. Maybe Shania.”
“I don’t have much country, but I got something that’d suit,” he said. “What name you want to use?”
Charlie drew a blank. “Um…um…Gypsy.”
Charlie smiled. “Let ’er buck.”
The skeleton dissolved in her body, disintegrated, deserted her. The stairs felt as though they would give away beneath her and her pulse fluttered erratically.
A low sultry croon started her off as she stepped up into the blinding lights. With a sexy swagger she let the notes of a guitar carry her across the floor, trying to keep time with the music, rather than the beat of her runaway heart. Step by step toward the front of the stage. She stopped, and cocked a hip, then swivelled her pelvis, and cocked the other hip. She tilted her head back, and looked out from beneath her Stetson—cool gangster-like. She could’ve sliced a man through with the intensity of those blue eyes. Her feet slid back slowly, slowly, hips popping, step by step. The hat came off, her head rolled from shoulder to shoulder, hair fanning out through the air. She turned on a heel. Spin, step. Spin, step, and grasped the cold steel pole. She strained against it, neck arched, a long drawn out curve spread through her rib cage, stretched her tummy taught, stretched through her thighs into her chaps. Hat in hand. Hair brushing the floor of the stage. Then, a rebound like an echo. A long lean leg wrapped around the pole. She rolled her hip, tipped her ass, her hat nestled between the tender parts of muscular thighs.
A cheer roared through the barroom. The first time it hit her since she’d taken the stage. She’d been so detached when she hit the stage. But this was real.
She unwrapped her leg. Pushed it out, behind her. Step, step. High kick. Cheers. Louder. Louder. She pulled back from the pole. Dropped into the splits. It was a miscalculation of her flexibility and she knew it would hurt in the morning.
“Take it off. Take it off. Take it off.” The chant broke the groove she’d slipped into, but didn’t intimidate her. Actually, it was the opposite. Pure adrenaline infused her pores. She slid to all fours. Crawling. Crawling. A lioness stalking her prey. She lifted her angular chin. A flash of wild expression from under her Stetson. Voracious eyes, hundreds of them stalked her back. She was the object they all wanted. A warm damp moisture came on her, an unexpected physical yearning.
She lunged a leg forward and rose to her feet. The chords of the guitar drowned under shouts. Her nerves were on fire and she wasn’t sure she could manage the bra clasp. Her hands quivered, as she ripped it up, over her head. The men jumped to their feet. The same guys who’d seen her as one of the boys when they rodeod were on their feet ravenous for her. Eat shit Cody, she thought.
Her breasts were high, slightly more than a handful, plump. She grasped a skyward nipple and rolled it between her fingers. As though slipping into a coma, the noise of the crowd entranced her. It was a hypnotic drug, the most exhilarating fix she’d ever had, and it moved her body with abandon.
She sauntered backward, until she could feel the cold pole nuzzled in the crack of her buxom ass. She took her Stetson in hand, and placed it on her lap. Her free hand disappeared behind it. A moment later the hand emerged, with a G-string twirling in the air.
Loonies bounced off of the stage like rain drops on a pond— the chime of it a new rush of its own. She picked her way across the golden pebbles to the side of the stage, turned her backside to the crowd and bent in half. Barely a flash before the hat swung around to obscure the sweet spot. The men booed, frustrated with disappointment. She laughed as she straightened, bringing the hat back to the front. This was power. She turned to them and kicked a leg high above her head, using the Stetson to play peek-a-boo with the prize.
The song came to an end. Applause and bellows. “Show me the pink!” men called from across the bar.
She’d killed it! And that goddamned Cody? She wished he’d seen it. Wished he’d been in the crowd the whole time. At least she could be sure he’d hear about it.
Sweat rolled down her body, collecting between her breasts as they heaved for breath, drawing a line that trickled down her navel and dived beneath her hat. The DJ had explained that amateurs just performed two songs, not five like the professionals. That meant this was her cue. She looked out through the glare of stage lights. Now was the moment. No going back.
Chester set a drink on the side of the stage for her. She bent cautiously and dumped it back. The sound of a piano trickled from the speakers and she let it fill her until she stood erect again. An attentive hush fell over the crowd. She paused, waited until she was certain that all eyes were on her, even Riley’s. Then, she took a breath, held it, and tossed the Stetson toward him.
He caught it as though it were something virginal that needed protecting. The sparkle in his eyes went out, extinguished by quiet disenchantment.
Applause riveted through her with a violent jolt. The waves of it carrying her back like a current sucking her away. She bent as if to touch her toes, placing the palms of her hands on the stage floor, lifted the weight from her legs and slid her feet to her side, allowing her bare bottom to land gently on the icy stage. She reclined on her elbow and drew her thigh up high, extending her calf and pointing her toe over her shoulder. Underneath the dusty rose chaps were thick black bruises. Even if they hadn’t been concealed, not a soul would have noticed them.
Another shower of loonies rained down on the stage and Charlie feared that some of them might actually hit their intended target. She moved to another pose, every bit as obvious as the last. The loonies kept pouring down. And then, the music faded and the DJ’s voice came across the microphone.
She’d barely been able to will her legs to move up the stairs to the stage, when she started, but she bounced through the toes of her stilettos now, as she took the doorman’s hand. What a rush! She was filled with delirium, her speech incomprehensible as she tried to tell the DJ how the show went.
“Amateur my ass,” he said.
“No,” Charlie protested still sucking for breath, “I am. Honest. I waitressed at a strip club in Red Deer for a bit. Slow afternoons.” She wiped the sweat from her brow. “The girls used to teach me stuff. But god, I never thought I’d do it for real, myself.” She braced herself against the booth to combat her dizziness. “That was nothing. I was so nervous, I forgot all the pole tricks I learned.”
She felt a hand on her back and it shocked her to an upright position. She turned quickly
“Divinity,” said the voluptuous blond, extending a hand for Charlie to shake. “Can I buy you a drink?”
Charlie smiled. “Sure.”
“That was hot for a girl who wouldn’t flash me her tits earlier,” she said. “I think my agent would love you.”