Falling for Captain Hunk is almost here! I’m excited that this novella, a spin-off of my Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series, will be released on JUNE 13th–your lucky day–as part of the Hunks to the Rescue box set.
The set features 18 novellas by award-winning and wonderful authors who I can personally recommend. But you don’t need to take my word for it–you can own the set for only $.99 and try all 18 novellas for yourself.
In the meantime, here’s a SNEAK PEEK at Falling for Captain Hunk:
“Jim, you’re killing me. Literally.” Captain Colin Lynch looked at the bloody, fat-veined roast beef held up for his inspection by the deli man.
Cap, as his friends called him, was on a mission, but it had nothing to do with his usual state police business..
He’d been standing at the deli counter for the past ten minutes, and it was beginning to look nearly impossible to find food that did not contain some deadly additive or excessive fat. He might be the man in charge of keeping mayhem at bay on Martha’s Vineyard but, unfortunately, that was of no use in accomplishing today’s task
“Then you belong at the salad bar with all them—”
Cap was spared the rest of the comment when Jim was interrupted by the sound of cans crashing to the floor followed by a surprised screech.
“Sounds like a problem in the canned vegetable aisle,” Jim said.
Cap would have responded with a wisecrack about the unhealthy nature of canned foods, but when he turned, what he saw stopped him.
A woman, a vision really, with long dark hair wearing jeans that curved tight around every sculptured turn of her long legs, brushed past him in a hurry. She might have been ballerina graceful, but she was strong enough to knock him back a step. Cap had no chance to react except with a jump in his pulse. She was past him and disappearing before he had a chance to stop her.
Then she turned to look back at him. The startling blue eyes that met his snapped with electricity. The zap shot through him and he could have sworn his heart actually stopped a beat. The connection lasted for only a fraction of a second.
Then it was gone as she moved away like a fawn on the run.
As his heart settled down, Cap exchanged a quick glance with Jim to see that the grizzled old marine-turned-deli man agreed with hiss assessment. The lithe beauty ran as if she were escaping from someone. This could be trouble.
And uniform or not, on duty or not, Cap was the man in charge of trouble. He tamped down the hum of alertness caused by adrenaline while he took off in the direction where he’d heard the crash. A man was halfway down the aisle and heading his way.
Shit. Not him.
He recognized Kaspian Ellison, aka Kasper the Ghost, from the morning’s bulletin from the governor’s office. His old special-ops-commander-turned-governor, Peter John Douglas, sent him the man’s picture with a warning. And a request. Technically, it was an order since Peter, as the governor of Massachusetts, was his boss.
The request had been to watch Ellison as a person of interest in a murder. The file would follow.
Kasper the Ghost marched forward like he was on a mission. As if he were trying to catch up with a disappearing beauty.
Cap hoped to hell this head of a heroin trafficking empire with a penchant for violence had nothing to do with the memorable woman he’d seen. Going on instinct, Cap decided to put himself in Ellison’s path at the end of the aisle.
For more information about special offers including a FREE BOGO box set and calendar pages featuring your favorite hunk, and information about all the books and authors, visit us at www.hunkstotherescue.com.
I’m excited to be a part of this great box set of 7 risky romance novels by along with some of my best pals in the writing business. If you only have $.99 to spend on books this week, buy this set of seven!
My novel in the set is The Romantics, a romantic suspense novel with some James-Bondish wit thrown in.
Here’s an excerpt from The Romantics:
Joe touched his earpiece out of habit. He swept a gaze over the roomful of golden people. The place looked the same to him as it always did for an event. The only difference tonight was that he was supposed to be one of those golden people—playing guest instead of security.
As he check-pointed the perimeter, his earpiece chirped to life with the unmistakable voice of his boss. Hell.
“Guests don’t wear earpieces, Allario. At least not at my New Year’s Eve party. Take it out and meet me in the library.” The Governor of Massachusetts signed off.
Joe moved without the hesitation he felt. As he reached the library door, three women surrounded him.
“It’s almost midnight and you’re still alone, Joe. It’s a shame for a hunk like you to waste a romantic night like this—with no gorgeous gal on your arm. We need to fix that right away.” Grace flashed her dimple.
The contagious effect lifted a corner of his mouth in return. She was his favorite of the three, he realized. Warm, bubbly, light and deep all at once. Not that he kept any illusions. He nodded at each of the women in turn. They were all lovely in their own distinctive ways. They all knew he was fond of them in spite of his reticence. He liked that. Grace’s husband, who was the director of the Scotland Yard Exchange Program in Boston, teased him about his reticence, but Joe figured keeping emotionally cool was a safe policy.
“How could I be in better company than with you three lovely ladies?” He went out on a limb, but in spite of his teasing note, he meant it. He meant his warm smile too. They were all striking. And married to a trio of lucky bastards. He shook his head. He considered the three bastards among his best friends.
“You don’t fool me. You’d give your right pectoral for the right woman,” Pixie said. Her redheaded bob swayed playfully around her face. “I see a possibility staring at you from across the room right now.” She gave him a mischievous smile—the only kind she had.
The third woman of the trio, Madeline, the tall glamorous wife of his boss, laughed and assured him. “Pixie is right. That woman is a definite possibility.”
They were all glancing across the crowd in womanly assessment, but before he could turn to appreciate the possible woman, his boss, Governor Peter John Douglas, more commonly known as PJD, showed up as promised. He stepped behind his wife and enveloped her in a possessive embrace. Madeline leaned into him and Joe felt a spark of envy zip through him for their easy intimacy. Shit.
“Afraid I have other plans for our erstwhile bachelor Joe.”
“He doesn’t even get a midnight kiss?” Grace sounded disappointed on his behalf.
“No kiss, but he does get a flight to London. And a mission with the royal protective services.”
He didn’t know if it was the prospect of flying or the prospect of a mission that caused his heart to triple beat, but he stayed cool and returned the steady gaze of the governor.
“Don’t tell me the royals ran out of men to watch out for their assets.” He thought he’d carried off his cool, but Peter raised a brow.
“This is a special assignment calling for an outsider to protect a damsel in distress—right up your alley, Joe.”
Joe said nothing and refrained from taking a deep breath. He even smiled without clenching his teeth. He hated flying. These days he figured if God wanted him to fly, his pockets would be filled with fairy dust and his name would be Peter Pan.
He’d never planned to fly again once he’d returned from the hell in Africa that had been his last special services assignment. On the other hand, how hellish could it be minding a princess?
“Sounds like quite a career-making opportunity, sir,” he said to his boss. He winked at Grace because she looked dismayed.
His boss ignored the sarcasm, as Joe knew he would.
“Can’t he stay until midnight?” Madeline asked.
Peter looked at his watch and said, “In twenty-five minutes at precisely ten past midnight, he’ll be on an army reserve aircraft transport taking off from Hanscom air base and headed for RAF Northolt—an air base in England.”
“Doesn’t leave much time for packing,” Pixie said.
“Don’t worry, he’ll be perfectly dressed in his tux and on time for a royal New Year’s Day reception,” Peter said to the women. He turned to Joe. “When you land, you’ll be picked up by a limo and taken to the reception at Buckingham Palace.”
“Well then—guess we don’t have to feel so bad for our Joe tonight,” Pixie said while Grace and Madeline laughed and congratulated him on his luck.
Peter continued, “We’ve arranged for clothing and miscellaneous sundries for you with your Scotland Yard contact. There was no time to work up a dossier for you, but you’ll be briefed during the limo ride to the palace by the royal family liaison. After the reception our liaison from the Yard will be in touch.”
Joe hadn’t heard Peter sound this way since he briefly served under him on a Special Forces team assignment many years ago. The man hadn’t lost his commanding touch. Joe’s heart rate picked up pace and if he didn’t know better he’d have thought Peter could hear it. The governor probably sensed his hesitation, but there was nothing he could do about that. Nothing but accept his assignment with aplomb. He adopted a cavalier attitude that felt like paper armor against his trepidation.
“The intrigue is killing me, boss,” he said with his tongue in cheek. “Who’s the subject and what’s the mission about?”
Peter’s brow lifted in a knowing quirk.
Joe was so not intrigued by this case that he spun the options in his mind for turning it down. He drew a blank. Coming up with a good reason why he couldn’t go proved impossible. It was too against the grain of his training—against the grain of his very soul to turn away a mission—even a cupcake mission. Although, knowing his boss, it may not be as cupcake as it seemed so far. He waited for Peter’s explanation.
Peter looked at the three curious women, nodded at his wife and turned to Joe. “Let’s take a couple of the few minutes you have left to go over the mission in privacy. Excuse us, ladies.”
He and his boss ducked into the library and shut the door. His adrenaline spiked and he feared the sweat on his upper lip might give away the gnawing alarm he had about this. What the hell was wrong with him? Surely he could handle a measly cross-Atlantic flight to London. He’d been a goddamned special forces soldier in Africa subjected to a hell of a lot worse than a royal damsel in distress at Buckingham-stinking-Palace, hadn’t he? Maybe that was the problem.
“Your assignment is a royal cousin, a young woman who’s been threatened. Her name is Lady Veronica Douglas—and yes, she’s a relative—a cousin on my father’s side. I never met her, but I know of her family story. Her father was a hero of my father’s. When I was young, Dad talked incessantly about the man with great admiration. But never mind that—your mission is, first, to protect her and, second, to apprehend the threat—whoever he or she is.”
“What makes you—or the royals—think the threat is credible? They must get threats all the time…”
“There was a break-in, vandalism and some kind of threatening message left behind. I don’t know any more of the details right now.”
“What about David Young? What’s he think about you involving me in his Scotland Yard program assignment?”
“He called me as soon as he found out the subject was a relation and I asked him to let me send you.” He paused. “You’re the best I know, Joe. Look—I know it’s not an exciting career-making, save-the-world-from-terrorists assignment. Heck, it may turn out to be a bogus threat in the end, but it would mean a lot to me to know you’re on it. Plus they need an outsider—before you ask me why they aren’t sending Miller.”
“Will Sir Miller be my contact in London then?”
Peter nodded and squinted his eyes. “Something’s bothering you.”
“Nothing important. There’s nothing more important than saving a damsel in distress.” If she really was in distress, he thought.
“Spill it. Your ride’s leaving in three minutes.”
“I don’t like flying.” He said it and got no response. “I hate flying.” He would never say he had a fear of flying. He had no fear, right? He’d been Special Forces. He had no fear. Back then.
“When’s the last time you flew?”
“Back to the States after my last deployment.” There was no explanation for it. No reason. No rational cause for him to be sweating this very minute thinking about it. He would have clenched his teeth against the palpitations if Peter hadn’t been staring him down.
“And you’re willing to go now?”
He nodded. The less he said, the better.
Peter nodded back. “You’re a brave man. Let’s get going. And for the record, I won’t tell a soul about…”
His wife Madeline swung open the door.
“You won’t tell your wife?” Joe said without a smile or a look over his boss’s shoulder in Madeline’s direction.
“I especially won’t tell my wife.”
Madeline approached her husband from behind. “Well, that’s just rude. Keeping secrets from me?”
Peter turned and wrapped her in his arms and Joe watched with that familiar sigh of envy welling. Get a grip on yourself. Grace followed through the door and Pixie flitted in right behind her.
“Secrets?” Grace raised a brow at him.
“I love secrets.” Pixie all but rubbed her hands together with glee.
He laughed and felt a weight lift from his soul. He loved these women. If he could bring them with him on the flight, he’d have no problem whatever. He loved the femininity that oozed from their every pore, their easy laughs from sultry to giggles. Though they were serious women, each in their way, they had a lightness to them that never failed to lift his spirits. They reminded him of his sisters.
Maybe he should call up his sisters to come with him on the flight. If they weren’t both married with kids they’d drop everything and do it for him. There was a time when he’d been the center of their lives. Now the only woman to hold him at the center of her life seemed to be his mother. Sad.
“We came to say good-bye, Joe. We couldn’t let you take off without a departing hug at the very least.” Grace eyed him. She knew there was something wrong. No matter how cool and poker-faced his façade remained, she knew. Must have picked that up from her husband. David was flipping uncanny about reading people. Even better than his boss. Scary.
“You’ll have to walk us out through the back hall to the secret escape door where his ride is waiting now,” Peter said as he checked his watch again.
“You weren’t kidding about leaving with only the tux on my back.”
“Not even an overcoat?” Pixie scolded.
“I know where your coat is, Joe—let me run and get it and I’ll meet you at the car.” Madeline rushed off as soon as Peter gave her his nod of approval.
They trooped through the door to the back hall. He marched the short distance down the hall to the seldom-used exit and out the door. The women remained huddled inside the doorway out of the cold and he gave each one of them a hug. Taking in their warmth, he let their comforting natures infuse him with goodwill. His heartbeat returned to normal and he felt his bunched shoulders relax. He suppressed the impulse to ask them to ride to the airport with him.
Since when had he been so needy? He was annoyed with himself on some level, but he didn’t let it spoil his new sense of well-being. Man, did he need a woman of his own.
Madeline squeezed through the huddle of her two friends in the doorway and draped the coat over his arm, reached up and gave him a quick hug and a wink, then scurried back inside, out of the cold Boston air.
“Any last minute instructions?”
“Be careful and remember to behave professionally with my cousin. She’s vulnerable.” Peter softened his command with a grin and a pat on the back as Joe ducked inside the backseat of the limo.
“I feel naked leaving for a mission without a dossier,” he admitted, though the lack of intel was the least of his discomfort as the specter of the flight loomed again.
“You’ll get all you need once you meet with Sir Miller. In the meantime, it’s a good thing for you to size up the players blind.” Peter reached inside, shook his hand and then closed the door.
Either a frog had taken up residence in his gut or the calming effect of feminine comfort had disappeared with the click of the limo door, leaving his adrenaline to run wild. The sudden chirp of his cell phone would have made him jump if he hadn’t been well trained. He took a deep breath and, deciding to live wild, pressed the phone to his ear without checking who was calling him at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“Happy New Year, Ma,” he said with a smile in spite of his mood. Who else would it be?
“Really? You were expecting your mother to call you at two minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve?” Chauncey Miller barely contained his amusement.
Joe flipped him the finger out of habit even though he couldn’t see it–his friend would expect it. He said, “What do you have for me, Chaunce?”
“Quickly—you’ll be reporting to my family home in London and my father wanted me to give you a heads-up. My home is yours. Don’t mind the old man—he’s got as stiff an upper lip as a man made of iron, but he’s harmless. After all, he has a soft spot for Mauve, his housekeeper and all around caretaker, so if you want something—she’ll make it happen. Good luck—and Happy New Year.” The phone went dead, but not before Joe heard the merriment in the background. He heaved a sigh. Maybe he should call his mother. He needed something to help him avoid thinking about the impending flight from Boston to London.
The next novel in the Beachcomber Investigations series has not been published yet–it’s just become available for pre-order–but I wanted to give you all a sneak peak at the new excitement for Dane & Shana in Beachcomber Wedding:
“I have no idea how anyone could mistake you for a beachcomber,” Shana said. She stood on the opposite side of the wooden dock two feet from him with her hands on her hips and an accusation etched on her deceptively angelic face.
Dane enjoyed answering her rhetorical questions–especially because he knew it would annoy the hell out of his favorite girl. His only girl. Maybe his girl.
He split a lazy grin and watched the harbor breeze wreak havoc on her wild golden hair.
He said, “I have all the markings. I surf, don’t wear a watch, run the beach every day and drink tequila religiously.”
“Sure. You also carry a 9mm Glock religiously—although I don’t know what the hell religion that is—and not to mention that your so-called beach shack is wired-up with some kind of futuristic high tech security system.” She paused and got serious, dropping her wonder woman pose.
“A real beachcomber wouldn’t take a call from a Russian mobster. So—“
“So I answered my phone.” He wished he hadn’t. “Besides, Toly is a retired old man now. And he was never really a mobster. He was into espionage. Maybe some arms sales.” Dane looked out over the harbor and soaked in the cool salty air wafting across the island.
Is it too soon to take a peek at a Christmas novella? Let It Snow, a Christmas novella in the Beachcomber Investigations series, will be coming in the exciting boxed set Love, Christmas this fall. Each novella in the boxed set is inspired by a Christmas song and dedicated to a reader who entered the contest and chose that song as their favorite. My winner is Patty Curry. We both love the song Let it Snow and the lovely sentiment of being trapped inside with a loved one while the weather is frightful outside!
Here’s a sneak peek of chapter one now:
Let It Snow – Chapter 1
Was it strange that a grown man—scratch that—middle-aged man should feel like impaled gutter trash, so devastated by the death of a mother he’d seen only a handful of times in the last decade?
The bullet that killed Dane’s mother may as well have hit him. It left a cannon hole in him, obliterating whatever had been left of his heart and soul. Maybe there hadn’t been much there anyway. How could there have been? Seemed he’d spent a lifetime fighting the soul killing hurt in all the most hellish places on earth to no end. Saving people, but not saving everyone. Never saving everyone. But he’d survived.
In body anyway.
This wasn’t about his past catching up with him. No. Dane knew what the devastation, the pain and now the numbness was about. It was because he felt responsible for his mother’s death. Any shrink would have told him this.
The problem was—he was responsible for his mother’s death. She’d been murdered on his watch. At the hands of his enemies. It didn’t matter how much of the devastation he felt was guilt. It should be pure gut-gnawing guilt. He deserved to feel guilty as hell.
He should have been able to protect her. Least he could have done. She’d protected him all those years. Without his father. She saw that he got to adulthood when it was not at all a likely thing.
He stared out his kitchen window again. This time snowflakes filled the sky, obscuring his view of the bay and the ocean. Didn’t matter. He wasn’t going anywhere. Or maybe he should pack his bags and leave this place. Head for the next hellish place and destructive mission. Leave a mark. Try to make up for allowing his mother to die by saving someone else’s mother.
He may as well leave. It wasn’t like his beach shack or Martha’s Vineyard held the solace for him that they once had. Too many things happened here. Too much violence. And now death.
“I invited Cap over for eggnog.” Her strident voice cut him.
Dane turned around to face Shana standing on the threshold of the kitchen. The glint of her beauty cut into him further. She stared him down with her arms folded like she expected an argument. Like she expected to win the argument.
He didn’t bother arguing. He’d retreat to his bed. Bring a bottle with him. Then he remembered she’d hidden or tossed all the bottles. No matter. She could celebrate the season with innocent eggnog and Cap if she wanted.
The thought of Cap—Captain Colin Lynch—and Shana together stirred an ember in him, but not much. Nothing like the spark it might have created before. There was no fire to be had in his belly. Not today.
“Go for it, girlie.” He smiled. It cost him to muster that much for her. But she deserved whatever he had. She tried hard. Probably too hard. He walked by her and headed to his room half hoping she’d follow him and he could seduce her, lose himself in mindless sex with her. But he’d drawn the line short of letting her put up her body for his use to cure him of his self-pity. Besides, sex was never a simple matter with Shana. He’d end up feeling guilty about it. More guilt. If it were possible.
She’d been trying to save him from himself ever since she’d come to the island. It was a matter of time now—a very short time he’d guess—before she realized the futility. Then he’d be left to himself. The only company he was fit for.
He shut his bedroom door behind him and didn’t bother pulling the blinds. It was barely mid-afternoon but the storm had darkened the sky to near nightfall proportions. It suited him. He’d sleep through the storm. Maybe when he woke again all the darkness would be gone.
Shana wished she had some kind of miracle to get Dane out of his depression. She looked at his closed bedroom door. There was no way she’d go that route. Then she’d end up as depressed as he was and there’d be nothing left of Beachcomber Investigations. Or her. Or him.
Cap thought Dane needed a shrink or heavy medication. But short of hitting him over the head and dragging him bodily, Dane couldn’t be convinced to see a professional. Now weeks later, Shana had hoped the Christmas season would cheer him, but if anything he was worse.
So far, today being Christmas Eve hadn’t cheered her much either. Anxiety had moved into her bones. She’d never worried over anyone or anything the way she worried now about Dane. Cap wasn’t the only one who felt the same way. The governor—his special ops unit commander and friend–called almost daily. Acer, a member of their special ops unit and as far as she could tell, his closest friend–texted her every other day. Sassy and Ronnie, their local twenty-something junior investigators came by often and she was lucky they did. Sassy brought pies from her shop and Ronnie brought pilfered food from the restaurant where he worked. If they hadn’t brought the food and forced her to eat, she would have diminished to a stick figure by now. As it was, her clothes hung on her.
And Dane didn’t notice. Nothing stirred him. Nothing made a difference to him. If she left now, would he care? Would he notice? Would he be better off?
Would she be better off?
No. She’d never forgive herself. It was just as much her fault that his mother was murdered. On her watch. She should have been able to protect Dane’s mother, to prevent the murder—should have seen it coming and have been able to do something.
A rap on the back door saved her from sinking further. She’d hidden the bottle from herself just as much from Dane. She hoped she could enjoy a splash of brandy in her eggnog tonight without succumbing to sobbing. But Cap had been a shiny spot in the bleakness, like her north star, for this past month.
Cap pushed open the back door and stepped into the kitchen with a rush of fat wet snowflakes riding on the cold wind.
Behind Cap, in a bright red snow covered sweater and white knit hat, a stranger stepped forward. Shana jumped back and automatically felt for her gun on her hip and then the back of her waistband.
“Don’t worry—he’s https://www.viagrasansordonnancefr.com/viagra-prix/ with me.” Cap smirked and moved forward. The man stepped inside behind him and pushed the door closed. Shana shivered. Then she remembered she ought to smile at her guest. She was turning into her crazy aunt Shirley and she wasn’t yet thirty years old. She noticed the man had a bag. She looked at Cap for an introduction or an explanation or something.
“This is Father Pedro.”
She looked closer at the man.
He had wet graying hair and dark eyes. Maybe they were kind eyes, but right now they were non-committal. Intelligent and searching like he was looking into her soul and sizing her up.
“I’m Shana. Have a seat. I’m about to put the final touches on the eggnog.”
“Do you have anything hot?”
“Of course—you must be cold.” He had no coat and his sweater was wet.
Cap took off his coat and she knew he was looking for Dane.
As if by thinking about him they had some cosmic pull, Dane’s door banged opened and
a second later he appeared on the threshold of the kitchen. Shana was surprised he wasn’t aiming his old Glock at them, but the look he leveled was threatening enough.
“Dane—“ she said.
“Who the hell are you?”
Padre Pedro stepped around her and his face transformed to warm beautific saintliness. He went to Dane with his arms extended. He had to be nuts.
Dane put his arms out too—to stop the man in his tracks.
“Whoa there, fellow—answer my question. Who the f-ing hell are you?”
The padre stopped an arms distance away as Shana went to Dane’s side—or as close to his side as his porcupine mood would allow.
“Dane—“ Cap began.
Dane glared at Cap to silence him. The Padre stood and took his time studying Dane—brave for a man with Dane the Demon expecting an answer. All the while Shana figured what kept the Padre safe was the new look on his face. It was like he was heartbroken, like seeing Dane made his heart weep. In fact he looked like he was about to cry when he spoke in a sad but deeply ominous voice.
“Oscar sent me.”
There’s an exciting new collection of Christmas novellas coming up this holiday season: Love, Christmas. Each story will feature one of your favorite Christmas songs, and each is dedicated to a special reader who shares their love of the chosen song. I will be featuring a chapter one excerpt from each novella here weekly until our release of the boxed set: This week’s excerpt is Santa Baby, one of my favorite Christmas songs and the novella is by one of my favorite authors, Taylor Lee.
Chapter 1 Excerpt
Zach took a hefty swallow of Makers Mark draining his glass. Plunking the empty schooner on the table top he reached for the bottle and poured himself a healthy portion. Not waiting for his buddies’ certain approval, he refilled Danny’s and Mark’s glasses with the amber liquid and raised his tumbler in a mock salute.
“Here’s to what, men, our fourth, or, is it our fifth Christmas, celebrating at the Xpose? Damn, I never thought anything could be worse than canned Christmas music everywhere from Walmart to the barber shop.” He shook his head and pointed with his chin at the stage. “But two nearly naked faux reindeer pretending to have sex to the beat of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Damn, that’s over the top even for the Xpose!”
When his buddies roared in agreement, Zach tried to remember when he’d been amused, hell, even a little intrigued at the Xpose’s Christmas decorations. Leave it to Lecherous Lenny, as he and his men had named the proprietor of the sleazy strip joint, to create the scene in front of them. Who else would decorate his fake Christmas trees with gargantuan silver and gold phalluses? Not to mention every kind of sex toy the most perverted imbiber of kink could imagine. Zach admitted that once he’d even been amused by the plastic breasts decorating the trees. In an apparent imitation of Rudolph’s nose, they were topped with pointed red nipples that blinked on and off.
Zach took another slug of the potent whiskey welcoming the harsh burn in his throat. With a heartfelt sigh
he acknowledged that the garish sex-saturated displays were no longer funny, they were sad. Watching the women gyrating on the stage he shook his head. He knew that their glassy eyes and occasional stumbles confirmed that they’d deadened their bleak lives with the plentiful crystal Lenny provided to keep his girls in line. Disheartening as the women were, the ugly hoots of the drunken men egging them on, was sickening. Zach was about to finish his drink and call it a night when the girl-on-girl reindeer tableau came to a merciful end.
As he rose to his feet and was about to slap down a bill, another song hit the PA system. Instead of a cheerful, inappropriate children’s tune, it was Eartha Kitt’s taunting tribute to materialism, Santa Baby. But it wasn’t the saucy lyrics that made Zach change his mind about leaving. Rather it was the long-limbed dancer sauntering across the stage toward the brass pole in the center of the stage. Deciding that leaving was premature, Zach allowed himself to sink back in his chair and appreciate what was an anomaly at the Xpose: A stripper who knew how to dance. Zach marveled that the woman not only moved her beautiful body in the expected, provocative fashion but she did it with a sinuous grace that snagged his breath.
Danny’s appreciative whistle and muttered expletive confirmed that Zach wasn’t the only one agog at the apparition before them.
“Wow! I haven’t seen that little piece before. Don’t tell me Lenny the Lecher is adding quality to his lineup. Fuckin’ A, that babe looks more like a beauty pageant contestant than a stripper.” He added with a hearty laugh as the music throbbed, “Bet she’d win the talent portion if not the whole damn crown.”
Gratified that his cohort was as flummoxed as he was, Zach tried to figure out what was different about the dark haired woman working her way to the pole. Like all the other strippers, she was wearing Lenny’s sexy de rigour Christmas attire. A tight red low-cut halter captured her full breasts and skimpy boy shorts cupped her curvy ass. The red velvet stocking cap with the sassy white fuzzy ball on the end perched on the shiny curtain of curly black hair streaming over her slim shoulders and back. But unlike the other women, who looked sleazy not sexy, the new dancer almost looked proper. More like one of Santa’s prettiest elves, not a woman who was about to shed her clothes for the voracious men who were screaming at her to “take it off”.
The girl-next-door morphed enticingly when the dancer responded to the crowd’s lewd demands. With a flick of her fingers she allowed the straining halter to fall to the floor. Bodacious breasts topped with sparkling rhinestone pasties revealed a tantalizing glimpse of rosy nipples that stole Zach’s breath. The gasps from his hardened teammates confirmed he wasn’t the only one stunned by her lush body. He almost didn’t want her to lose the boy shorts, not wanting to share more of the erotic vision with the leering men. He was glad that the City fathers had decreed that no matter how loudly the crowd insisted, the remaining G-string would stay in place.
Zach watched in amazement as the stripper-turned-erotic-gymnast skillfully used the shiny pole to display her stunning athleticism as well as her beautiful body. She shimmied up and down the pole twirling from one gravity defying move to another. When she landed a flying breathtaking leap and stood once more upright on the floor, Zach captured her gaze. The look in her eyes when she met his open appraisal surprised him. It wasn’t only the sudden shyness that flickered across her face. Rather it was the fact that her expression changed dramatically. If he was any judge of women who shed their clothes for a living, and Zach most certainly was, he recognized her startled wide-eyed expression. He’d seen it far too many times in his line of work. It was fear, pure and simple. Seeming to realize that her mask had slipped, the accomplished performer quickly recovered her poise. She turned back to the chanting crowd and showered them with a cheeky grin. Tossing her head she shook her booty eliciting a thunderous roar from the appreciative audience. Then with an impudent wave she turned and literally dashed from the stage.
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