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Dance for Me


Dance for Me

USA Today Bestselling Author



Whoever said life was fair must not have been talking about me. Growing up, I was a dreamer. A little girl with raven black, bouncing pigtails who was convinced that Jude McIntyre, my second-grade crush, would one day realize that I was a girl instead of one of the boys. I dreamed he would one day set those mesmerizing ice blue eyes on me and the world would realign. He would sweep me into his arms and carry me off into the sunset and together we would live an amazing life with two-point-five kids.

But that was just a fairy tale, and fairy tales don’t come true. At least, not for people like me.

By the time I turned eight, my world as I knew it had begun to collapse, and dreams like boys and marriage and kids had evaporated. The only concern I had was keeping Dad happy and praying to God to give us another good day.

It was two weeks before my eighth birthday that the doctor diagnosed my mother with an inoperable brain tumor. He gave her two years. She was gone less than six months later.

Nothing mattered after that except getting from one day to the next. If Jude McIntyre or any other boys ever noticed my existence, I didn’t know it. I was too busy making sure the man, who used to carry me around on his shoulders and told silly jokes at the dinner table, didn’t waste away. After Mom had died, Dad became a shell. He went to work only because there were bills to pay. He only ate out of habit, and the blank stare, that never seemed to go away, made me wonder if he even tasted what I laid in front of him.

Dad passed away of natural causes shortly after my eighteenth birthday.

I say it was a broken heart.

He held on only long enough to make sure I made it into adulthood, and then he let it all go to be with Mom. I can’t say I blame him. I miss her, too. I miss them both. But now isn’t the time for crying. What’s done is done. Now, my only concern is carving a path through this minefield called life, and I do that the only way I know how.

The floor-to-ceiling curtains hide my figure from curious eyes as my song of choice filters through the speakers, but I can feel them—touching, craving, yearning... For me.

This feeling used to scare me shitless. The vulnerability. The exposure. But all of that is long gone. Now, all I feel is the rush.

Being a stripper wasn’t my life’s ambition. Far from it. If my parents were looking down on me now, I don’t think they’d be very proud of what their daughter has become, but this job is the key to my survival. Waiting tables doesn’t pay much, but taking off my clothes means the difference between paying the bills and living on the streets. Student housing isn’t cheap, no matter how you slice it. As a bonus, with all the tips I’ve saved up, I will have paid my tuition in full by the time I’m finished with my degree.

Right now, stripping is the solution I’ve chosen, because nothing else makes sense. And, if I'm being honest, I kind of like it.

The sensual beat of Porcelain and the Tramp’s “I feel perfect” signal the show is about to begin. Standing with my feet slightly apart, I watch the dark curtains part in the middle. For one prolonged moment, I remain shrouded in a blanket of darkness. Then, as the lyrics take over, the ruby spotlight exposes me, and my feet begin to move. As I walk slowly forward, kicking my long legs out in front of me, I’m unable to see my audience, but I can feel them.

This is how I do what I do. I am shy by nature, but I learned early on that if I can block out the eyes watching me, my love of dancing is free to take over. At the end of the stage, I grasp the gleaming silver pole and twist, pressing my back into it. The shadowed figures watching my every move hover in the darkness just beyond my reach, urging me on.

Slowly, I slide down the length of the metal bar, my legs bending at the knee and opening wide, exposing the glittering gold strip that serves as a barrier between their eyes and the most intimate part of me.

There is something about taking my clothes off for strangers that I find exhilarating. It’s the knowledge that all those eyes are focused on me, on every movement, no matter how small, and that I affect them. It gives me a sense of control, of power. I push these men to the brink, testing the limits of their willpower, and the only thing they can do is watch.

And give me their money.

Dropping to my knees, I crawl across the stage. Encased in stretchy gold fabric, my breasts sway with each movement, creating a hypnotizing effect. Men can’t get enough of breasts, and thankfully, I have plenty to flaunt.

A few feet from the end of the stage, when I have reached as far as I am willing to go, I stretch my arms across the hard, cool surface, like a cat. Making eye contact with the darkness, I’m aware that whoever is on the other side is meeting my gaze with strained desire. Easing onto my back, I lift my hands overhead and stretch my long legs into the air, opening them wide, and then closing them again. The arch of my back presses my breasts toward the ceiling. Imagining what I must look like—nearly naked, needy and wanting, my body moving and arching, calling for my love to take me here, now—makes me feel edgy and wanton. As if the little clothing I wear is too much, threatening to smother me.