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Sinful Desires Vol. 1(8)

By:M. S. Parker



“Look, it's my way for apologizing for what happened last night.”

Now I was just confused. “What are you talking about?”

He rubbed the back of his neck, an embarrassed expression on his face. “You don't remember?”

I shook my head.

“I came out on the balcony to make sure you were okay and found my future brother-in-law pawing at you.” He shook his head. “You were passed out and Brock was drunk – not that it excuses him. I told him to go sleep it off and then brought you back here.”

I frowned. “The last thing I remember is going out for some air.” I was also pretty sure I hadn't had anything to drink, but that route had implications I didn't want to deal with, especially since nothing had really happened.

“Well, I feel bad about what happened, even if you don't remember it,” Reed said. “Let me at least take you to dinner and make it up to you.”

I was torn. On one hand, I wanted to tell him to fuck off. I wanted to believe he’d lied to me, he’d used me and that he’d walked away as if it was no big deal.

Then there was the logical part of me that reminded me of the practically empty cupboards back at the apartment and the ten packets of ramen noodles Rosa and I had eaten as our main meal this past week. If I went with him, I could get a real meal, the biggest they offered, and the leftovers would keep us for a day or two. Rosa wouldn't have even hesitated.

Still, there was a part of me that knew the truth. I wasn't thinking about agreeing for those reasons. I wanted to go to dinner with him because I enjoyed his company. That night back home hadn't just been about sex. I'd felt comfortable with him in a way I'd never felt with a guy before. The talking had come easy and even the silence had been comfortable. It was nearly impossible to find someone to talk to, to be quiet with and who could do such amazing things in bed. Women would kill for a guy like Reed, even if for only one night. Was I really willing to give up at least a couple hours of someone to talk to just because I was pissed at him?

“All right,” I agreed.

He smiled. “Great! What time should I pick you up and where?”

I held up a hand, silencing him. That was sounding way too much like a date, and I needed to nip that in the bud. “How about we meet for dinner?”

“Oh. Okay.”

I wasn't sure if it was my imagination or if he really sounded disappointed, but I wasn't going to think about it. Instead, I asked, “Where are we meeting?”

“Alizé.”

I blinked. Alizé was one of Chef André Rochat's restaurants. It served the best French food in the city, had a huge wine selection and offered the most spectacular view from atop the Palms Casino Resort. Or so I'd heard.

“You already have reservations?”

Reed gave me a sheepish grin as he shook his head. “I know people.”

Of course he did. Well, I definitely wasn't going to turn down that. I was just glad I still had my dress from the reunion  . I didn't have anything else that would even come close to being appropriate for a place like that. I tried not to let myself be disappointed at not having one Reed hadn't seen before. That wasn't the point.

“So I'll see you there at eight?”

I nodded as I shoved the last bite of toast into my mouth and climbed out of the bed. I needed to find my clothes, get Rosa and get us home. Being around Reed was more confusing than I liked. I needed some distance if I was going to be able to go through with dinner.





Chapter 8

The appreciative look Reed gave me when I got out of the taxi said he didn't mind that I was wearing the same thing I'd worn to the reunion  . In fact, if the heat in his gaze was any indication, he was remembering what it had been like watching me take it off. I wondered if he realized now that I'd been using some of my work skills that night.

“Thank you for agreeing to have dinner with me,” he said as he held out his arm. Despite what I'd seen in his eyes, his actions and tone were completely platonic.

I let my arm hook around his and we walked towards the entrance. I could feel the muscles in his arm through the material of his jacket and wondered if he was as aware of me as I was of him. I pressed my lips together and made myself think of other things. I couldn't think of him in a romantic way, not now that I knew he was getting married. My father had cheated on my mother for years and walked out as soon as she'd told him she was pregnant. It was one thing to know there were married men ogling me at the strip club, and something else entirely to entertain sexual thoughts about one I knew was married, or at least partway there.

When we reached the restaurant, I was unable to keep myself from gawking at the view. Everything I'd heard had been true. The skyline was breathtaking, lit up against the deep blue sky. It was early June, so the sun was just starting to go down and the colors popped against the lights from the buildings. Up here, you couldn't see any peeling paint or drunken guests. The sleaziest strip clubs looked as clean and bright as the newest casinos.

Reed led me to our table where I was finally forced to look away from the city. He ordered wine in fluent French, of course, but didn't have a smug smile when the waiter walked away. At least his lack of pretentiousness had been real, even if nothing else had been.

I looked down at the menu, frowning when I saw it was in French.

“Oh, sorry, I forgot,” Reed said. “The menu's written in French, but there's–”

“Je crois que je vais poulet,” I interrupted.

He stared at me and I couldn't help but laugh at his expression.

“I went to the same high school you did,” I reminded him. “Four years of Ms Boudreaux.” I couldn't resist adding, “And it comes in handy when I pretend the reason I don't answer some of those assholes at the club is because I don't speak English. You'd be surprised at what idiots say when they think the stripper is foreign.”

The tips of Reed's ears reddened.

“Ask it,” I said.

“Ask what?” He looked down at his water glass.

“What you've been wanting to ask since you recognized me last night.” I'd seen the question in his eyes from that first moment and now I just wanted to get it out of the way. I didn't want it hanging over me all night.

“I-I don't know what you mean.”

“You want to know how I got into this, or why I do it. The wording may be different, but it comes down to the same thing.” I kept my words clipped and even, unemotional.

The waiter returned with the wine, and I fell silent while he poured. Being matter-of-fact about what I did was one thing. Having someone overhear the conversation was something else. No matter how polite and professional the waiter would be, I knew he'd only see me as a whore. It didn't matter that I didn't have sex with the men at the club. I sold the idea of sex, and for a lot of people, that was enough.

After the waiter promised to return in a few minutes for our orders, I waited until he was out of earshot and then gave him the short version of the story.

“When you move to Vegas at twenty-one with a high school diploma and waitressing as your only skill-set, there aren't a lot of opportunities for employment,” I said. “I want to be a dancer – a real dancer – and I thought this would be a good place to try to get my start.” I took a sip of the wine, and then added, “It pays better than waiting tables back in Philly.”

“There are dance schools back in Philadelphia,” Reed said. “And anyone who still remembers their high school French and had such a well-formed opinion on literature as a freshman should've been able to get an academic scholarship. You had options. Why'd you leave?”

I frowned. “That seems a bit too personal for an apology dinner.”

“So we can talk about you getting naked for money, but not about why you didn't go to college?” Reed seemed almost amused.

I scowled at him. “Yes, and if you're going to be a jerk, I'll just go home.”

“I'm sorry.” He immediately backpedaled. “I didn't mean to pry.”

I was saved from having to respond when the waiter returned. Once our meals were ordered, Reed started on some small talk that led us safely away from areas that were too personal. He asked about which classes I'd liked at St. George's and we reminisced about teachers we'd shared. We talked about favorite things like food and movies, but we stayed away from ballet and our families.

I found myself enjoying the mundane conversation and relaxing as we talked and ate. As the dinner started to near the end, however, Reed began to appear more anxious. He started tapping his fingers on the table and leaning forward in his chair. Either he was waiting for something to happen or he had something he'd been wanting to say. He was running out of time in which to say it.

“Look, I know we've been keeping things light, but I need to tell you something.” The words came out in a rush.

I tensed. What was he going to say now?

“After I saw you at the airport, I couldn't stop thinking about you, and then you came outside at the reunion  . I've never been able to talk to someone as easily as I can talk to you,” he confessed. “And that night... I can't stop thinking about it.” He reached out as if he was going to take my hand. “I want to be with you.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

He froze, his eyes wide. Clearly, that hadn't been the response he'd been expecting.

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