“But not like that,” Matt said, gesturing to my dress. I stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek, leaving an impression of my lips behind. Great, I’d have to check my lip gloss before I left. As I was about to step back, Matt grabbed me by the hips and pulled me closer. He crushed my lips under his, completely ruining my lip gloss. Before I could ruminate on that thought, he moved his hands to my ass and squeezed. As usual, my body reacted by pressing itself further into him. I could feel his erection digging into my belly, and I had to make a decision. Two seconds more of this, and we weren’t going to the club for some time. A sense of duty made me pull away from him and put space between us.
“Matt, we have to go soon,” I panted, giggling as I looked at his face. He had lip gloss smeared all over his lips, and I knew I didn’t look much better. “We’ll have to save this for another time.”
“Fuck the club,” Matt said hoarsely, taking a step towards me. The look in his eyes told me that he wanted me more than he wanted information. “Let’s go to my room.” Two more steps and he’d be on top of me.
“Matt, come on,” I said, stepping back again. As much as I wanted him, I knew I’d regret it if we didn’t go to the club—and what’s more, so would he. Every day we let go without finding Danny meant one day closer to perhaps not finding him at all. “We have to talk to Digger. You have to take a rain check on this.” I didn’t know if my talking had swayed him or not until he spoke.
“Ok, but you have to promise me one thing.” I looked at him inquiringly, wondering what string he’d attach to my offer. “You have to dress like this when I cash in on that rain check. In fact, I want you to wear this dress.” He grinned, looking slightly demented with his bruised lips.
“Oh, ok, you big brute,” I said, patting his arm. He caught my hand and licked my palm, sending a thrill up my arm. I gasped, unable to stop myself.
“You sure you want to take a rain check?” Matt asked, sliding my thumb into his mouth. My knees buckled, nearly dropping me to the floor. Somehow, I managed to wrest my hand free of his and nod my head. Not without giving him a dirty look, however, which caused him to chuckle. He headed to the bathroom before I could do anything to him, namely jump his bones. I whipped out my lipstick container because it had a small mirror in it and painstakingly recreated my lips. After I finished, I sat on the futon to watch the game until Matt was ready.
“Well?” Matt asked twenty minutes later. It was my turn to gape in astonishment at his transformation. Though he dressed better than I on a daily basis, he rarely got rigged up to this extent. He was wearing black jeans so tight, I could see his erection straining to get out. On top, he was wearing a black satin shirt and a silver tie. He looked too classy to go to a strip joint, even an upscale gentleman’s one like the club, but I liked it a lot. He added a pair of shades that were opaque, but actually blocked little sun. He looked like a bodyguard, albeit a hot one.
“I think you might have to go late into work tomorrow,” I said, gazing at him in all his finery. “Or call in sick.”
“Shall we?” Matt stared at the expanse of thigh I was showing as I gracefully stood up. He placed his hand on said flesh, though it was no longer showing. “Last chance to change your mind,” he said, moving his hand higher. Even though my body said yes, I pushed his hand away.
“After, big boy,” I purred into his ear, hooking my arm around him. I gave his ass a squeeze before letting go, now in the mood to go clubbing. Unfortunately, not to a strip club, but it would have to do.
Matt and I discussed strategy on the way over. We agreed that I would take the lead with Matt as my muscle. If Digger turned out to be one of those guys who preferred talking to men than women—which I doubted—Matt would take over. I had brought a copy of one of the papers Kayla had taken or copied herself as proof that I wasn’t just talking shit. If Digger were straight—which he most likely was given his history of pimphood—I’d give him something to work with. I knew how to flirt with the best of them, and I had Matt for backup.
I’d start out coy and lovey-dovey, asking about the club and other innocent things. Once I hooked his interest, I’d move into the more thorny questions, showing him the copy of the copy if he started to get belligerent. I didn’t anticipate any danger from him, but I had to admit I was glad Matt was going. My orders were never to be alone with Digger and to bail if things got too sticky. I didn’t like to follow orders from anybody, but what Matt said made sense. I didn’t know what kind of man Digger was, but if he was connected, he probably wouldn’t scruple at offing a Chink like me. Even with Matt backing me up, there might be trouble. I resolved that we weren’t going to get trapped in a back room or anything sordid like that.
“Here we go,” Matt muttered, parking the car with a flourish. He slipped his shades back on—he had taken them off to drive, of course—and offered me his arm. I accepted with a dazzling smile, feeling like a painted lady.
“IDs,” the bouncer said before looking up. At seeing me, he did a double-take, but a subtle one. This was a classy joint, and he’d be damned if he showed overt surprise that a woman was entering the place. “Uh, never mind,” he added, a foolish grin on his face. He was all of twenty-three or twenty-four, but he was built like an ex-football player—one who hadn’t yet gone to seed. He had light blue eyes and baby cheeks, and I wouldn’t mind a tumble in the hay with him. Matt nudged me in the ribs to get me moving. The bouncer waved us in, waiving the cover fee.
“Thank you so much,” I purred, my voice a notch lower than usual. I gave him a quick kiss on his cheek for his efforts, taking care not to muss my lip gloss. From the look on the boy’s face, he would be having some interesting dreams about me tonight. I winked and smiled at him before sauntering into the club. I had been to strip joints before, but none of this caliber. I could tell in an instant that this wasn’t the MGD kind of crowd, which made me glad I brought the platinum. Not that I had much to back it up, but I wouldn’t have to pay for a month—which meant I didn’t have to think about it until then.
The girl on the stage grinding to the music were definitely a step above the usual stripper. She looked as if she spent thousands on her look, and she didn’t have that drugged out appearance to her that many strippers acquire. She couldn’t be more than twenty-two with natural red hair and not-so-natural pink-tipped bazookas. She had one leg stretched gracefully over her head, showing off all her glory for the rapt audience staring at her through the glass. She had on a g-string and nothing else, and I knew the g-string would be history in a matter of minutes. She wasn’t bad-looking, but she appeared bored with what she was doing.
“Hi!” A perky blond with enhanced breasts and a bounce to her step greeted us. “My name is Mia. Table for two? There’s a three-drink minimum,” she added, her smile dazzling with its even teeth. I didn’t even want to think how much each drink would cost and simply nodded. “Right this way.” She smiled at Matt who nodded in return, a slight smile on his face. I could tell he was watching her ass as she led us to our table, even if he did have his eyes blocked. I could also tell that more than one male in the place was giving me the eye, either covertly or overtly. None were too eager to make waves with Matt, however, which confirmed my theory that Minnesota boys were basically wimps at heart. At least the guys in this joint weren’t wearing the dreaded baseball caps on their heads—there was even a tie or two as far as I could see.
“Here we go.” Mia gestured to the table, her breasts bobbing as she did. “What can I start you with?” Again, the question was directed towards Matt who took off his sunglasses, the better to appraise the goods. I made a mental note to dock her tip for ignoring me.
“I’ll have a shot of Jack,” Matt said, his eyes staying on Mia’s face.
“I’ll have a Cape Cod,” I said, my voice chilly enough to frost my drink. Mia wasn’t stupid because she transferred her smile to me and nodded her head.
“Shall I start a tab, then?” As this was directed to me, I decided to cut her some slack.
“Yes, please. Thank you, Mia.” I watched Matt watch Mia as she left. “I thought it bothered you when your friends ogled the waitresses at Hooters,” I said, amused at his hypocrisy.
“Yes, but they didn’t have their breasts showing,” Matt said, finally turning to me. “Besides, I wasn’t ogling—merely appreciating.” As he had been nothing less than polite, I couldn’t disagree. Before I could say anything, however, a thirty-something ex-frat boy-turned ad exec sauntered over to the table. I could tell by the way he walked that he thought way too much of himself. Even in a classy place like this, there were a few bad apples. When the guy opened his mouth to speak, he proved me right.
“Hey there,” he said, allowing his eyes to roam my body. “My name is Zach. What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?”
“Watching the show,” I said, my voice frigid. I hated lame come-on lines, and I hated the punks who thought they could deliver them with anything close to resembling panache.
“I love Asian girls,” Zach continued, smoothing down his blond hair. His lips curved into a predatory smile as he leaned forward to look down the front of my dress. Matt shot me a quizzical look, and I nodded my head slightly.
“Ok, buddy. Time for you to go.” Matt had slipped his sunglasses back on and once he stood up, he towered over Zach. Matt flexed his muscles, pissing Zach off in the process.
“Hey, you’re not her keeper, are you? I’ll go when the lady says she wants me to go.” Oh, the perils of an over-inflated ego. I honed my claws and prepared to sink them into said ego.
“Then you go now because I say go,” I said, my voice flat. I didn’t take kindly to fools, which meant he had to go away now. Besides, I was there on a job; I couldn’t afford to be distracted by the detritus. “I don’t want you here.”
“Don’t be like that, pretty lady.” Zach had turned to cajoling which never worked with me. “You and me could have a good time together.”
“Excuse me, is there trouble here?” A behemoth of a man stood next to Zach and Matt, looming over both of them. He must have been nearly seven feet tall, and he looked as if he weighed in the neighborhood of three hundred. He had his arms crossed in front of his chest, staring impassively at Matt and Zach.
“Yes, could you please remove that one—here I pointed to Zach—from my sight? Thank you.” I sniffed as the bouncer turned to Zach.
“Come with me, sir. You’re not allowed to bother customers.” The bouncer placed a paw on Zach’s shoulder, and the latter unwisely tried to shake it off.
“Let go of me, you goon. I won’t be harassed by you.” Zach must have been drunk or stoned to take on Goliath, but it was nothing to me. I just hoped the bouncer would give me a good show.
“Ok. We’ll do it the hard way.” The bouncer simply lifted Zach off the ground and started walking away, Zach dangling from his fist. I cracked up at the sight of Zach struggling to free himself, which was nigh impossible.
“That was classic,” Matt said, his shoulders shaking in laughter. Five minutes later, a slight man with dark hair and hazel eyes hurried over. His skin was pale, but shining with sweat. There was something familiar about him, but he had a very common look. He was wearing an Armani suit, I was sure of it, and he reeked of new money.
“Madame, I am so sorry about the abominable behavior of the ‘gentleman’ a few minutes ago,” the man began, addressing his comments to me. “Let me assure you that he is no longer welcomed here. The club is a place where everyone must feel comfortable.” He broke off the patter to introduce himself. “I am James Digs, the owner of this establishment. In order to make it up to you, your drinks are on the house tonight. I hope you enjoy your night.”
It couldn’t have worked out better if I planned it. Jamie ‘Digger’ Digs, in the not-so-appalling flesh. He wasn’t anything as I imagined him, which was probably the point. A chi-chi joint like this didn’t need a slimeball as the front man—it needed someone with class. I wondered how much training Digger had had before becoming the ‘owner’ of this place. I knew that Tosca must have trained Digger rigorously given the latter’s background, but why Digger? Was it because of his previous experience as a procurer of women? Did Tosca want someone local, and Digger happened to fit the bill? Did Digger have something on Tosca and blackmail the latter into offering him the position. If so, then Digger better have three forms of backup in case Tosca took it in his head to eliminate the problem.