“Mr. Digs,” I purred, putting the act on again. I placed my hand in his and let my fingers tickle his palm. “My name is Scarlett Hsu. It’s a real pleasure to meet you.” I was gratified to see that Digger hadn’t tired of women and had reacted nicely to my overture by grinning like a buffoon. “This is my colleague, Matthias Reynolds. Would you care to sit down and tell us more about the club? It’s ever so interesting.”
“I would love to.” Digger sat next to me with alacrity, nodding to Mia to bring him a drink.
“Do you have a girl named Kayla working here? I think she works under the name of Circe,” I said, trying not to grimace. The names of these women! Really.
“Yes, what about her?” Nothing but pure guile on his face. I couldn’t tell if I’d shaken him up or not, so I had to push the issue.
“She’s in the hospital, you know,” I lied. I wanted to see what he knew, and I watched his face closely.
“Yes, I heard. So sad, especially after what happened to her boy.” Not a flicker of guilt in his tone or his eyes. Either he knew nothing or he was a consummate liar. I leaned towards the latter, though I had no reason for saying that.
“Would she still have a job if she came back? She’s a friend of mine, and I know she needs the money.” I leaned forward slightly, allowing Digger to look down my dress. I noticed that he was developing quite the lump in his pants, which was exactly what I was hoping to achieve.
“Honey, it’s a hard world, this world,” Digger began, staring for all he was worth. “I would hate to see that poor gal lose her job, but, well, I need to fill her slot.” That was more a non-answer than an answer, but I let it slide. “You ever do any dancing? I bet you’d be good. I could give you an interview.” Digger slid closer, his arm creeping around my waist. I was glad we were sitting as his arm went over the steel bars of the backing of the chair.
“You don’t want me,” I said, the slightest edge noticeable in my laugh. “I’m way too old to be a dancer.”
“You can’t be more than twenty-five,” Digger insisted, his hand somehow finding its way to my thigh/buttock. He gave me a gentle squeeze which I tolerated in the interest of finding information. Matt tensed, though he didn’t move a muscle. I gave him a look which signified that he should just chill. He made an attempt to calm down, but I knew it cost him a great deal. I may not be his woman, but I was with him. Proprietary habits died hard.
“I haven’t seen twenty-five in many years, Mr. Digs,” I said, with a little laugh. “Are you the owner of this establishment?” I asked the question quickly, hoping to catch him off-guard. Unfortunately, a girl came over with a martini glass just at that moment.
“Brenda, what are you doing out here?” Digger asked, a scowl on his face. “You’re supposed to be prepping for your set. You have to put your damn glitter on, you know. The boys expect it.”
“I brought you your drink,” Brenda scowled, her dark good looks ruined by the sneer. She had average-sized tits, but they were definitely perky. Her whole body was bristling with rage, and I had an inkling why she was so upset. Her next words confirmed my suspicion. “I need to talk to you, if you can possibly spare a minute.” The vitriol in her voice was obvious, and Digger flushed as he stood. He seemed to relinquish my ass with reluctance, but relinquish it, he did.
“Excuse me, Ms. Hsu,” Digger said stiffly. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Matt and I watched as he grabbed Brenda’s arm and marched her out of here. She was saying something to him, and by the look on his face, it wasn’t very complimentary.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” I asked Matt as soon as Digger was out of earshot. “You sat there like a mute, glowering at him.”
“I thought that was the idea,” Matt said, breaking out into a grin. “Besides, I was marshalling my energy to beat the crap out of him if his hand moved any closer to your ass.”
“Why, Matt,” I said, fluttering my eyelashes. “I didn’t think you cared.”
We bantered back and forth as we watched the show. There was a Latina up there, and I wondered if she was one of the women mentioned as being blackmailed by Kayla. I frowned. I had missed something in the last five minutes, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Oh well, it’d come back to me. I shrugged and watched as the Latina shook her big ass in time to a Carlos Santana song. Her black hair reached her waist, and it swung around her like a black waterfall as she danced. Her breasts were huge, but they appeared natural. She was a fertility goddess incarnate, and there was more than one man who wanted to mate with her. By the amount of tips left in her g-string, she was one popular dancer. If I were anything but straight myself, I would be into this girl big time. She received a standing ovation when her set was finished. By that time, Digger had reappeared. His face was flushed, and his mouth tight.
“Sorry about that, Ms. Hsu,” Digger said, sitting next to me again. Once more, I felt his hand creep along my back and settle just above my ass. I wondered how long I could stand it before I kicked the crap out of him. “What were we talking about?”
“I was just wondering if you owned this establishment,” I said, tracing my finger on the back of his hand.
“Uh, yes,” Digger stuttered, his face turning pink. It was interesting to watch a pimp blush, and it occurred to me that perhaps he didn’t get much play in real life. “I have a silent partner, but I am the one in charge.” Unbidden, the thought came to me that while this was technically true, it wasn’t the reality. Though Digger’s name was on the deed, Tosca actually owned the place. Besides the procuring, they were, what? Something else.
“So who’s your silent partner?” I asked, my hand dropping to his lap. He gulped as the pinky of my hand brushed against his erection. “I mean, why is he so silent and all?” I was grateful that Matt had the rare ability—for a big man—to blend into his surroundings as Digger seemed to have forgotten that he was there.
“Uh, because, uh, he has other things he takes care of. I mean, he knew I’d be the man best—” Digger actually gasped as my palm grazed his straining cock. “Oh, God. Um, he didn’t want to be known as a strip club owner. I didn’t care.” Of course not. Strip club owner trumped pimp any day of the week.
“Why is it called the club?” I asked, more out of curiosity than anything else. Also, to put him off the scent if he had any inkling what I was doing.
“Tos—I mean, my partner thought it would be ironic. A club named the club. I thought, whatever. I didn’t care about the name.” He almost said his partner’s name and hadn’t even been aware of his near faux-pas.
“How do you hire the girls?” I asked, then backed down immediately. “I mean, if I were interested, what would I have to do?”
“Keep doing what you’re doing, honey,” Digger said, his hand gripping my ass as I gently petted his pants. “Oh, uh, you’d have to dance for me, of course. And Tosca’d have to approve.” Ah, he said the name. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t last long in Tosca’s employ if the latter ever heard Digger take his name in vain. “Uh, plus there are other opportunities to make money. This is not just a single venture.” Well, shit. Now we were getting somewhere. “Why don’t we go to my office?” The lust in his voice was obvious, and I had to find a way to diffuse it.
“Oh, Mr. Digs,” I said, my voice as close to simpering as I could make it.
“Jamie. Call me Jamie.”
“You must call me Scarlett,” I said, not looking at Matt. I knew he’d be making faces at me, trying to get me to break character. This was too important to do something stupid like that. “I’d like to talk a bit more before we…move on.” I gave his cock one more squeeze before slowly letting go. I gauged I had two more questions before Digger came out of his daze. “Digger, what other opportunities would I have if I signed up?”
“Lots of money making opportunities,” Digger said, his hand still on my ass. “Do you like the Smurfs?”
“What?” I stared at him, concerned that he was on something. What the fuck did little blue cartoon characters have to do with anything?
“Nothing, just a little joke.” I glanced at Matt who looked pissed as hell. I decided to go for the jugular, but Matt interrupted me.
“We gotta go, Scarlett,” Matt said, his voice heavy. “Come on. Nice to meet you, Mr. Digs.” Matt walked around the table and offered me his arm. I took it, not knowing what the hell was going on. I thought we had agreed that I’d question Digger until I found out more about his operation, but I guess that was out the window.
“Scarlett, honey, come back sometime. Without the muscle. We’ll talk.” Digger patted me on the ass, leering at me simultaneously.
“I’d love that, Jamie,” I said, batting my eyelashes at him. I got up from the table and accepted Matt’s arm. We strode out of there with every eye on my ass. The minute we were out the place and out of earshot of the bouncer, I laid into Matt. “What the hell is wrong with you? I was close to finding out what we needed to know.”
“You did find out,” Matt said, dragging me to the car. He was steamed, and I didn’t know why. “A smurf is someone who takes ten thousand to the bank—laundered money, of course—but gets to keep a hundred because the bank has to report deposits of ten thousand dollars or more.”
“How do you know stuff like that?” I asked in admiration. “Oh, from one of your kids.”
“Something like that,” Matt said shortly, unlocking his car. He barely waited for me to get in before he took off. As he usually was a careful driver, I knew he was steamed.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Reynolds?” I asked, looking at him in amazement. “You’re acting like you have a stick up your ass.”
“What the fuck were you doing in there?” Matt asked, gripping the steering wheel with both hands. “I saw you fisting that asshole under the table. It was disgusting.” I was astonished at his response as we had agreed I’d use any means necessary to get the information we needed. Well, I had, and I didn’t even have to show him the paper which was a definite advantage for us. If we didn’t have to tip our hand this early in the game, it was all good.
“Need I remind you that it was your idea for me to ‘persuade’ him to talk to us?” I asked, my voice glacial. I didn’t like a friend of mine judging my behavior, and especially not when I was doing said friend a fucking favor. “Any means necessary, right?”
“I didn’t mean for you to give him a handjob right where I could see you!” Matt shouted, taking his eyes off the road for a second.
I didn’t say anything as I was too pissed off to dare. I knew if I got into it, it would get ugly. I looked out the window, not really seeing anything. How dare he give me that when I was doing this to help his psycho ex-girlfriend? It wasn’t as if I wanted to touch that disgusting man, but I knew the best way to get a guy to do anything. Men were ruled by their cocks—it didn’t take a genius to figure that one out. I also didn’t say anything because I was hurt as hell that Matt felt that way about what I’d done. I respected him more than almost anybody, and I wanted him to reciprocate the feeling. Suddenly, I felt chilled and wrapped my arms around myself.
As soon as Matt parked the car, I hurried into the apartment. I could hear Matt calling to me, but I just ignored him as I ran to my room. Tears were welling up in my eyes, but I refused to let them fall. Why was I tearing up, anyway? Mortification? Shame? Anger? A combination of all three. I had felt so proud of myself for getting the information, and Matt had to ruin it by being such a jerk I shut the door behind me and threw myself onto my bed, not bothering to take off my shoes. I muffled my whimpers with my pillow, and I continued to fight the tears. Shallow of me, but I didn’t want to mess up my makeup when I had put so much effort into it—the eye crap, at any rate. The lip gloss was history. Part of the angst was what was going on with Julia and Peter, part of it was the stress from the last week, but most of it was Matt’s reaction. His opinion meant a lot to me, and when he disapproved of me, I didn’t know what to do.
“Scar, I’m so sorry,” Matt said, bursting into my room. I didn’t bother looking up at him for fear I’d start to cry in earnest, and I didn’t have anything to say, anyway. “Scar, come on.” Matt gently tugged on my arm until I was in a sitting position. I averted my eyes as I didn’t want to see the look on his face. “Look at me.” He tipped my face towards him, and I reluctantly lifted my eyes to his. “I should never have said that to you. I don’t know what I was thinking.” There was nothing but chagrin in his expression, which made me feel slightly better. “The truth is, well, the truth is I was jealous.”
“Jealous?” I croaked, my voice hoarse from trying not to cry. “Of that asshole?”
“No, more like, oh, this is going to sound stupid.” Matt let go of me and dropped his own eyes. He took a deep breath and met my eyes again before saying, “I was jealous of you touching him. I wanted it to be me.”
“But you knew that we’d, I mean, I just assumed after….” My voice trailed off as I was too confused to finish my thought. What exactly did Matt mean? Oh, God, I hoped he wasn’t developing feelings for me. That would be the last thing we needed right now.
“He wasn’t worthy of you,” Matt said fiercely, his fists clenched. “He didn’t deserve to have you jacking him off.”
“It was business,” I protested, still not getting it. “We needed to know what the hell was going on at the club, and that was the easiest way to find out!” I glared at Matt for being such an idiot.
“I know,” Matt said. “I’m really sorry for being such a dick. Forgive me?”
Of course I forgave him. We’d been friends for too long to let a little stupidity get between us. Besides, I owed him one from the time I ‘accidentally’ ruined the skirt of one of his dates. It’s a long story but suffice to say, girlfriend should not have been such a bitch to me. Wasn’t my fault that I got clumsy and spilled red wine on her white skirt. That was the last we ever saw of her, and Matt thanked me later on for getting rid of her. That was only one instance when I was the one pleading forgiveness so the least I could do was absolve Matt of his guilt.
“Don’t give it another thought,” I said, reaching over to hug Matt. I could feel his hardness press against me, and I had to giggle. One thing about guys was that they were always ready for sex—even after fighting. “I do believe you owe me, though,” I husked into his ear as I slipped my arms around him. I kissed the nape of his neck before adding, “I’d feel a whole lot better with a little loving.”
“I have work tomorrow,” Matt groaned, bending down to kiss me. “You are such a vixen, especially since you don’t have to get up until noon!”
“We came home early,” I pouted, leaning back slightly to give Matt a nice view down my dress. His eyes immediately dropped to my cleavage, and his hand moved to my hip. “It’s not even eleven yet.”
“Yeah, but I—” Matt gasped as I slipped my hand under his shirt while pressing my lips to his neck. “Oh, hell,” he sighed, pushing me onto my queen-sized bed. “I can always take a nap when I get home.”