House Calls:Callaghan Brothers, Book 3(5)

By: Abbie Zanders

Clearly the alcohol was playing tricks with her, because she’d never been quite so stricken simply by looking at a man before. Now it had happened twice in one night.

“I take it this isn’t your day job,” he said as he poured her another drink.

“It’s that obvious?”

“It’s very subtle, really. I doubt anyone else would notice.”

He was being kind, but she appreciated it all the same. Men typically weren’t all that kind to her, if they noticed her at all. And why was he talking to her when he could be watching Sherri dance?

It took a moment for her to remember that tonight she wasn’t her usual, boring self. Tonight she was a temptress, a seductress. The veils and the mask were proof of that. And that explained everything. There was no way in hell a man like him would ever be talking to a woman like her otherwise.

The bartender folded his arms on the bar between them and leaned in close as if to share a confidence. He smelled heavenly. Feeling bold, Maggie took a deeper sniff. She’d never smelled a man like that before. She had the sudden strange desire to bury her face in his neck and take a little nibble, see if he tasted as good as he smelled.

“You don’t have to dance if it makes you uncomfortable,” he said quietly. “I’ll tell them you weren’t feeling well. They’ll understand.”

He was giving her an easy out. The question was, should she take it? Maggie looked uncertainly at Sherri dancing in front of the men. She sure looked like she was having a good time. What would it be like to feel that free, she wondered? To move like that, like some wicked fantasy?

They were hooting appreciatively, but not one of them tried to touch her. Even when Sherri grew bold and slid into their laps, they were careful to keep their hands off of her. No wonder she liked dancing for these guys. And there was the strong allure of five hundred dollars cash in her pocket.

“Thanks,” she said, lowering her voice a little in an attempt to make it sound sexier. At least she hoped it did. She really had no experience with this sort of thing, but that’s what always happened in the movies. “But I promised my friend...”

He smiled again, and she couldn’t help but notice that one side of his mouth curved a little more than the other when he did so. He had nice, full lips. Maggie fixated on them for a few seconds as she felt the warmth of the bourbon coursing through her limbs, wondering what it would be like to be kissed by lips like that. No doubt she’d find out when she drifted off to sleep that night, because she was pretty sure this hot tender would have the starring role in her dreams.

“Taking one for the team, huh?”

She giggled, surprising herself. This guy really made her feel at ease, which was strange, because people – especially men of godlike beauty – tended to have the exact opposite effect. But, she supposed, that was one of the things that distinguished a mediocre bartender from a great one – the ability to put people at ease. And this guy was definitely good.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Ah, then I think you’d best get ready,” he said, glancing up to where Sherri’s performance was coming to an end. “Because it looks like you’re up.”

A brief moment of panic shot through her at his words. She took the shot glass he offered, brushing his fingertips in the process, and tossed it back in one shot. His eyes glinted with surprised amusement, his deep chuckle lending her courage.

“That I am.” She winked at him, feeling a bit wicked as she let the feel of the hard, pounding bass reverberate through her body. Touching the mask to make sure it was in place, she walked carefully toward the back, letting her hips sway just a bit, praying she would not trip over her own feet.

As it turned out, it wasn’t nearly as hard as she thought it would be. With a bit of liquid courage and the anonymity of the mask, she let her body respond to the music. The cheers and catcalls died away as the men watched, transfixed, as she moved before them. Her muscle control and isolation were excellent, the result of more than a dozen years of dance and yoga. She spun around them, teasing them with veils, jingling the trinkets that dangled from her hips, and encircled her ankles and upper arms. Her natural, ruby colored hair hung loose, moving with her body; her emerald eyes, outlined in a smoky black, sparkled through the openings of the mask. Tonight she wasn’t Maggie, jilted anti-social recluse; she was Magdalena, exotic male fantasy.