Stripe Tease(2)

By: Milly Taiden

“I’m sorry, Vanessa. I thought I had the winning hand. It was a given darling. At least he thought so. It was a sweet deal. I thought we’d pay off the mortgage on the club. Open up a few more clubs. Hell, the way it was set up, I thought we’d be rich.”

She glared at her father. Fury simmered her blood. “I don’t care what you thought. I’m not doing whatever it is you promised whoever won. So figure your own damn way out of that problem.”

“Look,” her father began, his shoulders slumping, “I don’t know what to do. I already emailed and called Mr. Tigris. I told him I would give him anything. You and your sister are my only family, and I cannot do that to you.”

“But you already did!”

“Don’t you think I know that?” His gaze dropped to his desk. “I offered him the business.”

She gasped, her eyes wide with shock. “You offered him Charlie’s?”

He nodded. “He refused. Said you’d be perfect for what he needed.”

“Screw him. You can’t bet a person. That’s illegal. Even if you can bet all kinds of crazy shit in Las Vegas, I’m pretty sure the police won’t allow you to bet a human being.”

His gaze shot up to meet hers. The torture she saw in her father’s eyes made her feel a little less angry. “Mr. Tigris has a lot of money, hija. He could do unspeakable things.”

“What? Like the mob?” She knew she should have been checking on her father’s weekly poker games, but instead she’d been busy creating new dance costumes for the girls. It took every bit of ingenuity and creativity she had to make the curvy goddesses, as she referred to the dancers, feel sexy and look the part. Most big women weren’t like Vanessa. She loved her curves and wore whatever she wanted that made her feel sexy at all times. A lot of the dancers came to the club looking to make money but still feeling insecure. Vanessa turned into more than a seamstress. She was a friend and confidant, and at times even a therapist who listened and helped them solve their problems.

“Not the mob. Tigris is too much of a by-the-book businessman for that.”

“He’s accepting a woman as a gambling win. That’s not by the book,” she countered.

“He’s different. He’s dangerous. His sons are too,” her father said, leaning back on his chair.

“Well goody for him. I’m not going to be some guy’s prize. No. Not gonna happen.”

Her father gulped and raised a shaky hand to his wrinkled forehead. “I’ll figure this out.”

Ah, fuck. Guilt. She knew he was old and sometimes did shit expecting no repercussions, but betting his own daughter? She really needed to have him tested for senility. “Look, let me talk to the man,” she heard herself say. What the hell was wrong with her? She knew what. She couldn’t let her father deal with this on his own. “I’ll try to see if there’s any way he’ll take cash. I have savings.”

She did. She didn’t live an extravagant life, and most men who went to the club spent a lot of money on the women. That meant she got crazy tips from the dancers as thank you’s for making them feel pretty.

“I don’t want you to spend your money,” her father said.

Too late for that. She had a good amount of savings. She’d give it all up if it would erase the frown from her father’s face. Plus, she was hardly a delicate flower who couldn’t get out of the problem. She wouldn’t let any man touch her unless she wanted him to. She’d figure out what to do about this. Her dad needed her to. He might not be the smartest man in the world, but he was her dad. “Let me think about my money, okay?”

She patted his hand on the desk and sighed. Things were never boring at the club. There was always something going on.

“There’s something else,” he said. There was more than a shiver of worry in his voice.

She frowned, waiting for what he’d say.

“Gabriella can’t make it tonight. She asked me to have you call her.”

Gabriella had been with the club for a while now. Not as young as most of the women, she didn’t mess around. She got in, did her spot, and left. She didn’t sit there and try to make conversation with the clients like some girls. Gabriella was just a private person, so for her to ask Vanessa to call her couldn’t be good.