Stripe Tease(3)

By: Milly Taiden

She stood, took a breath, and let her shoulders drop. “Anything else you want to tell me?”

He shook his head, and she walked out of his office, ready to deal with whatever issue had arisen with Gabriella.

She pulled her cell out of the back pocket of her jeans and saw ten missed calls from Gabriella. Shit. There had to be some big emergency for her to call that much.

She dialed Gabriella back and waited, her heart hammering hard in her chest.

“Thank you for calling me back,” Gabriella said in a rush. “I’m sorry to have called you, but I didn’t know who else to contact.”

“That’s okay. What’s wrong?” She could tell there was a lot wrong from the wobble in the other woman’s voice.

“I...can’t come in tonight. My cat is sick, and I can’t leave her alone.”

“I’m sorry. Do you want me to get one of the other girls to fill in for you?” She’d done that for the girls many times. Finding a last minute replacement was easy.

“Yes, please. My spot can’t go unfilled tonight.”

“Don’t worry. If it’s that important, I’ll fill in for you,” Vanessa joked. She hung up and quickly got on the phone, dialing all the girls that were off for the night and asking them to fill for Gabriella.


It became obvious quickly that things weren’t going to be easy. Most of the girls that were off had plans, and the ones in the club were complaining about being tired. Charlie’s had a schedule for a reason. They didn’t want anyone working more than a set number of hours.

She ran back to Charlie’s office, opening the door without knocking. “We have a problem.”

Charlie lifted his gaze up from his paperwork. “What now?”

“Gabriella can’t make it. If someone doesn’t fill in, we’ll have dead time.”

She hadn’t finished talking, and Charlie was already shaking his head. “Someone has to fill in for her.”

“Easier said,” she snorted. “I joked around telling her I’d get up on stage for her, but seriously, we have nobody.”

“No, you don’t understand. Someone has to get up on that stage. A top event promoter and his friend are coming to the club. The friend happens to be a nightlife reporter in Vegas. We need this place doing great.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” She blew her bangs away from her face and stared at Charlie in shock. His brows rose in hope.

No way. “Don’t even think about it.”

“You’re our only hope. These Ivy League students spend a shit ton of money whenever they come here.”

That part she knew. Every time college let out for a break, Charlie’s turned into a mad house. “You can’t really expect me to dance. I don’t know how to!”

Charlie chuckled and folded his arms over his chest. “You think I don’t know you’ve been taking lessons?”

Shit. How the fuck? She hadn’t told anyone about that. She hadn’t been dancing to get sexual. She did it as a form of exercise. It was fun, and she found it a lot more entertaining than walking a frickin’ straight line on a treadmill like she was taking a sobriety test that never ended. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Charlie sighed. “Your instructor happens to teach some of the girls here. She told me how great you were doing in class when I called to enroll a few newcomers. You’re doing great, Vanessa. You can help us out tonight.”

This was crazy. She couldn’t—shouldn’t—get on a stage. She was one of the first people to wonder how the girls got up there and danced. “I can’t. No way.”

She turned on her heels and ignored his calls. She marched straight to her office on the other side of the club, behind the scenes. She’d picked a small room behind the dressing area to use for herself. A quiet spot where she could breathe and get creative at the same time. This wasn’t where she sewed the costumes. This was where she came up with ideas.

With a flick of her wrist, she slammed the door once she was inside. She should not feel bad for Charlie. He’d done this to himself. She’d asked him to sell the damn club a long time ago and retire. At his age, he should be doing something fun, like fishing or living by the beach, not stressing over bills and women not showing up for work. Now they both had bigger problems. But Vanessa wasn’t going to think about that now. If she did, she’d break something. Preferably over her father’s head.