“Stop the music.”
A man with an angry voice said that, but that had to be my mind playing tricks on me.
In another eight counts, I’d execute my first flip, but the music abruptly stopped. As the saying went, the show must go on, maybe this was a test. I kept the count in my head and continued my routine. Even without the music, I nailed my flip which brightened my smile.
“Stop!” a man yelled.
“What the fuck?” another man demanded. He sounded much closer to the stage. Then he said, “Put the music back on, or are you gonna insist she dance to some shit you like instead? There’s time for that, Rage.”
“She isn’t dancing,” the angry voice said. I assumed it belonged to ‘Rage’.
“We haven’t seen her tits yet. Look at that rack! They’ll be gagging for it.”
“Girls can’t bare their tits here anyway or we lose our liquor license.”
“Nope. That’s full nudity and we lose the license, Rage. Get your shit straight.”
Why didn’t I know that? What city did something like that?
I’d been to Mardi Gras… it was a decade ago, but even stone-cold sober, I had no problem flashing my boobs to strangers for the hell of it and some plastic beads. Getting this gig would be similar, except cold hard cash beat a bunch of gaudy necklaces.
When the man who wanted to see my rack faced forward, I smiled. Then I yanked down my bikini cups for three counts of ‘Mississippi’ and whipped them back into place.
From the dark corner of the room, Rage asked, “You got a brother named Ryan?”
His voice still held anger, but it had also turned rough and husky, a sound I was well acquainted with from former boyfriends after they got full views of my tits. It thrilled me that I did that to him, though I wished I could see what he looked like.
The man in the front cleared his throat and turned back to Rage. “We don’t give a damn if these women have brothers. We cover that shit when they get hired. Play the fuckin’ music, Punc.”
Rage’s voice got louder. “You read her application at all, Yak? I’ll ask you again, ma’am, do you have a brother named Ryan Wenhold?”
Anger suffused me even as a chill went up my spine. Nobody called me ‘ma’am,’ and I didn’t anticipate a day when anyone would. But I found it bone-chillingly strange that he’d ask about Ryan specifically.
Yak threw his hands in the air. “Rage! What’s her brother got to do with the price of whiskey?”
“Is Ryan Cynic Wenhold your brother… ma’am?”
My jaw shifted to the side as I fought to control my temper.
Yak, if that was his name, turned back to me, his eyes fierce. “Answer him. You related to Cynic?”
My hand went to my hip. “I don’t see what my brother has to do with this.”
A chair scraped the floor, Yak stood up and turned his back to me. In the dimness of the room, I hadn’t realized he was wearing a cut. A Riot Motorcycle Club cut to be precise.
“He’s seven hours away and he doesn’t—”
“Off the stage,” Rage yelled.
“This is bullshit,” I muttered.
A nasty chuckle filled the room. Then Rage said, “No, the bullshit is you thinking Imagine Dragons is appropriate material for our club. Bullshit is a thirty-two-year-old woman hittin’ our stage.”
“She’s thirty-two?” someone who sounded much younger asked.
“Shut up, Puncture,” Yak said.
“Get the fuck off the stage. We don’t have time to waste,” Rage said.
I caught Yak’s eyes. “Is he in charge or are you?”
Another man came forward from the back. “I am.” Once he stood in the dim lighting, I saw his name patch. Volt.
I’d seen him around the Biloxi clubhouse one of the few times I’d been there for a party. And I knew from things Cynic said that Volt was the president of the Jacksonville Chapter.
I gave him a respectful nod. “Hi, Volt. Do you want me to get off the stage?”
He tipped his head to the side. “I want you to come with me to the office.”
Volt came to the stairs at the front of the stage and offered me a hand. With as much pride as I could muster —which wasn’t much— I took his hand and followed him toward the side wall.
He called out, “Rage. You’re comin’ with us.”
“Shit,” I whispered.
Volt quietly chuckled.
“Shouldn’t he stay out here, and I don’t know… read applications since Yak doesn’t do that?”
Volt looked down at me. “You’re pushing it, Lisa.”
“You remember my name. Guess you’re in charge for a reason.”
He chuckled and led me down a narrow hallway.
Inside the cramped office, I sat in front of a desk cluttered with papers, ash trays, and empty beer bottles. I looked at Rage and felt my blood drain from my face. The gorgeous man from Hock Pawn Shop stood with his back to the wall next to the door. He wore a white t-shirt under his club cut. His arms were folded so I missed some of his other patches, but his name patch couldn’t be missed. ‘Rage.’
Volt closed the door and I spoke at the same time Rage did. I said, “Can we do this without him?”
“Don’t see why I have to be here for this shit,” Rage put in.