“What do you mean you’ve never done this before?” he exclaimed, more in shock than anger. The girl shifted foot to foot uncomfortably.
“Well, you know, I needed money.”
“And what possessed you to think this was a good idea?” He rubbed his forehead. It was a little late to back out now, the backstage area was heaving and he could hear the crowd taking their seats. Michelle was on, which gave them fifteen minutes.
“So it’s your first time, huh?” he said, running an appraising eye over her. Girl-next-door good looks, a loose t-shirt and long legs. They might be able to make this work.
“First time doing this, not first time, first time…you know…” she said, trying to make a joke of it. He did know, and if it had been her ‘first time, first time’, he’d have been sending her back to the office to ask for more money, or putting her in a taxi home.
“So what do you usually do?”
“I’m a dancer,” she said, a little shyly. He nodded slowly. Dancers were flexible, and used to pain. He could work with that.
“And why the hell do you need money so badly you came here?” It was a personal question, but it mattered, oh god it mattered.
“I failed my finals.” She twisted her fingers nervously in a belt loop, unaware she was doing it. “They want the money for next year up front.”
“And you can’t make it dancing?”
“All the frats go home for the summer,” she said quietly, and then suddenly eager to please she looked up, “but I thought, I mean I’ve never minded -“
“How much is he paying you?” He cut her off before she could say something irrelevant. She blinked and looked at her feet as two of the dancers pushed past. Stepping forward quickly she bobbed up on tiptoe, her hand on his shoulder to steady her, and breathed a number into his ear. Her breath was warm and sweet. He turned his head, looking into her eyes, and she scooted back as if she had been shot. He nodded again, smiled grimly.
“It’s a fair price. You’ll earn every bit of it.”
“I’m not backing out,” she retorted defiantly, trying to sound unafraid, but the slight shaking in her hands told him otherwise.
“Right.” He caught one of the dancers by the arm. “Scenario change. Tell stage management to go with setup 1b.” The dancer nodded, signalling the stagehands.
“What do I need to do?” the girl asked, bewildered.
“When you get onto that stage, follow my lead. Just remember, trust me and I will get you through this.” She nodded, a little confused, and very cute, as Cindy hustled her off.
He wouldn’t need much for what he had planned. Opening the locker, he pulled out the toolbelt, black gloves, black shirt, black combats, black balaclava. He slid the knife onto his belt with a click, the key for the cuffs into a pocket. With luck he could carry her to a good show.
As the curtains swished together to the baying of the crowd, he turned sideways to let Michelle by.
“Watch yourself, they want blood tonight,” she said quickly, pressing close. He swallowed, trying to ignore the lithe, naked, body pressed so close to his.
“No chance,” he said, with a shade of contempt. “They will get fear and shock. They’ll have to.”
“Go easy on that sweet kid, OK?”
“As easy as I can.” She looked up at him through henna’d lashes and gave a quick shimmy, tight against him. He bit down a groan, remembering other nights, a tight hot body moving underneath him, and then she stepped back and blew him a kiss.
“Just a shimmy for luck,” she said and was gone. He stalked out onto the stage pulling the balaclava on, and took a seat at the table. The MC glared at him, and he glared right back, one finger running down the knife at his thigh. One last look round told him the stage was as he liked it, and he gave a single commanding nod. The MC ducked though the curtain and began to reel off the spiel he had heard too often to listen to. The crowd roared, and he smirked under the mask. It might be him they came to see, came back to see almost every night, but it was the new blood that got them hot.
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