Authors: Connie Bailey
are you taking us?” Jaramie looked nervously around at the broken streetlights, the dark alleys, and the overflowing Dumpsters.
“Just get out of the car. You’ll be fine.” Tommy rolled his eyes. “You sound like an old maid at a nudist camp.”
“I do not.” Jaramie gave his friend a wounded look. “But come on, admit it: this neighborhood looks pretty rough.”
“Do you want to hear some really good music or not?” Tommy said, playing on Jaramie’s biggest weakness. Jaramie loved good music in all its forms, from symphonic to hip hop.
“Where is this club anyway?” Jaramie asked. “I don’t see any signs, and I expect to be squashed by a garbage truck any second.”
“There isn’t a sign. I told you; they don’t want just anyone coming in.”
Jaramie sighed. “How did I let you talk me into this?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, will you please stop bitching for five minutes? You always do this. I have to coax and beg and practically get out the cattle prod to get you out of the apartment, and you always end up enjoying it.”
“Sorry I’m such a drag.” Jaramie said as he shut the car door quite a bit harder than necessary.
Tommy rolled his eyes again. “You know I love you, and you’re a great roommate.”
“Of course.” Tommy took Jaramie’s arm as they began to walk. “I just wish you were a little more… self-confident.”
“I do too.”
Tommy sighed. “I wish I knew what you see when you look in the mirror, because it’s obviously not the same thing I see when I look at you. You’re drop-dead gorgeous, and you have a body that won’t quit. You’re beautiful right down to the ground, but you don’t seem to know it.”
“Looks aren’t everything.”
“No, but looks are usually what attract people in the first place.”
“I don’t like those kinds of people.”
“At this rate you’ll never get a boyfriend. Just don’t whine to me about it, okay?”
A dimple appeared in Jaramie’s left cheek. “But what will we talk about at work?”
Tommy glanced at his friend and saw that Jaramie was teasing him. “You’re right. It would be boring to actually talk about the job,” he said, and then turned serious. “I thought I was going to love it, but just because I love clothes doesn’t mean I love selling them.”
“Seriously,” Jaramie said in agreement. “The only thing I like about working at the mall is the discount we get on the merchandise.”
Tommy glanced at Jaramie again, admiring his friend’s figure in the tight, artfully ripped, heather-toned jeans and cream-colored, semi-transparent shirt. Maybe Tommy was a little conceited, but he thought he had a real knack for choosing the right clothes for a body type, and the outfit he’d picked for Jaramie had turned his roommate into a sex bomb just waiting to detonate. If all went well, Tommy hoped to get Jaramie laid tonight. As much as he loved his friend, he was tired of listening to him complain about not having a man when men were falling over themselves to get close to the bashful beauty. It was Tommy’s opinion that Jaramie was a little
picky for his own good. Well, the guys that frequented the Caveman’s Club were far from shy.
“Here it is.” Tommy stopped beside a roll-up garage door and turned to Jaramie for inspection. Jaramie automatically adjusted the hang of Tommy’s chocolate suede jacket and ran a critical eye over the snug beige tank top and curve-hugging corduroy pants.
“You look fantastic,” Jaramie said. “I love those suede boots.”
Tommy looked down. “I’ll have to go without lunch all week, but they’re worth it.”
“Thanks for letting me borrow your Doc Martens,” Jaramie said.
Tommy transferred his gaze from his feet to Jaramie’s. The dusty purple jeans looked very sharp tucked into the tops of the olive green combat-style boots. “Just don’t spill anything on them,” he said.
“As if.” Jaramie tossed his head, his dark blond hair floating around his face like silk floss. “Where’s the door?”
“Are you looking for a way in, Cupcake?” Tommy and Jaramie’s heads spun around at the sound of the black-coffee voice. They peered into the alley mouth but didn’t see anyone. Light winked on polished metal, and a shadow separated from the greater darkness, coalescing into a lanky young man slinking toward them with all the ramshackle grace of a tomcat on the prowl. From the studded cap on his long unraveled curls to the chain-swagged motorcycle boots, he was wrapped in black leather and almost every inch of exposed skin was decorated with tribal tattoos. “Cat got your tongues?” he drawled.
“We’re not tourists,” Tommy said. “I’ve been here before.”
“I guess you know the rules then. No couples.”
“We’re not a couple,” Tommy answered. “And who are you? I don’t remember this place having a doorman.”
“I’m usually the back door man,” the stranger said with a wry smile. “My name’s Samuel, but everyone calls me Smoky.”
“Smoky, huh?” Jaramie said. “I’ve never had a nickname.”
“You do now, Cupcake.”
Jaramie frowned, his full lips forming a pout. “That’s not exactly a cool nickname.”
Smoky ran his eyes over Jaramie from head to toe and back again. “I’d like to oblige you, but you’re most definitely a Cupcake.”
“Come on, Jaramie,” Tommy said, tugging at his friend’s arm. “Let’s go in.”
“Right this way,” Smoky said, tipping Jaramie a wink. “Don’t worry, Cupcake; once you’re inside, you can ditch your mother.”
Tommy’s eyes bulged with outrage, but an insult from a stranger wasn’t worth taking issue over. “Just do your job,” he said dismissively.
Smoky gave him a Mona Lisa smile and turned away to lead them down the alley. “The entrance has changed since you were here,” he said over his shoulder. “We aren’t using the garage anymore.” Raising a gloved hand, he knocked a code on a door with peeling paint. The door opened, and a very large man stood aside to let them in. “We have the entire warehouse now,” Smoky said as he slapped hands with the bouncer. “More room to move, if you know what I mean.” He gave Tommy the same top to bottom visual assessment he’d given Jaramie. “And judging by your frame, I’d say you do. I’ll bet you can really burn up a dance floor.”
“He’s an awesome dancer,” Jaramie said.
“What about you?”
Jaramie shook his head. Smoky’s frankly appraising eyes made Jaramie feel flustered, and he was suddenly anxious to find a table and sit down. “Let’s find a seat,” he said to Tommy.
“Not until you dance,” Smoky said. “We have rules here at the Club.”
Jaramie’s head whipped toward Tommy. “What’s he talking about?” he asked.
“Smoky’s right,” Tommy said. “Everyone has to dance their first time here.”
“And you didn’t bother to mention that little fact?”
Tommy shrugged. “You’re not a bad dancer; you just need to loosen up a little.”
Jaramie turned back to Smoky. “Are there any taxis that will come into this area?” he asked as he took out his phone.
“No way!” Tommy grabbed Jaramie’s phone and dropped it in his pocket. “You’re going to a have good time tonight if it kills you.”
Smoky’s eyes glittered in the shadow of his hat brim as he smiled at Jaramie. “Listen to your mother, Cupcake; she knows what’s best for you.”
“Do you just wait by the door to insult people, or do you wait tables too?” Tommy inquired in his sweetest voice. “I’d like a rum and Coke, and Jaramie will have a Cosmo.”
Smoky chuckled, and Tommy felt a strong pulse behind his pubic bone. Smoky might be annoyingly self-assured, but he was as sexy as a tongue bath, which annoyed Tommy even more. “Have a seat over here,” Smoky said, gesturing to a postage stamp-sized table hidden behind a pocked column. “I’ll get you some drinks, and when I come back, Cupcake and I are going to dance.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Jaramie said as soon as Smoky was out of earshot.
“Relax.” Tommy craned his neck to see the stage. “The band is really good, and you don’t have to dance with that pushy thug if you don’t want to.” He paused. “You do have to dance though, and it can’t be with me.”
“What? You should have told me.”
“If I had, you wouldn’t have come.”
“You force me to be sneaky.”
“Now you’re being mean.”
“No, I’m not; I’m being honest. You could get any man in this room, in this city–hell, in the world–if you’d just put yourself out there a little more.”
“I’m not comfortable showing off.”
Tommy opened his mouth to reply, but he was pre-empted by a loud burst of music from the sound system. The lights came on over a deejay’s booth and a tall, handsome man smiled at the crowd from behind twin turntables. “Let’s get this party started!” the disc jockey shouted in an East European accent as he played a highly danceable tune from a few years back.
“He’s a hottie!” Jaramie blurted out.
“Yeah, and he knows it, too,” Tommy said. “His name’s Janos and he claims to be from Moscow. I once had the honor of blowing him. The next time I saw him, he pretended he didn’t know me.”
“Maybe the head just wasn’t that good,” Jaramie teased.
Tommy snorted. “Give me a break. If it wasn’t for my strict policy about benefits, I’d get down and show you what you’re missing. My blow jobs are legendary.”
“That’s what it says on the men’s room wall,” Smoky quipped as he set a couple of drinks down on the table. “Come on, Cupcake. Let’s dance.”
“I need a couple of drinks in me first,” Jaramie said.
“No you don’t.” Smoky took Jaramie’s hand and pulled him out of his chair. “Let’s go.”
Tommy started to stand up, but stayed where he was. After all, he’d be able to see Jaramie from here, and how much trouble could his friend get into in plain sight? Tommy still found Smoky’s manner irritating, but it would do Jaramie good to dance with a stranger.
“Go on,” Tommy said. “You might forget about that stick up your ass and actually have some fun.”
Jaramie gaped at his friend. “I don’t have a stick up my ass!”
“Prove it. Get out on that floor and shake it loose.”
“Come on,” Smoky said, squeezing Jaramie’s fingers gently. “What have you got to lose?”
“Just a stick,” Tommy answered.
Smoky raised his eyebrows at Jaramie. “Are you going to let him get away with that, or are you going to show him you can shake it?”
Jaramie sighed and let Smoky lead him to the big dance floor. The feel of the leather-gloved fingers wrapped around his quickened Jaramie’s pulse, and he was fatalistically certain that his nervousness would make him clumsy, as usual. Prepared for a humiliating experience, he completely missed the look of lusty admiration on the deejay’s face as he passed by. Nor did he catch the hand signal Smoky gave Janos. However, he did notice when the music stopped in mid-song, freezing the dancers in confusion.
“We have a virgin in the house tonight, my babies,” Janos said into the microphone. Jaramie could feel every eye in the room focusing on him, and he blushed bright pink. “Isn’t he a pretty one?” the disc jockey continued. “Now let’s see if he can move as good as he looks.” Selecting a record, Janos put the needle down and talked over the musical intro. “Come on, pretty baby,” he crooned. “Show us what you got. Janos likes what he sees, but it takes more than eye candy to sweeten my tooth.” Janos did a little bump and grind as the audience hooted and applauded, forming a ring around Jaramie and Smoky.
“Don’t run out on me,” Smoky whispered as Jaramie looked around for an exit. “Come on, Cupcake. I know you’ve got what it takes. Just follow my lead and you’ll be fine; I promise.”
For no good reason, Jaramie found himself trusting this leather-clad alley cat. Closing his eyes to block out the stares of the crowd, he let Smoky pull him to the center of the circle. Smoky moved behind Jaramie and rested his hands on Jaramie’s slim hips.
“Just feel the beat,” Smoky said in Jaramie’s ear as he started to sway.
Jaramie allowed himself to be guided by Smoky’s hands on his hips, moving in time with the rhythm. One of Smoky’s hands slid around to rest on Jaramie’s lower belly, and he pressed his crotch to Jaramie’s butt. Smoky started with small moves, gradually increasing the arc of his hip swing, the close contact between their bodies forcing Jaramie to move with him. Janos began clapping his hands, and the crowd took up the cadence, but Jaramie wasn’t aware of them any longer. Smoky’s warmth at his back, the sultry sway of Smoky’s long, lean frame, and the strong arms that held him so securely formed an invisible cocoon that held only two. The rest of the world could have crashed down around them, and Jaramie would have danced on, oblivious to the destruction. When the music stopped, he blinked like a man waking from a dream to find he’d sleepwalked into an unfamiliar place.
“You did good,” Smoky murmured as the crowd applauded. “Take a bow.”
Jaramie blushed again. “Thanks,” he said. “I need another drink.”
“Hey, where you goin’, baby?” Janos said into the microphone. “I need an assistant. Want to apply for the job?”
“No thanks; I’m afraid I’d blow it,” Jaramie heard himself say. His blush deepened as laughter erupted around the room.