I Have to Have Her by Sam Crescent

“I won’t sleep with anyone and I don’t dance.”

“From what I saw, you dance all right.”

She shook her head. “That’s not funny.”

“I’m not trying to be funny. Just taking it seriously.” He winked at her. “You’re here as a waitress. Nothing more. The men here, they know the rules. As a waitress, you’ll serve drinks, food, nothing more.”

She nodded. “Good. That’s what I wanted to hear.” She stepped into his world and in the pit of her stomach she couldn’t help but wonder if she was making a mistake. There was no backing out now. She couldn’t change what was going to happen. This was what being screwed over by her boyfriend looked like.

Gabriel grabbed her hand and marched her toward the back of the house. He walked so fast that she didn’t get a chance to look into each of the rooms. They entered the kitchen where a woman with hair tied back at the nape, little makeup, and a cigarette in her hand was speaking to the chef.

“Casey,” he said.

The woman was in her early thirties, or even late twenties, Claire didn’t know. The moment Casey saw Gabriel, she smiled.

“Is this the girl?” Casey asked.

Gabriel pulled her in front and all she wanted to do was cover up her body.

He stepped away from her and Casey circled her. Claire wanted to cover up but instead, she kept her hands fisted and waited.

“She’s got fire. I like that. You know men are going to offer for her.”

“I don’t care. She’s here strictly as a waitress. She’s … she’s family.”

Claire glanced at Gabriel, shocked by his admission. She was Rhianna’s best friend, but he’d always considered her a bug, at least that was what he’d told her.

“You know how to serve drinks? I’m not going to have any trouble with you?”

“No. I’ve worked in a few bars. I’m good, I promise, and I’m fast.”

“No, no, honey, we don’t do fast here. The idea is for the men to stay as long as possible. To relax. To slow down. That’s what you’re going to be here for. I don’t want speed. You will take your time, move your body, and make every single guy wish they were taking you home instead, understood?”

She jerked her head in what she hoped was a nod but doubted it looked that graceful. In truth, she wanted to run back home, but she was a fighter. With a mother who slept around and rarely remembered her, she’d gotten used to sticking up for herself, and she wasn’t going to stop now.

“I will leave you to it. Enjoy this experience, Claire.” Gabriel placed his hand at her back. The touch was fleeting but his hand was gone within the next second. She watched him leave the room. Turning back to Casey, she found the woman watching her.

“I think the best thing for you to do is to take your allotted tray and get to work. Don’t stare at the clients. Just serve them and leave. Smile and be gracious. Whatever you see, you don’t see. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Good. If you survive the night, we’ll see how long you can last.”

With a tray in her hands, Claire squared her shoulders and prepared for the night. She could do this. Even with her black eye.

Heading out into the main bar, the lights were dark and she entered the first room, coming to an immediate stop. This wasn’t like any strip club she’d ever seen in the movies. Three women were all dancing together but that wasn’t all, they were teasing, kissing, and making out. The men and even women were watching, like a visual orgy.

“Don’t just stand there, serve!” Casey hissed at her and she quickly jumped into action.

Moving to the first man, she took the orders, and she made sure to take her time, working the room, bringing back orders.

She met Daniella who worked as a bartender and was dressed in the same way as Claire. When one room was done, the next room was where she needed to go. Each room far more revealing than the last. There were some places where the men were enjoying a drink and conversation, but until her black eye healed, she was told to leave them. Casey’s orders.

By the end of the night, it was nearly four in the morning. She was tired, her feet were killing her, and Gabriel waited outside.

She climbed into the back of the car and settled beside him without a word. There was nothing to say to him. What went on in the club would remain private and she wasn’t going to break his rules to ask him questions.