Standing here, shivering, I grow increasingly frustrated. Where is Laila? Michael will be here in fifteen minutes expecting a hell of a performance and I need to put on piles of make-up to ensure he doesn’t recognize me. The last time we were in there, I thought for sure he would, but not even when we were making out and fondling, or when his eyes hungrily raked across my curves did he…oh…
It bothers me that I’m actually really excited to see him again. Just thinking about him makes me lose my ability to think rationally—reason vanishes into thin air. I was the one who ended it, dammit, and I know full well we’re too screwed up to make this work. Our issues will take years of counseling to resolve, and that’s if he even agrees to go to a shrink. Then why, if we’re so wrong for each other, is my heart racing like mad? The heart wants what it wants, I suppose.
Finally, I see Laila’s powder blue Mercedes pull up. She hops out of the car, opens the front door, drags me inside, and hands me a key. She’s wearing a fancy red dress and a white fur coat.
“I’m sorry. I hope I wasn’t interrupting…” I start.
“Don’t ask about my personal life,” she snaps.
Okay. “Aren’t you going to ask me why…?”
“I know why, Scarlett. I can read it all over your goddamn I wanna-be-fucked by Michael Manning face.”
I look down and blush. If she only knew the whole truth.
“Consider it my Christmas present to you. When you’re done with him, drop the key in this slot.” She shows me a two-inch mail drop slot in the dimmed glass door. “Good luck.” She’s almost out the door when she stops and turns around to face me, her brown eyes darkened with a hint of excitement. “Oh, and you know, jingle bells and all that shit.”
“Merry Christmas to you too,” I say, shaking my head at her.
I sprint through the hallway and into to the dressing room, and immediately start rifling through the hundreds of costumes. I pick out the black fallen angel costume, knowing Michael has a thing for angels. Plus, the benefit of this outfit is that the black, sheer fabric covers my entire body so it will be impossible for the badass sexy liar to figure out who I am.
The room still smells like dozens of different kinds of perfume, hairsprays, and powders, and it’s strange being in here alone when usually thirty or so girls are eagerly yapping away.
Before I pull on the black feather mask, I apply enough make-up that even Anne wouldn’t have recognized me.
I slip into a padded, faux diamond-studded push-up bra, giving me the appearance that I’m a double D. I’m really only just shy of a single D, but since he’s pretty much sucked on, fondled, and massaged every inch of me—not thinking about it—I need to make sure I’m as different from the real me as possible.
I struggle for a while to get into my wings, but I eventually manage. I spray Anne’s perfume on heavily and with my shoes in hand, I jog to Jim’s booth. There, I put on some sexy music—a little louder than normal—and enter The Sanctuary.
Michael is there within a minute, and I both sigh and frown inside at the same time. Sigh because I made it here and because I’m in full costume and frown because he’s here for the stripper. Can I go through with it? The moment our eyes connect, my inner muscles clench in delight, and I know that I not only can, but also want to.
I might as well enjoy our time together since this will be one of the last times, if not the last time I do anything with him. I’m going to be selfish and take what I want…I stop myself.
I can’t do it.
I can’t be that—just selfish. I need to and want to please him too.
Being in such a rush to get here and to get ready, I haven’t had time to consider what I might say or do to Michael now that I’m Samantha. Usually I take a few moments to get into the right state of mind before performing, but there’s no time for that now.
I stand up to greet him. “Hi, Michael,” I say in my angel voice. The music is sufficiently loud to drown out my voice. “I’m really excited that you decided to come see me.” I smile, letting my eyes drink in the sight of him. He’s wearing loose, faded jeans, a white shirt and a navy turtleneck that is unzipped at the neck. Damn. I bite my lip. Why does he have to look so good in everything?
His eyes scan my body, and from the lustful expression on his face, I know he definitely likes what he sees. But then what he says, surprises me.
“I have to admit, I don’t really know why I’m here, Samantha. I thought I had moved on, but when you sent me your last email, I just had to see you again. It’s like you’re a drug to me.” He approaches me, and not until he’s a few inches away does he stop. Peering down at me with hooded eyes, he inhales deeply while tugging at my waist.
His hands circling around me like that immediately makes my entire body go weak.
His cologne fills the air, making my head spin. “How much do you want me?” I moan, unable to stop my body from responding so favorably to his.
His eyes lower to my lips, and then he grabs my chin and presses his thumb to my open mouth. He leans down and kisses me, his dangerous tongue forcing its way into my mouth. My knees become jelly in two seconds flat. Oh, he’s even a better kisser than I remember. I want him to touch me, fondle me, and give me my release like he has done before. On the bed. In the shower. On the airplane…
My body tingles and I feel a deep, throbbing desire right at the apex of my legs.
“I want you so bad, Scar…” he says.
My breath catches and my eyes pop open. Did he just almost say…Scarlett? He did! Holy hell, he did! My heart beats even faster now, and in a moment of pure joy, I pull him closer to me and kiss him passionately.
But he doesn’t respond at all the way I expect him to. He pulls away, steps back, and sits down on the white couch, his head hanging low.
“What’s wrong?” I say, my heart still racing a mile a minute.
His hand rests against his temple, and he looks away. “I think it was a mistake coming here.”
“What do you mean?” I sit down next to him, and place my hand on his thigh, dangerously close to the bulge in his pants. It takes a lot of willpower not to stroke it.
“I’ve met this girl—” he says.
What the…? No, I’m supposed to hate him. He’s supposed to cheat on me with the slut, and now he’s backtracking? This isn’t happening. I had decided to dump him and to move on because he came here. Because he’s a liar and a cheater. If he does this—rejects the stripper and chooses me—it means he’s not that anymore! And where does that leave me?