from Hot Ticket
by Olivia Cunning
Within seconds of meeting a man, Aggie could assign him to one of two lists.
List A: Men Not Worth My Time.
List B: Men I’d Like to Fuck.
List A grew in length every hour she worked at the nightclub, Paradise Found. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had landed himself on List B. That might explain why Aggie dropped her bullwhip when he caught her attention. Whoever he was. Potential List B strode across the floor as if he owned the place. He had that stereotypical bad boy look—leather, tattoos, and a giant chip on his shoulder—which was contradicted by the sweetest face she’d ever seen. When he took a seat at the table closest to her stage, he leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs at the ankle, as if he planned to stay for a while.
Interesting. And entirely fuckable.
Sipping his beverage, Angel Face gazed up at her with an odd gleam of challenge in his dark eyes. Something about him had her instantly thinking naughty thoughts. Only half of them involved inflicting pain on his tight body. Oh, the guy was a looker, no denying that, but that wasn’t his main appeal. Strange thing was she didn’t know what set him apart from the other nightclub patrons. Perhaps
she needed a new list just for him.
Temporary List C: Men I Can’t Instantly Label. She had no
doubt that this list’s only assignee would quickly land himself on List
A. In no way would she ever consider a customer List B potential. It
didn’t matter how attractive he was.
Aggie retrieved her bullwhip from the stage floor (how embarrassing)and cracked it next to Hottie’s cheek. He didn’t flinch. His body tensed, but not with fear. From the slight gasp he emitted and the flutter of his lashes, she could tell her threat turned him on.
Most men liked to watch Aggie’s routine from the shadows and think they could take her abuse. Trying to show their toughness, they chose the dominatrix in leather to entertain them at Paradise Found, but few sat within striking distance of her bullwhip. Not that she’d actually hit anyone at the club. If a man wanted her to punish him for being born with a Y chromosome, he had to pay extra.
Aggie drew her arm back and lashed her whip at the new arrival’s
cheek again. The leather snapped centimeters from his skin. She was satisfied when he didn’t flinch this time either. Oh Lord, he’d be fun to break. It had been forever since she’d had a real challenge in her dungeon.
He stared directly into her eyes as she danced closer. He looked
quite young—midtwenties, maybe—but he had eyes wise beyond his years. She’d bet he’d seen a lot of tragedy in his life. Many of those who sought her for release had.
The young man beckoned her closer with a crooked finger. Surprised, she arched a brow at him and glanced at Eli, the bouncer who stood near the stage. She wasn’t supposed to discuss her side business at the club. As far as her coworkers were concerned, Aggie’s dominatrix routine was entirely an act. Later, when she moved to the floor to interact with customers on a more personal basis, she would
slip her card to potential slaves, but her stage set wasn’t over yet. She needed to concentrate on her dancing and not daydream about making some tough-looking übercutie her bitch.
Aggie hooked her leg around a silver pole and twirled around it, her long, black hair flying out behind her. When she stopped, she found the guy had vacated his chair and was standing against the stage at her feet. He pulled a bill from his back pocket and held it out to her between two fingers. Hello, C-note. Mama needs a new pair of boots.
Holding onto the pole with one hand, she leaned toward the customer, offering the tops of her full breasts to his view. His gaze shifted to her bare skin, and he drew his tongue over his upper lip.
Usually, one guy looked as mundane as another to her, but she took in every inch of this one, from his heavy black boots to his spiked platinum blond hair. Dark eyes. Dark eyebrows. Dark beard stubble. The hint of a tattoo revealed itself above the neckline of his T-shirt. A studded leather band adorned his right wrist. He looked hard and tough, yet saccharine sweet at the same time. A hell’s angel, heavy on the angel. She wondered if his beard stubble was an attempt to cover up that undeniably cute face of his.
He slid the bill between Aggie’s breasts and into the bodice of her black leather bustier. As his fingertips brushed her skin, her nipples tightened. Totally unusual reaction for her. Customers typically gave her the heebie-jeebies when they touched her. This one had all her systems set to go. The small silver hoop in his earlobe caught a strobe light. Aggie gnawed on her tongue, wanting to nibble on his ear instead. She did have a thing for ears.
Um, wrong answer, Aggie. Customers were never fair game for action in the sack.
“Do you do private dances?” he asked, his chocolate-brown eyes locked with hers. His voice was deeper than she’d expected and so quiet, she wouldn’t have heard him over the throbbing club music if she hadn’t been leaning so close.
“You mean like a lap dance?”
“If that’s what you do. How much?”
He handed her another hundred. The guy must have had a good day at the casino. He didn’t look rich. He wore a plain white Tshirt, worn black leather jacket, and snug blue jeans, which clung to the huge bulge in his pants. Well, hello there, big guy. She was glad she wasn’t the only one thinking her next dance should be the
Aggie, pull yourself together, woman. He’s a customer. No can do.
Oh, but she so wanted to. Do. Him.
His gaze lowered to the floor, and he flushed. “Do you offer other services?”
Whoa, buddy. Brakes engaged. “I’m not a prostitute, if that’s what you’re asking.”
He shook his head. “That’s not what I meant. I want you to hurt me.” He drew a deep, shuddering breath into his expanding chest. “Hard-core.”
Oh yeah. Can do, sugar.
Aggie glanced over at the bouncer again to make sure he wasn’t watching her side transaction. Eli’s attention was on the far stage, where Paradise Found’s newest dancer, Jessica, a.k.a. Feather, was dancing in her white feathers and silk scarf. Men were mesmerized by her. Even though Jessica had a fantastic body and knew how to move it, she simply didn’t have the right mind-set to be an exotic
dancer. None of the drooling men who surrounded Feather’s stage with slightly bulging eyes and excessively bulging flies would agree with Aggie’s opinion. All they saw was her beautiful outer package—not the severely broken heart within. Aggie saw it though. She’d recognized it the instant she’d met Jessica and helped her land this job. Poor lamb. So confused and conflicted.
Aggie returned her attention to the guy at her feet. She didn’t have the same sympathy for men. “I do indulge for a price,” Aggie told him, “but no sex.”
“I don’t need sex.”
She nodded. He wasn’t new to this. Which made him so much more fun than her usual victims. She had a few regulars who visited her dungeon, but most of her customers were guys visiting Vegas who wanted to explore their darker sides for a night. She never saw most of them again, which suited her just fine. Many dommes preferred regulars, but Aggie would rather turn over a quick buck and avoid growing fond of one of her submissives.
Her current interest’s body held tension in every line. When he glanced up at her, the deep emotional pain in his gaze made her belly quiver. Yeah, blondie, you’re exactly the challenge I need right now. “I can work you over, angel, but not here. I’ll slip you my card later, and you can call me. If you’re lucky, I’ll show you my dungeon.”
He shuddered, his breath coming out in an excited gasp.
Maybe she should take him backstage and give him a taste of what she had to offer. He looked ready to explode with the strain of containing his pain. He needed the release she could give him. And she needed to see him grovel at her boots so she could dismiss him as not worth her time. The sooner he joined the thousands of men
on List A, the better.
Aggie dropped down on her knees on the stage to continue dancing as she talked to him. “When do you need this?”
“As soon as possible.”
“I think I have an opening in a few days.”
“Tonight. I’ve got money. Name your price.”
Name your price? He was definitely speaking her language, but making him wait would do half her work for her. She ran her bloodred, pointed nails down the side of his neck, leaving light scratches in their wake. “I’ll check my calendar and see if I can squeeze you in. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day.” She was eager to raise welts on his flesh and hear him cry out in pain. Wanted the ultimate prize he would gift her: begging her for mercy, begging her to stop. That sweet instant he gave her all of his power and she owned him. That’s what she wanted. What she needed to keep herself elevated from that deep, dark pit she’d once resided in. But it was too soon to indulge him. He’d attain greater fulfillment if she put him off a few days. Let the anticipation settle into his body and his thoughts until he could think of nothing but the delicious agony she promised.
A commotion on the other side of the room drew her attention.
Eli, Aggie’s bouncer, darted toward Feather’s stage. Some big, goodlooking
customer had captured Jessica in his arms. She was wrapped in a leather jacket with her arms trapped helplessly. Several bouncers were trying to secure her release. Several others were escorting some tall, thin guy out of the club. A third guy standing next to Jessica’s captor shook his head in disgrace. All three customers had a similar look to them. Like they were in some rock band or something. Come
to think of it, the cute guy at the end of her stage had a similar appearance. A matching set. She looked down to find her potential good time had vanished.
“Motherfuckers!” her blond angel yelled as he launched himself onto the back of one of the bouncers.
When Jace saw that a bouncer was dragging Sinners’ drummer, Eric, toward the exit, he didn’t think, he just acted. All thoughts of the beautiful, black-haired dominatrix and what glorious things she could do to his body fled his mind.
Jace raced across the club, hurdled a chair, and landed on the bouncer’s back. He knew he wasn’t big enough to take him down, but Jace could fight. If things had turned out differently, he might have become a professional boxer, instead of the bass guitarist for a rock band.
He didn’t mind an occasional brawl—he was good at fighting and knew how to knock a man out in one punch—but Jace wasn’t even sure why they were engaging with a bunch of bouncers at Brian’s bachelor party. They were supposed to be celebrating, not stirring up shit. Eric had better have a good reason for making eight club bouncers pissed enough to hit anything that moved. As the fight moved to the sidewalk outside the club, it escalated. Jace took out a couple of guys with one punch, before pausing to assess the situation.
Tall and wiry, Eric was putting up a fine fight, but was outnumbered
four to one. Surrounded on all sides with no way out, Eric unexpectedly pointed to the sky. “Look, the Flying Elvises!”
All four bouncers stared up at the dark sky like turkeys in a hailstorm. When their attention turned skyward, Eric crashed into one of the bouncers at waist level, trying to escape the circle of muscle, but as soon as they realized there were no parachuting icons to entertain them, all four bouncers pounded Eric in rapid succession.
Jace decided to even the odds. Two uppercuts and a couple dozen jabs later, two more bouncers lay on the sidewalk: one out cold, the other attempting to rise, but failing to regain his equilibrium.
Eric wiped the blood out of his eye, his surprised gaze shifting from the human debris at his feet to Jace. “Jesus, little man, you’re a one-man wrecking crew.”
Distracted by Eric’s compliment, Jace found an unexpected fist against his jaw. Pain radiated up the side of his face. His ears rang. Vision blurred. The pain he didn’t mind, but the jar to his senses left him unbalanced. He took another hit to the jaw before he could focus well enough to knock his adversary out with one hard punch under the chin.
Breathing hard, Jace spun and saw some guy whack Sinners’rhythm guitarist, Trey, in the back of the head with an aluminum bat. Trey hadn’t even been in the club when the fight broke out. Why had he been targeted? “Fuckin’ queer,” the bouncer growled.
Trey dropped to the sidewalk, instantly unconscious. Eric went after the fucktard with the bat, yanking the weapon out of his hands, and tossing it into the road beyond the sidewalk.
“No one.” Eric punched the guy in the face. “Calls him.” Hit him again. “A queer.” And again. “Ever.” Eric continued to pummel the guy until he stopped getting up.
Their lead guitarist, Brian (when in the hell had he joined the fray?), had a one-on-one fight going with the last bouncer standing. The two of them went back and forth with blows down the sidewalk. Brian took a hard fist to the nose, which pissed him off enough to take the guy down with a couple of quick punches.
Jace took a deep breath. Glad it was over. Now maybe he could finish his whiskey and make that appointment with that hot-as-blue-flames dominatrix. Sinners’ vocalist, Sed, burst out of the club. Apparently, he’d gotten tired of the stripper he’d captured off the stage and was ready to fight. They could have used him earlier. Sed was huge. A bodybuilder who would have made a good bouncer had
he not been gifted with a voice from the heavens. Sed glanced around, looking for someone to hit, but every bouncer was already down.
Unfortunately, so was Trey.
Sed crossed the sidewalk in two strides and bent over Trey. Sed took him by both shoulders, lifted his torso off the ground, and gave him a gentle shake. Out cold, Trey’s head lolled loosely. “Trey? Trey! Trey, open your eyes.” Sed glanced at Eric. “What the fuck happened to him?”
“That douche bag whacked him in the back of the head with a ball bat.” Said douche bag was groaning in the middle of the sidewalk. Eric had made a mess of the guy’s face.
“What the fuck?” Sed eased Trey down to the sidewalk, dropped to his knees, and put his ear to Trey’s chest. “His heart’s still beating. He’s breathing.”
“Well, duh. You didn’t think he was dead, did you? He isn’t even bleeding.”
Brian staggered his way back up the sidewalk to join them. He massaged the knuckles of his right hand, his dark brows drawn together in an angry scowl. “Damn it, Eric, why do you always have to start shit?”
“It was Sed’s fault. He’s the one who grabbed Jessica off the stage.”
Jace’s gaze swiveled toward Sed in astonishment. Jessica? Sed’s fiancée who’d dumped him almost two years ago? Small world. Jace hadn’t recognized her without clothes.
“Who cares who started it? It’s over,” Sed said. “Let’s get the fuck out of here before the cops show up. I doubt Myrna will want to bail Brian out of jail on their wedding day, and then there’s the concert tomorrow. Kind of can’t miss it.”
They probably should have thought about that before they messed up their hands, faces, and bodies in a brawl that seemed pointless now that it had ended. While a world record contender for the Shortest Bachelor Party Ever, Brian’s last night as a single man had definitely been one to remember.
Jace glanced at the club’s door and released a frustrated sigh. He hadn’t gotten that wood-inducing dominatrix’s card, and he so needed to see her in private. Fighting tended to release some of his tension—that’s why he continued to box for recreation, even though he had a better gig in a rock band now—but getting in a bar fight didn’t sooth his soul’s turmoil. Not in the same way being whipped to the limits of his tolerance by a woman in spiked heels and black leather would.
Sed scooped Trey off the sidewalk, tossed him over one broad shoulder, and headed to the pink ’57 Thunderbird parked at the curb. The sound of sirens grew increasingly loud.
“Jace, let’s go!” Eric shouted.
After one last look of longing at the club’s swinging doors, Jace climbed on his Harley, waited for Eric to settle down behind him, and then followed the car back to their tour bus behind the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Surely someone would report their vehicles. There were plenty of witnesses to the fight. Every member of his
band was probably screwed. Busted. In huge trouble. Their manager, Jerry, had told them if any of them were arrested again, not to bother calling him. He refused to bail them out. He also threatened their stage crew with immediate termination should they lend their aid. Jerry didn’t make idle threats.
When Jace pulled to a stop behind the tour bus, Trey stumbled out of Myrna’s car and leaned against the fender. At least he was conscious now. Jace rocked the bike back on its kickstand, shut off the engine, and went to check on Trey.
“You all right, man?” Jace asked.
None of his bandmates were what Jace would consider tan, but Trey looked downright ghostly.
“Yeah. Just a little dizzy.” Trey pressed on his temples with both hands. “Fuck, my head hurts.”
Brian leaned out the driver’s window. “Get back in the car, Trey, and we’ll take you to the hospital.”
“Fuck that. You know I hate hospitals. Why do you think I never followed in my father’s footsteps?”
“Because you’re too dumb to be a doctor,” Brian said. “Now get back in the car.”
Sed unfolded his six-foot-four frame from the little car. “Listen to Brian, Trey. Get back in the car.” He grabbed Trey by the shoulders and tried to force him.
Trey pulled out of his grasp. “Eric’s bleeding all over the fuckin’ place, and you aren’t threatening to take him to the hospital.”
Sed shrugged. “Whatever. It’s just Eric.”
“Thank you very fucking much for your concern, Sed,” Eric said. “Really. Appreciate it.” From the gash on the side of his head, blood continued to drip down Eric’s face and onto his black T-shirt.
“Do you need stitches?” Jace asked.
Eric’s brows drew together. “Do you?”
Jace shook his head. “I’m not bleeding anywhere.”
“And why is that, little man?”
Jace shrugged, shifting his gaze to the ground to prevent Eric from recognizing that he’d managed to push his buttons. Again. He just couldn’t win with Eric. Ever. And he respected him too much to knock him on his ass. Jace took a deep breath and released it slowly as he stared at the ground. He took a lot of shit from Eric, but if that’s what he had to do to stay in this band, he’d continue to take it. Nothing else on this whole fucking planet meant more to him than these four brilliant musicians.
“Sed, give me your sunglasses,” Brian said, now standing in their little huddle and waving a hand at Sed.
“What the fuck do you need sunglasses for? It’s almost midnight.”
“Just hand them over.”
Sed retrieved his shades from his jacket pocket, handed them to Brian, and then took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m going in. Myrna is going to kill me for letting Brian get his ass kicked the night before their wedding.”
“I didn’t get my ass kicked.”
“You’ve looked better, my friend. Trust me on that.”
Sed headed up the tour bus steps, followed by Eric.
“You sure you’re okay, Trey?” Jace asked.
“Yeah. I just need some ice.” Trey fingered the back of his head and winced. He followed Eric up the steps, only veering slightly to the left.
“You go next,” Brian insisted of Jace.
Jace grinned at him. “Afraid of Myrna?”
“Hell, yeah, I’m afraid of Myrna. I hate arguing with her. She always wins. And she has every reason to be pissed at me. Who wants to stand at the altar with a guy who has two black eyes?”
Jace’s grin widened, and the warmth of embarrassment spread across his face. “Myrna does. She loves you.”
Brian took a deep breath. “I hope you’re right. God, I can’t get that ring on her finger fast enough. Okay, Jace, go. Sed’s probably broken the news to her by now. I need multiple obstacles in her path, and I don’t think she’d actually hit you. She thinks you’re the sweet one.” Brian almost choked on his laugh.
Jace had never given Myrna a reason to think otherwise.
“Everything will be okay. Just grovel.”
“Grovel?” Brian looked reflective for a moment, and then nodded. “Can do.”
Jace climbed the steps to find Myrna, still wearing her business suit and looking all prim and proper, when she was decidedly not prim and proper by any stretch of the imagination, fussing over the cut near Eric’s temple. Eric ate up every minute of her concern. He had a little, make that big, crush on Brian’s woman, so any attention she paid him made him giddy and stupid. Trey was searching the freezer for ice. Sed stood next to the dining table looking like he’d robbed a bank.
It didn’t even take two minutes for Myrna to put Brian in his place. She was conscious enough of the lack of privacy to take their argument to the bedroom at the back of the bus, but even with the door closed, Jace could hear Brian’s groveling. He was doing a fine job by Jace’s estimation, though Myrna still didn’t sound too forgiving about her fiancé’s matching black eyes.
Jace rubbed his swollen knuckles, wondering how he was going to play the next night. He couldn’t let himself get into any more fights. If he hurt his hands, Sinners would undoubtedly get rid of him. He didn’t want to give them a reason to fire him from the band.
Not after he’d worked so hard to become a part of it.
Sed retrieved a bottle of aspirin from the bathroom and grinned as he handed it to Trey. He nodded toward the thin bedroom door.
“I guess they made up.”
No more sounds of Brian groveling. Just the unmistakable cries of ecstasy that Myrna produced on a very regular basis.
Trey laughed. “Who can stay mad at Brian?” He swallowed several pills and passed the bottle to Eric.
“I’m glad they made up,” Eric said, holding a bloody dish towel to his temple. “I’d have felt terrible if she called the wedding off.”
“You should feel terrible,” Jace said, staring at the floor, as he knew his gaze would hold a challenge. Through all the lessons his father tried to teach him, keeping defiance out of his gaze had never stuck. “You started the whole thing.”
“Well, I didn’t ask for your help, little man, now did I?” Eric said.
Nope, he hadn’t. Jace should have stayed out of it and let those bouncers rearrange Eric’s face.
Jace pursed his lips and nodded slightly. He left the bus without a word, not in the mood for another confrontation. Not with Eric. The man who had no idea how much of a positive impact he’d had on Jace’s life. If he’d thought of Eric as anything less than his hero, he would have punched him in the face years ago.
Jace climbed on his Harley, secured his helmet, and started the bike. The engine roared to life beneath him. The freedom the sound represented instantly brought him peace of mind. He headed off, not really knowing where he was going, but his thoughts had settled on a black-haired beauty with a whip. That woman was exactly what he needed.
He wondered if she was still at the club. He needed to pick up that card she’d promised him and make an appointment for her perfect abuse.
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