Stripped - By Brenda Rothert Page 0,1

brown hair behind her. He gently reached his hands around her hips.

“No,” she reminded him, touching his wrists.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. She winked as she turned her back toward him, continuing her dance. The music took her mind over again, and she stopped thinking about anything but the rhythm of it.

“I’ll buy you one, Chris,” her customer said to the man next to him as he handed Abby another bill.

Abby moved toward him in anticipation, but he shook his head and smiled.

“That’s okay,” he said. She instinctively looked to his left hand for a ring but saw that it was bare. Gay? He didn’t seem like it, because she felt sexual energy from him. Must be engaged, she thought, and she could see why: Golden blond hair in short messy waves, dark brown eyes and a smile that would charm any woman.

“You sure, baby?” she asked.

“No,” he said, grinning warmly as he admired her. Abby cocked her head, confused.

“Just do it,” his friend said, getting up from the table. “He wants it.”

She looked to the blond man for confirmation, and he held her eyes silently.

“Are we doing this or not?” she asked, put off by his reluctance. Some men were too shy or guilty to go through with a dance, but he wasn’t one of those. His gaze was aloof and confident.

“It’s tempting, but no,” he said.

“I won’t tell your girlfriend, you know.”

The corners of his lips turned up a little.

“I’m single.”

Though she knew she should just move to the next customer, Abby couldn’t seem to.

“Is it me?” she asked.

“Not at all. You’re very alluring. I just don’t like how one-sided lap dances are. What’s in it for you?”

“The money.”

“Keep the money. It wouldn’t be hot for me unless you were turned on, too.”

“Maybe I would be.”

“Not nearly as much as you would be if I could touch you.”

Abby smiled at his self-assurance. She knew the men who pawed her at the club did so for their gratification, not hers. But the way he kept his focus on her eyes, she couldn’t help wondering if this man meant what he said.

“Maybe your very presence would turn me on,” she said with a grin.

“Maybe. You’re having that effect on me.”

Sam had just finished a dance, and she interjected.

“You’re burning time, Nikki, he doesn’t want a dance. But how ‘bout one from me?” she asked, pushing a hip toward him.

“No, thanks,” he said, shaking his head. Abby was gratified. Most men were unable to refuse Sam, a half-Asian beauty with a lithe figure.

Abby locked eyes with the blond man for another brief second before she moved to the next customer. She had to remind herself again to stop thinking about what she could never have.

“Think that Greek God’s gay?” Sam asked as she rubbed shimmering lotion into her breasts.

“What?” Abby asked, confused, as she read a text message on her phone.

“That blond guy who didn’t want either of us,” Sam said. “He’s really hot.”

“Yeah, maybe he is,” Abby said, writing a quick return message to her brother Justin.

“What do you mean maybe? He looks like a movie star,” Sam said.

“I meant maybe he’s gay,” Abby said. “Justin said Sara’s temp’s down and she’s sleeping.”

“That’s good,” Sam said. “So what was your take?”

Abby counted the bills she had collected from the bachelor party.


Sam narrowed her eyes.

“$110,” she said glumly. “It’s not fair that you have the body of a supermodel.”

“Hardly,” Abby said, laughing.

“Seriously, you’re not just hot, you’re pretty, too. My eyes are just plain brown, but yours are gold and brown. And that hair…let’s just say I’m a little jealous.”

“You’re sweet, Sam. But I’m just an average girl who does an above-average amount of maintenance. You’ve got that exotic beauty men love.”

Sam smiled as she tucked her bills into the opening of her wooden box.

“Abby? Abby?”

“Hmm…” Someone was nudging her, but Abby was lost in a deep sleep.

“Abby, Dylan’s birthday party is today. I need a ride, and we have to get a present on the way. Wake up, Abby.”

“Okay, I’m awake, Sara,” Abby mumbled, rubbing her face. “What time is it?”

“11:00. The party starts at noon.”

Abby rolled out of bed, eyeing her youngest sister’s outfit.

“Where did you get those pants?” she asked.

“I borrowed them from Tatem.”

“Take them off. A nine-year-old girl has no business in low-rise pants that show your stomach.”

“I like them, though,” Sara said, looking crestfallen.

“No way. Go change and don’t pull anything like this again. I buy you perfectly nice clothes and you need to wear them.”

Sara sighed