Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(6)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(6)
Author: Amy Harmon

I was almost as good at working the room as I was at working the octagon, though I’d rather be fighting any day. But my thoughts were on business as I strode across the room and through the arch that separated the dancing girls from the sports bar. My eyes went straight to the cage, expecting the worst. But it was Justine at the pole, finishing her number with a swivel of her hips and a final turn around the cage. Justine strode off, hips swaying arms waving, as if she’d just announced the next round, and the lights went dark.

When they came up again, the new girl was at the center of the octagon, hands on the pole, head down. As the music began to swell, she immediately swung into her routine, and I scowled in consternation. The girl was slim and lithe, smooth muscles moving beneath taut skin. Her straight, dark brown hair was silky under the lights, her oiled limbs glistening, and her barely-there shorts and bikini top no different from the girl who danced before her. I watched her for a moment, waiting for the punch line. There had to be one.

She was beautiful—delicate-featured with a small nose, a rosebud mouth, and a heart-shaped face, and I felt a sudden flash of fear that she was only fifteen or something equally alarming. I dismissed the thought immediately. Morgan was a prankster, not an idiot. Something like that would ruin the bar. Something like that would cost Morgan his job. And Morgan loved his job, even if he didn’t always love me, even if I didn’t always appreciate his sense of humor.

Nah. She was at least twenty-one. That was my rule. I pursed my lips and tipped my head, studying her. She worked the pole as well as any of the other girls, maybe even better, but her dancing was more acrobatic, more athletic, than it was overtly sexy. Her eyes were closed and she had a soft smile on her lips, which could be interpreted as sultry, especially considering that she was dancing for an audience of mostly men. Scratch that. An audience of all men. But her smile wasn’t sultry. It was . . . dreamy, like she was imagining she was somewhere else, a tiny ballerina spinning in place inside a child’s snow globe, endlessly dancing alone. Her small smile didn’t change, and her eyes stayed closed, the heavy sweep of dark lashes creating half circles of shadow on her porcelain cheeks.

The lighting was strategic, hiding the viewers and displaying the dancer. Maybe the lights hurt her eyes. Or maybe she was a little shy. I chuckled. Um . . . no. The shy pole dancer was as big an oxymoron as the timid fighter. But someone should probably say something. The men in the audience loved to believe that the dancers were looking right at them, and though the dancers never mingled with the men, at least not in the bar, eye contact and subtle flirting were part of the job. I wondered if that was Morgan’s joke. If so, Morgan was losing his touch.

I turned away as the song ended and the cage lights went black, indicating the end of the set. Three girls danced a fifteen minute set each hour, with another fifteen minutes between sets from nine to midnight. It was Utah, after all, not Vegas. The dancers were off two, sometimes three, nights a week for fight nights and club nights, when the octagon was needed for bouts or disassembled to create a dance floor. With four dancers, now five, on my payroll, it wasn’t a full-time job by any means. Most of the girls had day jobs and grabbed extra hours and good pay announcing the rounds and bouts on fight nights.

“So whaddaya think, Boss?” Morgan grinned and slid a glass to a waiting patron as I rounded the bar and sat back on the same stool, my eyes shooting up to check the score, not giving Morgan the attention he wanted.

“‘Bout what?”

“About the new girl.”

“Pretty.” He didn’t need all the other adjectives that had run through my mind as I watched her dance.

“Yeah?” Morgan raised his eyebrows as if my one-word assessment was surprising.

“Yeah, Morg,” I sighed. “You got something you wanna tell me? ‘Cause I’m not gettin’ it.”

“No. No siree. Not a thing.”

I shook my head and groaned. Morgan was definitely up to something.

“So how many weeks, Boss?”

“Eight.” Eight weeks until I fought Bruno Santos. The fight that would give me a shot at a Vegas title fight. The fight that would catapult the Tag Team brand into living rooms across the US. Eight weeks of perfect focus—no distractions, and no decisions beyond one fight. After I won the fight, I would face what came next. After I won that fight the world could end, for all I cared. After I won.

“Hey, Boss. Lou called in sick tonight. He usually makes sure the girls get to their cars. You wanna fill in? Since you’re here?”

All the women on my staff are escorted to their vehicles at the end of their shifts. Always. This part of town is changing, but it isn’t there yet. Tag’s is situated close to the old Grand Central train station in a refurbished district that is still caught somewhere between restoration and dilapidation. Two blocks north there is a row of mansions built in the early 1900s, two blocks south there’s a strip mall complete with bars on all the windows. A high-end day spa takes up the corner of the block to the left and a homeless shelter is two blocks down on the right. The area is a conglomeration of everything, and there are some elements that aren’t safe. I feel responsible for my employees, especially the girls. So I imposed some rules, even if it means I am sometimes accused of being overprotective, sexist, and old-fashioned.

“Yep. I can do that.”

“Good. That was their last set. I’d do it, but the drinks won’t fill themselves, ya know. Kelli’s boyfriend came in and picked her up ten minutes ago, and Marci and Stormy are closing with me, so I’ll walk them out. You’ve just got Justine and Lori and Amelie.”

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