Home > All the Pretty Poses (Pretty #2)(6)

All the Pretty Poses (Pretty #2)(6)
Author: M. Leighton

But none of that can rid my mind of the way she looked last night.

A series of emotions flood me, desire first and foremost. Now I have memories of her seductive dance to add to those from my youth, ones of tasting her sweet skin on a bed of soft grass in the forest no more than a few hundred yards from where I’m standing. The other emotions are secondary, but no less potent.

Frustration because, still, I would like nothing more than to sink between those long, long legs and lose myself for at least a day. Anger because she is far too innocent to be dancing at one of my clubs the way she was. More frustration because I loved it. And more anger because other men got to see it.

It’s that anger that propels me forward. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the tiny dancer.” My tone is cold and bitter even to my own ears. Just like my father’s.

Kennedy straightens from Tanny’s arms, her expression stung, her cheeks pink. She tucks her chin and glances left and right, as though she’s checking to see if anyone else is listening. Finally, she returns her attention to me. Her smile is tight, but polite.

“Reese, it’s been a long time.”

“Yes, it has. Seems like a lot has changed since I left.”

Her smile falters. “That happens when people leave without a word and don’t come back for almost two decades,” she grinds out from between her gritted teeth.

I deserved that, but I’m not in the habit of being derailed by something as simple as guilt. That’s one reason I decided to stop feeling it. It’s a weak feeling for weak people.

The perfect clone of the perfect bastard, I think for a moment before I push the thought aside and return to my anger.

“I don’t have time for this,” I snap, stepping forward to take Kennedy by the arm and tug her along with me as I stride across the room to the door that leads to the conservatory just off the library.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” Kennedy hisses when the door shuts behind us and we are out of view of the people in the library. She wrenches her arm free.

“I’m the one asking questions. Now would you like to tell me what you are doing dancing in one of my clubs?”

She raises her chin defiantly. “I didn’t know it was your club until last night when you accosted one of the waitresses in the men’s room. Word got around pretty fast after that,” she spits in disgust.

I grind my back teeth together. I don’t know why I care that she knows about that. Even though she did little more than lick my dick before I stopped her, it still pisses me off. “Don’t change the subject. Why are you dancing in a place like that?”

Kennedy narrows her eyes on me. “What’s the matter? Feeling a little ashamed of the type of businessman you’ve become, Reese?”

“I’m not ashamed of anything. My clubs are some of the best in the world. They’re just no place for a girl like you.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean? Just what kind of girl am I?”

“You used to be a nice one.”

“Just because I do what I love in a club like yours doesn’t mean I’m not a nice girl. It’s not a strip club, for god’s sake.”

“It’s still not a place for someone like you.”

Kennedy’s laugh is bitter and so is her expression. “I hate to break it to you, Reese, but most of the world has to work for a living. And, just in case you didn’t realize it, your clubs pay very, very well.”

I stare at her and she stares at me. I want to yell until she hears me, to grab her and make her promise she won’t ever return there, but I also am suddenly overcome with the desire to help her. She’s just working a job to pay the bills, like ninety-nine percent of the population. But knowing that she’s forced to dance for the pleasure of men hits me in a soft place that I didn’t even realize I had.

“Then let me get you a job in the administrative offices. There are dozens of other positions I could put you in with the company.”

“I’m sure that’s your way of trying to be nice, but I don’t need your charity, Reese. I’ve done just fine on my own all this time. Besides, dancing is what I love. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Your club is just a stepping stone. Trust me, Reese, I have dreams far beyond dancing in your club.”

“And what are those?”

“Why do you care?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I just do.”

A frown wrinkles Kennedy’s brow. Her sea foam eyes search mine as though she’s discerning whether or not I’m genuinely interested or if there’s a trap somewhere ahead.

“You really want to know?”

“I do.” And that’s no lie. Just as when we were kids, I find that I’m unusually interested in Kennedy.

“Ultimately, I’d love to dance with an amazing troupe like Altman American Dance Theater. But since that’s not very likely, I’d settle for small theater dance. My dream is just to dance. Really dance.”

Her voice is quiet. Sincere.

And for reasons I’ll never know, I do something incredibly stupid.

“Come work the summer for me, then. On my boat. Then I’ll get you an audition with Chance Altman.”


“What? A-are you serious?” I stutter.

“Deadly,” Reese replies flatly.

“Work for you. Doing what?”

One dark brow arches suggestively, sending a little shiver through me, but then it falls back down before he answers. “Nothing you haven’t done before.” When I open my mouth to take exception to such a vague description, he continues. “Some dancing, socializing. Maybe serving some drinks. Nothing too taxing.”

“And for that, you’ll get me an audition. With Altman. How?”

“Very easily. I’ve had the pleasure of Chance’s company on one of my boats before. As well as in a few of my clubs. Let’s just say he owes me.”

“I just…I can’t…And all I’d have to do is work for you. On a boat. For the summer.”

Reese smiles. That smile that turned my world upside down. And then left it in a smoldering heap of burned ruin.

I am so overcome with emotion right now, I’m finding it hard to keep a grip on rational thought.

Seeing Reese last night was like a bullet to the heart. Feeling those aqua eyes on me brought back everything in one mind-numbing rush.

The draw, like gravity.

The desire, like obsession.

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