The lights glimmered upon Mystic’s beautiful curves as she graced the stage with the seductive movements of her body. She looked around to find only a few people paying attention to her. She had two hours left before her shift was over, and she had barely made any money. Mystic spotted a toothless old man grinning up at her, waving a dollar in the air from the edge of the stage. She smiled sweetly and approached him to collect her payment.
Mystic made her way through the thick cloud of cigarette smoke, ignoring other customers trying to reach out to her. She already had a customer awaiting her return. She walked to the other side of the club to continue pretending to be interested while her customer went on talking about his job. She kept her composure despite being bored out of her mind.
After all, the man was slipping her twenty-dollar bills just for
sitting with him. She knew that his intention was to get her to a champagne room; he would casually imply it, but she just played hard to get and acted as though she might. She smiled sweetly and continued to pretend she was willing.
Mystic had run away from home when she was seventeen. Her mother was an alcoholic who had been married to another alcoholic who hit them both; he had died in a motorcycle accident when Mystic was just a little girl. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, but her mother and stepdad had moved her up to Virginia when she was a child. Now she was finally on her own after living with her boyfriend for a year. She’d started off working as a waitress in a strip club back in Miami, hoping she would make more money there than as a waitress in a regular restaurant. After watching the dancers go home with hundreds of dollars each night, she slowly convinced herself it was worth a try. Mystic had now been dancing for four months.
Finally she assumed her customer had given up on trying to bribe her into going into a champagne room with him and was probably not going to give her any more money. She stood up, gave the man a kiss on the cheek, and left. She had made $200 off him without having to do anything.
No need to get a room, she thought.
She walked around the club to see if she could make any more money. At the bar sat a black man, late thirties to early forties. He was well dressed and had style. She decided to make her way over to sit with him. As she approached, he greeted her first.
“Hello there, Miss…?”
“Hi,” she said with a smile as she took a seat. “How are you? I’m Mystic.”
“Well, hello there, Mystic,” he replied. “My name is Sayge.
How is your evening going?”
“It’s going pretty slow, I guess. I’m about to leave, though. So your name is Sayge? Like a sage?” She felt foolish as soon as she’d asked.
“That’s right,” he said. “So what’s the deal with you? Do you go to school?”
“I do, but I’m not sure what I’m going to major in yet.” She looked him over. He was wearing a Gucci hat and matching shoes, and his wristwatch and necklace were covered in diamonds. Despite his wealthy look, she felt the pressure of wondering how she would be able to make money off him. She was still very new to the hustle.
“Well, that’s OK if you don’t know what to study,” he said. “You’re young.” He leaned in toward her and lowered his voice. “Anyway, what are you doing working here?” His eyes were squinting.
The way he asked the question caught her by surprise.
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, you’re obviously new to dancing. I can tell because of the way you act. You’re still very naive. They haven’t corrupted you yet. That is why I ask.” He took a sip of his drink.
Mystic turned slightly away from Sayge. “Well…”
“If my question is making you uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer it.”
“No, no it’s fine,” she said. “I’m just trying to pay my rent and my way through school. I’d like another job, but unfortunately I had a financial crisis where I had to come up with a lot of money in a very short time just so I could stay where I am. Now I need to find another place to live because my landlord is selling the place. I rent a room in a house, so I have to come up with first and last month and security, and everything is so expensive!”
“I see. Well, that seems to be the problem with most girls who start up in this sort of business. You seem like a nice girl with a good head on your shoulders. I’ll tell you what. I own a couple of properties.” He took another sip of his drink. “There’s one out in Kendall that’s pretty big, and I have a friend living there who needs a roommate. I’ll leave you my number, and you can call me if you’re interested in renting a room there. We can have lunch, and I can show you the house.” “How much is the rent?” Mystic asked.
“Don’t worry about that. We can talk that over. I’m already paying for most of it anyway, so we can see how much you can afford.”
Wow, seems too good to be true. This could be a trick, she thought. On the other hand, a lot of girls here have regular customers who help them out.
“OK,” she agreed. “I’ll call you.” She hesitantly took his number.
The next day Gem woke up at three in the afternoon absolutely loving life. She got up from her bed and stepped into her enormous closet to see what she could wear to go shopping before she went to work. She made sure she looked glamorous and then walked over to the other bedrooms to wake up Onyx and Amber, the two girls who lived with her at the mansion.
As she stepped into Onyx’s bedroom, she almost tripped over the mess. Onyx wasn’t there; Gem realized she was already up and had not said anything to her. Gem and Onyx were different in many ways, but they got along the most, so it seemed strange that Onyx had not woken her. She made her way to the next room to wake up Amber, who was asleep with a pillow over her head. Gem walked over to the window and opened the blinds to let in the sun.
“Amber, it’s three o’clock. Aren’t you going to work day shift today?”
“I don’t want to,” Amber replied.
“Well, you have to get up anyway. It’s late. Don’t make me buy you an alarm clock!”
Amber had always been argumentative, and Gem could see she had probably partied too hard the previous evening.
“Look, Onyx already came in here,” Amber snapped,
“and I told her to tell you I’m not working today!”
Gem let out a sigh. “Well, I’m going to the mall. Do you know where Onyx went?”
Amber threw off her covers and rushed to close the blinds. “She already went to work on her motorcycle!” she yelled.
“OK, then make sure you tell Dante that you’re not going in to work today.”
Gem left the house and got into her brand-new Mercedes convertible. She was ready for another day of spending all the money she wanted.
That night Mystic went to work at the club again. She told herself that she needed to make at least $300 by the end of the night, so she could pay her rent. As soon as she got there, she remembered she had promised that customer, Sayge, she would call him but had forgotten to do so. She reached into her purse and found her cell phone. She sent him a quick text message: “Hey, Sayge, it’s
Jolie (Mystic) from last night. This is my number.” Hopefully he’ll come and spend some money on me, she thought.
She quickly got changed and went out to the floor. She found a customer sitting alone at a table, so she decided to walk over and sit with him. They introduced themselves, and he began asking her questions.
Quite a conversationalist, she thought. She found him to be most intriguing and handsome. He wore his hair back away from his face and had on a pair of black-framed glasses. His appearance reminded her of some sort of professor or nerd; however, he carried himself rather charmingly. Despite all his charms, he rejected her advance for a lap dance. She was becoming restless.
Mystic excused herself and made her way to the locker room, saying she had to check her phone as an excuse to use the restroom and fix her hair and makeup. She did, however, glance at her phone and saw that Sayge had responded:
“Hey, Jolie, how is the club tonight?”
She texted, “It’s a little slow, but it’ll be fine.”
Standing in front of her locker was a medium-sized girl with straight, black hair and a rhinestone collar. Mystic put her phone away and dug through her locker for her makeup.
“I’m Maya,” said the girl.
Mystic just looked back and smiled.
“Listen, I don’t want to get into your business,” Maya went on, “but I saw you sitting with that customer outside.”
“Yeah, he’s really nice. What about him?”
“Like I said, girl, I don’t wanna get into your business, but you shouldn’t talk to him. His name is Dante, and he’s a pimp. I’m just letting you know so you’ll be careful.”
Mystic couldn’t believe it. She had heard of pimps before, of course, but he didn’t seem anything like that. He was too nice and cute to be a pimp.
“No, he’s not,” Mystic stated. “How do you know?” “Girl, I’ve been dancing at this club for three years.
Everyone knows him.”
“But I thought pimps aren’t allowed in the clubs. If everyone knows him, why do they let him in?”
“He spends money,” Maya responded with a smirk on her face.
“Oh yeah, that makes sense.”
“Most pimps don’t tip. That’s how the club finds them out. But any customer who comes in and spends a lot of money is going to be allowed to stay, even if he is a pimp. See, Dante is smart. He uses his money as a cover-up with the club and as bait with the girls. Anyway, I’m gonna go back out there. You should come with me. The two customers I’m with told me they want to meet you.”
Mystic decided to take her word for it and followed her.
“We’ll go the other way so Dante doesn’t see you,” Maya said.
As the two girls approached the VIP tables, where Maya’s customers were seated, the men made a lot of noise to greet them. Both girls gave each guy a tabletop dance and drank shots of Patrón. Mystic was definitely making more than the $300 quota she had set for herself—the two guys kept throwing money in the air. She was finally having a good time while working.
One of the guys—the other guy called him Chico—told the other they had to make it to a party.
“Why don’t you girls come along?” Chico asked. “Don’t worry. It’s not too far from here. You’ve been working really hard. Just come with us, relax, have a few drinks, and we’ll bring you right back.”
Mystic and Maya exchanged glances. Mystic was not comfortable with the idea of leaving with two random guys she had just met. Before she could say anything, though, Maya spoke.
“We’ll think about it.” And with that she grabbed Mystic and pulled her to the locker room.
“I don’t know, Maya, I don’t like the idea,” Mystic said.
“I know Chico. I don’t know the other guy with the braids, but I trust Chico, and he’ll try to make me money wherever I go. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to, but I’m getting out of here.”
All I do is work to pay bills, Mystic thought. I hardly go out anymore.
This girl says she trusts Chico. What could go wrong?
“Fine, I’ll go,” she said.
The girls quickly got dressed and paid their house fees. When they went outside, Chico and his friend were already waiting for them in a black Escalade. The other guy was driving. Mystic got in the backseat with Chico.
“So where are we going?” Maya inquired.
“You’ll see,” replied the guy with the braids.