Abigail Taylor POV ~
The manager at the Garden of Eden had finally given me a chance to audition after one of the regular girls had gotten pregnant. My hours practicing at the dance studio obviously paid off, I was the only girl that auditioned that stopped the manager from talking for the whole of their performance. He had given me a trial spot on Friday night, and free reign to choose my song, and my stage name.
I'd chosen a slow song by Mad Season called Artificial Red. It was slow and seductive, and I'd chosen a red lacy set of lingerie to wear on stage, matching my lip stick shade to it perfectly. Not that any of the guys would be noticing such details, they were all just waiting for the moment my panties drop. I'd decided to go with Eve, The Last Temptation, as my stage name, and had found a blonde wig that came down nearly to my ass. I looked nothing like my normal self.
The light picks out the opening in the red velvet curtains, and as the slow drum beat starts I slide a leg out of the gap. I slowly walk across the stage, reaching the pole and slowly walking round it as the guitar starts up. Layne Staley's tortured vocals start as I swing myself round, the blonde wig swinging round my shoulders and out of my face.
I look up and sitting at the table directly in front of me, with a look of complete surprise on his face is fuck-boy Nelson, from the record shop. Fuck! Last thing I need is more judgement from the stupid frat boy. We make eye contact and I swallow hard, and try to concentrate on the rest of my routine, slowly sliding out of my underwear.
I resolutely refuse to glance back towards the table where I know he's still staring at me. I mean, yeah, hearing the moans coming from that room at the party the other week, I'd briefly imagined being naked in front of him, but standing here, naked on stage, I felt a little dirty. And not in a good way.
I walk backstage quickly after my song has finished, bumping into the next girl waiting in the wings.
"Not all you imagined?" Her mouth twists into a smirk at the disgusted expression on my face. "What. Did you think it would be some fancy bullshit like in that film Burlesque? Sorry to shit on your parade but it's the same grubby little perverts out there every single night."
Her music starts, and the emcee calls out her name. I pull my wig off as I walk into the dressing room, running my fingers through my slightly sweaty hair.
What had I been expecting? Did I naïvely think I would never see anyone I knew siting in the audience?
"So do you think you'll do it again?"
My new friend, George, sweeps her long red hair back off her shoulders, and continues to wipe down the poles we've just been grinding on in class.
"I dunno." I'd been trying to figure this out all week. Luckily they hadn't needed another dancer since Friday night, so I'd safely hidden back behind the bar. "I mean, the extra money I made Friday was fucking amazing, but knowing that people I know have seen me naked isn't sitting with me as well as I thought it would."
"You're still braver than I am. There's no way I could've gotten up on that stage and taken any item of clothing off, let alone all of it."
"Yeah well, I need the money." I pick at the black nail polish flaking off my finger nails. "With what I make at the club, plus the shop I work in, and the little bit we make from gigs, I can just about cover my rent and bills."
"Hmmm." I look up and George, who is studying me thoughtfully.
"What's with you?" I ask, with a chuckle.
"Well we have an extra room, and because our dad's own the house me and Jake don't have to pay rent..." Lucky for some. "Why don't you move in with us? You'd only have to pay a third of the bills, and then you wouldn't need to work so much. And Jake is awesome, you'll love him." She shuffles towards where I'm sitting, on her knees, big puppy dog eyes. "Please please please."
I can't help but chuckle, and cup her cheek in my hand.
"Okay. Yeah, that would be awesome actually. As long as your friend really won't mind."
"Trust me, he won't." George grins.
I meet Mr McGee at the coffee shop before we cross the street to open up.
The shop technically belonged to his son, Dominick. It had nearly been mine too, but Dom had decided to fuck off to wander round Asia after I found him in our bed with some groupie a week before our wedding. That was two years ago.
Old man McGee loved me like a daughter, and had been devastated at his son's behavior. I had questioned why he'd continued to run Dom' shitty record store for him, but he would just shake his head with a wry smile every time.
Watching this Nelson kid sort through the boxes of records reminded me of how enthusiastic Dom had been when he'd first bought this place. In the end the amount of stock he'd bought had just been stacked up and left for only the hardiest of music lovers to trawl through.
I walk over the section Nelson had managed to organize, and run my fingers along the new signs he'd put up. He'd actually done a good job.
The bell chimes as the man himself walks in, lifting his beanie off and pushing his hair back as he nods in my direction.
I smile, and flip him off like I'd been doing since I'd come back to work.
After dumping his bag in the office, he strides out and over to the stack of funk records in the corner. I watch the tight muscles in his back flex as he sorts through them. He glances at me over his shoulder, and I swear he's blushing slightly.
After two hours of studiously ignoring each other as he tackles box after box, and I serve the couple of customers that came through, I see him take the metal tin out of his back pocket indicating that he was going to smoke.
I pop my head into the office where Mr McGee is frowning at his sudoko puzzle, and tell him we're going on break. He tutts, like he always does when he disapproves of something. Or has to pretend he does anyway, because I know he smokes a little Mary Jane for his glaucoma.
Nelson is sat on the bottom step of the fire escape, the fragrant smoke already swirling round his head. I swipe the joint dangling from his fingers, and take a deep inhale. I don't know where this kid gets his weed, but it's top fucking shelf.
He clears his throat, keeping his gaze aimed at the floor.
"So, should I call you Eve? Or maybe just the Last Temptation?"
I feel myself get hot and flustered. I'd hoped he'd be as embarrassed at being seen at a strip club as I'd been, and wouldn't mention it.
"So your second job is working as a stripper?" His green eyes finally fix on my face.
"I actually work as a bar tender, but they were a girl down." I try to shrug nonchalantly.
He takes one last deep drag on the joint and stubs it out, standing up and dusting off the back of his pants. I try not to stare too much at his firm backside in his skin tight jeans.
"I just think it's somewhat contradictory of you to slut shame me when you're a fucking stripper."
I feel a wave of anger surge up inside me, and clench my teeth together to stop from yelling at him. "I'm a dancer, not a fucking whore. Unlike some people."
"Whatever." He smirks, and kick myself knowing he managed to get a rise out of me like he intended.
"Fuck you." I push past him, storming into the office to grab my bag.
"Hey, Taylor? Where are going, you have another two hours to go."
"Dock my wages, I don't give a fuck. I can't be around that guy right now."
"What's Nelson done now?"
I just shake my head at Mr McGee's question.
The sooner I move in with George the better. Much as I'd love to jack in the Garden of Eden job, I would sacrifice this job just to get away from that fucking judgmental little prick.