The door to the club bangs open interrupting our private moment and I step away from him to see who has walked. I feel a slight pang of guilt when I see Nina’s face staring around the room.
“Wow babe this looks great, I was going to come and help you earlier but I was recovering from last night.” She tells me with a wink and all of a sudden Max skulks into the shadows behind us. I shake my head and smile at her indulgently. How could I have forgotten her play for him last night?
“It’s okay I think it’s done. Maximus helped me out.” I tell her innocently. She looks around me to spot him.
“Well aren’t you just everyone’s hero big guy.” She says with a seductive lilt to her voice that makes the warm sensation in my belly flame to full fiery burn. I clutch my stomach and drop to my knees. “Kenna.” Nina exclaims hysterically as she drops in front of me. I feel Max place his hands on my arms to lift me up and his touch only makes the fire burning in my stomach feel like a swallowed acid.
I cry out at his touch and he drops me into Nina’s grasp. Nina grabs my face forcefully in her hands. “Tell me what’s wrong.” She begs me. I shake my head at her.
“Nothing, I’m just light headed from not eating today.” I tell her pacifyingly. She lets go of me and stands in front of me with her hands on her hips.
“Daarnya McKenna Alvarette. You stop lying to me this instant.” She commands me in her darkest voice using my full name so I know she’s serious. I smile at her and stand up straighter.
“My God you just sounded like your mother.” I tell her and she blanches. “Is that a moustache I see coming in there.” I ask worriedly pointing to her upper lip.
Her hand slaps over her face as she gasps, she takes my teasing as a sign that I’m okay. Her whole body flees towards the restroom as I chuckle lightly at her retreat. No so easily fooled is the pair of piercing dark eyes filled with concern now standing in front of me. “I’m okay, it passed. I really do need to eat something.”
“Why did it hurt you when I touched you?” He asks quietly. But I don’t get to answer him as Nina comes tearing out of the bathroom.
“You’re a real bitch, you know that?” She demands. “I’m going to be paranoid about facial hair all week now.” I walk towards her and wrap an arm around the top of her shoulders.
“You know I didn’t mean it.” I offer apologetically. “If anything you should hope you get your dad’s facial hair instead of your mom’s, at least his wasn’t so bad.”
She swats me playfully as we laugh together and she hugs me tightly. “You’re okay right?” She asks in a desperate whisper in my ear and I nod vigorously as I squeeze her harder.
“I’m just going to get my lunch out of my car that I forgot to eat.” I tell her loud enough that Max can over hear me as well. I duck out of the club and ran across the street to my car. I reach into the bag on the passenger floor. It’s a cold day I’m sure the sandwich I bought this morning is fine. I dart back across the street and into the club. I sit myself in a perch on the bar top as Nina flicks all the lights back on.
“I’m just going to get changed. It’ll be nice to have the other dancers tonight drawing some of the attention away from me.” Nina says exhaustedly. I take a bite of my sandwich and point it towards her. She shakes her head at me with a disgusted face.
When she’s gone I find Max’s eyes watching me closely. “Why do you watch me so intensely?” I ask him around mouthfuls of my slightly soggy sandwich. He raises an eye brow at me and I almost choke on my food in reaction.
“It’s my job.” He states firmly. I just shrug at him as I swallow my food trying not to spill it on myself. I look along the bar double checking the spacing on the bar top.
“Speaking of your job.” I say leadingly. “I need you and Justin to keep the crowd back from the bar tonight when I do the fire show. There’ll be the normal early stage one but then another a bit later on the bar top. You need to make sure no drunken idiots try to grab me off the bar while I’m swinging fire poi’s.” I explain as I continue eating.
“I won’t let anyone touch you.” He declares so seriously and boldly I almost believe he would take out anyone who tries. I swallow audibly a bit put off by his declaration.
“Could you go and lower the other two cages next to the stage for the dancers. The panel with the switches is by the D.J. booth.” I instruct gently. He nods at me and moves away from me. I try to continue eating as that strange warm sensation in my belly returns. I watch curiously as he finds the panel but struggles to find the correct switches to lower the cages down.
I watch him struggle with it for another moment before I take pity on him. I walk across the dancefloor still eating my sandwich. I stand next to him and he glances at me defiantly. I roll my eyes at him. “Hold this.” I instruct as he takes hold of the paper wrapped around my sandwich. I dust off my hands dramatically and stretch out my upper body before fixing my face with a look of pure concentration.
I smirk evilly out the cornier of my mouth as he watches every action. I’m not sure when he figured out I was playing him but he’s onto it now as he shakes his head at me. I look over at him as I reach out and flick down the two buttons that say cages on the label below them. I shrug and smirk proudly as two cages descend from the ceiling. Max looks back at me and his gaze is playful and defiant as he takes a large bite out of my sandwich.
“Holding tax.” He explains through a mouthful of my sandwich and I laugh at him trying to maintain a façade of being annoyed as I snatch my sandwich back from him and storm back to the bar. He follows chuckling lightly to himself.
“Hi McKenna. Everything set?” Vladik’s voice asks suddenly from the door way as he makes his way past me. I nod at him confidently. “Good, that’s good.” He says looking around the room but not at myself or Max directly. I don’t miss that he doesn’t even acknowledge Maximus and that makes me curious. I watch him head towards the stairs and Max smiles wickedly as he jumps up to take a seat next to me on the bar.
He pulls his phone out of his pocket and holds the screen up to show me an image. It’s a view from inside Vladik’s office. It looks like it’s coming from his desk facing the open door of the office. “No?” I ask incredulously as Vladik starts to ascend the stairs. Max just smiles indicating towards Vladik.
I lean against his shoulder as I try to get a better view of the small screen and he leans closer as well. We see Vladik enter the office looking distracted and on edge then he slams the door behind him and screams before grabbing his chest and falling back against the floor. It was fantastic, the scream on the screen seemed to have an echo in surround sound as it filled the club. I burst out laughing and cover my face trying to stop it.
I take a deep breath and scream with laughter before the sound dies in my throat. That really high pitched fit of laughter you get that actually cuts off your oxygen supply and you have a split second panic that you may die but you don’t care. I choke on my laughter trying to get it under control as I hear Max having the same reaction next to me. I look up to see Vladik staring down at me with a dark glare.
“You’re a fucking child McKenna.” He bellows and my laughter just gets more painful as I try desperately to get the fit under control. Vladik storms off and I make eye contact with Nina who is standing in front of me smiling indulgently as she shakes her head.
“What did you do to him now?” She asks in mock disapproval. I shake my head and point to Max.
“Oh my God please tell me you recorded that.” I ask through desperate attempts to breathe through my laughter. He nods at me as Nina comes over to us. She stands in front of Maximus’s legs forcing them apart slightly as she leans close to see the screen. He leans back as far as possible from her as he hits play and the scene unfolds again. Nina jumps at the girlish squeal from Vladik and I lose all composure again.
“How is it funnier the second time around?” I ask as tears stream down my face. Nina laughs as well but not a deep lose all composure laugh like me. Then I think about the genius behind my entertainment and laugh harder as I look at him. I wipe away the tear from my face and shake my head as my laughter reigns in a little.
“How is it you can’t figure out a switch on a panel labelled clearly? Yet you can hack the boss’s computer to direct his webcam to record our prank and send the link to your phone to top it off?” I ask incredulously trying to breathe normally again. Nina looks at him curiously and I notice that she hasn’t backed up despite the video being over. Max just shrugs in response to my question.
“Oh Max you’re a riot. That was an awesome prank.” Nina coos and he looks at her seriously.
“My name is Maximus.” He tells her firmly. All laughter dies in my throat as He gently pushes her back from him and jumps down from the bar and walks towards the door.
“What’s his problem?” She whispers to me. I shrug noncommittally as I think perhaps he doesn’t go for that overly obvious slut routine. I love my friend but she is a lot to handle.
“Trying to collect the full set?” I ask teasingly. She nods and winks at me.
“You know me so well.” She sighs.
“How do you plan to seduce Luka?” I ask challengingly. “I mean if you’re going after all the guys that work at the club.” She shrugs at me.
“Maybe I’ll get him drunk.” I laugh at her.
“I don’t think any amount of alcohol can make you forget your sexual orientation.” I tell her.
“Not Luka, Maximus. He just needs to mellow out a little.” She informs me and I feel that strange burn in my stomach again as I look down for a distraction I notice my sandwich is missing. I look over at Max who pretends to dab crumbs from the corner of his mouth with his shirt. Mother fucker ate my sandwich. I let my jaw drop open in feigning shock and outrage. He smiles widely at me. Nina looks at me then at him.
“What?” She asks curiously. I shake my head.
“Nothing, I just remembered I needed him to tell Justin about the bar show tonight.” I lie covering our exchange. “I better go change.” I tell her excusing myself as I see a couple of the bar tenders arrive. “Double check the stock levels guys.” I call out to them after greeting them. I dart into the change room and I assess the mirror and shake my head in disgust.
The short red leather hot pants will make for an interesting show when I do some tricks on the bar. The red leather halter bikini top connected to the chain choker around my neck is to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. Part of the private booking of the club gains a tailored show, this guy has requested the Devil’s mistress as the main event.
I finish applying the cover up over the bruises on my ribs and it works perfectly. But as I sweat through the first show it’ll come off so I’ll have to touch up before the bar top performance. But during the night I get to wander around in this getup handing out flaming shots of alcohol. As degrading as it all is the club makes a ton of money for private events. We charge a fee for closing the club and it’s the approximate takings we would’ve made had the club been open to the public.
That’s on top of the bar tab and set up fees we charge, also we reserve all publicity rights, so no photos unless previously arranged and paid for. Of course there are always sneaky folks with their camera phones these days who think they can get away with it. Those people are politely asked to leave by our very specifically talented crowd controllers.