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CHAPTER 6 SHATTERED DREAMS BROKEN MIRRORS
The pounding in her head reminded her exactly why she normally refrained from drinking, especially drinking with Natalie. Alison sat up and reached for the bottle of water and aspirin on the nightstand. After soaking up a nice hot shower, she headed to the kitchen to whip up her patented hangover smoothie.
As she rounded the corner into the living room, the doorbell chimed followed by the quick rat-a-tat-tat knock of a delivery driver. She opened the door to find an enormous box addressed to her and Natalie. It must be from Nat's parents. They're known for sending extravagant gifts for no particular reason.
Natalie's father grew up in the Florida Keys and at the age of 5 or 6, he became obsessed with the pirate tales and shipwrecks around the islands. Now he and Nat's mom sail the world in their yacht searching for lost treasures at the bottom of the sea. Once he found a small crate of coins and jewels rumored to have belonged to a princess lost at sea on her voyage to be wed.
Alison dragged the monstrous wooden crate into the apartment and closed the door. She headed into the kitchen to make breakfast, starting with the much-needed recovery smoothie. She put the last banana into the blender along with some frozen strawberries from last spring's trip to the berry farm.
She sat down at the table to drink her smoothy and sorted through the mail. Nothing but credit card applications and expired grocery ads. Would be nice to get these in the mail on time for once, she thought. Might as well make a shopping list. If there was one thing Alison could do well it was grocery shopping.
After jotting down a few necessities like more bananas, she checked the fridge to see what else they needed. She pulled out the eggs to start breakfast and noticed there were just enough. She then added eggs to the list.
As she checked the pantry for what they needed, Alison heard the shower running. She finished with the list and started to work on making breakfast burritos. She'd prefer good old eggs and toast but the bread had grown a healthy layer of green fuzz since the last time she'd used it.
She diced up some onion and red peppers along with a few slices of ham. She unwrapped the block of cheese then fished out the cheese grater and a bowl. In another bowl, she whipped up the eggs then poured them into the skillet. She threw in all the diced ham and veggies and stirred it around until the eggs were fully cooked.
Just as she finished assembling the burritos, Natalie sauntered in wearing a silk robe and her hair wrapped in a towel.
"Mmmmm, that smells amazing! Did I hear the doorbell earlier? What's with the giant box in the entryway?"
"And a good morning to you too," Alison said with a giggle. "It's from your parents and addressed to us both but I didn't want to open it without you. Where are they these days?"
"Mom said something about wanting to see where olives grow. She didn't believe me when I said they grow on trees. Maybe they finally made it to Greece. After we eat, we'll see what they sent us."
"Whatever is in there weighs a ton. It took me ten minutes to drag it inside."
Alison poured a small glass of juice to have with her burrito while Natalie sashayed off to get dressed before returning to the table to eat.
"I've started a grocery list if there's anything you want me to get at the store. I figured I could get the shopping done after breakfast. What time are we leaving for work tonight?"
"We'll split from here at 2 so there's plenty of time for you to meet everyone working before it gets busy."
"How busy is it going to get?"
"Well, I guess that all depends on how well the Dolphins play tonight. It could get wild"
Natalie offered to drive but suggested they take Alison's car. "That way," she said, "if you really hate it you can drive home and I'll catch a ride."
Alison tossed her the keys and the girls headed out the door. During the drive, she received a whirlwind tour of the city, courtesy of a talkative Natalie. Every corner held a story and every building housed some ass hole she dated or knew from the club.
Natalie made a left into the parking lot of Pure Temptations Gentlemen's Club. She'd had questions about this idea from the beginning so the name of the club reinforced her doubt. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She followed her roommate to the door marked Talent Entrance. She gave a puzzled look, "Talent Entrance?" she asked. "What's with that?"
"I don't know. The staff had some stupid meeting about it. Something about being called employees sounded degrading and staff didn't sound important enough." She went on to explain, "Don't ever call them strippers. They call themselves dancers or entertainers. They think pretty highly of themselves if you ask me, but whatever. I'm here to bank coin just like them, so I go with the flow."
Alison opened her mouth to respond but nothing clever came to mind so she let it go. When her eyes adjusted to the dark interior of the club she gasped in amazement at what she saw.
Inside spoke volumes compared to the dull gray building's lack of curb appeal. A large T-shaped stage jutted out towards the center of the room. Plush sapphire blue velvet chairs lined its perimeter. Located on each end of the T, clear acrylic poles sparkled under colored lights. The air bubbles within the poles refracted the colors in a mesmerizing light show dancing with the beat of the music.
The back wall of the stage was comprised of two massive floor-to-ceiling mirrors separated in the center by a shimmery black drape. Natalie pointed out that beyond the drape is the dressing room as well as the staff bathroom.
"We'll skip that part of the tour for now. The talent doesn't like to be disturbed before curtain call so I steer clear of them and they don't give me shit about their drinks."
"The dancers drink…like drink drink?"
"Of course! The customers want to party so we party. As a waitress, you can pretend so as not to get drunk."
Alison didn't understand. "What do you mean pretend?"
"Well say they're all doing shots of Crown. I'll just pour you a shot of cola. If it's Grey Goose I'm pouring, you'll get plain water. You down your shot with a well-faked grimace on your face and they'll be none the wiser. It's all acting my dear, Ali-Cat."
The brief tour continued as the girls walked through the tables and chairs scattered throughout the main room. When they reached the bar Natalie turned and asked, "So what do you think so far? Pretty nice right?"
Alison wanted to see how the night went before answering her questions, so she replied with her own question, "Where's everyone else?"
"The club doesn't open for another hour so the servers and bouncers will be arriving soon. The D.J.'s in the booth programming the playlist and Mark's probably in the office."
"So what do we do now?"
Natalie grabbed the keys to the coolers. "We prepare the bar by filling the ice bins and replenishing the booze. Then we set the tables with clean linens and ashtrays."
She took in everything her roommate listed off and it sounded easy enough. The girls headed downstairs to the storage room and spotted Mark, the club's manager, on the phone in his office. After hanging up, he rose from his chair and motioned for them to enter.
His crisply pressed amethyst-colored shirt clung to his burly chest, the buttons straining to contain his massive pectorals. Bulging biceps exploded from the ends of his short sleeves, revealing arms that had lifted many pounds. The black dress pants looked as if they'd been painted onto his firm buttocks and well-toned legs. His piercing blue eyes were deep pools that shimmered when he spoke. "Hey, Nat, who's your friend?"
"I'd like you to meet my roommate, Alison. She needs a job."
"As a dancer," he asked?
"Oh, no no no!" Alison spoke up, "Natalie said I'd be waiting tables." Her heart fluttered with the rush of adrenaline released by her panicked mind.
"You've got a great rack, so I assumed you were a dancer." He walked across the room to check her out from behind. "And one sweet ass. Sure you don't want to dance?"
She gasped, appalled by his crude language and lack of couth. She looked at her roommate who noticed the fear in her eyes.
"Don't worry Ali-Cat, Mark here is harmless. He just forgets sometimes how to talk to a lady. Isn't that right, Mark?" she asked.
"Oh of course," he said. "Being a friend of Nat's I figured you were used to such compliments." He took her hand in his as a peace offering. "My sincerest apologies. It just so happens one of the servers called in sick. Looks like you picked the right night to come in looking for work."
She gently pulled her hand from his grasp and took notice of his long slender fingers. Each nail had been meticulously manicured with the precision of a masterful artist. She decided to trust her roommate's judgment of character and give this opportunity a shot. "I accept your apology."
The girls left the office and headed to the ice machine. As they worked, Natalie schooled Alison on the essentials of waiting tables in the club. She gave her a few pointers on how to get good tips. She taught her names of the most popular drinks, some, rather shocking and vulgar sounding.
Thunderous techno music full of bass flooded the club as patrons began to trickle in through the door. Most headed straight for the bar while others made a bee-line to their favorite chair. The ones who chose a table soon found themselves swarmed by vivacious and nearly naked goddesses.
The fastidious customers lined the stage with stacks of singles and fives, grimy from their sweaty hands. As the music pounded the air, two dancers take the stage and begin a tantalizing ballet of lust and graceful strength. Each dancer slowly peeled off layers of silk and lace to reveal every sensual curve of her body.
When the set of songs came to an end, the ladies gathered up their clothing and slipped backstage to redress. A brief introduction from the D.J and the next two dancers take the stage. Meanwhile, the previous two ladies slip out onto the main floor to snag their high tipper for a private dance.
Along one wall of the VIP room sat leather benches big enough for three. Next to each bench stood a small cocktail table topped with a champagne bottle nestled in a bucket of ice. Dancers worked the pole directly in front of each bench for up-close booty-poppin.
The highest-priced seat in VIP turned out to be a bed. Entertainment performed on the bed allows for more physical contact with the dancer. The mirrored ceiling added visual delight to the tactile tango of patron and dancer. Few patrons could afford two dancers at once, but those who could spend the dough experienced nearly X-rated pleasure.
Dancers led customers not looking to spend a fortune to the less exclusive lounge for their personal entertainment. The semi-private area consisted of long, oversized sofas where dancers got cozy. Sheer curtains provided a sense of privacy without blocking the view of the stage.
Most patrons considered the lounge area the best seat in the club. You've got a hot chick, a cozy seat, plus you can still see the stage and the tv screens above the bar. At a cost of $20 per song, it seemed more like a twisted version of musical chairs where everyone gets up when the music stops.
Alison couldn't believe how much money people would spend for just a few hours of fun on a Thursday night. By half-time of the game, she had already made close to $300 in tips. And since the Dolphins were winning, everyone was in a great mood.
Seeing couples come into the club together had been most shocking of all. She had thought only sleazy men frequented places like this. But watching the men get aroused from seeing another woman sucking the hard nipple of his wife's breast made it clear, this place really was a gentlemen's club.
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