front of the bar she took subtle glances at the other young clubbers along with small sips of
strawberry daiquiri. The alcohol did nothing to drown the fluttering of butterflies in her stomach.
Chills prickled her skin despite the temperature of the club being only slightly cooler than the hot
summer’s evening outside its doors.
For the hundredth time she asked herself if she intended to actually go through with what
she’d planned. And the answer, like all the other times before, continued to be yes. She had no
choice. This was her last shot at real freedom.
Pertinent points of fact—the red and white striped bustier and red vinyl miniskirt she wore
served one purpose and one purpose only. The outfit clung to her body, accentuating her ample
breasts, small waist, and voluptuous bubble butt. The white fishnet stockings and five-inch red
stilettos weren’t happenstance either. Neither was the fire engine red nail polish, the faux ruby
jewelry, the dainty red purse, the perfectly applied makeup, the cloying perfume, the elegant
upstyle hairdo, or the absence of any underwear.
“I am beautiful and desirable,” she whispered underneath her breath. “My light mocha skin
is smooth and without blemish. My curly ebony hair shimmers with vibrancy. My sparkling gray
eyes exemplify electricity in motion. He will not be able to resist what I have to offer. He will
smile at me and invite me to sit down.”
To lend actual credence to her words, she reminded herself that she’d already rebuffed
several cute guys in the fifteen minutes she’d been here. Even so, it worried her that Evan Lars
hadn’t taken notice of her. He should have acknowledged her presence already.
Once again her gaze turned toward the back corner of the club where he shared a table with
one of his many attractive female acquaintances. It didn’t faze her that he wasn’t alone, because
he was a very good-looking man in his sexual prime and she didn’t live in a fairy tale.
The inevitable declared she must walk over and introduce herself.
Still, she delayed, staring at him through the dancing bodies. She believed she could see him
for what he was and also for what he was not. The hopelessly romantic part of her personality
wanted to swoon at his handsome angular face, close-cropped wavy blond hair, dark blue eyes,
and six feet of lean, muscular body. But she couldn’t afford to swoon. Not with him. He would
never return her affections.
Judging the timing correct, she left her half-finished strawberry daiquiri on the bar and
sauntered through the dancing bodies to stop at his table. She extended her hand. “Excuse me,
Mr. Lars. My name is Kara Gibson. I was told that you can help me find employment.”
He ignored the hand, giving her a critical look from head to toe. When he finally spoke his
strong, masculine voice dripped with sarcasm. “You’ve been misinformed, little girl. I don’t own
a strip club.”
The gorgeous blonde sitting across the small table quickly hid her lips behind her
champagne glass, but the smile still reached her eyes.
Kara presented him a confident smile. “I’m twenty-two years old, so that disqualifies me
from being a little girl, Mr. Lars. And although I do freely admit to enjoying the attention of
men, I’m not an aspiring stripper.”
“Why don’t you go freshen your makeup, Stephanie?” he addressed the blonde. “This won’t
take but a minute, then you can come back. I really do want to hear more about your fashion
shoot in California.”
Kara waited until the model left before she seated herself. She stared into the thunderstorm
raging inside Mr. Lars’s eyes. “If you’ll only give me an interview you won’t regret it. I really do
need the work.”
“And what kind of work are you looking for?”
She smiled again to disguise her uneasiness. “Well, I’m open to almost anything as long it
allows me to work intimately with you. I’ve heard you’re an amazing performer.”
“Is that a fact?”
“That’s what I keep hearing.”
“Do you even know what will be required of you? Or did you just hear the rumors
circulating around this nightclub and think, ‘Oh wow! That sounds so glamorous!’ Well, let me
tell you something, it isn’t very glamorous at all. It’s a lot of damned hard work. “ He stared her
down in yet another appraisal. “However, I’ll let you state your references since you seem so
eager. You have thirty seconds to make me want to work with you.”
“I-I-I have no references.” Kara’s mind spun. She hadn’t expected this. She’d taken the time
to dress the part and introduce herself, so he was supposed to want to work with her.
An uncomfortable silence descended. For whatever reason, Mr. Lars showed mercy. “How
did you hear about me?”
She breathed a secret sigh of relief. She could answer this. “A woman in my apartment
building claims to have worked with you before. Her name is Jennifer Spawson. She offered to
introduce me to you next week but I didn’t want to wait.”
Mr. Lars frowned at his shot of whiskey before killing it in a single gulp. “I appreciate your
interest in working with me, Ms. Gibson, but please go away. I’m on a date and you’re
Kara could hardly believe the interview was over. She stared in shock and dismay, her
mouth falling opening with no words coming out.