Red’s had a cool vibe with powerful speakers, two open stages where the men could get close to the dancers, and cozy sofas along the walls. The waitresses dressed nicely in white blouses glowing beneath black light. Kodiak enjoyed intimidating any man getting too close to a dancer. No touching. And the dancers were beautiful, of course. The ladies seemed to like the manager, Dylan, chatting with him often, and why not? Dylan had the cool biker look including the big grin, and he smiled broadest while telling one of his stories about cruising the open highway. What I enjoyed most about Red’s was how I could forget about the world and let the music penetrate me.
Music was my second addiction.
Standing on the main stage, I played my guitar like my life depended on it. The speakers blasted my sound, and I soaked up the rumble. The beat pounding, music rushed through my core and held me tight.
I made love to the rhythm.
On the other end of the stage, Dylan jammed away on his guitar. A quick study, he picked up my tune before I reached the chorus. When I started crying my song into the mic, more than a few men had forgotten about the pretty nude woman dancing on the other stage. I watched the men watch me, and I poured out my soul for them.
In a dress too small, a dancer climbed onto the stage and grooved with me. Lavender scents tickled my nose. Leaning in close, Miss Lavender sang the second chorus with me. She screamed trying to match my volume. Men were on their feet, several singing along. At the end, Miss Lavender wrapped her arms around and kissed me on the cheek.
I strained to resist a nibble, and relief washed over when Dylan pulled the stripper away.
Classic rock filled the club, and I bounced to the beat.
As we put our guitars back in their cases, Dylan told me he had never seen so much energy. The club had grown twice as crowded since we had started, and the dancers were taking advantage inviting men—couples too—over to the sofas for personal performances. Kodiak made the rounds knocking errant hands away.
Miss Lavender offered me a lap dance, and I declined with a smile. I patted her on the bottom, though. Kodiak scowled at me. Miss Lavender laughed and told Kodiak that she considered me one of them. Dancers were allowed to touch each other, apparently, and Miss Lavender teasingly squeezed my boob. Kodiak rolled his eyes and returned to scanning the room.
“You should,” said Miss Lavender. She batted her lashes. “Dance with us I mean.”
“You’re a sweetie, but I prefer to keep my clothes on.”
She flicked her blonde ringlets and giggled.
Realizing this tempting snack had it in for me, I slipped away and into a circle of beaming men.
A gunshot exploded. My attention shot to full, the din sucked into silence. Patrons flowed like a sea in slow motion. Above the froth, a tray with two mugs of beer leaned over spilling a gusher of beads. Gazing out the open door, I spotted two men running. My mind returned to the club, the beer gusher flying into golden sparkles, tray tumbling to the floor, and sound hitting me with the full force of the gunshot report.
Outside, tires screeched and a car sped off. It was the second gang shooting on the street in a week.
Near where the tray had fallen, a waitress clutched her hand. Blood dripped from her fingers splashing onto the table and shards of broken glass.
I floated over. Another waitress pulled the bleeder into the crowd, and I nearly followed. Holding back temptation, I stood and stared, transfixed by the red droplets on the table.
My head felt heavy. Before I realized it, I was bent over and gripping the edge of the table. I lapped blood up like a kitten to milk. Dylan tugged me back, and I pulled the table.
Miss Lavender trembled, fear overpowering her perfume. She shrank back behind Dylan.
I saw on Dylan’s face that concerned look reserved for an addict in the first degree.
“You’d best go now,” said Dylan.
His voice echoed in my thoughts twice more as I pushed my way out the door. Guitar under arm, I practically squeezed the case apart. I ran the two blocks back to the restaurant.
As I climbed the stairs, I smelled alcohol, food, and a woman. I followed the trail to the third floor of the former hotel and down the hall to the only furnished room on this level. There on the bed, a young woman slept. Wearing only a bra and panties, this uninvited guest clutched a rolled-up blanket.
I felt like a demon gazing down at my sacrificial offering.
Opened fast food containers huddled beneath the lamp on the bed table. Clothes sat in the pile on the floor, and more than enough for one day. Mary Janes and sneakers rested together at the foot of the bed.
I crept over to the bed and knelt on the floor. Pushing her golden hair away revealed a face I didn’t recognize. Whispering into her ear, I asked for her name.
A murmur, so soft I wasn’t certain if I heard her answer or read her lips. “Laura.”
Her beating heart—her music—beckoned me.
Desire became need, and I scooped the young woman into my arms. To avoid a mess, I carried her into the bathroom and set her down in the tub. Laura cooed and waved about in her half-sleep.
I lifted her leg and bit into her thigh. Blood squirted out. She screamed, a wet cry, and her legs squirmed against my grasp.
Cold streamed out, and warmth flooded inside me. As my venom penetrated her, Laura settled down taking rasping gulps of air. I drank her in, and my body quivered in delight➥.
Meeting the rhythm of her heart, I made her mine.