Authors: Sara Celi
Tags: #Hollywood Nights
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By Sara Celi
Copyright © 2016 by Sara Celi
Published by Lowe Interactive Media, LLC
Cover Design by Pink Ink Designs
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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For those who encouraged me when I couldn’t encourage myself
e came into Twisted and slid into a seat at the far end of the bar. Barked out an order to the bartender. Asked if he could smoke an e-cigarette. Looked at his phone. Downed a Manhattan in three gulps. Ordered another. Then another. He drank them all like water, as if they had no effect on him.
Only people with thousands of problems did that. I’d seen enough of it in my lifetime; I knew how to spot it in seconds thanks to a childhood spent taking care of an alcoholic father. This guy at the end of the bar had issues.
At first, I tried to ignore him. Twisted had plenty of customers with money to burn and things to forget. My shift could continue as normal. The man at the end of the bar didn’t have to be any different than the usual customer.
But when he slammed down the third glass and demanded a fourth, I couldn’t pull my eyes away from him any longer.
Three tables of full of drunken, lecherous, leering men could wait for their watered down happy hour beers. I’d seem them all before, anyway. Could have exchanged these tables of men for any others on any given weekend. One group came to Twisted to commemorate a divorce. Another to celebrate a wedding. The third came to celebrate Friday. But they all came to Twisted for something else, too. The women.
The naked women.
Waiting on Twisted’s regulars bored me. The guy working on his fourth Manhattan didn’t. And there was more than one reason to think why.
“Honey, get over here,” called a bleary-eyed man at the first table, the one celebrating the divorce. His gut hung over the waistband of his pants, and the way he lounged in the red leather booth made me think his zipper would bust open at any moment. “We need another round. Now.”
His annoyance snapped me out of my daze, and I wandered over to his table. “What can I get you?” No one would have mistaken me for interested.
“Another bottle of Grey Goose. Make it quick.”
I blinked as his hand found my exposed thigh, then traveled up to the hem of my black leather skirt, which left nothing to the imagination. I slapped his fingers away and cursed under my breath. If he tried it again, I’d hit him with the tray I carried in my left hand.
“What’s wrong, babe?” he said. “Just admiring the goods.”
“Admire that.” I nodded at Crystal, who stood center stage, taking off her silver thong.
He shook his head. “I’m not interested in another blonde. I want a brunette. Like you.”
“Well, too bad. I’m not for sale.”
“Now, come on. Everyone has a price.” He looked me up and down. “Been wondering all night what yours is.”
I glared at him, and he grinned at me. He liked my reaction; he thought I wanted to flirt with him by playing hard to get. Probably figured he’d own me by the end of the night.
Twisted was a strip club, after all. A strip club on a winding stretch of Sunset Boulevard, nestled against the nape of the Hollywood Hills. The girls on stage wore skimpy bikinis and stripped down to nothing. On weekend nights, Twisted featured porn stars and required $200 tips at a minimum. Cocktail waitresses like me wore black leather skirts, silver-chain halter tops with no bra, and mandatory red lipstick. We made twenty-five dollars an hour before tips, and most nights my purse overflowed with cash at the end of it all.
Best job I could get in Los Angeles. And believe me, I had tried everything. Waitressing at an all-night diner called Jerry’s. Cleaning houses in the Valley for cash under the table. Working as a front-desk clerk at a hotel in Santa Monica. Even a stint as a drive-thru attendant at In-N-Out Burger. None of it paid enough to survive in LA and attend auditions for my sad-ass acting career. If things didn’t work out at Twisted, I might have stoop lower, and I didn’t want to think about what that might mean.
Maybe I should have stayed in Ohio and gone to college…
“I’ll get your vodka,” I told the bleary-eyed man as I stacked a few of his table’s empty glasses on the tray. “It will be a few minutes.”
I walked away from his group and wove through the crowded mess of tables rimming the center stage. I took the long way to the bar, knowing it would take me right by the man who still sat downing Manhattans. When I got a closer, my heart fell into my stomach.
“Tanner Vance—God, he’s hotter in person,” I said to Edna, Twisted’s best bartender, once I arrived at the other end of the bar. I nodded toward him and kept my voice low so that only she would hear me. “That guy over there. That’s him.”
“Looks like it. Or at least a pretty good double.” Edna didn’t glance in Tanner’s direction, but instead kept filling up fresh glasses of overpriced draft beer from the large bar tap. “Recognized him right away when he ordered the first drink, but I didn’t want to say anything. You know how celebrities are.”
Tanner Vance could hardly go anywhere in LA without being recognized, and Twisted’s low lights didn’t hide his signature thick black hair, the sharp curves of his jaw, or the thick lips every Hollywood starlet wanted to kiss. He’d made a fortune in the last few years off the fact that women wanted him, and men wanted to be him.