Authors: Nikki Snow
I supposed to pay rent while you’re in Europe for six months?” I said, staring at my best friend Addison as she packed her bags.
“Kira, just take the job interview. I set it up so that they’re expecting you,” she said, zipping her suitcase. She brushed a strand of long blonde hair out of her face and looked at me, puckering her lips. “I promise this job will pay your bills and then some.”
“I don’t know, Addison. This club sounds a little off to me. You didn’t even send them my resume, and they are letting me interview?”
“I sent them your picture,” she said, fluffing up my wavy brown hair. “That’s what counts at a place like Club Scarlet. You’ll be perfect.”
“A job that cares more about my looks than my experience? Am I going to have to get naked or anything?”
“You’ll be serving high class customers. It’s an extremely exclusive gentlemen’s club. I did tell them about your cocktail waitressing experience.”
I flopped down on the bed next to her suitcase and sighed. “Fine. I’ll go to the interview. I just wish you didn’t have to leave.”
“This is the chance of a lifetime, Kira. Six months in Paris studying art at the Sorbonne. How can I turn that down? Aren’t you happy for me?”
“Of course I am. But I’m going to be in New York all alone now. I’ve been too busy to make new friends since I transferred. You’re my oldest friend. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”
“You were just fine without me back at Ohio State. You’ll be fine without me now.”
“But I knew everyone at Ohio State,” I said.
Addison patted my head and pursed her lips. “Please, Kira, just take the job.”
Addison left the next morning on a transcontinental flight to France. After dropping her off, I drove home in my rickety old pickup and parked in front of my apartment building in Brooklyn. My tuition for NYU was coming due soon and so was the rent. I looked up at the brownstone building and grimaced. What had I gotten myself into? I should have stayed in Ohio.
I ran up the front steps of my building and strode to my third floor apartment with my keys jangling in my hand. When I got inside, I flopped down on the couch and stared at the blank screen of our tiny TV. The sense of solitude washed over me, making tears well up in my eyes. I crossed my arms tightly over my chest and sucked down a sob.
Instead of letting myself wallow in loneliness, I stood up and went to my bedroom to find something to wear to the interview tonight. I knew it was crazy to go to an interview for a job at this “exclusive gentlemen’s club.” I might have been from Ohio, but I knew what that meant.
Inside my room, I noticed a garment bag hanging on the door of my closet with a note attached. Raising my eyebrows, I crossed the room and lifted the hanger off the door. I unzipped the bag and uncovered the outfit inside. After I pulled it out, I threw it on the bed and stared at it.
The “dress” looked like several pieces of hot pink dental floss wrapped together. I drew my eyebrows into a scowl and lifted the attached note from the bed.
“Wear this to the interview. Trust me. ~Addison.”
Even on her way to Paris, Addison was getting me into trouble. How did she even get this interview in the first place? It wasn’t as if art students from Ohio were privy to information about private gentlemen’s clubs. Where they?
I picked up the dress and held it to my body. The skirt barely covered my girly parts, and I was sure that the cut out in the front would leave little to the imagination as far as my breasts were concerned. I usually wore clothes that downplayed my figure. As a film major, I was more interested in being behind the scenes, not in front of the camera.
I never considered myself good looking, although some people told me I was. But I had nondescript dark brown hair, almond shaped hazel eyes, and lips that I thought were too full for my round face. Someone once told me I looked like Mila Kunis, but I didn’t believe them.
Throwing the dress back on the bed, I turned to my closet and rifled through my clothes. I pulled a pants suit out and looked it over. It was plain and conservative gray. I scrunched up my face and bit my lip. I’d feel much more comfortable in something like this, but if Addison thought I should wear pink dental floss, this suit wouldn’t cut it.
I growled and threw the suit down next to the dress and flopped on the bed. I’d been working at a bar downtown and the tips were good, but it would never be enough to cover my expenses without Addison. Even if I wanted to go back to Ohio, there was nothing to go back to. I had to make this work.
ater that evening
, I put the stupid pink dress on, did my makeup, and slipped on my only pair of heels. The black leather was fading and I had to color it in on the toe with a sharpie. After arranging my boobs in the dress for the fortieth time, I pulled on my coat beige trench coat and went out to my pickup.
When I reached the car, I noticed I had a parking ticket on the window.
I so couldn’t afford a ticket right now. Squeezing my eyes closed, I tried to keep the tears inside so that they wouldn’t ruin the excessive eye makeup I’d slathered on to match the stupid dress I was wearing.
I hopped in the truck and turned the key in the ignition. The engine made a strangled sound as it refused to start. I pumped the gas and turned the key again, praying that tonight wouldn’t be the night my truck finally died. After another strangled screech, and the engine finally turned over. A heaved a sigh of relief and pulled out onto the street.
The New York City traffic was unforgiving, especially to a limping along pick-up from 1985. I had to make it all the way to Manhattan and had less than a quarter tank of gas. My truck had the tendency to say it had more gas than it did, and I knew that the needle should have been saying it was closer to empty.
I gripped the steering wheel as I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. I felt so out of place on the road as BMWs and Range Rovers passed me. My truck sputtered along, blowing black fumes out the tailpipe. I cringed, knowing I needed to have my car smog tested soon. I doubted it would pass.
When I finally made it into downtown Manhattan, I searched for the club’s address. My cheap ass cellphone didn’t have a GPS, and I had to follow the instructions from a slip of paper Addison had written the address on. Her handwriting was horrendous for someone getting an art degree.
Not sure if I was in the right place, I found an old fashion building from the turn of the last century. It had Art Nouveau architecture that screamed old New York. I circled around the building looking for a parking place, pulled in next to a Lexus, and parked my old beater. Hopping out, I slammed the door and walked to the sidewalk.
Just as I stepped up the curb, I lost my footing on my thrift store heels and went tumbling forward. My hair came undone from the bun on top of my head and fell in my eyes. A split second from falling on my face on the concrete, strong arms wrapped around my body, holding me steady.
I sucked a deep breath through tight lips and staggered to right myself. I never wore heels. I’d only walked on these once before. My face burned hot as arms gripped my shoulders. I could feel eyes peering at me as I brushed my hair out of my face.
“Are you all right?” asked a husky male voice.
I finally got my hair untangled from my eyes and looked up at my savior. My breath caught in my throat as I gazed at the most brilliantly gorgeous man I’d ever seen. He had black hair and bright blue eyes. His sleek tailored gray suit fit him like a glove. I glanced at the ground as he watched me, and I bit my lip.
My body responded instantly to his touch. My face flushed hot, and I giggled nervously. Confusion and embarrassment flooded me as I gushed moisture into my panties and my nipples hardened against my bra.
“I’m fine,” I stammered. I’d never been this close to a man who was so absurdly good looking with such a magnetic presence.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” he asked, not letting go of my shoulders.
I looked back up at him, pulling away to stand on my own two feet. “I have a job interview. Thank you for rescuing me.” I realized my hairdo had been ruined, and I began fussing with it as he continued to watch me.
“Leave it down. It looks better down,” he said, pulling the last bobby pin from the back of my hair. It tumbled around my shoulders, and he took the locks in his hands, fluffing them before he stood back and inspected me. “Beautiful.”
“Um, thank you. Thank you again for saving me, but I really… I have to go.” I took a deep breath and began to walk away. My heels clicked down the sidewalk as I strode toward the entrance of the club’s building.
he entrance hall
of the building was filled with beautiful stained glass and decadent furnishings that matched the Art Nouveau architecture. I walked over the mosaic tile floor and found a pair of massive oak doors. Timidly, I knocked, praying I’d found the right place. A moment later, the doors opened and a man in his early fifties dressed in a casual tuxedo looked at me expectantly.
“Is this Club Scarlet?” I asked, glancing behind him into the massive room beyond the doors. It was decked out in red velvet drapes, black silk tablecloths, and a huge fountain at the center of the room under a domed atrium. This had to be the place.
“Why do you ask?” he said, eyeing me suspiciously.
“I have an interview. My name is Kira Glass.” The tone of my voice rose at the end of the sentence as if I’d asked a question. I bit my lip, hoping he’d let me in. All along, I’d resented Addison for sending me on this interview. But as I stood there, I dreaded going back to the truck and trudging home across the Brooklyn Bridge to eat cup’o noodles alone in my overpriced shithole apartment.
“Yes, Kira Glass. Clive is expecting you. Come this way.” I let out a long breath of relief as he led me through the room. There were booths tucked away in corners, and I could see men smoking cigars and sitting with scantily clad women behind the half closed curtains.
Trance music pulsed through the room and into my bones as I followed the waiter to the back of the hall. He knocked on a door and a voice answered from the other side. “Come in,” the voice said. The waiter opened the door and ushered me inside.
I stood in front of a giant, carved mahogany desk. The man sitting behind it was in his late thirties and had a thin mustache over his full lips. His black hair was slicked back, and he wore a pinstriped shirt and suspenders. I began to feel as if I’d stepped back in time to when the building was new.
“Have a seat,” Clive said.
I slid into the wooden chair in front of his desk and gripped my overly short skirt nervously.
“So, have you ever done anything like this before?” he asked. His eyes ran over me, leaving a hot trail across my bare legs.
“I work at a bar in Brooklyn as a cocktail waitress. The tips are good, but my friend Addison told me I could do better here,” I blurted out.
“Perhaps. Stand up and take off that jacket.”
I blinked. Gulping, I stood and unbuttoned my coat. I let it fall down my shoulders and onto the chair behind me. Air blew over my exposed skin through all the slits in the dress. I felt like a fool. How did I ever think I could pull this off? He inspected me, shook his head with approval, and twirled his finger for me to turn around. Before I could protest, I just turned. When I slowly spun back around to look at him, he nodded again and told me to sit.
“You’ve got a good look. Where are you from again? I don’t have your resume.”
“Yes. Sorry about that. My friend Addison told me she had everything worked out with you. I’m from Ohio, like Addison. I’m studying film at NYU. And, like I said, I’ve been waitressing for a while now. I think I’m pretty good at it. I could give you the number of my manager if you need a reference,” I babbled on. I felt like an idiot. I always did this when I was nervous.
He waved at me to stop talking, and I clamped my lips shut. “That won’t be necessary. I’m just not sure you have the right qualifications. You see, our clients have very specific needs when it comes to service. You would have to attend to them without question.”
Suddenly, all hope seemed lost. It didn’t matter to me what he meant. I just needed the job. Rent was due in a week and I didn’t even have half of it. I gulped and opened my mouth.
“I’m sure I could learn,” I said hopefully.
He looked at me again, his eyes lingering on my breasts. “Perhaps you could. We’ll let you know in a few days. Thank you for your time Kira.”
I stood awkwardly, looking at him like maybe I should say something else. He turned away and began looking through a filing cabinet beside his desk. I let out a breath and walked to the door. The waiter was just outside and began to lead me back to the exit when I realized I really had to use the bathroom. I didn’t want to drive all the way back to Brooklyn having to go.
“Can I use the restroom?” I asked him.
“It’s right down that hall, miss,” he said, pointing.
I walked in the direction he pointed, looking up at the arched ceiling as I went. I walked smack dab into the same man who’d rescued me on the street. I was so embarrassed I could have melted into the floor. His hands held my elbows as a smile curved on his lips.
“We keep running into each other,” he said with laughter in his voice.
“Sorry, I’m a klutz. I hope I didn’t wrinkle your suit,” I said, breathlessly looking into his deep blue eyes.
“I’m not worried about the suit,” he said, staring down at me. His face was awash with desire and fire sparked in his eyes. I sucked a breath into my lungs and my mouth dropped open. I licked my lips and gulped. I almost felt like he was about to kiss me. His face tilted forward, and I came to my senses.
“I was just looking for the lady’s room,” I blurted out, feeling like an idiot. What a stupid thing to say. “Is it this way?”
He pulled back, letting me go. “Yes, just down the hall, second door on the left.”
“Thanks for saving me again,” I muttered as I passed him. What in the world was I doing? I could never hope to land a guy like that. I usually dated narcissistic musicians or mousy film students like myself. I’d never dated an older man who had money and poise and things going for him. Who was I kidding? He could never be attracted to me. He was probably just leaning forward anyway. He wasn’t going to kiss me.
On the way out of the restroom, I heard the mystery man’s voice. I peeked around the corner to see what he was doing. It was a new low––acting like a stalker to a guy whose name I didn’t even know.
“I don’t know if she’s the type Leo,” I heard Clive say.
“We’ve been friends a long time Clive. Do this for me. I see good things for that girl.”
“She’s green Leo and totally innocent. She has no idea what we do here.”
“I’ll take her under my wing. I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Who am I to question the great Leo Cole?” Clive said, laughing. The men gripped each other’s shoulders and Leo strode out of the building as Clive walked back to his office.
Once the coast was clear, I hurried back to my car and gunned it home. The whole way, my mind reeled, thinking of what Leo and Clive were talking about. Was it me? Why did the man named Leo Cole want me to work at Club Scarlet?