Page 109 of The Dancer

We stayed on the phone a few minutes more and neither of us wanted to hang up. I didn’t feel as empty this time after we rung off and went back to work much happier.

I called Tony’s sister later that evening and made a date for her to come over the next day. It had been ages since I’d been around a baby and she had some interest in the school. I was thinking that if she was anything like her brother she just might become my first friend in the city.

That night I could hardly get to sleep alone in the empty apartment after talking to Max on the phone. It was then all the old fears came rushing back, now that I was alone with my thoughts, with nothing and no one to distract me.

I felt nauseous and my body broke out in a cold sweat that had me grabbing the covers closer. It hadn’t bothered me before that he owned the clubs. In fact in the days leading up to his leaving he’d told me a lot about his life.

He hadn’t shared much of the hardships from his childhood, but talked more about the game and what it felt like to live your dream. I noticed that he didn’t dwell too much on the negative, which only highlighted the fact that I do.

I learned all about how he won the clubs in a poker game and somehow it didn’t enter my head that I should worry about the exposure to all those beautiful women he had working for him. Until now.

I kept comparing myself to the women he’d been linked with in the past and coming up short. Then of course I kept imagining him doing to all of them the things he’d done to me and my self esteem level just kept getting lower and lower.

I tried to hang on to the things I’d overheard him say to my brother and that seemed to help, but not much. Funny, that was the very thing that had got me to relax and open myself up to him.

Now I was back to worrying if it was all just a game with him. What if he’d felt this way before only to have the relationship come to an end? I felt strong anxiety as I tossed and turned, my poor mind fighting to hang on to anything that would make these feelings of self doubt dissipate.

Tony had spent the day by my side or close enough that he could see me. It’s said you’re known by the company that you keep, and Tony is a complete gentleman. It’s hard to explain, but somehow I feel I can trust him.

It’s obvious that he loves Max like a brother, but he didn’t try to sell me on his friend, not once. In fact he treats me more like I was already part of their little family. I’d watched him around the

women at the club that day, saw the way they all treated him with genuine respect.

All those things had made me feel less worried, but now I was taking everything out and reevaluating and with no outside noise, it was easy for my mind to go back to the dark.

I almost jumped out of my skin when the phone rang and my eyes flew to the clock. It was just after one in the morning. I answered without first checking the readout.

“Why are you still up?” It was Max and I felt like crying.

“Why are you?” He didn’t say anything for the longest time and then.

“Open the nightstand on my side of the bed baby.” Since I was already on his side, using his pillow, I just reached over and pulled open the drawer. “Take out the iPad.”

I did as he asked and followed his instructions on how to logon with his password. “Now hang up the phone.” I did and two seconds later he Face-timed me on the iPad. “Now sleep.”

“I can’t sleep with you watching me.”

“You did last night.” My cheeks grew warm at the thought of him watching me while I slept.

I fixed the device on the other pillow and settled down thinking it was going to be a while before I fell asleep, but the last thing I remember is him telling me to close my eyes.

Chapter 29

I sat up watching her until fatigue won out. I’d talked myself out of watching her through the security cameras all evening after we got off the phone. She had no idea that I could watch her to my heart’s content at home and at the club.

It wasn’t because I had any qualms about watching over her without her knowing it, fuck that, these days you can’t take any chances. But I knew if I saw her I’d be miserable as fuck. It was hard enough just hearing her voice