Page 45 of The Dancer

but there was nothing stopping me from throwing a few at this smug bastard’s ass.

“What the hell did you say to that kid? He looked like he was shitting bricks when you walked away.”

“Good, he needs to keep his fucking hands to himself.”

“Yeah, but uh, I think you just showed your hand. I thought you didn’t want anyone knowing about your interest in her?”

“Who the fuck said that?”

“Excuse me for living bro.” He held up his hands and grinned.

“Oh shit!”

“What is it?” His eyes had gone back to the screen while I went to the fridge for water for both of us.

“Uh, nothing I don’t think. I’ve just never seen it here before is all.”

What the hell was he talking about now? I went to look for myself. Miss. Thing was wearing black slacks instead of the usual short skirt.

“She’s too fucking much isn’t she? What you wanna bet she didn’t ask anyone if she could change the damn uniform. They better not say shit

to her after last night.”

“Didn’t you make some chick cry a few months ago for wearing a pin or some shit on her lapel because it wasn’t part of the uniform?”

“Your point?”

“It’s blatant favoritism is all.” I know he was just trying to get a rise out of me, but I also knew that that’s exactly what everyone else was going to think as well. Like I give a fuck.

“My place my rules.” That made me sound like an ass, but I didn’t care. I was already upset because I knew some asshole was going to make an issue out of it.

I just didn’t expect the person who showed up to be the one. Or maybe I should’ve. Two minutes after she hit the floor Arlene was at my door.

“Was there something I could help you with?”

“I need to speak with you.”

“I’ll see you in the manager’s office in a few.”

It was obvious that she wasn’t pleased with the fact that I still wouldn’t let her in my private office even though I’d had Anna in here.

She walked away in a huff and Tony and I exchanged a look before he left and went to take up his post at the bar, leaving me alone.

I took my time going to meet her in the office because I already knew what this was about. As expected, as soon as I walked in the door, she launched into an attack on Anna for being out of uniform as she put it.

“I fail to see how this has anything to do with you. You have nothing to do with the restaurant, I hired you to take care of the dancers remember.”

“That maybe, but once we start letting one person break the rules it’s only a matter of time before…”

“We, aren’t letting anyone do anything. I allowed her to wear slacks because some asshole walked in off the street and put his hands on her. I’d think as a female you’d understand.”

I watched her to see if she’d react and had I not been expecting it I would’ve missed the way she swallowed nervously and tugged at the fingers of one hand with the other. So unlike her usual self assuredness.

“Now if that’s all you had to say to me.” I turned and left before I did something I’d regret. I was more convinced now that she’d set her up, but without proof in my hand there was nothing I could do for now.

I signaled Tony to follow me and closed the door behind us when he walked in. “Have you heard back from anyone yet?”

“Yeah, I was waiting for you, they just got in touch a few minutes ago.”

“What did they find?”

“You’re not going to like it Max, but I need you to keep a cool head you hear me.”

He moved to my computer and pulled up something in my inbox. I read in silence for a few minutes while he stood over me like a damn sentinel.

“That unconscionable bitch.” He pushed me back down in my chair when I started to get up.

“Sit your ass down. What are you going to do? Put hands on her?”

“For starters, yeah. I’d like to break her fucking neck but I have more sense than that. I want her

out of my place right fucking now.” I didn’t expect to become this pissed off. Not to the point where I actually saw red.

“And what reason are you going to give for that? Until we know more now is not the time to act. If she’d stoop this low who knows what the fuck else she has up her sleeve?” He kept a restraining hand on my chest, keeping me seated in the chair.

“If you tip your hand now what happens when you’re not here? Or heaven forbid she finds out where your girl lives and go after her there? Use your head brother, we’re here, we’ll protect her.”