“Teague can’t find out.” Even to his own ears, his resignation was overshadowed with desire.
“It’s none of his business.” Taylor smiled, the triumphant grin only making him want to take her to bed right now and replace it with one of sexual satisfaction. He leaned in to get the party restarted, but stopped when he heard Teague turning the TV on to a cable news station. They weren’t alone. He took two good steps back from her sexy body and all its temptations.
“I’ve got to get to work. Maybe we can meet later and I can show you some of the reasons to stay in Elliott,” he said.
“Oh my God. You’re still drunk. Go drink some coffee, lightweight.”
He laughed, dodging the punch she aimed at his arm. “I’m going to make a couple calls about the missing persons case before I head out to the farm.”
She leaned in close, her expression saying she had a plan and she’d bet the farm he wasn’t going to like it.
“I could go to the Jolly Gent, work there, and see if the girls will talk to me.”
“Oh, fuck no.” Lucky leaned in, trying to use his bulk to intimidate her and she just laughed in his face. “This is a closed subject. There are so many things wrong with that idea I can’t even count that high. Teague would kill me, and then I would kill me for being such an asshole.”
“I don’t need permission. I can go on my own and ask my own questions.”
“Don’t do this to me.” He wasn’t above begging. He couldn’t imagine how ticked Teague would be if he ever got wind that his sister was dancing at the Jolly Gent.
“I already have a job there. Bodean Taggert practically fell over himself to hire me.”
“It’s perfect. Give me a couple of days and I bet I can get the girls to spill. And you’ll be in the audience just in case anything weird happens.” Taylor beamed up at him, the pride in her plan shining in her eyes. “If you don’t come along, I’ll just be there on my own, and God only knows what might happen.”
He ground his teeth together in an effort not to say all the things resting on the tip of his tongue.
Taylor was going to the Jolly Gent, and apparently he was going with her.
“Hey girl, your fan club is right up front waiting for you to go on.”
Taylor paused in her application of the heavy eye makeup necessary to show up behind the Mardi Gras mask and smiled at the fellow dancer. Stacey was friendly and open, just like all the dancers at the Gent. They’d taken her under their wing, and she felt bad for lying to them about who she was.
She laughed, returning her gaze to the mirror. “Great. I hope they brought lots of cash tonight.”
“Honey, it’s payday. They’ve got money to burn and not a lick of sense in the whole group. I predict lots of tips tonight!” Stacey laughed, her alto voice as beautiful as the rest of her. Her stage name, Ebony, fit perfectly with the glossy black of her hair. She was young, a single mother, and trying to save up for community college.
“Sounds good to me.” Taylor placed the mask on her face, making sure the elastic didn’t flatten her hairstyle. Preening in the mirror, she asked, “I look all right?”
“Honey, you look great.” Stacey reached over and adjusted the back of her G-string bottom, looking her up and down with a practiced eye.
The door behind them opened, and a man, tall and broadly built with a bald head, stepped into the room. He looked around, scanning the crowd with a blank expression that didn’t quite mask the curiosity in his eyes. He was looking for someone, or something, and the severe set of his mouth told her he wasn’t happy that he didn’t find it.
“Can I hel—” Taylor was cut off by the tightening of Stacey’s fingers on her arm and when she glanced down, the slight shake of her head.
“Any of you girls seen Sarah Morgan lately?” The stranger may have phrased the question openly, but he was looking at Taylor. A prickle of unease coasted across her skin. She had a feeling this was a guy she didn’t want remembering who she was.
“No. We told you already.” Stacey’s expression echoed the challenge in her voice. “She’s gone. You know anything about that?”