And her top. Not even a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader showed more cleavage.
But as Sadie said, no one would bother looking at her face. Not when so much else of her was on display.
She wobbled her way toward a waiting taxi and got in. As he pulled away, she supplied the address that Sadie had provided her. He didn’t even blink an eye, and who could blame him with the way she was dressed? It amused her to think he might have assumed she was at the hotel for “business” purposes.
Nervousness tickled her stomach as they maneuvered through traffic. By the time the cab pulled up to the back entrance of the club, sweat beaded her forehead.
She sat for a moment staring out her window until the driver cleared his throat.
“Sorry,” she muttered. She shoved the appropriate money over the seat and then got out. “Well, here we go,” she said, as she tentatively walked to the door.
The hallway just inside the door was cloaked in darkness. A good thing. Even though Sadie had assured her that no one would notice the slight differences in the girls, this charade still made Isabella extremely nervous.
She was wearing so much makeup, that even her overbearing security team hadn’t been able to tell it was her.
When she got to the door simply marked “girls,” she eased inside. There was a flurry of activity, and no one paid her any mind. Another girl bumped into her as she walked past, and Isabella shied away, afraid of getting too close.
“Hey, Sadie,” another girl called. “We weren’t sure you were coming. You’re up after Angel, so you better hurry and get ready.”
Isabella’s stomach dropped, and she swallowed back her panic. She could do this. No one knew it was her. While she wasn’t the expert that Sadie was, she could still move well, and Sadie had spent the afternoon teaching her the necessary act.
She smiled and nodded in the girl’s direction and took a spot at Sadie’s dressing station to check her makeup and to make sure her wig was securely in place.
When she caught her reflection in the mirror, all that she could think was how sad her eyes looked. No matter how made-up her face was, how perfect the hair, the eyes told the story. And the story was that she’d lost the one man she’d hoped to spend the rest of her life with.
More to have something to do than any real need to repair her makeup, she slowly applied more lipstick, watching as her lips glistened blood red. Mechanically she brushed the mascara wand over her eyelashes, elongating her already dark lashes.
But still, her green eyes stared lifelessly back at her.
“Sadie, you’re up in five,” a male voice barked from the door. “Get a move on.”
Isabella pushed herself jerkily from her chair and spared one last glance in the mirror. She looked scared to death.
Sucking in a deep, steadying breath, she adjusted her clothing, plumped up her breasts and headed for the door.
Theron stared out the window of Chrysander’s penthouse, his mostly forgotten drink still in hand. Dusk was falling, and the lights of the city were coming alive, popping on the horizon.
He still wasn’t sure his decision had been the correct one. He’d questioned himself repeatedly through the day, and yet, he could find no fault with the path he’d taken.
But now he had no idea what to do about Isabella.
He turned in irritation when his BlackBerry rang. It was sitting on the coffee table several feet away where he’d tossed it earlier. With a resigned sigh he walked over to pick it up.
Seeing Reynolds’s name on the LCD immediately put him on edge. He hit the answer button and put the phone to his ear.
“Anetakis,” he said shortly.
“Mr. Anetakis, this is Reynolds. We have a situation, sir.”
Theron put his drink down with a thud. “What situation?” he demanded.
“Earlier this evening, Ms. Caplan gave us the slip. Again.”
“What? And you allowed her to do this again?”
“I’m afraid it’s worse, sir. I’ll be happy to fill you in on the details later, but at the moment we’re on our way to La Belle Femmes.” He paused for a moment. “Are you familiar with it, sir?”
Theron’s brow furrowed in concentration as he absorbed the information. “Isn’t that a gentlemen’s club? And why the hell are you going there?”
“Because that’s where Ms. Caplan went,” Reynolds said calmly. “I assumed you’d want to know.”
“Damn right I want to know!” Theron exploded. “I’m on my way now, and don’t think I won’t want to know exactly how this went down.”
He hurried toward the door, his finger on the button to call for his driver. By the time he made it to the lobby, the car was waiting in front of the building.
What in God’s name was Isabella doing in a gentleman’s club? What was she thinking? Was Marcus somehow responsible for this? Theron was going to kill him.
When his driver screeched up to the club entrance, Theron got out and saw Reynolds along with his two men hurrying toward him.
“Is she here?” Theron demanded.
“We just arrived,” Reynolds explained. “We were about to go in to see.”
Theron strode ahead of them to the door and was stopped by a large man wearing dark glasses.
“Your name, sir?” the man politely inquired.
“Theron Anetakis,” he said impatiently. “Someone I know is in there. Someone who shouldn’t be here.”
“Unless you have a membership, I can’t allow you inside.”
Theron seethed with impatience and then he turned to Reynolds. “Take care of this. Pay the man whatever is necessary for membership and then rejoin me inside. I’m going in after Isabella.”
“But sir, membership is not instant….”
Theron heard no more as he pushed by the man and went inside. He trusted that Reynolds and the others would be able to overcome whatever objections the club’s security guard had to his presence.
The club was different than Theron was expecting. From the moment a gentlemen’s club was mentioned, it conjured images of a seedy, back-alley environment where prostitution and drug use ran rampant. Here, though, it seemed the establishment catered to an upscale clientele.
The interior was clean, lavish even, reminding Theron of many high-roller areas of casinos. The waitresses, through scantily clad, weren’t cheap-looking-tart material. The patrons were well-dressed, smoking expensive imported cigars and sipping only the finest brandy.
It was a place Isabella shouldn’t even know existed.
Theron weaved around the tables, sharp-eyed, his brow creased in concentration as he took in every single woman. Toward the front of the room, more men were assembled in front of a curtained platform. Evidently a show was imminent.
He dismissed the men when he saw no women among them. Where the hell was Isabella and had Reynolds gotten his information correct?
He glanced toward the entrance and saw Reynolds and the two other security men rush in. Theron gestured curtly at them, and Reynolds wove his way through the tables to where Theron stood.
“Why do you think Isabella is here?” he demanded.
“I have it on good authority she is,” Reynolds said grimly. “You’re looking in the wrong—”
He was cut off when music began blaring behind Theron. He winced and turned around only to see the curtain rise and stage smoke slither sensuously up the long legs of a woman.
She wore thigh-high boots that only accentuated her slim legs and drew attention to her shapely behind. She began rocking in rhythm to the music, her hips swaying as her arms fell gracefully to her sides.
As the smoke cleared, she raised her arms and gripped the pole in front of her. But Theron’s gaze was drawn to the tattoo in the small of her back.
He knew that tattoo. Knew it damn well. He should; he’d spent plenty of time fantasizing about it.
And then she turned, whirling around in a mass of blond hair—fake blond hair. He saw her eyes before she saw him. He saw the fear in
her gaze, the wild panic as she surveyed the room full of men all eyeing her like a tasty treat.
Theron’s blood boiled.
She looked up and locked gazes with him, her fear turning to utter shock as recognition flickered in her eyes.
I sabella blanched when she saw Theron who was clearly furious standing beyond the group of men all crowding the stage. He vibrated with rage, and his eyes flashed as he stared her down.
She had the sudden urge to cross her arms over her breasts and run for cover.
Before she could seriously contemplate doing just that, Theron stalked forward, closing in on the stage like a predator on the hunt.
He didn’t stop at the edge, didn’t call out to her to come down. He jumped onto the platform, and in one swift motion hauled her into his arms and threw her over his shoulder.
She gave a startled cry just as the music stopped and the place erupted in chaos. She raised her head to see Reynolds, Maxwell and Davison fend off the security guards trying to come to her aid.
Customers rose from their seats and viewed Theron with gaping mouths, but were too civilized to embroil themselves in the situation. It would probably ruin their thousand-dollar suits anyway.
The floor spun crazily as Theron leaped down. The force drove the breath from her, and she wiggled trying to get him to ease his grip.
He merely tightened his arm over the back of her legs as he strode for the exit. Then she heard him snarl, “Back off, she’s mine.”
And surprisingly, he walked through the door and into the night.
Still stunned, Isabella made no effort to free herself from his grasp, not that it would have done any good. His arm was like a steel band around her body, and he walked effortlessly, bearing her weight as if it were nothing.
He stopped at his car, and leaned down to thrust her through the opening into the interior. Immediately, he climbed in beside her and slammed the door.
“Imperial Park,” he said curtly.
Laying at an odd angle on the seat, she attempted to straighten herself, but her legs bumped into him, and she pulled them hastily away which only made her position more precarious.
Damn the boots. She felt gawky and ungainly. A glance down made her gasp in dismay when she saw that her cleavage was precariously close to spilling from the suggestive top. She folded her arms over her chest and scooted back until her back hit the other door.
She opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her with a glare.
“Not a word, Bella. Not one damn word,” he said menacingly. Anger vibrated off him in waves. “I’ll have a full explanation when we return to the hotel. Until then I don’t want you to say anything.”
She swallowed then gulped as she stared wordlessly at him. Never had she seen him so…angry! He was usually so unbothered. Cool and collected. He was the epitome of order and calm.
The Theron she knew would never haul someone out of a public place nor would he snarl at a security guard twice his size.
She looked away, wrapping her arms a little tighter around herself.
“Here,” he said gruffly as he shrugged out of his suit coat.
He held it out with one hand and pulled her forward as he settled it around her shoulders. She tugged at the lapels to bring it tighter around her, grateful that it at least covered her.
Several long minutes later, they pulled up to the hotel. Theron gave her a look that suggested she stay put, and she complied. He got out and walked around to her side and opened the door.