To keep me close to her?

Finally, I give into my body’s need. Rolling my shoulders, I let my hands go loose on the steering wheel as I try to subtly flex them. My body is so damn tense my muscles are starting to ache. Ache for something, but I have no clue what.

Is it her? Is it her that would help the ache that consumes me day and night since she came back to Garden City?

Pulling into the parking lot of Lucky Tails, I breathe out a sigh of annoyance. “We’re here.”

Getting out of the car before she can respond, I shut the door roughly and take a deep breath of the cold night air.

It smells like shit here, but at least I don’t have to deal with her scent.

The other side of the car thumps as she slams her door. Walking around the front, she doesn’t even bother waiting for me as she takes off towards the entrance. I would have parked back behind the club, but she wants to come here so I might as well give her the full experience.

The sign above the club is made up of neon lights formed in the shape of a giant tiger. The tiger is lying on its stomach as its tail sways side to side in pink blinking lights. It’s tacky and absolutely what I expect all clubs like this to be like.

Ugly and just waiting for the unwashed masses.

“What in the hell is that?” Meredith points to the sign.

“Matthew’s idea. He believes it will bring in the crowds.”

Turning her sharp gaze to me, she asks, “You brought me to one of my brother’s strip clubs?”

“Of course. We must consider your safety, though we will be picking up a security detail from here. When we head to the other clubs your brother is considering purchasing, that is,” I say as I motion toward the front doors.

“So he’s doing what now? Franchising strip clubs? God.” She shudders as she walks to the front doors and stops, waiting for me to open them up for her.

I’d rather take a bath in pure alcohol. It’d be safer than touching that handle. Who knows where people’s hands have been before pulling open the door.

Knowing my luck, groping their disgusting body parts.

Staring at her intently, I say, “It’s getting cold. Are we going in or should I take you back to the safe house?”

The look of pure hatred on her face as she yanks the door open is all the reward I can possibly hope for.

She storms into the place.

The security at the end of the hall stops Meredith before I have a chance to be recognized.

It’s humorous to hear the door security ask, “You here as a guest or looking for job?”

“As if someone could fucking afford me!” Meredith snaps out loudly.

Walking up behind her, I say, “We’re just visiting. Is Peter here tonight?”

The security guard focuses on me in the dim lighting. Recognizing me, he nods his head. “Yes, sir! Would you like me to have someone escort you to him?”

“No,” I say. Meredith is still fuming as I lightly place my hand on her lower back. “Let him know we’re here when you’re not busy.”

Giving her a light push to get her past the guard, I can feel an electrical current running up my forearm and straight to my groin. While not unpleasant, it annoys me that she is able to have this effect on me with just the barest of touches.

Through a fucking heavy coat, no less.

This is absurd.

I remove my hand from her back as she turns her head to me, her eyes beaming a dangerous glare.

“Why are you touching me?”

“So you will shut up and we can continue on our exciting journey into a filthy disease-ridden adventure.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she asks as we make our way into the club proper.

There are tables all around the floor. A bar is set back along the back of a wall, and the main stage has bar stools surrounding it. Mini stages are staggered around the floor for dancers who are not on the main stage to dance.

It’s crowded here tonight. Crowded with a haze of smoke everywhere. Yet another issue I will have to suffer through.

Meredith stands there, looking out across the room of men and women. I’m not sure what she expected when she said a strip club, but I have a feeling she was expecting the glamorous Hollywood-type, not this.

This strip club is located between the business district and the industrial district. It pulls customers equally from both. While Lucifer may have cleaned the place up. Slapped a fresh coat of paint on it and removed a lot of the bad element that had took over this place.

It’s still a strip club.

Again, placing my hand on the small of Meredith’s back, I gently usher her to an open table. Removing my winter overcoat, I fold it neatly over the back of my chair. No doubt I will have to buy a new one after it touches this chair.