Lover UndercoverBy: Samanthe Beck
a Love Undercover novel
There’s no way on God’s green earth I’m going to dance naked in front of a bunch of strangers.
Kylie Roberts’s own words came back to haunt her as she stood in the darkened stage wing at Deuces, the strip joint…er…gentlemen’s club, where her twin sister, Stacy, usually worked as a featured dancer.
Until she broke her leg, anyway.
Eyes closed, Kylie tried to block out the bone-jarring thump thump thump of the music and transcend to a calmer, more peaceful place in her mind. No luck. It was awful enough knowing she was about to step out on the stage in front of a crowd of leering men, peel off her clothes, and dance topless around a pole. Did every part of her black biker-chick costume have to inflict bodily punishment, too?
Her toes protested the restricting fit of her sister’s thigh-high leather boots with their four-inch heels. Beneath a belted leather jacket barely long enough to skim her crotch, a silver-studded bikini top offered absolutely no support and precious little coverage for her normally well-secured 34-Cs. She hardly noticed the intrusive elastic of the matching G-string, because her bikini area still stung from the ruthless waxing Stacy had administered that afternoon.
Only until Stacy’s leg heals, Kylie silently vowed, and only because they couldn’t pay the rent on their Hollywood apartment without the money her sister made at Deuces. True, Stacy was the one who insisted on living in Hollywood—one of the highest-rent districts in a city known for high rents, no less—but Kylie had gone along with the arrangement, even though her income as a yoga instructor barely covered a third of the rent.
Kylie adjusted her bikini top and ran through her options one last time. Picking up more yoga classes wouldn’t come close to covering the shortfall. Moving was out of the question. They couldn’t scrape together first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit, on a new place. Calling home for funds wouldn’t work, either. Their mom constituted the only other branch on the Roberts family tree, and even if Debbie Roberts had any extra money—which she didn’t—she wouldn’t send it to them. She’d tell her daughters to come home.
And on that particular point, Kylie and Stacy agreed one hundred percent. The only thing more unacceptable than being homeless in LA? Returning to their tiny, backward hometown of Two Trout, Tennessee, as the penniless failures all the naysayers predicted they’d be.
Of course, when they left home, neither of them knew Stacy’s road to fame and fortune as an actress and dancer would include a stint dancing topless at an upscale club along West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. And never in a billion years would Kylie have guessed her path toward building a successful yoga practice and opening her own studio would include posing as Stacy, dancing shifts at Deuces while her twin’s leg mended.
Kylie sighed. At least Stacy hadn’t injured her leg doing something reckless and irresponsible, as she was prone to do. She’d gotten hurt at work, when an inebriated customer had pulled her offstage for an instant lap dance. One ambulance ride and an X-ray later, Stacy had received her diagnosis—broken tibia. She’d be in a cast for six to eight weeks. Without even consulting Kylie, Stacy had phoned the club, told them she had a slight sprain, and would be ready to dance by the following Friday.
And now, here Kylie stood, about to step onto the same rough-and-tumble stage. Exhaling slowly, she wiped her sweaty palms on her thighs, belatedly recalling Stacy’s admonition not to touch her skin after she slicked up with body oil. Shoot, she thought, staring at the greasy sheen on her palms. How was she supposed to dance on a pole with slimy hands?
Panicking, she wiped her hands on the blackout curtain that shielded the backstage area. Then she peeked through and watched a tall redhead with gravity-defying double-Ds grab the pole at the end of the stage and lower her flossed butt over a ringside table so the men surrounding it could shove bills into her G-string.
Oh, God. Collecting tips signified the end of a performance. She was next. Her already nervous stomach churned like a washer on the spin cycle.
The redhead—Ginger, Kylie deduced, based on Stacy’s less-than-flattering descriptions of the other dancers—sidled over and stopped beside Kylie.