A dark romance about the lies that lead us down…
I’ll do anything to get safe, even if that means working at the scariest club in town.
I’ll do anything to stay hidden, even if it means taking off my clothes for strangers.
I’ll do anything to be free. Except give him up. When he looks at me, I forget why I can’t have him. He’s beautiful and scarred. His body fits mine, filling the places where I’m hollow, rough where I am soft.
He’s the one man who wants to help me, but he has his own agenda. He has questions I can’t answer.
What are you afraid of?
In the first moments onstage, I’m always blinded.
The bright lights, the smoke. The wall of sound that feels almost tangible, as if it’s trying to keep me out, push me back, protect me from what’s going to happen next. I’m used to the dancing and the catcalls and the reaching, grabbing hands—as much as I can be. But I’m never quite used to this moment, being blinded, feeling small.
I reach for the pole and find it, swinging my body around so the gauzy scrap of fabric flies up, giving the men near the stage a view of my ass. I still can’t quite make anything out. There are dark spots in my vision.
The smile’s not even a lie, not really. It’s a prop, like the four-inch heels and the wings that snap as I drop them to the stage.
A few people clap from the back.
Now all that’s left is the thin satin fabric. I grip the pole and head into my routine, wrapping around, sliding off, and starting all over again. I lose myself in the physicality of it, going into the zone as if I were running a marathon. This is the best part, reveling in the burn of my muscles, the slide of the metal pole against my skin and the cold, angry rhythm of the song. It’s not like ballet, but it’s still a routine. Something solid, when very few things in my life are solid.
I finish on the pole and begin to work the stage, moving around so I can collect tips. I can see again, just barely, making out shadowy silhouettes in the chairs.
There’s a regular on one side. I recognize him. Charlie. He tosses a five-dollar bill on the stage, and I bend down long and slow to pick it up. He gets a wink and a shimmy for his donation. As I’m straightening, I spot another man on the other side of the stage.
His posture is slouched, one leg kicked out, the other under his chair, but somehow I can tell he isn’t really relaxed. There’s tension in the long lines of his body. There’s power.
And that makes me nervous.
I spin away and shake my shit for the opposite side of the room, even though there’s barely anyone there. It’s only a matter of time before I need to face him again. But I don’t need to look at him. They don’t pay me to look them in the eye.
Still I can’t help but notice his leather boots and padded jacket. Did he ride a motorcycle? It seems like that kind of leather, the tough kind. Meant to withstand weather. Meant to protect the body from impact.
The song’s coming to a close, my routine is coming to an end and I’m glad about that. Something about this guy is throwing me off. Nothing noticeable. My feet and hands and knowing smile still land everywhere they need to. Muscle memory and all that. But I don’t like the way he watches me.
There’s patience in the way he watches me. And patience implies waiting.
It implies planning.
I reach back and unclasp my bra. I use one hand to cover my breasts while I toss the bra to the back of the stage. I pretend to be shy for a few seconds, and suddenly I feel shy too. Like I’m doing more than showing my breasts to strangers. I’m showing him. And as I stand there, hand cupping my breasts, breath coming fast, I feel his patience like a hot flame.
This time I do miss the beat. I let go on the next one, though, and my breasts are free, bared to the smoky air and the hungry eyes. There are a few whistles from around the room. Charlie holds up another five-dollar bill. I sway over to him and cock my hip, letting him shove the bill into my thong, feeling his hot, damp breath against my breast. He gets close but doesn’t touch. That’s Charlie. He tips and follows the rules, the best kind of customer.
I don’t even glance at the other side of the room. If the new guy is holding up a tip, I don’t even care. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who follows rules. I don’t know why I’m even thinking about him or letting him affect me. Maybe my run-in with Blue made me more skittish than I’d realized.
All I have left is my finale on the pole. I can get through this.
This part isn’t as physically strenuous as before. Or as long. All I really need to do is grind up against the pole, front and back, emphasizing my newly naked breasts, pretending to fuck.
That’s what I’m doing when I feel it. Feel him.
I’m a practical girl. I have to be. But there’s a feeling I get, a prickle on the back of my neck, a churning in my gut, a warning bell in my head when I’m near one of them. Near a cop. My eyes scan the back of the room, but all I can see are shadows. Is there a cop waiting to bust someone? A raid about to go down?
My gaze lands on the guy near the stage. Him? He doesn’t look like a cop. He doesn’t feel like a cop. But I don’t trust looks or feelings. All I can trust is the alarm blaring in my head: get out, get out, get out.
I can barely suck in enough air. There’s only smoke and rising panic. Blood races through me, speeding up my movements. A cop. I feel it like some kind of sixth sense.
Maybe he feels my intuition about him, because he leans forward in his seat.
In one heart-stopping moment, my eyes meet his. I can see his face then, drawn from charcoal shadows.
Beautiful, his lips say. All I can hear is the song.
I’m not even on beat anymore, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because there’s a cop here and I have to get out. Even if my intuition is wrong, it’s better to get out. Safer.
I’ll never be safe.
The last note calls for a curtsy—a sexy, mocking movement I choreographed into my routine. Like the one I’d do at the end of a ballet recital but made vulgar. I barely manage it this time, a rough jerk of my head and shoulders. Then I’m gone, off the stage, running down the hallway. I’m supposed to work the floor next, see who wants a lap dance or another drink, but I can’t do that. I head for the dressing room and throw on a T-shirt and sweatpants. I’ll tell them I feel sick and have to leave early. They won’t be happy and I’ll probably have to pay for it with my tips, but they won’t want me throwing up on the customers either.
I run for the door and almost slam into Blue.
He’s standing in the hallway again. Not slouching this time. There’s a new alertness to his stare. And something else—amusement.
“Going somewhere?” he asks.
“I have to… My stomach hurts. I feel sick.” I step close, praying he’ll move aside.
He reaches up to trace my cheek. “Aww, should I call the doctor?” His hand clamps down on my shoulder. “I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
I grip my bag tight to my chest, trying to ignore the threat in his words. And the threat in his grip. I really do feel sick now, but throwing up on him is definitely not going to help the situation. “Please, I need to leave. It’s serious. I’ll make it up later.”
He’ll know what I’m saying. That I’ll make it up to him personally. I’m just desperate enough to promise that. Desperate enough to promise him anything. And he’s harassed me long enough that I know it’s a decent prize. I’m sure he’ll make it extra humiliating, but I’m desperate enough for that too.
“Please let me go.” The words come out pained, my voice thin. It feels a little like my body is collapsing in on itself, steel beams bending together, something crushing me from the outside.
Regret flashes over his face, whether for refusing my offer or forcing me that low. But this time he doesn’t let me go. “There’s a customer asking for you. He wants a dance.”
The Grand used to be a theater, back when the city did more tourist trade than drug trafficking. Back when you could walk down this street without getting mugged. They held ballets and operas and one infamous magic show where a man was killed by a faulty fake gun. Over the years the shows visited less and less. This whole part of the city became gutted, empty. Attempts to revitalize the theater failed because the good, rich folk who had money to spend on theater tickets didn’t want to come to these streets.
Now the building is just a husk of its former glory—faded metallic wallpaper and ornate molding with the gold paint scraping off. Tables and chairs fill the smoky, dark floor. There is a balcony in the back, but it isn’t open to the public.
The rooms for private dances used to be ticket stalls in what would have been the lobby.
They don’t have doors. They barely even have walls. The front window partitions have been ripped away, with only brass rods and velvet curtains to cover them.
The first is occupied by Lola. A flash of red fabric and a long mane of hair between the curtain tells me that much. And I know from her position on the floor and the soft groans that he’s paid for more than a dance.
The second room is empty.
The third room is the farthest from the main floor. The darkest. I can only make out a shadow seated in the chair. All I want is to get the hell out of here, but Blue is standing behind me, crowding me, and the only way to get space, the only place to go is inside.
I slip past the heavy velvet curtain and wait for my eyes to adjust. Even before they do, I know it will be him. Not safe, rule-following Charlie. It’s the other man. The new one. The one with the strange intensity in his stare.
I see the outline of his jacket first. And his boots, forming that same configuration—one leg shoved out, one under the chair. That’s the way he sits, almost sprawled on the uncomfortable wooden chair. He’s watching me. Of course he’s watching me. That’s what he paid to do.
“What’ll it be?” I ask.
“What’s on the menu?” he counters, and I know what he means. He means extra services. The same thing that Lola is doing now. More than just a dance. He looks out from the shadows like the Cheshire cat, all eyes and teeth and challenge. All he’s missing are purple stripes filling in.
And if he’s a cop, he can bust me just for offering it. Cops should have better things to do with their time. But I already know cops don’t do what they should. I know that too well.
I’m running from one.
“A dance, of course.” I run through the prices for fifteen minutes, thirty minutes. No one needs longer than that. They either go to the bathroom to jerk off or come in their pants.
“And if I want more than that?”
Now that my eyes have adjusted, now that I’m up close, I can see the tats at the base of his neck and on his wrists. They are probably along his arms and maybe his chest. There’s ink on his hands too, though I can’t make out what it says.
His black shirt is tight enough to show me his shape, the broad chest and flat abs. Underneath the shirt is a chain or necklace. I can only see the imprint, but it makes me want to pull up the fabric and find out what it is.
He wears his leathers like a second skin, like they’re armor and he’s a fighter. I can’t really imagine him walking through a precinct in a blue shirt. He’s not a cop. But there was that feeling, when I was onstage. I felt his interest, more than sexual. I felt his suspicion. I felt every instinct telling me he is there for more than a dance. I can’t afford not to listen.
“There’s no more than that,” I answer flatly.
He grunts, clearly displeased. But it doesn’t sound like he’s going to force the issue—or complain to Blue. “Then dance.”
Right. That’s why I’m here. That’s not disappointment, heavy in my gut. I don’t expect anything from men except to get paid. So I dance, starting slow, moving my hips, my arms, touching my breasts. I’m a million miles away like this. I’m lying on my back, feeling crisp grass underneath my legs, looking up at the night sky.
It almost works, except that I need to get close to him. I need to climb onto him, straddling his legs with mine, reaching for the back of the chair to shake my tits in his face. And when I do, I smell him. He smells…not like smoke. Not like sweat.
He smells like my daydream, like grass and earth and clean air.
I freeze above him, body crouched, my breasts still shivering with leftover momentum.
“Something wrong?” he asks.
And his voice. God, his voice. It’s gone rough and low, all the way to the ground. It slides along the creaky wood of the chair and the concrete floor and vibrates up my legs. It shimmers through the air and brushes over my skin, that voice. We’re not touching in any place, but I can feel him just the same.
I swallow hard. “Nothing’s wrong, sugar.”
“Then sit down.”
He means on his lap. Touching. It’s against the rules, officially.
Unofficially it’s one of the tamer things that happen in this room. “What if I don’t want to?”
One large shoulder lifts, making the leather sigh. “I won’t make you.”
I hear the unspoken word yet ring in the air.
I should probably refuse him. Whether he’s a cop or not, he’s throwing me off. That’s dangerous. And if there’s some other cop in the building? That’s even more dangerous.
But for some reason, I lower myself until I’m resting on his jeans, my posture awkward and off balance—until he shifts, and suddenly I’m sliding toward him, flush against him while I straddle his legs. Then his arms circle my body, trapping me. Any second now he’s going to grope me. Maybe take his dick out and fuck me like this. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But he just stays like that, arms firm but gentle. A hug. This is a hug.
Jesus. How long has it been since a man hugged me? Just that, without touching anywhere else, without his dick inside me? A long time.
Love-Way-You-Stripped-Book- ebook/dp/B00UCBR9TC/ref=sr_1_ 1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425996389&sr=8- 1&keywords=Love+the+Way+You+ Lie+skye
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SKYE WARREN
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us what kind of books you write?
I’m Skye Warren, the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my new release, Love the Way You Lie. It explores taboo themes like betrayal and redemption, overlayed with suspense. If you’re up for something dangerous, disturbing and erotic, take a look…
2. What is Love the Way You Lie About?
Love the Way You Lie has a stripper heroine and a mysterious lone biker who is first her customer, then her lover, then her… well, you’ll have to read to find out. What you should know is that the book is dark, edgy, and sexy as hell.
This is the first book in a new series set in a strip club called The Grand.
3. Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love my heroes—their gruffness, their pain, their occasional cruelty. But I have a real soft spot for my heroines. So I would have to say I loved Honey the most. She is beaten down but determined, bent but not broken. For me that’s what strength is about.
4. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Nothing and everything. I love the actual writing, coming up with a story and falling in love with them. But reader expectation is such a tough thing—it’s tough in any genre but has particular challenges for dark books. Even the word dark means different things to different readers. But ultimately I can only write the books I love and hope that my readers enjoy them.
5. What do you love about alpha heroes? Or anti-heroes, if that applies?
Why are these anti-heroes so damn appealing? Well, for one thing, they are tough and driven. They don’t take crap from anyone…even the heroine, sometimes. They often do follow their own code of honor, it just doesn’t necessarily match everyone else’s. But I think it’s something more elemental than that. A man who takes what he wants, damn the rules? Well…it’s plain sexy.
6. What makes a sex scene sexy to you? Or alternately, what do you do to write hot scenes?
I love a scene I can get lost in, both the physical sensations and the emotional resonance. And what I find most sexy is when power comes into play. Not with games, but where one side has the upper hand, the mingling of distrust and desire, of wariness and want.
7. What else should readers know about Love the Way You Lie?
There’s also a free prequel to the series coming. The best way to stay up to date about my releases is my newsletter here:
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.
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