Chapter 27: My Soul to Keep

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What am I doing here?

Music pounded over the speakers in the dim, smoke-filled Gentlemen's Club. With lights of every color flashing over her, Devon felt the beat overtake her heart and fill her body as she swayed her hips to and fro against the long metal pole behind her. She hated this song. They played it too much. But goddamn did banking on nostalgia bring in money.

Tami was supposed to meet me. Why am I here instead?

She slowly opened her eyes and peered through the long lashes. She gripped the pole and spun. There was only music, only movement. What was exotic to those visiting for a night out was so mundane to her. Another job to get through. One she was so good at she made it look easy to hold yourself upside down with your ankles. She did feats of athleticism half-drunk and in stilettos. The customer's girlfriends grumbling in the back didn't see that though. She still heard their remarks of how they'd "never do something like that" and how they "weren't like these girls".

In some ways, they were totally right. They didn't have the charm or business sense or interpersonal skills to be successful. Or they'd be up there beside her.

They thought her job was who she was. And here she was thinking it beat working retail. They didn't have to come to her club. They didn't have to look at her. They didn't have to ask her for dances.

Did something happen? Why am I only now becoming lucid?

Devon scoffed and released her ankles. She dropped down the length of the pole and caught herself with muscular thighs before she snapped her neck. The collective gasp and cheer of the crowd made her smile as she held her arms out to the side and spun as money rained on the stage. Make up covered the bruises on her knees and legs. They'd never see what she went through to perform for them. Gaining her attention and affection cost money; abusing her to make themselves feel better was free. Was it a surprise which one they'd go for?

It amused her that philosophical discussions with herself while spinning half-naked and upside down wasn't uncommon. Not anymore. While her clients were getting off on her webcam show, she was planning what to cook for supper and listening for the dryer to be done with laundry.

Smile. Make them feel welcome, even if you're dying inside. Just like retail. Only with more hair-flipping. And shoving your heels into their chest to make them sit down.

Point your toes and don't imagine shoving your sharp heel into the spunkbag of that jerk who wasn't tipping but felt like taking up prime seating at the front of the stage.

Dismount. Spin. Lay down on your back and slowly click your heels together. They love it. They love you. For now. Seductively lay across the $50 bill before Destiny sees it, because that is yours and she has sticky fingers. She'd discuss it with her later. Out back. Alone.

Talking with her...

Devon gathered her money and slipped off the stage. She hurried away, her heels clicking on the black and white checkered floor. Once she was in the dressing room, she collapsed against the wall and held her head.

Tami was supposed to meet me. What am I doing here? I don't remember falling asleep. I don't remember any dream other than this. What the hell happened?

She felt a gentle hand touch her long black hair. Devon looked up with a gasp and saw Tamesis' smiling face.

"You're here," said Devon, breathless. She pulled Tamesis tight into a hug. "I was worried."

Tamesis melted into her arms. "Sorry I wasn't here sooner. He had me occupied."

"That bastard."

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