As I pull into Midnight Frenzy’s parking lot on Wednesday night, I feel as though butterflies are swarming in my stomach. Jemma doesn’t have to be here for another two hours, so I told her not to drive in with me tonight. I know she wanted to catch some extra shut-eye before her shift starts. She and the rest of Tease have been crazy busy rehearsing a new routine. Apparently, it’s the most daring and outrageous number they’ve done since the club opened. She’s excited to perform it, and I’m excited to see it.
I’m also excited to see Linc again. Far too excited considering he’s now my boss and I need this job. I can’t afford to fixate on how good looking Linc is, or how intriguing I find him.
Here’s hoping that once I start working for Linc officially, I’ll only think of him as the man who pays my wages.
After climbing out of my car, I lock it and walk towards the club. Mick, one of the bouncers I met the last time I was here, is waiting at the door.
“Nice to see you again, Brooke. It’s your first night tonight, right?”
He remembers my name, which is kind of cool of him. I realise he’s probably expecting me and that Linc must give him a list of all the staff coming and going, but it’s still nice. Mick is talkative and friendly, putting me at ease before I enter the club to search out the bar manager, Kane.
All of the lights are on, including the normal halogen downlights. I’m relieved to see that everything looks extremely clean under the harsh lighting. I’ve worked in a couple of places that could use a visit from the health inspector.
There aren’t too many people around, but those who are here look busy. I head straight for the bar, looking for the dirty blond with an eyebrow piercing and giant arm tat Jemma described to me when I asked her about Kane. Jemma also called him a manwhore, but it was said with so much affection that it made me wonder what kind of relationship Jemma has with him.
There’s only one person behind the bar, and he fits Jemma’s description perfectly. Well, I can’t make an assessment about the manwhore part just yet, but the tat and eyebrow piercing fit the bill. He’s leaning on the bar while checking through a list.
I wait until he’s finished and then clear my throat. “Kane?”
He breaks into a wide grin the moment he sees me. “You must be the hot new bartender everyone is talking about.”
Heat crawls up my neck and face. Did someone really tell him I’m hot? Maybe they were talking about someone else. “Ah, I’m Brooke.”
“Kane.” He holds out his hand for me to shake. “Boy am I glad you showed up. We’re one down tonight until midnight, and then we’ll be two down until the end of our shift. I hope you’re a quick study, Brooke. Linc says you’ve worked a bar before.”
“I am. I have.”
Surely, Linc has casual employees or people he can call in, or more people he can hire?
“Excellent. I need you to fill these forms out before we get started. Once you’re done, we can get to work.”
The stack of papers he puts in front of me is massive, and even though I came prepared to fill out all my details – I have bits of paper with my bank details tucked inside my purse – I know it’s going to take me a while to get through the pile.
Seeing my expression, Kane smiles apologetically. “It looks like there’s more than there actually is. You should be done within the hour, which will leave us with another hour to go through your training before we open.”
“Okay,” I say before carrying the paperwork over to one of the booths along the side wall.
Thankfully, Kane is right and I finish in less than half an hour.
“That was quick,” Kane says as I hand him the completed stack of paperwork.
I smile. “You were right. There wasn’t that much there.”
His expression is approving. “You see the metal door over there?”
When I look at where he’s pointing, I see the door Jemma and I walked through when we needed to go backstage last Sunday.
“The code tonight is twenty-two-twenty-five. Punch it in and then take every left turn. You should end up behind this door right here.”
He motions over his shoulder to the door which must lead into the bar area. I nod and quickly follow his directions.
Kane actually meets me in the room behind the door, which is where the lockers for staff are. He gives me my locker number and I put my handbag and jacket in there before pulling out a skimpy pair of black shorts and a red and black corset just like the female Midnight Frenzy dancers wore the night I came in for my interview.
“Your new uniform,” Kane says with a grin.
I’m suddenly extremely grateful for all the Zumba sessions my sister has dragged me to in the past few months; there won’t be much of me that isn’t on display while I’m working.
“You’ll need to try it on, of course, but it should fit.”
The tag gives the bust, waist and height measurements, and yes, I agree it should fit me, but I can’t help but be a little embarrassed that whoever organised my outfit knows my size. There are just some things a girl likes to keep to herself.
“And if it doesn’t fit?” I ask, curious about the backup plan.
“Then I’ll get you another size.” He leisurely peruses me from head to toe. “Though I’m pretty sure that’s your size.”
I feel my face burn, and Kane’s chuckle tells me I must look as flushed as I feel.
“Come on, Brooke. You can try it on later. For now, let’s get you trained up.”
One hour later, I’m confident Kane has taught me everything he can about the way they do things at Midnight Frenzy. The real test, of course, will be when the doors open. We don’t open for another half hour, but the line is already past the gate according to the third member of our bar team tonight – a very pretty auburn haired girl who asked me to call her Cat.
Cat and Kane. I can imagine I’m going to mix their names up if I’m under pressure and I need something quickly. Here’s hoping that that doesn’t happen and everything goes smoothly. While things at the club seem fairly straightforward, I’m nervous about the fact we’ll be two bartenders down at midnight when Cat goes home. Midnight Frenzy is a massive club and I don’t relish the thought of angry, thirsty patrons having to wait longer than they should for a drink.
“Time to suit up,” Kane says when the clock hits eight.
“Where do I change?” I ask.
Cat signals for me to follow her. “Grab your makeup and uniform, and I’ll show you where the dressing rooms are.”
Aside from Cat and myself, the dressing rooms are empty. Probably because the dancers haven’t turned up yet. I quickly change out of my jeans and t-shirt and into my costume. Then I take a moment to study myself in the mirror, making sure nothing is bulging out of my short shorts and tight corset top.
I can’t remember ever wearing anything so provocative, or revealing, or sexy. My breasts look full and high, and my legs look incredibly long and toned in the high heels I’m wearing. I put make-up on before I came to work, but I touch up my mascara and lipstick and release my hair from the messy bun I’ve had it in for since I showered earlier. It cascades down my back in waves and I run my fingers through it until it sits right.
“Brooke,” Cat says, knocking on the door with a quick rap. “Kane said I need to make sure your uniform fits.”
Taking a deep breath, I open the dressing room door. Cat lets out a low whistle when she sees me.
“Turn around,” she demands, making a spin-for-me motion with her finger.
“The men are going to be lining up in front of you.” She studies me a moment longer, hand on her hip as she does so. “I think your eyes could do with being a bit darker, though. Hang on.”
She reaches into the small purse in her hand and pulls out eyeliner. I stand still and close my eyes as she applies it.
“Take a look,” she tells me when she’s done.
In this outfit, with my make-up heavy and so much of my body on display, I feel a little bit sexy.
Okay, I feel a lot sexy. I feel like I belong here at Midnight Frenzy.
“What do you think?” Cat asks.
I grin. “I think I’m ready.”
When she nods her approval, I grab my clothes, stopping briefly to put them in my locker before Cat lets us back into the bar area.
Kane grins as soon as he sees me. “Told you it would fit, didn’t I?”
“Yes,” I concede.
In his uniform, Kane looks good, too. He’s wearing black dress pants, a bowtie, and a black vest that hangs open, revealing a washboard set of abs. He’s tanned and toned, and I can’t help thinking he’s the token eye candy for the women who come to the club.
“You checking me out, Brooke?” he asks, a knowing grin tugging at his lips.
“Just making sure your uniform fits you properly.”
He chuckles at my response, and I’m about to join in with him when a movement out the corner of my eye catches my attention.
I turn around just in time to see Linc standing on the opposite side of the bar in a white shirt, charcoal coloured vest and pants. His suit jacket is slung over his shoulder. Freshly showered with his hair slicked back, he looks insanely handsome. I can’t seem to stop myself from taking in every inch of his perfectly defined and sculpted body: the lean hips, broad shoulders and powerful thighs.
He’s performing his own scan of me, I realise as he walks up to the bar so he can see all of me. His gaze lingers on my hips before travelling over my breasts. I feel my nipples bead and push out. I’m horrified that they seem to be trying to signal they want his attention. Fortunately, he can’t see them through my outfit. Thank heavens for small mercies. I feel naked enough as it is.
The way Linc is looking at me makes me uncomfortable, but not for the reason it should. I should feel uncomfortable because he’s my boss. Instead, I’m nervous because I want him to approve of the way I look. Midnight Frenzy is his club. Both Kane and Cat are very attractive, as are the dancers. Clearly, Linc hires people who are easy on the eye. And why not? Beautiful people draw the masses. Linc needs to know I’m capable of luring people over to buy alcohol. Do I pass muster?
“She’s going to drive all the men in here to drink,” Cat says.
I don’t know what it is I expect to see when Linc’s eyes finally meet mine for the first time tonight, but it isn’t the dark hunger I see in them. Immediately, my belly fills with molten lava, and my whole body pulses with a foreign kind of excitement as our eyes lock.
What is happening to me? I have never been this affected by a man before.
Linc clears his throat before tearing his gaze away from mine. “Thirsty patrons pay very well. Cat, are you staying till close?”
Linc has his professional mask firmly back in place, leaving me with the lingering effects of that look, my belly still quivering from the heat I swore I saw in his eyes.
“I can’t tonight, Linc. I’m sorry. Tim has to fly to Perth for an early conference and no one can watch Adam for me tonight. I need to be home before one.”
Seeing my puzzled expression, Cat explains, “Adam is my eighteen-month-old son.”
I nod, but I’m already worrying about what Linc will say. Kane doesn’t seem to have a problem with her leaving at midnight, but I’m not sure Linc with be as forgiving. The last time I worked at a bar, I was friendly with a young mother who needed to leave work to look after her sick child twice in one week. She was never offered another shift.
The look of irritation or anger I expect from Linc never comes, however. Instead, his eyes fill with understanding. “It’s fine, Cat. I’ll fill in for you at midnight.”
I feel as though my eyes are about to bulge out of their sockets. Linc is going to work the bar with us? Surely, he doesn’t have to do that. He could ask someone else to.
As soon as Linc walks away, I ask Kane about it.
“Linc likes working behind the bar. He likes to keep his finger on the pulse of this place and he probably wants a hand in training you.” He winks. “You’ll find he pitches in wherever there’s work to be done. He loves this club. He wants to see it succeed.”
“Linc is seriously the best boss,” Cat says. “If someone needs help, he’s there.”
I want to ask more questions, but I’ve run out of time. The lights are going down, the music is now pumping, and I know we’re minutes away from being open.
Unfortunately, my heart is still in overdrive from the thought of working behind the bar with Linc. So much for him just being the guy who signs my pay checks. I really have to get a hold of myself. The problem is that I’m not sure how to. I’ve never had this problem before. My reactions to Linc are…completely foreign to me. I’ve been ignoring the opposite sex for the past five years of my life. The problem with Linc is that I can’t ignore him.
Kane taps me on the arm. “Ready? It’s eight-thirty.”
For the next hour and a half, I’m completely run off my feet. The moment the doors opened, the club flooded with people. Kane warned me, but nothing could have prepared me for the noise or the demands of the people at the bar. And, as Cat predicted, the guys do seem to wait in my queue. At Midnight Frenzy, each bartender has their own area behind the bar that they’re expected to stick to. Purple lights on the floor mark the beginning and end of each section. My section is between Cat and Kane, in case I need help with anything.
Aside from the utter relentlessness of the line of people needing service, everything else about this bar is the same as the others I’ve worked at, and I catch Kane giving me approving nods as he keeps an eye on me, which makes me feel good.
At ten o’clock the dancers perform their first show of the night, and relief is in sight. When the curtains go up, everyone in the club – and I do mean everyone – is focused on the stage. This is awesome for two reasons. One, it’s the first time in an hour and a half that I feel like I can breathe. And two, I can finally watch the dance Jemma has been telling me about all week.
My eyes are glued to the stage as the master of ceremonies walks off and the curtains go up. I make sure I search out Jemma before I look for Linc. The two are on opposite sides of the stage, men on one side and women on the other. Each dancer is making a series of hip-hop movements. All the hard work they’ve put in has paid off because they’re so in sync; it looks incredible. When the guys start walking up walls while the girls keep dancing, it gets even better. I don’t even notice the couch on stage until Linc somersaults through the air and over half the dancers.
Just when I think it can’t get any better, the music changes, the women and men start partnering up, and the dancing becomes something that is definitely adults only. I feel heat settle and spread throughout my body as I watch the women dance in front of their partners, bending over while the men move against their backside in an act that can only be described as mimicking sex. I may not be experienced, but I’m pretty sure that’s what sex looks like with clothes on.
With each move I watch Linc make, I feel it in my body, as if it’s me there in front of him, instead of his partner. I swallow, feeling parched, and shocked…and aroused. The crowd is going bananas, cheering and whistling. And me? I want to join in with them, but now that I’m part of the staff I’m not sure I’m supposed to.
I jump as Kane leans in. “You like the dancing, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” I croak, feeling as though I’ve just been wrenched from a delicious dream. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“I keep telling Linc that the bar staff should perform, too. You know, get up on top of the bar at some point during the evening and put on our own show.”
“What, like in Coyote Ugly?” I ask, turning to look at him.
He looks amused. “Yes, but with us guys. Do you dance, Brooke?”
I didn’t realise it before I said it, but it’s so true. I want to learn to dance. I want to do what they’re doing up on that stage.
“You wouldn’t be opposed to learning a routine, then?” I shake my head. I wouldn’t be opposed. I think I’d like that. And if it was Linc teaching me how to dance on this bar, I think I’d like it even better.