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Destined for the Dom(2)

By:Jan Bowles

Funny how life sometimes threw you a curveball. Just over six months ago, he’d bumped into an old friend. As a Federal Air Marshal, he met a lot of people, and Jake McGovern just happened to be on the same flight as him. He’d grown up with Jake and Zoë at St. Mark’s, a children’s home in Pittsburgh. The three of them were close buddies, all trying to survive life in care as best they could. Similar in ages, Jake and himself had been ten. Zoë was barely eight years old when he’d met her for the first time. As three frightened kids all alone in life, they’d huddled together looking for comfort from each other. He knew the children’s care system well. Families were few and far between who were willing to adopt older children from broken homes. He figured prospective foster parents thought they’d be a handful to look after. They’d have been right, too. On the flight to New York, Jake had told him that he’d briefly seen and spoken with Zoë. Apparently she was working as a dancer at Les Belles, a club located in a seedier part of Pittsburgh.

Hunter raised his glass, and silently toasted the young woman from his past. To, Zoë, I sincerely hope you’re happy, love. If I’m ever in Pittsburgh, I might just look you up and make sure. If only to ease my conscience.

Chapter One

Three months later

Wishing to apply her makeup as professionally as possible, Zoë Leighton leaned closer to the dressing-room mirror. Those damned lights covering the frame did nothing for her complexion. Their overexposed brightness made her skin appear gray and lifeless. She smiled resignedly and shook her head as she carefully applied fiery-red lipstick. Who was she kidding. At the age of thirty, she guessed it was a case of diminishing returns.

In the mirror she couldn’t help but be distracted by the naked butts and breasts as the other girls got ready for work. Laughing and joking with one another, the stars of today and tomorrow were getting ready for opening time. Just like them, she had burned brightly once. She’d been in demand, too. Rich, important men had wanted her to dance for them all night long, but now she was lucky to get a fraction of the attention and money she’d once received. Soon it wouldn’t be worth her time and effort to come in at all. Then what would she do? Waitress? The money she earned at Les Belles had been fantastic in her early days at the club. Far more than she could have earned in a boring but safe nine-to-five job.

Some of the girls would even leave with the men who frequented the club. They weren’t supposed to. It was strictly against the rules at Les Belles. The management knew it went on, but they turned a blind eye to it. Zoë had been propositioned on several occasions, but sleeping with men for money just wasn’t her style. She knew it was prostitution by any other name, and she’d rather go hungry than give herself away like that. Men could look all they wanted, and she knew they jerked off to a mental image of her when they returned home, but under no circumstances were they ever allowed to touch her. This was one rule the management at Les Belles did enforce without exception. She knew that being naked yet untouchable gave her the power over the men who paid to see her dance. Guys acted like real jerks when a woman danced for them. Just watching a scantily clad girl seemed to disconnect their powers of reasoning and judgment. They were like lambs to the slaughter, happily parting with ten-dollar bills, just because the dancer gyrating in front of them flaunted her tits and ass.

The door to the changing room suddenly swung wide open, and her friend and work colleague, Karen, burst in. She was breathless as she spoke. “Thank God I made it in time. That fucking babysitter turned up late again.” Sighing loudly and shaking her head, she sat down at the dressing table next to Zoë’s. “I don’t know, I pay good money and yet the babysitter treats me like shit. She knows what I do for a living, so she thinks she can treat me like crap, and get away with it.” In an effort to get up to speed, she hurriedly began applying makeup to her face.

Zoë picked up a brush and proceeded to pull it through Karen’s mane of blonde hair. “Here, let me help.”

“Thanks, you’re a real doll.”

They both knew that the sooner they got ready, the sooner they could attract the attention of a paying customer. Time was money in this business.

Karen patted Zoë’s hand, and smiled. “Thanks, doll, you’re a true friend. You don’t get many people you can rely on in this game.” Changing the subject, she said, “Hey, on my way in I noticed there’s a lot of new faces out there. It should be a good night.”

Zoë brushed Karen’s blonde locks once more. “Let’s hope so. I’m a month behind with the rent, and my landlord isn’t noted for his patience.”