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Marco (The Men of Indecent Exposure #1)

By:Raven St. Pierre

Book One

Chapter One

Brynn

Pregnant.

I stared, hoping the letters on the test would magically rearrange themselves to spell something else, but … .

With shaky hands, I tore open another box-a different brand this time.  Following pretty much the same steps as with the last, I peed on the  stick, and then waited.

Paced.

Waited some more.

What felt like the longest two minutes of my life finally passed and I  took slow steps to the edge of the sink. The "P" word stared back at me,  confirming the same news as the first test, which made it official.

Bracing the edge of the counter, I felt my knees get weak. This wasn't  supposed to happen. Things were going really well and now …  this.

What am I gonna do?

My face was wet with tears when I looked into the mirror, feeling sorry  for myself despite this completely being my fault. I had to be dreaming,  though.

Had to be.

"I'm so stupid." It took everything in me not to curl up in a ball right  there on the bathroom floor as my entire life came to a screeching  halt.

Reaching for my cell, I scrolled down to a name in the contacts, one I  never dialed before-Marco. I vaguely remembered him taking my phone to  lock it in as we parted ways, but I've been asking myself for weeks why I  didn't just delete him. It wasn't like I intended to call after that,  after we hooked up, mostly because I was so embarrassed by my reckless  behavior that night. I honestly just wanted to forget it ever happened.  However, this test just made forgetting how impulsive I'd been  impossible.

Slumping against the wall, I cradled my face in my hands. "Brynn, you're a damn idiot."

I couldn't even remember this guy's face really. We were both so drunk …   so drunk and so stupid. All I had to go on were flashes of him that  stuck with me-my hands roaming over the bronzed skin of his neck and  arms, his slightly diluted, Hispanic accent as was prevalent here in  Houston, the sweet taste of liquor on his breath when he kissed me, how  his cologne made my mouth water …

Okay, so maybe I did know why I held on to his number.

The alarm on my phone let me know recess was just about over and I  needed to head to the playground to pick up my students. Pushing off  from the wall, I took a deep breath at the thought of having to call  this guy. Even if we were virtually strangers, he deserved to know what  was going on. After all, this was just as much his issue as it was mine.

As I took slow steps down the hallway, I also thought about having to  break this news to my friends and family-my brother, Cedric, my best  friend and sister-in-law, Mona …  and then there was Naseem.

I let out a deep breath filled equal parts ‘Oh my gosh!' and ‘What the  hell were you thinking?' None of this was going to be easy. None of it,  including having to confront this ‘Marco' guy. He, too, was about to get  the shock of his life, because I, Brynn Palmer …  am having a baby.







Marco

Three twenty.

Three forty.

Carlos grinned from the passenger seat. Aside from the hum of the  engine, the only other sound to be heard was that of crisp five, ten,  and twenty-dollar bills passing through our fingers.

Three fifty.

Three seventy.

Three seventy-five.

Carlos finished counting and I caught a glimpse of him scowling when he  realized I wasn't done. This was his idea; counting to see how much we  each made before leaving the lot. When I came out on my own, or when I  was with one of the other guys, I typically waited until I got home to  add it all up. However, Carlos never let it go down like that when we  did events together. He was too damn competitive. Had been since we were  kids.

The second we stepped foot outside the venue, this time and every other  time before, he challenged me to pull out my stash to see who'd done  better. $390 was what his tips totaled tonight, not including his half  of our $600 charge just for showing up and committing a couple hours of  our time. So, he ended up with $690 in all. Not bad considering these  private gigs were just icing on the cake outside of our regular club  hours.

No one to cut in on our earnings. No middle man. Just fast, easy money.

I continued to count-four twenty, four forty …

The truck swayed with Carlos' movement when he shifted in his seat.

First, he shot me a cold stare, and then came the sound of his gruff  voice when he questioned me, the words soaring from his mouth in Spanish  like they usually did when he was pissed. It was like his filter  malfunctioned at the first hint of anger and he suddenly forgot how to  speak English.

"How the hell did you get so much more than me?"

All I could do was laugh at his reaction for now, not wanting to lose  track of my number. Eventually, I finished, reaching a grand total of  $980, including my half of the fixed fee.         

     



 

The casual shrug I gave only pissed him off more. A breath of frustration hit the air and I was cracking up at the sound of it.

"You're laughing, but I'm serious. We get out there, do practically the  same thing, and somehow you always end up making more than me," he  complained. "Un-freaking-believable."

Carlos's eyes went to his slightly smaller stack of cash before stuffing  it in the pocket of his dark hoodie. Little care was taken to conceal  it safely in his wallet or bag because, in our business, cash tended to  flow faster than we could catch it, which lessened its value for some of  the guys. That wasn't the case for me, though; my responsibilities made  me less frivolous with mine. Honestly, the only reason he was even  moaning about me making more tonight was because he couldn't stand to  come in second place. Not to anyone in any situation. As long as I'd  known the guy, which was practically my whole life, he'd been the same  old Carlos.

Tension was thick as his ego absorbed the blow. If I had to guess, he  was probably replaying the last couple hours of work in his mind,  wondering why he'd come up short. I managed to hold a laugh in as he  damn-near pouted in my passenger seat, but eventually I couldn't take it  anymore. It slipped as we turned out of the lot and onto the street,  headed toward his condo.

"I'm telling you; the ladies would love it if you broke out in one of  your lil' dances. For real." He didn't even bother answering, knowing I  was just trying to get a rise out of him by suggesting it. "I'm telling  you-walk in the room with one of those grass skirts on, oil up the  tatts? Man! You'd be beating ‘em off you with a stick."

"Shut the hell up," he grumbled when I burst out laughing again. It was so easy to get under this dude's skin.

While I was mostly kidding about him adding native dances to his  routine, it was true that his particular ethnic blend made him a fan  favorite-his mother being Puerto Rican, his father Samoan. Women loved  him, loved the tribal tatts on his arms, and at least once every time he  performed, some chick would manage to grab hold of his hair. When he  wasn't performing, he mostly kept it braided to the back, but he'd never  consider cutting it. He wasn't a fool. If the ladies loved the hair and  if keeping it long made him more money, that was that. The hair stayed.

We all adhered to the same philosophy when it came to our appearance: we  did whatever was best for business. This fact had turned those of us  who worked for the club, Indecent Exposure, into gym-rats, always  hitting the weights. Then there was the shaving and waxing. We were at  the spa so often the lady who owned the place knew each of us by name.  Did we like that part? Hell no-made us feel hella high-maintenance, even  more than most women we knew. However, the truth of the matter was, our  bodies were our livelihood and there was no getting around that.

Of the group, Carlos and I seemed to book the most private parties and  events. Our similarities made it common for us to be requested as a  pair-either by name or description. Women would contact the club or call  my private line if they were referred or had been given one of my  cards. They'd ask for the two Hispanic guys with the tattoos; nine times  out of ten assuming we were brothers.

We neared Carlos' place and only now did I realize how beat I was. After  the adrenaline rush subsided, there was always this moment when reality  hit and my body adjusted to the late hour. Already, it was almost  midnight and I'd only get a few good hours of sleep before having to be  up for a workout and then head to the shop to open in the morning. The  vicious cycle was never ending.

I came to a stop at the front of the building and Carlos yawned about five seconds after I did.

"All right, man. Later." He stepped out onto the sidewalk, shrugging his duffle bag onto his shoulder.

I nodded. "Yup. And don't skip the gym like you did this morning,  either. You know what tomorrow is," I said through a wide grin.

Based on the heavy sigh and eye roll, it was clear he had, in fact,  forgotten. Mumbling something to himself, he didn't respond as he walked  toward the building. He was the one guy who hated when we did All-In  Saturdays-something the clubs' new owner, Ivy, enacted when she came on  the scene six months ago. Not only did we make an unholy amount of money  just for agreeing to completely strip down on stage, but we only had to  do them one night a month. Still, that was too often for Carlos.

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