LEATHER AND LACE - Chapter 2 Excerpt on Eat Sleep Write

*This originally posted here.

December 2, 2013
posted by Adam Scull

Leather and Lace - Chapter 2 by Erica Sutherhome

Angie Lewis rang the doorbell, impressed by the size of the house.  Knowing the market well enough, she figured the house had to have cost a good $700,000.  How many wealthy men were single though?  Probably not too many.  Though she wondered if the man who owned the house was actually married instead.  Maybe his wife was away? His children?  It was clearly a house for a family. Though the thought made her skin crawl, she shrugged.  It didn’t matter.  She had a job to do.  She needed the money.  Her landlord was not a patient man.  And she had other debts to pay.
When the door opened, a man in dark slacks and a blue dress shirt appeared.  He was muscular, had dark hair and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
Her eyebrows shot up as recognition came to her.  “You!  What the-“
With a firm grip, he steered her inside, then shut the door. “Don’t jump to conclusions. This is a simple business proposition, all right? I have an agreement with your boss.”
She frowned.  “This is because of what happened, isn’t it?”
“I won’t deny that you left an impression on me then.  So yes, I pursued you because of that.”
“I don’t want any trouble.” God, she hated cops.  And if Louis found out, she was in big trouble.
“Then it’s fine if you have nothing to hide.”
Her eyes narrowed.  “I don’t know anything.”
“You didn’t know that man?”
She shook her head.
“That’s not what it looked like.”
“He was dead. How was I supposed to feel?  Anyone would have felt bad.”
He nodded.  “That’s what I thought.  Were you the caller?”
She nodded. “Why did you go to all this trouble?  Hiring me?”
He shrugged. “There’s more than one reason to have brought you here.”
She frowned. “But, you’re a cop. I don’t understand.  Are you sure I’m not in some kind of trouble?”
“No.”  He cocked his head.  “Have you committed a crime?”
“Not that I recall.  As far as I know, dancing isn’t a crime.” She sighed. “You have to admit, this is all very strange.”
She threw up her hands.  “Well, it’s not every day that a cop pays for private sessions with an exotic dancer.”
“No, I suppose not.”  He frowned.  “It’s not like I make a habit of this either. In fact, other than in a professional capacity, I’ve never paid for the services of someone like you.”
“Someone like me? Are you implying that I’m a prostitute?”
“No, I never said that.”
“Then, why did you hire me?  Is this a trick to get me to testify or something?”
“No.  Just calm down.”
“Calm down?!” And then with a swift move, he had backed her up to the wall, placed a palm on either side of her, and smothered her protests with his mouth. His lips were slow and questing on hers, but hesitant to invade further. 
Her heartbeat quickened and she parted her lips in response. When his tongue touched hers, she remembered the exchange of money.  She hadn’t been hired for this too.  She shoved at his overpowering chest and finally, he eased back.
He lifted a brow in response.  “It’s a little too late to fight me, isn’t it?”
She lifted her chin a fraction higher, aware that her response had been telling. “You didn’t hire me for this.  It’s not in my contract. And I don’t give away my favors freely.”
“This is just a job.”
“I was hoping it could be more than just about the job.”
“You thought wrong.”
“Maybe. We’ll see.” He sighed. “We should get the introductions out of the way. You took off so fast the other night, I never got your name.” He offered his hand.  “I’m Patrick Dreyling.  Detective Dreyling, actually.”
She hesitated at first, but decided it would be rude to decline. She shook his hand. She decided to overlook the fact that he was a cop. She certainly didn’t want any trouble with the police. “Nice to meet you. I’m Evangeline.”
He leveled her with a direct gaze, one that made her instantly uncomfortable.  “Is that your real name?”
“I use it as my stage name, but yes. You can call me Angie.”
“Angie Lewis.”
“Then, it’s good to meet you too. Finally,” he murmured.
She dismissed his sarcasm and picked up the bag she’d dropped by the door.  “So, where should we do this?”
“The bedroom?”
The idea of entertaining him in such a private room, especially with him, unnerved her, but it wasn’t like she hadn’t performed in a customer’s home before. She nodded grimly and followed him in that direction.
When he led her to a huge room, what looked to be a master bedroom complete with a fireplace, her eyebrows rose.  “Are you married?”
He cocked his head. “Does that matter?”
She shrugged. “I guess not.” She sighed and glanced away. “You’re right.  It’s just a job.”
Her eyes swam back to him. “No? It’s not just a job?”  She opened her mouth to protest, but he spoke first.
“No, I’m not married. If I was, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You wouldn’t be here.”
For some reason, that relieved her.  She managed a nod. “So…do you want to watch me undress or do I strip in private, then dance for you?”
His bright blue gaze was watchful and steady. She shivered a little. He didn’t say anything for such a long time that she wondered if she should leave. “I wouldn’t mind watching you undress here.”
“Okay.” This she could do. This she had been trained for. She opened her bag, took out a mix CD and turned to him. “You have a stereo or something?”  When he pointed, she murmured her gratitude and went to the radio.  She opened the tray, put in the CD and put her music on.  It was a soft, but sexy beat. She discarded her coat over a chair by the fireplace. Then she began to move, swaying steadily to the sound of the music.  She let it move through her, let the music take over.  She stopped thinking about the man across the room and did what came naturally, what her boss Frank liked about her. 
Angie slowly peeled off her bulky white sweater, revealing a camisole and stretch leggings. She tossed the sweater aside and moved, swaying her hips, undulating.  As he was still standing, she crossed the room, took his hand and led him to the bed to sit down. With a laugh, she pushed him down.  She wanted to frown at the exhilaration she felt.  She had never experienced that before. 
With a minute shrug, she swept off her camisole as well, revealing a purple bra. Then with her hands at the waistband of her leggings, she swept them off as well, showing off her trademark legs and a purple thong.  She kept her purple strappy sandals on. Men liked what heels did to women.  Then she danced a little more, delighting in his nearly inaudible groan.
Quickly, the CD changed to Melissa Etheridge’s “The Only One”.  The music made her mood shift.  She felt reckless, out of control.  She crossed the room back to him, climbing into his lap, briefly humping his leg. Then she turned away, but made sure to grind herself into his growing erection. Yeah, that’s what he wanted, she realized as he grasped her hips.  She smiled slyly.

Patrick’s lids slammed down for a brief second.  He had to maintain some sort of control. She was an assignment. Well, sort of.  Okay, maybe not an assignment.  He had to acknowledge that at least.  She was an obsession of sorts, he realized.  He knew she was no longer involved in the case.  She had only been passing by.  But, now that she was here, everything had shifted.  There was a deeper, darker reason he wanted her around.   
            In his lap, she leaned back against his chest, grinding her rear into him. An involuntary groan escaped him.  He turned his head against her long hair to inhale her scent. It was a deadly combination of a fruity fragrance and sweat.  He pressed his lips to the pulse beneath her ear, racing along her neck.
            “Hey, that’s not allowed, buddy,” she protested.
            “I paid a lot of money up front for this, didn’t I? I reserved this slot with you.”
            “I know, but I’m not a hooker. There are rules.  No lips. No hands. Or other things.”
            “I’m good, honey, but I’m not that good.”
            She groaned, frustrated. “Look, that’s not what I signed up for.  I was told to give you private sessions.  Lap dances, fantasies, but nothing else.”
            “What if you wanted it too?”
            She sighed. “It doesn’t work that way. This is a job.”
            “Well, I’ve made this my business.”  He pressed his lips to her shoulder, then placed a hand firmly across her midsection to keep her in place.
            She struggled. “That’s not fair. You promised to be civil.”
            “Is that what you were when you took off during an investigation?” 
She gasped. “Is that what this is?  Punishment?”
He sighed, trying to quell the combination of anger and desire, two things that should never mix. “I only started this to protect you.  There are all kinds of threats out there.  You can’t trust those men.”
“And what if the threat comes from you?”
He snaked his hand up between her breasts, then clasped her throat gently. “I’m not a dangerous man, Angie.  You really should learn to trust me.  The only thing I can’t control at this point is what I feel for you.”  Then he placed a gentle kiss to her temple.
He released her and she scurried to the master bathroom, where she escaped inside, slamming the door behind her.  He grimaced.  He should’ve gone slower with her. 
The music played on, but he grew annoyed.  He rose, despite the hard lump beneath his zipper, and shut off the CD.  He returned it to the case and shoved it in her bag.  He sighed heavily and swept a hand through his dark locks. 
If he didn’t gain her trust, he wouldn’t be able to figure out what kind of trouble she was in.  And she was in trouble.  He sensed it.  He had seen many people wary of cops before, and for good reason. But, her record was clean.  So there had to be a reason she didn’t trust cops, something he hadn’t been able to pull up.  He had good instincts usually. And he’d guess that this time, they were spot on. 
Judging by her personality, if she was not in any kind of trouble, she probably would have stayed behind at the crime scene to speak with him briefly about the victim.  The fact that she had run made him think she was in a worse situation than just stripping for money. And he would never forgive himself if something did happen to her.  He could freely admit she’d gotten under his skin in a short amount of time.  But, he was not going to let her go that easily.

Angie struggled to get her breath back.  She sunk to the floor in front of the whirlpool tub, her legs suddenly weak. The cold surface of the tile and tub struck her extremities. She shook her head and tried to clear the confusion. 
She knew tonight had been different.  She had been confused ever since she’d met Patrick. She was torn between attraction and trust. There was this whole other element too. His power as a man. His desire for her. 
The only thing I can’t control at this point is what I feel for you.
Wasn’t that what he’d meant, that he was very attracted to her?  Or, had he meant there was more to it than that?
She was used to oversexed men. Usually, she flirted a little and danced.  But, she could separate herself from the job. With Patrick, it was hard to do that.  As she had moved against him, she had felt a stirring of her own.  She wasn’t used to that. Normally, she might notice a man outside of work, but at work, it was about the job and nothing else.  She didn’t get involved or feel anything for her customers.  It wasn’t surprising that people confused it with prostitution, even though it wasn’t the same at all.
There was something else. She wasn’t going to lie to herself that it was there, and yet it scared the hell out of her.  Patrick not only stirred her desire, but also her heart.  At least, she thought that was what it was. What else could it be?  His insistence about protecting her both annoyed and satisfied her as a woman. She sensed that if she had not run, he would have been kind towards her. But, was this really revenge for her escape from the police, what he was doing now?  She couldn’t tell.  Maybe he really did want her.  So, what was she supposed to do with that?  He was a cop. But, he was also client. A client, she reminded herself.  It was nothing more.
There was a knock on the bathroom door. “Angie?  Sweetheart, are you going to come out?”
“Are you going to stop threatening me?” she retorted.
She heard a curse on the other side of the door.  “Forgive me. I didn’t mean to scare you. Can we just forget any of that happened?”
She caught her lip between her teeth. Why was this situation so complicated?  “If I promise to return tomorrow, will you let me go?”
“Jesus Christ, woman, I’m not holding a gun to your head. You are certainly free to leave.”
She released a tight breath, then jumped when the knob twisted. 
“Do you want your clothes or not?”
Damn! She hadn’t thought that out clearly, had she?
She rose on unsteady feet and went to open the door. He handed over her clothing and the bag. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”
She shut the door and dressed quickly. Then she opened the door and stalked out of the room, bypassing the bedroom.
She turned and gasped when she saw he was holding out her coat.  When she went to snag it out of his hand, he shook his head, then approached her.  He held it open. All she had to do was put her arms in. Simple, right?  No, it wasn’t, she realized afterwards. His hands briefly rested on her shoulders, not only warming her, but sending a little thrill through her at his touch. What on earth was wrong with her?
“I…I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow night,” he agreed. “I can feed you, if you like.”
Hell, no. That was too much like a date. “That’s not necessary.  Goodbye, Detective-“
“Patrick,” he corrected.
“Patrick,” she repeated breathlessly.
“Goodnight, Angie.”
Before she could lose her nerve, she opened the front door and left the house.  She didn’t look back.  She drove straight to her tiny apartment, fed her fish and fell into bed.  If her mind kept swimming back to a man with dark hair and bright blue eyes, it didn’t mean anything.  Of course it didn’t.