Our boss referred to it is our dressing room. I always assumed it was his attempt to make us feel like starlets about to take our marks on a Broadway stage. Though, I think it was safe to say the quarters were more akin to a high school locker room. And with ten minutes until opening, it was full with the on-call girls, bursting with feminine chatter.
I was uncharacteristically late, hastily making last minute adjustments to my skimpy outfit. All clothing worn on the job was required to be a minimum of one full size smaller than what you usually donned. Unfortunately, my duty tonight wasn't on stage. That was my favorite part of the job, and with good reason. It kept me in the spotlight, away from the pawing hands of boisterous, unattractive men.
Veronica was standing in front of the locker adjacent to mine, otherwise occupied, applying rouge lipstick to her naturally pouty lips. As I squeezed my feet into my too tight stiletto heels, my mind raced through the list of tasks that were required of me tonight. I would be working side-by-side with eight others; working the floor, entrance, bar, and lounge. Veronica would be spending the first half of her shift behind the bar. Her age, not to mention qualifications, put her at a great advantage. Her eighteenth birthday had passed last June and she'd acquired her bartending license two months thereafter.
Suddenly, we all heard thumping music. Last minute, frantic adjustments were made as Rowena, the ranking hostess, began to hustle us out the swinging door.
"It's showtime, doll." Veronica winked.
I took the opportunity to look at my reflection in one of the full length mirrors that filled the poorly ventilated room. Yikes. I vaguely detected weariness in my eyes. Lucky me, no man would be looking long enough in that area. Rowena was still holding open the door when I walked past to follow Veronica to the bar.
I sat on the edge of one of the bar stools until Jamal, the manager, prompted me otherwise. "C'mon girly, on the floor."
He wasn't the brute he appeared to be. But he strongly preferred to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Ergo, he had no problem physically throwing out the drunken customers who became too aggressive.
"Yes, Jamal." I smiled sweetly.
The men practically burst into the building. Some were playing the nonchalant role, while others were unwilling to suppress their eagerness. I presented an alluring smile to anyone that was willing to glace in my direction. A familiar, teasing voice filtered my ears. "You'd think he'd never seen a female before."
It took several moments for my eyes to sift through the crowd until my eyes landed on the owner of the voice. I was about to approach until he made a move to the bar. "Tanya, when are you goin' to let me take you out?"
Veronica AKA 'Tanya'. None of us were allowed to give out our real names and were given quack stage names upon hiring.
She spared him a smile as she tended the bar. "When are you going to tire of me turning you down, Harold?"
"Why don't you just agree and save us both this whole song and dance?"
"After you get it through your stubborn, yet cute head that I'm not allowed to date my customers." Veronica flirtatiously leaned forward, ignoring the other customers at the bar. "Especially one that gives me so much business."
My eyes returned the Harold's customary group of friends. I noticed a fourth member of their party who looked more jumpy than a virgin at a prison rodeo. I wasn't the only one that noticed this newcomer.
Another friend of mine that was working the floor walked up beside me. "Fresh meat," Jessica AKA 'Francesca' observed with the eyes of a predator.
"He looks nervous," I said.
"Let's tag team him."
"No thanks, babe." I ran a hand through my long black hair. "He's all yours."
I considered watching Jessica work her magic, as she called it, but then realized I had to get to work. I had just started walking to the other side of the stage when I detected Harold's voice over the loud music. "Roxy!"
Making sure my grin was in place, I turned and greeted him. "Hey you. Any luck?" I nodded in the direction of the bar.
"Nope." The disappointment in his eyes was present for only a moment until it was replaced with excitement. "Hey, come on over. Oliver finally brought his roommate."
"Is this the same guy he's been coaxing since he moved in the dorms?"
"That'd be him."
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be so casual with a customer. However, Harold and his friends were regulars so we had more of a friendly connection than anything else. Plus, it didn't hurt matters that we attended the same university. I expected to see Jessica flirting with the boys until I noticed her at the next booth with an older gentleman in a business suit.
I addressed Harold but locked my eyes with the uncomfortable newbie. "Have you expanded your threesome to four?"
Oliver interceded. "He's been around, but we managed to drag him away from his precious academics for tonight."
"Really now?" I continued to smile at the stranger but he shyly looked away.
"Oh yeah, he tried to dig in his heels before comin' through the front door."
My tone was suggestive. "Anything I could do to change his mind?"
The usual three eagerly digged into their pockets to pull our wrinkled bills. After placing the money on the table, they turned their smiling faces to their bashful friend. I almost felt bad for the boy, but this was going to be too fun to pass up. I kept a flirtatious smile on my face and deftly climbed onto his lap. Obviously caught off guard, I felt him inhale sharply. "Hey cutie. I'm Roxy. What's your name?"
I watched in sheer amusement as he struggled to speak. It took a bit, but he finally spoke up. "Uh, J-Jean. Yeah."
I could feel the other guys watching from behind and I giggled at the thought. "So," I drew my body closer against him as I ran a hand through his short, brown hair. "Why haven't you dropped by before?"
Again he struggled to put together a string of words. As I patiently waited for a reply, I took the opportunity to run my free hand over his chest, while my other hand continued to lightly rake through his messy hair. He gasped again, surprised by my actions. "You are too cute." I giggled flirtatiously. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
I heard a snicker from behind.
"N-no." He sputtered. And in under ten seconds. We were making progress.
He hesistantly raised his head and looked straight into my eyes. At me. I had never seen a guy look at me that way before, customer or not. Behind his black rectangular rimmed glasses I noticed his almost indigo colored eyes. Yes, we were certainly making progress. I offered him a practiced wink and that was all it took for him to look away again in embarrassment.