Sneak Peeks

 

From One Taste of Angel…

I begged Ben not to book this party. I recognize the house from my childhood adventures, biking around the neighborhood. Gang leader Lazaro Mendoza lives here. The bachelor party is listed under John Smith. Whenever my boss writes that alias on a work order, warning bells go off. I frown as the limo stops in front of the beach side address. Working for a private striptease company is nearly as dangerous as being a call girl. I scan the faces of my associates. Jeanie and Jana are identical twins—tall and blond, everything I’m not. They smile at me.

Whenever customers order blond Amazons from the catalog my boss sends me along as a bonus. I’m barely five-three, Italian, with green eyes and dark curly hair. There’s never enough Barbie to go around. Ben always thinks I’ll appeal to the locals—whatever that means.

Our driver opens the limo door and I step onto the cobblestone driveway, the first time I’ve smelled salt air in Louisiana in five years. When I escaped Holly Beach, I never dreamed of coming back. Not like this—hair dyed, a nose and cheek job, and color contacts to disguise who I really am.

But the assholes inside won’t know me. Neither do my coworkers. To them, I’m just the naive part-time college girl who wandered into Ben’s office looking for a job.

“Ladies,” the driver says, offering his hand.

The twins slide out.

“What’s wrong, Serafina?” Tony asks.

I cross my arms over my chest. “You know whose house this is.”

He shakes his head. “A three thousand dollar booking fee says I don’t.”

Our boss, Ben Matthews, holds a monopoly on the private striptease circuit from Beaumont, Texas, to the western half of Louisiana. He also owns a large limousine company. “Your silence is cheap.” I shove my dance bag higher on my arm. “What about the Olsen twins?”

He snickers at my sarcasm. “What they don’t know . . .”

“Yeah.” I’m not sure those two know much except how to bump and grind each other and the customers. It’s disconcerting to watch them sometimes, how far they’re willing to go for big tips. Good thing I brought my chemistry book; I’ll study while they entertain.

Before I can finish the thought, the front doors of the house open. A tall man in a charcoal suit steps outside. “Mr. Connors?” Tony shakes hands with him. “I’m Mr. Diaz, your liaison for the evening.”

I roll my eyes. We have a liaison? The idea just reinforces the negativity I feel for the cartel. They make their money off the pain and suffering of people—getting them hooked on the drugs they sell. I glare at Diaz, wishing I was at home. He continues. “Any financial transactions will be handled through me. Anything you need—find me. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.” Tony nods obligingly.

I know what lurks underneath Tony’s country boy simper—a black belt and a loaded Desert Eagle. He turns and presses his hand against the small of my back. “May I present Serafina?”