This had to end soon.

Mo’s ticking time bomb thing also had to do with the big lug wanting to sleep with me.

And by the by, I adored that he’d referred to it during our Come to Jesus as making love.

But he was very much all guy, and men needed to get some, he was sleeping in my room, living in my home, watching me strip. The need for him to do me was so strong, it had a taste, it had a smell, it had a feel, it was constant and grew more powerful every day.

Not being able to take it there had to be torture.

I knew, because it was torture for me too.

And it was getting worse every day.

Last, but I had a feeling this was the biggest part, Mo’s impatience had a sharp edge that I did not think had to do with him wanting to take me out to dinner and ask my favorite color then take me home and fuck me stupid.

It had to do with the fact that this guy hadn’t been caught yet and there was something really not good about that.

I didn’t ask. If Mo felt I needed to know, or wanted me to know, he would tell me.

More, I was thinking it was another way he was protecting me. And he was that guy. He needed to give that to me.

So even though none of this made me want to jump for joy, I didn’t push it with him.

Like I didn’t tell him his grip was too tight and that he needed to slow down or I’d break my neck on my platform stripper shoes while he dragged me to the dressing room. A place I knew, because he communicated (nonverbally) he thought was a safe zone, unlike the stage (definitely) and the hall, and anywhere else that was accessible or visible to people he might not know.

I just moved with him as fast as I could.

He used the hand he did not have on me to pound on the door twice, bellowed, “Man coming in!” and as he was hesitating the two seconds he always gave it so the girls could get situated before he went in, I spoke.

“I’m good, Mo. Safe. Sound. Healthy. Right here. With you. You’ve got me. Yeah?”

He looked down at me and allowed me to see some of the harshness bleed out of his face.

Not all of it, but some of it.

I’d take it.

Then he pushed us into the dressing room.

Strippers poured out as we went in, and once in, Mo let me go and shut the door behind the last girl.

I finally tied my belt on my robe.

“Shit,” he said.

I looked up at him then turned my attention to where his was and saw Carla wearing her robe, platforms off, sitting at her makeup station, holding a bag of ice to her ankle.

I rushed her way. “Ohmigod, girl! What happened?”

“Tripped coming off the stage for your set,” she muttered, eyes cast down to her ankle resting on her knee, her face pinched.

“Did you tell Smithie?” I asked.

She shook her head and finally looked up at me. “I’m just gonna ice it for a bit longer and then get back out there.”


She had to get back out there.

She had two kids from two different baby daddies, both pieces of shit, the dads, not the kids (her boys were great).

So she had three mouths to feed, her mom, who was a bitch, her dad, who was a drunk, her brother, who thought they were all wastes of space, especially his stripper sister who had two baby daddies (in other words, she had a brother who was a dick).

She also had a killer bod she knew how to move.

This meant she was on a stage, dancing in a thong, when the last thing she wanted to do was go home after doing that to her two young boys and then look them in the eye over Cheerios the next morning.

It wasn’t like I didn’t get Mo’s point about stripping. I did.

And Carla was Mo’s point.

Smithie paid well, but tips were essential for all these girls (including me) to up our quality of life (for some of us, significantly), and if we had dependents, give them some modicum of a quality of life.

These thoughts on my mind, I started in shock when Mo hunkered down beside me and said quietly, “Lift the ice. Let me see.”

I was shocked because he didn’t often engage with the girls.

After our last two days together, I understood this was not about him disapproving of them. It was about him being not such a talkative dude. But also, he was there to look out for me, not make friends with them. And last, he was in our space and therefore he wanted to make it as safe for the girls as he could when he couldn’t exit said space, so he didn’t call attention to himself (an impossible task for a guy like Mo, but you had to hand it to him, he tried).

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