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Welcome to Burlesque.
Everything you dream of,
but never can possess,
nothing’s what it seems,
welcome to Burlesque.
Oh, everyone is buying,
put your money in my hand,
if you got a little extra,
well, give it to the band.
You may not be guilty,
but you’re ready to confess,
tell me what you need,
welcome to Burlesque.
I almost lost ten years off my life as I watch Kate grip the bottom of the pole and cartwheel herself into an inverted split, suspending herself for a moment before scissoring her legs up to wrap her ankles around the pole. Another ten went when she holds herself there and throws her arms open for a moment.
“She’s an absolute natural, Elliot. So much upper body strength and her flexibility is fantastic.” Not really the words I am wanting to hear from Stella as we stand and watch the four girls on stage throw themselves through the rigorous routine. My hands almost go to my pants as I watch my girlfriend humping the long thick piece of metal, and for a moment I wonder if she has managed to make the pole wet with all that bumping and grinding.
“Yeah, fucking natural alright.” Stella laughs at my discomfort.
“You know, with all that natural ability we could reinstate the ring routine. The crowd would love it.” Stella sounds almost wistful. No way.
“This is a one time gig, Stells. You can’t have her, she’s mine.” But oh, I could see her doing that routine with me and everyone watching us. There was a time when Stella and I performed that act, but that was a long time ago. The one part of it I recall better than anything was loving the way the audience would watch us, imagining themselves in our place. As a performance routine it was the closest thing to public sex that you could get without being arrested. It never failed to turn the crowd on and the thought of doing that with Kate makes me rock hard.
“Even one time, you know they would love it, they always did. So did you.” There is that fucking nostalgic tone in her voice again. I know that she could have performed that act with Will a thousand times since the last time we did it but it would always hold bittersweet memories for her. But she is right, I loved it. I would love it more with Kate in my arms. Watching her now as she continues to climb higher up the pole, rotating herself around and around, holding her body in perfectly executed extensions, I can see how this kind of workout suits her. I guess with her diving and gymnastics background that she has no fear of heights, a good understanding of the physics of each movement and an enormous amount of control and strength. She is mesmerizing up there.
Max, the dance captain steps up to the stage. “Okay, ladies, that’s all for today. Kate can you hang back for a moment, you can take a break for twenty minutes then we will go through a couple of those tricks that aren’t quite working for you. Don’t get cold.” The other girls move off the stage towards the dressing rooms chatting nine to the dozen. Kate grabs a towel and wipes herself down as she approaches looking fucking amazing in a silver brocade corset set. Yeah, baby, you can wear that to bed any time you like.
“Well, what did you think?” Her smile is contagious as she goes into a series of stretches. She is loving this and I get a visual of her on the ring, wondering what she would make of that routine. Of people watching her perform that with me. No, we can’t, her brother will be in the audience for a start. My mind immediately goes to Ethan.
If his face yesterday afternoon, when I picked him from the airport is anything to go by then he is not going to like this one bit. While he and I get on well, he is whether by obligation or habit, both protective of Kate and totally annoyed by her antics. He was surprised and I suspect pissed that Kate didn’t pick him up from the airport herself and his suspicions were heightened by what he saw when he got back to my place.
“Ethan. Hey man, how was the flight.” Ethan usually looks pretty relaxed but I can see the confusion on his face. How to explain why Kate isn’t here to greet him? Hey man, your sister wanted to come but she is at home right now probably chewing dry toast and trying not to toss her cookies.
“Elliot. Flight was good. Where’s the brat?” Nice man. That’s my girl you are talking about. I can’t fault him though. It’s pretty much how I feel about Mia. My beautiful baby sister is talented, fun and a royal pain in the ass. Somehow I can’t think of Kate that way. Man, pussy-whipped or what?
“She’s back at my place. I came straight here from work, it was easier.” I grab one of his bags and usher him out to the truck. On the journey back to the house I fill him in about the charity event and all the information that we have managed to gather so far.
“Wow, this guy is a special kind of psycho. He really is playing a cat and mouse game with you guys. It’s like he’s waiting for something.” You’re not wrong there. What could Jack be waiting for? At the moment we know that he is stalking, agitating but it is frustrating not knowing what his motivation is. Until we find out who he is, the likelihood of finding out why he wants to hurt us is low. The scary part is how he is targeting the whole family, as if the Grey’s are enemy number one.
Finally arriving back at the house just on time with takeout Chinese and enter to an over the top greeting from Zeus. Once Ethan is settled into one of the downstairs bedrooms, we grab beers in the kitchen as Kate walks in. My breath hitches seeing her wearing tight jeans, form-fitting t-shirt, no shoes and towel drying her hair. Another shower Miss K. What did you do? Throw up on yourself?
“Hey, bro, great to see you.” After planting a kiss on Ethan’s cheek she heads to the cupboard and grabs a glass. I take the iced tea out of the fridge and pour for her our bodies brushing past each other, heightening our awareness.
“How are you feeling?” I try to murmur this. She gives me a tight smile.
“I’m fine. Just tired.” Ethan already on the alert hones in on this conversation.
“Hey, what’s this? Have you been sick?” Ethan puts down his beer and takes her hands, pulling her in for a quick hug. He looks accusingly at me over her head but I just shrug and take another swig of my beer.
“No, I’m fine. Just a little gastro. I’ll be okay.” Kate lies smoothly. Makes me wonder how I am going to cope with those little misdirections that most women feel are necessary. Certainly Mia and Mom are both experts in the field of ‘no, it was on sale, really’ or ‘this old thing. I’ve had it forever.’
“Elliot has given me an update on Christian and Ana and the creep. Sounds like you’ve been busy since you got back.” Ethan is helping himself to the containers of food, heaping up a plate as if it is his last meal. Kate is turning greener by the second and my hand automatically goes to her lower back, rubbing gently as she selects a plain rice dish and tries not to gag. Poor baby, if I could take this away I would. For a brief moment she leans into my body as if acknowledging the intention of my thoughts. Once more I am awed and comforted by this almost psychic link between us. Kate walks over to the table to join Ethan.
“Yeah, well we are doing everything we can to try to work out who he is. I really would feel happier knowing that you are in the apartment if Ana decides to go back there. She really shouldn’t be alone if this chick is running rogue with a gun.” I am watching carefully as she eats. Everything seems to be okay so I relax into the chair next to her. Elliot in the meantime is shoveling food into his mouth like there is no tomorrow. Slow down man, you’ll make me sick.
“Yeah, like I am going to be able to protect her. But hell I would rather be there too, after all she is expecting me.” If I were Christian, Ana would never go back to her apartment while Leila is on the loose and once more I wonder if I shouldn’t have more protection out here for Kate. Zeus is a good deterrent but he is just as likely to lick you to death as he is to go on the attack with an intruder.
“I think that you are going to make a lot of dirty old men very happy. I also think that your brother is going to kill me.” I smile down at my corset-clad Kate. She has a bead of sweat on her upper lip and I can’t help myself, I lean down and half kiss, half lick it away. Her hands go to my chest instantly as I pull her hips against me. “Are you feeling me, baby.”
“Oh yeah, big boy. You seem happy to see me.” The dance and the corset are making her all hot and bothered. I could get used to exotic dancer Kate. Just then Tiffany comes over to do some adjustments on her costume. “Private lap dance laters cowboy?” I get a sultry smile as she turns towards Tiff.
My attention is on her ass for a moment when TJ comes over and taps me out of my reverie.
“Enjoying the view?” There is a chuckle in his laugh.
“What of it?” I try hard not to be annoyed, after all TJ will be amongst a hundred or so guys who will be standing around watching my woman go through her moves. God help any man who tries to make a move on her. TJ hands me an set of id tags and a guest pass for Thursday night.
“You’re all set.” Ethan will come as himself, just in case our friend Jack has already collected a set of images of him. It will be easier not to complicate the situation with a lie. If he can get into a conversation with a few of the members he might just stumble on something useful that we can act on. Plus he has been doing some work with a psychological profiler so he has a little inside theoretical knowledge that might come in handy. He already thinks that the key to Jack’s identity is in the older photographs he has collected, the ones from our childhood. If he is right then there is a possibility that the link goes back to Detroit which fits TJ’s assertion that Jack has a mid-western accent. I am hopeful that we are going to nail this fucker but I am also terrified about having Kate anywhere near him. Once more I wonder at Kate’s maneuvering to get us here and why the hell I agreed to any of this.
After we have cleared away the mess of the takeout dinner we all go up to the war room. Kate takes Ethan through the evidence as it stands and we spend at least an hour talking through everything that we have worked out so far. Ethan is really quick with insights into the possible character and motivations or our perp which really start to give us some hypothetical scenarios to think about. Throughout this conversation Kate seems to be running on nervous energy and I wonder if the nausea isn’t about to get to her again. Then she gives us a run down on the visit from TJ and Stella and drops her bombshell.
“You did what?” I can’t believe that she is even considering this. The thought of her in Sirens in any capacity is about to bring me completely undone. Yeah, I get the double standard.
“I trained with the girls for four hours today. Stella seems to think I have what it takes and TJ is making sure that you are on the roster for bar staff on Thursday.” Her face is totally impassive, as if this is the most natural idea in the world. Over my fucking dead body.
“Kate, this guy is dangerous. If he makes either of us the whole thing is over. He has already managed to get a gun into the club once, how do you know he won’t do it again. I can’t believe that you would consider doing something so stupid.” Yeah I went there. Deal with it.
“Elliot, calm down. Stella and TJ are working on disguises for us. I have costume fittings tomorrow morning. We can’t let this opportunity pass us by. The auction is the biggest event in Club Orpheus calendar so the likelihood of his being there is high. Stupid would be if we did nothing.” Shit!
“Don’t use that logic on me Kate. I am not risking you.” Or our child.
“Guys, guys…” Ethan steps between us. As if I would ever hurt her physically. What the hell do you think I am?
“Stay out of this Ethan.” My breathing is harsh as I take in the fire in her eyes. She isn’t going to back down on this.
“Can you get me on the guest list?” Ethan looks directly in my eyes.
“I don’t know…I guess so.” It would mean calling in a lot of favors but it can be arranged.
“Right, so, if Kate is there with the protection of the other girls plus the club security. You and I and I guess TJ are on the floor. Surely we can get a look at this guy.” I look from him to Kate. Fuck, ganged up on by the Kavanaghs. My jaw is clenched hard.
“Okay.” It is all I can say. I am worried sick about the baby, about Kate’s safety and now I get to add her brother to the list. She is doing my head in. My eyes say we will talk later and she acknowledges this. The next two hours are spent talking through all the possibilities and trying to preempt the problems. Kate is curled up on a couch as we talk and she is exhausted. Eventually I call a halt to the discussion and carry her off to our room.
Tiffany turns Kate around and even I have to do a double take. She is now sporting a short black wig and chocolate brown contacts. With the application of the heavy stage makeup anyone who didn’t know her well would be hard-pressed to recognize her. Kate is beautiful, breathtaking in her natural state. This guise has created a whole new persona and she is automatically changing her stance to be both over the top sexy and flirty. She is incredible hot and all I want to do is take her out back and screw her hard and fast against a wall.
“Okay, Kate, let’s get you back on the pole.” Max is back from sorting out some lighting cues and ready to be the taskmaster again. “Let’s do the second spin sequence. Music!” He calls up to a faceless operations box above the club floor and the music comes pounding through the speaker. Kate is already up at the pole, holding on with one hand and leaning her weight away. The sequence takes her out from the pole for a moment and then throws her wildly around it for three revolutions before jumping to grip it between her thighs, one leg extended in front of her.
“Good, now just take your time, let the momentum take you round and slide down slowly. Good, let’s do that again, you almost have the timing right.” She goes through it again as I get a text from Ethan, he has picked up the keys from Ana at work. All is going well.
“Can we do the extended rotations now? I want to see how much height you can get before that final split.” Kate just nods, completely unphased and all I can think about is the little prick wants her to go higher. She backs away from the pole again then launches into a rotation that seems to start half way up the pole. Suddenly she flips upside down and extends her leg up to grab higher pushing her hands into a full body extension. “Good girl, use the momentum again, grip that elbow and climb.” She goes higher again, almost to the full height before stretching her body out to the side. The body strength is phenomenal and I can see her really working hard to keep control of her lines so that her body doesn’t swing away. With a final push she flips out into a split that goes the length of the pole and I am torn between applauding her or spanking her for taking these risks with her body.
“Fantastic, Kate. You can come down now.” In seconds I am up on the stage spotting her as she comes down. She doesn’t need me to do this but I need to make sure that she lands safely for my own piece of mind. Once more Stella comes over to join us.
“Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind Elliot? The ring is there, all set up. It wouldn’t take long to teach her.” Kate looks from Stella to me.
“What ring? What are we talking about?” Stella takes out her phone and selects a video holding it up for Kate to see. She watches the two people on the screen absolutely mesmerized by the vision. When it finishes her eyes light up. “That was you two?”
Stella nods. Kate is almost jumping up and down with excitement. “Elliot, please, can we at least try?” Oh, shit.
“Look babe, I don’t know. It’s been a long time since we did that routine. I don’t know.” She is almost pouting with
disappointment and Stella is trying desperately to hold back her laughter. Fuck. “Okay, we
can try, but no promises. And you need to change out of that outfit. Tiff? Have you got one
of the nude leos out there that will fit Kate?” Tiffany salutes, grabs Kate’s hand and drags her up to the change room while Stella starts shouting orders to get the ring lowered. When she wants to be I think that Stella can be just as manipulative as Kate, or worse Elena.
After putting Kate to bed I go into the bathroom. Just as I am getting out of the shower I get a phone call.
“Jason, what’s up? Have you found Leila?”
“No, no such luck. But you wouldn’t believe who turned up here tonight with a sob story. The evil bitch.”
“Oh, this will be good. What’s up with her?” Elena has had a habit of feeling like she has ownership over all aspects of Christian’s life including selecting his subs. She will be pissed that he has hooked up with Ana without her assistance, after all Ana is not exactly the type that Elena would have selected. She likes to train the girls before they get to Christian from what Jason has told me. I wonder what Ana made of Elena turning up to Escala.
“Apparently she is being blackmailed.” Fuck, what a twist. I would hate to have to take her off my suspect list because of this.
“I don’t know. I smell a rat. Something about this doesn’t add up. Least of all the timing. Seems like this has been designed to try to elicit some sympathy from Christian.” That’s Jason, ever the fucking conspiracy theorist but on this occasion I can’t help but think he is right.
“Did he fall for it?” Please tell me my brother has more sense than this. I wish that he would tell the evil bitch to take a flying fuck at the moon but for reasons that I don’t and never want to understand he keeps her in his life. This means that whenever she feels like it she can pull on his strings. I guess she feels like it today.
“I don’t think so. Ana was fairly pissed off that she turned up and I think Christian was reacting more to Ana’s feelings than any crisis that Elena could manufacture. Hell of a dynamic.” Go Ana. I have such high hopes for that girl.
“Well, keep me posted. Seems Christian just limps from one fucking drama to the next.” I spend the next few minutes filling him in on our plans for Orpheus on Thursday. He offers to send a surveillance team in for us. That would certainly make me feel better knowing they are in the vicinity.
I have arranged to take the rest of the week off so that I can be with Kate until she starts her new job. Seems like she needs someone to babysit her and stop her from going off on any more hair-brained schemes. I would never tell her that this is my reason. She would gather her coven and stick pins in me. So that is how, this morning I am with her at Sirens, contemplating recreating the most sensually explicit aerial routine I have ever performed.
We spend the next three hours slowly working through the routine. Kate is incredible and I feel something working with her that I have never felt before with Stella. There is an intensity in the movement and although we have to adjust a few of the tricks to cater for her inexperience with the ring, she more than makes up for it with the ability to pick up the choreography quickly and her incredible strength and bravery up high. There is a long way to go but if we can pull this off it will be the highlight of the show. Stella looks at us like the cat that got the cream with a great fucking ‘I told you so’ plastered across her face.
By the time we finish Kate is exhausted both physically and emotionally. I can tell that she felt the same intensity around executing the routine. It has affected both of us and we hardly speak on the way back to the house, just holding hands as I drive one handed up the highway. For a moment I wonder if we have pushed her too hard today but she has a contented smile on her face that makes me relax.
We arrive back at the house and Jen is there cooking up soup and toast. It is just what Kate seems to need. While she was able to keep her energy up through the grueling day of rehearsal, it didn’t stop her from having to duck out a few times to throw up. Luckily we were able to cover up enough that I think the only person who was really suspicious by the end of the day was Tiffany. Jen gets us all fed and I put Kate in a warm bath when the phone goes.
“Ethan, how’s it going?”
“Not good. I don’t have long to talk, Ana has just ducked out to the ladies and she will be back soon.” He sounds really anxious. “Listen, the shit has really hit the fan here. They’ve found Leila, or rather she found us. She turned up at Kate’s apartment, broke in while I was out. She held a gun on Ana when she arrived home.”
“Jesus, is she okay?” Where the fuck were Christian and Jason in all of this?
“Yeah, yeah. She’s fine, or as fine as she could be having left Christian alone with her in the apartment.” So he was there. Thank God for that. But what the hell is he doing alone with this psycho bitch? He’s opening himself up to all sorts of trouble. Since we started getting so much media attention Dad has warned us time and again not to put ourselves in situations that open us up to litigation. Now he is alone with an unhinged madwoman with a gun? Fuck!
“What? What the fuck is happening?” I can hear Ethan take a deep breath and the noise behind him.
“Look we are sitting in a bar across the road from the apartment. Ana wanted to watch what happened. A little while ago an SUV came and Christian carried her out wrapped in a blanket. They have all disappeared. I think Christian is expecting Ana to be waiting for him back at Escala but she doesn’t seem to want to go. I am happy to sit here with her but I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. She is pretty cut up about whatever happened in the apartment. She won’t talk about it but she is really upset and I don’t think it is necessarily about Leila.”
Fuck. Christian just doesn’t think these things through. Of course Ana is upset. I bet he ordered her out of the apartment for her own safety but he doesn’t understand what it would have taken for her to leave. Now she is imagining all sorts of shit going on between them and the not knowing will be killing her. And I know him and this is about him not realizing that the person who loves him the most is the one he hurts the most. I have watched the little prick do it for years to Mom, not letting her in. Now he is doing the same fucking thing to Ana and he is going to lose her. Jesus, will he never learn.
“I think that you need to do whatever Ana wants you to do. I guess she won’t want to go back to her apartment and she won’t want to wait around Escala for Christian to get his fucking act together. If you have to, I want you to bring her back here. I can send a car for you, we will tell her everything and she can be with Kate. Fuck, she needs someone she can confide in.”
“Alright, I will stay with her until she makes a decision. I’ll call you later if it all falls apart and I have to bring out to yours. Just promise me that when Christian hits the fucking roof because I have abducted his girlfriend that you’ve got my back man. I don’t particularly want him to come after me.”
“Ethan, I owe you so much man. Christian might be a prick about the whole thing but I trust you man. Don’t sweat it. Just look after our girl.”
“Okay, I’ll call you in an hour or so.”
When I turn around Kate is standing at the door wrapped in a towel, looking like this heady mix of concern and sex. I walk over and wrap her in my arms planting a firm kiss on her lips. I will do anything to keep her safe and happy and to take that look off her face. She pulls away from me.
“Don’t Elliot. Tell me what’s going on.” Resigned I spend the next ten minutes filling her in on the phone call and we spend another hour talking. Jason isn’t picking up his phone which I know means that he can’t talk to me not that he won’t. He must be with Christian and right now that is as close to comfort as we are going to get. Eventually Kate lets me make love to her releasing the pent up emotions of the day. Her body is in this heightened responsive state and she comes quickly around me driving me on with her gentle pulsing. When I come, I come hard into her crying out her name. We hold each other afterward but neither of us can sleep.
Finally Ethan calls when he has dropped Ana back at Escala and we are able to drift off. I don’t ever want to put Kate through the kind of pain I imagine Ana has gone through tonight and once more I wonder if we shouldn’t come clean with Ana and tell her what we know so that she and Kate can support each other. I know that this distance is killing Kate inside and I want so much to make her world perfect. Once more I find myself wishing that Christian wasn’t so emotionally crippled. If he had even a small idea of what he has put Ana through tonight he would get off his ass and do something about it. Hopefully she won’t hold back with him. He deserves to get his nuts ripped off and if she doesn’t do it then I might.