“See, I told you it wouldn’t be a problem,” Staci laughs while tugging me past the bouncer. I can admit I’m in awe of how easily she worked the guy and got us in without having to flash our fake IDs. Not an easy feat for the Musicbox. I’m not sure I want to know how she managed it.
“Yeah, you did,” I credit her and move along with the crowd into the noise and bustle of the nightclub. Our friends are already inside somewhere, so we go in search.
“There,” she yells over the heavy beat of the music and grabs hold of my jacket, tugging me with her. We wiggle our way through the dancing bodies until we finally reach the table at the far end of the club.
This place is larger than life. Being a freshman at the University of Illinois, I haven’t seen the inside of many clubs, but this is more than I could have expected. Bright colored lights roam over the crowd from the DJ stand at the forefront of the dance floor. They move with the beat of the music. It’s as though the music and the dancers have given the room its own heartbeat.
I’m completely lost in it when Staci grabs my arm and pulls me close enough to yell in my ear.
“Good, right? I told you!” she laughs. Staci’s a sophomore, studying to become an elementary school teacher. Not exactly the type I would think has the ins and outs of club life, but I suppose everyone has a dark side to them. I’ve scraped her off the bathroom floor more times than I can count this semester.
“Let’s dance!” Carolyn, another of our friends, jerks her head toward the dance floor. “I reserved the table, no one’s gonna take it.” She motions to the little placard in the center of the high table. Reserved.
Carolyn’s daddy has money. Serious money. Of course she could afford to reserve a table in one of Chicago’s most popular dance clubs. We leave the table behind and make our way to the dance floor.
It’s not long before Carolyn has two guys swarming around her. Staci and Devin are grinding over their own partners as well, leaving me to find my own groove thing.
“You wanna dance, sweet thing?” someone yells into my ear, blasting my eardrum from the close proximity. I cover my ear and pull back to find my assailant.
He’s my height, straggly, with a full beard and a nose piercing. But it’s the distinct body odor repelling me. I’m not sure this guy knows how to use deodorant or a shower.
“No, thanks.” I shake my head.
“C’mon, sweetheart.” He grabs my hips and pulls me toward him, already starting to match my movements.
“I said no.” I try to move back, but he yanks me forward again. When he leans his face into me, I strike. One quick thrust of my hand upward, the heel of my hand catches his chin and chucks him backward. He’s stunned enough to let me go and stumbles back, hitting another couple dancing. The girl squeals and her partner grabs dirt-boy and shoves him further into the crowd with a warning to back off.
He ends up falling to his ass on the floor. I watch him until he scrambles back to his feet and with a hateful glare at me, disappears into the crowd.
“You okay?” Staci grabs my shoulder.
“Yeah. Just need a drink,” I call to her. She shakes her head and points to her ear. I gesture toward the bar. “Drink!”
She nods and gives me a thumbs up before sinking back into the arms of the dark stranger she’s dancing with.
The bar is as packed as the dance floor, but I manage to finagle my way forward pretty fast. My five-foot-three stature comes in handy in these circumstances. Ducking beneath arms and through crowds is much easier to do at this height.
“Cranberry and vodka!” I yell over the bar when I finally get the bartender’s attention.
His eyes narrow on me. “ID.” He cups his hand.
With a nod, I pull out my newly acquired identification and hand it over, forcing an air of confidence. I’ve used it twice and so far, not even a raised eyebrow, but this isn’t the corner store.
While he studies it, I take the time to look him over. He’s clean shaven with a square jawline. My eyes roam over his thick neck to his broad shoulders. He’s wearing a black button-down with the club name embroidered on his left pec. No name tag. He’s not wearing the polo shirts like the other bartenders.
His blue eyes meet mine for a brief moment before he lowers my ID to a light on the other side of the bar. It bounces up enough to illuminate his face, and the casual stare tenses. He looks back up at me with a tic in his jaw.
“No.” He hands it across the bar to me.
“What do you mean, no?” I don’t take the ID. “It’s legit,” I say.
He laughs but there’s no joy in it. “Nothing about this is legit.” He tosses it on the bar top. “How did you even get in here?” His gaze flickers to the side as he asks. Is he looking for security?
“Whatever.” I roll my eyes and swipe the ID, but before I can get lost in the crowd again a large hand snags my arm. I’m pulled back to the bar.
“No, no.” He lets me go but his hard stare keeps me planted. “Come with me.” He crooks his finger then points to the end of the bar.
“Something wrong, boss?” One of the bartenders pops up finally and looks between us.
“Nothing I can’t handle.” He casts another hard glance toward me. “Let’s go.”
“I’m not leaving.” I raise my voice, but with the heavy bass of the music, he probably can’t even tell.
He shakes his head. “I didn’t say you were.”
We’re already at the end of the bar, so it only takes him a moment to get from behind the counter to where I am standing. I should have taken those precious seconds to dive into the crowd, but something tells me he’d only send security after me. Staci, Devin, and Carolyn are still out there, and I don’t need to drag them into this.
“Come with me.” He grabs hold of my arm again and lightly pulls me with him.
“You don’t have to drag me, I’ll go.” I yank free of his grip and turn toward the exit. I’ll text the girls once I’m outside and let them know I’m going home. A night of dancing with sweat-filled strangers wasn’t really what I wanted tonight anyway. Staci talked me into it, as she always does.
“No. This way.” Instead of grabbing my arm, he links his fingers through mine. It’s an entirely different sensation when a man holds your hand than an inexperienced boy. A warm electric current rushes up my arm and through the rest of my body. It throws me enough off balance that I don’t argue with him as he walks me from the busy club floor, down a hallway, and into an office marked Manager.
Shit. Of course he’d see a fake ID for what it is. His ass is on the line if it gets out he’s serving underage kids. Chicago, for all its corruption and lawlessness, takes some laws seriously. And having the college campus close by puts the club under more scrutiny to be sure they’re following the drinking laws. Losing their liquor license would throw them out of business.
I’m propelled into a large business office with him right behind me. The door shuts and the music disappears in an instant.
“Noise-canceling walls and door,” he answers before I can even ask.
He stands in front of the door, folding his arms over his chest. Now that we aren’t in the dark of the club anymore, I can make him out better. There’s a tattoo winding up his forearm and it disappears beneath the short sleeve of his shirt. He’s no lineman, but he’s all muscle. His jeans are tight enough to make out his strong physique. I take a few steps away from him to keep from having to tilt my head to look at his face.
“How old are you really?” he asks after a long moment of silence passes.
I cross my arms over my own chest and put all my weight on my right foot. It’s all a facade, me trying to cover up how hard my insides are shaking. I’m alone in this office with this guy. My dad taught me how to fight, but I have to keep my focus if I’m going to take this guy out.
He sighs. “Old enough that I have to call your mommy and daddy?”
It’s my turn to laugh. “I don’t think calling my daddy is a good move.” For either of us, but I leave that part out.
“No? Why’s that?” He tilts his head to the side. I’ve piqued his curiosity.
“He’s at work. Wouldn’t like being disturbed.”
“What’s he do?” His chin juts out a bit, like a drug dog who’s picked up a scent.
“Security.” I tell the truth, more or less. My father works for the Kaczmarek family; he’s their muscle. The guy they call when they need someone knocked around a bit, or worse. Not exactly a job you put on your resume, and sure as hell not something his daughter should be divulging to anyone.
“Enough bullshitting, how old are you really and how did you get in?”
I throw on a smile. “I’m nineteen, and I walked through the front door.” His irritation grows with my admission. This club is a twenty-one and over entry. His bouncer is gonna get an earful. “Relax.” I drop my hands to my sides. “You didn’t serve me and there’s no cops here. I’ll just go. No harm, no foul. It’s not like the owners are going to find out and get you in trouble.”
His eyes narrow a fraction more and he moves to me, getting rid of all the space between us. “I’m one of the owners.”
I was not expecting that answer.
“Well, then,” I force a wider smile, “you can really relax. You can’t exactly fire yourself, can you?”
“Your friends, how old are they?” He ignores my statement.
“I came alone.” I move my gaze away from him. His unrelenting stare makes it hard to focus on him. It’s like he’s inspecting every word I say. Avoiding his eyes should help me keep my secrets.
“Hmm, strike two. Maybe you should stop while you’re ahead.”
“Two strikes? On the third will you let me leave?” I tease. I’m not as skilled at flirting as Staci is, but I should be able to wiggle myself out of this.
The right side of his mouth kicks up into a playful grin, and he laughs softly. “No, sweetheart. On the third strike, I bare your ass and turn it bright red.”
My brain blanks.
This guy keeps saying things to throw me off my game.
“You’ll spank me?” A blusterous laugh bursts from my chest. It’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard in my life. Spank me. My father, who is no stranger to violence, has never laid a finger on me, but this prick thinks he’s going to show me a thing or two? I don’t think so.
He rubs his hand along his jaw. “Calling the cops doesn’t work for me. Calling your daddy will probably be more trouble than it’s worth, so yeah, you lie once more and you’ll get an ass whooping before I put you in a cab and ban you from the club for life.”
I laugh again, but it’s more from nerves this time. He doesn’t look like he’s kidding. My father’s thrown empty threats at me since I was a kid; that’s not what’s happening here. This guy means it.
“Whatever. What do you want exactly? I already told you I’d leave. So why don’t you just let me go?”
He slips his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “Are your friends legal age to be here?” he asks, his tone neutral. No more bullshitting.
“And how many are there?”
“Are you going to help me and tell me where I can find them? What they look like?”
“Nope.” I fold my arms over my stomach. There is a limit to what I’ll tell him. Getting Staci and Devin hauled out of the club isn’t my style. If he wants to spend his night hunting down underage kids that’s his business, but I’m not helping.
“Fine.” He pulls a cell from his back pocket, types a few keys then puts the phone to his ear. “Yeah. It’s me. Have someone go relieve Frankie up front, he’s gone.”
Frankie. That was the bouncer.
I step toward him and his blue eyes lock on me, pinning me in place.
“He can’t tell a fake ID from a real one.”
I shake my head. I don’t want this guy losing his job because of me.
He pulls the phone from his ear. “You have something you want to say?”
I pinch my lips together. I can’t rat out my friends.
“I didn’t see him; I mean he didn’t see my ID.” I fumble my words. “It’s not his fault.”
“He didn’t check your ID?”
I shake my head. “No. Not mine.”
“Send him home for the week. Every person gets ID’d. I find one more fake ID in this place, he’s gone for good.” He hangs up.
“I’ll go.” I take a step toward the door, but he grabs my arm.
“Wait, what’s your name? Your real name.”
“Nicole.” I’m honest. What’s a name going to give him? Nothing.
“You’re a student at the college?”
He lets my arm go. “It’s not safe for you to leave on your own. It’s late.”
It was late when we arrived, nearly eleven. It’s probably close to midnight by now, and I still haven’t had a drink.
“I’ll take a cab.” The apartment I share with Staci is only half a mile away, a quick walk, but if it will get me out of here, I’ll pay the money for a damn cab.
“I’ll have someone drive you.” He pulls his phone out again. “I’d take you myself, but I have to finish up here.”
I smile again, feeling playful. “I can always wait.”
He laughs while tapping away on his phone. “No way. My brother is coming by soon, and if he sees you, I’ll have my ass in a sling.”
“Ah, big brother is always watching, huh?”
He shoves his phone back in his pocket again.
“I don’t need a ride,” I say.
“You do,” he says so in a firm tone.
“And if I say no?” I take a step toward him, suddenly wanting to feel the strength of his chest beneath my fingertips.
His mouth breaks into a wide grin. “Then maybe you’ll get that spanking I promised.”
A spark ignites inside of me, spreading heat through me. I’m quiet as I stare at him, trying to decide if he’s just playing with me or if he’s serious. And I’m not sure which I want at this moment.
His phone buzzes. “The car’s ready.”
“And it’s going to take me home?”
“Where else would it take you?” he asks, but there’s a hint of something more, something making my insides tingle.
“Maybe to yours?” I’m playing with fire here, I think, but I can’t seem to stop myself. There’s something dangerous about this man, something that makes him more appetizing.
“Give me your phone.” He puts his hand out.
I pull it out of my little bag for him.
He taps away on it, then his phone buzzes.
“There. Now you have my contact and I have yours. Nicole.”
I take my phone and put it away. Does that mean he’s going to call me, or I should call him? I’m not good at this flirting shit. I should pay more attention to Staci.
“All right.” I take my phone and put it away, not daring to look at it while he’s still watching me.
“I’ll see you later, Nicole,” he says and opens the door for me. A security guard stands there waiting for me.
I give him a quick glance over my shoulder as I pass him. “Yeah. Sure.”
I walk down the hall and through the front entrance of the club and outside to the town car waiting for me. The security guard opens the door for me and prompts me to give the driver my address.
Once the car pulls away from the club, I get my phone to text Staci and the girls about what happened. That’s when I see it.
My heart drops three feet.
Maybe he won’t call. This was a weird night. A strange moment passing between two strange people. I’m an awkward flirt. He’ll forget about me within minutes.
A text notification beeps.
Your friends were looking for you. Both underage.
I’ll be over in an hour so we can discuss your dishonesty.
Seeing him again would be a really bad idea.
Then maybe you’ll get that spanking I promised.
My belly tightens at the memory of his voice as he said those words.
One time wouldn’t hurt anyone.
An hour after I make it home, the knocking on my front door begins.
As a second round starts, I slide the heavy bolt to the left and open the door. Jakub Staszek stands in my hallway, still wearing the same black shirt with the Musicbox logo embossed on the front. His jaw is set firm, and his eyes pin me to where I stand.
“You’re here,” I say softly. I hadn’t actually completely expected him to come over. Part of me hoped he’d been joking; the other part had downed an energy drink just in case.
“I said I’d be over.” He steps forward, gently nudging me into my apartment. He closes the door quietly and slides the bolt back in place.
“Look. I’m sorry about the club.” I fold my hands in front of me. All the bravery I’d put forth at the club is gone now. Either from exhaustion or from the reality there is no one here to save me if things get out of hand.
“Hmm.” He walks the periphery of my living room, stopping to look at a photograph here and there. “You’re sorry you snuck in my club or you’re sorry you left so soon?”
I swallow. “I got a text from my friends.”
He raises a dark eyebrow. “Your two nineteen-year-old friends?”
I try to smile, but there’s a darkness in his stare that stifles it. “Yeah. Those two. Thanks for not giving them trouble. Just letting them leave.”
He keeps silent as he moves closer, stopping just shy of touching me. “You lied to me, Nicole.”
“What was I supposed to do, help you track them down and kick them out? They’re my friends. I wasn’t going to do that to them.”
“I know.” He moves to my couch, sitting down on the middle cushion and resting his hands on his knees. Sitting in my apartment he seems so much larger than at his office. But in both places he exudes confidence. He’s in my apartment, but he looks as though he owns the place.
“Your loyalty kept them out of trouble. I did have to make them leave, and I did take their IDs, though.” He runs his hands up and down his thighs, like he’s warming them up.
“Oh.” I suppress a smile. “Too bad for them, I guess.” Staci and Devin have several IDs. In case one place did exactly as he did, they have backups. They’ll be fine.
“But your lying has put you in trouble.” He pats his knee. “And it’s time you paid the consequence.”
A nervous bubble rises up in my throat and I laugh. What other response should there be to such a crazy statement? “What?”
“I told you on strike three you’d get a spanking. You lied.” He levels me with his hard glare. “That’s strike three.”
“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to just go over there and let you spank me. That’s insane. You’re insane.” I haven’t moved an inch though. I’m not opening the door and yelling at him to leave. I’m just standing here waiting to see what happens, waiting to see if this heat conjuring in my belly will stop.
“You were a bad girl tonight, Nicole. Come take your punishment.” He pats his knee again. “If you don’t, if I have to make you, I can’t make you feel good. I’ll have to leave you desperate and wanting.”
Everything he says makes my insides melt.
His eyebrows raise. “Do I need to count?”
No, counting would be bad.
With a little shake of my head, I walk over to the couch. Once I’m close enough, he reaches out and grabs my hand.
“It won’t be so bad, Nicole. I promise.” He winks, then with one quick tug has me drawn over his lap.
This is ridiculous and stupid, but I can’t seem to stop the trajectory of the moment. Instead of fighting him off, I grab a pillow and bury my face into it.
His hand rests over my ass. “Did you stay in this dress because I was coming over?” he asks while his fingertips play with the hem of the skirt.
My cheeks flame.
“I think I know the answer,” he says with a small chuckle. The skirt of the dress is pushed up over my hips, baring my ass to his inspection. It’s only now I realize I’d chosen the pink thong for tonight.
“This is a bad idea,” I say and start to climb off his lap, but he’s prepared for my change of mind. His arm clamps down around my waist, pinning me to him.
“No. Lying to me was a bad idea,” he says and his hand smacks into my bare ass cheek. I freeze at impact. Another strike lands, and the heat from it thaws my brain enough for me to try to wiggle free.
“Wait. Stop.” I try pushing off of him, but he’s not ready to stop yet. He peppers my ass with swats.
“Not just yet,” he says as he continues to lay down smacks evenly across both my cheeks. I clench my eyes, fist my hands, but it’s mortification that haunts me more. Why did I allow this? What sort of idiot am I?
Just when I’m about to lose my composure he stops. “See, that wasn’t so bad. You did good.” His fingertips trail over the thin strip of lace covering my sex. At some point, my leg slipped off his lap.
My panties are wet, I can sense it and I’m sure he can see it.
“You did real good, Nicole,” he says again as his finger finds my clit. He shifts his leg to grant himself easier access. “And good girls are rewarded.” His words are heavy, seductive, and there isn’t an inch of me that doesn’t want his touch right now.
The pad of his finger rubs my clit in circles, pushing hard then soft, then hard again. “Such a wet pussy,” he says, slipping his finger beneath the thin strip of panties. “I’m going to make you come like this, Nicole. Lying over my lap with a red ass.”
“I don’t…” My words trail off as he finds my clit again and my mind wanders away.
My thighs tighten, my stomach clenches. Everything coils tight ready to spring free.
“So responsive,” he says, but I get the feeling he’s not talking to me. “Come for me, Nicole. Be my good girl. Be good.” He rubs faster, harder, pinching my clit then repeating the action until my insides are wound so tight, I’m either going to explode or rip in two.
“That’s a good girl.” He lays his fingers flat against my clit and rubs, faster and faster.
“Oh, oh, oh.” I curl my toes, throw my face back into the pillow. One more flick and I’m gone. I cry into the pillow as my orgasm rips through me. I’m tearing in half from the force of it, but I don’t want it to end.
The last wave recedes, and I go slack over his lap. He gently pulls his hand from my panties, and carefully returns my skirt down around my ass. Taking his cue, I start to get up, but he pulls me back down into his lap and holds me.
His erect cock presses against me through his slacks, but he makes no move to pull it free.
“You need to get to bed. I need to get back to the club to meet with my brother.”
“You’re leaving?” I look up at him for the first time since he put me over his lap.
He smiles. “Only until tomorrow.”
But I had promised myself only once with Jakub Staszek. “Okay.”