By: Sara Wylde

Wait, there was actually a thing? I raised a brow.

He grinned. “It’s her birthday. Did you really think the guys weren’t going to do something for her? Come on. I’ve got to get changed.”

What he meant was he had to get naked. Kieran was an exotic dancer at a ladies club called The Rooster.

“What’s the thing?” Gavin asked, following us.

I stopped and turned to look at him. “Male strippers. Want to come?”

It was my turn to throw the baseball that hit him in the face, but he recovered quickly. “If you’ll give me your number after.”

Kieran grinned. “Sorry, laddie. Not unless you want to clamber up on stage and give it a shot.” His Irish accent was a bit more pronounced.

And that was why I loved Kieran. He was always up for any scheme or adventure.

“Why not?” Gavin shrugged.

Why not, indeed.

Kieran laughed. “Meet us there. It’s The Rooster, over off of 119th.”

“Even money he doesn’t show,” Kieran said after we were in his shiny, black Dodge Challenger.

“I hope he doesn’t. That’s the guy April kept trying to set me up with.”

“Well, is that the only thing that’s wrong with him—that April wanted to set you up?”

“No, that’s not the problem. He said I was pretty. For a fat girl.”

“Did you junk-punch him?”

“No. But he seemed determined to want to hook up for some reason.”

He nodded to my ample cleavage. “Yeah, some reason.”

“Shut up.” I laughed it off and poked through his iPod and put ZZ Ward on.

“I forgot to delete that from my playlist. Jesus, woman. If you played her anymore, you would be her.”

The woman was gorgeous and could wail her heart out. “There are worse things to be.”

“Yeah, like stuck in a car with you while you angst over her lyrics.”

“I am not angsting.”

“Yeah? Prove it.”

“How’s that?”

“Go out with Brant.”

“Nope.” Brant was another guy who worked at the club. “I just can’t do it.”

“So you wanted Douchie McDickface earlier to see you for more than your body, but you’re guilty of the same thing. Tell me there’s any other reason that you won’t go out with him than he’s 5’6.”

I bit my lip. He was right. “We can’t help who we’re attracted to.” I held up my hand to stop him from pouncing on that. “But, I never told Brant I wouldn’t go out with him because he was 5’6. I didn’t say ‘you’re hot for a midget.’ Because I’m not an asshole.”

“But you thought it and that kind of makes you an asshole, too.”

Ugh. He was right. I slumped in the seat.

“He really likes you.”

“It’s not just that he’s short. I could never date someone who does what you guys do. I’m not wired that way. I have a hard enough time keeping my confidence up without worrying about every pretty girl with a fantasy and a credit card.”

“But you know that’s all it is, right? A fantasy? I’m just Kieran when I’m not at the club.”

I rolled my eyes. “So says you who has a parade of pussy through our house.”

He smirked. “I’d do that even if I didn’t dance.”

“I’m probably the only woman in the city you haven’t banged.”

Kieran looked thoughtful for a moment. “No, I haven’t banged April, but she kind of wanted that for her birthday present.”

I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not. “You’re such a slut.”

He shrugged. “If the G-string fits.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about the trip to The Rooster?” I changed the subject. I wouldn’t have worn the cherry dress because now it was going to forever smell like man-musk and that glitter oil they used. It wasn’t a bad smell, in fact, I kind of liked it. I just didn’t want my cherry dress to smell that way for now and always.

“Because I knew you’d try to find some way out of it. Now, I’ve got you in the car and there is no escape.”

“Is there ever?” I sighed dramatically. Not that it was actually a chore to go to The Rooster, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t know most of the guys outside the club. They came to our house, they helped me move big furniture, and worked on my car. Sometimes, I’d babysit their kids. It seemed decidedly wrong to objectify a man after I’d taken his daughter to the zoo and she now called me Auntie Claire.

“When was the last time you actually had any fun?”