Lover Undercover
Author:Samanthe Beck

chapter Four

Halfway through her second featured dance, Kylie completed a slow twirl around the pole and her gaze slammed into Trevor’s. She tightened her grip and slowed the turn so she didn’t stumble. His controlled expression gave nothing away, but the sight of him watching her like a hawk from the back of the audience stretched her already-tight nerves until they quivered like overwound violin strings. Deep breathing didn’t do much to ease the painful tension.

Why wouldn’t she be tense? She’d spent the whole evening hyperalert, wired from drinking too much caffeine and stressed because she imagined a killer monitoring her every move. Call her uptight, but constantly scanning her coworkers and customers for signs of homicidal tendencies made her edgy.

Yet despite her vigilance, she hadn’t seen Trevor arrive.

Now that he had, a different sort of edginess took hold. Her focus contracted. Everything around him faded to an indistinct blur while the dark, velvety weight of his stare stroked her like a touch, igniting little fires everywhere it lingered—her lips, her breasts…lower. Somehow, she managed to complete the dance, but her wobbly legs and shortness of breath couldn’t be blamed on exertion.

Backstage, while waiting on her clothes, she worked on bringing her heart rate back to normal and accepting some uncomfortable truths. Trevor held power over her, and not simply because he was investigating a murder and she was walking a razor-thin line between witness and suspect. No, it came down to something much more personal—and worrisome. When he looked at her, feelings she’d buried and left for dead a long time ago pulsed to life. Sexuality and sensuality heated and mixed. The molten concoction flowed to all her erogenous zones—zones she would have sworn never existed before now.

Being the “good twin,” the “let’s not give ’em something to talk about” girl, demanded self-control. Their mom had chucked her independence, rearranged her priorities, and clung like a burr to any man in a nicely packed pair of Levi’s who gave her a second glance. Determined never to measure her worth by her relationship status, avoid any whisper of scandal, and prove to everyone a Roberts woman could make something of herself, Kylie had resolved to be the boss of her hormones.

The testament to her success? She’d left home a virgin. And although liberated from the prying eyes of Two Trout’s gossips, five years in LA hadn’t broadened her experience in any noteworthy ways. While Stacy seemed bound and determined to prove she could pick men up and toss them aside without breaking stride, Kylie was too busy pursuing her goals to date. Her yoga classes took up practically all of her bandwidth.

She pulled on the outfit and glanced down at herself. Thanks to this latest fiasco, Kylie’s lean, flexible body had been transformed into something ripe and seductive. A lacy black push-up bra boosted her breasts to heretofore unimaginable heights. A matching G-string and thigh-high stockings created a lace-embroidered invitation to stare at her crotch.

Someday in the future, when she owned her own studio and Stacy had a legitimate entertainment job, maybe she’d be able to rearrange her priorities. Stop spending all her time working and rescuing Stacy, and find a nice guy to…um…show her some of life’s sweet mysteries. But so far, nobody had much tempted her.

Until now, whispered a brutally honest voice as she shrugged into a thigh-grazing man’s white button-down shirt and draped a blue and silver striped tie around her neck. Trevor definitely tempted her. Those hormones she thought had dried up and blown away like an untended garden were dropping roots and sprouting like crazy.

“Crazy” being the operative word. Now was the wrong time, and Trevor, the wrong man. Appalled with herself, she shoved her black fedora on her head, turned, and nearly screamed as she ran smack into Vern.

“Jesus, you scared me!”

Vern rolled his eyes and smoothed his shirt. “What’sa matter? Last night’s excitement got you jumpy?”

“Of course. Aren’t you?”

“I’m always jumpy when cops come around asking me questions.” He paused and gave her a serious look. “The detective who came to see me this morning told me they’d be speaking to you. Handle them on your own time. I’m telling you now, if I see more cops around here, things will get ugly.”

Kylie swallowed the urge to tell him tonight’s audience included at least one homicide detective. “I intend to cooperate.”

“I’m not saying don’t cooperate. Hell, I’m cooperating. They asked me for a list of all your regulars for the last year, based on private dance receipts, and I’m going to get them their damn list. Soon as I do, they’re going to ask you about those guys. If you don’t want the LAPD scaring away your best clients, I suggest you convince them they don’t need to talk to every single one of them.”

Lord, how was she supposed to prepare for this? She was going to have to memorize all Stacy’s regulars—what they looked like, their personalities, what type of…entertainment…they preferred. Impossible. To Vern she said, “No problem.”

“Good. Then maybe we can focus on work for a second. You’ve got a thirty-minute private dance in VIP room two. He’s not a regular. Go make him one. Benny is already in there reviewing the rules, so unload your tips and hustle over. If you can’t get another thirty minutes out of him, you’ve got just enough time to give grandpa at table seven a lap dance. If the private extends, you’re done for the night. I’ll have Lee Ann do the old guy.”

Before Kylie could reply, the honey-haired Southern belle stepped out of the dressing room at the end of the hall. “Lee Ann!” Vern barked and lumbered toward his next target.

Dread knotted her stomach as she hurried toward the dressing room. She’d been hoping against hope to avoid private dances. Public ones were bad enough. Pushing through the door, she smiled absently at Ariana, nodded to Ginger, crossed to Stacy’s vanity, and stopped short. Stacy’s overpriced boots sat on the vanity, safe and sound.

Surprised, she scanned the room. Ariana noticed her look and responded with a haughty smile. “Yes, Stacy, last night before I leave, I find your boots over there by the lockers. I figure you forget them…not like you to forget your things. I think, ‘Ari, these boots will not be here tomorrow unless you lock them up.’ So I do.” She raised a shoulder and let it drop. “Now I take them down and give them back to you.”

Kylie stared at the Russian. “Thank you. These boots were new and expensive and, to be honest, I never thought I’d lay eyes on them again. If you hadn’t put them in a safe place, I’m sure I never would have.”

Ariana lifted her nose in the air and looked down at Kylie through lowered, heavily lined eyelids. “Thank you for letting me borrow body oil last night.”

“Any time.” The way Stacy had described her coworkers left Kylie with the impression they were all viciously competitive and out for themselves. Not so true, apparently.

At least the precious boots were safe. She wished she could say the same for herself. With shaking hands she transferred her tips from her costume to her lockbox and tried to get herself calm and mentally prepared for the private dance.

“Private” wasn’t really accurate. Deuces mandated a bouncer stay in the room. At least Benny was bouncing for her rather than Ramon, the other security team member working tonight.

Ramon had been on stage duty the night Carlton Long pulled Stacy offstage. He’d left his station mid-dance to take a call, which broke club rules and, indirectly, her sister’s leg. Stacy dismissed Ramon as “a lazy weasel who never has your back,” but the vast nothingness in his dull black eyes bothered Kylie almost as much as his unreliability.

Then again, who was she to judge? For the next few weeks, she’d be dancing next to naked around a pole, on a table, over some guy’s lap, or up close and personal in the VIP room—the most profitable option by far, which is why she had to do this private dance. Panic skated through her at the thought of providing such intimate and blatantly sexual-themed entertainment, but there was no way around it. She and Stacy had bills to pay. Besides, quitting now would look suspicious.

To calm her jittery nerves, she reviewed Stacy’s instructions. They played in her head while she made her way to the VIP room with all the enthusiasm of a dead man walking.

A private performance takes the fantasy to the next level for the client. One-on-one attention from the girl of his dreams. The performance is what we call “full contact,” though he’s not allowed to touch you anyplace personal. You, on the other hand, can touch him anywhere above the belt, and you can sit on his lap.

My clients tend to want an artistic experience. Carlton, for instance, liked to undo my top, but otherwise, wasn’t into a lot of contact. He preferred to sit back and watch while I touched myself and put on a show for him. He enjoyed…theatrics.

Not just dancing, but acting, Kylie thought facetiously. Still, at the end of the day, it remained just a fantasy. For whatever comfort that offered. She opened the red leather-upholstered door to the VIP room, steeled her nerves, and stepped inside.

Deuces’ upscale ambience extended to the private rooms. Dark colors and low lights called to mind a gentleman’s study. But rather than shelves of books and a desk, the room boasted mirror-paneled walls, a comfortable leather chair, and a small table for holding drinks. Tucked in a shadowy corner sat a utilitarian wooden stool for the bouncer.

Benny stood in front of the client, reviewing the VIP room etiquette. When he stepped to the side, her heart stuttered in her chest. Trevor sat in the chair, enigmatic eyes fixed on her.

Benny glanced at her and tipped his head. “We’re on the clock.” With that, he retired to the corner and literally faded into the background.

She stood rooted to her spot by the door, unable to move.

“Hello, Stacy.” Trevor’s low greeting sent a tremor down her spine. “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but I’m guessing you need to come a little closer.”

Stacy marched over to him, eyes flashing. The energy coming off her in waves announced one thing. She was ready to rumble. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Her furious whisper reminded him of an alley cat trying to intimidate a pit bull. Her coconut-vanilla scent reminded him of sex on the beach, somewhere tropical and isolated, preferably deserted, except for them.

He shoved that thought aside and smiled up at her in his best impersonation of an eager client—a disturbingly easy role. Through his teeth he said, “I’m getting a private dance, just like any avid customer.”

“You’re not a real customer.” She kept her voice low, but her temper came through loud and clear.

“I’m as real as they come. I’ve paid the money, I’ve agreed to the rules. And now”—he leaned back in the chair like a guy about to enjoy a private dance—“I’m ready for my performance.”

Ready might have been an overstatement. Her plain man’s button-down, striped necktie, lace-trimmed stockings, and shiny black heels fucked with his head, not to mention a few other things.

She stared a hole through him for a long second, and it occurred to him she might refuse. But then she reached behind him for the stereo programmer. Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” moaned from the surround sound. Music selection complete, Stacy took her position straddling his lap and slowly rolled her hips in time with the music.

“Anything particular on your wish list tonight?”

Tons, but this wasn’t about him. He needed to keep his mind on the investigation. “How’d you dance for Carlton?”

“Carlton liked a sensual dance, if I remember correctly.”

God bless Carlton. “Okay. Give me what you’d give him.”

She lowered her lashes, which he couldn’t interpret. Was she afraid? Resigned? Sleepy? Nimble fingers undid the knot on the tie at her throat. She swirled the strip of silk around her shoulders, down her arm, and let it fall to the floor. The collar of her shirt draped open, revealing and abundance of smooth cleavage nestled in a lacy black bra.

He wanted to drag his own tie down and tear open the top few buttons of his shirt. The damn thing choked him. He couldn’t concentrate.

She moved her hips over his lap, barely brushing him. His cock immediately sat up and took notice, reminding him control and self-discipline had their limits. But her reaction surprised him a lot more than his own. Pink invaded her cheeks. She raised her hips slightly and focused her attention in the vicinity of his mouth.

“How’d you get this?” she murmured, tracing her index finger lightly along his upper lip.

His tongue itched to follow the path of his finger. Most people never noticed the thin, almost invisible, white scar, but whenever someone did ask, he usually dismissed the question with a bullshit answer.

“Domestic disturbance call, back when I was a rookie,” he said, before he fully realized he planned to tell her the truth. “We showed up and separated a couple tearing into each other right there in their front yard. Huge guy, and he’s got this scarecrow of a woman in a headlock. She’s kicking and screaming, trying to twist out of his grip. We waded in. I took the guy, and my partner took the female. Anyway, she slipped out of his grip, I turn around, and—wham—she slugs me in the mouth. Her ring scratched that little reminder right where I can see it every day.”

Her eyes shifted to his and lingered for beat before dropping to his mouth again. “Reminder?”

“Yeah. Don’t underestimate someone’s capacity for violence just because they look like they couldn’t hurt a fly.”

She brushed her fingernail lightly along the scar, in what he recognized as an instinctive effort to sooth a hurt. Didn’t matter. The uncalculated gesture affected him almost as much as her outfit, her dance, all the artifice. All the blood in his body settled heavily between his legs. Get your head out of your pants. You’re investigating a murder, for Christ’s sake.

“You learned the same lesson, I think.” At her raised eyebrows, he said, “The other night, with Long, when he pulled you offstage.”

“Carlton didn’t mean to hurt me. It was an accident.”

Okay, safe ground, finally. Discuss the victim. Learn his habits. “He wasn’t a problem, normally?”

“No. Nor was he particularly touchy. He liked to watch the dancers.”

“You, in particular.”

She shrugged, somehow incorporating the gesture into her slow, rhythmic sway. “I guess.”

“And this is what he liked? You, standing over him, moving your body close to his?”

“Carlton liked to participate in one aspect,” she whispered.

Judging by the look on her face, he was screwed. Safe ground eroded under him even as he formed the question that had to be asked. “How?”

“He would help me with my top.”

Trevor managed to swallow—an effort to relieve the tightness in his throat—but his voice held a distinctly thick quality when he replied, “Got it.” He raised his hands and began undoing the buttons on her white shirt, silently ordering himself to keep his eyes on her face.

She lowered her hands from where they rested on his shoulders so he could push the shirt down her arms. It hit the floor like a hushed sigh, barely audible over the music.

Then, because his eyes had a fucking mind of their own, they dropped to her impossibly gorgeous breasts, displayed to perfection by the lacy black bra. The music receded, and for several seconds, the only noise he heard was the sound of his breath rushing in and out of his lungs.

“This, too?” he finally managed, the words little more than a low rumble. The thought of unclasping the bra and freeing her breasts made him light-headed. Or maybe that was the lack of blood flow to his brain. He wished they’d crank up the air in this place.

She nodded.

“I’m on it.” All in the line of duty, right? The whole point was to make this look real. He reached around and his fingers brushed the back clasp. Could be his hands were shaky, but the damn thing eluded him. He put his palms on top of her thighs and settled her on his lap. “You’re a moving target. Sit still for a minute.”

Her hands returned to his shoulders. He leaned forward to complete his assignment, inadvertently rasping her shoulder with his jaw. Her little shiver of reaction sent a bolt of heat straight to his groin. Sweat rolled into his eyes. He squeezed them shut and counted to ten, trying to get himself under control.

“There we go,” he murmured, opening his eyes and leaning back. Stacy didn’t move a muscle, but her shuddery exhale sent the bra straps sliding down her arms, revealing her breasts in all their glory. Choking back a groan, he lowered his hands to his sides, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the sight of her, all up close and personal.

Her small, pink nipples tightened under his stare. The reaction seemed to startle her. She inhaled sharply and crossed her arms over her chest. Knowing it made him just like every fool who’d ever forked over money for lap dance didn’t stop him from wondering if she might be as affected by this as he was.

“What now? Would Carlton would touch you?” Wait. Shit. What if she said yes? Trevor was only human, but there were lines here he couldn’t cross.

“That’s not allowed,” she said breathlessly. Reluctantly, insisted the idiot in his head. “Aside from undressing me, Carlton preferred not to touch.”

“Ah. That’s right. He liked to watch.”

She nodded.

“You put on a realistic show, and he watched?”


“Okay, then. I’m all eyes.” Keeping them on her face, he leaned back in his chair and mentally recited the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor.

She rose from his lap and slowly tipped her head back until her hat tumbled away. Then she crossed her arms behind her neck, lifted her hair, and let it cascade down her back. The Oath segued into a prayer for strength.

Prayers wouldn’t be enough, he realized, when she splayed her hands on her rib cage and slowly slid them up her torso toward her breasts. At the last minute, however, she hesitated. Her eyes drifted to his. “Do you want me to…?”

The cynical part of his brain took charge, because he didn’t have any prayers left. “You’ve got the innocent, virginal act down pat. It’s surprisingly effective.” Then the cynic surrendered and all he had left was the truth. “Hell, yes, I want you to,” he whispered. “I might die if you don’t.”

Maybe Stacy got off on tortured admissions, or maybe this was all part of the act, but she closed her eyes, ran her hands over her breasts, and gave a little whimper that vibrated all the way through him.

“Like this?” she whispered.

“That’s good. I mean…” Shit. “If that’s what Carlton liked.”

She strummed her fingers over the tight peaks and bit her lip as if to hold back a moan. He stiffened in the chair and reached for her before he caught himself. “Jesus. Sorry.”

If she heard him, she gave no sign. She seemed to be off in her own world, somewhere beyond those closed eyes. Real or simulated? Hard to say. Mesmerizing? Definitely. When she sucked her finger into her mouth, and then rubbed her nipple, transferring moisture to the glistening peak, he exhaled harshly, sending a burst of air over the tip. The skin puckered, and a moan echoed low in her throat.

He groaned and shifted in the chair. Before he knew what she had in mind, she pressed her hips down and rode his throbbing cock. In his overtaxed imagination, there were no barriers between them. No lacy G-string, no dark-blue suit pants, just a slow, slick slide of heated flesh against heated flesh.

They had to stop. He had to—oh, God. Her palm swept down her fluttering belly until her fingers found the soaked lace of her thong. With one hand braced on his shoulder for balance, she arched her back, thrust her breasts forward, and proceeded to rub and stroke herself into a frenzy.

She was giving him, hands down, the sexiest show he’d ever seen. Her uncensored, uninhibited movements sure as hell didn’t look like an act. Didn’t feel like an act. Worse, he didn’t want this to be an act. The last thought shocked him into action. Abruptly, he widened his legs. The move forced her thighs farther apart. “Stacy, we have to stop—”

Too late. Head back and teeth clenched, her entire body tightened against his. Her free hand clenched his shirtfront while the busy hand between her legs stilled. She sucked in a quick breath—as if she’d just walked into the biggest surprise of her life—and then came with a long, shattering cry.

In that moment, Trevor knew that he was completely and utterly fucked.

“That was some performance.”

Trevor’s sardonic comment cut through Kylie’s churning thoughts. What the hell had she just done? Had she lost her freaking mind, along with every last shred of decency and self-control? Yes, she was under pressure. Yes, this man stirred up unprecedented chemistry inside her and she had zero experience handling those urges. But indulging in a sexual fantasy to get through a private dance, forfeiting control for some kind of escape, was dangerous and humiliating. Shame burned hot enough to make her tremble.

She pried her eyes open and looked at him. What she saw in his face set her trembling again, this time with panic. He knows. Ruthlessly, she cut the thought off. No, he suspects. He doesn’t know anything you don’t tell him.

“I’m pleased you enjoyed it,” she said breezily, though it was more like a wheeze, and started to climb off him. “Carlton always did.”

He caught her wrist, stopping her retreat. “All part of your show, huh?” His expression mirrored the disbelief in his voice.

“That’s right.”

Before she could guess his intention, he brought her hand to his face. The same hand that, seconds ago, had been nestled between her legs. He inhaled deeply, and her face flamed. She tried to pull away, but he held on.

“If that was a performance, you deserve an Academy Award.”

“No holding,” ordered a firm voice from the corner of the room.

The interruption jolted her right out of her skin. Then recognition dawned and she almost wilted with relief. Benny. Good old Benny. She’d forgotten he was there, but could have kissed him on the mouth when his stoic instruction did the trick. Still watching her like a hawk, Trevor unhurriedly released her wrist. The disbelief on his face continued to challenge her assertion she’d been acting, but he said nothing more.

Get out, fast. She scrambled away and scanned the floor for her shirt. She found it easily enough and shrugged the garment on, but shaking hands made dealing with the buttons difficult.

“Need some help?”

The deliberate patience in Trevor’s voice bothered her almost as much as the feel of his maddeningly steady hands trailing along her shirtfront, deftly securing buttons. His movements caused the fabric to shift and rub. Under his miss-no-detail gaze, her nipples sprang to attention.

Swatting at his hands, she added, “Cut it out.”

“Back off.” This time Benny’s disembodied voice sounded more menacing.

“I’m not holding her,” Trevor replied calmly, not bothering to turn around. He finished buttoning her shirt and rubbed his thumb gently under her eye, where she’d tried to use makeup to hide the dark, puffy circles left by lack of sleep.

The big man stepped out of the shadows. One look at his dogged expression and Kylie realized she was about to have an even bigger problem. Hoping to avoid trouble, she shifted away from Trevor’s touch. “Everything’s okay, Benny. We’re done.” Arms crossed, hip cocked, she sent Trevor a look that silently dared him to contradict her. “Aren’t we?”

He nodded. “For now. Get some rest, Stacy. You’re going to need it.”