I remember the first time I saw her. She walked into my club to interview for a bartending position. Before that day, I was in a bad place. I’d tried a reconciliation with the ex-wife – thankful that didn’t work out, but I got a beautiful baby girl out of it, so it wasn’t a total loss. Of course, I wouldn’t find that out until later. After that failed attempt at resolving my long-dead marriage, I’d written off women completely, at least to the point of actual relationships, if you catch my drift. I was D-O-N-E with them and their games. The ex was the worst of them, I think. She loved pushing my buttons, and she was very good at it.
I wasn’t supposed to be in that day. Scott, as General Manager, usually handles all of the interviews because they mainly consist of dancers. I’m very picky about the dancers I employ, but Scott’s been with me for a long time and knows exactly what I want working for me. I was just there to collect the previous night’s deposit, which he usually handles too, and take care of some paperwork that needed my attention, since he had a bunch of interviews lined up.
But man, when she walked through that door . . . .
“Ah, the next interview,” Scott says and picks up a paper from the bar.
She was tall and beautiful – a beauty unlike any other I’d seen. Big brown eyes, full luscious lips, and long dark brown hair. A silhouette body the likes of Bettie Page I could see regardless of what she wore. Oh man. Her outfit hid her many tattoos at the time that I wouldn’t see until the first night she worked, but I could see the one on her neck, which told me there were definitely more. I wanted to see every one of them too.
“For what?” I look at him. “Please don’t tell me she’s a damn stripper.” The thought that she would dance in front of several men nearly naked left a sick feeling in my stomach. I didn’t want any other man to see her gorgeous curves, nor have that body rubbing up against them. I wanted that all for myself.
Scott shakes his head. “Nope, bartender.”
That sealed it. I had to do the interview. I had to know who she was. I snatch the application from Scott’s hand, and he just laughs at me and shakes his head.
She stumbles when she sees me. She doesn’t think I know that, but I do. I remember seeing her trip the moment her eyes met mine, no matter how hard she tried to cover it up.
“Um, Anna, right?”
“Nemesis,” she corrects. Damn, her voice is beautiful, too.
I blink and look at the application. “It doesn’t say that on here.”
She smiles and I just want to melt into the floorboards. “No, it doesn’t, but that’s what I go by. Nemy will work too.”
I nod. “Okay then, Nemy. Why don’t you follow me? We’ll do this in my office where it’s quiet.” The club opens around noon for the lunch crowd, so it’s full of noise and almost naked women right now. I notice that she doesn’t seem to be one bit distracted by it either, which tells me she’s been in the environment before.
“Fine.” She follows me down the length of the bar to the door that leads into the back of the club.
I open it for her. “After you.”
“Thank you.” She steps through, and shit, I have to contain myself upon seeing her perfect ass in those black slacks. I don’t even care that she’s overdressed for this interview, but she looks like she should be interviewing for some corporate gig rather than bartending. She is wearing a low-cut shirt under that black blazer though, and damn does she have some nice cleavage. I shake the thoughts from my mind and step forward.
I’m a bit embarrassed by the mess of the girls’ dressing room and try to step in her line of sight before opening the office door. “Sorry about the mess back here.”
She shrugs. “Not to worry. Neurotic strippers and all.”
Damn, I like her already . . . past the obvious, of course. That pulls a chuckle from me as I usher her inside my office. “Please, have a seat.” I step around the desk and sit down while she takes a seat on the sofa. “So, Nemy, I see you’ve worked at quite a few Tempe and Scottsdale clubs. Why are you here?”
She smiles. “I wanted to slow down a bit. Clubs are treacherous.”
“It’s just non-stop go-go-go on busy nights,” she says, pauses as she bites her lower lip that jerks my body, and then she quickly continues. “Not that I’m opposed to busy nights or anything.” Her fingers begin to fidget against her pants leg, which has some thoughts going through my head about removing those pants. “Plus, it was getting in the way of my school work.”
Intrigue has now set in. “What are you going to school for?” I’m thinking please be something worthy because I work with entirely too many women with not much in the brains department.
“I’m working on my Bachelor’s in English and Multimedia.”
Score! A double major. I nod and try to hide the huge grin that wishes to show itself. “Teacher or lawyer . . . or Televangelist?”
“None of the above, actually,” she says with a short giggle, which I’m really digging. “I’m mostly a writer. I mean, I like to create the storylines, you know, that kind of stuff. But I love playing with a camera, so I thought I could combine the two by going into multimedia.” She looks away from me for a moment in her nervousness, so I let it fade away until she’s ready to talk again. But damn, an artist! Someone who will get my creativity. God, she’s fucking perfect so far.
“So does that mean you’re opposed to working nights?” It doesn’t matter what shift she works because I’ve already decided that I’m going to be spending a lot more time in my club.
She shakes her head. “No, not unless I have a specific night I have to be in class. I mostly take classes online, though.”
“What about right now? Are you in class, or taking online courses?”
“Right now, I have one class a week that I have to be in class for. The others are online.”
I nod. “Okay, I can work with that.” I can so work with that. “So, let me ask you this . . . how long do you expect to work for me?” Please say forever.
For a brief moment, I see doubt in her eyes, as though she wants to tell me something in particular, but it quickly fades and she smiles. “For however long you keep me on.”
Two weeks later, I discover the reason for that doubt when her fiancé up and leaves for Colorado – something they were planning to do together. And for two weeks after that, the woman was a complete mess. It was so damn difficult not to console her, not to take her in my arms and tell her how I felt, tell her that I wanted her to be mine. I almost felt sorry for her, but she wouldn’t like someone taking pity on her. I learned that quickly.
I’ll be honest when I say that seeing the engagement ring on her finger near the end of that interview hit me pretty hard and disillusioned any thoughts I had of making her mine, but when that idiot left her, I wanted to kill him for being so stupid . . . or thank him. Yeah, now I’d thank him. It was then that I started calling her Nemy-girl. It’s my way of saying “my girl.”
Not long after Nemy left that interview, I was on the internet searching for her because the name struck me. I never expected her to be whom I discovered. Not in a million years. My dad about shit when I told him.
Anna Maria Mussolini, aka Nemesis. No fucking way did this woman just walk into my club to interview for a bartending position! I knew who she was the moment I saw her name on the application I snatched from Scott’s hand, recalling a newspaper clipping from about twenty years earlier, but I had to be certain. I remember thinking upon finding the information, “Shouldn’t she be married with children and living like a fucking princess or something?” I mean, after all, that’s essentially what she was – a mafia princess. And she’s Michael Mussolini’s only daughter at that, which made it a helluva lot worse for her. But the nickname is the key with this woman. She’s a rebel. And I have to tell you, I love every ounce of that part of her . . . except for when it gets her into bar fights with men. She’s notorious for that.
For a year, I have been waiting. Waiting for the timing to be right, when I think she’s had enough time to get over the Asshole, moron, whatever. She’s been in a man-hating phase the entire time, but I know she’s had a few nights of indiscretion. I tend to become silent around then. She doesn’t tell me directly, but I overhear her telling Cherry. I haven’t touched a woman since she walked through that door. All I want is her. And I’m very glad her indiscretions were never a man who walked into my bar, at least, not to my knowledge. I’d kill the fucker. Seriously. I love that she brings in so many customers, but I scrutinize every one of them, wondering if they fucked her the night they met her, and wondering what that would be like.
I’ve gotten to know her quite well because I’m in my club every night she works. When she shows up on her scheduled nights off, I have Scott call me so I can be there. I’m pretty sure she thinks I have no life outside of this place. In truth, I have no life outside of her.
And I think she may be coming around because I’ve noticed over recent months how she looks at me. She gets this sparkle in her eye, especially during our bets. One of the contingencies of the bets that I always throw out there is that she has to strip for me if she loses. She usually laughs it off and tells me she only strips in the bedroom. Hey, I wasn’t thinking about any other place.
“Nemy-girl,” I shout from the end of the bar, my usual spot when she’s working. I give her a goofy smile, and she knows exactly what I want. I suppose I could just get up and get the drink myself, but I like watching her walk toward me and away from me. I just love the way she moves.
She comes forward, grabs my glass, and refills it with soda. Now, I’ve mentioned to Scott on occasion what a nice ass she has. Mr. Dumbass leans past me as she walks away and says, “You’re right, Clancy, she does have a nice ass.” Idiot. I can only hope that she doesn’t hear it, but then she turns around, placing her hands on those beautiful hips.
“The two of you are just now noticing this?”
Holy shit, I want to disappear right now, but fuck, that was a nice comeback, so I have to laugh.
I push Scott back to his seat and quietly say, “Mine.” Of course, this wasn’t meant for her to hear, but she can apparently read lips because she gets this look on her face, and I can tell it’s a facetious one, like she’s thinking about mooning us, but she doesn’t and I’m severely disappointed because I really want to see that ass without the jeans.
Next thing I know, a piece of ice hits my glass as she walks away.
“Damn,” I shout. “Was that just a one-time thing, or what?”
The tough girl look hits her as she crosses her arms over the corset she’s wearing, which incidentally raises those fucking beautiful breasts, and she throws her head up once, asking me a silent question.
I smile at her. “Can you do it again? I bet you can’t.”
Her lips curve up and she pushes away from the bar. “What’s the bet?”
“If you miss, you strip for me,” I say, grinning wide, and all I can envision right now is her doing just that.
“I told you I only strip in the bedroom, Clancy. Not gonna happen.”
“Someday you’re gonna say yes.”
“Bet’cha I won’t.” I can see that sparkle in her eyes, the one that tells me someday isn’t far off, no matter what she’d like me to believe. “Well?”
I concede and bow my head, knowing it’s not going to happen tonight. “All right, if you can hit my glass again, I’ll give you a raise.”
She lets out a short laugh because she’s making twelve bucks an hour due to our little bets. “How much?”
My brow rises. “Another dollar?”
“And if I miss?”
I scan the bar, taking in every detail and trying to figure out what a good bet would be, and then I look out to the rest of the club, searching for something, anything to keep this play going. My eyes return to her. “Take charge of the girls.”
“Fuck you, no bet,” she shouts and tosses another piece of ice at me, a small one, which hits me right in the center of my fucking forehead.
I jump from my seat. “Damn it, you could’ve hit me in the eye!”
She crosses her arms over her chest again and leans against the bar. “I hit right where I was aiming.”
Oh yeah, she is so going to be mine.