All the Pretty Poses Page 2


It takes my brother slapping the back of my shoulder to get my eyes off of Kennedy as she walks away.

“You coming?”

Five minutes ago, I couldn’t wait to get home, but now…now, all I really want to do is go back stage and find Kennedy. I have no idea what I’d do after that. Kiss her. Shake her. Ask her what in the ten rings of hell she’s doing dancing in one of my clubs. But I can’t.

Well, I could, but I won’t. I shouldn’t.

Suddenly, I feel angry. And frustrated.

“Reese, man, what the hell?” Hemi prompts.

“I’m coming,” I snap, turning away from the stage so fast that my chair tips over. I nearly run right into our waitress, on her way back to our table with Sig’s next shot and my next drink.

She gasps in surprise. “I’m sorry. Pardon me.”

“My fault,” I tell her, grabbing her arm to keep her from stumbling backward.

She leans into me, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. “Thank you,” she breathes, her br**sts brushing my chest.

My first thought is that her eyes are the wrong color; they should be sea foam green. My second thought is a string of long, very harsh obscenities. My third thought is that maybe this girl is exactly what I need tonight after all.

“What time do you get off?”

“That all depends on you,” she replies suggestively. Unfortunately for her, my mood has changed. Drastically.

“Just give me the keys, Reese. We’ll wait in the car,” Hemi says from my left, blatantly annoyed. Unfortunately for him, he just gave me the window that I needed.

I take the keys to my Mercedes out of my pocket and slap them into his palm. “I’ll be out in ten.”

As soon as Hemi’s girlfriend is on her feet, with her back toward me, I tug my “distraction” in closer to my chest as I whisper down into her ear, “How do you feel about the men’s room?”

“Tonight, it’s my favorite place,” she purrs.

“That’s what I thought.”

And just like that, Kennedy is off my mind.

I lead Pandora to the men’s room, making sure it’s empty before I lock the door and pull her into my arms. She comes willingly. Like I knew she would.

I grab her ass in one hand and one plump tit in the other, squeezing both as I drag my lips over her throat.

“Tell me what you like,” she moans, swiveling her h*ps in just such a way that she massages my throbbing cock.

“I wanna see you playing with these,” I tell her, spreading the lapels of her top and baring her na**d breasts, “while you’re blowing me with these.” I cover her lips with my own, sucking the lower one into my mouth and biting it with my teeth.

As soon as I release her, the hot brunette kisses and rubs her way down my neck and chest, then on to my stomach before I feel her cup my balls through my pants. I groan, leaning my head back against the cool tile wall as she unzips my pants and dips her hand inside.

The first touch of her tongue to the tip of my c**k draws a groan from me. She licks and sucks, trailing her lips along the length from base to tip, but it’s not enough. I need…more. I need to bang something—or someone—hard. The waitress’s mouth slides down over my shaft, taking as many inches as she can all the way down into her throat. By touch, I reach down to thread my fingers into her hair, guiding her over me. Harder and harder, faster and faster.

My mistake is in raising my head to look down at her. She pauses to glance up and all I can see is that it’s the wrong eyes. The wrong mouth. The wrong face.

The wrong woman.

And just like that, Kennedy is on my mind again. Under my skin.

With an angry growl, I pull my dick out of the waitress’s mouth.

“What’s wrong, baby?” she asks in a pouty, sexy voice, a voice that merely grates on my nerves at this point.

“Nothing you can fix. It’s not you, it’s… it’s just… Maybe you should just go back to work,” I tell her as pleasantly as I can, zipping up my pants and moving away from her. I’m so frustrated, all I want to do is put my fist through the wall. And then put my c**k into Kennedy.

Angrily, I turn toward the sink to wash my hands. In the mirror, I don’t see the muted fury of the eyes that are staring back at me. No, I see blatant disgust in the pale green ones that I’ve never been able to forget.

With a shake of my head, I look back and see only my reflection and, behind me, the waitress. Kennedy is nowhere to be found.

Except in my head.

Where she never left.


My heart is still hammering when I ease into the chair in front of my dressing table back stage. I glance down at my hands. They’re shaking.

Reese Spencer.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” I glance over at Karmen, the resident Southern Belle right here in Chicago, where she’s brushing the long, black wig that she’ll wear for her next dance. “You look like you just saw a ghost.”

My laugh is dry. “Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened.”

“Tell mama all about it,” she coos as she drags the brush through the silky strands. When I send her a wry look, she winks at me. “No, seriously. Tell me what happened. This is the most worked up I’ve seen you since you started here.”

I don’t normally share any of my business with the other girls. I’m a very private person. Always have been. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of choice, but always private. That’s why I’m a little surprised when my mouth opens up and half my life story falls out.

“I just saw someone that I haven’t seen in years. I knew him when I was younger. I thought he was…he was…wow! I mean, he was just…” I pause and sigh. “It was like that,” I say, raising my brows meaningfully. “I thought the sun rose and set in his eyes.” In fact, I can remember watching a sunrise in his fathomless aqua eyes. Once. Before… I feel the pang of remembered devastation tug at my heart, like fresh new skin pulling at an old scar. “But then he left and never came back. I haven’t seen him since. Until tonight.”

I’m lost in thought, in memory, for what feels like an eternity before I realize that neither Karmen nor I have said another word. I shake my head to clear it and give her what I hope is a bright smile. “It was a long time ago.”

Karmen’s expression is pensive. And her mind is perceptive. “You loved him,” she observes.

My mouth opens to deny it, but the words don’t come out. It’s almost like my body won’t let me breathe such a betrayal, one that would minimize the pure hell I went through after he left. Yes, I loved him. With my entire soul, I loved him. And he left me. Just like that.

“As much as a young, naïve girl can love a guy like that, I suppose,” I reply, matter of fact.

“A guy like what?”

“Rich. Handsome. Privileged. Heartless.”

“Honey, guys like that are the easiest ones to love. Something in us wants to be the one to tame them, to be the one they change for. Maybe. Hell, I don’t know. I just know they’re the ones that are the most dangerous. From what I hear, our dear Pandora found that out for herself tonight.”

Still firmly road-blocked on memory lane, I’m barely paying attention to what she’s saying about Pandora. “Hmmm. And why is that?”

“She thought she’d snag her one of the big fish. According to her, she had a ‘run-in’ with the owner of the club, out in the men’s room. She found out the hard way, though, that guys like that are the way they are for a reason.”

I frown. “The owner?”

“Yeah. He doesn’t come here very often. I’ve only seen him one other time. But when he does come, he always makes a stir. Of course, a guy like that makes a stir wherever he goes. I mean, he is hot as Georgia in July, but men like him don’t change. Ever. For anyone.”

“She’s better off. He sounds like a beast. I mean, the bathroom for god’s sake?” I shake my head in disgust.

Karmen grins. “Oh, she wasn’t complaining about that part. She was just hoping for more. A guy like that makes all the girls hope.”

“Surely she’s making that up. I just don’t understand how something like that even happens. I mean, she was working!”

She shrugs one delicate shoulder. “Pandora takes ‘serving’ the VIP section to a whole new level.” Karmen laughs at her cleverness.

I sit up a little straighter in my chair, a terrible sinking sensation invading the pit of my stomach. “VIP section? Which table was this guy at?”

There’s only one man I know—only one man I’ve ever known—who can command this kind of attention. He commanded mine fourteen years ago. And he commanded it again tonight, even after nearly ruining my life.

“Two. You didn’t see him?”

Table two. The section where Reese was sitting. Although I’d like to think Karmen is talking about someone else, I know in my gut that she’s not.

“Yeah, I think I did.”

I close my eyes. I refuse—refuse—to give Reese Spencer one more ounce of heartache, one more millisecond of pain, one more drop of tears. I gave him enough fourteen years ago.


I’m grouchy as hell. Even less in the mood for my uncle’s funeral than I was last night.

I woke up with a raging hard-on. The same one I went to bed with. The one that I got from seeing Kennedy up on that stage. The one that the hot waitress who could suck a golf ball through a garden hose couldn’t get rid of last night in the bathroom. That hard-on.

Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to seeing my father. He’ll be attending, partially out of respect but mostly because of public perception. I’ll be attending because I loved my uncle. Probably more than I love my father, which is sad. Sad, but true.

The funeral is being held at Bellano, the home of my ancestors that lies in the outskirts of Chicago. It’s one of the few remaining undisturbed tracts of land. It’s worth a bloody fortune, but it will never be sold. As the eldest, my uncle inherited it and, today, we will learn who will be responsible for keeping it in the family through the next generation. I’m guessing it will be my father since Malcolm had no children.

I notice that the sparse trees that line the road leading to Bellano begin to thicken. It’s the first indication that the estate is close. Few trees turn into several, and several into many, until the road is nothing more than a thin line of asphalt cut into dense forest.

Up ahead, I see the gap in the vegetation and I press the brake to slow the car. I make a right turn and ease up to the wide wrought iron gates. The two halves that form an intricate S in the middle when closed now stand open, welcoming mourners to the site of Malcolm Spencer’s funeral.

I drive slowly along the winding path that leads to the main house. I spent many a summer here. Happy summers. Some of the best times of my life. Until my father put an end to it by sending me to college at Oxford.

As I begin up a slight incline, the main house comes into view. To most it looks imposing, what with its gray stone exterior and multiple turrets, but to me, it’s warm and inviting. Because my uncle lived here. And he was always good to me.

I park in the spot I used during my summer visits—to the left of the five-car garage, in the grassy space between it and the side entrance to the kitchen. When I cut the engine, I sit in the quiet for a few minutes, remembering all the times I pulled up in just such a way. I glance up at the kitchen window, half expecting Tanny, my uncle’s housekeeper, to be there watching for me, just like she always was. Today, however, the kitchen window is empty. My uncle is dead. And I’m sure Tanny got tired of waiting for me to come back.

I’m a little surprised at the pang of guilt I feel at the notion. I’ve spent the last dozen or so years perfecting the art of never being wrong and never feeling guilty. In a way, both of those are as much a mindset as they are a fact. At least to Spencer men they are. And Spencer men are never wrong. Which means we never have to feel guilty.

Until today. When I’m making my first trip back to Bellano in over a decade. I never came back. Because my father raised the perfect replica of a perfect bastard.


Swallowing the heavy feeling that something is lodged in my throat, I get out and make my way to the front door. I button my jacket as I walk through the foyer, noting that it smells exactly as it had the last time I was here—like pipe smoke. My uncle loved his pipe. And somehow, it suited him. Even the tobacco he favored suited him. It was a rich, warm scent. Homey. Welcoming. Much like him.

He was nothing like my father. Thank God.

Two ushers, dressed in black suits and crisp white shirts, are manning the door leading into the library, my uncle’s favorite room. It’s fitting that he’d want the service held here where mourners could visit him for the last time in the place he loved most.

As soon as I enter the room, my eyes fall on my father where he stands near the door, his arms crossed disapprovingly over his chest.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.

I keep my eyes riveted to his, a habit I formed long ago. No matter what else is going on, always maintain eye contact. With a man like Henslow Spencer, looking away is a sign of weakness. And you never want to let him think you’re weak. Or that you’re backing down.

“Have you forgotten how much time I used to spend here with Uncle Malcolm?”

The disgusted curl of my father’s upper lip is reflected in the cold glint of his steely blue eyes. “No, I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten how you used to run here like a little coward and how he used to indulge your silly fantasies. No, I haven’t forgotten how much time you spent with my brother. But I had thought that maybe you’d learned better judgment since you were that foolish boy.”

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