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Freestyle: Chapter 17

Present Day

“You ready yet, Pen?” Clancy calls over the music playing in the ladies’ room.

I’ve just finished my shift at Rocks and am changing into something more appropriate to wear to the Pink Albatross before we head over there. My feet still hurt like a bitch, but the painkillers combined with two shots of vodka have helped to numb the pain enough for me to get through the rest of the evening. Unlocking the cubicle door, I step up to the mirror and dump my bag on the counter, thankful for my heeled, Doc Martin style, ankle boots. Clancy tried to offer up a pair of ridiculously uncomfortable heels like the one she’s wearing. These boots were my compromise.

“Whoa, Pen, you look fucking hot!” Clancy exclaims. Her cheeks are flush from too much alcohol, but she looks pretty damn awesome herself. I look at her in the mirror, at the dark streak of kohl eyeliner bringing out the pretty colour of her eyes. Her lips are a bright red, perfectly off-setting her emerald, boob tube dress. She, of course, is wearing stilettos as red as her lipstick. How she’s going to dance in those monstrosities is beyond me.

“Cheers, you don’t look too bad yourself. Dressing for anyone in particular?” I ask her, knowing full well that she’s on the pull tonight. Clancy is fun and flirty and goes after what she wants, not giving a shit about what anyone might think. I admire that. I’m not sure I’ll ever be free to hook up with a boy again, let alone love someone. It’s better all round that I don’t.

“Nope. Just for me.” She grins, rummaging around in her make-up. “Ah-ha! Here it is,” she exclaims, holding up what looks suspiciously like purple lipstick. She points to my face. “Can I?

“I don’t wear makeup.”

“You don’t need to either, but this lippy will look rockin’ with that outfit and a little bit of kohl liner will have those eyes poppin’ too. Those leather shorts look so much better on you than they ever did on me.”

Rockin’ and poppin’…” I laugh. “You’re drunk.”

“I’m merry,” she protests. “And don’t change the subject.” She steps closer, armed with the purple lipstick as one of the regulars of Rocks, Desiree I think, steps into the toilet.

“Looking good, babe,” she says, giving me a once-over as she passes. “You know if you ever want to swing the other way…”

“Cheers,” I sing-song, biting down a laugh as she winks at me.

“See, fucking H.O.T!”

“Okay, okay, you’re right,” I concede.

This isn’t my usual choice of outfit, but fuck it, I kinda like the loose purple tank with my black lace bra peeping out from between the material, matched with Clancy’s leather shorts, fishnet tights and chunky heeled ankle boots, admittedly I look good. Besides, it’s not every day I get to go to the very exclusive Pink Albatross nightclub, and I may as well dress up for it. I’m not going there to pick up anyone. This is about me feeling good about myself for once, not about anything else.

“Can I?” Clancy grins, her eyes twinkling as she holds the lipstick aloft.

“Fine,” I agree, popping my mouth open slightly so she can run the lipstick over my lips. When she’s done I copy her as she presses her own lips together and makes a popping sound.

“Now close your eyes,” she orders.

A couple seconds later I can feel her soft breaths flutter against my face as she lines my eyes with black kohl, smudging it a little with her finger. Reaching up, she unties my hair, and drags her fingers through it until it looks a little dishevelled but in a sexy way. “Perfect! There you go, Little Miss Hottie.”

I look in the mirror and grin. “Not bad, not bad at all.” It’s the first time I’ve actually felt sexy. It’s a good feeling.

Clancy grabs her mobile and snaps a selfie of us, uploading it onto Instagram, then grabs my hand and drags me out of the toilet. “Let’s fucking do this!” she shouts over the din.

Twenty minutes later, we’re climbing out of the Uber cab and striding towards the entrance of the Pink Albatross. There’s a queue that wraps right around the building, but Clancy ignores it. “Follow my lead,” she says, jutting her chest out and plastering a sexy smile on her face. If I wasn’t straight, I’d totally sleep with her.

We sail past the queue and walk right up to the bouncer. Clancy gives him a megawatt smile and crooks her finger at his scowling face. He leans down and she cups her hand around his ear. When he pulls back, he nods, running his eyes over her sexy body then unhooks the rope and steps to one side.

“No charge for these ladies,” he says to the woman taking payment at the door. She waves us through with a roll of her eyes.

“Cloakroom is just further along. No coats allowed in the club,” she mutters, pointing down the corridor.

“Thanks!” Clancy grins, giggling behind her hand.

“What the fuck did you say to him?” I ask her as we move down the dimly lit corridor that’s lined on both sides with mirrors and head towards the throbbing sound of music. Pink fluorescent lights run along the tops of the walls in strips, casting us both in a pink glow.

“I just complimented his hair, that’s all…” she shrugs, winking.

“Clancy, he didn’t have any hair!”

She bursts out laughing and just shakes her head. “Don’t sweat it. We got in free, didn’t we? Now we can use the money we would’ve spent getting into the club on drinks! It’s a win-win.” She grabs my coat from me and hands it to the cloakroom assistant along with hers. “You best not have offered yourself up for payment, Clancy,” I warn, not feeling comfortable with that idea at all.

She rolls her eyes. “Chill, I just said that we’re D-Neath’s latest protegees.”

“What? We’re not… And why would the bouncer let us in for that reason anyway?”

“A little dickybird told me that this is D-Neath’s nightclub. He owns it, Pen. Besides, we kind of are his protegees by extension. Everyone knows that he’s the money man behind Stardom Academy.”

“You’re not the first person to tell me that,” I mutter, wondering why I’m the last person to know anything.

“Come on, stop stressing,” Clancy cajoles, nudging me with her shoulder. “Why don’t we grab a cocktail and check the place out, yeah?”

A couple of minutes later we’re standing at the bar sipping on our margaritas, watching the crowd on the dance floor. Behind the bar is a mirrored wall which runs the whole length of the club, making it appear larger than it is. Around the edge of the dancefloor are half a dozen private booths with purple, velvet curtains wrapped around them, giving privacy to the people sitting within and an extra layer of exclusivity to an already exclusive club. Each booth has a bouncer standing in front of it, blocking our view of the occupants. I can see faint candlelight coming from each booth, and the shadowy figures of the VIP’s sitting within them, but that’s about it. The place is smaller than Rocks and is lit with soft lights in pinks, purples, and reds, giving it a more sensual vibe. Hanging above the dancefloor is a jewelled chandelier in rainbow coloured crystal that captures the light and throws it back out across the space.

Beneath the chandelier are faces I recognise from the academy, including Tiffany who is dressed to kill. She’s wearing a fitted black dress that sits just below her arse and shows off her lithe figure. Right now she’s dancing with someone I vaguely recognise from my contemporary dance class, and even though he seems to be attentive, she looks bored, her gaze constantly wondering over to one of the booths.

“Your sister’s here,” I point out.

“Stepsister,” she reminds me, picking up her cocktail and taking a long drink as she eyes up the crowd. “She’s had a stick up her arse all day and has been shittier than usual.”

“Really? I wonder why.” I smirk, remembering our confrontation in the studio earlier.

Clancy looks at me wide-eyed. “What happened? Spill!”

“We exchanged a few words earlier. She called me a ‘street rat’ and a ‘skank’ in front of Xeno.”

“She did what?! That bitch!”

I wave away Clancy’s anger. “Don’t sweat it. I really don’t give a fuck what she thinks of me.”

Clancy frowns. “Wait, there’s more, isn’t there?”

“Yeah, there’s more…” I pick up the straw in my drink and start swirling the liquid around and around before finally fessing up. “Xeno cornered me after my ballet lesson today. He asked Sebastian if he could borrow his studio and said that I needed to stay to catch up with what I missed yesterday.”

“Wait, you were alone with Xeno? You didn’t go to your bachata lesson? You never said.”

“I was planning on switching it out for something else but Xeno had other ideas.”

“Meaning?” she insists, narrowing her eyes.

“He pretty much blackmailed me into attending his classes.”

“Blackmailed you?”

“Yeah, he basically said he could get me chucked out of the academy if I don’t attend his stupid fucking lessons. He said that Tuillard might be the principal, heading up the school, but it’s D-Neath that is the money man and what he says goes. Xeno and D-Neath are…”

“Friends?”

“I’m not sure, but Xeno said D-Neath owed him a few favours. How do you think he got the job?”

“Jesus.”

“Yeah, then to make matters worse, Xeno proceeded to show me what I’d missed in his lessons using Tiffany as his partner, knowing full well that would hurt me the most. All the talk around the academy is right, he pretty much fucked her with his clothes on.”

“Oh, man. Low blow.”

“Yeah, my sentiments exactly. In all the years we were friends, Xeno never once asked me to partner him in bachata. Never…” Swallowing down the hurt, I plaster on a smile. “Anyway, what the fuck does it matter now. I’ll go to his stupid classes and take whatever shit he throws at me. I’m past caring. He can only hurt me if I let him, right?”

“Atta girl!” Clancy beams, waving over the barman and requesting another round of drinks.

We both watch as he reaches up for an array of bottles filled with coloured liqueur and gets to work. After he passes us our cocktails Clancy points to one of the booths.

“Do you think D-Neath and Madame Tuillard are in one of those?” she asks, taking a large gulp of her drink before smacking her lips together, savouring the taste.

“If they are, they’re probably fucking… Apparently, there’s no limits to where they fuck or who might be listening when they do.”

Clancy’s eyes widen with mirth. “Oh, my God. You experienced that too? I thought I was the only one. I was scarred by it.”

“Yep. I’m one hundred percent positive D-Neath was going down on Tuillard whilst she was on the phone offering me a spot at the academy.”

“Dirty fuckers…” Clancy places her middle and pointer finger against her lips in a v then pokes out her tongue between them, wiggling it and making moaning noises. We both burst out laughing, and continue to giggle as the barman slides us both another cocktail each. I haven’t even finished my current one and am already feeling half-cut what with the vodka shots I downed earlier.

“Oh, no, we didn’t order these,” I say, slapping at Clancy’s hand as she continues to mimic oral sex. She ignores me and is even more provocative. The barman grins at her before answering me.

“These are compliments of the gentleman over there,” he says, pointing to a figure at the other end of the bar who currently has his back to us. He’s too far away and in shadow for me to get a good look, plus I’m going cross-eyed with all the booze.

Clancy peers around the long row of people, following my gaze. “I wonder if he’s a looker?” she asks, almost absently, then winks at the barman and tells him to thank the gentleman for his generosity before handing me one of the cocktails.

When she starts sucking on the straw like it’s a dick and she’s thirsty as fuck, I bark out another deep belly laugh. “Clancy, you’re being extra tonight.”

She winks. “Told you we’d pull.”

You’ve pulled. I’m here to soak up the atmosphere and dance now that my feet have finally stopped throbbing.”

“That’d be the alcohol numbing the pain…”

“No shit.” My head is already starting to swim, and whilst I can take a drink like the best of them, I know my limits, and make a mental note to drink water or Cola after I finish this cocktail, painful feet or not.

“Next time wrap your feet up, Pen. You’re not going to get through the year if you don’t look after those pretty little tootsies of yours. Dancers feet are ugly motherfuckers at the best of times, don’t make them any worse”

“I hear you.”

“Right, drink up, and let’s dance. Our admirer can come get us if he wants us…” Clancy suddenly blurts out, knocking back the rest of her cocktail.

“Correction, he can come get you. I’m not hooking up with anyone.”

Rolling my eyes, I pick up the glass and swallow a mouthful of the sweet, tangy concoction that tastes suspiciously of Amaretto Sour and Bourbon.

“You don’t like it? I’ll finish it for you then,” Clancy remarks, misinterpreting my reaction to the taste and snatching the glass from me, downing it.

“Actually it was my favourite drink once…” I mutter, my words lost beneath the thumping music as I look towards the end of the bar to try and catch another glimpse of the person who’d bought them for us. But he’s gone.

“Hmm, yum.” Clancy grins, sashaying onto the dancefloor, leaving me with the bitter aftertaste of a night I’d rather forget.


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