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APRIL EXCERPT OF THE MONTH

STRIPPED
by Ruth D. Kerce

Hannah shuddered as she stood there, twisting her fingers into a knot. “I don’t know if this is a good idea, Lily.” Stripping?

She couldn’t take off her clothes in front of people -- men. Strangers. For money. Could she? Not that she condemned those who did. She just didn’t think she’d ever have the nerve to see it through.

“Why not? I’m short a girl. I need the money from this gig to pay my coming-due bills. You’re desperate for money. It’s perfect. Fate.”

She did need the money. Trying to keep her mother in a private nursing home had completely drained her bank account, and she’d maxed out her credit cards too. If she didn’t make the next payment, her mother would be transferred to a state home.

No way would she let that happen. She’d seen the place. The staff there was overworked, and the home looked downright unsafe in her opinion. Okay… She might be overreacting, but she’d heard too many horror stories about such places to feel comfortable with her mom being there.

Her mother felt the same. Distraught about possibly having to transfer, she was already losing her will to live. Hannah had asked the care workers not to mention the move, but unfortunately one had let it slip.

She wished homecare was a possibility, but her mother needed more treatment than she could handle herself. Even if she could somehow manage to care for her mom, she still needed time to go to work, and her mother couldn’t be left alone. The cost of hiring a healthcare worker to come in -- above and beyond what insurance would pay -- made it impossible.

And that wasn’t her only problem. Because of her financial situation, she was also in danger of getting kicked out of her apartment and having her car repossessed due to non-payment. She forced back a sniffle.

In truth, she’d live under a bridge if necessary, as long as her mother was safe and well taken care of. Her mother was the only family she had left. She stiffened her spine, determined not to break down. She had to make some money fast. Even if it meant doing something unpleasant.

Lily ran a high-class stripper-for-hire business, not some cover for prostitution like many joints. Still, she couldn’t help harboring reservations. “How about you float me a loan instead?” She’d tried for loans elsewhere but everyone had turned her down, due to her bad credit.

Her waitress job just didn’t pay enough to take care of the bills. She should have finished college when she’d had the chance, learned more, so she could have gotten a better job. But, like a fool, she’d dropped out, never thinking her life would take this sort of turn.

Lily was her best friend and had been since high school. She didn’t know what she would have done without the woman’s emotional support over the last several years. Right before her mother had fallen ill, her father and brother had died in a car crash. She’d felt so alone. Still did, to be honest. Having Lily around to lean on helped tremendously.

After a long silence, her friend shook her head. “I just don’t have that kind of extra money, sweetie. I can offer you a place to live temporarily, if you get kicked out of your apartment. But that’s the best I can do. I’ve got two mortgage payments coming up for the house and one for the offices here, which I’ll barely be able to cover if you do this job for me. Not to mention having to make a payment on my business loan soon. Next year I should be doing great, if business keeps up. But right now it’s rough.”

Hannah’s hopes died. She didn’t know what to do, where else to turn.

“It’s one night, Hannah. I need you, and you need the job. It’s not like this party is some rowdy fraternity crowd. It’s just a small bachelor party at a hotel. The guy who booked the date has been a friend of mine for years. Nothing bad is going to happen. If you do this, then we both get the money we need. He even agreed to pay extra if I book him a classy girl. And if you get any tips, those you keep for yourself. It could amount to a hell of a lot of money in the end, for such a small gig.”

“Classy, huh?” She supposed it was a compliment that Lily thought she fit the bill. “So, is this guy rich or something?”

“He’s been known to splurge for those he cares about.”

“I wouldn’t even know how to go about it.” Not to mention, she wouldn’t be up on a stage, away from grabbing hands. “Will you send Jackson with me?” He worked security for Lily, and she liked and trusted the man.

“Jackson is on vacation. And the rest of my security guys are booked that night. Besides, this is a safe job. I promise. I wouldn’t put you up for it alone, if I wasn’t sure.”

“How naked would I have to get?” She already knew that Lily’s strippers didn’t go completely nude, so maybe this was something she could do.

“All the way naked…for this one.”

“All the way? You don’t do all-the-way naked.” She wondered at the odd look in Lily’s eyes, like there was something she wasn’t telling her.

“This is a special arrangement. That’s why he’s paying so much. You’ll wear this French maid’s uniform. Okay…it’s a little cheesy but it’s what he requested. Just wiggle your hips and slip it off to the music I’ll provide. Wear some sexy underwear and jiggle out of that. Shake your bazooms a little -- ”

“Bazooms?”

“Bring a wrap, so after the strip you can cover up fast, grab the costume and the money and then get the hell out of there. I’ll give you a company cell phone so you can call if you need to -- for any reason.”

Lovely. “Why can’t I just get dressed in their bathroom?”

“Better to get out while you can before they start trying to hit on you. Not that I expect a problem with this bunch. But just as a precaution, especially since you’ll be there alone.”

“You said, grab the money. Is that just the tips or -- ”

“Just the tips, if you get any. The night has already been prepaid. If you run out without doing the job, I’ll have to process a refund. So if you go, you need to actually strip and be entertaining. We’ll both be in the crapper, money-wise, if you don’t.”

“You’re not making this any easier.” Though with the money she’d earn, she could probably pay enough down to stall the nursing home for another month. After that, she’d just have to figure out what to do next. One month at a time. “What if they try to touch me?”

“No touching. It’s a rule.”

Oh. A rule. Yeah. Of course. Nobody would ever break a rule. Shit.

~~ Kindle Users: Download entire book here.










 
A P R I L

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EXCERPT OF THE MONTH


How far would YOU go to save someone you love?


STRIPPED
by Ruth D. Kerce

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(with light BDSM)


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-- April Direct Answers
     from Wayne and Tamara


Direct Answers appears in newspapers on six continents.



-- Direct Answers by Wayne and Tamara

From Taylor:

"Over a course of dry sobbing searches I found your column. I am desperate for advice, so I've come to this.

I've been dating a guy almost two years. Things started out like a movie as first dates turned to a full-on relationship in only a month. I was 19 and he was 23. We met each other's family early and within a month he took me to a park and told me he loved me.

We were the perfect couple with fights always turning into apologetic laughter and jealous friends asking "why can't I find a relationship like you guys." A little after a year he began talking about a break. It was out of the blue.

After many tears and him trying to end the relationship over the phone, we ended things for good. He slept with a few people and eventually one of those people was me. Finally I placed a no-contact rule for good. I had to move on.

A month later he asked to meet. He told me he'd spoken with his family about how much he wanted me. He said I was perfect and he was an idiot.

Five months later we are the perfect couple. We spend weekends and occasional weeknights together. We meet on lunch breaks, he surprises me with gifts, he holds my hand around his friends. All the great boyfriend stuff.

The only problem is I'm not his girlfriend. He won't ask me to be. He says he wants to be sure and doesn't want to hurt me again. HELLO?

Yesterday we had a fight. He said he doesn't know if he loves me. Does he even know what love is? I know I love him and we talk about the future and our plans. But will he include me in his?

I'm 21 and have my whole life ahead of me. Can I waste another year on our relationship? Or do I begin the healing process now?"


Wayne & Tamara's Answer:

"Taylor, in nature, some creatures use mimicry to gain an advantage for themselves. For example, some moths resemble tree bark and some butterflies have "eyes" on their wings to scare off predators.

None of these creatures is what it pretends to be. They are something else.

In the same way, your boyfriend can mimic a man in love. Most of the time he says and does things which are supposed to come from love, but he is not in love with you.

When he fooled you the first time, he not only convinced you, he convinced those around you. Now he is not even telling you he loves you, though he still does things to make you love him.

He knows how to act in a way that makes women fall in love with him. He learned a trick that can be found in almost any relationship book, and he mastered it. But he didn't come back because he realized you are the one.

You should not feel qualms or engage in self-recrimination because you thought you loved him. He's the one pulling the trick.

There is one advantage in him coming back to you a second time. Now you get to dump him. Permanently. Once and for all. No sex. No contact. A complete break."


Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at http://www.WayneAndTamara.com

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801
or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com

Read an interview with Wayne and Tamara at: http://datingthread.com/wayne-and-tamara