He's the Boss (Dance with Me) - Ep. 16
By the time Friday’s rehearsal for the bar team rolls around, I’m beyond wired. Three days of working in the office with Linc and not dancing has taken its toll on me. Usually, Linc goes off to do his own thing, taking care of other aspects of club business while I’m crunching the numbers at his desk, but he needed to catch up on the paperwork he didn’t get done over the long weekend. Subsequently, he brought a portable standing desk into his office yesterday so that he can work while I’m using his desk and computer. Thus, my concentration is shot.
With the profit and loss statement in my hands, courtesy of Mervyn, my job should be easier, however I can’t focus like I need to.
I’m haunted by the way it felt to have my boss pressed against me at Seven, and the way he kissed me the next evening. Any time our eyes meet and hold, I shiver and feel feverish, need drawing me in against my will. I can’t seem to stop marvelling at how great his arse looks in the tailored suit pants that pull tight every time he bends over his computer.
He has me wound so tight, I’m ready to snap my pen in two. The desire to touch him, to kiss him again is nearly as consuming as the fantasies of him pushing my skirt up and screwing me on his desk. And I’m not sure whether it’s the meeting with Mervyn, the phone calls he’s fielding from his parents, or our hot and heavy activities from the weekend, but Linc also seems to lack focus. Every day, he appears more restless.
By Friday, the tension emanating off him has taken its toll on me and I can’t concentrate on anything besides him.
“Linc,” I practically shout as he paces the length of his office, reading something. “I need you to stop doing that.”
He stops and looks at me with bewilderment. “Doing what?”
“Pacing. You’re pacing, Linc. You’re so restless, it’s making me restless.”
He sighs and leans his back against the wall in his office. “Sorry. I’m just…” He looks away before his eyes lock with mine again. “I didn’t realise just how much dancing with you in the afternoon centres me. How much it helps me channel my energy so that I can focus. Now I just feel…tense.”
My heart beats out a quickstep in my chest at his admission. Both of us feel tense, and I’m positive it’s because we’re both trying hard to ignore the giant purple elephant in the room – the kiss and how affected we both were by it. There’s something between us. Attraction, physical energy, lust. Whatever it is, it needs an outlet. Not dancing together hasn’t solved the problem. If anything, it’s made it worse by restricting the ways it can be dealt with. While dancing heightened the tension between us, it was an outlet for the energy that already exists between us – a conduit. Without it, all that energy has nowhere to go.
“Maybe we should go dance, then,” I say.
Considering I all but jumped at the idea when he said we should stop dancing together, I can understand his surprised expression.
“You want to dance?”
“There's less than an hour before the rehearsal, right? Maybe we can dance for a few minutes before they get here.”
He nods. “A few minutes. We’ll simply be getting a head start in warming up.”
He looks so happy, like he’s trying hard not to smile because he doesn’t know whether I’m serious or not. I can’t help but smile back at him. We need this. Being together day in and day out is making it impossible to do what needs to be done. That said, I don’t think I can handle it if he touches me. Because of the tension we’re both trying hard to ignore, it’s likely to ignite a fire if we dance the way we used to.
“Perhaps we could have a dance-off while we’re waiting,” I suggest impulsively.
He barks out a laugh, thinking I’m joking. When he sees that I’m serious, he grins playfully.
“You want to go head to head with me? Lord of the Dance?”
I laugh at his reference to the nickname Kane gave him. “Why not?”
There’s no way I’ll beat him, however it will be fun to try. Even if it’s only for a few minutes.
He nods, his grin growing. “In that case, challenge accepted. Let’s go.” He pauses, his eyes skimming over me. “You’ll need to change first.”
I look down at the business suit I’m wearing. The pencil skirt and blouse I’m in today don’t allow for much movement, but I brought my work-out gear for the rehearsal. “I’ll meet you on stage,” I suggest.
He nods and walks out so quickly, I wonder if he’s worried about me changing my mind. But he doesn’t need to worry. I haven’t danced since I went to Seven. I miss it. I need it. And so does my boss.
I push down the worries that all the tension is going to explode the moment we don’t have a desk between us. Everyone will be here in half an hour. I’m not going to attack him and drag him on top of me in that small amount of time, am I?
By the time I’ve changed out of my business outfit and made my way to the stage, Linc is already warming up. I take a moment to watch him dance because…well, because I can’t tear my eyes away from his low-slung tracksuit pants and his ripped chest. The way he dances is both artful and arousing. I can’t help but think about all the ways he’d move if we were in bed together.
He catches me staring and motions for me to join him. “You’re finally here. I hope you’re ready to lose, Masters. You’re going down.”
The look he shoots me reminds me of the one from Seven. It’s playful, but it’s also so intimate that it takes my breath away. If we weren’t friends, if I hadn’t gotten to know him, I wouldn’t know just how rare that smile truly is.
“I can only assume the fact you’re trash-talking me means you’re worried,” I say, bouncing up the steps, the physical exertion not the reason my heart is in a state of near chaos. It’s been days since I’ve danced with Linc, and the anticipation - even of a simple dance battle - has me feeling a rush I’ve craved and denied. “Don’t worry, I won’t wipe the floor with you too hard.”
He laughs before performing a standing flip and smirking at the impressed look I’m no doubt sporting. It doesn’t matter how often I see him dance, that I see him show off with Tease every night I work the bar, I can’t get enough.
“Is that all you’ve got?” I ask, stretching my arms out in front of me, linking my fingers together, wanting to warm up as quickly as I can because I don’t want to waste another second when I could be dancing.
“I’m just getting started,” he says, picking a remote up off the floor. “But we need some music to make this dance off more legit.”
I laugh as Dance Off by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis begins blaring out of the overhead speakers. All of my dance lessons have been accompanied by his portable stereo, but it seems like he’s gone all out this afternoon. Just as I think it, he presses another button on his remote and the overhead lights switch on.
“Follow my lead,” he instructs. “If you can, that is.”
I don’t have time to come up with more trash-talk because he’s already moving, and I’m doing my best to follow his moves. Just as I did during our lessons, I watch him and copy what he does. He nods when I get things right, a response that fills me with a stupid amount of pride.
“I think I’ve proved I can keep up,” I tell him after I’m suitably warmed up. “The question is, can you follow my lead?”
Seeing him raise an eyebrow, I launch straight into the most bizarre combination of moves I can think of. If I want to beat him at this game, I’m going to have to pull out something spectacular. I dance towards him, mimicking a dance Belle and I have done before together when we’re cleaning our place to music – it’s half funky chicken and half YMCA. It totally pays off. Linc is doubled over, too busy crying from laughter to copy my moves. Ha! I win.
“I wish I’d recorded that,” he says once he stops laughing.
I can’t help but smile at that. “What would you do with it?”
“Put it on YouTube, your funky-whatever-that-was would go viral.”
“You think so?”
“Yep.” He seems to think about it some more before adding. “It would be great advertising for the club.”
“Would it? If people find out you’ve been teaching me, you might get a bad rep.”
“True. Can’t have my reputation at stake.”
“We should record you dancing,” I suggest instead. “For those who haven’t had the good fortune to make it to the club. They’ll watch you dancing and beg to come. Not that we need the advertising. The club is packed every night.”
That was one area where the club saved money. Initially, Linc had promoted heavily leading up to the opening of Midnight Frenzy and in the months following, but I hadn’t seen or heard any advertising in months.
“We haven’t done any advertising recently, though,” Linc points out. “Even on our website. I keep meaning to update it, but I’ve been so busy. We haven’t put new content up in ages.”
“Videos are great content.”
“They are,” he agrees. “We could get some footage of Tease training.”
“Or you could do a series of how-to videos to teach other people how to dance.”
That would drive traffic to the website. I doubt I’m the only person who thinks the sight of him dancing is the sexiest thing in the world.
“Or you could do them,” he suggests.
“No way. I’m still learning how to dance.”
“Brooke. You pick up everything quickly. I’ve never seen anyone with your level of experience do so well with choreography.”
“I’ve had a great teacher.”
“That’s not it at all. You’re hungry to learn. Your enthusiasm and passion for dance is contagious.”
“I think you’re talking about yourself, Linc.”
“I’m not,” he shakes his head. “Wait here for a minute.”
Before I can protest or ask him where he’s going, he’s walked away. When he comes back he’s got his mobile phone with him.
“No way,” I hold up my hand. He grins as if he finds my hesitation amusing.
“Dance for me, Brooke. Teach me something.”
He holds up the phone and I hear it when he starts recording. Dancing has come naturally to me since I started working here, yet put on the spot, I’m frozen, unsure what moves I’m supposed to be doing.
“What am I going to teach you?” I ask him.
“Teach me how to do that funky village people thing you did.”
“No one is going to want to learn how to do that.”
“Fine then, show me how to do a Tease move.”
The protest I’m about to make dies on my lips when I see his lips curve into a smile that’s just for me. I can’t deny him. Giving in, I start dancing some of the Tease moves I’ve seen so many times. I’ve spent enough time dancing them and practising them at home by myself that they come easily. Before long, I’m caught up in the music.
“Look at me,” he says, his husky voice causing me to shiver and my body to tighten with need. “Look at the camera.”
His phone – the camera– acts as a barrier between us, making what I’m doing seem less dangerous than it actually is. I’ve never seduced a man in my life, but right now that’s what I’m trying to do. Making him want me the way he makes me want him every time he gets on this stage and dances with someone else.
“Am I doing this right?” I ask, moving my hips in an extremely suggestive way.
“It’s almost perfect,” he says thickly, his gaze searing my skin as he caresses me with his eyes.
“It doesn’t look right with just you.”
Before I can ask what he means, he lowers the phone and the barrier that allowed me to feel so free dancing is removed. The intent in Linc’s eyes is clear as he stalks towards me. I told him not to kiss me again. I agreed we shouldn’t dance together, but it seems as if I’ve incited him to action. I should stop him, I should remind him of what’s at stake, but the moment he puts his hands on my waist, joining me, I know I don’t want to.
My breath catches in my throat as he stares at me, bringing our bodies together, and I light up when his nose tickles my neck, breathing me in.
My arms go around him as we move together. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to be dancing with him like this again. Like I’ve been starved of oxygen and someone’s put a mask on me so that I can finally breathe again. Dancing like this with him fills me with the most delicious tension, one that’s always been dangerous, but it’s thrilling, exhilarating, and addictive. I never want to stop because I don’t know when or if it will happen again.
We’ve run out of Tease moves, but instead of stopping, he wraps an arm around my waist, leading me in the dance of seduction, making me lose my mind as I cling to the moment. He spins me around and presses against me. I can’t stop thinking about what it would have been like if Belle hadn’t interrupted us on Tuesday night as he turns me back to face him, his thigh sliding between mine so that he’s between my legs.
What would it have been like if he hadn’t stopped kissing me? If he’d made good on the promises his mouth, hands and body had made – the same promises he’s making now?
Unable to restrain myself, I stroke his arms, his chest, memorizing his strength, the hardness of him as he rocks between my legs. The pace and the rhythm he’s keeping makes me wonder if this is what sex feels like standing up with clothes on. But it’s the intensity I feel as his eyes are locked with mine, his hands firm on my waist, grinding me against him, that makes me want to whimper with need. I’m so lost to the man in my arms, to the music and the moment, and the sensations in my body, that when he lowers his mouth to mine I don’t pull away.
I close my eyes, waiting for his kiss, greedy for the taste of him while we’re both gripped by this insanity. I need to feel the stroke of his tongue in conjunction with the slide of his body between my legs. I’m strung so tight I worry I might explode when his lips finally meet mine.
But instead of his mouth on mine, he releases me and starts clapping. Drugged by lust, my brain isn’t processing what’s happening. Which is why it takes me a moment to realise that Linc isn’t the one clapping. I stare at the couple below the stage staring up at us. The music is so loud that I didn’t hear them come in, and I don’t know who they are. The applause isn’t real or genuine, it’s artificial and slow, mocking the dance I shared with Linc, and the intimacy that surrounded us a moment ago.
“Well this is quite the place you have here, isn’t it?” the man says once Linc has turned off the music.
I look to Linc to see if he knows who they are. The confusion I felt a moment ago blows into concern as I see the look on Linc’s face.
“Mum,” Linc says unhappily. “Dad. What are you doing here?”
This is Linc’s Mum and Dad? I blink and stare at them, taking in the resemblance. Now that I’m looking for it, I can see that the man has the same colouring as Linc. The woman has bleached blonde hair in a bob and looks the epitome of sophistication, but I can recognise some of Linc’s features in hers.
“We wanted to come and check out this club that keeps you away from us all the time.”
“You should have called first. I was just in the middle of a dance lesson.”
“You don’t answer half the time when we do call. Besides, it didn’t look like there was much teaching going on,” Linc’s mother says.
“Perhaps the teaching had nothing to do with dancing,” Linc’s father suggests, looking at me curiously. “Aren’t you going to introduce us, Lincoln? I taught you the best of manners and now you can’t even be bothered introducing your parents to a girl you had your hands all over a minute ago.”
I can practically hear Linc grinding his teeth as he comes to stand by my side. “Brooke, this is my mother and father, Lois and Lindsay Rivers.”
Lois raises an eyebrow. “Did Brooke’s mother give her a last name?”
“You don’t need her last name,” Linc says.
“Such mystery,” Lois says condescendingly. “Why the need for such secrecy? What are you hiding?”
I don’t want to give her my last name, and I hate that she’s brought my mother into it. But not telling her my surname might paint an even bigger target on my back than being caught dancing with their son.
“My last name is Masters,” I say, forcing myself to smile and act polite. “Nice to meet you both.”
“And you, dear.” Though it’s obvious it’s not from the tight smile on Lois’ face. “You wouldn’t be the same Brooke that Mervyn mentioned to us, would you?”
Crap. Mervyn mentioned me? That target on my back just grew bigger.
“Why are you here?” Linc asks, sparing me from having to answer the question.
“We had a call from Mervyn and he told us that you’d demanded the profit and loss statement.”
Lindsay shakes his head. “You want to know why you’re losing money, Lincoln? Just look at the overheads. You’re using this entire space, music, and the stage for the two of you.
There’s impressing a pretty girl, son, and then there’s also making good financial decisions.”
“Well, he has always prioritised a pretty face, not that it ever lasts long,” Lois says, every word dripping with disdain.
“We thought you’d given up bad habits when you decided you were a business owner,” Lindsay says.
Lois walks up to the stage. “Did you know our Lincoln is actually engaged to be married?”
“Why would she need to know that?” Linc snaps.
“It would be shameful to lead this poor girl on by not telling her you’re committed to another woman.”
“That’s only if I fail to make something of the club,” Linc tells them.
“Which you are,” Lindsay says. “Mervyn has been over some of the club’s excessive expenditures with us. Really, Lincoln, you were so serious about this. You said you’ve never been more serious about anything if I remember correctly.”
It’s funny how, even after Linc told me about his parents, I’m still surprised by the way they’re speaking to him and belittling him. It’s as if they have no idea how hard he works – how much he wants, needs, lives for this club. Linc devotes every minute to dancing, and if he’s not dancing or teaching, then he’s running the club. I’ve never known anyone with a better work ethic. His passion inspires the people around him, and these people he calls mother and father want to kill it.
If he ends up working for them, it will destroy him. He’ll wither away, as will the passion that makes him who he is.
Lois tuts. “Seems to me you’re still serious about the wrong things.”
Linc looks like he’s about to kick something. I put my hand on his arm, not caring about how it looks because his distress is palpable; I have to calm him.
“The bar team will be here soon. Maybe you want to take this elsewhere.”
He looks at me, and when our eyes lock, he takes a breath, squeezing my hand and nodding.
“Mum, Dad,” he says, turning back to them. “If you want to continue this discussion, we’ll have to do so in my office.”
Linc slips off the stage, and I do the same. My boss leads his parents through the metal door that leads backstage, leaving me alone to gather my thoughts.
I’m shaking ever so slightly, the after-shock of meeting Linc’s parents setting in, my heart still racing. It’s bad enough his parents came here to hassle Linc because he wants to know about the accounts and he asked for the statement, but Mervyn told them about me, and I was caught dancing intimately with Linc.
The sight of Saxon loping into the club, a wide smile on his friendly face, dressed in his workout gear, is a welcome distraction.
I wave at he strolls towards me. “Hey, Sax.”
“B,” Saxon says, dumping his bag practically at my feet before wrapping me in his arms.
He pulls away and studies me. “How’s Patricia doing?”
The ambulance was in the driveway when Saxon and his friend dropped me home on Monday night. And when I jumped out of the car, scared out of my mind, worried I was about to lose the closest thing I had to another parent, Saxon was by my side, along with Jemma.
He was a calming presence, helping me locate the number for Patricia’s son, and then insisting his friend drop Jemma and me at the hospital Patricia was headed to. He would have spent the night fussing over me if I hadn’t forced him to go to his party.
Since then, he’s acted extremely sweet and caring every time he sees me, always asking me how Patricia is.
“She’s doing well.”
“Are you sure about that? You looked pretty worried when I walked in.”
“Oh.” For a second I consider lying. “I was a little worried, but not about Patricia.”
“You want to talk about it?” he offers, sitting down and starting to stretch.
If I wasn’t sworn to secrecy, I’d be tempted. I sit down opposite him and join him in stretching, even though I’m still warmed up from dancing earlier. “Thanks, but I’m fine now that you’re here.”
He smiles bigger. “Hey, while I have you to myself, I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Should I be worried?” I ask playfully.
His smile is almost shy, and my adrenaline which is still on alert goes into overdrive, unsettling me.
“Not at all. I wanted to tell you that I have tickets to…”
He trails off as we hear the front door of the club open and close, Kane and Jemma walking in together.
“You guys are here early,” Jemma says, sitting down with us.
“Where’s Linc?” Kane asks, looking around the club.
“He’s in his office.” Should I mention that Linc’s parents are here? I have no idea how long he’s going to be with them.
“Have you been here long?” Jemma asks me.
“Not long,” I say, shooting Saxon an apologetic look. “What were you saying before?”
He waves a hand dismissively and smiles, though I can see it’s a little forced. “Later.”
The front door to the club opens again, and Nate and a girl I’ve never met walk in. Jemma groans so softly, it’s almost imperceptible. I shoot her a quick glance, noting the slightly tortured expression on her face.
“Who’s that with Nate?” Saxon asks.
“That’s Savannah, Nate’s girlfriend,” Kane says, looking at Jemma before standing up. “I’d better go over and say hello. Sax, why don’t you come with me, I’ll introduce you.”
Saxon frowns but shrugs and gets up anyway.
“You never told me he was involved with someone,” I whisper to Jemma.
“They’ve been together for seven years.”
I whistle at that. “How old is he?”
“Twenty-four, I think. They’ve been together since he was sixteen or seventeen.” Jemma looks at me. “They found each other on the streets when they were both homeless, and it forged an impenetrable bond that can never be broken.”
I feel myself frown at her faux-dreamy expression. “He said that to you?”
“No, she did. The first time we met.”
I look over at Savannah, who is glaring at Jemma. Even when Layla and Cat walk in and join us on the floor, Savannah’s death-stare never wavers. And when Nate walks over to us, Savannah gives Jemma and me both the stink-eye.
“Hey, I think we should run through a couple of things before we start,” Nate suggests.
Jemma nods curtly.
The tension coming off my best friend is palpable as she stands up and walks away. It pains me to see. If Jemma’s feelings for Nate are anything like the feelings I have for Linc, then it must kill her to see him with someone else.
My fingers are crossed that she’ll get over Nate quickly. Sadly, I know from my limited experience that the heart doesn’t listen to reason and logic. I’m not sure Jemma will have a happy ending any more than I will.
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