—START FROM THE BEGINNING—
New to Sandpaper Fidelity? Read Chapter 1 »
“I think you’ve got the wrong club, buddy,” Ingrid said, backing away from the man.
He shook his head. “Do I need to make an offer? Is that how it works?” He remained seated, his arms resting on the padded chair arms.
“I said no.” She took another step back.
He scowled. “My associate told me this place offered more than teases. I’ve been on a plane for hours. I just want a cold beer and a warm girl.”
Ingrid’s stomach churned. “I’m not that girl.”
He pulled out his wallet and waved a stack of twenties in the air. “I’ve got more where this came from.” He flashed a credit card. She couldn’t make out his name in the dim light. “I don’t want the scumbags that are out there. I want you,” he said. “I like blondes.” He shrugged.
“You’re disgusting,” she spat, “and I’m calling security.”
He rolled his eyes. “Is security really going to throw me out? You’re a cock tease. I’m not even from here and I know what your place offers. They’ll throw you out.”
Ingrid backed up until she reached the door, then pounded her fist on it. She stepped aside and Jared, an ex-football player, burst in.
“What’s the problem?” Jared towered over her and, as his eyes settled on the man in the chair, flexed his muscles.
“This guy thinks I’m a prostitute,” she said, crossing her arms and cocking an eyebrow at the stranger.
“Time to get out,” Jared announced, pointing a thick finger at the man.
The stranger rolled his eyes and stood. “What, you guys don’t like out-of-towners? This place—”
“Lady said no,” Jared said, and grabbed the man by the arm. As they walked past her, Ingrid leaned back onto the wall, her heart thudding in her chest. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“You’re never gonna cut it here,” Mercedes said from beside her. Ingrid opened her eyes to see the other woman smirking. “That guy practically had money oozing out of him.”
Pushing off from the wall, Ingrid brushed past Mercedes and went straight for the dressing room, hot tears already gushing down her cheeks.
* * *
Josalee sat up in bed. She stilled herself, listening. Dress shoes tapped along the floor as her new roommate entered the house. She heard him lock the door behind him and sighed. Already she regretted her decision to rent out David’s old room. Drawing the sheets closer around her, despite the warm early summer temperature, her mind jumped back to the day David moved out.
“I’m not marrying you,” he said, taking a step back from her. “I’m gay.”
“We can make this work,” she said, barely letting him finish. She reached a hand out to him.
He leaned away. “Jo, I get that you’re worried. I know what your father is like. He’ll get over it—”
“He called our baby a bastard, and me a whore!” she said, tears streaming down her face, her nose running. She stepped closer to David. “Please.”
His eyes wide, he shook his head again. “I’m gay,” he repeated.
“So you’re telling me there’s nothing between us?” She stood in the middle of their living room.
“I’m with Wes.” As David’s eyes met hers, she felt her heart break.
The sound of her new roommate’s bedroom door closing brought her back. She mulled over what she knew about Niall Darcy—or at least, what he told her: he hailed from Los Angeles and was in Clarington to scout for a potential film project. Even though she knew it would never happen, visions of designing costumes danced in Josalee’s head. It didn’t hurt that Darcy had the brightest green eyes she had ever seen, and when he came to pick up his key, kept running his hands through his dark blond hair, making it look like he just rolled out of bed. She couldn’t help but imagine him in her bed, a fairytale where the director and costume designer fell madly in love on set and raised her baby.
She frowned, fresh tears filling her eyes. David moved out within a day, saying he would call her “soon.” She wondered when “soon” would be. When she asked him where he would live instead, he just placed his key on the table near the front door and walked out. As soon as he left, she turned on her computer, posted an ad on Craigslist, and made flyers for a room rental.
She lay back in bed and listened to Niall settling. Her mind flicked to the brochure sitting in the bottom of her purse, listing options for pregnant women. For the first time, she wondered if she could walk into an abortion clinic and walk out feeling okay with her decision.
She shook her head. David would come around. She might even have to kick Niall out so David he could have his old room back. She fell asleep imagining their reunion.
* * *
“You again,” Ingrid said, eyes narrowing. She paused on the stage, frozen on the balls of her feet.
“Me again,” the stranger from the night before said. He took off his sunglasses and perched them on top of his head. He held out his hand. “Niall Darcy.”
She stared at him, an eyebrow raised.
“I figure maybe you’ve gotta be a regular here before you get any extra services.” He smirked, and his green eyes sparkled.
Scowling, she jerked a thumb toward the bar, where a man taller and more muscular than their nighttime bouncer sat.
Niall held up his hands. “I’m leaving,” he said, “but I think you’re pretty.” He pulled out a business card and set it down on the stage, just in front of her feet. “When you come up with a price,” he called over his shoulder as he strode to the door, “give me a call.”
She stared after him and, when he disappeared through the door, picked up his card.
—TO BE CONTINUED—