Lady Sings the Blues

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EXCERPT

Hotlanta was earning its nickname tonight.

Alina Gabriel surveyed the crowd packing the lower level of her club, The Scarlet Lady. Ladies’ night always brought out a good crowd of hot bodies wanting to see and be seen. She’d made sure the beer tubs and bars were well stocked, knowing that scantily clad women would be rushing the nearest bartender to order shots, beers and fruity drinks.

The anticipated rush had nothing to do with the ninety-degree temperature outside. She had Joshua Hanover to thank for that.

Brilliant blue eyes, somewhere on the spectrum between turquoise and teal, mesmerized the crowd through luscious dark lashes. His hair called to mind a luxurious mink coat, sleek, rich, begging to be touched. Generous lips almost always caught in a secret smile softened the strength of his features, the determined chin and proud nose.

Still, Alina knew it wasn’t just his looks that had women packing The Scarlet Lady three nights a week. No, she also had his guitar to thank.

 For Joshua, his guitar was muse, lover, friend. It was bitch, goddess, mistress. He loved it as much as he needed it. He could make it cry and sing and moan. Every woman who flocked to his performances wanted to be his guitar.

Night after night Alina would watch as his fingers, long and strong and callused at the tips, danced over each string, stroking, pressing, plucking. Every woman in the audience felt an answering chord strum deep in the channel of her sex. If they didn’t, they were dead.

Alina wished she could be immune to his charms, but she wasn’t. After nearly three months of performances she still creamed her panties watching him make love with his guitar. Joshua had been very good for her bottom line, but he was hell on her hormones.

Not that Joshua noticed, she thought ruefully. He didn’t notice his hordes of adoring fans either, no matter how desperately they jockeyed for position during his shows, knowing he was single. When Joshua performed, he was in a world by himself, with his band, Blue Highway, there almost as window dressing.

Even if he would glance up from molding his guitar to his will to whip the audience into sonic bliss, he wouldn’t see the thinner, prettier and more desperate women clamoring for his attention. He wouldn’t see Alina standing at the glass wall of her second-floor office or prowling the bar top.

Joshua was blind.

Sometimes he wore tinted shades over those magnificent eyes, sometimes he didn’t. Having sat across from him in her office on more than one occasion, Alina was glad Joshua couldn’t see. Otherwise he’d realize just how hot and bothered he made her.

She bit her lip in sexual frustration. The need had been building all night. Blues music always made her horny–Joshua’s music intensified that desire. Joshua’s specialty: singing sensual songs about softly sexing someone.

God, he made her wet.

“You going down, Miss Scarlet? He’s playing your song.”

Alina looked up, surprised to see Bobby, one of her bouncers, standing a step below her. She surveyed the crowd and found a large portion of the male contingent turned her way, rhythmically clapping. Over the applause, she could hear the bluesy opening riffs of what they’d all come to think of as her song, “Red-Letter Woman”.

Alina smiled. As much as the women came to see Joshua, the men came to see her in her club persona as the Scarlet Lady. Miss Scarlet was known to dance atop the main bar with a riding crop in one hand and a bottle of Stoli in the other. She’d made her money by looking good, and knew she had exercise to thank as much as the genes passed down from her black father and Latina mother.

Tonight she had a different sort of exercise in mind, thanks to Joshua and his damned guitar. Since she had a while to go before she could sneak away to her private office, she’d have to get her kicks by dancing instead. The bar top wasn’t going to cut it, though. Joshua had gotten her hot. It was time to return the favor.

* * *

Joshua hid a smile as the applause grew louder, accompanied by whistles and catcalls. Miss Scarlet had obviously taken the bait and agreed to grace the club with a dance.

He didn’t need to see her. His band mates couldn’t talk about anything or anyone else since they’d started this gig. They debated whether she was black, white, Latina, or a combination of all three. Not that it mattered. A hot woman was a hot woman, his sax man said, and everyone agreed Miss Scarlet was definitely that.

Alina Gabriel, aka Miss Scarlet, wore a shade of red every day. Pete had gotten good at describing every outfit she wore and every move she made. Tonight, Miss Scarlet wore a pair of red leather boots with lacing up the back, a strip of black that would be a skirt on a first grader, a red corset and matching gloves up to her elbows.

Joshua hadn’t seen colors or much of anything else since he was twelve, but he remembered red. It was his favorite color.

No, he didn’t need to see her to know her. He knew the husky alto of her voice, the particular cadence of her words as they talked business and shows and receipts in her office. He knew her scent, a tantalizing combination of licorice and ginger and sometimes leather whenever she passed him. He knew that most days in her heels her chin topped his shoulder, which probably put her at five-seven in her bare feet. He knew she had a soft laugh that made things tighten low in his gut.

He knew he wanted her. Hell, every man in the club wanted her–and some of the women too. He also knew he didn’t have a chance. It wouldn’t stop him from trying, though.

*************************************

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