The overhead lights go out, and the club would be in total darkness if not for the recessed lights that edge the perimeter of the stage. I slouch down in my seat, pulling my ball cap lower over my forehead. This causes me to have to tilt my head back a little bit farther to watch the show but keeps my face better obscured. The beard I’d been growing for the past four months I’m sure helps to hide my fame as well.
I don’t want to be recognized.
I don’t want anyone to see me and realize just how low Zack Grantham has fallen from grace.
A sexy techno beat starts thrumming low, gradually building in decibels. A few whistles pierce the air, one redneck sounding a catcall. A rolling tide of mechanical fog slithers across the black lacquered stage and then swirling spotlights from the corners of the club start rotating. A slight flutter at the pitch-black curtains that sit closed tight is the only indication that something is about to happen.
A quick glance down at my phone that sits on the table in front of me shows that the time is almost midnight. Time for the grand finale of the evening. The moment all of the drunk and horny patrons of The Golden Box have been waiting for.
I ignore the phone, but tip back the tequila shot sitting in front of me, my eyes sliding up to the stage as I set the glass back down. When the music reaches its apex, a slim but toned bare leg sporting an obscenely high-heeled red shoe peeks through the slit of the curtains, thigh parallel to the floor…calf muscle taut, with toes pointing downward. The whistles and catcalls increase, but I watch dispassionately.
The owner of that bare leg raises her knee up higher, then stretches it out fully…gracefully, and holds it there, just as the music lulls to a slow grind.
She holds it for just a second.
Just a moment, where everyone waits to see what comes next.
The curtains fly apart just as the bass thump of music crashes through the club and a stunning woman with glorious curly blond hair bursts through. My brain processes a starched white button-down shirt and a black fedora on her head, then just as quickly processes the fact that she reaches to the dipping gap at her chest and rips the shirt open. Beautiful, round—and by the looks of them, real—boobs pop forth…spectacularly bare and bouncing.
A hundred horny men start cheering and I’m sure the majority of dicks go to full mast.
The stripper, who I happen to know goes by the name Candi Apple—and yeah, that’s Candi with an i—struts confidently up to the silver pole lodged firmly at the edge of the stage.
Hips swaying, tongue licking at her full bottom lip, hair wild and blowing from some kind of cheesy wind machine built into the stage flooring.
Her right hand reaches out, grabs the pole, and she bends her knees…squatting way down until her ass is almost on the floor. Her legs are spread wide and the rotating strobe lights cause sparkles to bounce off the silver sequins that cover the scrap of material between her legs. Candi gyrates her hips, fucking the pole…right in front of me. Her dark eyes scan the men surrounding the stage, calculating who might be the biggest tipper. Her gaze passes right over me because I don’t have green clutched in my fingertips waving back and forth with zeal to stuff them in her G-string.
The show goes on and I watch it all…willing for my body to feel something. I’d hoped for a hard-on to prove I wasn’t dead, but even a slight fluttering of lust deep in my groin would have been welcomed. Hell, I’d probably kill for a gurgle of indigestion—just fucking something—anything to show I could react.
I come up fucking empty.
The slight ache in my right wrist pulls my attention away from the tits and ass, and I open and close my fist several times to ease the cramp, finally giving it a hearty shake. Overall, my wrist has healed well over the last four months. The plates and screws have been removed, physical therapy has been completed, and I’m feeling physically strong. Yeah…my wrist is aching right now, but only because I’ve been gripping the armrests of my chair too tightly while I waited to see if Candi Apple might be the one to bring me back to life.
Luckily, it’s just an ache and certainly not something that gives me any pause. I’ve been cleared by the team orthopedist, Mark Godson, and cleared by Coach Pretore as well. Starting next week, I’ll resume practice with the team, and if I’m lucky, it won’t be long before I’m back in the game…a starting second-line left winger for the Cold Fury.
My insides feel dead, my capacity to care for much of anything seems lost, but there are two things that still keep me functioning. It’s the prospect of playing hockey again, and, more important, my son, Ben.