Cops make me nervous.
I see the officer from all the way across the night club—he’s not dressed in his usual uniform of the sky blue dress shirt and navy blue slacks, but I recognize his bald head and black goatee from seeing him on his neighborhood beat. I know all the cops around here by sight. They come to my club a lot, and I make sure they have a good time. A really good time.
There’s no reason to think he’s here to shut the club down. There’s even less reason to think he’s going to arrest me. But still, I’m nervous. I don’t want to end up in jail. My father and my brother have been there before, but not me. Not yet.
“Can I get you another drink, Mr. Moretti?”
I look up at the pretty waitress standing in front of me. Her white-blond hair hangs loose around her shoulders, and like all the other girls in the club, she’s dressed in practically nothing. A tiny string bikini bites into the curves of her white thighs and pushes her tits together and up in the air. Not much is left to the imagination.
“I’ll have another beer,” I tell her. I nod in the direction of the cop, “And give my friend over there another of whatever he’s drinking. Tell him it’s on the house, courtesy of Nick Moretti.”
The waitress nods and hurries off, eager to please. I’m not just her boss—I’m her boss’s boss. And I bet she’s sick of waiting tables and wants more than anything to get up on the stage. Maybe she sings. Or maybe she dances—she sure got the body for it.
I loosen my tie with my thumb so I can breathe easier. It’s warm in the club and I think about taking off my suit jacket, but I leave it on. This suit cost more than any waitress here earns in a month and I don’t want it wrinkled. I always take my father’s advice:
You dress important and people treat you like you’re important.
I always listened to Pop’s advice. I still do, even now that I’m more successful than he ever was.
Only a few minutes later, the waitress is delivering a drink to the off-duty cop. I watch her gesture in my direction. This is from Nick Moretti. He owns this place. And by the way, a bunch of your buddies are probably on his payroll.
I don’t know what she’s saying, but a few seconds later, the cop smiles in my direction. He raises his drink as the overhead lights glint off his bald scalp. I nod in return, not letting on the relief I feel. The cop’s not here to take me away—not today, anyway.
“Here’s your beer, Mr. Moretti.”
The waitress plunks another Guinness down in front of me, the condensation glistening on the bottle. I look up at her and she winks at me, her eyelashes thick with mascara.
“You can call me Nick,” I tell her.
“I’m Bonnie,” she says.
It might not be a sexy name, but she’s a sexy girl. Young, pretty, and eager to please. And I can’t help but notice she doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. She lingers by my table, her eyes trained on mine.
“When’s your break?” I ask her.
I nod at the empty seat to my right. “Would you like to join me, Bonnie?”
“I’d love to.”
Bonnie comes around the table, but instead of sitting down, she puts one of her long, thin hands on the place where my neck meets my shoulder. She rubs a muscle I didn’t even know was tight till she got her hands on it. She leans in so that her lips nearly touch my ear and murmurs, “Maybe I could sit with you, Nick?”
I grab the wheels of my chair and roll myself away from the table, providing access to my lap. Bonnie’s lithe little body slides onto my legs, and I put my left arm around her waist, drawing her closer to me. I can’t feel the weight of her hips on my legs, but I feel her skinny arms wrapping around my neck, I feel her lips pressing against mine, and I feel her tongue penetrating my mouth. She’s got some tongue, this girl. I bet she’s great in bed.
I already know how this will go down. I may just be a schmuck from Brooklyn, but I’m no dummy. Bonnie will make out with me for a while, then we’ll go back to my place or maybe the back room, depending how much time is left on her shift. And after that, she’s thinking I’ll be so grateful that she can hit me up for whatever the hell she wants. She’s thinking she should be rewarded handsomely for making out with the guy in the wheelchair.
She has no clue who she’s dealing with.
I know how to deal with Bonnie, just like I know how to deal with cops. I know the right things to say to keep girls like Bonnie happy—most of the time. I can handle her. It’s no problem.
But somehow today, the thought of it exhausts me. I’m sick of every time I kiss a girl, having to wonder what she wants. They all want something. Every goddamn one of them.
Except Jessie. She wanted me for myself.
Bonnie shifts on my lap and my right leg suddenly goes into spasm. It surprises her enough that she stands up, her eyes widening as she watches the way my leg jumps up and down on the footplate on its own volition. The first time my leg did that, I had a similar surprised reaction.
“What are you doing?” she asks, because she has no idea I can’t control it.
“Gimme a minute,” I say through my teeth. My Brooklyn accent is almost undetectable except when I’m agitated or with old friends from the neighborhood. I worked on getting rid of it during my years at an Ivy League college followed by Harvard Business School. But it’s still there, under the surface, waiting to show everyone who I really am.
I readjust my leg, hoping that will do the trick. The spasm subsides and I let out a breath. But when I look up at Bonnie, I can see her enthusiasm has waned. She’s got a tiny crease between her eyebrows.
“Are you going to be okay?” she asks, like she thinks I’m gonna drop dead any second.
“Fine,” I mutter. I can barely look at her. “You should go back to work though.”
Bonnie hesitates for a moment, then nods. I watch her tight little ass disappear in the other direction, but I don’t feel any regret about sending her away. I don’t want her. Not really. It would have been fun—not gonna say it wouldn’t. But it would have just been a distraction from the only girl I really want.
The girl I blew forever with.