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Private Dancer (The Bancrofts Book 3)

Private Dancer (The Bancrofts Book 3)

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Adrian Bancroft was gutted when he found out that his first and only love Cathy Taylor was a stripper and was literally owned by the menacing drug lord, Nanjo Jones. Cathy Taylor was once a church girl but circumstances pushed her into becoming a stripper. When Adrian walked into the club where she danced and back into her life, she had some decisions to make and some secrets to reveal. Will she be able to escape her present life and go back to her first love or was it too late for her?
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Chapter One

"Nanjo! Yow, Nanjo!" one of Nanjo's cronies, Natty, shouted, sidling up to him, his black eyes gleaming. "I think you should know that there is a suit in here looking for Cat."
Nanjo stiffened perceptibly. He had been drinking and laughing with his buddies from Columbia, but now his mood suddenly turned as dark as the Guinness in his glass.
"Is it the police?" he asked softly, almost menacingly.
He paid off certain key members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to make sure that the police would not hassle him. He always knew when there would be a raid on his nightclub and always had time to hide his drugs and firearms.
He didn't expect trouble now, but he had also learned not to trust the police to leave him alone. They had certain branches of the force that was so secretive even the higher-ups didn't know what they were doing at any given time. Those were the ones that annoyed him. His thoughts shifted back to Cat. Why would they be looking for Cat?
Cathy was his main woman on the side—he liked to think of her as his chief mistress. She stirred feelings in him that his toughened, streetwise heart could not put into words. He looked at the stage where some women were sinuously winding themselves around a pole, and his eyes zeroed in on Cat. She was dancing without enthusiasm, almost lethargically. Her eyes looked like they were far away.
Nanjo frowned in the semi-dark. What was her problem? He had taken her out of the apartment that she had shared with four other dancers and set her up into a swanky little flat in mid-town. She should be grateful because he didn't treat all his side women so well, but there had been something special about her from the start. Why would a man be looking for her?
His teeth clenched. He didn't share, and if Cat believed she was going to cheat on him, he would kill them both.
"Where is he?" Nanjo growled at Natty who was still looking at him expectantly.
"Over there." Natty pointed at a guy who was dressed like a banker, complete with jacket and tie. The man looked uncomfortable; his eyes skittered away from the stage, and he wasn't ordering any drinks. He looked like one of the uptown preppy types who was unfamiliar with his surroundings and hated it.
Nanjo relaxed—he was no police. Stretching his neck, he got up and went over to the table where the man sat.
Nanjo's watch bracelet rested on the table before he could sit down, and the guy jumped at the sound of the gold hitting the wood. He looked at Nanjo apprehensively.
"The name is Nanjo," Nanjo said huskily. "Heard you were looking for Cat."
The guy relaxed slightly and then nodded. "Yes, I am. I heard that she was here. I got this address from her grandmother."
"Oh, she's here," Nanjo said, nodding slowly, "what's your name?"
"My name is Adrian Bancroft," the young man said in a refined tone of voice, almost like a Weather Channel television announcer would speak.
Nanjo contemplated him with distrust. "Why would an uptown guy like you want to see Cat? She's not a regular girl, and I am not selling her for no price."
"Ahem," Adrian cleared his throat. He hadn't fully recovered from the impact that this place was having on him. When he had gotten Cathy's workplace address from Miss Icy, he had been alarmed when she casually said that Cathy started working at nine in the nights. The address was in the middle of Half Way Tree, in Kingston's business district and was next to a well-known restaurant. He had thought that she was on the night shift for a restaurant, but what he had stumbled upon here was no restaurant, though the place did have an eatery of sorts.
There was a bar section and seats around a bamboo enclosure where jerked chicken and roasted fish were being sold. However, it was the warehouse-like building that seemed to draw the interest of most patrons. When he entered, he had been shocked to see that it was some sort of nightclub, or a strip club, judging from the number of naked women he could see dancing around poles. Some of them were completely naked and looked so young. He had asked one guy at the door, a hulking monster with dreadlocks who seemed to be a bouncer, where he could find Cathy, and now he was faced with the intimidating Nanjo.
He supposed that Nanjo was the owner because the other guy had said he was going to ask the owner.
How had Cathy come to this—that a man was actually suggesting that she was a bargaining piece in a high stakes game of flesh?
Adrian considered Nanjo again. He looked hard and dangerous—decked out in his jewelry with earrings along his ear and tattoos up his arm and neck.
He was also ridiculously patient. He was watching Adrian while he searched around in his head for something to answer him.
"I am just an old friend," Adrian finally replied. "I just got back from the States, and I thought I should say hello to her… see how she was doing."
Nanjo looked like he was bored with him by the time he finished explaining. He indicated to the stage with his hand. "Cat is the third girl on the right."
Adrian again looked up at the stage, where several girls were, and then looked intently at the third girl on the right. She had on a sleek black wig that almost reached her hips and black fishnet stockings. She was partially naked. Her breasts were bare for all the men to see and ogle. She was making an obscene movement around a pole.
"No," he whispered, completely forgetting that Nanjo was keenly observing him. "But the Cathy I know," his voice trailed off as he saw the wicked glee on Nanjo's face.
"The Cathy you know was a country bumpkin… clueless, naïve," Nanjo spat. "I changed her, took her in, made her realize what she was missing."
Adrian tore his eyes away from the platform. The music had suddenly gotten louder, and the smoke in the place was choking him. He got up. "I am sorry to waste your time... er... Nanjo."
Nanjo nodded, confident that Adrian was no threat to him and Cat. "That's a'ight. I'll tell her you stopped by. I'll tell her tonight when we are in bed. But wait," he sneered, "sometimes we don't even reach the bed."
Adrian stumbled out of the nightclub and dragged off his jacket, staring at it as if it were contaminated. It had been chilly earlier. Early January in Kingston was always a bit chillier than usual.

He had left the airport and immediately headed to Miss Icy's place in Arnett Gardens, one of Jamaica's ghettos. Miss Icy had looked at him as if she had seen a ghost. His last meeting with her was just before he left Jamaica five and a half years ago. That meeting wasn't positive since it had turned into a shouting match on her doorstep about Cathy's future.
This time, when he showed up, she had sighed in defeat and given him Cathy's number and workplace address and asked him to urgently leave the community before dark.
He looked back at the big metal doors he had just come through. He hadn't even heard the clang as it shut after him. He shouldn't have come. If this wasn't a sign for him to move on, he didn't know what was.


Cathy walked off the stage at one o'clock in the morning. Her shift was over, finally. She headed to the dressing room at the back of the club, where she had her street clothes. She had to pass through the VIP section, which was cordoned off by velvet ropes, had long black leather sofas, and was closer to the stage than the other seating was.
A man she recognized as a popular entertainer detained her when she was walking by; his black eyes looked sleepy, and his breath smelt boozy. He hauled her down on his lap. She swallowed the brief feeling of revulsion that she always felt when she had to put on her stripper persona and smiled at him seductively.
"Want to go somewhere quiet?" he whispered near her ear. "I've been watching you up there. You are hands down the prettiest girl here." His fat wet lips left a trail of liquid near her neck, and she fought the urge to shudder in disgust.
Cathy opened her mouth to tell him, no, but Natty preempted her.
"This one is Nanjo's woman," Natty said from somewhere above her head.
The entertainer hissed his teeth and gave a lopsided grin, showing off the grills on his teeth. "I can see why."
He reluctantly released Cathy and slowly swiped his hand across her naked breasts. "I can take better care of you than Nanjo."
Cathy inhaled. She knew Nanjo was watching, and that Natty, who was poised on high alert, would relay the conversation to him. She also knew that Nanjo was madly jealous, and tonight she was feeling too out of sorts in her mind for a fight, so she put on her brightest smile and got up from the entertainer's lap.
"I'll bear that in mind," she said gaily, "but it won't be anytime soon."
She walked off in her five-inch stilettos, hoping that her walk looked sexy enough to appease him but frankly, her heart was not in it.
Natty was walking close behind her, and he paused when she reached the dressing room door. "A man was looking for you tonight."
Cathy swung around to look at Natty. He looked fearsome in the half-light with his bulging muscles and a livid puckered scar that ran from his cheek to somewhere in his chest. He proudly declared to all who were curious about it that it was a two for one scar. He was cut in the same place twice and lived to tell the tale.
"Men are always looking for me," Cathy said, her hand on the door handle.
"This one was one of those uppity uptown sorts with a smooth accent. He told Nanjo that his name was Adrian."
"A… Adrian?" Cathy's lips trembled, "Adrian was here?"
Natty nodded.
"Thanks, Natty," Cathy said weakly as she eased into the dressing room and leaned on the door.
There were three girls in front of the bank of mirrors putting on makeup. They looked out of focus and blurry to Cathy as the tears welled in her eyes.
Her heart was literally hurting, and she was gasping for breath. Adrian was here? Saw her like this? Met Nanjo? Knew what she had become?
She thought she would have been immune to hearing his name by now; that she had killed her conscience, but just the sound of Adrian's name had her in tears.
She sat on one of the sofas, in the dressing room, that was painted in a garish shade of pink and had black and white accents.
"Hey, Cat," the new cleaning lady, Natasha, greeted her brightly from across the room. She was sitting in her favorite corner in a black leather chair, which she only seemed to move from if she absolutely had to.
Cathy waved at her limply and tried to get back to her thoughts on Adrian. She looked over into the mirror that was across from where she was sitting and quickly closed her eyes.
Her mascara was running, and she looked like a raccoon. Her honey gold skin, which was heavily made up and accessorized with glitter dust, looked blotchy in the harsh glare of the makeup lights. Just one more night of work left for the week and then she would give her skin some time to breathe from all the makeup she plastered on each night so that she could have an ethereal look under the revolving lights. Today was Thursday, just one more day and then the weekend. Nanjo did not allow her to work on the weekend.
She opened her eyes to a slit when she felt a dressing gown landing on top of her.
"What's wrong?" she heard Natasha asked her concerned.
Natasha was very pleasant to the girls and always willing to help. Cathy looked at her blearily. Her gray hair was partially tucked under a red bandana; her big bulky body was clad in a matching red floral dress.
"Nothing's wrong." Cathy shrugged herself into the gown and shook her head at Natasha. "Just tired that's all and feeling every single one of the minutes that I spent in these shoes.
She looked at her five-inch heels, which were generously studded with rhinestones. Strangely, she hadn't even realized that she still had them on, just as she hadn't even realized that she was still naked until Natasha brought the dressing gown to her.
"You were crying," Natasha said softly, "I saw your expression when you came through the door."
"Ah, it's just life." Cathy sighed, looking on her watch, "I wonder if Nanjo can spare Harry to drop me home."
Harry was Nanjo's newest driver. Nanjo changed his drivers often because he didn't want anyone to become too knowledgeable of his whereabouts; it was a precaution he had to take, living life on the edge as he did.
"I'll drop you home," Nanjo announced, causing both Natasha and Cathy to look at him as he barged into the dressing room. Apparently, he had been listening at the door.
"I thought you had that meeting with Juan Feliz?" Cathy asked Nanjo, surprised. He never left the club until the wee hours of the morning. Usually, she'd wait for him to drop her home, but these days he was being more felicitous, more caring toward her and wanted her to go home as soon as she was done dancing. He would get his driver to take her, thus ensuring that she reached home safely. This was the first time he was volunteering to not only leave the club early but to spend some extra time with her.
Nanjo was showing his possession where she was concerned. First, he bought that apartment for her, then he cut her working hours, and now he was dropping her home even though he had a meeting with one of the most dangerous men in South America. Even though he was a drinking buddy of Juan Feliz, no one stood up Juan Feliz; he was too powerful for that.
Nanjo paused when she reminded him of the meeting and snapped his fingers. "That's right. The meeting."
"Make sure the private VIP room is clean." He nodded to Natasha and then watched as she hurried out.
"Put on your clothes and let's go talk in my office," he said to Cathy and left the room.
Cathy dragged off the wig and ruffled her thick shoulder length brown hair, which she always kept in a ponytail. It was extremely thick, and even with a perm, was hard to manage.
Her eyes were the same light brown color as her hair, and even now, in the half-light, she could see that they were slightly bloodshot.
She went into the adjoining shower room and had a quick wash. There were three shower stalls and usually at this time of night they were empty. She was grateful for that because it gave her time to concentrate on the momentous, earth-shattering news.
Adrian was here. He was back in Jamaica. She wondered if he had married or had children or had loved anybody else the way he had loved her in the past.
She snagged her hair in the zip of the summer dress she had pulled on absent-mindedly, all because her mind was wandering, and deep inside she was jealous of Adrian's imaginary wife and family. She had a silent struggle with the zip before she was free.
She wondered where Adrian was now. Would she ever see him again? Would she even dare see him again? Was he finally totally disgusted with her after seeing her tonight?
When she went upstairs to Nanjo's office, a space that could be the envy of any top executive, he was on his computer. He looked up at her and smiled, showing off his bottom teeth, which had diamond grills.
Nanjo was not particularly handsome, but he had an aura of danger to him that women found attractive. He had level brows, brown nut butter skin, and a straight, proud nose. His eyes were slightly slanted as if he had Asian ancestry and his body was partially covered with a dragon tattoo. Its tail started at his neck.
When Cathy had first seen him, she had shuddered in fear. It seemed so long ago now. She still feared him but hid it well.
"I got you this." He handed her a car key.
Cathy looked at him in astonishment. "Nanjo, I don't know what to say?"
"You can thank me when I stop by later today," he said getting up and striding over to her. He ran his fingers through her hair and kissed her hard, snaking his tongue inside her mouth and doing an obscene dance.
He released her and grinned. "Think up something inventive. By the way, the car is the white BMW next to mine."
Cathy hugged him. "Thank you so much."
He slapped her on her bottom. "Get outta here. Get some rest. I'll be by in the mid-morning."
Cathy nodded and gripped her key. She headed through the office door with mixed feelings. She couldn't recall a time that she felt dirtier and out of sorts than she did now. She didn't feel truly grateful for the car but acted as if she was thankful because that was what Nanjo expected. Every time she took a gift from him there was a little tear in what she fondly thought of as her moral fabric. It was coming undone, that fabric of hers.
Her dead conscience had truly resurrected itself with a vengeance because the closer she got to the car the more a sense of depression dogged her steps.
There were two instances in her life so far when she felt grungy and dirty beyond the usual: there was the time when she gave the sexual performance of her life to Nanjo when he bought her the apartment. He had ordered her to be grateful and prove to him her worth sexually. That night she had cried in the shower when she had finished with him. She had tried to scrub away her actions, but she couldn't.
Then there was the time she took the money that Dr. Ryan Bancroft paid her to leave his son, Adrian, alone. He had proved to her that she was bribable and of low class, as he had said she was.
She had managed to kill her conscience on each of those occasions; tried to blot them out, but tonight her conscience was back, and it had Adrian's accusing face on it. She got into the car, not even noticing the new car scent or how nicely laid out the interior was. It was her sell-out gift that she was going to have to pay for with her body.
She dialed Miss Icy's number and waited while the phone rang almost a dozen times before it was picked up.
"Miss Icy," Cathy said quickly, "did Adrian tell you where he was staying?"
"How did you know that I know anything about him?" Miss Icy asked sleepily.
"Who else would tell him where I work?" Cathy asked exasperatedly. "Just tell me what you know."
"He said something about the Pegasus Hotel," Miss Icy murmured and then cleared her throat. "Be careful, Cat. You have Nanjo now, a new apartment..."
"Your warnings come too late, Ma’am," Cathy said waspishly. "You were the one who got me this job. You were the one who went to Dr. Bancroft..."
She started to breathe heavily and then she forced herself to calm down. Through the years, she had slowly begun to accept that she was just like the woman she was cussing. All the women in her family were like that: greedy, selfish, and crafty. It must be in their genes. Devil genes, as the lady at the Baptist Church in their community, used to say about them.
“Just don't lecture me about right or wrong,” she said in the silence and then hung up the phone and headed to the Pegasus.