J.D. enjoyed dancing with the man and had gone through a couple numbers with him already. She felt the buzz of a couple of shots of tequila and felt the events of the past few days fade from her memory, as she enjoyed herself. Kylie had gotten on the stage with another dancer.
Gemma looked at Donna.
"Have they gone crazy or what?"
Donna nibbled on some pretzels.
"It's normal for Kylie but J.D.…well I couldn't say cause she never was like that in college."
Gemma eyed the bar.
"That weirdo bartender is eying them again," she said, "What's his problem?"
Kylie looked at the doorway.
"Look there's Lace and who's that guy with her?"
Donna checked him out.
"Doesn't look like Kurt," she said, "Maybe it's another cop."
"Could be," she said, "Look they're coming our way."
Lace and Ethan had entered the bar and right away, Ethan's observation skills had led him quickly in J.D.'s direction. His eyes widened as he watched her dancing on the stage with some strange man wearing not very much. He closed his eyes for a second, waiting for his mind to catch up with what he had just witnessed.
"Oh my god," he said, simply.
Lace gave him a funny look.
"What's the matter," she said, "It's just my friends having a good time."
"The woman on the stage," he said, "That's my friend."
Lace watched her dance.
"She's pretty good," she said, "Kylie's in fine form as usual."
They walked over to where Gemma and Donna sat, watching all the activity. The two women looked up at them.
"Hi Lace, took you forever to get here," Donna noted.
Gemma just crossed her arms.
"You should have seen them earlier…"
Ethan watched the woman that he had spent most of his life with and realized that just when he thought he had known everything to know about her, she had knocked him through a loop once again.
"What's J.D. doing?"
Gemma just stared at him.
"I think it's obvious," she said, "It's called dancing."
"I know that," he said, "It's just that this is a side of her I've never seen."
"She's been dancing with that guy for about 30 minutes," Donna explained, "Kylie joined her soon after."
"What are you doing up here anyway," Gemma said, "You are the man she works with aren't you?"
"Yes I am," he said, "I'm up here because I need to talk with her. We had a bit of a disagreement."
"A fight," Gemma corrected.
"She told you about it?"
"You know you can be a jerk Ethan," she said, "and I always heard about you being a nice guy."
Now Ethan felt lost and a bit taken aback at her criticism.
"What is going on here," he said, "We just had a disagreement…about business."
Gemma shook her head.
"You know it was more than that," she said, "J.D. really felt that you were pushing her to take this job. To do what you wanted."
Ethan guessed the rest of it.
"All I did was offer her a position in my firm."
"That's why she came to town to do some paralegal for the opposing counsel on my case," Gemma said, "and she's dropped her card and resume off at some law firms."
So she really hadn't come to L.A. just because he had offered her a job. And now she danced on a stage looking like she was having a great time, not giving any thought to what she had said to him.
"I don't want her to leave without clearing the air between us," he said, suddenly feeling helpless.
"Then why you don't just tell her that," Gemma said, "Make her happy and get yourself out of the doghouse."
Ethan pondered that. Lace flashed a look at Rich and he left his gig at the bar and walked on over.
"What's up partner," he asked.
Lace gestured up to the stage.
"Your girlfriend's up on that stage."
Rich shook his head.
"She's got this wild side to her," he said, "I just can't tame and who's that other chick up there?"
"This here is Ethan and that's his business partner J.D. up there."
Rich watched the women dancing, unaware of their presence.
"She's pretty hot," he said, "You're a lucky man but clearly not a smart one."
Ethan studied the bartender cop.
"How could you ever let a woman like that go," he said, "Some other guy's going to win her away from you."
Ethan rubbed his head.
"It's not like that between us."
Now Rich cast him a critical eye.
"Then you're more stupid than I even thought," he said, "I mean if I weren't with Kylie, I would be…"
Lace put up her hand.
"Rich…later," she said, "We've got to decide what to do with this joint."
He looked disinterested.
"It's got borderline criminal element and you know what happened last time," he reminded her.
Oh yes, the crates filled with petitions by angry and distraught customers to protest the closing of the Blue Room. Letters filled with testimony of how this club had changed their lives, had allowed the women of West L.A. to cut loose and enjoy themselves. The mayor eying a reelection bid just couldn't commit political suicide by shutting the place down.
He just shook his head.
"My girl's one hell of a dancer…"
Ethan looked at him.
"You mean it doesn't bother you that she's up there dancing with…"
"A semi-naked guy," Donna chimed in helpfully.
"She might be up on the stage with Mr. GQ now but later on, she'll be coming home to me."
With that, he sauntered back to the bar, leaving Ethan and Lace to handle the situation. Ethan looked at J.D. dancing on the stage, totally at a loss of what to do. He wondered what Max would do if he knew his business partner Kylie had taken up dancing with some stripper. Best he not know, Ethan decided quickly.
J.D. closed her eyes and her body did her dancing for her, following the beat of the music where it led and she thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of a man's arms around her holding her closely. Damn, she hadn't had enough of that in a long time. Not well, since that last loser she'd walked out on last week. The silver tongued, stylishly dressed cad who had returned to her life, well really he had dropped in her city for a job offer at an internet radio station but their paths had crossed and va-voom!
While in college, he had seemed like just another friend of Ethan's and she hadn't understood his appeal, the charisma that the other women felt whenever in their vicinity. He had been in the school's journalism program after spending two years at the university, mostly chomping at the bit while working at the college's two-bit newspaper. He had always been attracted to seeing his face on live television, reporting the news and moving up through the ranks. Working his way across the United States, J.D. hadn't seen or even heard from him for a long time until he had flown out for a round of interviews with the different stations across the country. before getting hired. She had fallen into his arms and then his bed in short order and for the first time since her previous boyfriend had dumped her to go into the Peace Corps, she had envisioned a future with a steady boyfriend.
But all that had ended when she found out he'd been two-timing her with an intern at the radio station. Just like that, he soon became history.
J.D. had grabbed any opportunity that she could to find new challenges in her life and so when an old pal who was an attorney had hit her up with another one of his last minute favors, she had jumped at it and had jumped on the first plane, heading off to L.A. At the same time Ethan had offered her that job.
And going up against one of L.A.'s best prosecutors in a hearing had been so exhilarating in ways she hadn't expected. It had been better than sex. Well, okay maybe not but the next best thing, definitely and that's when she began to think that she wanted to be a kickass criminal defense attorney like she had been dreamed about earlier in her life. She dropped off her card and resume at some firms that she had researched on the internet and they had definitely seemed interested. And it felt nice to be appreciated for her legal skills. Maybe she'd get some gigs at some firms and then go back to law school at night…
She could see her new life unfolding ahead of her. She would build her reputation as a tough trial attorney, buy a house on a bluff overlooking the bay and maybe she'd get somewhere dating…
Wait, a familiar voice she thought, opening her eyes and the man she danced with hadn't been the one talking.
"What's the matter babe," he asked.
Damn, something was intruding on her reverie about looking into the most amazing pair of blue…no brown eyes she had ever seen and wavy…dark hair and…wait a minute, the guy standing in front of her in a business suit and slick boos with his arms folded looked awfully familiar…
She blinked her eyes.
She kept dancing with the exotic dancer and the tempo of the music started to slow down again and their movements changed along with it. Gemma turned to Ethan.
"I can see that got her attention," she said, "Well, she did have a couple of shots of tequila."
Now Ethan's eyes blinked. J.D. hadn't been much of a drinker since he had known her. But things could have changed since they'd last spent time together.
"J.D. honey now I know you're having fun but…"
She finally let the man go and turned to face him.
"Ethan, what the hell are you doing here," she asked.
"I was looking for you actually," he said, "and I ran into Lace and she had to check on this place."
J.D. tilted her face.
"Lace…isn't she Gemma's cop friend?"
"She's right here," he said, "She came to check up on her friends."
J.D. tripped and the dancer caught her swooping her in his arms again.
"That's nice of her," she said, "We've been having ourselves a real good time with these nice guys."
Ethan turned to Donna.
"How many shots did she have anyway?"
"I don't think she's drunk but she's sure emboldened."
Ethan couldn't disagree, not recognizing the woman in front of him. Damn, she looked beautiful as she always did but when had she learned to dance like that?
Donna followed his glance.
"She had a couple wild times in college but not many…"
Kylie wobbled off the stage.
"I think I need another drink," she said.
Donna pulled on her arm.
"Maybe you'd better sit down and take a break for a while."
Kylie frowned at her.
"You're not much fun," she said, "What did you do with Donna?"
Gemma just shook her head.
"Don't you know Rich is tending bar?"
Kylie looked around, squinting her eyes to see better. Then those eyes widened.
"Damn, he looks hot in that getup," she said, "And that earring looks better on him than it did on me."
Donna just looked at Lace.
"I think they both had too much stress to burn off tonight."
Ethan studied J.D. who had started wrapping her arms around the dancer's neck drawing him closer. That rankled him and he reproached himself for that but seriously how well did she know the guy that she had done some of what had been called back in the day…dirty dancing?
"She just met him an hour ago," Gemma said reading his thoughts.
"I've got to get her out of her especially if they raid this place."
Kylie's brows shot up and the other women looked at him.
"You've got to be kidding me," Kylie said, "I signed that damned petition the last time they did it. They wouldn't take it at the daily newspaper but I gathered signatures and just put them online."
All Ethan could think of was getting J.D. off of that stage and out of the club, but that meant extricating herself from her current dance partner. Lace had gone to confer to Rich to see if there had been any more signs of drug dealing and other illicit activity in the joint. He watched J.D. dance with the man, her body pressed against his for a moment and then stepped up onto the stage.
"What's he doing," Kylie asked.
"Getting her away from that sleaze."
Kylie put her hands on her hips.
"He's really too hot to be slime," she said, "and she doesn't seem to mind where he's putting his hands."
Then she looked over at the doorway and her eyes narrowed in curiosity before widening in what looked to the others like horror.
"What's wrong Kylie," Gemma asked.
She just pointed to the doorway where another woman stood next to a guy with a camera around his neck.
"It's the traitorous reporter who wrote that hit piece on us and her lecherous cameraman," she said.
The pair walked into the club looking around at the crowd of people while they headed to the bar.
"What are they doing here," Gemma said.
"They must have gotten some tip from a source that something's going down here like some police action."
"Damn, I got to get the hell out of her before I wind up on the front page of the newspaper and my trial ends before it begins."
Kylie's nostrils flared.
"Why are you so concerned about yourself," she said, "Those creeps have stolen my beat. I should be the one getting sent to cover whatever's going to happen next."
"You can't," she said, "You're too busy gyrating with the hired help in front of everyone here."
"I guess that's some consolation," she said, "I've still got it after all."
She started to get back on the stage but wobbled.
"Better slow down Kylie," Gemma said.
Ethan had stepped up on the stage which had been steadier than it appeared but J.D. appeared not to notice. She still had her attention on the dancer. Ethan tapped on his shoulder.
"Mind if I cut in?"
The dancer looked at him.
"Are you the guy they hired as the CEO themed stripper?"
Ethan looked confused.
"No, I just need to talk to my friend there."
The dancer threw him a disinterested look.
"She's already got a partner."
J.D. looked at Ethan.
"What are you doing here," she said, "Why aren't you out solving cases and meeting with clients?"
He rubbed the back of his neck.
"I was worried about you."
She softened and she let go of the dancer.
"You don't have to be," she said, "I'm up here doing a case and I'll be flying back home tomorrow."
"We can go back together," he said.
"Oh that's really sweet Ethan," she said, "but it's not necessary."
"Come on, let's go back to my place and you can call your friend…"
She wouldn't budge.
"I'm having fun here and I can handle myself."
He folded his arms, matching her stubbornness.
"You can't drive back."
"Okay, I'll get a ride back," she said.
"Come back with me," he said, "We need to talk."
"We talked all the time," she said, "or at least we used to…until I came back to L.A."
"So have you," he countered, "And you didn't want to take my job offer."
She waved her hand.
"I was just thinking about it. I don't know what I'm going to do," she said, "I'm going to make some change in my life."
"It's nice here in L.A."
She just shook her head at him.
"Excuse me, I'm busy dancing," she said, "You can get back to me later through my secretary."
She returned to dancing with her partner and Ethan got off of the stage. Kylie looked at him.
"She doesn't look too happy with you."
Ethan knew that and wondered what to do next. He couldn't lose her to…this disagreement they had earlier, not like this. Rich wandered over to talk to Lace.
"There's some guys packing some serious heat who just walked in," he said, "I don't know how they got past Bo."
"They're called hormones," she said, "and Bo is chocked full of them. He wouldn't see an army of Mafia hit men if they marched right in."
"What are we going to do?"
Lace hated saying the next words. They were the type that could end more than one career here.
"We need to raid this place before someone gets killed," she said, "They came here looking for a fight."
Lace looked around the room that was packed with women having a good time ogling men and stuffing money in their skimpy outfits while they danced.
"This isn't going to go well with the mayor," he said, "You know he's up for reelection and shut down this place and there will be a mob at his office in the morning."
"Screw the mayor."
He gave her a double take.
She put her hands on her hips.
"No I mean it," she said, "Not literally but it's our job to keep peace and to keep the public safe."
"They're going to be putting us all on riot duty tomorrow," he reminded her.
"That's then and this is now," she said, "Call in the troops pronto and we'll get started."