Jenny takes one last drag on her cigarette and exhales a combination of smoke and mist. The warm smoke within her and the cold air around her provides the bracing affect she was hoping it would. Hunched down into her parka, she tries to reduce the bite in the wind. Though ineffective, the bite does not really bother her too much. She flicks the butt away and closes her eyes. Mark is standing in front of her when she opens them.

“What are you doing out here, Jen?” He flashes a smile and her pulse quickens.

“You know I like the cold.” She smiles back. His grin always brings a grin out of her.

“Yeah, and you know the cold is no good for your muscles. Get inside and be careful.”

She rolls her eyes as his ever-present protective side comes out. “Yeah, I know the speech. Thanks, Dad.”

He grins at her again. But there is something else behind it, this time. His eyes look her over, and she knows how he is imagining her. She starts to blush. “Go back inside and be wonderful tonight, ok, hun?” She closes her eyes again and sighs. When she opens them, she is alone again. She heeds his advice and walks back inside.

At her vanity, Jenny sits with her eyes closed. In her mind, she can hear her music crystal clear. She watches herself dance and the steps are perfect. She sees herself go through her entire number and the explosive reactions of the audience. Even her fellow dancers are amazed. In truth, she knows that she is overplaying it a bit, but it helps her relax some and brings a smile to her face to picture the adoration of all those around her. This visualization ritual has been with her for years. She dances better after doing it. She feels better about dancing, at any rate.

Confidently, Jenny rises from her chair and begins to stretch, getting her heart pumping and warming her muscles. Next, she looks into the vanity mirror and checks her outfit. Her slender frame is draped in a white silken robe with a ¾-length white silk and lace nightgown beneath. Her attire hangs perfectly and is blemish free. Her hair falls over her shoulders and her makeup is soft and subtle, just the way she likes it. Lastly, she slips on her white stiletto heels, which make her just tall enough to be almost too tall for some tastes. The shoes ruin the outfit, but are mandatory.

Jenny walks to the door of the main room and waits for her music. When it begins, Enyu walks into the room. She loves these moments. Everything seems to belong to her. The loud and rambunctious rock and rap of the other dancers is replaced with her softer music. This time, the light bongo tapping and soft synthesizer opening of “Thieves in the Temple” greets Enyu when she steps through the curtain. She takes a long moment to look around the room before continuing.

She steps slowly into the room, careful to stay in time with the music. She lets her hips sway softly with each step as she moves through the men and makes her way to the stage. As usual, she wonders if the light reflecting off her robe as it swishes left and right and silhouettes her figure presents as pleasing a sight as she thinks. Perfectly timed, her first step on the stairs comes with the first deep drum beats in the music. She lets her body move more dramatically with the music. Her chest and hips start to wind slightly as she works her way up the stairs. The singer begs for love’s salvation from cold despair, as she makes her way to the middle of the stage. Slowly, she draws her hand up the side of her body, lightly tracing her body’s curves with her fingertips. She gives her neck a rub before tugging at the bow hidden behind her neck and under her hair. For a long second, the only movement on the stage is from the ripples of her gown as it slips down her body. Her gown slides down her form and gathers at her feet, as the music explodes into a wall of sound. She turns and the robe is off in an instant. Under the hungry gazes of the patrons, she dances, wearing only her heels, a white lace thong and barely-there white lace bra. But Jenny never dances for any of the men she knows are watching her. She only dances for Mark.

As Mark watches from his seat in a large comfortable chair in their bedroom, Jenny stands in front of him, moving to the beat of the drums. She lets the beat work itself into her mind and speak to her, guide her, and envelope her. Her hands slide down her body, accentuating the shape of her breasts and the curve of her hips. When their eyes meet, Jenny sees the same genuine desire in Mark’s eyes that she feels in her heart. She turns her back to him and continues the dance. Her hands slide up the back of her thighs, lightly skirting along her behind where she knows he will be looking. She hooks her thumbs in her thong and tugs. Careful not to slide them down, she teases him, knowing he is thinking about the treasure that little piece of fabric holds. She releases her thong, but continues to sway her hips back and forth. The movement of Jenny’s body is so hypnotic, it is easy to not notice when she unhooks her bra. She slides the bra off and lets it drop with her other clothes. Keeping an arm wrapped across her chest, she dances in front of him, slowly drawing closer, but still out of reach. Now, clothed in only the heels and thong, she still does not reveal the parts of herself that he wants to touch so much it makes him ache. She turns her back to him and spreads her arms out by her sides. All he sees is a slight curve or bounce of her breast when she moves her body, but never the full sight.

As Prince tells love that he will hold on as best he can, Jenny finally does turn around. A raunchy guitar solo fills the room as she begins to tease herself. Her hands caress her body, fingers running across her areola as her already sensitive nipples respond and stiffen. She makes sure she is close enough to him so he can see it happen. When he reaches to touch her, she slips away. She dances back toward him, but stays out of reach, slipping his touch again whenever he reaches. She sees the hunger in his eyes grow and almost get the better of him. She stays out of his reach until he cannot stand it any more. Usually by then, neither can she.

The song ends and Enyu finds herself back in the bar again. She puts the dance with Mark on hold, knowing she will pick it up again very soon. Dollar bills cover the stage and a dozen or more stick out of her thong and garter. As she stoops to pick up the money, she feels the eyes of the men on her. They all desire her and she knows it. Long ago, she learned to take her time picking up the bills and not to rush to put her outfit back together. The longer the men see her stoop and bend, the more they will want her when she gets to them.

With her money collected and outfit reassembled, she walks off the stage. Angel, the next dancer, passes as her music starts and she makes her way to the stage. She breaks out of character just enough to look at Jenny as she passes and whispers, “Wow!”

Some men respond to Angel as she takes the stage and new music fills the air. But Enyu feels that she still held the attention of several. She makes a mental note of the ones who seem to respond the most and makes sure to give them special attention as she makes her rounds on the floor. She makes more notes as she moves about them, collecting dollars for teasing them as they sip their drinks. She picks a mark that showed signs of “readiness”. He cannot seem to take his eyes off her as she moves through the crowd. She keeps an eye on him as she teases others. At the earliest opportunity, Enyu works her way back to him. When she reaches him, Jenny finds herself back with Mark again.

He sits in his comfy chair as she approaches to tease him up close. Jenny moves close to him, swaying sensually and slowly to the beat of the current music. Mark looks her up and down and starts to reach for a single from the stack on the table for when they play this game. His eyes seem glued to her body motions, as she never pauses her swaying to let him slip a dollar bill under her bra. She turns and leans back as she sways, draping her body across his. She runs a hand across his shoulder and neck as he slips another bill into her thong. She leans forward and starts to grind her rear into his hips slowly, accentuating each new measure with an extra thrust. She feels him grow larger and harder as another bill finds its way into her thong. Again, she pauses the dance with Mark and goes back to the bar.

Enyu turns and leans close enough to practically pin the mark to the bar. “If that last dollar has 20 more friends, you and I can have a private dance in the back.” She gestures toward a door covered by a curtain. She continues to sway to the music. When she sees his eyes follow the swing of her breasts as she moves, she knows what the answer will be.

Enyu leads him into the back room and sits him down on her favorite large comfy chair. She stands before him and takes two steps back. Unhooking her bra and letting it slip off, Jenny slips back into the dance with Mark.

He leans back in the chair and stares at her with unmistakable lust in his eyes. Kneeling between his legs, she slowly draws her body up along his. First her head, then face, then neck slides along his member. As her breasts start to slip along either side, she lets her face graze along his stomach. She blows lightly on his belly as she works her way up. He twitches slightly beneath her, bringing a smile to her face. As she starts to rise to his chest level, she turns and lets her buttocks rest on his lap. She moves her hips in slow sensual circular motions, savoring the feeling of him between her cheeks. She leans back and her fingers play in his hair, as she presses against him harder. He jumps slightly when she plays with his ears, but she does not let it spoil her rhythm or motion.

After a few long moments, Jenny turns around and straddles Mark’s lap. Balancing herself with the back of the chair, she drops deeper into his lap until she feels him between her legs. Separated only by silk and cotton, she feels him throb as she moves. She feels hot and flushed as the heat they generate begins to affect her. She places her hands behind his neck and changes her motion, now thrusting her hips into his. He looks down at her body and caresses her breasts with his hands. His hands slowly glide along her body and find her hips in full thrust action with his. He pulls her towards him with each thrust, enhancing the feeling between them. The thrusts continue, slowly and patiently, always locked in time with the music. Soon, melody of the music is broken by Mark’s small grunts. The small grunts become larger grunts. The larger grunts grow to a crescendo. Soon, the melody of the music plays alone.

Enyu climbs off her mark’s lap and puts on her usual smile. His head lolls back as he tries to catch his breath. Outwardly, she smiles and calmly picks up her money and redresses. With practiced composure, she wrestles down her inner feelings and looks back at him with a sexy smile. Keep him happy, she thinks. Make him want to come back again.

“Damn,” he says after a few seconds. “You make a man forget this is make believe.”

“For some guys it’s not,” she says, gesturing to the wet spot starting to show through his jeans.

“Damn,” he says again through deep breaths. Although he may want to jump up and clean himself, his head lolls back again. She knows he is not going to be moving for another couple of moments.

“You come back and see me, ok, suga?” She manages to say in her sexiest voice. She stays long enough to see him nod.

Jenny is already sitting at her vanity, fixing her make up, when Angel walks in. Lost in her thoughts, Jenny becomes aware that Angel is saying something to her.

“I’m sorry,” she says, coming out of her daze. “What did you say?”

“I said, ‘You were amazing out there.’” Jenny smiles at the unexpected compliment. “Where did you learn to dance like that?”

Jenny smiles more since the answer to this question is about her favorite subjects. “I learned to dance on Broadway. I learned to dance like THAT with my husband.”

Angel’s mouth drops open. “You were on Broadway?” she says with stars in her eyes.

Jen nodded. “For 15 years. I was worrying about dancing for hundreds when most girls were worried about dancing for their prom.” Still, in awe with mouth agape, Angel sits in a chair next to Jenny.

Jenny watches as Angel moves. Even though her figure was apparently that of an adult woman, her face was still child-like. She’s going to get carded for the rest of her life, Jenny thinks. But that still-pure look about her will definitely serve her well in a job like this.

Soon, a questioning look starts to overtake the awe. Jenny has learned to expect the question on Angel’s mind. She answers before the question is voiced. “A bad fall and a couple torn tendons and it all came to an end.”

Angel gives her a sympathetic smile and she nods. Jenny smiles back at her young companion and continues fixing her make up and touching up her lipstick. After a moment of silence, Jenny realizes Angel is still looking at her. “You really hate this job, don’t you,” Angel says with no segue. In spite of its phrasing, it does not sound like a question. She has been watching Jen and knows it to be true.

Jen thinks about the last few moments that passed between them and wonders what happened to give Angel this insight. Coming up short, she asks.

“When you’re back here, you seem sad, but you’re trying to hide it.” There was no guile or trickery in her or her response. Just honesty.

Jen finds herself hoping that Angel finds a way to aim that perspicacity on her customers when she dances. If she does, she will find plenty of ways to get them to dig deeper in their pockets for her. At length, Jen nods, affirming the thought.

“How can you be so good at something you hate so much?” she says with the same innocence.

Jenny puts down her lipstick and reaches for the picture on her vanity. It is a picture of Jenny and Mark; arms wrapped around each other and locked in a kiss. While Mark is dressed in very nice suit and tie, Jenny is made up, head to toe, as a cat. She hands the picture to Angel as she starts to answer. “Because of something I learned from my husband. I used to come home from auditions and rehearsals and shows and he would listen to me complain, complain, and complain. I had been dancing for so long that I hated it, but I didn’t know what else I could do.

“One of the things I used to always say is ‘I feel like I’ll be dancing forever.’

“‘It’s not forever’, he’d say, ‘it’s for now.’

“Every now and then, I might try to say something like, ‘I do it for you.’

“‘Do it for us,’ he’d say.

“In fact, it’s that little exchange of ours that gave me my dancing name. Ever, now, you, and us – Enyu.” Lost in her memory, Jenny trails off a bit, not realizing Angel is not following her. A second or two later, she comes back and finds herself facing Angel’s confused look.

“You’re young,” Jenny continues, “so you may not have had this experience yet. But most people, at some point, will have a job they absolutely hate for whatever reason. But in spite of feeling one way or another about the job, you’ve still got to find something to help you do your best. For me, it’s remembering that things may feel like they will be awful forever. But they’re only for now; everything’s temporary,” She said, emphasizing the first words in her mnemonic device. “You – well, for me it means to always have and remember a motivation. He was mine. Your current position is easier to accept when you keep in mind why you do it. Us means that we always need to remember that we’re all a part of something larger. Even that crappy job that you’d rather quit fits in somewhere.”

Angel nods again, completely understanding now. Again, without any segue, she says, “You’ve only referred to him in the past tense.” Angel smiles a sad sympathetic smile. Jenny knows Angel’s keen perception has picked up something else Jenny did not say. “Your husband is gone, isn’t he.” Again, not a question.

Jenny nods. “Two years ago. Drunk driver.”

Angel’s confused look comes back. “If he was your motivation for dancing, then why do this now that he’s gone?”

Jenny takes the picture Angel still holds and flips it over. The opposite side of the frame holds another picture. This is Mark with a tired, shocked, and very happy smile on his face. Still in scrubs, he poses holding a newborn. “Monica. In my life now, she’s my new You.” Jenny said tapping the baby in the picture. “Born two months before he died. She’s my motivation.”

Angel touches the photo and absently nods.

“So I do what I’ve got to do,” Jenny says as she stands and gives herself one last check in the mirror. “And what I’ve got to do right now is get Enyu out on stage for her next number.” Jenny flashes Angel one more smile. Then, Enyu walks through the curtain again.

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