What says I love you like a lap dance?Sophia Raines has the looks, the charm and the hottest strip club in Dallas. So why is she so glum? The man she loves is deploying to Afghanistan and she hasn't had the courage to tell him she loves him. Tonight, however, everything will change. Sophia has the perfect plan to show Bret how she feels.Bret Dowers has loved Soph for years, but between two tours of duty-three if he counts his brief marriage-things have never worked out. But when Soph rocks his world with some serious PDA, their friendship takes a dramatic turn. Can their new-found love survive the separation of deployment?
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Exposed Desires by Brandi Evans
It was now or never.
Sophia stared across the smoke-filled club as the man she loved took a long pull of his Heineken. Regret expanded in her chest like a balloon, so thick and heavy she could hardly breathe. She'd had over a year to tell him the truth. A fricking year! But somewhere along the way, time had become her enemy.
In two days Bret, her best friend for almost ten years, would ship out for another tour in the Middle East and he might never return.
The words left a void in her soul. Trying to fathom the next eighteen months without him was like trying to figure out how to reconfigure her lungs to process carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. So picturing the rest of her life without him?
He was her rock. The only man besides her father she trusted explicitly--even if she'd never told him how much she cared. But no more. Tonight she'd finally tell Bret Dowers the truth she'd been hiding for so long.
She wiped her hands on the rag she kept draped over her shoulder when helping out at the bar, gathered every ounce of courage she possessed and--
"Can I get a beer?"
Sophia turned her gaze from Bret and focused on the patron at the bar. Despite her annoyance, she gave the sandy-haired young man a flirtatious smile and flipped her dark hair over her shoulder. "What can I get ya, sweetheart?"
She hated using the Brazilian Bombshell appeal her mother had cursed her with, but her customers expected her to flirt. Expected all her girls to flirt. Why else would they be at a strip club with rolls of bills straining their jeans?
"Hmm," he said to her breasts, "what all do you have on tap?"
Ugh, she didn't have time for this. She had a plan to put into motion.
Nevertheless, she kept her smile glued on and listed off the names of the twenty beers on tap. Boy-Man might be twenty-two. Might. If she didn't have confidence in her bouncers, she'd ID the guy again herself.
Sophia expected--and received--integrity from her employees. Exposed Desires was many things. Sexy, sensual...naughty. But it wasn't dirty. She'd worked hard to change the club's image when she'd taken over almost six years ago. As a result, her club had become one of Dallas' most-talked-about erotic hot spots.
"Bud Light," Boy-Man finally said.
What an original soul. "Coming right up, hon." She grabbed a frosted mug from the freezer, filled his order then turned to Mindy, the busty redhead at the end of the bar. "The bar's all yours, Min."
Mindy waved without turning her thousand-watt grin from the serious tip she was building from Baldy McBeergut.
She smiled at a group of businessmen as she passed their table. The guys were regulars, came in twice a week. Sometimes three when business was really good. The club had lots of regulars, most of whom she knew by name. And by the size of the tips they gave.
When she arrived at the DJ's station--an elevated platform along the club's back wall--she chanced another glance at Bret. This time, his gaze met hers and locked in.
Despite the distance and the distractions between them, desire simmered to life in her body and kicked her heart into high gear. Bret had the physique of an athlete. Not bulky but with the hard lines and sculpted ridges of a man who worked and worked out hard. Then tack on sandy blond hair and eyes as blue as the Texas sky and he was a shoo-in for the WWDAs--Walking Wet Dream Awards.
Sophia looked away before her cheeks heated to the point Bret would be able to see the redness from across the club. She plucked a wireless mic from the cabinet beside the turntable then tapped the DJ on the shoulder.
"After this number, Tee," she said. She'd told him of her plan earlier, given him the song she wanted him to play. "And don't forget to dim the house lights when you turn on the spotlight onstage. I want the mood to be as intimate as possible."
"Got it, boss," Tee said then went back to jiving along with the pounding bass pumping through the club.
From the corner of her eyes, she could see Bret still watching her, and like Odysseus to the call of the sirens, she couldn't help but turn her full attention on him.
He waved her over. She took one step toward him. Then stopped. Bret asking questions was the last thing she wanted. Lying to her best friend wasn't her strong suit.
Obviously neither was telling him the complete truth.