Cat Madsen left her hometown ten years ago, escaping to Vegas with hopes of becoming a famous showgirl, but those dreams evaporate when she finds out that the owner of the club she pole-dances at also dabbles in drug trafficking. Now, using her ailing father as an excuse to return home to the town that rejected her, Cat is back with a renewed determination to prove her worth. But her tarnished reputation may prevent her from building a future among small-town attitudes.
When an undercover assignment lands Detective Reese Jamieson in the tiny town of Sweetwater, he is skeptical it’s a hotspot for anything. Then he gets his first glimpse of the ex-Vegas showgirl who runs the new pole-dancing workout studio. Reported to be a hometown gal with a checkered past, she is considered the prime suspect to front a drug ring, but he begins to wonder once someone threatens the beautiful woman’s life and business. Reese struggles to keep things professional. When things become personal, Reese must risk everything, including Cat’s trust, to protect her from the past.
He arrived a few minutes early, noting the lone baby-blue F-150 in the gravel lot. The sun sat like a red fireball on the horizon, casting long shadows across the parking lot. He got out of his car and dropped his bag in the trunk, squeezing the automatic lock on his keys. He took his time walking to the front door, taking in the solitary light pole at the driveway entrance, the sagging overhang of the front porch, and the sputtering welcome sign missing its last vowel. As he got closer, he heard the thump-thump of sensual bass coming from an exceptional sound system. The wicked beat caused goose bumps to rise on his flesh and thoughts he shouldn’t be toying with to filter into his brain.
Yeah, she’s wild, our little Cat. The words of the man at the bar slithered with a slow hiss into his brain, and he swallowed hard to fight off the images it brought with it. The daily grind and pressure of his job left little time for dating. Besides, he was getting too old for the bar scene and though they’d tried, the younger guys on the force had only managed once or twice to drag him to a dance club. He paused at the front door, observing the weathered barn-board exterior. In its day, it was probably a busy place—maybe even a place he might have frequented. The door stuck, and he shoved his shoulder against it, forcing it open.
The main room was empty, dark except for the tables and chairs stacked to one side. Farther back beyond the bar was an area that appeared to be a dance floor. It didn’t take long as he moved toward the dim light to realize it was no ordinary dance floor. He stepped from the shadows and halted in his tracks at the sight before him. It resembled a silvery forest with at least nine—to his quick count—steel poles positioned at spaced intervals across the room. Above, bare light bulbs stuck out from sockets strung across the beams of the ceiling, providing light to each of the stations. He wasn’t sure what he should have expected, but this wasn’t it. The music grew a bit louder, drawing his astonished gaze to a tenth pole set up in the middle of the small stage at one side of the room. Above it, a single bulb housed in a metal, industrial shade spotlighted the pole.
From the heavy black drapes hiding the backstage area emerged a woman the likes of which Reese had never seen. Her long legs were encased in skintight black Spandex that rode miles, it seemed, before disappearing beneath a faded, cherry-red zipped hoodie. She gripped the pole with one hand, letting it slide effortlessly as she dropped her body to a squat position and let her body sway to the provocative beat. She dropped her head back, her dark brown hair done up in a ponytail swished back and forth. Her eyes were closed. Performing silently, she obviously thought she was alone.
Lord have mercy.