The music pulses inside my chest and I remove a cigar from inside my suit jacket, surveying the club before me. The building is a perfect square and each floor is a wide open space surrounding a dance stage. Ceilings made of glass allow viewing of the show from all angles. At present several women dance on neon lit catwalks suspended from the walls while dozens of men scatter in various lounge chairs, viewing like catatonic creepers.
I light my cigar and look for her, the woman I’ve been watching for months. None of the dancers notice me and I puff the cigar while I wait. The music changes from a dance song to a classical piece and suddenly the dancers disappear. The lights dim and a curtain swallows the main stage, a machine shrouding all in a thick fog. It seems a performance is to begin for all the men have turned towards the stage.
“It is my distinct pleasure to present,” a male voice booms into a microphone, which sounds through the speakers from all sides, “Destiny of the Desert.”
The room disappears in complete darkness, even the running lights blink out. The only light comes from the lit end of my cigar and I take a deep drag to intensify the illumination. The curtains fall to reveal the woman I seek standing alone on the stage. She holds a microphone and scans the men watching her.
“I seek one man. You know who you are. The one that made the million dollar donation. If you aren’t that man, please exit the club. Now. I’ll wait.”
There is a mumbling from the clusters of men, but most stand and shuffle towards the door without delay or protest. I sit in the nearest lounge chair, a black leather high back seat and wait for someone to approach me. The ranks thin and soon all have left except bouncers, bartenders and the stunning Persian beauty on the stage. Her eyes lock with mine and she glides down the ramp towards me.
She sits in the recliner next to mine, the glitter on her little black dress sparking in the dim light. She looks at my cigar and I remove one from my jacket and offer it to her. Taking it, she waits for me to light it, holding my gaze the entire time. Her eyes are dark, intense heat and I must look away to keep from being hypnotized.
“My million dollar man,” she says, smiling and puffing at the cigar.
“Does that million get me a private audience?” I ask.
“No, just a dance,” she says, crossing her legs and leaning closer to my chair.
“Then it’s a good thing I made the recommended ten-million dollar donation.”
She laughs, but I do not see humor in her eyes. I can see her question, Who are you thundering at me through her stare. “Very well, follow me.”
Standing, she summons one of the bouncers and we follow the giant man that approaches towards a VIP room. Once inside, she shuts the door and the bouncer takes a spot against the wall next to it, preventing me from a quick exit if the need should arise. However, I don’t think that will be necessary. She seems ready to handle this moment. I hope all of my study of her over the last few months leads me to the correct assessment.
“Enough with the suspense. Tell me your name.”
I nod at the bouncer with my shoulder to indicate I want him to leave.
“I’m never alone with a man. Saul stays,” she says. The mountain man does have a name after all.
“I’m not most men and you want to hear what I have to say. It’s not like you’re a woman that can’t handle herself,” I say, extinguishing my cigar in the ashtray.
A smile forces itself on her face and she waves Saul from the room. Once the door shuts, she turns her gaze to me.
“What is your name?” she asks again.
“My name is Ray Holden III.”