Conquer My Soul

SEQUEL TO SHOW ME YOUR SOUL
"Ace had betrayed me. Ace had used me. Ace had destroyed me."
Cecily had it all. A loving family, friends, a boyfriend whom she thought loved her endlessly - until it all fell apart. Alone and betrayed, she is driven by one thing: Payback.
Can Ace conquer her heart and save his girl before it's too late? Because only joined they can fight their inner demons and face the threats that are awaiting them…

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4. From Pole to Pole

 

 

CECILY

 

“Teach me how to defend myself.”

Raphael put the bottle of whiskey on the middle shelf. He grabbed a towel before he turned around to face me.

“What?”

“Teach me how to defend myself,“ I repeated.

He leaned forward, stabbing me with his look.

“Why do you think I’d do that?”

My shoulders sank. “Because you’re nice?” I gave him a tight fake-smile.

The corner of his lips quivered almost unnoticeably. I guess this was the closest thing to a laugh that Raphael was capable of creating.

“I’m neither a teacher, nor a trainer,” he stated and his focus was back on the liquor.

“But I’ve seen you upstairs,” I insisted, walking over to him. “And I know you’ve been working for the army.”

He scowled but to Roman’s and my luck, he didn’t ask where I got that information. “Yes, I have been trained. To become a soldier. A G.I. Not some personal workout guru.”

“Great. I’m not looking for a guru, either.” I scowled back at him. “You’ve got skills. And in case you forgot, there are customers who don’t have the best intentions.”

I thought about Jade and yeah, she had been a bitch to me several times, but she didn’t deserve that.

A frown appeared on his face. “It was Jade’s fault. She got herself into that situation.”

My jaw dropped. “Are you being serious?”

“I’m never joking, princess.”

No. This was so wrong. This was against everything I stood for. No one deserved this.

“Whatever. I’ll work more. For free. Just teach me. Train me like you had been trained.”

He snorted. “You’re already worn-out, you wouldn’t last through one day.” He grabbed my wrist and lifted my arm, examining me like I was a piece of meat. “Weak. No power. No stamina.”

I gritted my teeth and pulled my hand back. “That’s kind of the point. I want to get better.”

Raphael didn’t say anything. He just passed me but I was already on his heels. A thing I’d accustomed myself to very fast.

“You’re annoying,“ he growled.

“Give me a chance.”

“I said no.”

“Why?” I demanded. Okay, I wasn’t a bodybuilder and I guess he’d only want to work with experienced people but that sure was not the only reason.

I followed him upstairs. “Has it something to do with your missions? I heard–”

He spun around and I nearly crashed into his chest.

“You’re starting to really annoy me,” he grumbled. “I said no. And I won’t change my mind, no matter how often you ask. So instead of wasting your time, you should get back to work.”

I swallowed hard. Feeling defeated, I ignored the burning pain tiptoeing my throat.

“You’re my best option for now,“ I said, closing my eyes. When I opened them, I saw a flicker in Raphael’s gaze. “I won’t give up.”

There was a pause.

He seemed to contemplate whether to strangle me or kick my butt out.

 

***

 

I was glued to Raphael for the whole weekend. Whenever I saw him, I mentioned the training-thing. Okay, I was close to becoming a stalker but I didn't care. 

He kept saying no out of, I don’t know, laziness? To show him that I was serious, I worked even more than the others; I was the first to come to that rathole and the last one who went home when "normal" people were going to work. 

That was how a vampire must feel like. While everyone was getting a nice tan over the summer, my skin was just becoming paler.

Enough self-pity. 

I got changed into a... I don't know if that outfit was supposed to be catwoman or a dominatrix. I was sheathed in leather, from my black boots, to the black skirt, to that glittering bra. Which was black, too. I looked like I was going to some gothic bachelor party.

I tried not to look at one of the huge mirrors at the changing room. I was enough disgusted with myself.

I braced myself for dealing with all those even more disgusting men.

"What can I get you guys?“ I said with a smile on my face. 

"How about your titties, baby?“ one of them said. Men would never grow up.

I kept my smile. "Sorry, they're not on the menu. But we do serve a good Angel's Tit." 

I grinned and they burst out laughing. Once I'd finished telling them the kinkiest drinks we sold, I took the orders and made my way to the bar where Roman was. I hadn't seen Raphael since the show started, and I was getting the feeling he was avoiding me. 

"Cock sucking cowboy. Sex on my face. And Adios motherfucker,“ I said and watched Roman's brows arch.

"Wow. You know how to talk dirty."

He grinned and mixed a few bottles whose names I had never heard of. Not as swiftly as Raphael would do, but still, his hands were used to it. Speaking of. "Where's Raphael?" 

He shrugged. "Talking to the boss, I guess." 

"The boss?" 

Roman nodded. "Yeah. Grant. The girls never mentioned him?" 

I shook my head. Well, the girls didn't much talk to me. They were all ignoring me, but with Jade gone it was less bitchy. 

"But Raphael did,“ I remembered. "And... how is he? That Grant?"

He finished pouring three different liquids into three different glasses and met my stare. 

"He's the owner of a strip club. What do you think, hon?"

That he was basically a pander. 

Roman smirked. "By the way, that guy keeps checking you out the whole time."

I turned around and followed his gaze. Basically all of the customers were looking at the stage where some girls put quite the performance. I spotted a bunch of young men. Really young. Even under those dim lights, I saw one of them staring at me. 

A cocky grin appeared on his lips when he held my stare. 

Point for confidence. And cuteness.

I turned back to Roman and shrugged. "Not interested."

"Really? He's hot."

I shook my head and took the tablet full of liquors. 

I wasn’t interested. I was not. In anyone. Even if my body longed for more sometimes. Even if after the pleasures I had given to myself lately, it still hadn’t felt enough.

But then I thought of him. 

Invisible claws dug deep in my stomach. I shuddered but focused on walking to the table.

Each memory was burning my mind and my soul. 

As quickly as they came I shut them closed and dumped them to the back of my mind. I'd give anything to erase them. Make me forget every single moment I had shared with him. I'd give anything for an eject button in my head to help me delete them.

 walked back to a still smirking Roman. 

"Hottie's got his eyes all over you. Or rather your butt."

I couldn’t care less. I ignored my shitty hormones and refused to turn around.

“He’s all yours,“ I said to Roman, wiggling my eyebrows.

He chuckled but stopped once Raphael arrived.

“Are you hiding from me?“ I gave one of my sweetest smiles.

Raphael didn’t smile. “Stop getting on my fucking nerves.”

Innocently, I blinked. “Me? I would never give you a hard time.” I ignored Roman’s shaking head and his fingers moving to cut his throat. “Did you change your mind?”

Roman face-palmed. Raphael’s eyes narrowed.

“Fuck off,” he snarled.

 “You know I won’t drop it.”

He grabbed a bottle and slammed it on the counter. I flinched. And then his face was all in my personal space when he leaned forward.

“Princess, you’re a spoiled brat who always gets whatever she wants,” he spat. “But guess what? You’re not always getting what you want. I am not your friend. I don’t even like you. And I’m busy. I don’t have a single fucking nerve in me to show some prissy girl how to defend herself. If you’re scared, take a cab, go home early, or buy pepper spray. I don’t give a damn about you.”

A tight knot formed in my throat, nearly choking me.

I knew we weren’t anything close to friends.

No one was here.

Maybe Roman.

He was the only one who didn’t hate me, but that didn’t mean he liked me.

An uncomfortable atmosphere hung around us. The music covered up the silence between the three of us. Raphael’s focus was on the liquor, Roman looked like he just wanted to be invisible and me?

I was repeating Raphael’s words in my head.

Cold loneliness like I’d never experienced before swept over me.

There were people around me, every day and night, but I had been alone for weeks. My friends were gone. I’d explained to them in an email that my phone was broken, so they had written me every once in a while. Even my childhood friend Alex decided to stay in Korea with her boyfriend for longer than expected. I even doubted she would come back.

But still, I was happy for her, I really was. I wouldn’t have been able to feign selflessness when I was barely keeping it together.

But… I was utterly alone – with strangers who didn’t give a damn thing about me.

Raphael’s lips lifted to a triumphant smile. “Now you’ve understood,“ he said as if he’d just read my mind.

Yes, I understood.

I could go to the changing rooms and cry at the corner for life being unfair. For Raphael being mean to me. For me being alone.

But I wasn’t a loser.

I looked him straight in the eyes. “Train me.”

The smile froze before he groaned loudly. “Just go to work!” he roared.

“I will. When you say yes.”

A platin-blonde girl teetered toward us, dollar bills attached on that dental floss-like string. I think her name was Candy, but I doubted her parents were that dense to give her that name.

“I’m gonna make a break. Gia’s not feeling well. She’s puking all over the toilets. It’s a mess.”

Raphael gave a quick nod, and she pivoted.

“You know what, princess. I’ll teach you.”

My mouth dropped. Surprise rippled through me. “R-Really?”

I couldn’t believe it! I began to smile, but then I saw a twisted expression on his face.

“I’ll teach you,” he repeated. “If you strip.”

My breath got caught and I froze. He was… serious. Oh God, either he was more perverted than I ever imagined he would be, or it was some sort of a challenge? Like truth or dare? A game to prove something, to me or him I didn’t know.

“You strip, I train you.” He was all smiles. Sardonic.

“I… I… can’t.” My voice was meek when I shook my head. “I don’t want to do that.”

His smile faded. “Too bad. Take your clothes off and rub yourself on something or I won’t train you.”

 “You’re a perv.” I wouldn’t let myself get humiliated. Not even for this.

He shrugged one shoulder. “That’s my condition.”

I chewed on my bottom lip. “I’ll do something else. Anything. Just… please.” I wanted to smack myself for pleading.

Raphael crossed his big arms. “Enough,” he barked. “If you don’t want to strip, then drop it. Next time you’ll mention it, you’re fired.”

Not even waiting for a reaction, he headed to the stairs. I stayed there with my breath in my throat.

Roman was serving some customers with booze and I was having an inner fight.

This ultimatum was insane.

He’d just said so because he knew there was no way I’d strip. I had made myself clear the first day I’d come.

I had been right. It was a challenge. A sick one.

Challenge, huh? I grinned on the inside.

I was done, so done with being misjudged.

Taking a deep, bracing breath, I made my way to the stage. With each step, my throat was getting tighter. My hands were shaking, so I balled them to fists.

The music was slow and heavy, the lyrics insignificant. Most girls were down at the tables, twerking their asses under the men’s faces. I looked up and spotted the empty cages. Go-go dancers only came once or twice a week, I figured.

I had not one clue what I was going to do once I’d arrived there. There were dim flashlights pointing at the pole, pointing at me, and the air just felt thicker and smelled like sweat.

I closed my eyes and focused on the music. I had no idea how to strip.

But I knew how to move my body. I knew how to dance. And I was good at it.

I swayed my ass to the beat, moving as sultry as the song.

With my sweaty hand, I grabbed the pole and put my legs in between.

I wasn’t nearly as acrobatic as the girls here, but there were some things any girl could do with a pole.

I was on fire. I took off my skirt that ended right under my butt and whirled, dropped down, played with my hair. The reactions came almost instantly. Some men roared, others that were putting dollar bills inside a girl’s bra stopped and looked at me.

Across the room, I even noticed Roman dropping a bottle. I let my eyes wander until I spotted Cute Boy with his friends.

Now I got a good look at him. He was probably around my age, and yeah, quite hot. His friends were saying something to him and clapping his back. But he was just looking up at me.

I was forgetting time up here. I was dancing for what felt like ages. Even if this was just an illusion, I gladly embraced it.

The corner of my mouth curled up.

Cute Boy smirked.

I was in trance when I made my way to him. I was standing directly in front of him, with nothing but underwear. A couple months ago, I would’ve dropped dead from embarrassment.

But that girl was gone.

I wasn’t the same who I had been when I had left L.A.

“Hey,“ he said.

His eyes bluntly scanned my body, the same way his friends were doing.

I smiled. “Mind if I sit here?“ I asked, already on his lap.

He shifted and put his hands on my hips. “Not at all,” he murmured into my ear.

“Awesome, bro!“ One of the other dudes beamed.

Closing my eyes, I pressed my body against him, moving my lower body. I felt his hard chest rising up and down as the reflection of his joy was palpable.

Moving my hands to his, I led him to all the places that I wanted him to touch. Against my ear, he groaned.

Another song played, but for me, it was the same. I moved my hips to the beat and got up. I danced in front of him and then straddled him, my moves not stopping. One hand moved to my breast, the other squeezed my butt tightly.

I zeroed in on the swelling in my chest. This guy came here for the feeling these girls were supposed to give him to escape reality, but in fact, it was me who was using him.

I didn’t feel bad, though. I was hungry for someone to give me what I needed the most right now.

It was barely physical.

And it was okay for me.

I didn’t want or need more.

I opened my mouth and crashed my lips against his. The response was quick when he brought out his tongue. His grip tensed, and my fingers pulled at his hair.

I missed this – God, how I had missed this.

My moans were drowned out by the music. We broke away a few times just to catch our breaths.

“What’s your name?” he gasped.

“Call me whatever you want,“ I slurred, kissing him again.

He didn’t need to know my name. And in that hazy state I couldn’t come up with a fake name. It felt like ages since anyone had called me Cecily.

Or Cecy.

Or–

“Cec.”

I pulled away as if someone had thrown acid to my lips.

“What?“ I panted. I froze, not believing what I just heard. “What did you say?”

“That you have sass. I like that.”

My heart slowed down, but my body still shook. My throat felt dry from the churning colors in my head. I tried to calm down but it took me more effort than I’d expected.

Damn it. It was just a word.

Even if it sounded like my nickname, like the nickname he’d given me, it was just a stupid word.

I got up and noticed something under my panties. Money. No clue when he did that. I looked around and saw a girl occupying his friend. She moved like a snake, bringing her leg up high, so he could stare right into her vagina. Must be a magic vagina ‘cause he seemed hypnotized when his hand made its way under his jeans. Discretion sure wasn’t his middle name.

“Your birthday’s awesome, dude!” he shouted.

I raised my brow at Cute Boy. “How old?”

“Twenty-one,” he said, giving me a cocky grin.

What a charming way to celebrate.

But then, my twenty-first birthday was at this strip club, too. A couple days ago. I didn’t tell anyone and just worked after my shift at the café.

“So, that’s it or what?” Cute Boy suddenly didn’t look cute at all. He seemed displeased.

“What did you expect?” I responded, all my humor gone.

He got up, and with my crazy boots we were at eye-level. “Let me show you,“ he said, coming closer. “We could have fun in the VIP room.”

No. The show was over. The fantasy had ended.

“I’ve got all the Benjamins that you want, baby.” He grabbed my waist, but I shook his hands off.

Again, he tried to touch me, but a voice rumbled through all the noise.

“No touching the ware, boy.”

A man in a suit approached, a phone in his hand, the other held a few bills. “Trixie,” he called a black-haired woman. “Entertain that young man, baby. And you,” he pointed at me. “Come.”

Before I could go anywhere, I grabbed the money he had put underneath my underwear and picked up my skirt to cover the tiny bit of my self-respect.

Ware. That’s what he called me. At Devil’s Lounge, I was just a ware. A ware that just got – oh God – five hundred Dollars for a five-minute dance. Tears threatened to deluge me entirely. I couldn’t cry here. If I started crying, I would not stop.

He ushered me to the VIP room, and my body was already on alert.

“I’m not going anywhere before you tell me who the hell you are!”

He slipped the phone into his pocket. “I’m your boss. Now get your cute ass inside that room.”

 

When I saw Raphael inside that room, I slightly relaxed. He was sitting on one of the cushioned sofas with a cigarette between his fingers.

“What’s going on?“ I asked. Feeling way too exposed, I wrapped my arms around my waist.

“Is that the girl?“ Grant, my “boss”, asked. Raphael nodded.

“I didn’t do anything,“ I blurted out.

“No one’s accusing you,” Grant said, and walked to a small dresser. He opened it with a key and pulled out a small bag with white powder in it. Once he finished snorting coke, he rubbed his nose and turned back to me.

“You’re fired.”

What?!”

My veins froze.

Grant shrugged. “Sorry, kiddo. Rafe should’ve never hired you. I need strippers. Especially when one’s injured and two gotten preggers. I don’t need you unless you strip.”

I looked over at Raphael who seemed to be more interested in the smoke he was exhaling.

 “You son of a bitch!“ I screamed at him. He turned his head to me.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You should have told me that sooner!”

“Would that have made a difference? You didn’t want to strip.”

Bitterness surged through me. “I would’ve looked for another job! I… I wouldn’t have stripped just now! Oh my God…“ My brain clicked. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you? You sick bastard!” I yelled, wishing I could shove that cigarette into his nose. “You wanted me to strip, so you could save your ass in front of your boss!”

His silence was my confirmation.

Grant cast me a wide grin. “The offer is still there. I saw you dancing. You’ve got skills. The girls can teach you some moves, and you’d be a huge concurrence to them. I would even make you a deal with the payment. I can go down to twenty percent, tips included. On weekends, we could–”

“Not interested,” I growled. “Me stripping is not an option. This was a one-time thing. It won’t happen again.”

Grant looked like I had pissed on his favorite shoes. His focus was back on the coke he was preparing.

“Then get the hell out of my club.”

“With pleasure!”

I didn’t give Raphael a second glance. He could go to hell.

We weren’t friends. He’d told me so, and this was the prove. I probably would never ever see him again.

Fury slashed through me like a bullet. I got my stuff within less than two minutes. While I changed into my denim skirt and a hoodie, I tossed those clothes on a stool.

I hated them.

I hated this place.

I hated Raphael.

I hated myself.

Maybe it was a good thing Raphael didn’t train me. I would’ve kicked his ass right now if there had been a chance for me to really hurt him.

Dammit.

Dammit, dammit, dammit.

I walked out of the back door, the one I had used when I first came here. The irony never ceased.

Humid summer air brushed my sweaty neck as I clutched my bag tightly to my body. I pulled out my old watch and saw that it was two in the morning. Tomorrow, I would wake up early to look for another job. There had to be another job offer somewhere that paid as much as this place. I wouldn’t give up.

“Hey, baby,“ someone called. I looked around and saw a bunch of guys standing at the end of the ally. I couldn’t see their faces, but only the glint of their cigarettes.

I ignored them. I would just need to cross the street and then I’d be back inside my room.

“Didn’t you forget something?”

The voice was close. I whirled and saw the guy I had lapdanced on earlier. Cute Boy was smiling from ear to ear before he tossed the used cigarette.

I knew that look. I saw it once in my life and it used to terrify me for a long time. And it still did, I realized.

“If you’re looking for Trixie, she’s inside.”

I picked up my pace, but his hand on my shoulder stopped me when he brought his body between me and my way.

“I wasn’t looking for Trixie, I was looking for you.”

Multiple shivers rippled through me. My head was spinning after that firing and now this douche just couldn’t take no for an answer. This day couldn’t get any worse.

“Sorry, dude. I’m not interested.”

“Didn’t seem like that when you stuck your tongue inside my mouth.”

One of his douche friends howled, the others laughed their asses off.

The anger I had felt multiplicated. I could easily take out all of my rage toward Grant and Raphael on this guy. He was too drunk to react fast enough if I would punch him.

But then, there were four others.

And I was a girl.

Did my sex really make me weaker?

I was too tired to think about that right now.

“Sorry. Show’s over. Thanks for the fun.”

He grabbed my arm before I could escape his grasp. Not wanting him to see the rising fear in me, I remained calm. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of showing any sign of weakness.

“I paid for fun. Real fun. And I want some.”

His mouth crashed on mine before I realized it. Cold, hard lips met mine and everything in me wanted to jerk away. I pushed him away, but his lips seemed to be stuck on mine.

Argh, this was disgusting.

Strings of panic seized at me when he trapped me in his arms. He was suffocating me. Figuratively and literally. I was running out of breath, so I tugged his hair, but didn’t get more than a sick moan out of him. When he brought out his tongue, I bit his lower lip until I tasted blood.

He pushed me away, and I dragged in a long breath.

“You whore,“ he spat, licking his wound.

I thought about running as fast as I could, but I feared he’d get to see where I was living. Getting inside the club would be difficult too, since his friends were standing around the door like guards.

He grabbed me by my shoulders and yanked me against the wall. Wasting no time, I kneed him and started to run.

Strong hands wrapped around me in a blink of an eye. One of his friends held me while Asshole Boy made his way to me.

“I don’t hurt women,” he said.

“Oh, really? Jeez, I’m so relieved.”

His mouth curled up. “Yeah, really. I like having fun with women. Not hurting them. I’m not a rapist.”

He moved closer and slipped his hand between my thighs.

“Fortunately, you’re just a whore, so I can do whatever I want with you.”

I spat on his face.

He slapped me.

Tears welled in my eyes, but I held them back with all my might.

“Don’t struggle. It’ll make everything worse.”

I struggled but it was no use. I was powerless. Fragile. And completely defenseless.

When his hand moved to his jeans, the door to the girl’s changing room burst open.

I wanted to scream life out of my lungs, but my voice left me.

Raphael was standing there, tense and grim and sullen and right now, he was my favorite person on this planet.

I felt the guy who was holding me take a sharp breath. He released me instantly.

“I suggest you all go home to your mommies and daddies. They must be worried sick,” Raphael said, cracking his neck.

Like wolves turning into little puppies, they all shifted uncomfortably.

“Come on, John. There’s a better club at Cranbrook. This place sucks anyway.”

Asshole John took his time giving me one last look before he followed his friends.

Once they were gone, I slid down and put my head on my bent knees.

I was weary to my core. My eyes stayed dry, but I think it was because crying would require some energy. And I had none at this moment.

“Are you okay?”

I looked up and saw Raphael standing in front of me.

I nodded. Torn between being still mad at him and thankful, I didn’t know what to say.

“I talked to Grant,“ Raphael continued. “He said he’ll think about it. He liked your performance.”

I blinked a few times.

“I got almost raped.” Again. “I don’t give a fuck about your boss. Or you,“ I added.

I drew in a long breath and exhaled just as deeply. With trembling legs, I slowly got up.

Change of plans. I would go to sleep and wake up when the world would end. Screw everything else.

“Tomorrow. At nine. 3937 Crestwood Street.”

I stared at him. “What?”

“The place where I’ll teach you,” he explained. “If you come late, even a minute, I’ll be gone.”

Slowly, I nodded.

I guess, my brain didn’t truly grasped what was happening. Everything was turning upside down. First, I got tricked into stripping, then I got fired, molested, and then Raphael agreed to train me?

“O… kay.” I still waited for him to say April, April. Or another crazy condition. Maybe he wanted me to run naked along the street?

I narrowed my eyes. “Where’s the catch?”

“There’s no catch.”

When he saw that I wasn’t convinced, he sighed. “I’m just keeping my part of the deal.”

“Oh and that has nothing to do with what just happened here, right? What about all that talk about pepper spray? Thanks for reminding me, though. Tomorrow, that’ll be the first thing on my shopping list.”

He exhaled deeply. “Look. What I said was stupid, I know, okay? Let me make it up to you.”
That was not the way I wanted him to agree, but that was the best I could get for now.

I nodded. “Fine. And… thanks.”

He gave me a small nod. “You live here?” He pointed at the motel.

“Yup.”

With a huh, he turned to the door he had come through. “You better hurry. You can’t even fight a kitten.”

When my hand moved to give him the finger, he included a “Yet.”

Despite all the things that happened, I felt a small warmth in my chest.

I didn’t want to feel weak anymore.

I didn’t want to rely on someone to help me. To save me.

Because there was no one coming.

No prince. No sexy vampire. No hot demon hunter. No one.

I was alone.

And I’d make sure I would not need anyone. Not anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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