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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1. Out of The Night

 

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tear

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

 

William Ernest Henley

 

~ Out of The Night ~

 

CECILY

 

I was having a nightmare again.

Worse than the last one.

My hair was plastered all over my neck and even the sheets felt damp.

I sighed as I turned the lights on and walked to the bathroom. A bathroom I still didn't get used to. The light was bright and sterile, lacking any trace of warmth. Spots of toothpaste covered the sink and the mirror, and the smell of urine nearly drove tears to my eyes.

I turned on the water and washed my face. Dark shadows rimmed my eyes, but I didn't bother looking twice at my reflection. I knew I was looking beyond tired.

My room was quiet.

The only thing I heard was that crazy-ass night club at the other side of the street. The music was so loud, I could feel my heart beat resonating in my chest.

I secured my hair with a tie and sat down on my bed.

My bed that was actually not my bed. In a room that was so not my room.

I hated it here.

Everything still felt foreign. And disgusting. But I had little choice; after all I couldn't sleep in my car anymore.

I looked at my bag at the corner of the room, half-full. Funny how my belongings fitted in just one bag.

I'd lost any sense of time. I just knew summer vacation was soon over. College would start in a couple weeks and like every semester: freshman students were getting all the rooms at the dorms. I tried to not think about it since this could've been easier if I just had dealt with that earlier.

I rubbed my temples and lied back, trying to fall asleep but ended up in staring at the ceiling.

The music pounded inside my head, but my thoughts were getting the best of me.

No. I didn't allow myself to think about it. My mind was already showing me images when I slept. The images, those images, kept me awake at nights like these.

Well, and that music.

Seriously, why the hell couldn't they turn that shit off?

Suddenly, I wished I hadn't destroyed my phone once I'd arrived in L.A. I'd thrown it out on the road and didn't bother about my decision. I'd heard how the next car on the road totally smashed it into pieces and yeah, that kind of felt great.

I would get a new one eventually. All my contact numbers were gone.

I hadn't spoken to anyone since I had decided to leave Chicago, except with my family on Skype a few times.

I looked at my watch and it was… freaking two in the morning!

I grabbed my jeans and the next t-shirt I'd found and quickly got changed.

This motel was shitty, but enough was enough. They couldn't do that every night. There are people who go to work, were sick or just wanted to get some sleep.

Warm air brushed my face as I made my way to the club.

Neon red lights flickered, and that noisy music poured through the heavy, dark door each time it opened to let a bunch of people in or out.

Devil's Lounge was the name, apparently. A bright and blazing display read: GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS… Exclusive nude girls… tonight's special Go-go-dancers from Los Angeles at midnight…

Whoa. A strip club.

I'd never seen one except on TV.

Whatever. I was pissed at that dude. I waltzed through the door where the bouncer growled, "Your ID."

I gulped. He looked like a young Schwarzenegger. Twice as big as me, twice as broad. His face was set in a deep frown, unsmiling with arms folded across his chest.

My ID. Shit, I'd forgotten my purse.

The bouncer scanned me from head to toe while my face remained expressionless.

"Also, no sneakers and t-shirts."

Panic leaped my stomach. "I, uh…," I stuttered.

His face remained stony.

"I want to speak to your boss," I said quite bravely.

He raised his eyebrows. "You're here for the job?"

Wha–? "Yes," I blurted out. "I… already called and they told me to get here as soon as possible."

My heart was banging wildly, and I prayed he didn't hear my shaking voice. He faced me with a calculating expression, the frown on his face seemed to be printed.

"The job's still available, right?," I pressed, fighting the urge to bite my lower lip. "Your boss said so and–"

To my surprise, he gave a quick nod. "Fine. Use the back door." He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder.

My eyes went wide. Wasting no time, I disappeared out of his view and followed the direction he was pointing at.

Hand me an Oscar. What a performance.

Two girls came out of the door before I even reached the knob, both wearing… basically nothing. No, really – nothing. I could see their asses underneath the mesh pantyhose. Glitter covered their tiny bras, the rest was on their boobs, even in their hair.

They didn't give me much of a look before they stalked away in their four inches high heels and lit two cigarettes.

I walked through the door and found myself in a room with vanity tables and tons of slinky costumes hanging almost everywhere. Nurses, police officers, maids… the selection was vast. Albeit not the length of the tissue.

Two women came through another door and settled on the chair, chatting about their show.

"What are you doing here?", a fake-ginger girl asked me and several smoky eyes turned to me. Silence filled the room as all of them noticed me.

The redhaired girl raised both eyebrows, scanning my outfit the same way the bouncer did. I looked at her face, covered behind tons of makeup that made her look older than she probably was. Definitively not more than twenty-one.

Her hands were on her hips and her chin pointed, like she was challenging me. Given the fact that she was only wearing a G-string and a tiny bra, she showed a hell lot of confidence.

"I was looking for your boss," I answered coldly.

She snorted. "Why?"

So I could get some sleep. "For the job."

She and some other girls giggled, showing Hollywood-bleached teeth. Fake-ginger was starting to piss me off.

"Sorry, hon. Job's taken."

Well, I didn't care. But her bitchiness was a pain in the ass and somehow, I was in the mood.

Now it was me who raised the eyebrows. "Really? Your bouncer didn't say so when he let me through the back door."

Her smile stayed but I saw annoyance flicker in her eyes.

"He has no idea. The job's taken. You're wasting your time."

She looked at her red fingernails like they were the most interesting thing in the world.

"There's a sign outside saying something else", I lied.

She went for it, shrugging her shoulder. "Whatev. Must be a mistake. Besides, our boss's not even–"

Someone snickered. "Just let her go, Jade," a guy across the room said, carrying some glittering clothes and put them over a stool. He seemed young. Mid-twenties maybe. With kohl circling his eyes and his spiky dark hair, he kind of reminded me of Adam Lambert.

"Rafe'll take care of her," he announced and mustered me intensely, his eyes travelling up and down my body. What was it with these people looking at me like that? I felt naked yet refused to show them any sign of weakness.

"Come, girl." He pivoted, but I hesitated for a second. When he noticed me not following him, he turned around, eyebrows raised. "Waiting for something?"

I shook my head and followed him. Fake-ginger – Jade – kept glaring at that guy as if he just spitted out her biggest secret.

I didn't care about her. Nor did I care about the rising bitchiness inside me. This was untypical for me. But then, I was at a strip club in the middle of the night. Everything tonight was untypical.

We walked down a narrow hall and turned left, then right. This horrible music was getting louder until I found myself standing in a huge room. A platform raised as a stage in the middle, shaped like a T and a pole towered to the ceiling.

Several tables were covered with middle-aged men, mostly dressed in elegant suits, but I couldn't see much of them because of the strippers that were performing lap dances. Money flew like snowflakes inside a girl's panties and bra as she was swaying her hip against his visible boner.

"You've never been at a strip club, right?," he asked me.

His lips stretched to a faint smile, not arrogant, only amused.

"Duh," I mumbled.

He cocked his head to the side. "Quite bold for you to ask for this job."

I shrugged. That guy knew he wasn't going to get any more information out of me, so he just headed toward the bar.

The bartender was a young man, probably in his late twenties.

He was smaller than the bouncer which didn't mean he wasn't a head taller than me. Thick muscles were visible under a military-colored t-shirt and a heavy silver necklace glittered underneath.

His hair was a mess of spiky brown, matching the color of his eyes. But then, his eye-color could've been pink and I wouldn't have seen it in this dimness.

"I brought you someone," the dude next to me said. "She's interested."

The bartender folded his arms across his chest, seeming even taller. Intimidation apparently was the only language they spoke here, but I remained unimpressed. I'd seen worse.

"Well, if you need me, I'll be in the kitchen. See ya, girl."

He was gone before I could say anything else.

"So, you must be Rafe," I practically yelled-asked.

"Raphael for you, kid", he growled. "So, you're here for the job?"

"Nope. I just want you to turn the music down."

He gave me a measured look, different than the others. The first one who didn't scan my body. Instead his eyes rested entirely on my face, the intensity however not less piercing.

He snorted. "Go back home, kid." He turned around, grabbing two bottles of liquor.

I clenched my fist. "I'm not going anywhere. This music is too loud."

He mixed the contents into a glass, adding some ice cubes in it. "This is a club. Clubs are supposed to be loud."

"Not like this," I countered, narrowing my eyes.

He emptied his glass in three gulps and gave me a steely look. "And what do you want to do about this?"

Yeah… good question.

He grabbed a towel and rubbed his hands in it. "If you're not interested in earning money, you can leave. I've got better things to do than listening to your whining."

Earning money.

Like an echo, his words resonated through my mind.

I was more than interested in earning money. I needed money. And I knew I'd do anything to earn it. To make sure he would get everything back. I would starve, sleep in my car, sell everything I owned – anything. Just to pay him back.

My ex-boyfriend.

The one that spend a hundred thousand dollars for my family.

For my brother.

For me.

The one that I'd given my everything.

The one I had found in bed, his body entangled with his ex's.

The vision of Victoria's naked body flashed before my eyes and I had to keep my stomach from recoiling.

Her vicious eyes, her triumphant smile, her smug voice saying I almost forgotten how good he is in bed.

My nails dug into my flesh as I clenched my fist.

Yeah, the images were still there. They kept my mind busy at every given opportunity and serving as bad dreams at night.

I remembered every detail of that scene.

Everything felt like it happened ten seconds ago, no matter how hard I tried to banish it from my head. A strong emotion of pain washed over me. With such a force, that my legs trembled.

I took a deep breath, trying to get myself together.

Seeing my brother go to jail, my family being torn, in pain, that hurt.

But this pain... It was raw. Agonizing. And it just hurt just everywhere.

This was worse than any other thing I'd ever felt.

I closed my eyes and zeroed in on breathing.

Rationality hit me as I reminded myself that this was a fricking strip club. This was probably a job request for a stripper.

My dignity wasn't that gone.

I frowned.

"I'm interested", I said without preamble just as my reason screamed at me.

There was a pause and I didn't know if that Raphael was giving me a look that said: You're kidding me or You're schizophrenic. I let out a breath I realized I'd been holding.

"So?," I urged.

Please don't let this be a job as a stripper.

"I'm not sure you're suited for it", he said, his eyes on the glass.

Yep, a stripper-job. I clenched my hands. "Why? I'd do anything. Except stripping."

He finally looked up to meet my gaze and laughed. Loud and deep. "You do realize that this is a strip club?"

I shrugged. "So what? I could help… in the kitchen."

"We already have staff there," he countered and I felt myself sinking.

"I could help you serve liquor." Okay, I was pathetic. "Or mop the floor, scrub the toilets. Do I need to continue?"

His grin vanished bit by bit.

There was a loud roar and I turned around, only to see that one stripper released her Double D's. I realized it was Jade.

"Desperate, what?"

I looked at him. There was no judgement in his tone.

"I'd do anything," I repeated.

"Except stripping," he concluded and I couldn't quite figure the tone this time. Relief? Disappointment? Most likely the latter.

Men were all just the same.

He walked to me, standing right in front of me.

Now he looked at me from head to toe, inclining his head. At any other moment, I might've been intimidated, but right now, nothing could shake me.

"Ever worked at a strip club before?"

My heart sank. "No", I said, my voice not as confident as I was intending.

He arched one eyebrow. "Ever worked before?"

"Yes, I have."

I didn't feel like telling him that I recently got that job at a café. Nothing special. It was stressful, but only three times the week with a ridiculous loan.

But I needed money to pay the rent. My parents thought I was living at the dorms. I was getting good at lying.

I saw that Raphael was anything but convinced.

I sighed. "I learn fast. And I'm stronger than I look. Give me a chance. I'll work my ass off. Literally."

Confidence returned in my voice, together with boundless determination.

Something in my voice or my expression must've convinced him since I was pretty sure he'd wanted to throw my ass out.

He snapped his fingers. "Come."

For someone that tall, he swiftly spun around and began walking. His footsteps were huge.

We walked through another door at the other end of the room. The smell of fried potatoes and roast beef reached my nostrils.

"Jeff. This is…" Raphael stopped, eyeing me. "What's your name, kid?"

"Cecily. And I'm not a kid."

"Only kids say that", he said and turned to that Jeff-guy. A round man with bald head that was shining with sweat. At least he was wearing a hairnet, albeit I didn't know why. Hygiene must be a matter of opinion here.

"Jeff, this is Cecily. Cecily, Jeff." He waved his hand like the whole introduction thing was a nuisance. "She's going to work here, starting tomorrow. Problem?", he asked me. I shook my head.

"Fine. Roman," he called, and that dude who brought me to the bar appeared out of a side room. "Show her everything tomorrow before she starts."

Roman gave a quick nod and was gone again. Raphael snapped his fingers again and walked out of the kitchen. I was starting to fantasize about breaking them. I was not some kind of puppy.

He stopped at the door frame when he saw me not following him.

His eyes turned cold. "You waiting for an invitation, princess?"

I scowled. Princess was a little better than kid, however, not less insulting the way he said it. "No. But I don't like to be bossed around."

His expression changed and suddenly, I was intimidated. He didn't need his height or even being near me to have that effect. His gaze alone was deadly.

"You want a job, right?"

"Yes," I answered quickly.

"Then be prepared to get bossed around, princess. This is not a Cinderella story."

My breath hitched inside my throat. I didn't need a reminder that my life was far away from Cinderella's. If anything, I was living Cinderella's story backwards.

I needed money.

I nodded, swallowing down my pride.

He turned around and I followed him silently. He showed me the broom closet and another room where they kept their cleanser.

"You start at nine. You're going to serve the meals and the drinks. The others are usually busy. We're understaffed right now, so it'll be mostly you."

Busy with spreading their legs, I guessed. O-kay. I nodded. Could be worse. "Till when?"

"Six in the morning. Tables, stage, floor – everything needs to be cleaned up. It can be messy. Especially the toilets."

I swallowed. The working hours were crazy, but then I needed a job. A well-paid one.

"How much do I get?" The most important question. The only thing that would make me reconsider this.

"Ten Dollars the hour. You can keep the tip. Hey, don't look at me like that. Strippers need to pay the club for stripping. About ten percent goes directly to the owner."

The strippers' salary was my least problem. Yup, I'd need another job. The part-time job at the café wasn't paid better than this and it was only half the day.

"The better you are, the more you get," he finished.

"Alright. Tomorrow you said."

He nodded and walked back to the bar, this time he didn't snap his fingers but I figured I should follow him nonetheless.

"Is there anything else I need to know?", I asked.

He shook his head. "Nah. You'll wear the girls' clothes. No sneakers and jeans. After all, this is a strip club. And take a shower."

He turned around and I frantically began smelling my armpits. The scent of flowers was still there.

He grinned at my shock. "You don't stink. Your hair's just a mess. And you look like you hadn't slept for days."

"Probably because of that shitty music," I mumbled. I'd like to see him at my place. No. I wished for no one to be at my place.

Wrong! Victoria.

She should feel the same way I felt. No, even worse. She should suffer on a whole other level. She should know what it felt like to lose your love, to get betrayed, to be left alone from your own family. She should know how it felt like when you didn't inherit daddy's wealth and have to work your ass off for a person you loathe.

"What's that look on your face?," Rafe said and the images of sticking Victoria's face inside a toilet vanished.

"You look like you're about to murder me. Jeez, only because I said something about your face."

Bullseye. But I bore no grudge against him.

I cocked my head to the side. "You don't want to know how old I am?", I realized suddenly. He didn't even want to see my ID.

"Not interested. You look like sixteen and some girls you see on stage are underage. The lesser I know the better. Besides, this is Grant's problem, not mine."

"Ignorance is bliss", I mumbled, ignoring the fact that he guessed me sixteen.

Get used to it, Martesse.

"Wait. Who's Grant?", I asked.

"The owner. He's not here right now, so I'm the boss till he's back. If I'm not around, you listen to Roman."

Okay, Sir. I rolled my eyes on the inside. "Fine."

Three men headed to the bar and asked for Martinis. One of them, not older than my father, looked at me and if I'd had an appetite, I would've been gone by now.

A raw hunger slumbered in his eyes, dark and primitive as his gaze stayed at my hips and slowly made its way to my boobs. He licked his bottom lip.

Flipping him off in front of my future substitute boss wouldn't be the best idea, I figured.

Raphael met my gaze when he handed them their drinks. "We're done here. See you tomorrow."

He turned his attention to his next customer as I made my way to the exit. I decided to use the front door this time since I didn't want to have to deal with anymore bitchiness.

I recapped what Raphael had been saying to me, what I needed to do, starting tomorrow. From nine until six. Still, there was plenty of time at day, so I could continue my part time job at the café and have another job.

I could do that. I knew I had the strength and the willpower to survive anything. I dared life to test me. Bring it on. I'd handle anything.

I could've sworn I heard the universe laugh.

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