“Dad, stop it, please!” she pleaded.
“You wish for this! You should’ve prepared the money I need!”
“Dad, no! It hurts!”
Her father pulled her hair that made her cry more. A devil-in-disguise as her biological father punched her in the stomach.
She could only gasp with pain as she fell to the cold, tiled floor. Whimpering due to the excruciating feeling from her stomach after being punched by her own father, Michelle had no strength to fight anymore.
As tears kept shedding on her face, she recalled how her life became miserable after her father turned into a gambler; multiple debts were passed on her to pay, the threatening words from the loan sharks where he borrowed from and paying the high interest that completely ruined the plan she had in life. She was only twenty-two, yet had a handful shits on her plate because of her addict father. She was tired of it!
“I’m telling you this, Michelle!” Her father’s voice thundered inside the little apartment where she bunked with her best friend, Megan. “I need the money by tomorrow! It’s just a simple request to save your father’s life! Don’t be so selfish!”
Selfish. That was how her father saw her whenever she couldn’t give the money he demanded. He thought she was selfish, not even knowing that getting it wasn’t something that could be easily done. In fact, she had to sell herself just to pay his over-the-neck debts!
Michelle sat upright when her father finally left the apartment. Her arms had bruises after the beatings she got from her own father; the pain was evident yet the reality that her father didn’t see her worth was way upsetting more than the physical abuse. She was just a daughter who wanted to be loved; who wanted to be treated fairly by her father; to be taken care of just like the normal daughters out there. However, that wasn’t the case given to her.
“My goodness, Mich! What happened to your face?!” Megan rushed towards her as soon as her best friend saw the bruises on her face.
Michelle was sitting in front of the little vanity mirror, trying to cover her bruises by applying makeup tricks. She needed to go to work... for the last time, as she decided to end her misery. Her savings should be enough to pay off her father’s handful debt. After that, she would live a new life. She wanted to be selfish for once and her father had no right to say a thing about it.
Megan looked at her worriedly. “Did your father come here again? Did he do that to you? I think we should report him to the cops!”
“There’s no need, Meg. I’m fine,” she said, offering her a thin smile.
“No, you’re not! You’re abused, for the love of God, Mich! Look at yourself!”
Michelle let out a sigh of defeat, and spun on Megan. “I swear this will be the last time that you’ll see me with all these bruises. This time, I’ll do what I want without thinking about him.” She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. “I have enough of his shit.”
Megan’s expression softened and embraced her. “God, I’m so disappointed in your dad. He’s lucky to have you. He should see your worth.”
“I’m disappointed in him too.” She sighed, blinking her tears away.
Michelle took a few deep breaths as soon as she arrived in the familiar stripper’s club. She worked as a stripper in that place, not only to support her education, but also to pay off her father’s debt. Sure, the work wasn’t the typical job of someone who had taken a professional business course in college, but she had no choice three years ago. This was the only job that could give her the money she badly needed.
“Let’s give one last look at this filthy place,” she uttered, surveying the outside appearance of the club before going inside.
She went straight into the dressing room after handing over her resignation to her boss, sat on the vanity table and started retouching her makeup, making sure that her bruises weren’t visible as she could not afford to disappoint. After minutes, she was done and satisfied with her overall look.
Michelle appeared to be a walking temptation, dressed in sultry lingerie that complimented her hourglass-shaped body. Following a couple of performances by her colleagues, Michelle went backstage for her turn as the night's highlight.
"Gentlemen, let’s give a round of applause to the sexiest and hottest stripper in the club. Here comes the queen, Mika!" announced by the host.
"This will be the last time, Mich...” she whispered, walking onto the stage where she was greeted by the loud cheers coming from the crowd.
Seconds later, she heard the enticing French music she chose for her last performance. The strobe lights went red and blue, and the spotlight hit her torso. She strolled sexily onstage and swung her hips, dancing with her hands all over her body, making men drool.
She closed her eyes, swayed her hips, and then caressed her crotch. When she opened them, she saw a man's marble gray eyes among the crowd. Michelle had to admit that the man was handsome and enigmatic. A tingling excitement coursed through her by the way he looked at her thighs and crotch.
Michelle captured the attention of every male in the crowd, including the man who first caught her attention. By his looks, she could see he was turned on.
Minutes afterwards, her performance ended. All the men cheered, applauding their hands. She gave a flying kiss and thanked everyone, then glanced into the man’s direction, meeting his intense gaze before she walked to the backstage.
"Bravo! Our star has done it again!" Chester, the owner of the club, congratulated her. "I want to give you something as a gift, Mika. Come to my office."
"Sure!" Michelle then followed Chester to his office.
"Have a seat," Chester told her when they entered his office. Michelle sat on the couch, and then noticed him staring at the brown envelope in his desk. "Actually, someone wants to—"
"Don’t forget that I’m a performer, Ches. Not a sex worker," she cut him off before he could finish his words.
"No, this is different. I just need you to share some drinks with him!"
"This is my last night. Please don’t ruin it. I trust and respect you so much." Michelle stood up to her feet. "If you have nothing else to say, I’ll leave."
"That’s five hundred thousand dollars, Mika!" Chester remarked, which made her freeze in her place.
What? That much for a drink? Michelle thought.
“That much, Ches?” She gave him a wide-eyed look.
Her boss smirked. “Of course. Your worth isn’t just a bare minimum, Mich. It’s just a few drinks and you’ll get the money. No sex required.”
The offer was indeed good, and whoever paid a lot for her time may have saved her years from another rat race.
"What do you think?"
Michelle blinked, as she contemplated. It was a one of a life time offer. She couldn’t let it slide. Besides, it was only for a few drinks...
After a minute, she finally made a decision.