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I’m forty years old. I cannot stuff tissue in my bra! That’s what Melissa Montgomery kept telling herself, but something had to be done.
Since the former exotic dancer, turned club manager, elected to go under the knife to remove her implants, life just hasn’t been the same. First of all none of the clothes she so loved fit her now. Secondly, she had to finally face her boss, the owner of The Classiest Lady, Tony Delmonico. The love’em and leave ’em playboy had been on her mind for ten years and although she knew there could be nothing between them, it didn’t stop her from wanting him. But what would he say when he saw the new her?
Fast-living Tony Delmonico had been secretly in love with Melissa for years, but while she worked for him as a dancer the time never seemed to be right to tell her how he felt. When she retired from the stage he hired her as club manager, therefore keeping her close by. Still he kept silent. But now things are different, and Tony realizes that this may be his last chance to convince Melissa that his wandering days are over and that she is The Classiest Lady.
Melissa Montgomery glanced down at her re-discovered size B breasts. It’s not a big deal. Just get out of the car. She wanted to, but the urge to hide remained the stronger emotion.
Strangely, she didn’t even know why she was so flummoxed. Hell! Botox, liposuction, tummy tucks, chin lifts, any type of cosmetic surgery, were norms nowadays. Her surgery wasn’t a new procedure. She’d been under the knife before. So why did she feel like an escapee from Dr. Frankenstein? The answer, while simple to name, wasn’t so easy to understand.
Four weeks ago, she’d elected to reduce her medically altered C+ boobies back to their regular size, after having worn implants for almost 20 years. The change, while noticeable, wasn’t shocking. She shouldn’t feel weird, but she did.
Sitting in the car wasn’t going to help, though. The sweltering confines of her shiny, silver BMW wouldn’t change the facts. Getting out of the vehicle was the only answer. She had a club to manage, and every single day of vacation time was used. Unless she called in sick, or quit, her boobs would eventually come out of the closet. It was time to get over it and get going with her life.
Exiting the low-slung vehicle, Melissa squinted her eyes against the glaring rays. The morning sun beamed down on the empty parking lot, and she was glad she parked near the entrance. Walking around to the back of the car, she opened the passenger-side back door and grabbed her briefcase and purse. Her motions were quick and hasty, and the black suede handbag burst open, the contents spilling onto the hot pavement.
“Damn,” she muttered, looking at the mess on the ground.
Crouching down, she began stuffing the various pens and slips of paper back inside. She got on all fours and ducked under the car to make sure she had everything. One of those errant papers could be a very important piece of her life. Why it floated at the bottom of her purse amongst an open package of Lifesavers, a thousand receipts, and a nearly empty tube of Carmex was anyone’s guess.
“You need a little help?”
The deep, masculine voice startled Melissa. Jerking backward, she banged her head against the open car door. “Ouch!”
Standing slowly, rubbing the sore spot on her head, she turned towards the all-too-familiar tones of Anthony ‘Tony’ Delmonico. “What, are you a ghost or something?”
“Sorry. I parked around back. I thought you might already be here, but when no one answered the back door I walked around to the front.” He smiled, and Marissa felt herself cringe in awareness. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“No problem,” she replied, turning away before his assessing gaze could travel down her figure.
What’s he doing here?
She spared a few glances over her shoulder at the handsome owner of the Classy Lady, taking in his casual appearance. A pair of faded denim jeans and an expensive-looking collared shirt complemented his tall, muscular physique. He looked comfortable in the blazing heat, and Melissa wished she could affect the same appearance.
But, today was super-bummy day. She’d paid little heed to her outfit of old shorts and a T-shirt.
“I thought you were in Detroit, or something, opening a new club.”
“The club opened last weekend, so I decided to trek back to California early.”
Melissa nodded, listening with half an ear while trying to decide how best to face the situation, literally. Tony stood behind her, and she doubted he’d noticed the change to her cup size. Trying to stall the inevitable, she reached forward and grabbed the briefcase sitting on the back seat, clutching the brown leather bag to the front of her chest. She hoped the pose seemed normal, and smiled wearily when she turned to face him.
Tony grinned back, and her heart rate picked up a pace. She’d been infatuated with the man ever since she met him ten years ago. Time hadn’t seemed to change him one bit, either. Magnificent, stunning hazel eyes were still shaded by the longest pair of eyelashes she’d ever seen. High cheekbones and a full Roman nose, matched with his olive coloring, fully proclaiming his mixed Italian and Swiss heritage.
Still though, his sensual lips were the crème de la crème, and to make matters worse the infuriatingly handsome man had two deep dimples. A lock of dirty colored blonde hair fell to his cheek, while the rest was swept back in a casual style to the nape of his neck.
Melissa would wager a full month’s pay the man could make a living selling any product on the face of the earth and every woman worth her salt would be angling to be the first in line to buy.
“Let me get that for you,” he said, grabbing the briefcase shielding her chest.
She gasped when the thick, brown leather case was jerked away, trying to resist the urge to cross her arms.
Tony’s eyes narrowed as he looked down from his six-foot-two advantage to the missing cleavage underneath her shirt. She could see the calculations in his eyes, and decided to forego the inevitable questions. “Yes. Okay. I took out my implants. I am now a member of the flat-chested crew,” she snapped.
“You’re not flat-chested.”
“Yes, I am.”
“No, you’re not. And why are you being so defensive?”
Rolling her eyes toward the sky, she took a moment to stare at him before looking down at the ground. She wasn’t being defensive. Men liked big breasts. She knew this better than most, having spent half her forty years as a big breasted, exotic dancer.
“Whatever! Look, did you want something or are you here to stare at my tits?”
Better get used to the staring, honey. Tony sure wasn’t going to be the last person with comments, questions, and looks.
If she had a little more time to get used to the idea, she might have been able to handle this situation with her usual quick wit. Right now though, she struggled with the change.
“Is that any way to talk to your boss?”
Melissa shuffled under the reprimand. He was her boss, and he did have a right to be here. She swallowed the lump in her throat before glancing up. The cad! He didn’t look the least bit perturbed. If anything he looked amused, a huge smile on his face, his dimples flashing enticingly.
“Not that you don’t have beautiful breasts, but I am here on business,” he said, still grinning like a Cheshire cat. “And, I figured since you were coming back today, I might as well stop by.”
“Oh, okay.” She rushed, walking toward the large tinted double doors of the Classy Lady.
Sighing as she managed the two dead bolted locks securing the entrance, she welcomed the cool blast of air that rushed over her face. It was damn hot outside, but inside the temperature was a lovely sixty-five degrees. Walking to the breaker box behind the cash register, she flipped the switch.
The darkness receded as the wall-paneled lights flickered on one by one. Normally, visitors to the Classy Lady would never see the club brightly lit. When they arrived, swirling mist and a darkened interior greeted them, along with forty or so nearly naked women.
Glancing over her shoulder at Tony, she watched as he tilted his head and glanced slowly around the large room. His brows raised, and a small wistful smile lifted the corners of his lips.
“She doesn’t look half bad,” he muttered, his voice a mixture of pride, and something else she couldn’t name.
“It’s not a bad place to lay your hat for a day of work,” she agreed.
“Yeah but… well never mind. I was wondering if you have the quarterly reports for last year. My accountant’s on my ass.”
“Why?” she questioned, wondering if Tony was in some sort of trouble with the IRS. Working in a cash-only business always brought the Internal-Fuck-You-Revenue-Service. It was part and parcel of the trade.
Tony chuckled. “It’s not what you think. He wants to get an early start on the tax season.”
Nodding, Melissa made her way around the cash register, and ignored the blatant look at her chest. Her pace quick, she walked toward her office.
It didn’t take long for her to find the papers and she spread them across her desk so he could look. “I have the quarterly to date for this year and last year,” she said, tapping her long, manicured nails on the black lacquered surface.
Tony sat across from her in one of the two available leather chairs, the long locks of his hair dipped forward as he read each paper carefully. Her foot began to twitch, and she tried to stare anywhere but at the man sitting a few feet away. Reduced to counting the seconds ticking by on the nearby wall clock, his voice intruded between one hundred twenty and one hundred twenty-one.
“What made you decide to have your implants removed?”
Melissa sighed audibly, wondering how best to explain. Tony was the official love ‘em and leave ‘em playboy of the new millennium. He moved between women faster than a speeding bullet. He wouldn’t understand her desire for a slower pace, for a family and a nice man to compliment her existence. She was forty and single. And, although Tony was only a year older, the current train of her thoughts had passed his station long ago.
“It was time for a change,” she responded blandly, sidestepping the question altogether.
“A change, huh? Well, what made you decide to get them in the first place?”
Melissa tilted her head to the side, spearing Tony with ‘the-you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-look’. “Come on. You’re in the business. Big tits make more money. It’s an indisputable fact. Men love women with big breasts.”
“That’s not what men love about women, Melissa,” he responded, his voice soft, nearly muted.
“Oh, spare me the details, Tony. I know what else men love about women.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter, Montgomery. Not all men think about sex on a constant basis.”
She snorted. “So, how did you make all your millions then?”
“Easy, I cater to men’s wants and desires.”
“So, they do think about sex all the time,” she countered.
Tony groaned as he leaned back against the plush leather chair. His eyes blazed with an inner heat, and she guessed he had a lot of practice defending this particular topic.
“Strip clubs cater to the fantasy, Melissa. A man could see naked women ten times a day, everyday, for the rest of his life. But if he doesn’t fantasize about wanting the woman, then it’s just another body.” When she opened her mouth to interrupt, Tony placed a finger in the air, stalling her outburst. “He has to want the woman. And he has to believe the woman wants him. Yet, it doesn’t always revolve around sex. I would venture to say that it doesn’t really revolve around sex at all. It has to do with acceptance.”
“Acceptance,” she muttered.
“I can’t believe you danced at all. You should know this already.”
There was some truth to his statements. Though it seemed hard to absorb coming from a man who rivaled Hugh Hefner as the world’s last playboy. “I see you’ve put a lot of thought into this.”
Tony shifted his head sideways and lifted his gaze to the picture hanging above her head. Appropriately, it was a fifty-by-fifty glossy, professional photograph of a naked, bountiful porn star. When he returned his eyes to her, he looked sad and defeated.
Strangely, Melissa couldn’t stop the rush of feelings. Just because she craved a slower pace didn’t give her leeway to berate Tony for his lifestyle. Besides, she’d be a huge hypocrite if she did so, especially since once upon a time she had traveled in the fast lane.
An apology formed on her lips, but before she could say a word Tony said, “So, you didn’t really answer my question. Why did you have your implants removed?”
Melissa pinched her lips tight, debating. She could give him the truth, and have him laugh at her. It was embarrassing enough having him ask the question at all. Once he knew the real reason for her surgery, she would have to hold Tony upright to keep him from rolling on the floor with glee.
Finally, deciding she cared little for his opinion, which wasn’t true at all, she answered, “I want something different for myself. I… I want a family.”
Tony didn’t laugh. In fact, he didn’t say a word. He merely stared at her, as though he assessed the truthfulness of her statement.
The seconds on the wall clock ticked, and scalding heat raced from neck to head. She wouldn’t have been surprised if her face was the color of a strawberry.
“H-have you already found the father of your children?” he asked with playfulness, but Melissa could detect a slight hint of seriousness to his voice.
“That’s part of the reason for the surgery. I want a man to take me seriously, and that has been hard to find. I could barely find one capable of lifting his eyes from my breasts. Plus, I’m not getting any younger. I think I still look good, but time will begin to wear on me. Better to take them out now than wait for Mother Nature’s call.”
Melissa grimaced, looking away.
She’d just laid a huge portion of her soul bare. She wasn’t sure why, but it didn’t feel wrong to share these things with Tony. They had always been friends, having worked in the trade for so long.
Waiting expectantly, she challenged Tony with her eyes. He was always good for some kind of smart remark, but he continued to stare at her, his gaze lit with an inner fire.
“Melissa, I… I was wondering…”
The sudden ringing of the telephone stopped his sentence, and she wondered about his uncomfortable look before answering. “Classy Lady. This is Melissa speaking. How can I help you?”
“Melissa? Hi. It’s Ameril.”
“How are you doing, Am?”
“Fine… fine. I didn’t realize you were coming back today.”
“Yeah, vacation time is over. Back to the grind.” She grimaced at the slight lie, wondering why she just didn’t come right out about her breasts reduction. Frowning, she glanced at Tony, who peered at her with a pair of raised eyebrows. “Anyway, what’s up?”
“I’m calling to tell you that I won’t be in tonight. I know it’s my normal shift time but I won’t be able to make it. S-something’s come up and I can’t get away.”
Melissa cradled the receiver on her shoulder and raised a quick hand to stop Tony from leaving. “I’ll just be a moment,” she said to him, and he flushed slightly, but regained his seat after a momentary pause.
“I’m sorry,” Ameril said in her ear. “I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I… I wanted to let you know.”
“What’s wrong, Am? Are you sick?”
“No… no. Well… yeah, I feel a bit under the weather.”
Melissa frowned, before thinking how odd Ameril sounded. “Are you okay?”
“Well… um… I’m having some family problems. I… I just can’t get away.”
Melissa could tell a lie when she heard one, and if gossip could be believed Ameril didn’t have any family. “So, when will you be in?”
“I… I don’t know for sure.”
It wasn’t in her to pry, but she had to know. “Are you sure you’re all right, Ameril?”
“I hope so.”
Melissa could detect a note of weariness to her voice. She might have pressed more, but decided to leave it alone. Disconnecting the call shortly after, she looked at Tony with a worried glance.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes… no… that call didn’t sound right. I hope everything is okay. Anyway, so what were you about to say to me?”
Tony flushed. “Nothing. I’ve got to get going. Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.”
He nearly jumped from his seat, and she had a vivid picture of the hounds of hell nipping at his heels. If she didn’t know better, she would almost think he felt uncomfortable being in the same room with her.
“Naaaahhhh,’ she muttered, listening to the front door slam.