A/N: So, this is the winner of the votes. I'm sorry if it isn't the one you voted for, but I actually enjoyed writing this. I hope you all enjoy it as well. I know the concept isn't exactly original, but I'm trying to make it my own. Remember reviews are love, and make me want to write more. So...review people!

Disclaimer: I don't own Chris or Stephanie, they're their own people. Who they choose to be with is up to them.

The Loneliness is Better Near Now

The beat of the music was resonating throughout the club. She could feel the vibrations from the floor surge up and pulsate through her body. The air was so thick she had to gulp to get a breath, but she was used to this. Gulping would give way to quicker breaths and she would be fine. She hadn't worked here for three years, for not to know how to adapt to the environment. Sweat stuck to her and she could feel the droplets that had formed at the back of her neck make a path down her back. The fact she was wearing nothing but a bra and panties should have meant that she was anything but sweating, but the life of a stripper was never anything close to normal.

She'd just finished her routine, a sassy little number where she enticed the audience with the grind of her hips and a tease of her cleavage and now she had to work the floor. And worked it she did, this was how she made double her money, all she had to do was sway her hips, wink and leave a lingering touch as she placed their drinks on the table. Men were easy. She could live with the slaps to her ass as she passed on by, and if anyone got too overly friendly, security would lock a hand around their wrist and show them the exit.

This place was nothing compared to some of the dives she'd worked her way up from. It was classy. Well, as classy as a strip joint got. It still had the flashing neon light in the window and the seedy feel to it, but she knew she wasn't going to get a hand clamped around her mouth and pressed up against a wall in this place. No, she was free from that.

She was taking her time making her way through the tables, lingering where she had the time and smiling as she felt the twenties slip into the waistline of her panties. So, they felt her ass, she got a twenty for that. A fifty if she smiled when they slapped it. She'd learned to fake that smile long ago. She made her way out of the tables that surrounded the stage and she could breathe a little better here, these tables held customers that usually came for the view, were a little less drunk and could look at her in the eye when they ordered a drink, not below where they got a good view.

She felt less sleazy back at these tables.

She stopped before she had to plaster that smile on her face and her eyes slid shut and she moved her neck from side to side. The cracks she heard pleased her, there went a little tension she wouldn't have to worry about at the end of the night.

When her eyes opened, he was staring at her.

The club, like any strip club was dark, so the fact that she could she the cobalt blue of his eyes caused her to falter. Her grip loosened on the tray she was carrying and she missed a step when she started to make her way over to him.

When she finally made it to where she was standing in front of him, she was fine, her bravado was back. "What can I get for you?"

He just looked at her and she looked right back, tapping her fingers against the tray, waiting. Still, he said nothing and she looked at his table, his glass was empty.

"Rules are, you order or you're out."

He still didn't answer and his eyes just bore into her, and they made her want to shiver, but she'd had enough of his silence and shrugged and turned to walk away. She didn't get far before his hand was in hers pulling her to a stop. She was about to inform him that touching wasn't allowed when he spoke.

"I'm Chris."

It was a pretty name, she'd give him that, it went with the eyes, hell she'd admit it, he was all pretty.

"Chris Irvine."

"Well, Mr. Irvine," she began. Always call the customer by their title or don't speak it at all, it was a rule she'd learnt, that way they'd always know that in this hierarchy they called life they would always be higher than a lowly stripper. "Unless you want to be escorted out of here, by force," she commented, throwing a look over to James the head of security and his eyes keenly trained on their joint hands. "I suggest you let me go."

She watched as his gaze follows her gaze and he sees the security.

His hand is gone a second later.

He was looking at her again and she felt her mouth go dry. She tried to swallow, but nope, that was the Sahara right there. This was ridiculous, customers never affected her like this, usually she just faked a laugh at their lame jokes, bit her tongue at the slurs they threw her way and smiled when they told her they wanted to fuck her.

"Order or your out."

"Do you sell coke?"

Stephanie sighed, this was why she moved from joint to joint, she'd dealt with to many coke heads in her time, to want to have to stay where memories of backhands across her face were almost daily and where she had to watch her back when she took breaks, because heaven forbid she take a bathroom break without someone following her and locking the door behind her.

"This ain't this kind of establishment, if you're looking for a gram or two, head down to 'Levesque's', he's the cheapest on the strip."

Sure this place was classy, but there was still drug money running around in here. She was just glad none of it was allowed in the building.

"Uh, Diet Coke?"

Oh, the soft drink. Wow, how out of the loop was she? Did it say something about her that when someone asked for coke, she automatically thought of the white stuff than the drink?

"I'm sorry Mr. Irvine," she backtracked, when in the wrong do anything to make it right. "It was wrong of me to assume. This drink is on the house."

"It's Chris." He spoke up and his eyes were humorous.

"Mr. Irvine, I can't call you Chris." If anyone heard her even speak a customer's name she would be hauled backstage, trailed up those wooden stairs faster than she could blink and be standing in front of Mr. Stone (Danny when you were in his good books and bringing in enough cash for the club.), like it was the first time all over again. She could feel the grip on her upper arm just thinking about it. She bit her lip and was glad she didn't taste blood. "There's rules."


He looked disappointed, but they always did. Least they have more reality for their late night fantasies, where she was the one calling out their name.

"I'll go get you your drink."

"Wait." He called out as she turned and took a step. It seemed all she seemed to do around this man was turn to walk away and have him pull her back. With those eyes, she honestly didn't mind.


"Can I call you, your name?"

No one had ever asked her name before. They always gave theirs and with a wink told her she'd be screaming that tonight, some nights she did. But it was more in fear than ecstasy. This man was throwing all her predetermined knowledge about drunks and adulterers for a loop. "I'm Stephanie, and I'll be your waitress tonight."

"I think I'll just call you Stephanie." He threw back, with a lift to the corner of his mouth. She thought it might have been a smirk, but no, it was almost a smile. She gave him an almost smile back, after all she never gave anything away for free. Not that she was paid for anything outside of this business, she stopped at stripper, there were enough evils in this job to handle, she wasn't prepared to handle any that prostitution threw her way. There were some girls in here that did, some for the love of sex, some to pay their drug habit, some both and she always saw their beaten bodies and bruised veins and wondered how anyone could put themselves through that willingly.

"There's no rule against that."

"Good." He spoke quietly while bowing his head.

She thought that endearing.

"Do you work here most nights?"

Thankfully she had a reprieve from this place, where she could walk the streets in jeans and a tee and look like a normal girl finding her way in the world and not some girl who had seen too much to forget.

"Every Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend."

And he was silent again.

She watched as his hands ran across the denim of his jeans, like his palms were sweaty and she wondered if the heat was getting to him like it was still effecting her. She could feel the sweat on her trail down her thighs and cause her clothing stick to her. She could feel eyes on her and she looked around and she could see the glares she was getting for the other girls in the club. She forgot the most basic rule, take an order and move on. She looked down at the ground and closed her eyes and counted to ten and then looked up at the door at the top of the VIP club. Mr. Stone was staring back at her. Shit.

"I'll go get you your drink Mr. Irvine." She muttered as she hurried to the bar.

She didn't notice Chris's lingering look or how afterwards his gaze followed her previous one as he saw what she was looking at. Neither did Mr. Stone. She just made her way to the bar as fast as she could, not even slowing as her ass got the occasional slap or when she got pushed into tables. She just had to finish this order and work the floor.

"Kelly get me a coke." Stephanie bit out. "Diet."

The blond did as she was told and placed the coke on her tray with a napkin. She turned her head planning her way back, the best way to avoid the drunks and the ass grabs, and his table was empty. She left his order on the bar and made her way to his table. There was money on the table to cover his tab, twenty buck too much, and an empty glass sitting next to a napkin. She felt slightly disappointed she didn't get to say goodbye, but if she was disappointed every time someone she liked left, she wouldn't be very good at her job. It didn't happen often, but there was the occasional guy who gave her at least an ounce of respect, and Mr. Irvine had been the occasional guy of that month.

She picked up the money and the empty glass ready to take it back to the bar when she noticed the napkin. She picked it up and her eyes widened as she read:

'See you Tuesday.'