Chapter 1

"One more year. One more year."

That was her mantra as she ran. It was all she could think about. She had worked so hard and come so far, and it all boiled down to keeping her head above water for just one more year. She was sure that she could do it, but it didn't pay to get cocky. She still needed to be careful about the money. That's why she lived in such a crappy shithole of a studio apartment, that's why she slept on a second-hand futon instead of a bed, that's why she had no TV and only a small portable radio/CD player for company. Too much of her hard-earned money had to go right back into work stuff, the stupid costumes and the weekly waxing. God, she would be happy when she didn't have to get waxed anymore. She hated having her pubes look like a 10-year-old girl's.

She had reached her turn-around point and headed back to her apartment. Her feet slapped hard on the pavement and she knew it was time for some new running shoes. That was her big spurge, expensive running shoes. You needed good ones for running or your feet would be paying for it. And with the job she had, she couldn't afford to have sore feet. It was hard enough spending all night in 4-inch heels as it was.

It was early August and hot as hell. There were four more weeks before school started again. Four more weeks of doing this sucky job five nights a week, and then she could cut back to two nights a week. She couldn't wait, although the cut in pay would be difficult to deal with. One more year and she would never look at a box of Cup-A-Noodles or Hamburger Helper again.

She reached her apartment building and sprinted up the three flights of stairs to her small studio. She always liked the rush of that last push as she raced up the stairs. She jogged in place at the top of the stairs to cool down a bit, and then she did a few stretches. Once inside the studio, she stripped off her running clothes and headed for the shower. Time to wash off the sweat and get ready for work. If she were lucky, maybe there would be some hot water tonight. Another thing that she looked forward to when this part of her life was over: a constant supply of wonderful hot water.

"One more year. One more year."

Greg House had had a crappy day. Just as he figured out the diagnosis, his patient coded. His team of fellows worked on the guy for 45 minutes before they called time-of-death. He tried to shrug it off; at least he had solved the puzzle and that's what mattered to him. An autopsy would prove his diagnosis correct. Cuddy cornered him later and sent him to do clinic duty. House hated clinic duty. It was boring; running noses and crotches to be swabbed and dealt with. He had argued with her about going; after all, his patient just died and he was upset. She saw right through his charade and sent him anyway, threatening to add more hours if he didn't spend the rest of the afternoon there. He grumbled but went, as he certainly didn't want more hours added to his "prison sentence".

At the end of his horrible day, House was quite ready to hoist a few beers with his best friend James Wilson. He barged into Wilson's office at 5PM and said: "McNally's tonight?"

Wilson hesitantly said: "No. I can't go."

House looked him over. Wilson had put on a fresh shirt and a different tie. He was all pressed and natty looking.

House frowned: "Why not? Rough day, I need to get drunk and you need to come with."

Wilson said slowly: "I have a date. Second date with Connie from Peds. You know, the blonde with the 38DD's."

House groaned; he knew that nurse and she was quite a looker. It was no wonder that Wilson was hot for her.

Wilson checked his hair in the mirror and unnecessarily smoothed it down: "You know, her last boyfriend dumped her only a month ago. She needs a shoulder to cry on, and that would be me."

House smirked: "Oh, yeah. Your patented panty-peeler routine is about to score for you again. First they cry on your shoulder because you are such a sympathetic friend and the next thing they know their panties are coming off and your Johnson has found a nice new warm home."

Wilson's smirk was bigger than House's: "Hey, I stick with what works, and I get results with this. I have a 95% success rate."

House said incredulously: "You keep statistics?"

He shook his head in disgust, walked out of Wilson's office and back into his own. He grabbed his things and headed out.

House rode around for a while on his motorcycle. He didn't really have anywhere special in mind; sometimes he just rode for the hell of it. He'd find a side road and just turn down it to see what was there. This is how he ended up at Body Shots. He was on an unfamiliar road, still in Mercer County, but outside of Princeton, when he saw the club. It looked discreet and far enough away from the hospital that he wouldn't run into anyone he knew. He parked the bike and entered the club.

After paying a $20 admission fee and being told he had to buy at least two overpriced drinks, House found a seat. He took a small table on the left side of the stage. A waitress, wearing only a tiny G-string, brought him a very expensive glass of scotch on the rocks and he kicked back to watch the show.

It was the usual assortment of strippers and pole dancers in various costumes that were slowly removed. The girls collected dollar bills in their garters and he happily contributed a few of them. There was one girl who really took his interest. She came out in a little sailor suit and strutted her stuff as she slowly took it off. She had the most fantastic pair of legs that House had ever seen. They were lean and muscular and looked great in those high heels. House briefly wondered if she were a runner; her legs were that good. Then he pushed that thought from his brain because she was dancing his way and looking right at him. Her big blue eyes had a come-hither look and House found himself physically responding. As he stuffed a fiver in her garter, he wondered if she provided any 'extras' for the patrons of the club; he certainly wanted to find out. One had to be discreet about this kind of thing though, because that assuredly crossed the line into the illegal zone.

The show ended and the girls pranced off the stage. After a few minutes, House was surprised to see the dancers walk into the barroom still wearing only their G-strings and heels. He quickly noted that providing lap dances was a part of their job also. He looked around for the leggy brunette and then he spotted her. She was walking towards him with a sultry smile on her face.

She stopped right in front of him and said: "Hi, I'm Randi. Would you like some company?"

He looked her up and down. She was even better looking close up. Besides those great legs, her breasts looked to be a perfect 36C and he was positive that they were natural and not enhanced.

Slowly he said: "Company would be nice."

"I can sit next to you and we can chat while you buy me an overpriced drink. Or, for fifty, I can sit on your lap for a while."

His eyebrows rose. Fifty was expensive for a lap dance. She could tell what he was thinking by the look on his face. "We cater to an elite clientele. The prices keep the riffraff out."

"Your boss tell you to say that?"

She just smiled and tilted her head to the side.

He liked the looks of her and decided to spring for the lap dance. He pulled out a fifty and handed it to her. She tucked it in her garter and then straddled his legs.

He growled out a warning: "Don't put too much pressure on my right thigh. War wound."

She nodded solemnly and carefully climbed on his lap. She had good strong legs and found it wasn't so hard to balance her weight mostly on his left side. She wrapped her arms around his neck; his face just inches from her breasts and started to slowly grind against his crotch.

"Where can I put my hands?"

"Anywhere you want, except under the G-string."

Now this was different. In most clubs, you could put your hands on a girl's waist or on her legs, but not her boobs or ass. He decided to test it by placing both hands on her ass. She smiled at the contact and continued to grind slowly against his crotch.

House smiled back. Now this was worth the extra money.

One hand moved up to cup her breast and he asked: "And where can I put my lips?" His thumb played over her nipple as he spoke.

She sounded regretful as she said: "Not below the shoulders. And trust me the bouncers are watching."

"So I can do this," House proceeded to kiss her neck.

"Umm, hmm," she moaned.

'Jesus, Christ', House thought. 'She keeps this up and I'm going to come in my pants'. He tried to remember the last time he had had sex. It had been a month or so since he last saw Paula, his favorite hooker. That was the time she told him that she was moving to D.C. Since she left, he hadn't called the agency back for a new girl. As far as a date/free sex was concerned, the last one had been so long ago, that he couldn't remember when.

By now he had moved both hands to her breasts and was cupping them and thumbing her nipples. She gently ran her fingers through his hair and planted little kisses on his cheek and ear while continuing to grind against the bulge in his jeans. His erection was getting to the painful stage and he needed a release soon.

He moved his lips up to her ear: "What if a guy wants a little bit more action than this?"

She whispered in his ear: "Are you a cop?"

He chuckled: "Not hardly. I'm a horny, pill-popping doctor."

She scrutinized him for a moment, and then tilted her head towards the back of the club. "See the goon at the back door? I'm going to walk through that door, give me two minutes and then you follow. We can't make it too public; ya know what I mean? You'll have to give him a password. Since you're a doctor, I'll use my favorite: 'trigeminal neuralgia'. That drives the goon crazy; he can't even pronounce it."

"Big word for a little girl like you."

He could see anger flash in her eyes, just for a moment, and then it passed. He was amused that she let herself become upset at his little dig.

She whispered in his ear: "I like BIG things. Let's head to the back and you can show me what a big boy you are."

She nipped his ear and then climbed off of his lap. He watched her ass sashay across the room. She stopped and said something to the goon and then proceeded through the door.

House gave her a couple of minutes and then stood up. He swallowed the last of this scotch and headed to the back door.