Stripped

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Book: Stripped by Abby Niles Read Free Book Online
Authors: Abby Niles
you’ve got this way of making me feel like I should be ashamed of what I did. I’m not. And you’re wrong. I danced way before Noah ever came along. I’ve worked in that same club for years. It’s good money. And if it offered health insurance, it’d be the only job I’d have because I’d work less hours, make the same amount of money, and be more available to my kids. But it doesn’t.”
    His lips pinched together as his eyes searched hers. “So you’re saying that you’re still going to have to find a part-time job.”
    “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
    Jaxon turned his head away from her and stared out across the sprayground. She had no idea what was going on inside his mind. He didn’t seem mad, but there was a new tension radiating from him.
    Noah ran up. “I’m hungry, momma.”
    Thankful for the interruption, she rummaged through her bag and withdrew a plastic baggie of cheese squares then a sippy cup of juice. Faith, seeing her brother with his snack, raced over for hers. They sat down on the cement and munched on the food.
    Tension ran between her and Jaxon. She really didn’t know what she said that had made him all huffy. He was the one that had, once again, tried to find a logical reason behind her being a stripper. Like there had to be one. There didn’t. One can simply be a stripper. One does not need a reason. Or one’s approval.
    The simple truth was after Faith was born, she’d been looking for a night job because Peter was home. She liked to dance and thought what the hell. After her first night and she made three hundred bucks from a four-hour shift, she never looked back. And she had never, not once, used any kind of drug, given a blow job in a back room, or committed any other criminal act. Adam didn’t run that kind of place. She danced exotically and got paid well for it.
    Carnival music sounded off in the distance. Madison stiffened and let out a string of curses inside her head. The day just kept getting better.
    Both kids rose up on their knees, looking around like hedgehogs peeking out of their holes.
    Damn ice cream truck—the bane of her existence. When she was a kid, she could get an ice cream cone for fifty cents. Not anymore. As the music drew closer, kids started to swarm their parents, and her two sent pleading, guilt-ridden eyes on her. Her stomach churned. She didn’t have any cash. Not one damn dime. There was no extra this week. With Faith’s E.R. visit, everything was going to bills, food or gas.
    Madison gave the classic ‘don’t even ask’ shake of her head.
    Both kids’ shoulders slumped in defeat. And she wanted to cry. These were two kids she would love to give the world. But she was lucky to give them second-hand shoes.
    A nudge hit her elbow, and she glanced down. Jaxon held out a ten-dollar bill. She stared at the money, then at him, then at her kids. Their eyes pleaded back at her and she wanted to kick Jaxon so hard for putting her in this position. No woman should have to choose between her pride and her children. Not with her children staring at her anyway.
    She nodded.
    Both kids shot to their feet and hugged her. She squeezed them back.
    Twice today he’d seen she couldn’t afford to buy her kids something and he’d stepped in. He had fifty dollars to his name. But in the end that didn’t matter, because that was for one week. One easy week to struggle through and then he could go back to his billionaire life.
    What a joke.
    Jaxon Sutherland would never understand what it was like to worry, to be scared to death about keeping a roof over his head, to be able to afford his kid’s medication.
    And she had to admit that she was envious of it, wished that she could’ve been that lucky.
    ***
    Jaxon adjusted his hand around Noah’s as he followed Madison and her daughter into the pizza parlor. He’d assumed Faith was going to want one of those ready-now or chain restaurant pizzas. He’d been wrong. He’d been surprised when he’d

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