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The Feline of Avenue B

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Rachel stands off to the side of the stage, doing her best to keep from fidgeting. She tells herself that it’s just another stage, that she is being paid to perform, and that she’s about to walk out in front of just another adoring Broadway audience.

It doesn’t quite work.

She can’t ignore the cigarette smoke permeating her lungs, or the poles strategically placed around the stage, or the tables of drunk men already whooping and the show hasn’t even started.

As she hears the music start she takes one last deep breath to steady herself, and steps out. At least I can move in this outfit, she thinks, ignoring the reason for it – namely that said attire is little more than a leather bikini, fishnets, and heeled knee-high boots.

Her handle on the choreography is shaky at best, as she’s only had a day to prepare, but she can fake confidence like anybody in the business. She’s grateful that Brittany took pity on the ‘poor lost kitty’ and choreographed the dances for her, and had even walked her through all of her steps. Rachel knows enough about performing to fill in the gaps.

Sultry. I can do sultry.

The bass pounds, the melody starts, and Rachel sings.

“What’s the time? Well it’s gotta be close to midnight. My body’s talking to me, it says time for danger.”

The instant she starts, the rush kicks in. She forgets that she’s onstage half-naked, forgets that this was all born of desperation, and forgets that she’s selling sex appeal to the men (and women, she supposes) ogling her from the dirty floor of the Cat Scratch Club.

To hell with it, she thinks, and really starts to play it up. By the time money is being waved at her, any shame she might have felt at taking it has vanished. She flirts outrageously, and her walk off-stage is more of a strut. She can’t deny that it feels good.

Brittany is waiting for her when she moves to take her place behind the bar while she awaits her next segment (employees do everything here, she’s learning), looking surprised.

“Kitty got claws,” she tells Rachel seriously, before breaking into a blinding grin.

“I guess I do,” Rachel admits, preening just a little under the senior dancer’s praise.

It’s the first time she’s felt anything akin to accomplishment in a long time.