“VaVa Violet” DiCosta was the hottest burlesque dancer in all of 1942 LA until a stalker's bullet ended her short life. Stuck in limbo, she watches time pass through the eyes of the club she died in.
Nearly seventy years later, best friends Parker Thomas and Ciprian Svetski fall in love with the style of the old building and decide to return it to its former glory and reopen the old burlesque. Problem is, they know business, not talent, and the show doesn't own up to its history.
Violet's given a second chance in someone else's body. She shows the men a thing or two about burlesque, as well as how to sell seduction. She decides to seduce them while she's at it, but never imagined she'd lose her heart to them. Or that her killer wouldn't be happy about her return.
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Violet DiCosta tentatively looked out at the gregarious audience through a gap in the red velvet curtains as a couple of other girls performed. The room was full of rowdy GIs who were loud enough to nearly drown out the girls’ music. Clouds from the men’s cigarette smoke swirled through the lights focused on the stage, looking like fingers rising up to capture the illumination. Violet’s heart was thumping in her chest as she adjusted the edge of her costume for the hundredth time, the edges of the sequined bustier chafing under her arms as she pulled it to cover her bosom.
“You betta hope this new act o’ yers is gonna work. This ain’t no boogie-woogie joint. The men out there paid their two bits to see burlesque, not yer fancy hanky-panky shit, girlie.” Sal’s cigar smoke had hit Violet before his words, and she tried to not breathe in too much of the strong stogie’s stench. She turned to glare at her boss before turning back to the excited crowd.
“Sal, the room is packed with GIs. Tonight’s the perfect night for what I have in mind.” Electricity sparkled through her body just thinking about being onstage and belting one out for the boys in uniform. “And boogie-woogie is on the edge, Sal. This upbeat stuff is gonna be the next big thing, you can betcha ass on it. You want this club to keep makin’ money, you need to roll with the times.”
Violet could almost hear the dismissive wave of Sal’s hand in his voice. “Irving Berlin...Now that’s music.”
Rolling her eyes as she turned toward Sal, she laughed. “Sal, you are so…old.”
The heavy wrinkles framing his eyes squashed together as he smiled at her. “Old enough ta be yer granddaddy, so watch yer manners, kiddo.”
The crowd let out a wave of applause that had Violet whipping her head around. After giving Sal a kiss on the cheek, she bolted to the rear of the stage and checked that her two backup girls were ready to follow her on. Violet pulled her bustier up once more as she moved to her mark onstage in the dark, sensing the girls follow suit.
Laughter darted around the room, the GIs oblivious to their arrival. The boys in uniform continued to smoke, drink, and toss jokes back and forth. Violet’s heart squeezed for a brief moment, imagining that once their R & R was over, those boys would be headed back to the front lines. Tonight could be the last moment any of them had to be lighthearted and gay.
Would they come back? And if they did, would they be whole?
Her father had been a doughboy in the First World War and, according to her mother, had come home a broken man. She’d been born two years later and didn’t realize that the irate cur who rarely uttered a word unless it was to bitch or cut them down had ever been better. Then Black Friday had hit when she was nine, and he had lost the piss-poor job he had managed to hold down for more than a couple of months, unlike all the rest. A few weeks later, Vincent DiCosta was gone, never to be seen again. It had been tough on her and her mother, but it was probably the best damned thing that could have happened to them.
She pressed the memories back into the box she stored them in, down deep inside, and took a deep breath. There was no reason to churn up all that old shit just before she was going to wow the socks off the collective group of young men in uniform. Then again, was there ever a reason to ever churn up all that old shit? Shaking her fingers out and loosening up, she plastered a ten-kilowatt smile on her face, knowing her bright white teeth would stand out proud set in the midst of the bright red lipstick she wore.
Lights blazed back on, the spotlight hitting her squarely. She was almost blinded as the light reflected off the red, silver, and blue sequins that had been meticulously sewn all over her bustier. A silent pause of surprise spread through the room before screams erupted and hoots echoed off the old walls coated with a few layers of cigarette smoke and the smell of old booze. The GIs liked what they saw, and her inner narcissist was all fired up.
Time to flip their wigs.
As the tinny sound of the bugler began the first strains of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” all the men came to their feet in unison, and the rush of their roar hit her full in the face. Damn, didn’t expect that.
Stepping up to her microphone, Violet looked over her shoulder at the shocked expressions on her backup girls’ faces as the band joined in, the jumping jive enough to make her start to sway to the sounds. She smiled at them as she caught their eyes and nodded it was time. As the first words came out of their mouths, Violet cast a glance back to the audience. The men were up and dancing in their spots, their eyes glued to the stage.
Violet soaked in their energy as she performed. She was addicted to the attention she got when she was in front of a crowd of men, and the more they gave, the more she wanted to give them. Reaching down to the front of her long skirt, she ripped the slit so it went up to the bottom edge of her bustier and pushed one bare leg out. The war effort had demanded her hose. They needed the nylon for parachutes more than she needed her legs clad, so there was no point in wearing garters.
The roar from the men egged her on, and she ripped the skirt from her waist, tossing it behind her. Clothed only in her bustier, panties, and heels, she felt like a goddess onstage. She belted out the refrain, her powerful voice sounding out over those of the girls behind her. Violet was in her element, and she was a force of nature.
As the last chords were played, the men’s deafening shouts and applause drowned out all sounds within the club. Violet stood center stage and absorbed every bit of it, her smile so large it was beginning to hurt her cheeks. Closing her eyes, she could feel their attention soaking into her, warming her from the inside out.
One of the girls grabbed her by the waist and began to draw her to the backstage area. The men were not showing any signs of stopping, and Violet could have stayed out there all night listening to their praise.
But the show must go on, she supposed.
* * * *
Glenn’s chest ached as the stage lights burst on her ethereal face, the shine not just coming from the illumination, but from her own incandescent inner glow. She was the most beautiful thing on Earth, and he blinked repeatedly as his eyes became accustomed to the light and he settled in to watch her every move. Violet was an angel.
He’d missed her first performance of the night, and it must have been as spectacular as always given the way the crowd filled with GIs reacted when she came out. She sure knew how to entertain.
Part of him hated her for displaying herself in such a way. Her breasts half-bared and nearly pushed out from atop the tight bustier she wore. The up-to-there slit in her gown showed too much of her succulent leg. She left too little for the imagination. Every man in the room saw as much as he did. Considering half the jarheads in the room would be blown to smithereens in the coming weeks, he wasn’t as bothered as he normally was by the fact that they watched her. Heck, the last good thing these yucks would see before meeting their maker would be his girl.
And if not for these performances, he would not get to see her in all her glory either. Well, at least for now. Soon, she would be all his, and these shows would be performed in private, for his eyes only.
Her eyes flicked toward him, as she must have sensed he was there again. The shy smile she gave him was so tempting. Va-Va Violet was all seductress, and her eyes kept coming back to him over and over, her inner angel drawing her to his darkness. She would complement him so perfectly.
And the fact that her eyes returned to him proved she understood that she was his. While onstage, she truly performed for him. This would be easier than expected.
It was time.
She was ready.