The club was in its usual state that Thursday night. The haze from the bursts of noisome, stinging smoke of fog machines placed about the warehouse-like area made lucid vision impossible. The second most obvious sense to be shut off was the ability to hear. The trip-hop's screeching treble's and heart-grabbing bass necessitated screaming as means of communication, and that was only when speaking to someone three inches away, any greater distance and conversation was no longer an option. The only senses left available to any visitor of Club Blue were taste and touch, obviously needed for the nightclub experience. One must taste the many different flavors each cocktail could offer and the touch factor is always used on the dance floor, but for the most part touching is usually done after the combination of the drinks and the club.
Lacey always noticed the haze and the noise as soon as she stepped through the ludicrous medieval inspired double doors on Thursday nights, or "ladies' night", as they were called. This was the reason she and her girlfriends frequented the bearer of such obvious aphrodisiac devices. Lacey wasn't fooled, but who passed up anything free, much less alcohol. She was no idiot. The only reason they got the free drinks was so they would show up, which meant men would show up as well. Male friends had always complained about this sexist situation, but Lacey couldn't help but laugh. Free drinks certainly did not make women and society even Steven. No, sir, I'm sorry you can't have the free drinks when you have most of the money and power. I should at least be able to drink a gratis gin and tonic while pressed up against this impenetrable glass ceiling.
Lacey believed in this, and any other feminist ideal for that matter, right now especially. Being freshly broken up can have that affect on any woman. Not the freshly broken up, however, that meant getting sympathy, getting wasted and getting laid. No, this was the freshly broken up that meant "fresh" only to Lacey, it still felt like a "fresh" wound. However, her friends were over hearing about it. In fact, they had been over hearing about it two or three weeks ago. She didn't really see any cute men around either and it seemed that her only solace tonight was going to be her favorite drink. Long Island Iced Tea's never let her down. They always listened after a hard days work, a stressful fight with her mom, even listened after she walked in on the love of her life engaged in a rather awkward position with a girl in a Catholic school girl's uniform, the plaid skirt at least. The rest of it was on the floor, in a crumpled pile. Who knows whether or not it was real. At this point she would have believed that Brian was sleeping with a high school student. She wouldn't have thought this a year ago, but she also never thought he was a cheater. Her intuition was on the fritz it seemed, and she no longer trusted herself.
After getting her first two drinks at the bar, Lacey went on a futile search for her wayward companions. Double fisting, she pushed her way through a brightly clad melting pot of ethnicities writhing on the dance floor. At least I didn't spill on myself, she thought. That would be the perfect beginning to what already seemed to be an equally perfect night out with the girls. After about a half an hour of circling the dim levels of Blue, Lacey found an unoccupied stool at a sticky, empty cup and cigarette butt laden table and sat down with two more drinks. With nothing else available for entertainment, she lit up a cigarette. It was a vice, she knew. But right now, she saw no reason to put it out. Self hatred can really make a person want to blacken their lungs.
It was after her first drag that she saw him. A dark haired man of Roman god-like 'proportions with a matching cherubic face. Not only that, but through his jeans, she couldn't help but notice that he had an ass she could bounce a quarter off of. All at once, she realized something. This was the first man she had been sexually attracted to since Brian. In fact, right then, she wanted to say "Brian who?"
Inevitably, he looked at her somewhere toward the end of her, what must have been; three-minute staring session and they made eye contact. She smiled awkwardly but immediately looked away. What am I doing, she thought. He is way too attractive, intimidatingly attractive. She was, to herself, merely a girl. A girl who from what she could tell attracted the mediocrity of the male species. A guy like that had to have a beautiful, devoted wife as well as a super model, coke addict girlfriend. The eye contact only suggested that he had felt her eyes on him, and was probably not interested.
"Hi!" A voice behind her made her jump, rather obviously. She turned to see who it was yelling in her ear. "What's up?"
"Um, not much. You?" She could not believe what she was seeing. Apollo himself was looking back at her. While she was staring at the club floor, contemplating the muck soaked napkin stuck to the bottom of her left shoe, he must have walked over. She could not believe the stupidity of her response.
"Not much," he laughed. "Sorry to scare you. I just saw you over here, alone, thought I'd come over."
"Yeah, um, my friends are somewhere around here. I lost them after the first drink," she muttered as loudly as one can mutter in such an environment.
"What?" He yelled with the most adorable look of confusion on his countenance.
"My friends! I lost them!" She yelled into his face.
"Oh, that sucks. Do you want some help finding them or something?"
"No thanks, they'll find me when they need me, I have the keys." He must have thought she was kidding because he laughed and grabbed the back of the empty stool next to her.
"Do you mind if I accompany you then?" He took a seat before she could answer.
"No, please. That's fine," she said, looking jealously at the stool's cushion.
"So, what's your...?" The last word she saw his wonderfully thick lips form was cut off by a louder than normal transition in the music.
"Did you just ask my sign?" She looked at him accusingly. She knew he had a flaw, she just wished it hadn't been an interest in bad pick-up lines.
"No! Your name! What's your name?" He yelled at her over the beat.
"Oh!" She laughed, feeling ridiculous. "Lacey. What's yours?"
"Me? I'm Richard. And no you can't call me Dick." He laughed at his own joke. It was alright, though, since Lacey laughed way too loudly in return. Realizing this, she cut herself off and looked down, once again, at her shoes.
"Right. Got it. I promise. No Dick, then." She looked up into his eyes. He seemed caught off guard and she didn't even think that the unintended double entendre was the reason.
"Um," he laughed with the slightest twinge of nervousness in his voice. "Do you want to get out of here? I mean, at least go to a quieter bar and shoot some pool or something. You could stay around the area, you know, for your friends."
"Yeah, that sounds good. I have my cell. Where do you want to go?" She was just a bit excited. She knew that it was very rare that someone this perfect even glanced her way. This, however, was all in her head. She was a beautiful woman with an ugly duckling complex. She didn't seem to see the statuesque body, flawless face and beautiful, long, blonde hair in the mirror. At 22 years old, she still saw a gangly, flat-chested teen with braces and a perm, definitely unfit to be seen with a male specimen such as Richard. She thought about this as they walked out of the club's side door, out into the alley and onto the main street of Downtown. The lamp lit street was littered with people at eleven thirty; Some obviously intoxicated and very loud, some just beginning their Thursday night adventure..
Soon they had reached their destination, a small bar with an outdoor patio. Lacey heard a live band, containing four middle aged men who seemed to wish they had not quit their day jobs, playing on a stage against the back wall. The sweet guitar riffs of "Hotel California" wafted over the crowd, which, compared to the hyper dancing mob at Blue, was much more Lacey's speed. She was so glad that she hadn't gotten too decked out tonight. Wearing skin-tight jeans and a simple, black halter top, she fit right in with her beer drinking, dart throwing companions.
While Lacey was people watching, Richard had already walked over to the bar, bought two beers and come back only to startle her for the second time that night.
"Hey, there. You like Miller, right?" He handed her the brown bottle.
"How'd you know? Miller's my fave!" Oh, Jesus. Fave? Are you serious, she thought. Thankfully he laughed instead of shooting her the confused glare she had been waiting for.
"You want to get downs on a table? Do you play?" She already knew and loved the face that he made every time he asked her a question. It was almost as if he actually wanted to know the answer. She had a flashback to her relationship with Brian. Of course, now that she actually thought about it, it was not what most people would call a relationship. It was more a constant stream of one-sided abuse, and Brian was not the one receiving it. Her friends had hated him the entire 6 months he and Lacey dated. Now she knew why. After this stream of consciousness, Lacey realized that Richard was staring at her, waiting for an answer.
"Oh, uh, yeah, definitely! I play sometimes, randomly. I'm no pro but I hold my own, I think," she said with a false bravado.
"Ah ha! Oh, we'll see. We'll see," he laughed, starting up a competition that would bring the sexual tension between them to levels Lacey had never felt before. The pool table at the side of the bar, surprisingly, had no one on it when they walked up to it. Richard racked and Lacey broke. As the game went on, the beer was flowing and the hands began roaming. Not that Lacey was complaining. Richard was a shameless flirt, but she was really opening up to him because of it. She gained confidence with every giggling response that he elicited. But even more amazing to Lacey was the fact that he was acting like he enjoyed her company just as much. For the first time in months, she felt sexy, like the beautiful woman that her friends constantly told her that she was. She could feel his eyes on her curves. She was now aware of her soft skin, long hair brushing over her back and shoulders and the half moons appearing only slightly over the low neckline of her top. She felt Hot!
After playing a great game, which Lacey was a very sore winner about, the duo walked back to the bar, got their last beers of the night and seated themselves at a nearby table. She pulled out her pack and lighter and lit up again.
"Oh, well if you're going to..." Richard reached into his pocket as he lifted himself off of his chair and pulled his pack out too. And at that moment, Lacey knew it was fate. They smoked the same brand.
"Nice," Lacey gestured at the two identical boxes on the table.
"Oh, hey. No one ever smokes anymore. It's a dying art. I'm glad we share an affinity. And the same brand? We're meant to be together it seems." Richard laughed. Lacey smiled but could not hide her blushing face. "You about done with your beer there?"
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, pretty much." She downed the last swig left in the bottle and slammed it back on the table. Just then, she felt a vibrating. "Oh my G...Oh, it's my phone. My ass was vibrating, sorry."
"That's cool," he laughed. "Your friends?"
"Yeah, sorry. Hello? Oh, I couldn't find you guys, I'm over at Donnelley's, right down the street. Yeah, that's cool. Just meet me here. Okay, see you in a little bit." She hung up and looked down at her phone. It was two thirty in the morning. The time had flown bye. She asked if they could stand outside and wait for them since they were both done with their beers. Richard put his arm around her shoulders as they walked out to the balmy heat of the August night.
"So......you have to take your friends home?" He looked at her with obvious disappointment in his eyes.
"Well," she couldn't believe what she was about to do. "It's actually my friend Sara's car. I'm just the only person who brought a purse."
"Oh, cool. Are you heading out with them, then? I mean, if you want, we could go back to my place, drink another beer, whatever. Invite your friends, if you want, too." They both knew what he was talking about and Lacey wasn't scared. It had been long enough. She needed some excitement, and soon.
"I'm down." She smiled at him and the look in her eyes told him everything.
"Sweet." Just as he said this she saw Sara, Lauren and Bridget approaching behind him. She could already tell that they were impressed, even if only from behind. He must have seen Lacey smiling at them around his broad shoulder because he turned to see them walking up.
"Hey, Ladies. In fine form, I see." Lacey was commenting on the smeared makeup, stained clothes and stilettos in hand, results of a long night involving a sweaty, writhing crowd.
"Lacey, you missed such an awesome time! We danced on the bar! And who's this, you slut?" Lacey bawked at Bridget's comment and looked at her as if to say "What the Fuck?" when she actually said:
"Oh, guys, this is Richard. Richard, my infinitely sweet friend Bridget. And this is Sara and Lauren." She used a straightened hand to gesture to each of the parties.
"Hi. Nice to meet you," Richard waved and nodded at all of the girls while keeping one of his hands in his pocket. Not only was he not bad to look at, but he was shy around women too. He couldn't possibly get any more adorable.
"Hi," the girls said in exact unison.
"Right, well. Sara, here are your keys. I'll call you guys tomorrow?" Lacey reached into her clutch, grabbed a clump of keys connected to a four leaf clover key chain and handed them to her bewildered friend.
"You aren't riding with us?" Lauren asked suspiciously.
"No, um. I'm going over to Richard's to hang out a little bit," she cleared her throat. "He's giving me a ride later."
"I'll bet he is," Bridget chimed in again. Her complete lack of tact was not surprising. It was actually something that Lacey was jealous of. She wished she could be outspoken like that.
"Whatever, you bitch," she laughed and muttered under her breath. She didn't see, but Richard had the tiniest smile on his face. "I will call you tomorrow when I wake up, okay?"
"That's cool. We'll talk to you then," Bridget responded.
"Be safe, I mean, careful, I mean, drive safe you two!" Lauren stuttered as Lacey shot her a glare.
"We will. You guys too." And with that the group split and headed to their respective cars.
"No Invite?" Richard asked, laughing.
"Hey, five's a crowd," she replied with a huge smile on her face.
As Richard keyed the lock to get into his house, which was situated in a predominantly family occupied neighborhood, she reflected on the car ride there. True to her worrisome character, she over analyzed the awkward silences and music choices. She replayed the conversations about occupation, family and friends in her head. She had done most of the talking, jabbering on nervously, never wanting to break the lighthearted talk with mute uncomfortable ness. In fact, she regretted never ending her anecdotes with a "What about you?" Despite the twenty minutes of discussion, she had learned very little about him. Maybe it was for the best, she thought. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, if anything. Who knows if he'll call her cell phone, which she had given him the number to in the car. Maybe it's best that he remain a pretty face with a pretty smile. At least if he doesn't call, that will be the only thing that she remembers about him, his possible best qualities. This was an admittedly cowardly thing to do, but her fragile ego could take no more rejection, at least until she took down the the iron stockade she had erected around her true self. It was right then, as the couple walked over the threshold of Richard's aptly coined bachelor pad, that Lacey decided that if this was a one night stand, she would be totally okay with it.
"So, another beer?" He motioned toward the black leather couch in the living room for her to be seated and walked toward the chrome refrigerator in the adjacent kitchen.
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" She asked him jokingly and watched the couch behind her as she sat down, putting her purse by her feet.
"Well, should I be?" He asked her in the same jocular fashion. Both of them knew, however, that the tone may have been lighthearted, but the intentions of the words were very definitely sincere.
"You don't need to, if that's what you're asking," she said toward him as she pulled her legs to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees.
"What I'm asking is do you want another beer?" He laughed. Lacey blushed. She had taken the innuendo too far for this early in the evening. She could only smile, though. Nothing serious was acceptable now. Casual sex was called casual for a reason. Richard grabbed two beers and a Styrofoam to-go box from the fridge.
"I'm going to heat up some wings left over from lunch. Are you hungry." He had read her mind.
"I'm famished! Nothing like a night of drinking to make you starved."
"Here, Here," he replied in agreement. After nuking the wings, he put them on a plate with a small bowl of dressing. My God, Lacey thought, this is going to be amazing. She really was hungry. What's more, she was not about to hold herself back from stuffing her face simply for his benefit, either. Who cared? It really was liberating.
While gorging themselves, Richard and Lacey watched "Real Sex" on HBO, her choice. It was a little obvious, but she didn't care. It was her favorite show. She reasoned, if the drinks hadn't already gotten her aroused, which they had, this would help even more. At the end of the show and another two beers, Richard went back to the kitchen to throw the refuse left on coffee table out.
"You want the grand tour?" He asked her while brushing his hands against his jeans.
"Sure," she answered as she pushed herself off of the couch into a labored standing position. She was definitely tipsy. Not drunk, just feeling really, really good.
"Okay, well you saw the kitchen and the living room," he walked toward the sliding glass doors on their right, flipped a switch and revealed a brick patio complete with bistro table and chairs. "This is the back yard." It was beautifully landscaped and decorated with potted plants in all of the right places. There was also a hot tub, ghostly lit from the inside, against a wooden fence, surrounded by unlit tiki torches.
"You must throw some great parties," she remarked.
"I'm not one to brag, but yeah. They're pretty kick ass. I actually should be having another one soon. You should come, I'll call you." He looked over his shoulder at her.
"That would be awesome. I'd love to."
"Sweetness. Well, yeah. Back yard, and," he stretched out his words as they walked past a closed door in the hallway. "Bathroom and this," he opened a door and gestured for her to go in as he followed, flipping another switch. "Is the bedroom." Lacey looked around. The walls were cream and decorated with modern art prints inside plain cherry wood frames. In front of her was a cherry sleigh bed to match, covered in a crimson cotton comforter. There were no throws or pillows like would be in a catalogue, but it was impressive nonetheless. Just as she was noticing his matching dresser and open closet, revealing clothes hung up and strewn on the floor, he put his hand on her shoulder and spun her around. He put both of her hands in hers as he looked down at her manicured fingernails. Suddenly he looked up into Lacey's eyes and said,
"What do you think?"
"It's beautiful. You have an awesome house. All of it is just beautiful." She said as she closed her eyes and shook her head in disbelief.
"I used to think so too. That is, until I saw a beauty from across a dance floor. Beauty that was all alone, unrenowned. I needed to have it," he said in almost a whisper. It was a line, Lacey knew that and she was almost distracted from her want for him. Almost, that is, until he brushed the back side of his fingers against her flawless face from her cheek to her chin, which he put in between his thumb and fore finger, and pulled her face to his. It was the sweetest kiss that Lacey had ever felt. It her want more. It made her want it all.
She fell into his kiss as he put one hand at the nape of her neck and the other on the small of her back, pulling her into him, and pushed his lips apart with her tongue. With that, all bets were off. He picked her up, cradling her in his arms, as they remained locked in passionate kissing, and laid her gently on the bed. She pushed herself back toward the headboard and pulled off her top to reveal a black lace strapless. He pulled himself on top of her as she lay back onto the pillow behind her head and let him kiss her as if they had been together for years. She wasn't scared.
After what was the singularly most exciting and satisfying sexual experience of her life, Lacey passed out into a drunken, post coital slumber, her head atop Richard's chest while his hand gently massaged her scalp. No weekend visit to a day spa could ever have made her that relaxed. A commercial jet liner's engine could have dropped directly on top of her and she wouldn't have even flinched. It was the most beautiful feeling in the world.
Lacey woke with a start. She sat up in bed and quickly took in her surroundings. It, unfortunately, was one of those "where the hell am I?" moments. During her sleep, all of the magical moments of the night before had been washed away, to reveal a dim room lit only by a curtain-covered window. She covered her eyes with her palm, realizing suddenly that she was completely naked. She put her hand to her right and, as a rushing river, all of the previous twelve hours came back to her. Her hand was on a sculpted bicep, which was not a usual thing to accompany her in bed, she thought. She soaked in his entire body as her eyes roamed from his one uncovered by comforter foot to his black boxer briefs, which he had replaced before passing out, to his sleep drowned face. She was so happy that he was still as beautiful as he was while she had been inebriated. Having to chew her arm off in the morning was a formidable fear that she had possessed before entering into this loose contract.
He was still asleep so she was faced with a very hard decision. Leave him as quickly and quietly as possible or stay in bed until he, too, returned to reality. Actually, she considered, the decision was not that hard at all.
As meticulously as she could, she pushed herself off of the bed and gathered her strewn about clothes. She laughed inwardly as she thought back to her days in college, her days of the "walk of shame". She was very relieved that, now, she was in the world of adulthood, where casual sex, sex at all, was a little less of a taboo. Once she had her clothes in roughly their assigned positions, she followed the door out to the hallway. She passed the bathroom door and paused for a moment. A thorough tooth brushing was in order. That would have to wait, unfortunately, the sound of running water and brushing was too much of a risk. She rushed past the formerly toured house and once again sat on the black couch. She pulled out her cell phone and called Bridget. She wouldn't get any judgment from her. In fact, she might be congratulated. A groggy voice answered on the other end of the phone.
"Hey, it's me," she whispered. "Yeah, I'm still at his place. Can you come pick me up? He's still asleep and I don't want to wake him. He lives in the park area, 1338 Magnolia. Okay, thank you. I love you. Call when you get here."
She pushed the end call button and placed her, now in silent mode, phone in her lap. All she could do now was wait. She reflected on the transgressions of her adventure. She was proud of herself. No matter how dirty she had been taught to view the things that happened were, it was a freeing experience. One wonderful night was all she needed. She had sloughed off all of her love and hate feelings for Brain and was free, single and free. She looked forward to her independence. She didn't care if Richard called her. She didn't need to be attached to be happy. In fact, attachment usually meant a roller coaster of emotion, constant extreme ups and downs. Now she was free to find herself, throw herself into her work, have fun with the girls while shamelessly flirting with the boys. For the first time since her last relationship started, she felt safe knowing that she was by herself. Who knows what will come in the future, she asked herself. But no matter what, she was the one who would handle it, without having to consider another's involvement.
Her phone began to vibrate in her lap. She grabbed it and her purse and headed for the door.
"Goodbye, Richard. You were amazing. In more ways than you can ever know." She whispered toward his bedroom door. She slowly turned and walked out the front door, ready to tell every juicy detail to an eager best friend.