"Oh, so you are the little friend Lani she has been telling me about." With that he reached for her outstretched hand and brought her closer with a surprisingly strong quick tug. Lani stumbled forward, her face now mere inches away from his. She had fully intended to shake his hand at the introduction, but he obviously had something different in mind. To her disgust he imparted two quick kisses on her cheeks in a European style. She did not know this guy and he was acting as if they were long lost friends. He smiled softly, yet Lani could see no warmth in his eyes.
Uncharacteristically subdued, Elisa said, "Oh, wonderful, Greg likes you," as if she was bestowing a gift on Lani with her words.
Without a reply, Lani put the ignored hand between them and pushed Greg firmly away from her. His hands were still loosely set around her shoulders. The arms length increased as Lani deliberately took another step backwards out of his grasp. With a look of irritation, he allowed his hands to fall by his sides and was thankfully no longer touching her.
He again smiled a nasty cold smile, and then said, "Oh, Elisa, she is definitely a treat."
The pit of Lani's stomach turned with his the tone of his words. "Elisa, you seem to have plenty of company already. Perhaps we can go out another night," she said.
Elisa flew down the stairs and grabbed Lani roughly, saying, "No, you must go out with us tonight. It will be great. Greg has connections with the owner of this club and it is positively perfect. Besides, next week is my birthday, so we can call this an early birthday celebration."
Mentally Lani kicked herself. She had been so busy lately she completely forgot the date. Feeling extremely guilty she said, "Of course, we have to go out then. But you aren't quite dressed to head out and I have to change out of my office stuff." She indicated the skirt and blouse underneath her coat. There was nothing wrong with the clothes, but she knew Elisa's taste ran more to casual fun styles rather than the more formal stuff they both wore during the work week. Looking over at the still too close Greg she knew what she brought would fit in at the club, but wasn't sure she wanted him leering at her all night. He was far too informal with her and she did not know how to make him back off without insulting Elisa. She kept her thoughts to herself and her facial features as pleasant as she could manage. He smiled and her and winked while allowing Elisa to duck back into his loose embrace.
"Come on Lani, you have to go out with us now. We wouldn't want to upset our birthday girl, now would we?"
Oh, joy, now Elisa was 'theirs.' This kept getting worse and worse. Lani tried to suppress any of those thoughts from showing up on her face. Her smile felt frozen but Elisa did not seem to notice. Greg kept watching her like a cat. His eyes were far too predatory. Elisa was kissing his cheek, to Lani's discomfort.
"Yes, Lani, you can change in the downstairs guest room and it will only take me a few minutes to get ready."
It had never taken Elisa a few minutes to get ready for anything. Half hour to an hour was the minimum time spent on hair and makeup just to go out to the grocery store for a quick snack. The idea of Elisa changing and getting made up that quickly boggled her mind.
"Don't worry your pretty little head, I will help Elisa get dressed," Greg said with a smirk, to Lani's revulsion. The idea made her uncomfortable even more than she already was. This evening was even worse than the blind date fix up she had half-anticipated. She felt completely like a third wheel when Elisa finally grabbed Greg's face with both her hands and began to kiss him deeply. Greg ran his hands over Elisa's body slowly and ended with his hands cupping her behind, dragging her even closer to him.
Without a word Lani picked up her bags and went into the downstairs guest room. She could hear Elisa and Greg going back upstairs. Lani then remembered that Elisa's bedroom was directly over the guest bedroom. She could hear the sounds of someone tumbling onto the bed. Quickly, before even more noises could travel through the ceiling, she flipped on the radio that was sitting on top of the dresser. Modern music rose up to battle the squeaks and moans coming from Elisa's bedroom. Hands bracing her now pounding head, she wanted this night to be over. If Elisa had not been such a good friend for the past decade she would have abandoned her right then and there. Reluctantly she changed into her evening clothes amidst thuds and murmurs she did not want to even begin to explore in her mind. She bit back a laugh as the song ended a bit after they did. Greg was apparently a very quick man. That thought made Lani giggle slightly and she continued to reapply her makeup and finish packing her work clothes into the gym bag.
She went into the living room to find Greg sitting on the sofa. He was smoking a cigarette leisurely while caressing his lighter in his left hand. Elisa did not smoke so he was using a crystal candy dish as an ashtray. His grin was positively smug as he said, "I see you did get ready first."
The underlying amusement pissed Lani off even more. Without replying she went and pulled open the front door. At the sound of the door opening Elisa flew to the head of the stairs calling out, "Where are you going?"
A deep sigh she paused then replied in carefully measured tones, "To put my things in the car. Don't worry, I will come back." Even though that was the last thing she wanted to do now. As she closed the front door she could have sworn she heard Greg softly laughing. Fuming, she tossed her clothes bag into the trunk of her car. She took her time stowing the bag and trying to figure out how she could delay going back inside. Not able to think of a graceful way out of the promise, warily she went back up the pathway. As she neared the still unlit front door her nose caught the scent of cigarettes. Greg stood off on the side of the porch, deeply shadowed. The red cinder of his cigarette quickly placed where exactly he was.
"Lani?" there was an uplift questioning tone in his voice.
Good manners won out over her instinct to completely ignore him. "Yes?" she replied, her pitch completely void of feeling.
"Why the cold shoulder? I haven't said more than a few dozen words to you. How could I have offended you so greatly?" He genuinely seemed to want an answer.
She responded, "I do not know you." That was all she was willing to say. Elisa opened the door before Greg could get another question out.
"Here you both are!" Elisa wore a black sheath dress that fit like a glove. Her makeup was heavier than usual but she looked remarkably good. Diamonds glittered in her ears and a velvet black choker with a cameo was nestled in the hollow of her throat. A completely elegant look unsuited to a club but mirroring what Greg wore in a way. Lani felt even worse than before, here Elisa wanted to celebrate her birthday and she was being bitchy to the new man quite obviously in her life. Greg joined them on the doorstep and stroked Elisa's cheek.
"You look lovely," he said.
Elisa purred back, "Thanks to you."
It still made Lani uncomfortable but she tried to shake it off. Not to mention her club clothes were definitely not the same caliber as theirs. Her choice of black silk trousers topped with a light silk chemise seemed simplistic in comparison with them. In flat leather shoes and some light makeup, she was ready as she was going to be but decidedly underdressed.
Greg turned and looked at Lani saying, "And you are a delight. It is so refreshing to see someone comfortable enough not to overdo the basics."
That sounded to Lani like a slight towards her friend, but she let it slide in honor of the birthday girl. This evening could not be over soon enough to suit her. Her head was still pounding.
"We are ready to go then?" Elisa quipped seemingly unaware of the undercurrents between them.
"Certainly," Greg said while hooking an arm through each of theirs. Lani tried to draw away to go to her car but Greg seemed to anticipate the move and said, "I am driving, of course."
"Oh, I couldn't let you," she said through clenched teeth while trying to still remove her arm.
"Oh, but I insist. This way we can have you drive Elisa's car back later. How does that sound?" It actually sounded like a good idea. Maybe it would give her a chance to detach him from her friend. Nothing good was going to come of this night as far as she could tell but she might as well try to make the best of it.
As Greg guided them towards his shiny black van, she was a bit unnerved to see that windows were all heavily tinted. He opened the door and seated Elisa in the passenger side bucket seat. Lani figured she would be in the back and hoped there was some sort of box or something she could perch on. Then Greg opened the sliding door to reveal a bed taking up half the cargo area and another bucket seat right behind the driver's side seat. A small cupboard was between the bed and the seat which faced the front. Obviously a custom designed van made for traveling. She got into the van and locked herself in with a harnessed seat belt while Greg went around the van to get in his door. Elisa took the time that Greg was out of earshot to say, "Isn't this the best guy you ever met?" Her face beamed joy and excitement.
Dismayed at Elisa's obsession with Greg she weakly smiled and was actually somewhat happy to see him pop in the van right then. Saved from any further talk of the man she sat back and waited for him to start the vehicle.
"Well, we ready my dears?" He winked at Lani in the mirror while Elisa was turned away fussing with her seatbelt. The winking had to stop or Lani was going to poke his eye out. Greg smiled even larger and reached over to touch Elisa on her shoulder. "You all set there, honey?"
Clueless to the winking, Elisa smiled back and said, "Yes."
With a flick of the key the van turned over. The van was as smooth as its owner, Lani thought. She wanted to puke. This Greg guy had some sort of hold on her friend, that was for sure.
The entire van set up was like some sleazy guy on the make. The bed had a dark comforter on top of it and she could see a half dozen pillows up against the back wall of the vehicle. There were no rear windows on the back or side panels of the van. Not to mention how she felt seated inside with the tinted windows darkening the front seats. She then saw curtains tucked away behind the passenger seat she had not noticed at first because they were a dull black fabric. That inched up the sleaze factor another half dozen points at least. While Greg headed towards the downtown section she discovered the chair she was in swiveled. Lani kept her mouth shut as Elisa blathered on about how wonderful the club was that they were going to. Greg added no more to the conversation than she did. They both silently let Elisa fill the air between them. Some twists and turns down various alleyways and unmarked streets bordered with dark unlit sidewalks soon ended at a tall gated fence with a large man standing in front of it.
Greg lowered his window and handed the man a folded bill. Without a word he was waved in, after the man unlocked the fence and rolled it back to reveal an assortment of parked cars. Lani never knew there was a pay lot this far in the downtown section. But from the looks of the guard it was not a well-known business. And after looking around the lot she probably could not afford it anyway. Most of the cars were luxury types, or extremely well kept. Nowhere did she see Elisa's car parked. That disturbed her but before she could ask Elisa launched herself out of the van nearly before it came to a full stop.
Slowly she followed. Greg was there to offer a hand before she could step down by herself. Lani allowed him to help her, but tried to quickly pull away from his touch on her back. Even through her blouse she could feel his desire pulsing on his fingertips. For supposedly being her friend's date he certainly was not acting very nice. His hand snaked up and tugged at her hair hanging down her back. Her hair dresser had been trying to get her to cut her hair more fashionably short but she had resisted, enjoying the length. But after unwanted Greg's attention she seriously considered shaving her head on her next visit. She pulled away and went to Elisa's side.