A table located right off the dance floor was cleared of patrons in the time it took for them to go across the length of the nightclub. Kenyon snapped his fingers and a waitress came running to his bidding. Some patrons were moved from another table to give them some elbow room.
"Whatever they want is on me." He was polite but firm in his comment to the waitress. She beamed back and began to ask them what they wanted.
"Thank you," Lani said clearly, as the other murmured their thanks. She noticed that Greg seemed to expect it from the way he smirked. Again he winked. Smiling at Elisa she said, "This is a great birthday gift for you, but I will still have to take you out for dinner next week! I can't have Kenyon treating for me."
Kenyon nodded and let them give the waitress their orders. Lani was happy the table had stools. The chairs were not designed to sit on for more than a gulp or two of liquid, but it worked.
"Elisa, your birthday? Next week, you never mentioned it," Kenyon scolded with an upraised finger.
To Lani's utter surprise, Elisa blushed like a girl and said, "I am sorry, Kenyon."
She was sorry? The lady who singlehandedly talked her way out of at least three traffic tickets a year by making the cop think they were wrong for even questioning her? Lani sat back in silence. The waitress finally got to Lani for a drink order.
"A diet soda please," she softly requested.
Kenyon, who had been talking to Greg, overheard her order.
"Lani, come on, this is a celebration. Order something." His words nearly came out as a command.
"I did," she smiled through her teeth. Her instincts were still saying run out the door. Elisa looked pleadingly at her.
"Elisa, I am driving your classic sports car later. Your baby -- the three speed stick shift --I really want to take it home in pristine condition."
That sunk in and Elisa paled for a second, recalling the incident where Lani ground all three gears once by mistake, having been used to a five speed. With that in play nothing more came from Elisa. Still waiting, the waitress looked to Kenyon. Lani was not changing her order.
Kenyon waved the waitress off and said, "Maybe later. Besides, Lani, I can always have one of my people drive Elisa's car back. I would have last night had I known Greg was taking Elisa."
At this Kenyon glared at Greg.
"Kenyon, hey man, it's cool."
Right, it did not seem to be very cool with Kenyon. Greg paled even more. Lani noticed his glow from earlier had diminished greatly since they had got to the club. He still was a striking man, but Lani found him even fouler than ever. She could not wait for this night to end.
"Excuse me, Boss?" a large security guard interrupted.
"Yes," tersely bit out Kenyon as he turned to the guard, "Why are you bothering me now?"
"It's table nine, you have to speak with a few patrons." With that Kenyon nodded and excused himself.
The crowd in the club was even thicker than when they first got to their table, but Lani still noticed where Kenyon went. A bit of weaving, but he was soon at the table Heather had been pushed back to after her encounter with the 'Boss.' Kenyon was nodding and smiling and shaking hands with all the girls. The odd one out Lani had picked out earlier seemed to be his favorite. He spent time talking with her and standing too close as far as she could see. The waitress arrived with their drinks blocking any further view.
Greg puffed up once Kenyon left. Elisa and Lani were regaled with tales of various other patrons. Lani thought it petty and gossipy and began to watch the dance floor. The music was vibrant and pulled her attention to the dancers. She watched gorgeous young hard bodies vibrate and undulated with the music that was being piped out over an extremely good sound system. Tuning Greg out, she started to see single dancers amid the crowd. Her breath caught at them. They were angels dancing among the shadows. They felt the music in their souls. It made her want to dance all night.
No sooner than she had that thought a hand brushed her arm.
"Would you like to dance?"
She looked at the child standing before her. He was no more than twenty-one and heartbreakingly gorgeous.
She laughed, saying, "I am old enough to be your mom!"
"I don't care. Do you want to dance?"
Looking at Greg and Elisa she decided quickly, "Sure, why not?"
With a casual wave she headed out to the dance floor. The music was not overtly one type over another type of music it was just all dance music. She and her partner danced. He knew how to move and they kept dancing. The longer she was on the dance floor the more energy she felt. The heat of the bodies began to override the music and soon she was dripping in sweat. A slow song started and she laughed and told her partner she was done. He politely escorted her back to the table without objection. Various shadows and figures began to move sensuously on the floor. She sighed and moved more quickly.
Greg noticed her arrival and her partner. "Sam, I didn't see you. I was going to introduce you to Lani once she came back to us."
Sam laughed and said, "Greg, you were holding court and I stole her away. She dances well."
Elisa smiled, "Lani, this is one of the people I wanted you to meet!"
Lani gulped her soda and said, "Well, I think we have met."
Sam and Lani caught each others' eyes and laughed. Lani relaxed. She thought maybe this crowd was not as bad as Greg. He looked directly at her and glared. Taken back, she turned to Sam and asked, "So, Sam, you know my friend Elisa?"
"Very well, she and I have danced quite a few times."
Kenyon rejoined the table and greeted Sam.
"Ah, I see you found them."
Sam grinned, "How could I miss them? Lani is a great dancer."
The table laughed softly. Lani was silent. Again she felt the underplay of something she was not clued in on. Kenyon did his imperial wave and a waitress magically appeared from the throng. The club was filled to the brim and Lani was starting to feel hemmed in by all the people. Another round was ordered, with Sam including his. Lani stuck with diet soda and sat back in the uncomfortable chair. Sam stood next to her chair and began to rub her shoulders unasked.
Trying not to cause a scene she excused herself to use the restroom. Elisa was caught up in Greg's attention and did not follow. After weaving through a rather drunken crowd, Lani finally found the bathrooms. The couch beckoned her. She flopped down and got her cell phone out of her purse. She dialed Elisa.
"Hello," Elisa sounded drunk.
"Get your butt into the bathroom now, Elisa, or I will go out the front door!" Lani had had enough.
Elisa said sure and hung up. She waited for her friend to appear. While in the bathroom she got up and paced, waiting for Elisa.
The bathroom was amazingly empty. Lani noticed, when she had entered, only one lady who left after emptying body parts best left alone. Elisa showed up flushed and excited.
"Aren't they all great?"
Lani took a deep breath. "No, I want to leave. Now!"
Elisa looked crushed.
"Lani, it's my birthday!"
"No, Elisa, that is next week. I feel uncomfortable. If you want to stay, fine, I will just call a cab."
Elisa was obviously upset by Lani's words.
A white-faced girl came into the bathroom.
"Whoa, heavy," she walked right out without pausing.
The air between the two friends was laden with emotions.
Elisa finally said, "Lani, can you give me another half hour?"
Lani instinctively looked at her watch. It was nearly midnight. She had not realized she had danced that long with Sam. He was a good dancer, granted, but time did seem to disappear in this place.
"Okay, sure." They hugged. Elisa fled while Lani used the facilities and repaired her extremely melted makeup.
Reluctantly she threaded her way back to the table. There were a few new faces around and luckily she was able to get her seat that Sam had held for her while she was gone.
Names flew as introductions were made. Nobody or their names really stuck in her head given her exhaustion. She really just wanted to head home. Her headache was now an unwanted guest in her brain pushing and demanding attention.
"Elisa," Kenyon broke into a rant Greg was having about the price of quality clothing.
"Yes, Kenyon," everyone went quiet.
"In honor of your birthday I would like to move this party to my private quarters."
There were exclamations of excitement and amazement. Elisa lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Kenyon, I would be honored!"
Hands clapped and Lani wanted to run. Kenyon led the group to a door concealed off the club floor behind a niche. Two bodies unwrapped to allow them to pass. Lani thought it was cute to hide the doorway behind a couple making out. She went reluctantly into the room. Exhaustion raged with concern as they made their way through a long corridor to Kenyon's office. A dozen or so folks made their way into the office. Lani had never seen an office like this one.
White walls on all five sides of the office were causally interspersed with small cut-in niches. The walls were adobe or some such lathe and plaster arrangement. The room was cool, nearly ice cold. Candles were set into the walls giving a soft flickering lighting. There was no desk she could see, but rather a large couch. She was completely uneasy.
Elisa squealed delight, having obviously been here before and popped herself in the middle of the white couch. Greg joined her and began kissing her. The half dozen people in the group began to kiss each other. Her dance partner Sam walked up to her softly.
"What?" She angrily bit out. This was nothing she had put on her day-timer to do this night.
"Come on, relax."
Relaxing was the last thing in her mind. She noticed the candles flickering over the bodies in the room. It seemed they were all matched up in couples of some sort. To her dismay they all were quite happy with the arrangement. She blinked as she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
Pushing Sam away from her, she saw a flash of teeth and heard a moan. Oh my god, someone is being bit! There was a soft chuckle and the sound of sucking. Whoever was being bitten did not seem to mind. She thought of the make-out parties she heard about in high school. Here she was twenty years later and there was the same damn thing going on! Elisa whimpered underneath Greg and she thought she saw blood. There was a flash of teeth and a whine of excitement.
"What the hell is going on here?" She exclaimed softly.
Kenyon was suddenly in front of her, pushing away Sam, who had been hovering in the background.
"Lani, what do you mean?" He stared intensely into her eyes. She turned and looked over his shoulder to Elisa to see a geyser of blood shooting out of her friend's neck.
Kenyon put a hand on her face and turned her away from the sight. She was paralyzed with fear and anger. What were these people doing?
"Nothing that anyone doesn't want happens here. What do you want? What do you desire?"
Fear laced her soul. Elisa was bleeding. Then she heard Elisa call out, "Lani, I am fine. This is heaven. Let them show you."
Lani pushed against Kenyon's chest. It was immovable. She gasped and found Sam by her side.
"Lani, what's wrong? Nothing will happen here that you don't want to happen."
Yes, sure, thought Lani. Like she wanted one of these losers to bite her?
Kenyon was still in her face. Without a thought, she lifted her leg quickly and kneed him for all she was worth. She caught a glimpse of blood shooting from another lady's neck and some guy lapping it up. This was taking Goth mentality way too far. Kenyon crumpled and moaned. Sam was there saying, "Lani, trust me."
Oh, yeah, she was going to trust some guy she had met in a bar a few hours ago. She pulled back her hand and popped him in the throat. He stumbled backwards. Everyone else in the room seemed quite engaged in whoever they were doing. She fled and stumbled out into the club. The music was louder and she saw figures dancing on the floor like she had never left. Pushing the two who guarded the doorway out of her way, she raced for the entrance.
Two of the security guards tried to pull her arms. She spun and kicked one in the knee and the other one in the ankle. Fear drove her quickly to the nearest exit. Avoiding the front entrance, she saw a lighted exit with a fire alarm bar. Disregarding all the warnings she pushed her way out. Cries were hitting her back as she hit the cobblestones. Rain greeted her departure. Nobody followed once she shoved the door closed.
Gasping, she headed to a street. A glance at her watch showed it was only a little after midnight. She found an awning and pulled out her cell phone. Panting, she keyed in the car service her work used. A minute later she gave the dispatcher the address above her head on the shop she was sheltered by. They said a car would arrive in minutes. Lani waited, trying to catch her breath.
As the tinted-windowed car drove up, she paused in fear until she saw the face of a driver she had used before.
"Hi, Carlton!" Lani kept her thoughts to herself. He quickly helped her out of the rain. She gave him Elisa's address to go pick up her car. He made some small talk and soon they arrived at her car. She signed for the service and sent him off with a modest tip.
The second she was behind the wheel of her car she began to sob. Her cell phone rang. Gulping, she picked up her cell to see Elisa's cell number displayed. Without pause she flicked the call to ignore. Knowing she was still vulnerable, she shoved her key into the ignition and headed towards her home. What the hell had she seen? Was Elisa okay? She sobbed her way home to find her answering machine blinking ten messages. What were those things? She ignored the machine and began to pack. Nothing was normal any more.