Chapter Six

Chapter Six
Orlando’s Night Out

Author’s note: I’ll give whoever figures out who Miss Sunshine, Miss Chuck Woolery, The Queen of Sexual Politics, and The Princess of the Attitude Problem are a cigar.

Kidding. Like I could. But try to figure it out anyway. It’ll be fun.

*Your eyes do not deceive you. It does say Soul Love Live is the name of the club they go to. Soul Love Live is an adaptation of a club name from a Nancy Drew book. The club was called Puppy Love Live, and it was in Japan where the story took place. So I came up with SLL, inspired by the interesting name. I also have a site called SLL. It’s still dead though… *sniff*

Their first stop after a light dinner at the Tiger House was Soul Love Live.*

Chris filled him in on Soul Love Live. The overage club was the hot spot for young adult Gracians. Apparently, it was owned by a good friend of the girls’, so every time they came, they got in for free—even though some of them were under twenty-one. It seemed like a nice arrangement—that is, until someone got angry about them jumping line. And someone always did.

“Ex-cuse me!” Funnily enough, Danie was the one who paused, irritated, at the shout from behind them. “Excuse me! Yeah you! The skinny white girl with the bobble head.”

“Aw hell,” muttered Chris imagining a beatdown to come. Despite the perking up of the ears of many males nearby, Chris was not in the mood to see a girl fight. Danie had been in a strange mood all night, and he also didn’t want to see her explode.

Seeing what was to come, Jennifer turned to Danie. She grabbed her arm and pleaded with her gently to ignore the irate patron, but Danie could not be dissuaded. She whirled around and gave the girl a withering glance.

“Is there a problem?” Danie asked evenly. She really didn’t want to start a fight. She would break a nail and get really pissed off. But she didn’t tell anyone else that.

“There sure is a problem!” the girl exclaimed indignantly, one hand on hip in a stance of talking-badness. “I’ve been waiting out herrre all night with all my gurls and you and your little entourage just jump in front of everyone like you a superstar or something like that. I ain’t having it.”

Danie turned red. Orlando and Gretchen shared a glance. They both knew the look on Danie’s face, even though Orlando had only met her this morning. It was the flush of flaming anger, signaling a seemingly calm and apathetic supermodel turning loca chica española. Before Danie could explode, Gretchen and Samantha took an arm each and hurried her into the club. Chris, Jennifer, and Orlando followed behind, but apparently the girl wasn’t through.

“Yeah, take your little white ass inside with your fake ass designer clothes!”

And of course, Danie had to have the last word: “I’ll bet they’re more real than your synthetic hair extensions!”

Gretchen and Samantha quickly took her up the stairs to the VIP section before a fight could start. Jennifer, Chris, and Orlando kept following.

Jennifer shook her head, speaking to Orlando over the loud music on the floor. “It usually isn’t like this,” she assured him loudly. “Most of the time everyone’s pretty calm. But sometimes we get people who are visiting from other places, and they’re not used to things here.” She sighed as Danie yelled about the girl outside to a friend.

“Is she going to behave?” Orlando asked.

“Who knows!” Jennifer said wearily. She waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. It’s your first night here. Try to have fun.” She squeezed his arm as they entered the VIP section. “You can get something to drink at the bar. We’ll be sitting in the corner.”

Orlando nodded. He sauntered to the bar and ordered himself a beer to start with. While he waited, an attractive young woman with mocha skin slid on the stool beside him and smiled at the bartender.

“A virgin strawberry daiquiri, please,” she requested. The bartender went to make the drink and get Orlando’s beer, and the girl glanced at him. Then she frowned. Orlando felt her stare and stared back, confused.

“Do I know you?” he asked politely.

She tilted her head. “You’re that guy who moved in with Chris, aren’t you?” When he nodded, she held out a hand. “Melanie Smith. Nice to meet you, Orlando—right?”

“Right,” Orlando affirmed. “So I suppose the rounds have been made about the new bloke living with Chris. Anything I should expect from everyone else?”

Melanie smiled as the bartender served them their drinks. “Not really. We’re generally accepting of new people. Unless they have webbed feet.”

Orlando pleasant expression dropped a notch. “Webbed feet?”

“Kidding,” she said. “We wouldn’t dare be so elitist.” She picked up her drink. “So are you in a relationship with anyone?”

Not expecting the question, especially delivered in such a casual way, Orlando felt the beer go up the wrong way into his nasal cavity. Melanie watched him intently as he managed an answer.

“I, um, I’m currently single,” he replied.

Melanie took a surreptitious look around as if she watching out for stray ears, then she leaned in and said, “Good. Just don’t go around telling people that. You-know-who might get an idea.”

“Um, right.” Then he frowned, realizing he had no clue what she meant. “You-know-who?”

As if on cue in a bigger scale play, a petite Asian girl in pink bounded up to them and introduced herself. She grinned at a stunned Orlando and held out her hand.

“I’m Megami!” exclaimed the girl. Orlando shook her hand idly. “You must be Orlando. It’s so nice to finally meet you after so long. Chris and Samantha and Gretchen were over there telling me how much of a nice guy you are and…”

“Slow down before you have mental indigestion or something,” Melanie broke in, patting Megami’s shoulder. Megami took a breath—and stole a sip of Melanie’s drink. Melanie gave her a look but said nothing.

“So you two are good friends of Sam, Gretchen, and Chris?” Orlando asked, trying to start a conversation.

“Sure are,” Megami answered. “We’ve been friends for years. We even had sleepovers when we were younger.” She sighed. “I miss those days…”

“Don’t we all?” Melanie decided to change the subject before Megami could start prattling about Girl Talk. “So what are you doing with your life?”

“I’m going to school to be an actor,” Orlando answered. “I go to Kaminari.”

“What a coincidence! I’m transferring in. Maybe we’ll see each other there or something.” She paused to take a sip of her drink. “They have a good women’s studies program.”

Orlando gulped a little too hard, remembering Chris’s list. But he wanted to be nice and get to know everyone since there was a chance that he would be seeing these girls frequently. “Women’s studies, eh? So what do you do in that sort of program?”

“We talk about sex,” Melanie said bluntly.

The way Melanie said it, so direct and frank, made Orlando choke. Megami patted him vigorously on the back until he recovered.

“Thank you,” he managed.

“And gender,” Melanie added. “Sorry, I forget that sometimes. But in reality sex has a lot to do with the subjugation of women in this patriarchal society—”

“Hey guys!” Gretchen exclaimed, seemingly coming out of nowhere. She turned to Orlando, who had to stifle a sigh of relief. “And how are you holding up, Mr. Bloom?”

“Swimmingly,” he remarked.

“Smashing,” she drawled in a mock British accent that didn’t sound half bad. She opened her mouth to say something but Megami spoke instead.

“You know,” she began in that tone of voice that indicated that she was assuming her self-designated role as matchmaker again, “you two look really good together.”

Gretchen and Orlando shared a glance. “Are you implying that I should take my dear friend Gretchen here out on a date?” Orlando inquired.

Megami grinned. They understood her so quickly! “Precisely!” Gretchen’s expression responded with an Oh boy, here we go again. “I mean, look at you. You’ve got the chemistry. Your eyes dance in the presence of one another and you’re always touching each other. It’s like”—she finished with an overromantic, over-dramatic flourish—“amore.”

“Like hell,” Gretchen retorted.

Megami wilted a bit. “You don’t think so? You’re not even willing to try?”

As Megami’s lower lip trembled, Gretchen rushed to console her, but a loud crash from the table in the corner and a growing din had their attention diverted from the situation at hand.

They looked over and found Danie drunk and dancing atop a table.

Melanie’s mouth dropped open in disbelief. Gretchen groaned and buried her head in her hands, muttering in Spanish.

Yes, the six-foot-tall Danie was in her skirt and tank top dancing provocatively to “Hot in Herre” and catching the attention of some red-blooded males. When they came over with their money, Samantha gave them a warning look with a dangerous gleam in her cornflower blue eyes and they walked away as Jennifer pleaded with her to come down.

“She has nice legs,” Megami contended, unable to say anything else.

“Bloody hell,” Orlando swore, and found himself drifting over. Gretchen, Melanie, and Megami followed him.

Jennifer and Samantha were trying to get her down but Danie giggled and evaded them. She slapped Chris’s helping hand away and stumbled a little.

“Oopsie daisy,” she hiccupped, then started giggling madly. “You should come up here. It’s really fun.”

Orlando came up to the table, wanting to give an attempt a try. “Danie,” he began sternly. Danie swung around and stared down at him. She began to laugh at the sight of him.

“Well, look who it is!” she cried. “You are a Capricorn. You’re too annoying not to be.” She leaned down to touch him as if she wanted him to go away.

“Danie—Dios Mio!” Gretchen exclaimed. “Watch out!”

“Leave me alone,” Danie snapped. “You don’t have to tell me what to do. I want him to go away.”

Danie reached down again…and everyone gasped loudly when she fell.

Like a train wreck going in slow motion, Danie tipped over, losing her balance. All they could do was watch in horror as Danie fell atop Orlando—and took some glasses with her.

Orlando would have caught her if he had been expecting it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. And she fell on his left arm.

When they were both on the ground, Gretchen, Samantha, Chris, and Jennifer rushed forward to help them up.

“Are you okay?” Gretchen asked Orlando.

“I’m a little dazed,” he said, shaking his head. Then he looked down…and saw blood.

Gretchen gasped. “My God—Orlando! Are you…?”

He shook his head. “This blood isn’t mine.”

They looked over at Danie at the same time, who was sitting up with Jennifer fussing over her. Danie looked down at her bloodied left arm, saw the blood, then giggled.

“I’m bleeding,” she said breathlessly. Then passed out.

* * *

Their second stop that night? The emergency room.

Jennifer, Gretchen, Samantha, Melanie, Megami, and Chris sat in the Gracia Memorial Hospital waiting room, waiting for Danie to get her stitches. Orlando, meanwhile, sat in an exam room with his sprained wrist in a brace watching an exasperated ER doctor stitch Danie up. Danie still hadn’t sobered up one bit.

“And then, they put me on top of the float and put these flowers on my head,” Danie was babbling happily. “They told me I was the most beautiful girl in the whole wide entire world.” She looked down at the doctor. “Do you think I’m pretty?”

The doctor paused to look at her. “Ravishing,” he said in a wry tone.

She giggled again. “Ravishing,” she tinkled. She looked at Orlando. “The doc thinks I’m ravishing.” She frowned suddenly, thoughtful. “What’s your name again? Lysander? Iago?”

“Orlando,” Orlando corrected.

“Oh, like the basketball team!” Danie cried. The doctor sighed and tied the suture, counting the seconds till he was done. He also hoped he didn’t get another nutcase that night. “So does that mean you’re magic?”

Orlando had to keep a straight face as he answered, “Not so far, love.”

And the doc was done. This was one he could tell to the nurses at the front desk. They’d be laughing for days. “Alright,” he said. “You’re all fixed up, Miss Thomas…”

Danie slid off of the table happily and forgot that her knees were still a little weak. The doctor had to catch her before she went sliding to the ground. Orlando nodded at the doctor and helped her to her feet with his uninjured arm and hand.

“Whoops!” She giggled. “My knees are jelly!”

“That’s nice,” Orlando remarked blandly. To the doctor, he said, “Have a good night, mate.”

The doctor took one look at Orlando holding Danie up and walked away shaking his head.

Weary, Orlando limped with Danie to the waiting room where their friends were sitting. Halfway there, Danie paused and looked at him pitifully. Despite his hurt wrist, he hefted Danie in his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder, her lids over her over-bright violet eyes. When the others saw him holding Danie despite his sprained wrist, they rushed forward to take Danie from him but Orlando shook his head.

“I’m fine,” he said quietly. He headed toward the exit. “Let’s go home.”

No one said anything when they followed. The fun had been squeezed out of the evening and now all everyone could think about was a fluffy pillow and a nice, warm bed.

It had truly been a long day.




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