“Northman! Get your ass over here, man! We were expecting you an hour ago!” my buddy Keith calls from the bar. The man has a voice that can rival explosions in volume; I’m sure it’s the only reason I hear him from the other side of the converted warehouse.
I make my way through the writhing and twisting bodies on the dance floor until I’m next to the brushed chrome bar where my friends meet every Friday night. It’s become tradition since we discovered the new club as college seniors four years ago. Girlfriends and boyfriends have come and gone, but our core group is here to greet every weekend.
I feel the tension of the week fall away as I take my first sip of the foamy stout the bartender hands me without asking. My order hasn’t changed the last two hundred times I’ve appeared on this side of the metal slab, no matter what kind of week I’ve had. Looking down the line, I count the heads. The dark head of Alcide, still in his suit from work, is next to Tara in her business casual khakis and purple twin-set. Keith is grinning at me from his bar stool with Amelia casually perched on his lap, talking to Sookie who is leaning against the bar, unconsciously shaking her hips to the music in the background.
I smile and slide next to the tiny dancer. “Never would have thought a feminist like you would like this song,” I say, alerting her to my presence when her other conversation hits a lull.
“Eric! I thought you’d be here earlier. And don’t judge me! The song’s so damn catchy that I can’t help but ignore the rape-y lyrics. What took you so long?”
I ignore her question. “Why do girls call guys by their first names but other men use last names? I don’t think Keith’s called me anything other than ‘Northman’ since we met.”
She sighs and sips her margarita. “Oh, who knows? Boys are weird. So…” she says with a twirling finger, “the reason for your late arrival?”
I lean with my back against the bar and face the dance floor. “Another student requesting tutoring when I know for a fact she’s acing the class. These kids are growing up faster than we did.”
Her grin turns wicked. “Well it’s your own fault, sexy. Looking like you do and getting a job teaching at an all-girls school? You’re the only male scenery those poor, deprived sixteen year olds get to look at and you’re young enough to be seen as available. I doubt even a ring on that left hand would dissuade them.”
“It was the only place hiring at the time and the pay’s better than the public schools. But I can’t imagine you, Tara, or Amelia acting the way these girls do. I’m going to get a Nanny-cam for my office hours, I swear. I get flashed more cleavage and thigh than I know what to do with…” I pause at her twisted smirk, “… not that I’d do anything. But I’ve seen Wild Things. Some bells can’t be unrung.”
Sookie gestures for the bartender to refill her glass. “Then you’re very lucky you weren’t a teacher where I went to school. If I was a sixteen-year old school-girl and you were standing at the front of my class, I wouldn’t have heard a word about Shakespeare or Keats because my dirty thoughts would have made me deaf. Face it, Eric, with your hair all floppy and messy like a surfer and big blue bedroom eyes, any girl looking at you would have the urge to climb all six-foot-three of you like a monkey.” She waves Ames and Tara over to us. “Ladies, if Eric was teaching English during your junior year of high school…”
Both girls’ eyes roll back in their head and say, simultaneously with a sigh, “I’d ask for tutoring.”
Sookie’s smile is victorious. “Point proven. I think that the Nanny-cam will be a justifiable expense. Just don’t pull a Matt Dillon and fuck a student or two… especially at the same time.” The song changes and she gasps. “Oh! I love this song. Come on, you’re dancing with me.”
I let the little vixen drag me out to the dance floor and we move to the hip-hop remix of a pop song I’m vaguely familiar with. I’ve always been more comfortable with Sookie than anyone else in our group. On the weekends, we guys will sometimes go off and do our thing while the girls do theirs, but if there’s a group outing, Sookie’s always been the adventurous one. Hike up to a waterfall and jump in the ice cold water at the bottom? She’ll be first in line. Go bungee jumping or sky-diving? Sign her up. She’s talked us all into at least one tattoo over the past eight years. She taught herself how to surf in high school and went cliff diving while the rest of us nursed hang-overs during Spring Break in Mexico. I still find it funny that a little thing more than a foot shorter than me has the biggest metaphorical balls out of the six of us. She’s a girly-tomboy and never pulls any punches. At first her bluntness was off-putting, especially to the sheltered eighteen-year old I was when we met as freshmen, but I soon found the appeal of not having to read between her lines.
Her wheat-colored hair swings behind her as she dances. Not really curly or straight, the waves bounce against her shoulder blades. The tan she got over the summer has only just started to fade now that’s it the middle of the fall, making the freckles she despises stand out a bit more on her cheeks and nose. Blue-gray eyes, pale like ice, crinkle with happiness at being able to let off steam after her long week of training new hires at the tech support company she works for. She moves her whole five-foot-one body to the music and it’s not the first time it’s distracted me.
Everything about her is small and delicate except for her personality. She’s complained more than once about having to try to find “grown-up” clothes in the juniors’ section of department stores where things are more appropriate for teenagers ten years younger than us. At first glance, she seems like a little girl trying to act older than she is, but as soon as she opens her mouth, she’s all adult with a wicked sense of humor than never seems appropriate coming from someone who looks so innocent.
Innocent is one thing Sookie certainly is not.
She proves my point when she backs up to me and grinds her backside against my legs. The height difference between us is almost ridiculous, as the top of her head just barely reaches the middle of my chest. She flips her hair over her right shoulder and looks up at me over her left. “I know you can do better than that, Eric. I’ve seen you move that fine ass, now dance, damnit!”
I know she’s a flirt. She doesn’t know the meaning of subtle, but there’s something different about her teasing tonight. The six of us have been friends since we met during a camping trip for freshman orientation in college. Being the horny, hormonal kids we were it was inevitable that a hookup would happen at some point. Alcide and Amelia spent a relatively short two months messing around in dorm rooms, at parties, in cars… pretty much anywhere. When it eventually turned sour, it came close to breaking up our little group. It became an unspoken rule that none of us would get hot and heavy with anyone else in our inner circle. With Sookie being the wide-eyed siren. Tara being an over-affectionate hugger with a seductive body, and Keith as a player and a bit of a horndog, lines can get very, very blurred, but we’re all careful not to cross them.
When Sookie turns and uses my body as a pole to dance around, my eyes roll a bit and the line becomes fainter than it ever has before. With her hands resting where my hips meet my waist, she grinds her tits into my abs. “Mmm, I can tell you’re still working out. I feel the six-pack under your shirt. You have a buddy that you haven’t introduced to us yet or are you exercising the boring way and hitting the gym?”
Not a single prospective girlfriend has ever gotten Sookie’s approval. They were either too dumb, too superficial, too high-maintenance, too gossipy… their faults went on and on. To be fair though, none of her boy-toys have made the cut with us either. We’re all very protective of the tiny, brash girl and she hasn’t found a guy yet worth her time.
The song changes; the beat slows down and becomes sultry. Her icy eyes look up and meet mine. Flashing lights and alarms are going off in my head. “I need a refill,” we say at the same time and exit the dance floor. I use the short walk to try to erase the heated flush on my face and will away the evidence of how her body affected mine.
I’ve never been aroused by Sookie’s dancing this way before.
I’ve also never had a six month dry spell.
This is… dangerous.