May 4, 2010

Chapter 8

“Ooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww,” split the air.

Sid and Maddie broke apart, gasping a little, to see the group approaching them. Max was swaggering, Jordan and Cynthia were carrying enviable stacks of casino chips.

“It looks like a high school dance in here,” Max said. “People making out everywhere.”

Sidney laughed. “Everyone except you, Max?”

Max pouted and stomped his feet like a kid. “Mon capitaine, I am wounded. I am a slow starter, still working on my charms.” He reached out, grabbed Erin and swung her across his body in a lambada move. She squealed. He put his hand to her face, striking an Evita-esque pose. To Sid, he said, “I’m sure I will find my rhythm. Just give me time.”

“Let’s go upstairs to Ghost Bar. It should be a party by now.” Kris had Cynthia by the hand, who looked like she’d follow him right off a balcony if he wanted.

Ghost Bar is a Las Vegas fixture, an indoor/outdoor bar with a terrace 55 floors above the city. From there you can see the entire strip in its neon glory. The piece de resistance is a single glass pane in the floor of the bar, where it extends over the side of the hotel. Stand on it, look down and there’s little more than 600 feet of air between you and the world below.

Sid and Maddie walked to the balcony, and he reached his arms around her sides to the railing. They stood silently for a moment, taking in the view. The cool breeze was a contrast to the delicious heat pressed between their bodies.

“Tell me everything about you,” he said, kissing her lightly on the neck.

She almost giggled – that was a hot spot alright. If he’d pinched it, she’d have dropped like a rock. Instead his lips were sending pins and needles into her toes.

“My full name is Madeline. I'm a Gemini. I like chocolate ice cream. I was the valedictorian of my high school class, but I’m not a nerd. I went to college in Boston. I read sci-fi books that you’d associate with people who speak Elvish. I have a brother. I wear glasses.” She turned to face him. “And I was running in the gym today because I hurt my back a few years ago, and no-impact exercise keeps me limber.”

Sid kissed her lightly. “I thought it was just to keep you looking so damned good.”

“Tell me something about yourself. Something random, that you don’t tell in interviews.” She kissed him lightly.

“I love broccoli.” She tilted her head. “I mean, I really love it. I think it’s my favorite food ever.” He smiled sheepishly. “You want something better?”

“If you’d said Brussels sprouts, I would have thrown you on that couch and had my way with you.” Maddie winked.

“Also I love Brussels sprouts. And cabbage. All cabbage. Red and green. And boiled.” Sidney laughed. “Now you know all about me.”

Maddie’s eye caught something behind him, and Sid turned to look. Jordan and Deanne were dancing, looking like a foot of height difference didn’t matter at all. Kris and Cynthia were on the couch, talking closely. He was motioning a lot with his hands, like he was reenacting a play on the ice. Marc-Andre was at the bar, introducing someone to Erin while Max chatted up the blond behind them.

“Does Marc have a girlfriend?” Maddie asked Sid.

“Yup. Flower’s been with Vero for like a hundred years. Why?”

“He’s introducing her to Erin. She’ll love that, but I think she’ll feel a little left out of all the fun.” Erin was leaning in to Vero and pointing everyone out, introducing them in absentia. When she got to Maddie and Sid, they waved back to her.

“Can we go over there and save her?” Maddie asked.

Sid flipped open his phone. “I’ve got a better idea.”

Fifteen minutes later, Geno joined them at the bar. He apologized for missing dinner, but his parents were visiting from Russia, on their first trip to Vegas. Geno gushed about the lions at the MGM Grand and how they’d watched the trainers feed and play with them. He’d put his parents to bed, and come upstairs.

“I heard there is beautiful girl here who is needing a date,” he said, right to Erin. She flashed a big-eyed look at Maddie and blushed fiercely.

“Innocent,” Maddie put her hands up. “It was Doctor Love over there.” Sid was next to Kris, embellishing the play-by-play for Cynthia.

“Well… I… I was…” Erin stammered.

“No worry! Now we have party time.” Geno flagged the bartender. “Eleven shots of vodka, please.” He put his arm around Erin and said, “Maybe I should have got two for you?”

“And leave only 10 for yourself?” She laughed.

The shots arrived by a waitress, who set them in front of Kris. Everyone gathered around. Jordan was wrapped around Deanne, both flushed from dancing. Geno hadn’t taken his arm from Erin’s shoulders, and Kris was teaching Cynthia something in French. Marc and Vero joined, as Max hurried over with the blond from the bar and an extra shot for her.

“Well, mon capitaine, take it away.” He said, looking at Sid.

“Uhhh,” Sid said, everyone now looking at him. He looked at Maddie.

“Here’s hoping you wake up with a tiger in your bathroom,” she said, and drained her shot. Everyone did the same.

In the same moment they finished, Sid pulled her in and kissed her hard. She tasted the sting of alcohol on his soft lips. Everyone cheered and started their own kissing, well maybe not everyone, but Maddie wouldn’t know and she didn’t care.

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