This week’s blog features a collaboration between myself and the lovely and talented Debi Smith. What happens when you get Alex and Dana together with Ari and J.D.? Read on to find out!
“Do you come here often?”
The girl set her drink down on the bar and glanced up.
A man with dark hair and an engaging smile leaned next to her. He wore a suit and tie, an expensive watch, and a smile that said he knew he was attractive… and he expected her to know it, too.
“Fo’ real?” she asked, pushing her long raven hair behind her shoulder and exposing her simple green sundress. “You really just asked me that?”
“I did. Can I buy you another-?” he indicated her drink.
“Guinness,” she supplied coolly. “And no, you can’t.”
“Because,” she said deliberately, meeting his eyes, “I’m waiting for someone.”
“That’s right,” he said, and signaled to the bartender as he took the seat next to hers, “you’re waiting for me.”
“Guess again, asshole.”
“Oh, come on. Who could possibly object to the two of us sharing a drink and a little conversation?”
Mr. Suit and Tie turned around. A tall, slim redhead, her figure nicely accentuated by a poppy-print sheath, glared at him.
“Dana!” A guilty expression flickered on his face, gone as quickly as it came. “What are you doing here, babe?”
“I could ask you the same thing. Babe.” Her gaze flickered to the girl. “Who the hell is this?”
“Ari,” she said, meeting the redhead’s eyes. “I’m just waiting for my date. Romeo here wouldn’t take no.”
Dana rounded on him, incensed. “Is that true, Alex? Were you hitting on this girl?”
“No, of course not! I was just making friendly conversation before I went upstairs to get you. So… what are you doing here, anyway?”
“We agreed to meet here!” Dana snapped. “We’re having dinner with your friends, J.D. and-” she glared at him pointedly “-Ari. Don’t you remember?”
“Yeah, sure I do.” He extended a hand to Ari, not at all embarrassed that he’d just hit on his best friend’s date. “Nice to meet you, Ari.”
Another man with wavy brown hair in a white dress shirt and black jeans joined them, his face suffused with pleasure as he and Alex shook hands. “It’s great to see you again, you bastard!”
“J.D.!” Alex clapped him on the shoulder. “It’s been too long.”
J.D. did a double take on Alex’s attire. “A little over-dressed, aren’t we? Did you forget you’re on vacation in Hawai`i?”
“You know me.” Alex grinned. “Always a sharp-dressed man.”
“Dana.” J.D. stepped over and pecked her on the cheek. “Looking gorgeous as always.”
“You do know how to flatter a woman,” Dana cooed.
J.D. stepped back next to Ari and slid his arm around her waist. “I see you met Alex and Dana,” he said to her.
“Sort of.” Ari shifted her gaze from Alex to J.D. She clenched her jaw reflexively then relaxed it.
“Our table is ready,” he informed them after formal introductions were made and led them to a table overlooking Waikiki Beach.
“J.D., I had no idea you were bringing a date tonight,” Alex said after the server walked away with their order.
“Sorry, man. We reconnected last week after I talked to you.”
“Reconnected?” Dana asked then took a sip of her drink.
“We dated when I was in undergrad,” J.D. answered.
“Sounds like there’s a story there.” She smiled.
“There’s always a story.” Ari smiled in return. “So, how did you guys meet?”
“This guy didn’t tell you?” Alex thumbed the air to his right in J.D.’s direction.
“I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression of you, man.”
The three friends laughed, leaving Ari to stare and wonder what was so funny.
J.D. noticed her questioning face and covered her hand with his. “One of the guys in first year with me found out I used to bartend. His brother was opening a bar and needed help. I worked for him one night a week the last two years.
“This guy,” he grasped Alex on the shoulder and pushed slightly, “showed up opening night and had too much to drink. I had to interpret his drunken slurring to call Dana to pick him up.”
“J.D. had to help me get him in the car,” Dana added. “After Alex stripped down in the middle of the street.”
“Don’t believe a word they say.” Alex winked at Ari. “Nothing but lies. I would never do such a thing.”
As Alex and J.D. spent dinner catching up on the last few months of their lives, Ari and Dana engaged in girl talk and got to know each other.
The women were snickering with their heads close and cradling coffee mugs in their hands when the server took their empty dessert plates.
“Break it up,” J.D. ordered jokingly.
Ari smiled innocently. “You know I don’t have any girlfriends. Don’t deprive me.”
Onstage, the lone musician – wearing a Hawaiian shirt that might’ve been raided from Magnum P.I.’s closet – began playing an old Stephen Bishop tune.
“I love this song,” Dana blurted out. She grabbed Alex’s hand. “Dance with me?”
“I think I’ve had a little too much to drink, babe,” he said, and shrugged. “Not feeling it.”
Dana’s excitement was dashed and her disappointment showed.
“Come on, Dana.” J.D. scooted his chair back and stood. “Just because Alex is a lightweight doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun.”
Alex and Ari watched J.D. walk Dana out to the small dance floor on his arm. Alex waited until the two started dancing to take Dana’s seat.
He tipped his head towards Ari. “Do you think you could help me up to my room?”
“You moved seats just fine. I think you can manage a walk to and from the elevator.”
“You are so tough to break.”
“I’m not an animal that needs breaking.”
“Everyone has a breaking point.”
“Let me guess. Women don’t say no to you.”
“I’m irresistible.” His mouth spread into that confident grin he’d flashed her at the bar.
Ari snorted. “You’re not as irresistible as you think.”
“I’m so irresistible,” he informed her as he crossed his arms on the table, “that I’m like that fudge cake you devoured for dessert. Only better.”
Ari swallowed her digust. “I’ve had enough fudge cake for the night, thanks.”
“You haven’t had enough of me.”
“Yes, I have.”
The musician segued into a ballad by Willie K.
“She’s sweet, J.D.,” Dana told J.D. as they slow danced. “Nothing like the other women you introduced us to before.”
“But… she’s nothing like the other woman.”
“Because I was trying to forget her.”
“So you went in the opposite direction.”
“That’s the general direction you go when you’re running away.”
“I like her.”
“So do I, but you can’t have her. She’s mine,” he quipped.
Dana laughed. “We should get back. I’m sure Alex is either ready to find another bar or go upstairs and pass out.”
J.D. led Dana back towards their table. “He’s too young to be so old.”
Alex spotted J.D. and Dana walking back to the table and returned to his chair. “Did you enjoy your dance?” he asked as they sat down.
J.D. weaved his fingers through Ari’s. “Dana is an excellent dance partner. Too bad you missed out.”
“We didn’t miss out on anything here, did we?” Dana asked.
Ari remained still, torn between her need to call Alex out and her desire not to create a rift between J.D. and Alex.
“Just a spirited discussion about how irresistible fudge cake is,” Alex said, and winked at Ari. “Shall we adjourn to the bar?”
“You were right, Dana,” J.D. chortled. “The bar it is. I’m up for more drinks. Ari?” he asked looking to her.
“Sure.” She removed her hand from J.D.’s and pushed her chair back. “I’ll meet you guys there.”
“I’ll go with you,” Dana said.
Ari entered the bathroom with Dana following and headed for the bank of sinks. She turned on the faucet and splashed water on her face. Dana checked her hair and makeup in the mirror above the counter.
Ari tossed the wet paper towel in the trash then leaned her left hip against the counter. She waved her arms around in an awkward dance, trying to find the most comfortable position for them. She settled on resting her left hand on the counter and let the right arm hang at her side.
She was no good at this, having girlfriends. That was why all of her close friends were males.
“Dana,” she began.
“Yes?” Dana paused in her primping and turned to look inquiringly at Ari.
“I-“ She hesitated as soon as she spoke and shifted on her feet. “I really like you, and I hate to say this, but – I thought you should know. Alex tried to get me up to your room while you and J.D. were on the dance floor.”
“What?” Dana’s smile froze.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to ruin the night or come between J.D. and Alex. I’m used to saying what’s on my mind and calling people on their bullshit, but I didn’t tonight, for J.D.’s sake. And yours. But I just can’t keep it in any longer. I thought you deserved to know.”
“Ari, you have nothing to be sorry for, believe me,” Dana said, her words bitter. “I’m just sorry he put you on the spot like that. It’s not the first time he’s done this,” she added. “And it probably won’t be the last. The bastard.”
Ari recoiled slightly in shock at Dana’s revelation. “How can you stay with him?” She covered her mouth quickly. “I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No, it’s okay.” She sighed. “I love him. Although sometimes I wonder why I do.”
“I guess we can’t choose who we love,” Ari said.
“I guess not.” Dana touched her arm. “Come on. They’ll send a search party for us if we’re gone much longer.”
“You still want to hang out?”
“Of course I do! I like you, a lot. And I appreciate your honesty in telling me about Alex.” Dana linked her arm through Ari’s. “Don’t worry,” she added firmly. “Alex will get his comeuppance. He might even get it tonight. And I think I know just how to do it.”
They joined the men at the bar a few minutes later, both of them giggling and exchanging knowing glances, and accepted fresh drinks.
J.D. slipped his arm around Ari’s shoulder and dipped his head down. “You okay?” he whispered.
She nodded once and smiled. “Better. Thanks.”
Dana glanced over at Ari and winked as Alex launched into an elaborate joke. Watch this, her wink said.
“Alex, honey,” she ventured, and leaned forward to touch his shoulder, “I’d love to stay here and help you prop up the bar, but… I’m just not feeling it. And I’ve had a better offer.”
He broke off mid-joke and looked at her. “What? What did you just say-?”
“I’ve had a better offer,” she said again, firmly.
Magnum P.I. rolled up just then, guitar case in hand and a grin on his face as he came to a stop in front of Dana. “My last set’s over. Ready to go out and hit the town, Red?”
She slid from the barstool and stood up. “I’m so ready.” She brushed her lips against Alex’s frozen cheek. “G’night, sweetie. It’s been fun. See you later. Or maybe not.”
And with a waggle of her fingers and another wink in Ari’s direction, Dana took Magnum PI’s arm, and together they left the hotel.
“Well, Alex,” Ari couldn’t resist saying as J.D. got up and went to the end of the bar to settle their tab, “I guess Dana wanted some of that fudge cake for herself tonight, huh?”