Chapter 80

To say the music was loud would be an understatement of criminal magnitudes. The music here wasn’t so much heard as it was felt, the bass quaking through one’s bones and forcefully shaking one’s brain. It was easily louder than the country western club they had gone to last semester; however, this one had evidently possessed a designer with a modicum of sense. The club was split up into several different rooms. There was a patio outside, several rooms for lounging, and one wherein dancing was expected. The dance room was where the music reached its tooth-chattering apex, but the others were habitable enough to allow some conversation.

It was in one of the lounging rooms that the Lander students settled down to relax. The final tally had wound up being all of the Melbrook students along with Jill, Will, and Alex. Sasha had been too sore from the day’s class and they’d had no luck reaching Thomas. They were still a sizable crowd, and as such grabbed hold of a large circular booth where they could all sit comfortably.

“So, not to sound like the clubbing newbie here, but now what do we do?” Mary asked after they’d been relaxing in their booth for half an hour.

“Well, normally by this point Roy would be drinking heavily, dancing on the floor, and trying to figure out which girl to bring home. I think that’s pretty much the norm for club activities,” Hershel said. “Right?”

“Let’s hope not,” Vince said. “We’ve all got marked hands and are underage so drinking is out. Will and I are in relationships so we can’t chase girls with you, and all that leaves for us is dancing.”

“Maybe later on that one,” Hershel said. He very much wanted to ask Mary, who was currently sipping cranberry juice through a straw on the other side of the booth, if she would care to dance. Wanting to and having the courage to were proving to be very different things, though. So instead he was pushing it off, convincing himself it would somehow grow easier as the night progressed.

“Hey, let’s not give up on bringing girls home yet,” Nick butted in. “Alex and I aren’t taken. We can roam the club for young, impressionable women.”

“I’m going to leave an impression in your skull,” Alice threatened. “Regardless, if we keep sitting here all we’ll do is keep sitting here. Mary, Jill, come with me. We’re going to put ourselves near the dance floor and see how many boys come calling.”

“Finally, let’s move,” Jill said.

“Actually I’m comfortable right here-” Mary tried to object, but Alice took her by the shoulders and began marching her into the next room.

“Read my mind already,” Alice urged her. Mary had actually been tuning out thoughts tonight, the ambient sound of music uncomfortably reminding her of the days when she couldn’t make the voices stop. Still, she reached into Alice’s mind and listened. It seemed Alice was getting the girls away from the booth in order to force Hershel into making a move. Alice felt that if they stayed he would dither all night and lose the opportunity, but if he was scared other boys were dancing with Mary, it might push him to action.

By the time Mary had processed it all they were in the crisp chill of the outdoor area and safely out of earshot from the table. Granted, even in the lounge room ten feet would put you easily out of earshot from someone.

“I think he would have asked me,” Mary said, stopping the progression toward the dance room.

“He thinks so, too, and he would have kept thinking that until we had to leave and it wasn’t done,” Alice countered.

“Actually, I’m with Alice here,” Jill chimed in. “Boys are cowards and morons for the most part. I love my brother, but do you know how he got that girlfriend of his?”

“How?” Mary asked.

“She asked him out. Twice, because the first time he didn’t get that it was a date. You have to give them little pushes here and there or you’ll be waiting forever for them to make a freaking move,” Jill told her.

“This is a little push?”

“You’re not making out with some dude in the bathroom, you’re going with the other single girls to see if anyone will ask you to dance. This is pretty much as gently as we can remind him that other guys find you attractive, too,” Alice assured her.

“I guess it can’t hurt to go watch the people dancing,” Mary caved.

“Atta girl; we’ll have him eating out of your hand in no time.”

*          *          *

“Is it me, or did this just turn into a total sausage fest?” Nick asked as the girls scampered away.

“No, you’re dead on,” Alex agreed.

“That seemed... odd,” Hershel said. “They just sort of all bolted away.”

“Alice took Mary away to make you chase after her,” Will said simply. “They want you to go ask her to dance before some other guy beats you to it.”

“How do you know that?” Vince asked.

“Could be a lot of things. Could be that I have a much higher IQ than you guys. Could be because I grew up with a twin sister and have a slight insight into how girls think. Could be the bug I slipped onto Jill before we came out tonight,” Will said, pointing to his ear. Closer inspection would reveal a small device nestled in one of its cartilage curves.

“You’re kidding,” Nick declared.

“Not at all,” Will said. “My sister has a tendency toward telling very large, very gay men how sexy I think they are when we are out at clubs. She finds it endlessly hilarious, thus I’ve begun taking precautions so I can at least be forewarned when she hatches such a scheme.”

“Yeesh. Glad I’m an only child,” Nick said.

“Wait, so they did that specifically so I would ask Mary to dance? And Mary went along with it, so that means she wants me to ask, right?” Hershel said uncertainly.

“I have no problem betraying my sister’s confidence. Mary’s is another matter. If you want to find out whether she wants to dance with you or not, then I suggest you ask her,” Will told him.

“Why don’t we all go in there?” Vince said. “That way Hershel doesn’t seem like he was following them, it’s on all of us.”

“Works for me,” Nick said.

“I’ll stay here and hold the booth,” Will volunteered.

Vince waved him off. “There are plenty of booths, we can get another. You should come with us.”

“Normally I would agree; however, it seems Jill just located a bodybuilder in that room and is describing her very flexible, very experimental brother,” Will explained.

“Oh. Well then... see you in a few,” Vince said.

“I’ll be here,” Will cheerfully replied.