“They call you Lady Luck, but there is room for doubt. At times you have unladylike waaaay of running out.” Nick let off a quick wink to Alice as he tread casually across the stage, microphone in hand.
“Son of a bitch,” Alice swore under her breath, though none of the other attendees at her table had any trouble figuring out the sentiment of her mumblings.
People often forget that before it was tigers and magic and family-friendly casinos with roller coasters, Vegas was a place where a different sort gathered. It was smoky bars, mafia bosses, and legendary crooners. Those things still existed, of course, just not at their former levels. For one who grew up in the dusty desert town, those weren’t just phantoms of the past; they were roots meant to be respected. Nick had been dozing off to the recorded vocal magic of Old Blue Eyes since he was a baby. While no one would mistake the sunglasses-clad young man singing “Luck Be a Lady” for the immortal entertainer, it was evident he’d put in a lot of effort learning how to work his voice until it pleased all the ears lucky enough to be around it.
“I didn’t know Nick could sing,” Camille said as he belted out the final notes and set the microphone back on the stand.
“Me neither. And I’m positive Alice didn’t,” Vince replied.
The blonde girl was out of her seat before Nick got anywhere near his. With one hand on her hip she took the other and thrust a finger directly into Nick’s sternum. “You tricked me.”
“I said it was embarrassing. It is, having all these eyes worshipping me,” Nick shot back. His tone was defensive, but the smarmy grin plastered across his face said he knew exactly what he had done.
“I’m sure you must have been mortified, the way you pranced around up there.”
“Pranced? Now that’s just mean.” Nick pressed his hand across his heart to show how injured he felt. This led to him brushing Alice’s malice-filled finger that was still drilling into him. She jerked it back as if she were afraid it would be dissolved by his skin. There was a beat of awkward silence between them before Alice sat back down with a huff.
“Whatever. I should have known better than to make a deal with you anyway.”
“I won’t disagree with you there,” Nick said cheerfully. “So, who is going next?”
* * *
“Where the heck is Glenn,” Jill muttered, checking her phone yet again. He had promised to only be a few minutes late, yet the food had already come and gone with no sign of her boyfriend. Even Will had finished his lab and shown up only half an hour late.
“Maybe he got sick or something,” Julia suggested helpfully. In truth she was a bit hungry for conversation; usually she would chat with Sasha, but tonight her super-fast roommate was preoccupied with staring at Vince and flipping through the book of song options. Shane and Chad were at their table, too, but they weren’t much at small-talk. Shane seemed distracted, and Chad was trying, unsuccessfully, to chip in with little blurbs.
“Maybe,” Jill said uncertainly. Her reverie was interrupted by Sasha, who slammed the song book shut with a surprising amount of gusto.
“Found one!” she declared, hopping up from her seat. “Chad, get your vocals warmed up, I’m going to go put our name in the queue.”
“Beg pardon?” Chad’s words might as well not have been spoken since the intended audience was already gone by the time they came out. He looked at the remaining girls with some uncertainty. All they offered up in return was half-hearted shrugs. Julia likely could have explained to him that Sasha had chosen a duet with a good-looking guy just in an attempt to make Vince jealous, however Chad’s befuddlement was the most entertainment Julia had gotten all evening and she wasn’t inclined to see it end just yet.
* * *
“So are you going to sing?” Vince asked Camille as Will mercifully finished butchering a classic Elvis song. He handed off the microphone to Selena, who was waiting stageside since she was next to perform. As she ascended, Sasha and Chad walked over from their table and took her place.
“Not unless someone puts a gun to my head, and even then I’m not making promises,” Camille hurriedly replied. “I don’t really flourish in the spotlight.”
“It’s not my favorite place to be either,” Vince admitted. He might have said more, but it would have been rude to chat over Selena’s singing when they were right by the stage. Her dark-brown eyes flitted through the crowd, landing briefly on Alex, then immediately turning away as the music began to swell. She’d chosen a relatively old one, a song from the nineties about a lost soul searching for its companion. Selena could have used her power to make everyone feel the sorrow as she sang, but she didn’t. She didn’t have to; her talent did that all on its own. Usually there was at least a bit of hushed conversation as someone performed. In that moment, as the heartbroken girl projected her sadness, there wasn’t so much as a peep.
It wasn’t until Selena sang the final note that anyone dared to move in their seats, and at that their first reaction was to applaud wildly. Camille looked over to Vince, intending to continue their conversation, when she encountered quite possibly the last thing she would have expected. A small pool of tears was glistening in Vince’s bright blue eyes, his vision still unwavering from the now-departing songstress.
The silver-haired boy jerked with a start, as though he had completely let it slip his mind that there were other people around him. “I, um, um, well, this is a little embarrassing.” He fumbled around for a tissue, finding none on the cleared-off tables.
“There’s nothing wrong with the tears. It was a touching performance,” Camille reassured him.
“It was, but that’s not it,” Vince replied, still scouring for something to wipe with. At last he remembered Nick had made him stick a handkerchief in one of his jacket pockets just in case. After a few attempts he pulled it out, along with his pocket watch, from the one on his right front. “The song just reminded me of someone from a long time ago.”
“I see,” Camille said. She resisted the urge to bite her lip as Vince dabbed at his eyes. If she’d been a little less absorbed in his statement she might have heard the sudden movement behind her. It would still have been a stretch, because only a few people in the room were able to follow the burst of motion.
From Vince’s perspective all he felt was a sudden iron grip clamp down on his wrist. He glanced up to see Chad staring down at him, a sea of unspoken emotions contorting his face.
“Where did you get that?” Chad was never what someone would call warm, but his usual tone was positively bubbly compared to how he sounded now.
“The handkerchief?” Vince felt the grip tighten significantly.
“I am not playing games. Where did you get that watch?”