Nineteen-year-old Shelley Foster should not have even been allowed into this nightclub, not on New Year’s Eve. The sign was clearly posted outside the door. Four years older, Ray Watts did what he could to please his fiery vixen. Hence he’d given in, telling himself that there would be no trouble as long as she didn’t drink. He suspected that the bouncer had knowingly overlooked her lack of ID simply because she was gorgeous.
The doorman’s policy was time-honored. Beautiful people were good for business. Promote drink specials on “ladies’ night” and single men would flock to the joint. The guys would spend a fortune on liquid courage in hopes of successfully approaching the fairer sex.
And Shelley certainly qualified as fair. Her dress, a white clinging sheath, shimmered in the strobing lights. A long fringe accentuating the low V-neck matched the angled hem of her skirt. The strands were never still as she danced, writhing and twirling with pure joy. Ray enjoyed the sensual moves they shared. Yet he battled mixed feelings of pride, desire, and insecurity; he could see every man in the place unapologetically gawking. She saw, too; of this he had no doubt. His girl ate up this kind of attention.
It was an inevitable plight. Whenever he took her dancing a little voice in the back of his mind warned that, this time, she wouldn’t be leaving with him.
Roy ignored the voice and begged Shelley for a rest from the constant bump and grind. He wanted to save energy for later, not wear himself out dancing. She refused, snorting softly at his argument and shooing him off as she continued to dance. Needing to catch his breath and wet his whistle, Ray ordered a beer. He didn’t care for alcohol, disapproved of its affects, but felt out-of-place ordering another plain cola. He’d raised the bartender’s brows once, already.
The DJ played up to Shelley’s boundless enthusiasm, searching out some song that would make her stop. He hadn’t found it yet. Then the young man saw the other guy’s face light up. He had an idea, apparently. Ray secretly cheered him on. Anything to get all that shining skin and flowing hair out of the spotlight would make him one very happy dude.
He’d begun to get agitated with his lack of confidence. He realized that blue eyes had turned stormy when he caught his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Ray hid his anger and tried to laugh at a patron’s crude compliment. The jerk was drunk, leering at Ray’s girl. He wanted to punch him in the face. Happy Shelley, on the other hand, fit in just fine with the New Year’s revelers. She always fit in.
The drum beat faded and Shelley froze, clearly anticipating a challenge. Her chest heaving, the bright smile widened to display the fang-like eyeteeth that first attracted Ray to the underage girl four years earlier.
Discordant, familiar chimes filled the smoky room to announce a track from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album. Shelley laughed, voluptuous hips swaying as she strutted toward Ray.
Finally, he thought. Even she can’t dance to “Time”.
She took the glass from his hand and tilted the amber liquid toward painted lips. Their shade matched her nails, all twenty. Shelley drained the beer and, grabbing Ray by the wrist, led him toward the center of the empty floor.
“Time”, Ray recalled, had been danceable after all. He shook his head and toasted to 2010 with a roomful of friends. His wife looked at him, curiosity sparkling in her eyes, as he took a sip of ginger ale.
“What are you thinking?”
“Nothing, Janie. Just wondering where the time goes.”