from The Christmas Daughter
The band they worked for had a two-week gig in Atlantic City when he met Luna. Boone, Kit and Lucius took the opportunity to see how much entertainment they could pack into their time there. Late one night they stumbled into a Latin-themed nightclub. The house band was an eclectic salsa/samba/blues ensemble.
“The Mambo Kings meet Santana,” Kit said.
“Los Lobos meet Desi Arnaz,” Lucius said.
Boone, however, couldn't take his eyes off one of their dancers. She was the most mesmerizing creature he had ever seen. He knew nothing about flamenco before and her proud posture, her imperious attitude, and her unearthly beauty cast a spell that left him dazed and breathless.
“Look,” the bartender said when the three of them in their black leather jackets settled onto bar stools, “We don't want any trouble.”
“Neither do we,” Kit said. “What we want is beer.”
“And her,” Boone said, unable to tear his eyes away from the dark-haired goddess in the shimmering red dress with roses in her hair. “Do you know her name?”
The bartender glanced at her and said, “Luna. Luna L'Cruz. She's new.”
Boone stared as she arched her back, one arm held gracefully over her head, hand fluttering in slow, sinuous motion. Picking up the ruffled train of her dress, she held it to her waist and stamped her feet in a rapid staccato, her strong legs flashing. Boone nearly fell off his stool as he strained forward to watch.
The next night he left his leather jacket in their hotel room, and Kit and Lucius to their own devices. He went back to the club—and the night after that, and the night after that. He was sitting at the end of the bar on his fourth night there. The band was taking a break and he turned around to drink his beer when he smelled roses and orange blossoms and amber. He heard a woman's voice.
“Lalo says you come here every night to see me.”
He turned. She stood beside him in her red gown, a black lace shawl draped around shoulders as fine and sleek as honey.
“Who's Lalo?” Boone asked.
“Him.” She gestured toward the bartender with her chin. “He says you are a dangerous man but that you are in love with me.” She had a light accent, barely detectable, and he wondered if it was real or an affectation.
“Of course I'm in love with you,” he said. “A man would be crazy not to be in love with you.”
She smiled a beautiful room-illuminating smile.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
She tilted her head in a coquettish gesture and gazed at him. “Maybe,” she said.
She laughed and her teeth flashed white in contrast to her deep red lipstick. “I don't like sitting at the bar. You would have to sit at a table with me.”
“I'd be happy to.” Boone was used to banter with women but she was more of a flirt than most. He decided he liked it. “What can I get you?”
“Lalo knows.” She caught the bartender's eye and he nodded and reached for tequila. Top-shelf tequila. Boone didn't care. “I'll be right over there.” She nodded toward a table for two near the stage.
“I'll bring your drink,” he said and watched her walk away. The gown she performed in fit very tight down almost to her knees and, though up close she seemed smaller than she did on stage, she had full hips and a well-rounded backside that he enjoyed watching.
“Give me another draft, Lalo,” he said when the bartender delivered a frosty cocktail glass full of something green on the bottom and gold on the top with a small orchid floating in it. “Am I being a fool?”
Lalo gave him a conspiratorial smile. “You are a man with money, she is a beautiful woman. Of course you're being a fool. Enjoy it.”
When he joined her at the table, she turned sideways in her chair, crossing her legs and wrapping one foot around the other ankle—a pose designed to best show off her legs and figure.
“So tell me everything there is to know about you.” He placed the drink in front of her and sat down. She eyed him from beneath lowered lashes as she plucked the flower from her drink and brought it to her mouth.
Thanks for reading.