Pretty in Pink

When you spend the day tossing 14 pound bundles of newspapers around, you look for any excuse to blow off steam at the end of the day. So when the text showed up on my phone 'PARTY MY PLACE 6 C-YA', I couldn't pass it up. Even though I damn well knew that I wouldn't know anyone there except Nate, the guy that sent me the text, and his roommate.

Arriving as I tend to do, five minutes early, I found that things were already picking up. There were a few clusters of people with drinks in hand gathered around the walkway leading to the stairs to Nate's apartment. As I got to the door, I could hear Nate's oversized roommate, Harry, who we all called the Music Man, since music was his thing. Experience has taught me that there's no point in knocking when Music gets into one of his tirades, and this one was a big one with him.

"Reb Beach was one of the best guitarists of the era and the rest of the band were pretty damn good, too. Mike Judge killed any hope of Winger breaking as big as they could." I'd heard this before from him, so I knew that my best hope was to just push through whoever was in the way of the bar, and pretend that I didn't know what he was talking about.

Unfortunately for me, there were only a few other people in the apartment. Hopefully, the person that was receiving Music's wrath would keep his attention focused. A quick glance into the front area revealed his back to me, while a slim, bubble gum pink haired girl frowned up at him from an overstuffed chair.

Weaving my way through the mishmash of couches and coffee tables, I found the bar and the host. Nate was his usual self, dressed in a grey tee shirt and jeans, sporting a big smile for everyone that came near. "Glad you could make it, Sam," Nate smiled at me. "How are things at the plant?"

"Same as always. I hate working Fridays. Speaking of... Where the hell were you today?"

"Look around you, Sammy," he answered. "I had a party to assemble."

"I see. So, what's the occasion? You need someone else for Music to vent to?" I asked pointing out pink hair, who was now standing and making a case for acid rock over glam metal, poking Music in his chest with a fingernail that matched the pink on her head.

"You mean Paula?" he asked. "No, that's just a bonus. She had some sort of falling out with her boyfriend, and said something about needing to blow off steam, so the timing is just handy for both of us. Actually, today marks a year right here in this lovely apartment. Toast with me," he said, pressing an unadorned shot glass into my fingers. I accepted the glass with a grin, and clinked it up against his. "One year," he said, and tossed the drink back without another thought.

I held mine at eye level, noting that the glass was actually clean, and the clear liquid within didn't reek of rubbing alcohol. I drank it down, expecting a familiar burn in spite of the smell. I was pleasantly surprised to get a light, sweet taste with a hint of vanilla. "Wow, you even sprang for decent drink this time."

"I wish I could take credit for that, but Paula brought it. Isn't it great? Here," he poured two more shots. "Take one to her with my thanks. The other is for you."

I took the two small glasses and turned slowly, as in the few minutes that I had spent talking with Nate, the apartment had become a bit crowded with revelers awaiting drinks from their host. The populace in the room had easily tripled, creating a full press of bodies for me to squirm through with the full glasses. Fortunately, Music's voice could be heard above the din of two dozen people.

"I'm not saying that Gilmour couldn't play," I heard him near yell. "But I will say that Beech and DeVille were damn good at what they did."

"Oh, please," I heard a very feminine voice reply. "Nobody was inspired to play because if that over-hyped, glam crap that came from the 80s. You find a guitarist today... a serious one, that's got some rock background, put a guitar in his hands, and he's going to start playing Wish You Were Here. It's almost unavoidable."

I made it to the duo just as Paula had made this declaration, and started to hand her a drink, when Music abruptly swung around, and knocked one of the glasses out of my hand, nearly knocking me over in the process.

He had the good sense to reach one of his huge hands out to help steady me, and looked embarrassed in the process. "Sorry, Sam, I didn't see you coming." He looked down at the carpet where the glass had fallen and spilled its contents. He cursed under his breath and looked up to me and asked, "would you stand here for a bit while I go find a towel? I don't want anyone walking through this."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," I responded. I looked at the pink haired girl, who was now staring at me, with intense brown eyes.

"That one for me?" she asked, pointing to the glass that was still in my hand.

"Ummm... yeah. Nate said to thank you for bringing it."

"Well, you've brought it to me, so thank you." She stretched both hands toward the one of mine and, lacing her fingers around mine with one hand, took the glass with the other. I watched her fingers wrap all the way around the glass, assurance that this one wouldn't get away, I suppose. With the hand she had holding mine, she pulled downward, forcing me to bend over to her level, while trying to keep my feet blocking the wet spot on the floor. She leaned to the space that was now occupied by my head, brushing her cheek against mine, her nearness filling the air around me with the scent of sakura, and spoke just audibly enough for me to hear. Her voice sounded a bit husky as she asked "do you want to share this with me, since the big jackass spilled yours?"

I pulled away from her, looking a bit shocked as I did. "Too forward? Uncomfortable because we don't have names yet? I'm Paula. You know, like in that old 60s song," singing she added, "Hey, hey Paula."

"Yeah, I sorta know it," I replied. "I'm Sam," I said, stretching my hand out to take hers again.

"Sam?" she inquired, raising a single dark eyebrow. "That would be short for..."

"Only my mother is allowed to call me anything more than that."

"Maybe I'll get you to tell me more later," she smirked. She raised her still full shot glass in my direction, before puckering up coral lips against its edge and drinking its contents slowly. I watched her, transfixed by the motion of her throat swallowing, and felt my mouth go dry. I didn't know anyone that could stand drinking vodka that way, yet here was this young girl, taking it like a pro, so pretty in pink. I felt my mind start to wonder about what other pink things accompanied the hair, nails and lips.

I shook my head vigorously, trying to prevent the myriad of images that were leaping into my head, but found myself drawn to look again. I watched her as her tongue slid out of her mouth to catch a stray drop of the vodka that was sliding down the outside of the glass.

I felt her eyes on me again, and I attempted to meet her opaque stare, only to see her eyes flit above my head. The hulking mass of Music stood behind me, towel on his shoulder, a fresh shot glass in one hand and a half full bottle of vodka in the other.

"Thanks for guarding the spot, Sam," he said, squatting down to the floor. He handed me the clean glass, and Paula reached for the bottle. Music pulled the towel off his shoulder and set to cleaning the spill.

"Sam," Paula whispered, close to my ear again. "Let's find someplace where I don't have to be this close to you for you to hear me." She transferred her shot glass to the hand that held the vodka and took my hand with her newly empty one, looking at me questioningly.

I shrugged and allowed myself to be pulled around and through the assemblage into the narrow hallway that held a bedroom on each side and a bathroom at the end. She turned to face me, walking backward, looking in the doors of the two rooms as if deciding which would make for a better place to talk. Music's room was crowded by his computer desk, dresser, stereo and enormous bed.

Nate's room was as sparse as Music's was crowded. A twin mattress sat on the floor with no frame, and a bookshelf sat next to it with assorted piles of clothes folded into neat stacks on its shelves.

She pointed into Music's room saying, "big guy's room, right?"

"Yeah, I guess," I replied.

"Cool," she said, before taking a pair of wide steps into the room and flopping on the bed, arms and legs spread wide. She bounced once, rolled to her back, and sat up, giggling like a small child. It was enough to draw a smile from me, and I contemplated the same sort of entrance.

After deciding that bouncing on a guy's bed at a party he was having was just not my style, I walked to the bed and sat down next to her. While I made myself comfortable, she poured herself another shot and tried to get the glass out of my hand without spilling. She likely would have been unsuccessful, so I offered to hold her glass while she filled mine.

She took the glass, filled it, and with a sly look, held it out to me, and then snatched it away, shooting its contents while I stared in shock. She set the bottle down, jumped off the bed and stepped to the door. "Now you can answer your own question, and when I get enough of those down you, you'll answer mine," she said to me with all the mystery she could muster.

I found myself staring after her as she returned to the direction of the party, still holding the glass stained by her lipstick earlier. "What the hell," I said aloud. "It's a party." I brought the glass to my mouth and once again, my senses were assaulted by the smell of sakura. I pulled the glass away, staring at it for a moment. Would she taste... Pink? Like the cherry of her perfume, or more like the bubble gum pink of her hair? Draining the contents of the glass, I found nothing out of the ordinary, just the vanilla warmth of the vodka.

I stood and returned to the hallway myself, already feeling a pleasant buzz from the earlier shot penetrating my otherwise empty stomach. "This will be a great party," I thought.

Striding back to the front room, I found something that quite quickly changed my mind. While Jim Morrison's unmistakable voice boomed Love Her Madly, Paula was curled against Nate's back, sliding her body along his in an entirely too personal dance. The thought that it should be me dancing with her sprang in immediately, and I thought about correcting the oversight, but stood merely watching instead.

I uncapped the vodka and dropped the glass that had been hers to the floor, taking a long pull directly from the source. I kept swallowing the liquid and ignoring the burn in my throat until I felt the bottle get yanked from my hand. The brown eyes that met mine seemed to fade to black right in front of me. It may have just been the fact that things were starting to take a second to come into focus for me, though.

"I brought that to share," she told me, the accusation plain in her voice.

"Apparently, that's not all you were going to share," I responded, indicating our host.

She shook her head. "No, he reminds me too much of my ex, Tom." She smirked a bit, then added, "he didn't know I was interesting either... Until I threw a sun dress at his head."

I stared at her dumbly for a moment then asked, "what were you doing with a sun dress?"

She flashed her sly smile at me again and answered, "up until I threw it at him, I was wearing it."

My dumb stare turned to shock, and I felt my jaw drop a bit. She crouched down to the floor, picking up the glass I had dropped. I felt stuck. All I could do was watch while she poured herself a shot in the glass we had both drank from, and emptied it with the same grace I had seen demonstrated earlier. She shook her head violently as she finished it off this time.

"I wasted three years with him. Oh sure, I had some fun, but most of what I got from the relationship was a wealth of musical knowledge. At least, enough to argue down that big jackass that Nate's rooming with." She poured herself another drink and shot it down in the same motion. "I'm about ready to swear off men completely," she added with a wink in my direction.

"So where would I fall in to that equation?" I asked.

She pushed me against the hallway wall, insinuating herself into my space. "Right about here," she whispered, leaning in to brush her lips over mine.

She tasted only of the vodka she had been drinking, but her scent was driving me to distraction. The combination of sakura and vanilla went to my head as surely as the liquor had been. I pulled her against me with one hand and reached to thread my fingers through her shoulder length locks with the other. I pressed my mouth to hers, sealing any minor protests she may have had against the very public display.

I felt her arms wrap around my neck, pulling me around until it was her against the wall, and we were inching our way slowly back toward Music's room. Through the haze of liquor and the beautiful young woman pressed so tightly between myself and the wall, I became vaguely aware of an audience.

Nate's voice came to me, penetrating my thoughts as surely as Paula's tongue danced through my mouth. "Sam," I heard, "this is a bit out of character for you, isn't it?"

I wrenched Paula away from me, biting her lip as I did, silencing her whimper of protest. I looked at Nate and shrugged. "Not so much, but uh... I don't know about her."

Her expression was so disconnected from reality that I had to wonder if it was what I drank or how much she drank when Paula finally met my eyes again. "More," she whispered.

I nodded, then allowed her to pull me into the room with the giant bed, shoving me again, knocking me onto my back across the bed itself. I watched her kick the door shut and slink her way over to the bed. She crawled up my body and pressed her mouth to mine again. I found myself wondering where her ex had gone wrong. This woman was nothing but interesting. His loss, my gain.

"So," she began, once again in hushed tones. "What is it that only your mother calls you?"

"Samantha," I whispered in response as her mouth closed over mine again.