II. In Da Club
II. In Da Club
Malcolm sat at his usual table on the mezzanine level of the club, nursing a gin and tonic. From his vantage point, he could see the entire dance floor and most of the tables. He sat still and quiet, ignoring the noise around him. It was Throwback Night, and as was typical, the Zodiac was packed with patrons in their favorite garb from their favorite decade. Even though Malcolm was the one who suggested having themed nights to his friends Madalyne and Macallan Zhou, the owners of the Zodiac, he never actually participated in them.
But tonight, Malcolm had actually decided to partake for once and was sporting a vintage Air Jordan windbreaker, a matching fitted cap, Levi’s, and a fresh pair of Air Jordan IIIs. He didn’t know why he’d chosen to dress up for Throwback Night. Matter of fact, he didn’t know why he was at the club. For some reason, he just decided to dress up and show up, but was now regretting it as he sipped his drink. He should have been at one of the casinos, keeping an eye on things, not that it was necessary. The management teams he and Kaphiri hired to make sure the casinos operated smoothly were extremely good at their jobs. They had to be. Kaphiri and Malcolm did not play when it came to their money.
Still, it was normally Malcolm’s practice to be present at either casino on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He was a businessman after all, and the casinos were extremely profitable businesses.
The DJ was playing hits from the 1990s. Malcolm reached for his drink when someone on the dance floor caught his eye. He saw a woman in a hot pink Adidas suit and a white Kangol dancing with a lady who sported a black and white catsuit. Her hair was a big, curly Afro and she was absolutely stunning. She was laughing with the lady in the hot pink Adidas ensemble and her smile was radiant.
Malcolm leaned forward, drink forgotten. The catsuit left little to the imagination. He stared at the woman until the song ended and she walked off the dance floor with the lady in the Adidas. He watched them walk over to a table where another woman, sporting Cross Colours, sat. They sat down and the lady in the pink Adidas kissed the lips of the lady in the Cross Colours.
Malcolm studied them. Clearly, Cross Colours and Pink Adidas were a couple and Catsuit was a mutual friend. They were laughing, talking and drinking, obviously having a good time. They sat there for a while and then Parliament’s “Flashlight” came on and Cross Colours threw up her hands and grabbed Pink Adidas’s hand, leading her back onto the dance floor. Catsuit sat back in her chair, shaking her foot and bobbing her head as she sipped on her drink. Clearly she wanted to dance. Malcolm didn’t blame her. “Flashlight” was a classic and had that affect on a lot of the club patrons and the decade didn’t matter.
Malcolm looked around. The club was at capacity. It appeared that the ladies were rotating rounds on the dance floor with sitting to keep their table. Malcolm didn’t blame them. There were plenty of people around who wanted tables. He kept his eyes on Catsuit; he actually had difficulty in not looking at her.
I wonder what her name is?
Malcolm looked around, found one of the VIP section servers and waved them over.
“Mr. Sullivan, sir. How can I help you?”
Malcolm pointed to the table where Catsuit sat. “Can you find out what she’s drinking? Order her another round of whatever it is and put it on my tab. I want you to deliver the drink personally and get her to look in my direction when you do so. Then come back to me.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Sullivan.”
A few minutes passed. Malcolm sat back in his chair and watched as Pink Adidas and Cross Colours returned to their table. Shortly after they sat down, the server showed up. He spoke to Catsuit and she nodded and replied. After the server left the table, the ladies began talking in earnest. A few minutes later, the server returned with Catsuit’s drink, served it to her and pointed in Malcolm’s direction. All three ladies turned to look, and Malcolm smiled at them while raising his glass. Catsuit raised her drink in return and nodded her head. Pink Adidas and Cross Colours smiled back.
A few moments later, the server was at Malcolm’s side. “Drink delivered, sir.”
“What’s her poison? Looks like a Mojito.”
“What are her friends drinking?”
“The lady in pink is sipping on a virgin strawberry margarita, and the lady in the bright colors is drinking a Long Island Iced Tea.”
“Order them another round and put it on my tab. Ask the lady in black and white if she would mind joining me up here.”
Malcolm sat back in his seat, sipped his drink and watched as the server followed his instructions. When Catsuit turned to look up at him, he mouthed the word, “Please.”
* * *
Jaya and Renee came back to their table, wearing matching grins. Their smiles were infectious. Shantreyl smiled at her friends.
“I am having theeee best time,” Renee said. “This was a good idea.”
Jaya sat down, removed her Kangol and fanned herself with it. “I agree. I’m tired and my feet hurt, but I’m having fun. You good, Shan?”
“I am,” she said. “I’m about ready to kick these heels off, though.”
Just then, a server came to their table. “Good evening, ladies.”
“Hi,” Jaya said.
The server looked at Shantreyl. “I’m sorry to bother you, Miss,” he said. “But there is a gentleman who would like to buy your next drink.”
“Really?” she said.
Jaya and Renee looked at Shantreyl, then at each other, and then back at Shantreyl.
“Yes ma’am,” the server replied. “Your current beverage is an Amaretto Sour. Would you like another one?”
“Um, yes!” Renee said, kicking Shantreyl under the table. Shantreyl frowned at Renee. Then she looked at the server. “Who is it?”
“He told me to tell you after you received your drink.”
“She wants another drink,” Jaya said. “Go ahead, Shan. Get another one.”
“Okay, okay,” she said. “I’d like a Mojito this time.”
“Coming right up.” The server disappeared.
Renee and Jaya beamed at Shantreyl. Simultaneously, they said, “TOLD YOU!”
“Y’all stop,” she said. “Whoever he is, him buying me a drink doesn’t mean anything. I don’t even know what he looks like.”
“Yet,” Renee said. “But you will as soon as you get that Mojito.”
“That may be, but still. Don’t get your hopes up, all right? I’m having a good time. I don’t need any dick to make this night better.”
Renee rolled her eyes and sipped her Long Island. “Okay, sis.”
Jaya stared at her best friend. “While I’m glad to hear that you enjoy our company, I don’t want you to chicken out. We agreed that fun will be had, and we’re having fun. We’re being positive. A man just bought you a drink. And you’ll meet him shortly. If you don’t like him, finish the drink, tell him thanks and move on.”
“All right,” Shantreyl said. “I can do that.”
The server returned with Shantreyl’s Mojito. She took the drink and the server pointed up in the VIP section. Shantreyl turned to look, along with Renee and Jaya. A man in a white Air Jordan cap raised his drink in her direction. Shantreyl raised hers in return and Renee and Jaya smiled at him.
“He’s in the VIP section,” Renee said.
“Do you know who he is?” Jaya asked the server.
“Yes. That’s Malcolm Sullivan. He’s a good friend of Mr. & Mrs. Zhou, the owners of the Zodiac. Would you like anything else?”
“Not now,” Jaya said.
“Thank you,” Shantreyl told the server. She sipped her drink. “Whew. This is good.”
Jaya and Renee were gleefully staring at her. “Girl, he’s in the VIP and knows the owners of the club,” Renee said. “So he’s not just some rando.”
Shantreyl took another sip. “And?”
“He’s handsome,” Jaya said. “From this distance, he kinda looks like Morris Chestnut.”
“True,” Shantreyl said. “I won’t deny that.”
The server returned with a drink menu. “Hello again, ladies. Mr. Sullivan would like to buy your next round of drinks,” he said to Jaya and Renee. “Would you like the same thing you’re currently drinking?”
Renee didn’t waste a second. “I’d like another Long Island and two bottles of water. Baby, do you want another virgin margarita?”
Jaya scanned the menu and said, “I want to try the Atomic Cat. It’s non-alcoholic, right?”
“Yes. Long Island and an Atomic Cat coming up,” the server said. He then looked at Shantreyl. “Miss?”
“Mr. Sullivan wants to know if you would mind joining him in the VIP section.”
Renee and Jaya shared a look and then looked at their friend before looking up at Malcolm. Shantreyl turned to look up at him as well. He raised his glass once more and mouthed what looked like the word, “Please.”
Shantreyl looked at her friends. Jaya said, “Are you going to go up there and meet him?”
Renee sat in silence, her eyes eating up her face. She was eager to see everything play out.
Shantreyl sighed. “I’m not doing this without you guys. Please tell Mr. Sullivan that I will agree to have a drink with him if my friends can get a table in the VIP as well.”
The server nodded. “I will be right back.”
Jaya and Renee looked at her. “Are you serious?” Jaya said.
“It’ll make me feel better if you’re nearby,” Shantreyl replied, sipping her Mojito. “If I’m going to go full-on thot, I need to be in the right headspace. If I’m going to follow him home and fuck him—which was the plan—then I need you guys to at least know what he looks like, and he needs to know I’m not here alone.”
“Fair enough,” Renee said. “I mean, Jay and I ain’t turning down an opportunity to sit in VIP.”
A moment or two later, the server was back. “Gather your things and follow me, please.”
“Awwww yeahhh,” Renee said, fist-bumping Shantreyl. “I bet it was that catsuit and that fat ass you got that caught his attention. VIP, here we come!”
Jaya shouldered her purse and grabbed her drink. “You’re so silly, babe.”
“This night is turning out to be better than we thought, Jay! Being invited into the VIP section never made it into our plans!”
“I still have Mary Jane in my bag,” Shantreyl said.
“Keep her,” Renee said. “Just in case. I’ll get it from you tomorrow sometime. Or the day after. You can never be too careful.”
The server led them around the back of the club and up the stairs to the VIP section. It was cooler up there and not even remotely crowded. The server walked the ladies over to where Malcolm sat. He stood up and greeted them with a smile.
“Ladies,” he said. “Good evening. Are you fine with sitting at that table over there?” He pointed to a table a few feet away from where he sat.
“Hello,” Jaya said. “Thank you so much for your kindness.”
“Thanks,” Renee said. “We appreciate it. That table is fine.”
Malcolm nodded, turned his gaze to Shantreyl, and then pulled out a chair. “Have a seat,” he said as Jaya and Renee walked over to their new table.
“Okay,” she said. She looked at her friends. “I’ll talk to you later, all right?”
“Absolutely,” Jaya said and Renee nodded, grinning. “Have fun!”
* * *
Shantreyl sat across from Malcolm, who removed his cap. He did look like Morris Chestnut.
“Hi,” she said. “Thank you for the drinks, and for getting my friends a table up here.”
“My name’s Malcolm,” he said. “Malcolm Sullivan.” He held out his hand.
Shantreyl took it and gave it a brief shake. “Shan.”
“Shan. Just Shan,” she said.
“Oh, so you got that solitary moniker thing going on?”
“Well, I don’t know you and I’d rather not…”
“Rather not what? I gave you my full name, and it is my name.” Malcolm pulled out his wallet and showed her his driver’s license. “See? Malcolm Jarron Sullivan, age 40. You don’t have to give me your age, but I would like to know your name.”
“I promise you that my name is Shan.” She took a sip of her Mojito. “This may be the best Mojito I’ve ever had. All of the drinks I’ve had here so far have been delicious.”
“The bartenders here are excellent. Are you hungry?” Malcolm asked.
Shantreyl smiled at him. Shortly after they arrived, Jaya ordered up some Buffalo wings and fries. Shantreyl hadn’t been hungry at the time, but she did eat a couple of Jaya’s wings and some of her fries.
“Now that you mention it, I am. I’ve been dancing most of the night with my friends.”
“I noticed,” Malcolm said, handing her a menu. “Order anything you want. Your friends too.”
“I’m not stupid,” he said. “I know what I’m dealing with.” He waved over another server. She came up to the table immediately.
“Mr. Sullivan, sir. How can I help you?”
“Please inform the two ladies sitting over there,” he pointed in Jaya and Renee’s direction, “that they can order anything they like from the menu and put it all on my tab. Shan,” he said, looking at Shantreyl, “what would you like?”
“Do you mind if I get the chicken fingers with fries? And a Coke?”
“I told you that you could order anything you want.”
“As long as I tell you my name.”
“I didn’t put any conditions on it. You want me to call you Shan; I’ll call you Shan. Maybe when you’re more comfortable, you’ll give me the rest of your name.”
“Fair enough,” Shantreyl said. “Thank you for being so generous.”
Malcolm stared at her. “You’re welcome.” Then he looked at the server. “An order of chicken fingers and fries, a Coke and a double bacon cheeseburger with potato wedges and a Heineken. Don’t forget to take their orders as well,” he said, inclining his head in Jaya and Renee’s direction.
“You’re hungry too, I see.”
“I haven’t eaten since lunch,” Malcolm said. “I didn’t realize how hungry I was until you ordered your food. So we’ll sit here, have dinner and talk. Is that all right with you, Shan?”
“That’s fine with me,” Shantreyl said.
“Good. I wanted to have a drink with you, because frankly, you are the finest woman I’ve seen in a damned long time. I can barely stop looking at you.”
Shantreyl couldn’t help herself; she blushed and rubbed the back of her neck. “Is that right?”
“That’s right. This isn’t something I normally do, but I couldn’t take my eyes off you on the dance floor.”
Shantreyl swirled her Mojito and smiled. “My friends and I are here to have fun and take my mind off of my stressful-ass job.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a teacher,” she said.
“What do you teach?”
Malcolm nodded. “All of them?”
“Well, I teach different grades, so the sciences are different for each.”
“Is that what’s stressing you?”
“My teaching load? No. I’m having issues with the vice principal at my school. She’s got it in for me, and before you ask, I don’t know why.” Shantreyl drank the rest of her Mojito and put the glass on the table. “No more alcohol for me tonight,” she said, mostly to herself.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “About the vice principal, I mean.”
“Why? You don’t know me. Maybe I deserve her wrath. Maybe I’m a horrible teacher.”
Shantreyl couldn’t believe she’d actually uttered those words.
“Do you? Are you?”
She giggled. “I don’t and I’m not. I try to stay out of sight, but I’m the only black woman there and it’s damn near impossible.”
“You teach at an all-white school?”
“Mostly, but there are students of color there too.”
Malcolm chuckled. “I completely understand. Maybe things will improve.”
Shantreyl looked at him. “If they don’t, I’m going to end up beating the VP’s ass and losing my job. I’m this close.” She held up her index and thumb, an inch apart.
“Well, we can’t have that,” he said.
“So Malcolm…what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a businessman. I manage a couple of hotel casinos.”
Shantreyl looked at him. “The ones near the Oriochi River?”
“Yes. The Vermilion is on the Oriana side of the river and the Solar Fountain is on the Suva side. My business partner and I run them. Normally, I’m at one of them on weekend nights. But tonight, for some reason, I decided to come here. I know why, now.”
“And what’s the why?”
“Well, you, not to put too fine a point on it. I’m about to have dinner with you. This was not in my plan, and in fact, I was regretting my decision to come here until I laid eyes on you.”
Shantreyl blushed again. “You flatter me.”
“Maybe, but I don’t lie. You’re gorgeous.”
“Thank you,” she said. “You’re not bad looking either.”
“That’s good to know,” he replied as the server came up to their table with their orders. She put their food on the table and laid down some extra napkins.
“Anything else, sir?”
“No. Thank you for your efficiency.”
Shantreyl gazed at her plate of food and her stomach growled. Malcolm looked at her as he wrapped his hands around his burger. “Go on. Eat.”
Shantreyl looked over at Jaya and Renee, who were sitting facing her table. Another server was putting their orders on the table. Shantreyl saw that Jaya had ordered another plate of wings and a milkshake. She smiled at her friends and they smiled back. Renee gave her a thumbs-up.
“You’re safe with me,” Malcolm said after swallowing a huge bite of bacon cheeseburger.
“I know,” Shantreyl said, picking up a chicken finger and dipping it into white gravy. “I’m getting a nice vibe from you. I’m not nervous.”
“Good to know,” he repeated.
* * *
Malcolm kept up a light stream of pleasant conversation as they ate. With each moment in his presence, Shantreyl relaxed more and more. By the time the food was gone and their glasses empty, she was feeling a different kind of way. She smiled seductively at her dinner companion, who smiled back.
“That was delicious, Malcolm. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Shan. The food here is very good.”
“So,” Shantreyl said, feeling not the least bit apprehensive, “do you live around here?”
Malcolm’s expression remained even. “I have a place in Kanzhao, about 15 minutes from here. Why? Do you want to come home with me?”
“I think I’d like to, if you’re interested,” she said.
Malcolm smiled. Talk about getting right to the point. He didn’t think she’d be so bold as to come right out and ask; he hadn’t even considered sex when he invited her up to the VIP.
“Did you ride with your friends or did you come in your own car?”
“I’m in my own car.”
“It’s almost midnight. You wanna go now?”
Shantreyl smiled at him, totally calm. “Yes.”
Malcolm waved a server over and asked for the bill. “Don’t forget to include that table over there and all of their drinks. And all of hers,” he said, pointing at Shantreyl.
“You’re very kind to do that,” Shantreyl said. “We certainly didn’t expect it.” She looked over at her friends. “Do you mind if I say goodbye to them?”
“Not at all.”
Shantreyl got up and went over to Renee and Jaya’s table. Both of them were done eating and Jaya looked exhausted, but perked up when Shantreyl sat down.
“So what’s the word?” Renee asked.
“The word is go. I’m going home with him tonight. He’s got a place in Kanzhao; he says it’s 15 minutes from here.”
“You feel okay about it?” Jaya asked.
“I’m good with it. All positive vibes so far. He’s paid for our meals and all of our drinks.”
“I like him,” Jaya said. “We’ve racked up over a hundred bucks’ worth of food and beverages and didn’t have to pay one dime. I like him.”
“Like I told you,” Renee said. “Be sure to take a picture of him and his license plate and send it to us. We’re leaving too. Jay’s tired and so am I.”
Shantreyl whipped out her phone, aimed it at Malcolm and snapped his picture as he paid the server. She sent it to Renee’s phone. “You guys get some rest. I’ll text you when I leave his house.”
“No,” Jaya said. “Call. I don’t care if we’re asleep. Call us when you leave and call when you’re in your garage.”
Renee got up and hugged Shantreyl. “Have fun, sis. I hope he knows how to fuck.”
Jaya did likewise. “So do I. Can’t wait to hear the details.”
“Goodnight, guys. I’ll talk to you soon.”
That done, Shantreyl walked back to Malcolm’s table. “I’m ready.”
Malcolm stood up and put his cap back on. “Where did you park?”
“Across the street.”
“I’m parked in a private garage. I will drive over to the parking lot and wait for you. I drive a silver Range Rover, license plate MJS-2323. What kind of car should I look for?”
“I drive a black Lexus ES 350.”
“Good. I’ll escort you through the crowd.”
Shantreyl picked up her purse and Malcolm took her elbow. He led her to the stairs and she waved bye to Jaya and Renee, who were also leaving.
“Ladies, have a good night,” Malcolm said.
“Bye,” Jaya said, waving at Shantreyl.
“Thanks,” Renee said.
A few minutes later, Shantreyl was behind the wheel of her car, waiting patiently until she saw Malcolm’s truck. She texted Malcolm’s car and license plate information to Renee and Jaya while she waited. She couldn’t believe she was about to go to a perfect stranger’s house and have sex with him, but she wasn’t scared or nervous. Over the course of dinner, Malcolm charmed her right out of her initial trepidation, and once she realized she was no longer anxious around him, she realized that she wouldn’t mind him breaking her off one good time.
And then she would get the hell outta there. Mission accomplished.
Just to be safe, she decided she’d stick Mary Jane in her cleavage for easy access if she needed it, but Shantreyl didn’t think she would. Her breasts were large enough to conceal the blade.
A car horn blew and Shantreyl looked up to see Malcolm’s Range Rover. She started following him, and true to his word, he turned into a parking lot of a high-rise complex fifteen minutes later. She took a picture of the high rise and sent it to Renee, along with the complex name: Summerwind.
Shantreyl parked next to Malcolm’s truck, grabbed Mary Jane and tucked it into her cleavage. She kicked off her stilettos and snagged the flats she kept on the passenger’s side for shoe emergencies and slipped them on. She grabbed her bag and got out of the car, locking it with her fob. Malcolm held out his hand and Shantreyl took it, following him inside.