Cole found Kolby and Nemo. He flopped down in the empty chair at their table with a defeated sigh and told them Nicky wanted them to take her home.
“Hashtag kiss your brother?” asked Kolby and Nemo sniggered. Cole shot Nemo a go-to-hell look and he stopped.
“She told you?” Cole was incredulous. “Fuck Kolby, why didn’t you tell me? You let me go on like….”
Kolby held up his hand to stop Cole’s tirade. “Tonight dude. She told me tonight while you and Laney were going all goo-goo eyed over each other. So, I told her it wasn’t fair to you. She had to tell you, so you and Laney might have a chance. That’s why she walked over to you guys.”
Cole felt raw and mentally drained. “I wasn’t making eyes at Laney. Anyway, Nicky’s waiting in the bathroom for you to take her home. She won’t let me take her and she’s really upset.”
Nemo looked at Cole sympathetically. “Yes. You were,” he said, “Goo-goo eyes. And Nicky’ll be okay, as long as you are. She feels bad for hurting you man. She knows she did the right thing by cutting you loose. But, what about you man? How are you?”
“Honestly, I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. But I also feel like a heel for getting mad at her. But mostly hurt,” admitted Cole.
“She doesn’t blame you for anything,” said Kolby.
“Shhh. . . don’t look now, but here comes Goo-goo eyes Laney,” whispered Nemo, “Cole, go talk to her, let her make you feel better.”
No sooner had Nemo stopped talking than Laney was at their table. “Hi Cole,” she said, “Did Nichole leave?”
“We’re taking her home,” said Kolby before Cole could answer, “She’s not feeling well.”
“Oh, I hope she’s starts feeling better,” said Laney. She cocked her head and looked at Cole. “Why aren’t you taking her?”
“Long story,” said Cole miserably.
“That’s our queue Kolby,” said Nemo, getting up as Laney sat down.
“Bye,” she said, and waived to Kolby and Nemo as they left, arm in arm. “Aren’t they are just adorable?” she asked Cole.
Cole looked at the two guys leaving. Adorable? Nemo and Kolby? Nah…he didn’t see it and shook his head.
Laney laughed at Cole’s confused expression. Just her laughing made him feel better and he relaxed. “C’mon,” she said and took his hand, “Lets go dance. You look like you could use some fun.”
Cole let her lead him to where a few others were dancing. He started to move and Laney just stood there laughing at him. “What?” he asked.
She sidled up next to him and began to dance more suggestively. “Follow my lead,” she said and put his hands on her hips. She moved like she knew what she was doing. Cole was captivated by her. Her hair smelled nice. Her body was tiny, but solid. Nemo was right, she was definitely making him feel better.
A slow song started and she pulled him to her. She made Cole feel wanted, and that was he what he desperately needed right now. She pressed her body close to his and smirked up at him. Then she started leading them around the dance floor. Cole found it easy to dance with her and didn’t feel clumsy like he did with Nicky.
“Is your girlfriend okay?” she asked, “I would be insanely jealous if I were her.”
Might as well get it out there, thought Cole. He took a deep breath before responding. “We aren’t together anymore. In fact, she suggested that I find you, but you found me instead. I’m glad you did, I’m having a great time.”
“I’m sorry. It hope it wasn’t my fault.”
Cole shook his head while she maneuvered him around another couple. “No. You just helped make it official.”
“Do it like this,” she said, and showed Cole how to hold her hand, “Are you okay?” she asked as they continued to glide around the makeshift dance floor.
“Honestly? I wasn’t at first,” he said, “I was angry and hurt, but we talked and I think we’re still friends.”
“Oh? How can that be?”
“We both mutually agreed it wasn’t working between us.” He couldn’t tell her she thought of him as a brother. That was just too weird.
The song ended before she could say anything more. They went back and found an empty table and sat down together with fresh drinks. “So, tell me about you,” said Cole, “I don’t know anything about you, except that one, you are very pretty; two, you hang out with the ‘cool’ crowd and three, you’re a damn good dancer.”
Laney laughed. “Well, let me see. I am the baby in my family. I have an older brother that graduated from college a couple of years ago. College is my backup plan, but not sure exactly what I want to study yet. I guess I still have a year to decide.”
“What do you like to do for fun?”
Her expression got serious. “Dancing for sure. I am a good dancer for a reason. I am in a local dance troupe. I do ballet, jazz and interpretive dance. That’s what I hope I can do for a living, but I need a backup just in case I can’t find work as a dancer. I hope to get a job with some of the musicals in San Myshuno. I have a couple of leads already through my dance instructor.”
“Wow,” said Cole. He was truly impressed. “That’s awesome. Can you teach me some dance moves? I really don’t have a clue. I just sort of sway.”
Laney giggled. “I know…who do you think was leading in that slow dance just now? I’d love to teach you how to lead. We can start now if you like.”
“Wait, someone has to lead?” asked Cole, genuinely confused.
Laney dissolved into laughter. “I’m so sorry Cole,” she said when she recovered, “But you do have a lot to learn about dancing.”
Noah walked over to the table. “I was looking for you guys. Berto told me you were over here. We are leaving. You guys want to come?”
Cole looked a Laney, “We always go to Noah’s for an after-party. Want to go with me? Berto and Mia are coming too, after everyone leaves here. And the adorable Kolby and Nemo will be there.”
“Wait, an after-party, after the party….with Kolby and Nemo? Sure! Let’s go.”
It felt weird to be going to Noah’s without Nicky. No matter how upset Cole was with her, or how much she had insisted she was okay, he was still worried about her. He just couldn’t get her off his mind. He wouldn’t be able to focus on Laney until he knew she was okay.
“Laney, I need to talk to Kolby for a second. Why don’t you and Nemo find some good dance music and then we can start with my lessons.”Her smile faded for a split second before it was back at 1000 watts. “It’s Nichole isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry. We really aren’t together, but I’m worried about her. I just want to see how she was when Kolby took her home. I’m not calling her or anything, I promise.”
“You are too honest for your own good Cole Murdock. You are so sweet. I’m really glad you invited me along. Go, talk to Kolby, and come back. I’m gonna teach you a few moves.”
The smirk she gave him caused some noticeable stirrings below the belt. Cole mumbled an okay and turned quickly. He could feel the blush run all the way up his neck to his face and didn’t want her to see his embarrassment.
After Kolby assured him that Nicky was fine, he went back to find Nemo and Laney practicing a couple of dance moves. He watched her for a minute. She was hot, and she wanted to hang out with him – he hoped. Not Nemo and Kolby.
He took a deep breath and walked in the room. “Hey Laney, ready?” he asked.
Laney stopped and looked up at him giving him that smile that made him feel like he was the only person in the room. How did she do that? “Yes. I think Nemo here has an awesome selection picked out. He knows his music. Ready for me to show you how to lead a lady.”
The music started and they began to dance. His friends laughed at first, but quickly became more interested in their own partners. Mia and Berto were whispering and snickering, Nemo and Kolby needed to get a room and Noah and Tahani were arguing, again.
Cole didn’t care. He had the prize. Laney was in arms, smiling at him. Not Nemo and not Kolby.
Soon he didn’t hear the laughter or the voices anymore.
Cole looked around, The silence wasn’t completely in his head. Everyone had left them to their private dance, although he didn’t remember them leaving, he was so laser focused on the hot girl in the hot pink dress.
When they had enough, they sank down onto the couch laughing and Laney easily snuggled into his arms. Cole was grateful to have this time to be alone with her, to get to know her, before being with the others.
“Can I see you dance sometime?” asked Cole, “Do you like, do shows, or something?” He bet she looked amazing in a ballerina outfit.
“We do. That’s why Mia and I are such good friends. We dance together.”
“Oh. I didn’t know that,” said Cole.
“Wanna know a secret….?” she asked, not waiting for an answer. “I’ve been asking Mia to introduce us since the back to school party last summer at the clubhouse, but she said you were taken. When I saw you sitting alone tonight, I asked again and she finally agreed. I’m very glad she did.”
Cole sighed. “Me too. When Nicky saw us talking, it forced us to have a much needed discussion about our relationship, or lack of relationship,” said Cole.
“I’m sorry, do you want to join the others?” asked Laney.
“No…not just yet,” he said. And then, he kissed her. Laney eagerly kissed him back.
After a minute, she broke their kiss and climbed into his lap. “For a really bad dancer, you sure can kiss,” she whispered and leaned into him for more.