How could Keith figure out a way to not break Lesli’s heart? A knife began twisting in his gut. Why? He’d walked away from women with barely more than a second thought. Who was she to be somebody so special?
Back when they’d first hooked up, he’d been home from the L.A. movie shoot not a full two weeks when he caught another call to go west. This time, it was Vegas. He called and left Lesli a message informing her of his return to her side of the continent.
The L.A. shoot had been largely a waste. Damn fool producers had jetted everybody clear across America, put the whole gang up in a nice hotel, ponied up for three squares, splurged for late-night snacks and bar bills, and then, when the director — some big name or other — was done editing, they didn’t use a single piece of the footage. God, did Hollywood hotshots know how to squander their investors’ money. Would the Vegas trip be any different?
It involved two months’ work in the pit for… He couldn’t recall now to save his soul — The Lion King? Cats? Beauty and the Beast? Something to do with animals. One of these days, he was going to have to actually read the bio his agent had written for him and figure just what he had done.
All Keith really cared about was that the more work he did, the more he got, and that suited him just fine. Plenty talented cats — women, too — were scrambling to find gigs at all, much less get them back to back. Work, hard as it was to come by for John and Jane Q. Public, was scarcer still for musicians. Recession my Aunt Fanny, he thought; it’s a damned depression and has been so for more than a minute.
When Lesli’d returned his call, he was in bed with — had practically been ambushed by — this hot Latina lady, Inez, who his running buddy Luis, a pretty damned good percussionist, had introduced him to. She was the hostess at this salsa club they sometimes played up in the Bronx. Had had her eye on him a good while and wound up browbeating Luis into hooking them up.
He hated doing that kind of thing to his friends, but between Inez and her girlfriend, his wife, the poor guy gave in and just about begged Keith to go on a double date. Which, to Luis’ relief and Keith’s delight, turned out okay.
They’d piled into a cab and hit a spot down in the Village, a place that was good for spicy food and bop-’til-you-drop dancing. Inez could twist her ample rump off (on and, it so happened, off her feet). He’d let the voicemail get Lesli’s call.
Next morning, close to noon, Inez hustled herself off home to hubby, who wasn’t worried at all at her having spent the night over her sister’s. And Keith couldn’t wait to see whether it was Lesli who’d called. It was. “So,” she chirped when he called back, “you’re gonna be back in this neck of the woods?”
“Close enough. I ain’t got no map layin’ around, but you’re not all that far from…what they call it? Sin City?”
“That’s what they call it, alright. And it’s just a few hours away. How long’re you going to be in town?”
“Don’t know.” He heard her catch her breath and quickly added, “A month and some change. I didn’t look at the exact dates.”
“Well, that’s a break.” He could see her smiling, and man, what a smile she had. He didn’t have much use for people whose smiles were all teeth and didn’t reach their eyes. When Lesli smiled, her eyes lit up with a warm light. At her place, that light had been quite inviting.
How he’d resisted making a move was something that still confounded him almost as much as it had confounded her. “Maybe it’ll give me enough time to wear your resistance down,” she said.
“Lesli, I don’t know if I have the least bit of resistance left. But, I already told you—”
“Yeah, yeah,” she interrupted. “You think I’m pretty, you think I’m hot, and you wanted to do something about it. But, you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it. Do you know, I had to ask my girl Sheila whether I have bad breath or undue body odor?” He gave a sharp bark of laughter. “Oh, this is funny?”
“No, no, no!”
“Well, homeboy, you better be a whole less respectable next time I see you. We clear on that?”
Las Vegas wasn’t quite around the corner from her, not close enough, anyway, for her to meet his plane. But, she cheerfully informed him in no uncertain terms that on his first day off, “I know damned good and well the theater’s dark on Mondays. So. Are you coming to L.A. or am jumping a shuttle to Vegas?”
“Soon as the Sunday matinee wraps, I’ll be on a flight to your front door. Cross my heart and hope to eat a dead frog.”
He chuckled. “Okay, see you in a few days, then.”
“In a few, baby,” and she hung up.
He had to dig her style. She knew what she wanted and made no bones about intending to get it. Wasn’t hard to look at, not by any means. In fact, for once in his life, Keith finally figured out how the term “fox” originated.
Lesli looked a lot like that hottie he’d admired on The Shield. Nicki Micheaux. Fascinating, beautifully alluring features right down, he chuckled, to the narrow snout. And the body. Well, Lesli was a sculptured work of art, smart, gorgeous with personality. Not a combination he hadn’t run across before.
Still, somehow, there’d never been anyone like her. Well, it finally occurred to him, if he was able to say exactly what was so wonderful about her, if he could put his finger on it…it wouldn’t be love, would it?
Lesli was running the shower water. Keith was running out of time.
Next week: Once in Vegas, Keith’s plan to rendezvous with Leslie suffers a setback.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.