At dinner, Lux takes a picture of her soggy salmon and icy fries caked with salt while everyone else at the table bickered over politics, a conversation she had no interest in. Across the table, Tehanie bounces in her chair, smiling and posing. Lux takes her picture, then another. Suddenly Lux was in them with her making funny faces and obscene gestures with their hands and mouths. By the time they stopped, there were over a hundred photos of them together.
Tehanie leans into Lux, swiping through them all, almost sitting in Lux’s lap at how close she was. She sighs dreamily. “We look so good together, right? Just imagine me, you, and that cowboy I danced with. So hot, ohmygawd.”
“Yeah, you two seemed like you really hit it off, huh?”
Tehanie smiles big but says nothing. She takes a fry off Lux’s plate, inspects it, and throws it down. “Gross! That stuff is poison. Wanna get out of here? Walk the strip?”
Despite her nagging inner thoughts pleading to know what the plan was for the night, Lux tells it to shut the hell up, tells Vee she’d be right back and rises from the table. She didn’t need plans. This was a vacation.
Arm in arm, the ladies walk down the strip. They discuss movies, music, and past relationships before washing it down with their drinks, self-deprecating humor, and loud laughs.
Lux barely knew Tehanie, but felt like she had forever.
At the curb, a fancy black sports car pulls up to them. “Are you working?” the driver asks. He rolls alongside as they walk.
“Ew.” Tehanie snaps. “No.”
In a huff he speeds away, squealing his tires. Lux watches him go. “What was that about?”
“He wanted to know if we’re working.” Tehanie said, admiring her reflection in a fancy store window. She spins and runs her hands down her body seductively. “They think we’re ladies of the night. You know how Vegas is, girl. They can’t help it. Look at us!” She pulls Lux to the window. “Look at you.” Tehanie whispers, her lips tickle against Lux’s ear as her hands drop to her waist. “So beautiful…”
Lux looks at herself in Vee’s long sleeve white sequin mini dress. Dressing up wasn’t unfamiliar to her. She just never wore something pretty and expensive like this. Vee threatened her life if she took the price tag off because she planned on returning it. Maybe she’d buy it from her instead.
Smiling at her reflection, Lux admires her long black hair. It’s parted to the side with flowing waves. Her legs are slim and fit in her black strappy heels—she turns away. Tehanie spins her around, forcing her to look. Lux closes her eyes.
“You’re so bashful…” Tehanie whispered and leans in to kiss her. She’s total domination as her tongue sweeps through Lux’s mouth.
“What should we do about us? What do you want?” Tehanie asks against Lux’s lips.
What did she want?
The confidence to kiss Tehanie back, her boss to like her, good vibes, a Black Diamond Elektrik, maybe fall in love since she hadn’t been in forever…
“Oh, nothing…” Lux replied. Her hand trembles, gently pulling out of Tehanie’s grasp, intrigued and nervous by the kiss, not to mention the bluntness of the questions they’ve received. What would sleeping with a stranger be like? What was an experience with her worth? Vegas had Lux thinking about things she never imagined doing. She was in a different world here.
They continue walking. On three more occasions, men ask if they are working. Tehanie responded with a firm no. To take shelter from further uncomfortable inquiries, they head for Denny’s.
“Excuse me, ladies.” A man in a towering white truck says. He rides alongside them in the parking lot. “If you have time, I’d love to take you two away.”
He flicks on his interior light, and they get a better look. Clean shaven, powerful jaw, light brown hair messed to perfection, kind smile and big, clear eyes.
Tehanie gasps, clutching Lux’s arm. “That’s the guy I was talking about from the club, the one I danced with, the cowboy.”
“That’s him? How do you know he’s a cowboy?”
Tehanie nods wide eyed, and laser focused on the truck. “He just has that cowboy look.”
Lux remembers him popping out of nowhere while she danced alone in that booth and how heavily his presence hung over her. He drapes his strong looking arm across the steering wheel. Not too muscular, and not too lean.
“No thank you, sir.” Tehanie says, putting a nail in the coffin on the matter. She walks off and stops, looking back at Lux. “Are you coming?”
Lux stares at the man. “I have time.”
His eyes darken.
“Girl!” Tehanie grabs Lux’s arm and pulls her aside. “Are you crazy? You don’t know him.”
Maybe it was the dress, or the kiss that gave her courage as she laughs Tehanie’s worries off. “I don’t know you either.” She looks at the truck. The man’s eyes lock with hers. “I’ll come,” she tells him. “I have conditions, though: promise me we’ll have fun, and you can’t kill me, or my friend.”
He nods with a mischievous grin.
Lux grabs Tehanie’s hand. “Want to come with me so I don’t get murdered? Two against one…”
Tehanie gave the man another look. “Okay. But you’re sitting up front with him, not me, and I’ll have police on speed dial. Oh—” She runs around the back; her skinny heels scrape across the black asphalt. She snaps a picture of the license plate. “I’m gonna keep this, just in case, girl. Kay, I’m in.”
They settle inside the truck. It smells of fresh linen with leather interior black as night and cool against Lux’s bare legs. She looks back at Tehanie smiling nervously. What’s she so afraid of? She looked like she was swimming in bliss on the dance floor with him.
Was this a bad idea? Lux dismissed her doubt fast and put her seatbelt on, hoping for the best.
“What’s your name?” Lux asked.
He doesn’t respond.
The doors lock.
Tehanie gulps loudly.
A tender, warming sensation flows through Lux’s body when he speaks. His voice is deep and commanding. He looks young in his dark jeans and a black t-shirt.
“Oh, you have a… a unique directional name.” He chuckled at that. “I’m Lux.”
“The light that darkened my spot.”
She knew his vehicle looked familiar. “I’m sorry…” Lux blushes, swallowing her lips.
He winks and extends his right hand gently into hers. It’s smooth and warm with a firm grip. His left hand waits on the wheel–no ring in sight. “Don’t be. I wouldn’t have seen you if you didn’t.” He stares at her. “And I met Tehanie earlier.” His eyes gaze at the rear-view mirror with a wink.
Tehanie squeals out loud like an excited teenage girl trying to maintain composure. Lux thinks about what she said before they got inside and how fast her attitude changed.
“So, you want to have fun?”
Lux nods. “Yes.”
“Yes.” Tehanie echoed.
West unleashes a wicked smile Lux translates to: I already know what you want—and I’ll give it to you. Lux would gladly take it from him and Tehanie. As if he read her mind, the engine roars when he hits the gas, sending Lux’s body flying backward. She looks at the dash. He’s going over a hundred with no other vehicle in sight. Just starless black sky, looming mountains and lonely desert.
“What do you do for a living?” Lux asked, clutching her seatbelt. The more she looked at him, the more relaxed she became, and the speed didn’t matter, or the risk she was taking.
“I’m a businessman.”
“Oh.” She eyes his cowboy hat on the seat between them and puffs her cheeks out. “What kind of business are you in?”
“My business.” He doesn’t take his eyes off the highway.
Does that mean a business he owns, or what he does for a living is his private business? Judging by his gruff expression, maybe he didn’t like his occupation either. Lux knew how that felt, so she wouldn’t ask more.
“So ladies, since you know what you want, and I can’t kill either of you, should we head to my place?”
Lux looks at Tehanie. She nods, quiet as a mouse still holding her phone.
“Let’s do it.” Lux said, smiling.