Jean's POV

"All right, Sanford. Up off your ass."

"I'm a little busy here, Oliver."

"Doing what? Chatting with cyber babes?"

I looked up from my laptop. "Research, actually."

"Tips on how to get a social life? I'll do you one better, me and the boys are goin' out. C'mon, up!" My roommate clapped his bearish hands together. "Chop-chop. We want to get there when the doors open."

"When they open?" I checked my pocket-watch. It was ten minutes to 10p.m. "What kind of place opens its doors at-" A mental light turned on and I waved my hands. "Oh no, forget it. You know I'm not up for stuff like this."

"Would you rather stay in the room alone, or have a night out with beautiful women?"

A piece of lint had managed to find its way onto my glasses. I removed the specs from the bridge of my nose, and wiped the lens with my gray sweater vest. "I'll pass."

"C'mon! What are you married? Got a gal you've been hiding all this time?"

I ignored his comments. "You've been nagging me about joining you since we've met. And that was over a year ago. What makes you think I'll ever change my mind?"

Oliver displayed a winning smile. "If you come tonight, I'll never ask you to come again."

I put my glasses back on to get a good look at my friend. "You better not be joshin' me."

"That sounded like a yeah. Was it?"

It wasn't until I saved all my work for an upcoming Sociology project did I respond. I stood up from our worn down mahogany desk. "Yes."

He slapped my back heartily with a triumphant grin in place. "All right! Now that's what I like to hear." His smile froze. "Think you might want to lose the glasses?"

"What for?"

"Look man, no offense, but the ladies don't really go for that."

I sighed. "Oliver, it isn't as if I intend on meeting my future wife in a strip club."

"Hey man, you never know."

I laughed. "Right..."


The other guys looked surprised to see me. And believe me when I say that 'surprised' was a variation of an understatement.

"Friar Sanford has decided to come out of hiding, eh?" Jacob said.

"Our resident monk is learning how the other half lives?" That would be Harold.

I didn't snort crack. I didn't drink alcohol. And I shied away from parties. Huh. When I put it that way, it did sound like enough reason for me to earn those nicknames. With nothing credible to respond with, I merely shrugged.

Oliver slapped my shoulder again with an ever present smile. This guy sometimes forgot how much of a giant he was. A modern-day Goliath, I occasionally referred to him as. In actuality, he was only an inch or two taller than me. Only after I had graduated high school did I surpass the six foot mark, but I had a lanky physique. The man to my left was broad shouldered with all the works. I suppose it came with the territory of practically living at the local gym.

"Lay off 'em tonight, guys. Jean is going to get his first taste of the night life. And with what I have planned, it won't be the last time he comes along," Oliver promised.

I pulled away from his sturdy grasp. "I only came because you promised you would never ask me again."

"Don't worry, I fully intend on keeping my promise."

"Then why-"

He didn't miss a beat. "Oh, let's just say I have high hopes for you."

With any other person, male or female, a wink would have unnerved me. But with this hulk, you simply had to accept it as a part of his free-spirited charm.

Harold was unconvinced. "You're only foolin' yourself, Oliver. Sanford is probably already counting down the minutes until he can get back to his precious laptop."

"Am I that transparent?" I asked.

Oliver and Jacob laughed. Then, Jacob held open a small gap between his thumb and forefinger with an eye peeking through. "Just a little."

I rolled my neck and breathed out cold air. This evening was unseasonably chilly for a March night. It didn't surprise me that our foursome was the first in line, awaiting for the doors to open. The line went halfway around the building which made me laugh inwardly. Well, call me an oak. With close inspection, I recognized several anxious males from our college campus. It really shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. The university was fifteen minutes away in walking distance, and less than half by vehicle.

Two burly men exited the black doors to stand before the building.

Minutes before I was perfectly fine. Relaxed, even annoyed. I just wanted to get this over with. Now, all I wanted to do was run like heck in the opposite direction. I was apprehensive, to say the least. Maybe because I didn't know what to expect. Mind you, I had heard enough stories over my time in the dorms to dream up what took place inside these four walls, but reality is always much different than the fantasy world we build in our minds.

The cover charge was twenty dollars but Oliver paid for both our entry fees. "You can pay for me next time you decide to join us."

"There won't be a next time."

Self-assured he mumbled, "Uh huh..."

The thumping bass of the music made my heart pound that much harder. What in God's blood was I doing here? I considered turning on my heel and walking out, but the antsy crowd from behind was pushing forward with urgency. I was trapped.

Oliver must have read my nervous face. All he did was laugh and loosely wrap an arm around my neck. "Ready for the best night of your life?"