She hated going downtown. It was always chock full of people, stuffed with a teeming mass of undergraduates and screaming, shrieking girls in barely there outfits. She'd hated it when she was a freshman, so what on earth possessed her to be in the midst of all of this, and on Halloween of all nights?
They were everywhere.
Darting into traffic and bringing cars to a screeching halt, they ignored traffic laws with their usual abandon. Hordes of them stumbled down the sidewalks beneath garish lights advertising clubs and bars. They massed in front of glass-paneled doors pulsing with lights.
Erika Adams pushed past another "angel" in five-inch heels and a white teddy, her halo already drooping half off her head. The equally slutty devil next to her tossed her a nasty look. Twenty-seven degrees out and the girls were wearing less than you'd see on the beach. She'd bet they were already too drunk to feel the cold.
Really, she couldn't fault them. When she'd been young and stupid and a freshman, she'd done her fair share of idiotic things. But now, at twenty-six, this scene was beyond old. The only reason she'd come downtown at all could be attributed to the fact that it was Friday, and thus karaoke night at Jacobi's.
Any day of the week, she could tell you where her karaoke-addict friends could be found. Everywhere except Sunday, which was Eddie's day off. She usually even joined them Tuesday through Thursday, when the schedule kept them far away from campus.
Erika didn't sing, mostly because she valued other people's hearing too much. At least, that's what she liked to tell people. Despite a childhood of singing in the church choir and a passable talent for carrying a tune, doing it in front of a crowd of people sounded terrifying.
She left that to her friends, happily lost in the crowd. Well, sort of.
Reaching her destination, she descended the stairs, careful not to trip in her own massively tall heels. If she was going to dress like a girl, she was going to do it right.
The doorman, wearing too short shorts, a polo shirt, and the curly hair of an eighties porn star – appropriate, since that was his costume – waved her through without checking her identification. Probably because her friends swarmed around her the second she waltzed through the door. As regular customers all well over the twenty-one mark, they were all the identification Erika needed.
"Hey, guys," she said, hugging Abby – also dressed as a girl – and then accepting Jamie's kiss on her cheek. Jamie and John had come as the Blues Brothers, dark suits, dark hats, dark glasses and all. Jamie had even shaved for the occasion, an event Erika was sure was a first.
Another friend, Danny, slung an arm around her shoulders. "You know," he said, "I was going to call you this morning and tell you that you had to wear a dress and makeup to be a girl, but it looks like you got it without me."
"Haha." She rolled her eyes. "Shannon beat you to it. She called this morning while I was on my way to the gym."
"Well, whatever advice she gave you was good." He gave her an appreciative once-over. "You clean up nice."
"Just because I choose not to spend two hours getting ready to go out doesn't mean I can't," she countered. She shrugged his arm off her shoulders. "I'm going to the bar. You want anything?"
"Nah, I'm good." He held up his current drink. "Be careful of Jessica Rabbit."
Laughing, Erika headed toward the bar, just as Shannon walked through the door. Like Abby and Erika, she'd also donned a skirt, heels, and makeup. Erika caught her arm and dragged her along behind. Sure enough, a redhead at the bar had on a strapless, sparkling red dress slit clear up to her thigh, complimented by elbow-length purple gloves.
Erika tapped her on the back. "Your outfit is fantastic. Where on earth did you find that dress?"
"EBay," the girl grinned, winking.
After getting their drinks, Erika and Shannon returned to the table and sat down to watch the newcomers. Raggedy Ann and Andy. Luigi and the Princess. Another guy rode his bike down the stairs and through the door, his costume complete with a red-hooded sweatshirt and a stuffed ET.
"Phone home," Jamie intoned from beside her.
Eddie finally arrived. Sporting a curly black wig, a flowing pirate shirt, and tight pants, he could have doubled as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. "Hey, man," he said, "can you grab that other speaker?"
Jamie pushed off the table beside her. "Yeah, sure."
"Is that even a costume?" Shannon asked as yet another girl walked through the door.
Erika shook her head so that her straight auburn hair swirled around her shoulders. "It would need more fabric to be a costume."
"A lot more – oh, look at that," Abby exclaimed. The appreciative look on her face was more than enough to cause Erika and Shannon to turn around, just as ten men walked into the bar. Wearing fatigues and army boots on the bottom and dark tee shirts with the Top Gun logo on top, each one had a name emblazoned across the back. The aviators were the final touch.
Erika laughed. "Oh, wow, look," she said. "Maverick, Goose, Slider, Hollywood, Iceman… I think they got every character in the movie!" Turning to Shannon, she asked, "Need another drink?"
Shannon nodded, so Erika hopped off her stool and strutted to the bar, an action never would have happened if she hadn't been wearing these particular heels. You couldn't do anything in these heels but strut. Ordering two more drinks from the bartender, she turned her attention onto the navy boys.
"Love it," she said, leaning back against the counter. She'd caught their attention with very little effort, her black dress swirling around her hips and the bright red lipstick a slash against her porcelain skin. "Whose idea was it?"
Jester pointed at Maverick, who grinned cockily at her. He whipped off the aviator glasses with a flourish. "It was mine. I was sitting around thinking one day and Top Gun came on…" he shrugged.
She grinned back at him. "Is that how you got to be Tom Cruise?" Then, without waiting for an answer, she dropped some money on the bar, grabbed the two drinks the bartender had just sat down behind her, and sauntered back to her table.
Shannon accepted the drink and raised an eyebrow. "What did you ask them?"
"Whose idea it was," Erika answered, sliding into a seat. "Nothing important."
Eddie started karaoke then, kicking the night off with some vintage Prince – or the artist formerly known as, anyway. Erika couldn't stop laughing through the whole thing. Next up were Jamie and John, continuing theme night with Soul Man. But the best came when every single one of the Top Gun boys got up and belted out "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
Erika laughed so hard she cried. Never one to leave well enough alone, when the song was over, she tapped Maverick on the back and said, "You know that now you and Goose have to sing 'Great Balls of Fire,' don't you?"
His eyes lit up. "Great idea. I didn't even think of that." Then his face fell. "Except, well, we're kind of shy. I can't believe we got up to sing in the first place."
Erika patted him on the cheek. "Well, drink up, then. Liquid courage and all that."
The corner of his mouth tilted up. "We'll sing it just for you."
Tossing him a coy smile, she called over her shoulder, "I'm waiting."
Two hours later, she was exhausted and starving – she'd known it was a bad idea to skip dinner, but she'd been pressed for time. They still hadn't sung her song. She'd talked to Eddie, trying to get them bumped up in the rotation. So far, no luck, despite what he'd claimed.
Maverick walked up to her again. "So we're both playing hard to get," he said.
Erika eyed him over the rim of her glass. "That's not going to work. We won't get anywhere that way." She paused, took a sip of her drink. "So do you have a name?"
He flushed just a little. "It's Seth. What's yours?"
"Erika," she answered. Amusement lightened her eyes from hazel to gold. "Nice to meet you."
"Hey," Abby tapped her on the shoulder, snickering. "I need a kiss, too. It's not fair that John and Jamie are the only ones."
Maverick was forgotten for the moment as Erika switched her attention back to her friends. Jamie had long since wiped the scarlet smear from his face, but John still had a perfect imprint on his cheek. "I wouldn't want you to feel left out. Hey, John, can you hand me my purse?"
Digging in her purse, she pulled out a tube of perfectly red lipstick, then reapplied carefully. With an irreverent grin, she gave Abby a big, smacking kiss on the cheek. The lip print was stark against Abby's white skin.
"Perfect," she declared. When she looked around, Seth was still standing awkwardly to the side. "I think you're up."
Sure enough, Eddie spoke into the microphone, "Don't forget, tip your bartenders, tip your waiters, and don't forget to tip your karaoke guy! Next up, I need to get Goose and Maverick!"
Seth and Goose moved up to the side of the bar, Seth motioning desperately at his friends to join them, probably to drown out the sound of his own voice. Erika hadn't been able to tell if it was bad or not earlier, since the sum of their voices had drown out any singular person. And she couldn't tell now, because the whole bar was currently singing along.
Erika took the opportunity to get her purse and sweater, indicating to Shannon that it was time to go. She'd been ready to leave for awhile, but she'd been waiting for her song.
When they were finished, Seth handed the microphone back to Eddie. He glanced around and when his gaze fell on her, he moved toward her purposefully.
"That was just for you," he said.
"It was fantastic," she laughed. "Thank you."
He looked at the sweater she was wearing. "Are you out?"
Erika nodded. "I'm tired and starving, so yes." Pulling her phone out of her purse, she queried, "What's your number?" She punched it in when he recited it, then hit the send button. "Now you have mine. I called you, so now that makes it your responsibility to call me."
"I'll call," he promised.
She just laughed. "I want a preview before I go."
He hesitated. "A what?"
She stepped closer. "A preview. So I know what I'm getting into." He still looked uncertain, so she tugged his shirt, moving him closer. "A preview, you know?"
Comprehension dawned. Shyly, he dipped his head, hovering over her lips for a heartbeat before sealing his mouth against hers. The kiss was soft, and sweet. He swept his tongue against her lower lip and she sighed softly. Deepening the kiss, he pressed her closer, his hand flattening against her lower back.
Backing away, she grinned, swiping a finger against the corner of his mouth. "You might want to take care of that," she said, amused. "It's kind of all over your face."
"I'll call you later," he promised.
Tucking her arm into Shannon's, she turned toward the door and winked at him over her shoulder. "We'll see."
I don't own Prince, Top Gun, any of the music, or any of the other copyrighted stuff mentioned here (Luigi, E.T, Jessica Rabbit, Tom Cruise, Raggedy Ann, etc., etc.).
Just something quick… And based on quite a bit of truth. Hope you enjoyed!