When the white powder from the beignets got all over her hands and shirt, she laughed as if it was the best thing that had happened all day. She dusted it off with ease, and then asked if there were places to go dancing.
Night had finally started to fall, and it was time to take her to the center of it all. Lila’s wide-eyed wonder as we entered Bourbon Street from Canal Street made me wish I had a fucking camera. Just to remember this. I needed a drink. My head was getting all fucked up. I needed to drink and get shit straight. Not think about taking photos of Lila.
“We’ll start here and make our way down,” I told her turning into a bar with live music. It was hit or miss with these places. You just had to go in them all until you found the best music. Most of them had the same drinks.
Lila beamed as we walked into the first bar. It was already crowded; the music playing was old eighties rock. I went directly to the bar. “What do you want?” I asked her.
“I don’t know. What do you suggest?”
“Yes, but I always order the same thing. I want to do something different. Be someone different.”
“We’re in New Orleans. Why don’t you try a hurricane?”
I wasn’t into drinking the sweet shit, but most girls liked that kind of drink. I ordered a Jack Daniels and a hurricane. The bartender was a female with creamy tan skin and clear blue eyes. The top she was wearing left little to the imagination, and I didn’t mind enjoying the view. When she turned to get my order, she winked at me and although I knew those lashes were fake they were hot. So were her ass cheeks hanging out of the shorts she had on. God, I loved Bourbon Street.
I glanced back to see Lila Kate studying the place as if she needed to memorize every detail. She was fine, so I turned my attention back to the bartender. She swung her hips as she walked back my way carrying the drinks. “I get off at two,” she said as she slid them in front of me.
“I’ll remember that,” I replied and gave her a fifty. “I don’t need change.”
She looked over my shoulder. “The girl with you?”
“Well, your friend may need some help,” the bartender told me. Snapping my attention off her nipples I could see through the thin fabric of her shirt, I looked around to find Lila Kate.
Two guys were saddled up beside her doing their pretty boy flirting. She seemed nervous but was smiling and talking to them. When her eyes swung over in my direction, I saw the uncertainty there, and I moved toward her.
This was going to be a long night. Maybe I should have ordered a double.
“IT’S THE FUCKING clothes,” Cruz muttered to me after he handed me my drink then slipped his arm around my waist and moved me away from the two guys who had been trying to convince me to come to some frat party they were having nearby.
“The guys. You dress like that, and you’re gonna have guys swarming.”
He sounded annoyed. After I had just watched him all but drool over the bartender who might as well have been wearing a bikini. Or heck, topless. I could see through her thin white shirt from where I was and she wasn’t wearing a bra. I looked classy compared to her.
“There is nothing wrong with my clothes,” I spat back at Cruz. Then took another drink of the delicious concoction he’d gotten me.
“Skirts too short and you’re showing off your stomach.”
I spun around and glared at him. “That waitress you were ogling is barely clothed. Her bottom is hanging out of her shorts! And you’re saying I’m not dressed okay? But you enjoyed seeing her naked boobs through that top that is pointless.”
He scowled. “You’re not like her.”
What the heck? “You are a pig!” I yelled then stormed past him into the street. I needed my distance because I was tempted to toss this red drink in his face.
“Lila!” he called out behind me. I kept stalking off. I had no idea where I was going, but I was going somewhere. “Lila, for Christ sake stop!”
“You’re being dramatic,” he said and I thought about that. Maybe I was a touch sensitive. So I slowed down. This street was packed with people, and as exciting as it seemed it probably wasn’t safe for me to get lost on.
“All I am saying is you look . . .” he paused and rubbed his temples with his thumb and forefinger. “You look like fucking Snow White has decided to go naughty. Okay? It’s very fucking erotic to see someone who looks like you dressed in something like that. The waitress in there—a guy expects her to dress that way. She looks like a porn star. You look like a Disney Princess dressed up like a porn star, and that is exciting to a man. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain it. We are all bastards, okay?”
I studied him letting his words sink in. Then I started to laugh. I couldn’t help myself. It wasn’t the drink because I’d barely drank any of it. The way he had just described me was hilarious.
“Why are you laughing?” he asked, his face frustrated and confused.
I caught my breath and then laughed some more. He watched me like I had lost my mind. When I could finally breathe enough to form a sentence, I said, “You just called me a Disney Princess porn star.”
Cruz kept his frown at first, and then he slowly started to grin. “It was the best example I had.”
I took a sip of my drink. “I don’t look like Snow White.”
“Yeah, Lila, you do. I once wondered if birds dressed you every morning. I was eight at the time, so it made sense back then.”
I laughed again. I had to. He was right. The old Lila was very Snow White-like. She was proper, poised, polite. And boring. That was my past though.
“Okay, I agree. I was very Snow White-like but not anymore.”
“Let’s try this again,” I suggested. Then pointed at a bar across the street. “Let’s try there,” I suggested.
“No way in hell,” he said as he took my elbow. “I’ll pick the place.”
“What was wrong with that place?”
“I’m not ready to take you into a topless bar.”
Oh. “Okay, yeah. You better pick the place.” I agreed.
“Yeah. Never tried a hurricane. I don’t like sweet,” Cruz said then steered me into another bar with open doors and live music. This time it was more Cajun type music. “I need another drink. You’re coming with me.”
I followed along beside him, and this time the bartender was a man. However, he also was checking Cruz out. I didn’t blame him. Cruz was something to look at. I just didn’t let myself look at him. At least not for long.
I scanned the place, watching the people dancing and drank more of my hurricane.
“Come on, Snow White,” he said once he had his drink.
We walked over and found a tall table with two empty stools and sat down. The beat was different than anything I had danced to so I watched the people who knew how to dance to that music. I learned quickly. Once I was sure I could do it, I finished my drink.
“I’m going to dance,” I told him as I stood up.
“To that? You can’t dance like that,” Cruz argued.