She’s fucking Alexander, Theo reminded himself. He was standing by the bar, waiting to order a rye and coke. His gaze was directed towards the dance floor where he spotted Lily and Emma in the crowd. The rest of the crew seemed to have disappeared into the pulsing array of flesh, the other guys each on their own personal mission to get some.
Usually, Theo would be on his own personal mission to get some, but whenever Lily came out with them, he couldn’t help but not care. For some reason, he just wanted to be around her. He didn’t want to think about it too deeply beyond that and he made sure to remind himself every now and then that she was sleeping with one of his closest friends.
Theo finally inched his way to the front of the line. The busty bartender gave him a sultry smile and asked, “What can I get for you, sweetie?”
“I’ll have a shot of whiskey and rye and coke…make it a double,” Theo replied.
She punched in his order on the register. She poured the shot of whiskey and handed it to him. He took the shot while she made his rye and coke. As she bent over to fill the glass with ice, Theo caught a glimpse of cleavage through her lacy black top.
“That’ll be seventeen thirty, hon.”
“Here you go,” he said, handing her a twenty and change, “cheers.” He flashed her a crooked smile as he took his rye and coke and wandered towards the dance floor.
“Theo!” Lily exclaimed, waving him over when she spotted him. She and Emma had migrated to the periphery of the crowd. “It’s so goddamn hot in there!” she said, gesturing to the center, which was packed with gyrating bodies.
“Hey guys,” Theo said, raising his voice over the music.
“Have you seen anyone else?” Emma asked. “There were a few of the guys at the table when we came onto the dance floor but they left since we last checked.”
Theo shook his head. Emma was one of Lily’s friends, a really nice girl who, Theo suspected, had a little thing for Lewis.
“Oh well,” Lily said, shrugging, “we’ll catch up with everyone later. Besides, this song is the best!” She pulled Theo and Emma back into the crowd and the three of them started to dance.
There was something about the way Lily moved. It wasn’t that she was carefree. It was more like she was careless. When she danced, it wasn’t for anyone. Lily danced like she didn’t think anyone was watching, or she didn’t care if they were. It was all elbows and flailing limbs, ungraceful and sometimes just downright silly. But she danced for herself. She danced to forget. Theo understood that.
He grinned as Lily tried to do the moonwalk. Then he noticed a lanky blonde dude walk up behind Emma, saying something in her ear. Emma nodded and the two started bumping and grinding. Lily looked over, catching Emma’s eye to make sure she hadn’t gotten herself into something she regretted, then continued with her wild movements. The current song morphed into the next one and Theo downed the rest of his double.
“I’m just going to set my glass down, I’ll be right back,” Theo said, leaning close towards Lily’s face. She turned her head and looked up at him, nodding.
He put the glass down at an empty table and returned to the dance floor. Emma was still dancing with the blonde guy and Lily was doing her thing, eyes half-closed, simply adrift in the music. It was a tropical tune and she was swaying her hips to the rhythm. Something possessed Theo. He walked up behind her, put his left hand on her hip, moved his mouth to her ear.
“I want to dance with you, like, real dancing,” Theo knew it was an odd thing to say, but it was what came out.
Lily stiffened, surprised at his touch, if only because her dancing typically didn’t attract anyone unless they wanted a black eye from an errant elbow. She looked behind her to see who it was. When she realized it was Theo, she briefly gave him an inscrutable look, then smiled and shrugged.
“Yeah, sure,” she said.
Theo put his right hand on her other hip and pulled her close. Lily was hesitant at first, rigid but taking his lead, moving where he guided her. Though once the hook started playing, it was as if she let her inhibitions go and allowed herself to soak in the intoxication: of the liquor, the music, the moment.
She pressed herself against him, reaching up with her right arm, grazing the nape of his neck with her fingertips. She laced the fingers of her left hand through his, guiding it from her hip to other parts of her body. They moved together, synchronous, every action matched with an equal reaction, all in time to the music.
Theo lost his head in the movement. He suddenly felt a strong desire to turn Lily around so he could kiss her. He took her hand from his neck and rotated her body so that they were face-to-face. Lily looked half delirious, a sheen of sweat visible when the strobe lights flashed on her skin.
The lights were like flashbulbs, demarcating snapshots in real time. In one moment Lily looked blissful, in a state of oblivion. In the next, she was tense. In the next, she forced a smile. She had stopped dancing now and leaned in towards Theo on her tiptoes.
“That was fun, thanks.” Then she pointed to a spot behind him and said, “Oh look, there’s Emma and Lewis, let’s go see what they’re up to.”
Theo turned to follow as Lily abruptly started walking away. He weaved behind her through the crowd and looked up to the edge of the dance floor, spotting the others. He hadn’t noticed when Emma stopped dancing with the lanky blonde but wasn’t surprised to see that she had somehow gravitated to Lewis.
He made eye contact with Lewis and felt a jolt of guilt run down his spine. Something in the look he gave him made Theo feel like he had been caught doing something wrong. She’s fucking Alexander, Theo felt inclined to remind himself. Well, we were just dancing, some other part of himself replied.