Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

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Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Lucy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:18 am

This story is rated PG for hints of sensuous activity.

In honor of our board's ninth birthday, our Challenge theme is the number nine. Your entry must feature the number nine in the title, and the theme must involve a "nine-centric" theme.

I OWN NOTHING

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Nine Ladies Dancing


Josef Kostan was morose. It was the end of the ‘season’ and he had the task of reviewing the bulk of the Freshie roster for who was in and who was approaching their ‘sell by date’. “Did you want me to run their stats?” Rider crouched over his laptop as he perched on the end of the chair in front of Josef’s desk. It was nearing astronomical twilight and Rider wanted to boogie on back to his bungalow.

Josef leaned back in his chair, running the capped end of his gold fountain pen over his bottom lip. Although he had every piece of technology available, he enjoyed the weight of the leather portfolio in his hand, the feel of the smooth pale green legal pad. This was his personal preference, and new last night when he set out on his task. Now the majority of the sheets had been sacrificed as he made lists, gracefully in the florid cursive he’d learned as a child. Crumpled sheets pyramided in the refuse basket next to his desk. All the while, the ‘father’ of all Freshies tipped back in his chair, one loafered foot on the open bottom drawer and one argyle socked ankle balanced on his knee as he rocked his desk chair to personally debate the class of 2018’s pros and cons.

“The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but…”

“That’s the way to bet?” Rider wittily interjected.

Josef’s lips spread in a grimace and he combed back his errant hairs from his forehead. “Sometimes.” He shifted in the chair, heavy springs complaining with his abrupt movement. “I’ve looked at this too long.” He pushed the cuff back from his watch and saw the hour. “I’ll enter my own notes and back it up to the drive… I promise this time. You can take it from there tomorrow night.” Rider had the laptop switched off and packed by the time Josef finished his sentence. “Good night, Rider…” Josef capped his ink pen and placed it in his shirt pocket.

Stretching and folding his arms behind his head, he did the closest thing to a yawn a vampire would perform. I should hit the slab. Am I hungry? His jaw opened in a breathless yawn and he ran a tongue over his canines. No, is this when mortals snack? He almost chuckled as he sat forward with both feet on the rug, the ring of the desk phone jarring his solitude.

“Kostan.”

“If it wasn’t, I’d be surprised.” Beth’s freshly woken voice soothed his soul. “Look, Josef…” She is the only mortal on earth capable of using those two words together. “Mick dropped this bomb last night, how long has he known about this?” The bomb. The cycle. “I mean it’s annoying to track my cycle, now I have to plot out my life in nine year sequences?”

Josef heard the domestic sounds of Beth moving around the stainless steel kitchen in Mick’s loft. Who am I kidding; she’s been there seven years. Mick never kept a Keurig until she migrated into his bachelor pad.

“It’s all in the presentation, Beth. Your procrastinating mate knew I was wrapping up Los Angeles six months ago.” Josef leaned forward abruptly and turned down the volume on the phone and switched it to speaker.

“Six months?” Well that wasn’t the shriek I expected. “I just landed the promotion of a lifetime. I’d never have…”

Be the water, not the rock. Blondie’s moods were Mick’s bailiwick. She has to run out of air soon. “Are we joined at the hip, Mrs. St. John?” His words instantly shut her up. He heard her gulp air, loading her next wind.

“It’s… No, we aren’t, but… I’d miss you.”

Ahah! I knew it. After ten years, she admitted it. “Life without me would be terribly dull wouldn’t it?” He rose from the chair and flexed his back, pressing his thumbs into his hips. I need a massage.

“I’d like to think I can keep Mick happy all by myself, however, the two of you are brothers. I have a distinct feeling within three months we’ll be packing and heading to, where is it…?”

God’s nightgown, hasn’t Mick told her the moving trucks would be there by the end of January to pack them up and move them out? “New Orleans, Louisiana.”

“He’s been plodding along for the last month, brooding at every turn. He’s been sorting sheet music, reminiscing over things in his Army footlocker.”

“Separation anxiety, much?” Josef poured three fingers of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky and a splash of O negative.

“He’s been to the cemetery to see everyone.”

The brown liquid sat fragrant and fruity with oodles of sweet spice on his tongue. “He told me, he mentioned he had the headstones cleaned.” Josef savored the long lost flavor from his childhood, the resonance of orange peel.

“Tell me, Josef…” Beth pressed as Josef gulped the majority of the drink and closed his eyes. “Are we included in this cycle? I mean, after the fifty plus years Mick has flown under the radar, is this some sort of purge?” Her words tumbled out, half angry, half terrified.

****
Josef humored Mick’s entrenchment in Los Angeles. Hell, by Mick’s age, Josef had seen Dublin, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles. Knowing that any discussion with Beth would end right about her lunch time, he cut the call with the advice to pin down her mate, but, please not literally.

If Josef Adrian Kostan was leaving L.A., he was going out with party, a quasi-new year’s eve on January 31st. The documents were in order, he had only to shed my skin, slide into the new stuff and go dancing in. The last three years convinced him, after decades of the west coast vibe, he cranked up the momentum, fed his rhythm and made subliminal tracks toward the Big Easy. With or without Mick.

He didn’t completely embrace numerological perspectives, but nine was an attractive number. Any number that was initially increased by a factor of 9 loses its own identity and instead takes on the characteristics of the 9. No other number has that quality.

Charles in New York had rolled the dice and lost hard, and moving to L.A. didn’t dampen that loss. He only planned on hovering in the golden state for another year when a certain headstrong vampress turned a reluctant musician on their wedding night.

Not that he felt responsible for Mick St. John, however after he initially rubbed him wrong twelve ways to Sunday, he developed a brotherly love. Love made it hard to leave. Being here for decades, in Mick’s home town, Josef lost his edge. It was time to reclaim his global awareness in Nawlin’s.

****

As he felt nautical dusk within his body clock, Josef rose and busied himself with anything other than his retinue of Freshies. Watching the Los Angeles skyline’s increasing glow he committed it to memory, New Orleans has a different skyline, he mused sardonically.

The entire evening of his 'Going Away party" He chuckled that he was trading high rises for the relative flat city built on the banks of the Mississippi River.

In 1928 to 1929, under an agreement with a Louisiana architect, in an incarnation as Romero Trahan, Josef contracted construction of a twenty three story ‘skyscraper’ consisting of a steel skeleton plus concrete and hollow tiles. Romero chose a face of polished granite. On top of the 23rd floor was a 6-story octagonal tower, covered by an ornamental finial. Being undead, of course, he was sure his building was the first in New Orleans to utilize indoor air-conditioning within a public space. Post Katrina, the National American Bank Building was christened 200 Carondelet and shortly Armand Trahan would return to the scene of his great-grandfather’s escapades to correct a hasty transgression.

****

1931, New Orleans
The sound of the streetcars was associated with excitement and mystery for the young ladies, they would confess, while Romero Trahan interviewed them. It was the first noise the brave young girls would hear when they arrived in this jewel on the river. Romero was cautious to enlist the finest of the young ladies seeking employment within the homes of the executives of the National American Bank.

The depressed economy drove them from their cloistered lives into the ‘city’. Sidonie arrived wearing a pert hat, gloves and high heels. Romy, as he was known, would bet she’d taken the last pair of stockings with her for a proper interview.

“Sidonie Guidry?” Romy’s girl Friday called into the anteroom. A dozen or more young ladies sat in their Sunday best, some fingering their rosary beads, praying for advantage over the earlier arrivals.

****

It was later that day the name Guidry joined Comeau, Mathieu, Poirier, Dupuis, Gousman, LaCroix, LaVache and Vallois, on the mailboxes. Although the city was segregated, New Orleans was unique because it remained intermixed and multicultural. The city’s undead reveled in the flavor of the city, the ‘residence’ as it was known was as jubilant as a place could be with nine young ladies living together.

‘Nine Ladies Dancing’ was the nickname for Neuf at 808, established as a discrete bistro across from Arnaud’s on Bienville Street. When the full coterie of donors assembled in the late hours it took only one benefactor to encourage them to break into a second line dance.

Romy leaned against the staircase doorway, an unlit cigar in the corner of his mouth, his hands deep in his trouser pockets. “Are we square?” Romy prodded the liquor agent as he slid gold coins into the man’s palm to keep him looking the other way.

“As a box, my man. See you next week.” The government sleaze saluted Romy with two fingers to the brim of his hat and he wandered out the back door.

It required no pre-qualification other than the visiting undead to instigate the snaking dance. They reveled in the sinuous movements of graceful ladies waving fine linen hankies, and the reciprocating jiggle of champagne goblet sized breasts as they jostled under silk, crepe-de-chines, and satin.

Romy watched Sidonie, in emerald silk, cut on the bias. She moved coquettishly at the end of the line. Romy shuffled within the shoulder to shoulder crowd and caught up to the brunette. He caught her hips within her dress’ clingy, flowing lines and whispered. “Are you enjoying yourself with us?”

Over her shoulder, she blushed at her patron. “Oh, I am, Mr. Trahan.” Her coal black eyelashes fanned more of her aroma to his undead senses. Tabu. And if he was thinking with his big head, he would have considered her simply for dining and dashing. The strain of the song died out as Noelie, Sylvie, Josette and the rest were pinched off into the crowd, leaving Sidonie in Romy’s grip. Within some secret bubble, Romy spun her into his arms and caressed the wanton curls framing her ivory complexion.

“Everyone treating you… properly?” Romy watched her fidget, checking the drape of the cobalt silk over her luscious hips. Her eyelids dropped and she watched him from under her lashes. Then his undead head hitched as her pink beast of a tongue darted over her bottom lip.

“Oh, yes… yessir.”

He gathered his wits to keep from answering back, “Yes, Romy.” His lips disconnected from his brain and he nodded mutely.

****

Their interactions straddled a fine line. Sidonie, the quasi den mother of the troop was the one who met with him to receive lunch money for sprees to D.H. Holmes department store, where they had the Trout Amandine. The French Quarter was the most exotic place she had ever been. Sometimes we would go to the Blue Room at the Roosevelt Hotel for dinner and a show, just the two of us. The décor was awesome, especially at Christmas. I never tired of those honeyed nights.

“Good night, Mr. Trahan, I had a marvelous time.” Her heart beat like a rabbit’s as Romy walked her up to her studio’s door.

“As I did too.” He raised her gloved hand to his lips and blessed it with a light kiss.

She ducked her head and whispered. “Mr. Trahan, would you permit me to ask a question?”

The carpeted hallway seemed miles away from the Neuf on 808, although Romy could feel the beat of the piano player’s driving notes a floor below. “Is this where you want to talk, did you want to join me in the office?” He gestured his head toward the larger room at the end of the hall. She nodded and held up one gloved finger.
“Let me drop off my wrap.” She unlocked the door and shed her fur trimmed shawl to pull the door closed and join his steps toward his office.

“What’s on your mind, Sidonie?” Romy held open the door and flipped on the low light. The room was awash in rubine velvet draperies and black leather lounging chaises. “Night cap?” He held up the decanter’s top and she shook her head.

“In all these months, I’ve never been in your rotation. You treat me kindly, like tonight, but is there anything that leads you to believe I’m not your… type?”

Oh, Pet, you are just my type. If only I could make you and keep you in the flower of your perfection, I would give you the world. His thoughts had worn a groove in his mind.

Romy stood across the room from her, wishing the distance would pummel his desire. As he sat he hitched his trouser legs and the sound of the coins in his pocket rang like a bell. Leaning back, he crossed his right ankle over his left knee and spread his arms along the chaise back. “My type? What exactly do you mean?” With those beckoning middle two fingers, he summoned her. Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Sidonie right over. With a deep swallow, she rose and came to sit on the edge of the chaise, a decent distance from him.

“You’ve never fed from me. Do I displease you?” Romy watched her pensive profile in the low light. Romy shifted toward the corner of the chaise, taking in the sight and scents of her.

He leaned forward and caught her hand, pulling her toward him. “You please me constantly. Why do you think I take you out? Why I look for every opportunity to meet with you…?”

With her free hand, her fingers encircled the lovely column of her neck. “I’ve never fed you. All I’ve wanted to do was…”

Make love to you, cherish you with everything that I am. Hold you in my bed for to claim your warmth. Unable to control himself further, his grace and strength positioned her within the frame of his long legs, and Sidonie squeaked at the speed of being embraced from behind. “You want me to feed from this exquisite neck of yours?” His cool breath washed over her. It would be hard to imagine a scenario like that today.

****

Present Day, Los Angeles
“Nothing like upsetting Beth.” Mick snorted as he held open the door just far enough to let Josef in. Josef was talking to his back as he followed his disturbed friend into the living room.

“Hey, who should have mentioned this five, six months ago?” Josef’s hands held outward in acceptance.

“She was just getting into her own, doing well enough her mentor suggested she apply for the new Editor’s job. How was I supposed to drop the bombshell that it was time for me to transition?”

They were silent for a beat while Josef’s gaze washed over the stark room, devoid of the books in the shelves, the empty glass vases in the kitchen. “How’d she take it when this began?” Josef pointed to the wrapped art leaning against the wall.

“She started making calls to New Orleans; the publishing house has liaisons there.” Mick’s tone of voice softened a degree as he sat in his chair and rested his hands on the arms, he occasionally picked at a seam. “Make yourself at home, but I don’t have anything by A positive.”

Josef wrinkled his nose and sat opposite his old friend. “You don’t need to follow me. I think I’ve weaned you sufficiently.”

“J’sef, what kind of crack is that?” Mick leaned forward stiffly, on the verge of offense.

Josef leaned back, sliding his long legs forward, nearly lying board-like, his gaze toward the ceiling. “It means wherever you go, you’ll be welcomed. You don’t need me to cut a swath…” I’ll miss you like a severed limb, at least you have Beth.

“Actually, that’s why I got out my old sheet music. I’m stoked to see what tunes I can coax out of my horn. I may or may not apply to transfer my P.I. license. It’s not like I know the city. I do know music.”

“And if Beth…”

Mick held up a halting hand, “If Beth what? She’s got real talent, she doesn’t have to work. She could write a book, I mean that’s work, but she doesn’t need a paycheck.”

“About Vampire in New Orleans?”

****

1931, New Orleans
Romy left Sidonie as the Earth's upper atmosphere began to scatter and reflect the sunlight, illuminating the lower atmosphere. After they’d exhausted each other and he had fed from her, she dozed off under the influence of cognac and spent desire. He pulled her door closed quietly and retucked his shirt into the back of his trousers. With a comb of his fingers across his unruly light brown hair, Romy made his way to his slab in the penthouse of the bank building.

****

Present Day, Los Angeles
“You think it’d be a cliché, but I have some unfinished business back there. I’ve had lives other than Charles Fitzgerald.”

“You never cease to amaze me, my friend.” Mick cocked any eyebrow at his friend. “I was partial to the Cotton Mill in the Warehouse District. The ceilings are even higher than these,” Mick gestured upward, “and The French Quarter is just a stroll away.”

“So, it’s smoothing out for the two of you?” On my soul, I hope so. I think I’m going to need you two.

****

1932, New Orleans
“I… want to be with you, forever, Romy…” she whispered into the crook of his neck as he held her close.

“You know all it entails…” Romy wrapped both his arms around her, capturing the moment to imprint it in his heart.

“When…, did you want to do this?” His undead heart stuttered at the idea of having a partner in this life, hope raised his head.

“Did you say there were some new girls coming? We’ll have to call it eighteen dancing ladies.” Sidonie finger combed his love-mussed hair back from his forehead.

“After the beginning of March, it will be seventeen ladies dancing.” Romy’s eyes sparkled at their plans. He would spirit her away to the private home of a friend. Behind the large mansion door, there was a secluded bedroom where Romy would ‘take’ his love for her conversion, “and you and I will need two or three weeks while you make the change.”

“Mardi Gras is the twenty eighth, The Crew of St Germain will be sure to keep us busy. It will be my last night…” Sidonie blushed at her finale.

“Ah, my dear, you will be with me. I can’t allow anyone to tire you. Besides, you’re my guest at the ball.”

****

Boldly, the undead strutted their feathers and sequins within the ballroom at The St. Charles Hotel. “Romy, in one hundred years, I don’t believe I’ll forget this night.” Sidonie’s gaze swept over the dancing crowd as they stood in line to receive this evening’s esteemed guests.

“And next year, you’ll see it from a completely different perspective.” He squeezed her warm hand in his. That evening the undead and their mortal allies pressed the flesh and celebrated the explosive growth of their Neuf at 808, the radical venture meant to feed the undead family.

Later that evening, cheek to cheek they danced as Romy serenaded his one and only with “I am yours body and soul…” when Romy’s business partner tapped him on the shoulder.

He whispered subtonally. “There’s been an emergency… on Bienville.”

Romy’s brow arched, burying his fear for Sidonie’s sake. “Emergency?” and with Frank’s nod, Romy summoned his diplomacy. “My love, why don’t you take time to eat?” He held her dimpled chin and kissed her cheek. “It’s your last chance for filet and all those sinful deserts. I have some business I need to tend to. I’ll be back within the hour.”

Although her dark brows rose in curiosity, she nodded. “I’ll just be a good little porker and enjoy everything for the two of us!” Her gaze swept the couples she knew and Romy was confident she missed his little white lies.

****

As Romy and Frank took quick steps to the cab at the curb, Romy loosened his bow tie and quizzed Frank on the particulars.

“Building fire.”

“Did our guests get out?”

“It’s bad, Romero, the doors were barred and locked, there was an explosion and all hell broke loose.” The two vampires sprang from the cab before it skidded to a stop a block before their bistro to see the four story building engulfed in flames. “They know what we are. This was a hit.”

Frank’s words broke Romy’s heart. Of course their ‘experiment’ had gone smoothly, almost too smoothly in a city that courted Voodoo and a myriad of supernatural devotees. Romy winced at the dancing flames as he stood with his hands on his hips. “Did anyone get out?”

“No. Guests at Arnaud’s reported it.”

With a slow swipe at his mouth, Romy shuddered. “With this much damage, it’s a complete loss?” He sank to a crouch as scrutinized the firemen struggling to stop the fire’s spread.

Above the scent of the burning building he caught the spice of Sidonie’s perfume; he pivoted to see her within a halo of chiffon and ostrich feathers running toward him. “Romy, Romy, they were talking about this, in the lady’s room.” She caught him and drew him up to her, catching his tear stained face in her hands. “Mavis, that toad of a woman who’s been harassing us from the sidewalk, she was at the St. Charles. She recognized me, screamed she knew what I did. That she knew what I did for a living, knew what you are.” Her tear-stained face revealed her heart as she continued. “You have to get out of town, the train will get you to New York, and no one will find you there.”

Romy caught her hands more rapidly than the gist of her counsel. “Me, me? What about you, Sidonie? We had plans…”

She withdrew from him, one graceful hand over her mouth as her curls bobbed with her rapidly shaking head. “I… can’t be with you, Romy.” Her crying burst from her heaving chest as she turned and ran into the night.

****

Present Day, Los Angeles
Josef Kostan gathered the last of his current project’s correspondence off the long row of bookshelves. There wasn’t going to be an angular home like this in sinuous Nawlin’s. Holding the portfolio close to his chest, Josef took a last stroll around the stark concrete home. It was the right time of day to say good-bye, the city's lights from the odd square chaise's view sparkled with the impurities in the Los Angeles air.

Once he was in the jet he laughed softly into his phone. “Next stop, the Big Easy.”

Beth’s light laughter was music to his ears. “You’ll see me out there next week. I had my apartment packed up to move in here and never unpacked.”

“Yes, but you will need your own clothing out here. You can only get so far wearing Mick’s dress shirts.”

“Always a pleasure to chat with you, Mr. K. Mick put a deposit on that unit at The Cotton Mill and we’re renting there until the contract goes through. I’ll see you Friday, Armand.”

“Don’t forget your mosquito spray; these hummingbird-sized pests love you as much as Mick does. G’bye, Blondie.”

****

Armand Trahan drew in a measured breath as he stepped out of his jet. They say change is good. What are you willing to do today to change tomorrow? Be intentional. Make good on the promises to yourself. What other rhetoric can I pitch to believe all this is right?

Once he saw the chauffeur with the sign A. Trahan, he make easy steps toward his town car that would have him secure in air-conditioned comfort within minutes. “First a stop is 2635 State Street, and then drop me off at 200 Carondelet St.” He confirmed as he buckled into the back seat.

What was his story? He was the great-grandson on Romero Trahan, the man who brought air-conditioning to public buildings in New Orleans. Now, he was a leader in ship-building and blue water transportation. He was educated at University of California, Berkeley Go, Bears! The facts of his current incarnation ran on a loop in his brain. As the car pulled to the first stop he sang to himself. “For in a mighty throng, we swing along ‘neath Blue and Gold so fair, and march to Victory. Make way for the Bear!”

The administration building was cool within the marble walls in January. Uniformed teenaged girls snuck looks at him as he strolled toward the office. “Armand Trahan to see the director of development, Ms. Roubideaux.” He slid a calf finish business card to the teen.

“Yes, sir. Please have a seat.” In a practiced gesture the redheaded girl waved in the direction of spartan chairs. With a nod he sat back to analyze the atmosphere. It was hormonal chaos. For every female in the office there was a hormonal drumline throbbing with emotions. So much for the peace of an all-girls school. Within four repetitions of the Cal State song, a conservatively suited young woman appeared before him.

“Mr. Trahan, thank you for your visit. Let’s walk back to my office.” Once they were in a sunny and small office she offered coffee brightly. “It’s Community Coffee with chicory.”

Armand’s lips curled in his best panty dropping smile before he remembered where he was. “I just flew in from the west coast, I’m good, but you go ahead.” Which she did before she sat down and pushed a portfolio across her desk to him.

“This is the opportunity you asked me to prepare. It outlines our usual scholarship policy but includes the requirements of an essay to be judged, academic standing, as well as confirmation of music, dance or arts accomplishments.”

Armand nodded at the attractive brochure bearing the name Sidonie Guidry Foundation.

“Sister Angela was quite a force in the 1930’s, but you’re the first outsider to do something like this in her name… I guess that piqued my curiosity, Mr. Trahan.” The woman stared at him over her navy and white school coffee mug.

“I’m not really an outsider, Ms. Roubideaux. My grandfather was Miss Guidry’s first employer in the city. The eight other young ladies names were her friends when they worked together for my grandfather. I guess you could say, I … He recognized greatness when he hired her. In my grandfather’s spirit, I wanted to help young women. These nine annual scholarships should help.” Armand nodded with a bittersweet smile. “Anyway, I know the finances have been set up and the first applications are being received. I trust your committee will make the right decisions. My visit today was so you could put a face on the name,” Armand started to rise, “and if you have any other little projects, just keep me in mind.” As he motioned for her to stay seated, her intercom buzzed.

“Is Mr. Trahan still in your office?”

His whiskey colored eyes squinted at the question as he smirked.

“He is, was there something for him?”

“Someone wants to see him in the chapel.”

Armand shook his head and shrugged. “Someone to see me?”

“I’ll walk you there.”

****

Ms. Roubideaux dipped her fingertips into the holy water font inside the doorway and made the sign of the cross.

Armand strangled the phrase spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch before it erupted from his smiling lips. The scent of carnations hung in the dim light of the student chapel. “When you leave, just follow the signs for Administration.”

The air conditioner cycled on and ruffled the flowers on the altar right before the assist on the door whooshed and it slowly opened. A stooped nun pushing a four wheel walker made a calculated bee-line directly to him. She wore a white chapel cap over snowy hair, a sizable crucifix over her while cardigan and a modest navy skirt. Her sneakers made squeaks as she shuffled toward Armand.

Their gazes met and he rose with a jolt. He bent to look her directly in her clear brown eyes. “Sidonie?”

“Sister Angela, in the flesh, Mr. Trahan.” His mouth hung open. “Come, come, now, we are not cod fish.” She gestured him to close his mouth with a wave of an arthritic hand.

He stood, running a hand through his hair and clasped the back of his neck. “After you, sister…”

“Have a seat, Romy.” The wise old nun pushed the walker opposite ‘Armand’ and had a seat. “Did I surprise you?”

For a hundred and five years year old, her voice was strong. Armand’s answer halted and he shook his head and bit his bottom lip.

“Once I hit eighty I wondered if it was because of us being intimate.” Her gaze cut to Christ crucified over the altar and with a shameful blink she stared at Armand’s lap.

“I don’t think I’m the fountain of youth.” He shrugged. “This is where you ended up?” He gestured to the grounds outside the chapel.

“I sought succor here that night. It didn’t matter to them that I was in ostrich feathers and sequins. Everyone I knew was dead. Once you’ve seen the lights of Nawlin’s, how can you go back to Mandeville?”

“I was in New York; you could have met me there.” Armand picked at a dust mote on his trousers.

“I didn’t have enough faith…”

“In our forever?” His expression saddened.

“In the flesh, my faith is in the spirit.”

“I worried about you, they never came out and said you were still alive, but I had a feeling it was so.” He tapped his heart.

“Did you ever find Miss Right?” Sister Angela held the bottom of her sterling crucifix and moved it side to side on the heavy chain.

“You mean the second Miss Right?” The nun nodded. “I did, but she didn’t make it… something went wrong in the transition and she’s gone.” Now a tear snuck out of the corner of his eye and he bowed his head, his hands folded in his lap.

“Hope springs eternal, Mr. Trahan.” She raised two fingers in a silent blessing and then slid the walker back to rise and leave.

His voice was pillow talk soft. “You’re still quite a gal, Sidonie Guidry.”

“And you are quite a romancer, Mr. Trahan.”

****

The rest of his day was spent with new faces nodding and welcoming Armand Trahan. Josef Adrian Kostan felt lost, as if he hadn’t shed all of his skin yet. He opened up the stereo system and flipped to his 1930’s library. As the Ben Selvin Orchestra struck up Happy Days Are Here Again he bobbled his attempts to strip off his necktie, and dance to the jumping tune. He halted when he saw his reflection in the closet door.

Until he found another partner, he’d leave the dancing to the nine ladies.

=============
Edited to correct spacing....
Last edited by Lucy on Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby allegrita » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:26 pm

Ooh, very evocative! I love the New Orleans history, and the story of the Nine Ladies. I hope Josef's -- that is, Armand's -- new life in the Big Easy has a happier ending than Romy's! :hankie: I'm glad he got to see Sidonie again. :rose:

Great answer to the Challenge, Lucy! :clapping: :clapping:
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Lucy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:34 pm

Thank-you!
Who knows what will happen in the big easy once the St John’s move into The Cotton Mill?
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Shadow » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:27 am

This is really beautiful, Lucy! I loved the way Josef's thoughts were drifting back and forth in time, from the present to the old days in New Orleans, and back. And the present day is so interesting too, ten years on with all our favorite characters having moved along with their lives. I really get the sense of Mick, Beth and Josef having formed a true family here ... whatever Josef says about them not having to follow him, it doesn't seem conceivable that they would ever consider being parted. I liked Sidonie, she was lovely, and what a huge leap her life took on that fateful night. The fire was just devastating; I still feel a bit in shock from having read about that. And I was intrigued by Sister Angela's musing that perhaps her intimacy with Josef had contributed to her longevity. Though he dismissed it, that's quite an interesting thought.

I so liked the part where Beth was telling Josef about Mick's "preparations" ....
Lucy wrote:He’s been plodding along for the last month, brooding at every turn. He’s been sorting sheet music, reminiscing over things in his Army footlocker.”

“Separation anxiety, much?” Josef poured three fingers of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky and a splash of O negative.

“He’s been to the cemetery to see everyone.”

The brown liquid sat fragrant and fruity with oodles of sweet spice on his tongue. “He told me, he mentioned he had the headstones cleaned.” Josef savored the long lost flavor from his childhood, the resonance of orange peel.

That's just exquisite, and I loved the way Josef was experiencing his own nostalgia, all the way back to his human childhood, while discussing Mick's.

And though this was really Josef's story, these words of Mick's leaped out to me as my very favorite bit:
Lucy wrote:“Actually, that’s why I got out my old sheet music. I’m stoked to see what tunes I can coax out of my horn. I may or may not apply to transfer my P.I. license. It’s not like I know the city. I do know music.”

I just adore the idea of Mick leaving behind the P.I. business, at least for a while, and spending his nights playing trumpet in New Orleans jazz clubs instead. :heart:
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Lucy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:14 pm

Thank you, Shadow...
I adore Josef. I hope I did him a solid on the voice here.
You always devote observing and sweet comments in your replys.
Ten years on, this may be the turn in my fan fic.
I love the city and I do see Mick enjoying a decade on Bourbon Street while Beth gets close to the old stories of Nawlins.
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Shadow » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:12 am

Lucy wrote:Ten years on, this may be the turn in my fan fic.
I love the city and I do see Mick enjoying a decade on Bourbon Street while Beth gets close to the old stories of Nawlins.


Oh, that sounds wonderful. I'd love to read more about that decade!
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Re: Champagne Challenge #175: Nine Ladies Dancing Rated PG

Postby Lucy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:15 am

Shadow wrote:
Lucy wrote:Ten years on, this may be the turn in my fan fic.
I love the city and I do see Mick enjoying a decade on Bourbon Street while Beth gets close to the old stories of Nawlins.


Oh, that sounds wonderful. I'd love to read more about that decade!


You, my dear... are speaking to my muse. (Since the only you and Allegrita have read and left footprints)... I want you to know how MUCH the comments mean.
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