The Last Emperors.
Chapter Six: Girls, Girls, Girls.
By Jolie Adam
“All done!” Dawn finished brushing translucent powder over Lo’s face, looking proudly at the outcome. She’d transformed Lorra from Shao Mein to Sexy & Sizzling. “Julia, your turn!”
“I never want to get out of this bathtub. My muscles melted, I don’t think I can get out even if I did want to,” Julia shouted from the washroom. Baths were her guilty pleasure and the one at Sakura hotel where most of the performers were spending the night, was nothing short of a work of art. It was one of the many perks of having a well-connected agent. Instead of having to travel back to the InterContinental, they were offered a complimentary suite at Sakura which was conveniently located just across the stadium. Adorned with gold handles and faucet, the tub resembled a porcelain bassinet and cradled her as the warm water soothed her stiff joints. If anyone looked like they’d be into baths, it’d be Dawn but it turned out none of the girls favoured them except for Julia.
Lo moved to check out Dawn’s handiwork. Her partner in crime had taken a little longer than usual so she was curious to see the finished result in the mirror. She was sure to be sore tomorrow but was currently livened with jubilance and a feeling of aptitude and achievement. “Whoa. Whoa. You have to tone this down. I look like a video vixen. This is way too much. I like what you usually do. Blush, mascara, liner and powder. But this is over the top. I can’t go out like this!”
“Why not? You look fabulous.”
“No, I look like a woman of easy virtue,” she retorted, trying to blot some bronzer with her palms.
“Okay, relax Shakespeare. You look great. All I did was amp up the eyes with darker shadow and add some neutral color to your lips.”
“Dawn,” Lo closed her eyes and took a deep breath, “You have ten seconds to fix this before I wipe it all off and call it a night.”
“Watch me,” Lo steered back to the chair where Dawn’s makeup case and tools were, in search for a wet towel.
“Look, I just figured since we stole their losing virginity, we should go out in style tonight. You are all about dance, dance, dance. And that’s great. But Lo, look at yourself in the mirror. You don’t even look like you. And just for tonight, let that be a good thing.” She pleaded with her best friend, hoping to sweet talk some sense into her. Dawn didn’t have to worry about much, she looked flawless and the confidence of knowing so made her irresistible. Her makeup and hair was done, all she had to do was lay eyes on her prey, and they’d be praying for the courage to approach her. She’d also been on a dry spell recently and although winning was always fabulous and validating in a really self-revolved way that she hated to admit, the trophy simply didn’t provide the same satisfaction of a good, mind blowing orgasm. And if she was feeling this urge, she could only imagine how Lo must’ve felt.
“I’m sure they’ve lost before. They’ve been dancing for years,” Lo said, snapping Dawn out of her thoughts and curious concerns.
“Probably but it’s just never been documented or proven so therefore they’ve been dubbed invincible.”
“Until now. We are the new champions!” Julia was standing in the corridor that gave the illusion of stretching onwards for miles, in a plush towel, her moist hair clipped up in plaits.
“Yes, we are but don’t worry. They won’t be losers for long,” Dawn smirked, catching Lo off-guard.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Are you really going to stand there and pretend you weren’t staring at Laurent?”
Lo furrowed her eyebrows to express her confusion.
“Look dumdum, I think what she’s trying to say is, it’s been a while since you got laid. All dance and no play makes for a dog in heat,”Julia laughed playfully along with Dawn. “And right now, you are looking ripe for seduction or corruption.”
“I don—” Lo started to say, cut off by slightly frustrated Dawn.
“Oh cut the holier than thou shit! Just say it. They’re cute.”
“Okay. They’re hotter in person. Whatever. Can we not make a big deal out of this?”
“The first step is acceptance, my sister.” Julia hollered as she snapped her fingers flamboyantly, shaking her humid plaits.
“Isn’t the first step denial?” Dawn rebuked, “Anyways, which one do you want?”
“Did you see the way she looked at the pretty one when the judges said we won? It was like a scene out of a movie, except she was the only one who didn’t have a script.”
Lo looked at her friends as if they were completely delusional, “Neither.”
“Okay, play coy. I call the shots on Larry then.” Dawn stated, shooing her away from the chair so she could start doing Julia’s makeup. Lo got up, getting a good glance of the woman staring back at her. Even she had to admit, if looks could kill, she’d be sending out a lot of condolences. The red dress on the bed was laid out for her and once she slipped it on, she could see every single God-given curve.
“You can’t wear a dress like that with underwear. I can see your thong line and your bra strap!” Julia shouted from the chair in an incredulous tone that made it clear she didn’t understand her friend’s reasoning.
Lo looked back in the mirror and saw a huge fashion faux-pas. Victoria’s Secret and their false advertising. She could see the hook of the bra probing against the material and the back was cut so low that there was no other option but to go braless. But panty-less…was just a bit too scandalous.
“Ok Lo, what’s up with you?”
“Stop with this shy girl shit.” Julia added, prompting Dawn to continue.
“Yeah, you’re usually so cocky when we win but today, you wanted to be a gracious winner. We get it, we get that you look up to them but we won fair and square. Why are you trying to turn their loss into ours? Just admit that right now, for this moment we are the best. We are the winners. And just be a girl for the night. You like him, you look hot, let’s go out and finish this night like the winners we are. If not, then stay here, feeling bad and know that we might as well stop this journey now, pack our bags and go back to being street legends. You said it yourself this is only the beginning. How many times did we lose before we finally started winning? This is happening so you can either get on board or get off the train.” This took Lo by surprise, especially since it was coming from Dawn…and it was the truth.
“Damn Dawn. That was some Oprah shit right there,” Julia remarked, also surprised that for once she wasn’t the one being painfully blunt.
Lo digested the words as quickly as they were hashed and smiled as she slid her thong down her thighs, pulling it off and flinging it on her bed. The girls laughed and cheered as she turned around giving them the full 360 view on her outfit. Got it. Own it. Flaunt it.
All twins bear similarities but like the saying goes, ‘no two people are the same’. Laurent and Larry were no exception. As Lau’s frustration brewed, Larry felt best to distance himself from his brother and give him some space. No one ever enjoyed or relished a loss but Lau just hated losing to someone other than his brother. As he sat at the bar, replaying Shao’s precise moves, he was already calculating moves he’d use on him next time they crossed paths. All he kept remembering was Shao mimicking his own move that he thought was inimitable andexecuting it perfectly. Even Larry couldn’t do that move. If he was a drinker, tonight would’ve given him good reason to be inebriated. There was nothing more depressing than sitting at a swanky bar and not ordering any alcohol but he needed to be sober so that he could come up with a master plan. Another battle was in order now that their prestige was at stake; it was only a matter of time. He had nothing to drink to and no one to drink with. Larry was chatting up a full-figured blonde and even that didn’t get a rise out of him. Perhaps his brother couldn’t do the math but it didn’t take a scientist to calculate this one. A blonde dressed to impress, in a luxury hotel bar, in the middle of Tokyo. If she wasn’t a high-class hooker, she was probably a call girl who’d just finished her shift and was grabbing a drink on the way out. The other dancers gathered around the spacious dining area, in groups and duos. Everyone was occupied with their gadgets, or heavy in conversation. It made Lau miss his crew. Every member of Criminalz Crew was busy with their own venture. Either on tour, or regulars on TV shows, or both. It would’ve been great for the crew to be reunited in Japan for this competition. But then, they would’ve witnessed the loss first hand. No, if they were here, we wouldn’t have lost. The blonde was laughing at something Larry said, flipping her head back to let her golden ringlets roll off her back. At least, his brother wasn’t going to lose twice tonight.
Dawn, Julia and Lorra strutted into the bar area confidently, like they were the new Destiny’s Child. Julia made a comment about how dim and quiet the bar was. It was definitely different from most after-battle events they had. There was no loud music, no dancing. On the contrary, it looked classy and welcoming. Fitting for a celebration and not a competition. Larry noticed the girls first and whispered to his brother,
“Good things also come in threes,” referring to Lau’s directed anger toward the trio that had defeated them. Lau turned around in a half-ass attempt to be polite and see what his brother was talking about. His neck blocked when he laid eyes on the hottie with the body in the lethal red dress. Some women simply had no modesty and no qualms showcasing their assets. He was going for the brooding look but his gaze betrayed him as his eyes skimmed over every curve inside that dress. Dresses like that always meant business and women who wore them always meant trouble. As they walked up to the bar, Larry whispered to no one, as if reading his brother’s mind,
“Here comes trouble.” The blonde gave a tight smile that said she didn’t appreciate his attention being dispensed elsewhere but didn’t have the power to do anything about it. Lau turned back to face the bar and recollect his thoughts. Chances are they’d be sitting near him since those were the only available seats left in the dining area. All eyes were on the girls as they sashayed glamorously to be seated. Just as he predicted, they sat right next to them, with Julia right next to Lau. Dawn was on the other end and Lorra was in the middle. Lau couldn’t help but look at them. They were all very beautiful girls. Julia was adorable in her backwards-bowtie tank top with satin pants. Dawn also caught his eye, her tall frame further elongated in black heels filled that lavender dress like it was made for her. And the girl in the red. She was just a wild sight for sore eyes. Or in Lau’s case, for sore egos. But he’d never pay for sex.
The girls looked at each other and smiled. They opted for non-alcoholic drinks which surprised Laurent. If they were escorts or anything of that sort, they would’ve known which fancy, expensive beverage to order and how to seduce someone into buying it for them. Just like that, he reconsidered his assumptions yet Larry was the first one to make a move.
“Hello.” Dawn smiled broadly despite being the furthest from him. Lo smirked in his direction, although it was more so because of her friend’s visible excitement, and Lau looked right at her as she did so, catching her smirk. There was an arrogance and innocence behind that sly smile that drew him in. Since they were looking right at each other, he said to her,“I like your dress.” Even though he was really thinking, I’d like you better out of that dress.
“Thanks. Julia made it,” she motioned to her friend.
Impressed by this discovery, Lau confirmed by asking Julia who was sitting closest to him, “You made that dress?”
Julia nodded proudly. He wasn’t her type at all but there was something incredibly charming about him that made her blush nonetheless.
“Well, then stand up and let me have a better look,” he threw out that request in such a casual tone that she actually stood up and turned around for him to observe Julia’s talented work.
Although his eyes never wanted to leave the dress, or rather the figure her body cut in that dress, he turned his gaze back to Julia to express his awe and appreciation. “So you’re a designer?”
“Yes,” she replied without hesitation. Just as Lo was lowering herself on the bar stool, he asked her what she did,
“Um, I’m a da—,” she began saying out of habit when Julia swooped in and completed her sentence.
“Doctor,” Julia interjected, “Lorra here is a doctor,” Lorra looked at her with a wide smile and equally wide eyes, sheltering a huge question mark, and doing a good job passing it off as a genuine smile. Pageant queens would have been proud. “Yeah, a physiotherapist to be exact. That’s why we’re here. There was a competition earlier on and she was here taking care of the injured dancers and stuff. We just met her here for drinks.” Julia continued blabbering on so naturally that Lo actually believed all the lies her friend had just shared. By then, both of the boys were giving them all of their attention, and Larry’s blonde friend had left.
“We were at that competition. If I knew you were the doctor, I would’ve gotten hurt on purpose,” Larry flirted. Lo really noticed him, his facial traits, similar to Laurent’s but very different. They were both attractive but Lau had lured her in the minute he set eyes on her. She’d noticed him on stage but now that the attention was being reciprocated, she felt her stomach tighten from nerves, and clench somewhere a little lower. This made her uncomfortable because she wanted so badly to remain cool and self-assured. Watching Dawn slip into her model persona and Julia embody her designer diva character, Lo just wanted to be the best doctor she possibly could yet her body had different intentions. Her thoughts ran far into the desert, where she couldn’t catch or tame them, or rein them in and try to talk some sense into them. They wanted to leave this world of dance she’d kept them caged in for what seemed like decades and act frivolous. Ironically, to get some sort of control and confidence back, she ordered a daiquiri with triple rum shots. Her friends had to stop the flow of conversation to look at her with a smile when she ordered a drink. Lo was finally letting loose.
An hour later, Dawn was engorged in conversation with Larry as Laurent and Lorra chatted away next to them. Julia was socializing with the Japanese girl group they had battled against during the semi-finals which was a little challenging at first since they didn’t know who she was without the mask and wondered why a strange girl had approached them. But Julia was gifted at talking her way in and out of anything and before long, she fit right in and they stopped wondering who she was and just enjoyed her entertaining company.
Laurent had finally managed to get Lorra comfortable around him and that was no easy task since he’d spent the better part of an hour bitching about his loss to those three mysterious, masked fiends. He wanted to know so badly who The Last Emperors were. Were they from France or from Japan? The article he read on the flight was pertaining to a French battle but then the way they’d managed to win over the crowd so quickly during the tournament led him to believe they had a heavy fan base here as well. Were they Asian guys? That would explain their average heights except for the rather tall one. Most importantly, he really wanted to know who the hell Shao Mein was. His flaws, his weaknesses, his signature moves, his major points and lowest lows. It was hard to beat someone that good without knowing anything at all about them. And it drove him insane to think that Shao Mein might be in this room, somewhere here, watching him, perhaps smirking about Lau’s loss. He could be anyone and Lau didn’t have the slightest clue where to look. That’s the part that bothered him most. Meeting someone who manages to beat him and not even knowing who it is. So that was the reason why even though every primal part of his body wanted to shred that red dress, his thoughts were simply elsewhere. What brought him back to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, listening intently to his concerns even though he was dashing them out like soliloquies, was catching a glimpse of his brother and Dawn leaving the bar together. They looked great together and his gaze followed their magnetic body language out of the door frame and into the lobby.
Lorra saw this and assumed Lau was checking out her friend. She was probably more his type. Who am I kidding? Dawn is everyone’s type. She felt all feelings of glory and confidence vanish with his disregard of her company. How could he be so obvious? And if he wanted Dawn so badly then why didn’t he make a move for her first? She felt like an idiot for actually thinking that wearing this dress, these shoes and extravagant makeup – another mask of some sort – would be enough to retain his attention. Her ego plummeted as she tried to refocus so she could ignore her burning eyes, trying to make way to tears. She’d spent an hour listening to him go on and on about her, without even knowing. Maybe he’d like me more if I just told him I was Shao Mein. Her inner thoughts shook their heads vehemently and she almost laughed at the fact that she was even considering that. But he was beautiful. Like every childhood crush she’d ever had multiplied by a thousand. Watching him speak was fascinating, so much so that she was certain if he ever entered politics, women would literally sit at home all day long and replay his speeches just to watch those lips part and come together over and over. His passion was contagious and a little alarming, completely contradictory to his smooth, warm and enticing voice. And watching his gaze escort her friend was the wake-up call she needed. This is why she avoided romance and all the crap it entailed most of the time. The dance floor was her territory. And after tonight, she’d have no qualms keeping it hers.
“I think I’m going to call it a night. I’m tired,” she grabbed her bag, ready to make her way back to the room.
“Oh. I’m talking too much about dance, right? If you stay, I promise I will stop,” he made a zipping motion across his lips, embarrassed that he’d bored the poor girl to death. She was a doctor; she already had to deal with sore losers with dance injuries. What made him think she’d be intrigued by his selfish choice of conversation?
“No, I just have to go. It was nice talking to you though,”she gave him a tight smile that came off as annoyed, although she was more annoyed at herself. “Good luck.” Her tone was challenging as she offered those wishes, almost scoffing silently as if it meant he was definitely going to need it.
“Wow. You are really mad. I’m sorry. It’s my fault. Can we start over?”
She pondered it over for a second, “Goodnight.” He stood up now along with her,
“Can I see you again?”
She winced, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Now he was confused. So he blabbed a bit – was that such a huge deal breaker? “I don’t understand. Why not? I like you.”
Shaking her head with understanding, she stressed the words, “No, you like Dawn.”
“Her?” He pointed over at Julia with a dumbfounded look on his face. She was a little taken back he didn’t remember her friend’s names.
“No. My other friend. I saw you staring at her when she left with your brother. I just wished you’d made it clear right off the bat.”
“What? No. Listen, I was looking at both of them, not just her,” She eyed him suspiciously; “I just thought they looked really nice together. Especially because she is almost his height in her tall shoes. They look like twins from the back. It’s like a story but it’s different in each person’s eyes.” Now, she was looking at him like his words were just beyond her. “Like, I see them and because I know them, I know they are not related. I know they’re flirting.. or whatever. But maybe someone else who might watch them would think something completely different. Make sense?”
“Um…sure but not really.”
He smiled, “Never mind. The sad part isn’t even that I wasn’t looking at her. The really sad part is that I wasn’t really looking at you. You are here with me but I just kept talking, talking about this battle. And you never stop me once. So you have to see me again, because you’re beautiful and it’s your turn to talk and for me to listen.”
A smile slipped on her face and she found herself blushing. Before she could reply, he grabbed her hand and said, “Let me walk you to your room.” She picked up her clutch and allowed him to lead her to the elevator.
When the elevator to the fifth floor dinged opened, he looked at her, waiting for her to exit first. Being in such close proximity in the elevator gave him a whiff of her body spray with hints of flavours he couldn’t figure out but mixed together captivated him. They arrived at her door and she invited him in to be polite. So it was to her surprise when he accepted her invitation and came in. He closed the door and when he turned around; she was watching him, heart throbbing against her organs in anticipation of all the things that could happen next. She felt robbed of a sense of ease since this was her room, but something about his presence in this instance was just unsettling. He walked up to her and gave her a big kiss on the cheek to break the ice – as soon as that was done; it was her that wanted more.
She raised her head to meet his lips and the moment they touched, all the sexual hunger she’d been driving into her art floated to the surface like unhealthy debris. His fingers skimmed the curves of her collarbone as he invested just as much in the kiss while her hands clasped the back of his t-shirt. His hands grabbed her ass as he slowly began rolling her dress upwards, stopping at her waist and returning to massage her glutes. Her butt was firm and round, toned but what impressed him most was that it was bare.
“I can’t believe I was talking all this time and you weren’t wearing underwear,” He wanted to sound surprised, taken back even, yet his voice came out low and teasing like she was about to get a surprise for the surprise he’d just gotten. She responded by letting out a gasp when his flingers caressed her moist thighs, making their way north to her most private place. He slid a finger in softly, pressing against her clit as he did so and she almost broke down.
“Undress me.” He asked of her and she took a moment to collect herself before stripping him of his shirt. He kicked his shoes off to help her get his jeans off as she lowered herself to her knees to tug them off. She looked up at him and that was all the inspiration he needed to grow harder, inviting her to remove his boxers as well. She placed her fingers inside the band of his boxers at the exact moment someone turned the doorknob.
Julia was at the door with her new Japanese friends and when she looked up from the lock to turn on the lights, was startled to find Lo on her knees with her dress rolled up and Laurent in nothing but his boxers and socks. Her mouth stayed in the O position as she slammed back the door, listening to her new acquaintances giggle like a bunch of tweens.