Sam was about to take her first sip when she noticed a pair of men’s shoes step up to her table. She lifted her eyes. He was ruggedly striking with wild curly hair and a dark beard. His shoes were Italian. He wore a gold chain that rested on his bare chest, his silk shirt unbuttoned to reveal a tuft of chest hair.
She looked up into his smiling eyes. He showed her his teeth that glistened under the disco lights and held out his hand to her. She took it without a second thought, and was on the floor before she’d had even a sip of her drink!
Samantha smiled at her luck because this man was leading her with simple aplomb and gentle nudges she hardly needed to follow. He was a master maneuvering her effortlessly across the floor. When he twirled her away and found her again; when he dipped her in his arms. And when the dance ended he’d arched her back, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
He said, “Please don’t go anywhere” and led her back to her table.
She perched on the chair looking around for her Caroline taking big gulps of a vodka collins then leaned back thinking of her dance partner. His foreign accent made Samantha think of her darling Jean Michel.
That’s why I’m attracted to him, and of course his smooth ability on the dance floor.
But she found other objections as well.
Men who dress flamboyantly don’t appeal to me.
But mainly her thoughts brought on that stabbing twinge of grief she’d avoided falling into on an otherwise inspiring evening that would probably lead to a deep cavern of more mourning than she could endure.
She spied her guy coming out of the lounge and turned her head away. But when he approached confidently he put out his hand and she slid naturally onto the floor. He pulled her toward him, focussed on her emerald eyes and laughed joyfully.
What does he have to be so happy about? Does he expect some equivalent response? No matter, I’m here to dance, to forget, nothing more.
He crushed her in his arms to How Deep is Your Love by the Bee Gees. A tear slid down Samantha’s cheek. She fought her grief, turning her face.
He pulled away and laughed, “Are you okay?”
“Sorry, I can’t.” She turned, slightly wobbly and strolled to the ladies room, head held high.
Entering the restroom Sam caught a flash of herself in the mirror. She’d forgotten she was wearing the dark wig. It was a startling image; black eye-makeup running she appeared like some banshee from hell. Samantha cleaned up her mascara with a tissue and tugged at the stupid wig to make sure it was secure. She smoothed the fabric of her red leotard. It was opaque and taught enough to support firm breasts, and so she felt confident going bra-less. She lifted her skirt to be sure the high-cut leotard was in place before she swam back into the crowded dark disco and found her sister Caroline seated at their table with a young man.
Caroline smiled, “Was that David Mancuso you were dancing with? He’s amazing”.
Sam sipped her drink, “No, of course not, but you’re right he is a good dance partner.”
Caroline lifted her eyebrows, then shifted her eyes signaling Samantha that her hunk was on his way back over.
He towered over Samantha and grinned.
“This is my sister, Caroline.”
“Ah, two beauties in one family!”
Caroline raised her hand to him, “And you are?”
His eyes crinkled at Samantha, “Armand” he smiled placing his fingers on Caroline’s palm.
The young man stood awkwardly, hand held out to Caroline who rose and waved at Samantha when he spun her onto the dance floor, her afro-style cloud of kinky black hair following her like a billowing storm that contrasted her pale milky skin. Caroline was breathtaking on the floor in her purple dress and gold platform sandals.
Armand placed his warm hand on the curve of Samantha’s lower back and guided her out to the red-carpeted lounge.
He leaned against the bar and ordered a tall glass of Perrier for her to sip while he stared at her chest. All men did that. She was used to it. He sidled closer and placed his left hand under her skirt, just running it up the back of her thigh to the line of the leotard. She eyed him carefully. He began to giggle like a kid who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. She slapped his hand. He smiled as he pulled it away.
She said, “I’m Samantha. Do you come here often?”
“Yes, he chuckled, and I’m Armand.”
“The owner is my good friend. I practically own the place.”
She gave him a skeptical eye and he laughed, “Honest, it’s true!” He giggled again when he began to slide his hand up her hip. She allowed it just to see how far he would go before she actually slapped his face which she would never do, but he didn’t know that.
Sam looked at him warningly. He responded with a sparkling grin which made her laugh, and laughing made her feel sad and guilty. She was sick of it.
She decided to stay in public for safety’s sake. She waved, “I’ll see you on the dance floor, Armand.”
Samantha actually smiled when Armand showed up at her table like a lost puppy, hand held out cautiously.
She didn’t slap it but stood, tugging his hand. She led him into the world that was her haven against depression. Samantha was aroused because the music was simple, clean disco, no lyrics, by Queen.
Armand was most graceful on the dance floor, and she, in her element, floated through space, and the two flawless dancers cast a spell over the room. The crowd fell away naturally while Armand and Samantha took over the floor. Sam wished she could fade away in this cloud of glory and applause as the song ended; when he dipped her and laughed gleefully.
A simple thing like joy seemed out of her reach, but she smiled, attempting a pitiful experiment. Laughter hadn’t been present in her repertoire lately. But Armand’s personal happiness seemed innate.
He was also very straight-forward and somewhat puzzling.
Armand seemed vulnerable somehow and so she grew to trust his intentions and appreciate his joy. It had been a long time since she had felt genuinely happy. But that wasn’t all. When she rose to take his hand his confident style claimed her body. She didn’t need to think, only to allow him to master her with his professional moves inviting an audience of cheering onlookers. She began to forgive him for not being Jean Michel.
Armand could never have passed anonymously through any door. Women lifted and screwed their heads to watch him walk across the floor as if he were a celebrity. And she was the lucky one. With relentless casual charm, he held her dangerously close while they danced to the final song “Last Dance” by Donna Summer and strolled off the floor with applause all around.
Sam paused at their table, but Caroline was not to be seen. Armand followed her and giggled like a girl when he pulled her to him, “Don’t go anywhere?”
She laughed, “I do have to go home.”
Armand walked her toward the lounge where Caroline was sitting at the bar conversing with her young man.
“I’ll walk you to your car”, he offered.
“It’s my sister’s car.”
Armand shook his head, “You’re a tough cookie” he laughed.
Samantha spoke to Caroline, “I’ll meet you at the car in a few minutes.” They had a pact, and stuck to it. She turned and strolled outside with Armand.
To be continued: Armand Part II
“I had this idiotic feeling of superiority because I was the professional, which gave me license to show everything like they do in the movies, right? I’d been modeling clothing as a dancer for Cy Amber of Hollywood at the Daisy. I gave up my modeling career and sadly my personal career goals to live close to my children after the divorce.”