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Wedding Bells Are Ringing

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Back in the business center,  Kim and Kelly D. were having their time together - kissing and embracing. After they had their moment of intimacy, Kim had a word with Kelly.

“Kel, you know you can’t stay here forever?”

“Yeah, I know, but I just don’t wanna see any of them, especially Kelly!”

“I know, but you gotta eat and sleep. Neither of which you can do here.”

Kelly sulked a bit before realizing that Kim was right. “Yeah, I getcha… So? I guess I have to face the lions, huh?”

Kim chuckled. “The lion is actually you!” She pointed, as she laughed at Kelly. Kelly couldn’t help but to laugh as well.

“Yeah, but still, I can’t believe what they did ta me…”

That made Kim bring something up that had been on her mind. “Ummm, Kel…”

“Yeah?”

“Were you abusive to the other Kelly when you two were together?” Kim asked with some trepidation in her voice. She really didn’t know how their relationship would be affected after she asked that question, fearing Kelly’s reaction. Considering her experience with domestic abuse, she didn’t know if she could forgive Kelly’s possible physical violence.

The redhead rolled her eyes. “Did she tell you that?”

“Yeah. She hinted that you have done worse damage to her in the past and that the injuries you inflicted to her earlier in the kitchen was nothing in comparison.”

Before Kelly could answer, she saw Jo and Blair coming to the business center with anger in their eyes.

Kelly rolled her eyes again and said, “Oh, shit…”

“What is it, Kelly?”

Kelly pointed to in the direction of the angry couple. “Jo an’ Blair are comin’, and they don’t look happy at all. I guess they found sumthin’ else to rip my ass into.”

Kim turned around and saw the pair stomping toward the room.

When they arrived, Jo opened the door, and immediately said to Kelly, “Okay, you have a lot of explainin’ to do about you and brunette Kelly, and it ain’t about what happened earlier.” Jo had an authoritative look on her face, with her arms folded across her chest and her eyebrows furrowed.

Kelly knew exactly what Jo was referring to and said, “I bet she made it sound a bit one-sided, huh?”

Jo looked at her differently, yet with arms still folded, and said, “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean she made it sound like I was always the abuser in our relationship, didn’t she?”

“Of course. The proof was all over her arms, Kel. You can’t go hittin’ people like that.”

Kelly shot Jo a doubtful glare and responded, “Oh, don’t be playin’ little miss innocent, queen of the Young Diablos. It’s not like you haven’t busted some heads in your time, Jo.”

Jo replied back in an exasperated fashion, with her arms showing how exasperated she was. “Yeah, but nevah in a relationship. Kel, there are some things you just don’t do.”

“Right, and she made me out to be a villain and made sure you knew about our past domestic violence. That manipulative bitch...”  Kelly muttered, the last sentence in a low growl.

“Yeah, but she didn’t want to talk about it anymore,” Jo said angrily. “I know battered people are too scared to talk about the punishment they go through from people who are supposed to love them. Remember, I have training in counseling and training in domestic violence and abuse.”

Kelly shouted back, “But despite all your goody goody education and your training at the academy, you still can’t read all situations like you think you can, Jo.”

“Whatcha mean?” asked Jo with a confused look on her face. Blair and Kim just looked on as the two friends went at it.

Kelly steamed up a bit, then let out a slow huff to calm herself down. “There’s a reason why Kelly didn’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“Why’s that, Kelly?” Kim asked as she gently placed a hand on Kelly’s shoulder.

Kelly rolled up the left sleeve of her shirt and revealed a long knife wound that travelled from her forearm to her shoulder.

“Memba when I told ya when you first saw this that a woman gave it ta me, but I refused to tell you her name?”

“Yeah,” replied Jo as she raised her eyebrow.

“Well, guess who gave it ta me? Just guess.”

“Oh, shit…” Jo shouted as realization hit her. Kim and Blair were as equally shocked. Blair knew that Kelly A. was a troublemaker, but she didn’t realize how far she would go.

“Yeah. And it was because I told her that she was a thievin’, lyin’ whore! She didn’t like it, so the bitch cut me!”

Jo and Blair looked at each other, realizing that this wasn’t as clear-cut as they were expecting. Kim was just speechless.

“What made you call her that?” Blair asked.

“Does it really matter, Blair?” Jo asked. Blair just looked at Jo back, not saying a word.

“Yeah, that’s trivial at this point, Blair,” Kim added.

“Exactly, Jo. It doesn’t really mattah! But since Blair asked, I’ll tell her. One night I went ta bed with a thousand bucks in my wallet, but when I woke up the next mornin’ it was gone. I didn’t wanna go accusin’ anyone, but there was only two people who coulda taken it.”

“You mean . . .” began Kim.

“Well, I had my suspicions, but I couldn’t prove it. Besides, maybe I did misplace it. Anyway, Kelly had left, sayin’ that she had to go run a few errands for me.”

“You mean that brunette Kelly helped you out in your business?” Blair asked in shock. “She never told me that.”

“I’m not surprised,” Jo said plainly.

“Hell, yeah! She helped me collect from my workers,” Kelly said referring to the dealers under her. “She’s just lucky that I didn’t snitch on her!”

Blair was shocked to hear that, and Kelly looked at her in amazement at her naivete.

“Ah, come on Blair, don’t be so fuckin’ naive. Don’t you realize that Kelly is a street hoodlum to da bone? Don’t let her current taste in bad clothin’ fool ya!”

Jo just nodded in agreement with her redheaded friend. Blair had to face the facts on this one.

“You’re right. It should not surprise me,” Blair said with a disappointed tone, agreeing with Kelly.

“So, yeah. Anyway, when Kelly got back I asked her about the dough. She told me I was just bein’ a blamin’ bitch and that I should mind my own fuckin’ business and not go givnin’ her the third degree. So, I confronted her about her thievin’ past and she called me a paranoid ho who just blames everyone for everything. That’s when I called her a thievin’, lyin’ whore and she carved me up like a Thanksgivin’ turkey.”

“Wow,” exclaimed Kim.

“An this ain’t the only time she done shit like this to me. She has punched me, kicked me, even thrown a brick at me!” Kelly said with a serious look on her face.

“Damn, Kel, I had no idea,” replied Jo as she shook her head. “Why didn’t ya ever tell me?”

“Yeah, like anyone would take my word ovah hers. Jo, I know you don’t like her, but Blair here does and I know you’d side with Blondie here over me.”

Jo felt bad about what Kelly said. “It doesn’t matter, Kel, we’re supposed to be friends.”

“Probably not to you guys, since I’m just a drug-dealin’, foul-mouth, street hoodlum rat,” she spouted, emphasizing every word.

“It sure the hell does matter, Kel,” interrupted Kim. “And you’re not a street hoodlum rat, so stop calling yourself that!” Kim paused for a bit, then continued. “Look, I’ve been in an abusive relationship before, and I know what it’s like.”

“Really?” Kelly said with surprise.

“Yeah. My ex husband used to do terrible stuff to me like beat me up, kick me down the steps, and stuff like that. In fact, he hit me so hard one time, I lost my hearing in my left ear for a few days.”  Everybody in the room was surprised by her revelation.

“Jesus, Kim,” Blair said.

“I know, Blair. And those incidents happened when he was stone-cold sober. It was worse when he was drunk or high.”

“Gee, Kim. I’m sorry to hear that,” commented Kelly as she placed a hand on Kim’s shoulder. “You don’t deserve that.”

“No one deserves that, Kelly,” replied Kim with a slight sniff. “I never reached out for help either, Kelly, but I also never fought back. Your situation was not one-sided like mine, but that does not give you both the right to continue abusing each other. It also doesn’t mean you should have taken the abuse and suffered in silence either.”

“And you think anyone seriously would have taken my side?” Kelly asked. “I mean, what’s a hoodlum’s word worth anyway, right?”

“Kel, I have taken your side before. Remember at the rehearsal? And don’t forget that I have helped you outta many jams in the past. So, why wouldn’t I have helped you back then?” Jo reminded her.

Kelly thought about it for a bit before acknowledging that Jo was right. She wanted to kick herself for being so blind in anger at her best friend. “You’re right. You woulda helped me.”

“And, sure we would have helped the other Kelly too,” Blair said matter-of-factly. “You both needed help. It was a toxic relationship all around and, honestly, it’s great that you both got out of it before it spiraled out of control.”

“You’re right, Blair,” Kelly said. “But there’s nothing that can be done now. The damage is long done.”

“Maybe, but I think if you two apologize to each other, at least that can heal some wounds and give you a sense of closure. At the very least, it can eliminate some of the animosity you two have with each other,” Blair said. Then she thought of something. “If you don’t mind, I can arrange a time for the both of you to apologize either later today or tomorrow, if that would be okay for you?”

Kelly thought about it for a bit, before saying, “Sure, Blair. I’m okay wit’ it. I just hope Kelly is.”

“Trust me, let me work my magic, and she will comply,” Blair smiled.

Jo was smiling. “Well, I’m glad to see some progress on this.”

“Same here,” smiled Kim.

“You’re right, Jo. I’m happy this has somewhat of a good ending, and speaking of apologies…” Blair decided it was time to change the subject. “This may come as a surprise to you, Kelly, but we also came here to apologize to you for not telling you that the other Kelly, Yvonne, and Kim was here.”

Both Kelly and Kim looked at each other in astonishment. There would be a better chance of seeing snow in the middle of the Sahara Desert than hearing Blair apologize to the same person twice in the same week.

“Did I just her Blair apologizing to me... again?” Kelly asked in awe.

“Did I just see that?” Kim replied in the same astonishment. “Is the world really turning upside-down?”

“Who would have thought this day would ever happen?” Kelly said to Kim. Jo couldn’t help but snicker.

“Okay, okay, Kelly! Don’t make it sound like it’s something earth-shattering. I can be humble!” Blair spat in frustration.

The three other women in the room laughed.

“Now that’s funny!” said Kim.

Blair was feeling a bit hurt, and Jo saw that, so she told the others to stop laughing.

“Hey, you two, chill out okay. I think we’ve upset Blair enough.” Jo said, while trying her best to stifle her laugh.

They both stopped, knowing it would be best for the both of them to listen to Jo, and Kelly said, “Apologies accepted, but that doesn’t excuse you for not telling me about their presence beforehand.”

“Yeah, Blair. You should have told her, like you should have told us that Kelly was coming with Jo.” Kim said. “Though most of us suspected that, but still. It wouldn’t hurt to give us a heads-up.”

Blair hung her head low. She just wanted to go back in time and redo the whole Kelly Donovan mistake. Jo was there to comfort her.

“Blair, what’s done is done. The more you mope about it, the worse it’s gonna get.”

“Yes. Let’s just learn our lessons and move on, making sure we don’t make the same mistake again,” Kim declared.

“I agree,” Jo added. “Speakin’ of movin’ on, let’s go downstairs and have some fun!”

Everybody agreed to it and they left the business center, happier than they were before entering it.

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Jo, Blair, Kim, and Kelly met with Cindy, Sue Ann, Geri, Nancy, and Yvonne in the entertainment center. Kim, along with Blair and Jo, were able to persuade the rest of the group that Kelly was okay, though there was still some weariness towards her. Nevertheless, none of them let it dampen the mood.

“This place is awesome,” Kim said to Jo.

“Thanks. The entertainment center was my idea and design,” Jo said with a beaming smile.

“So, Blair did let you decide on something for once?” Cindy said.

“Yeah, because she had no clue how to set one up, though the stage and karaoke bar was her idea. Oh, and the exercise room and pool downstairs was my idea as well. I told her I needed somewhere to work out and stay in shape.”

Blair simply shrugged. “I knew those things were out of my element. Plus, I like to work out as well, so I didn’t object to having an exercise room.”

“Blair doesn’t mind sweating?” asked Sue Ann in mocked shock as she brought her hand to her chest.

“Let alone doing anything physical that might damage her nails,” Nancy joked.

Cindy smiled at her partner, while trying to keep her laughter at bay.

Blair glared at Sue Ann and replied, “I don’t sweat . . . “

“You glisten,” everyone finished, laughing.

Jo shot Blair a smile, remembering their high school days when Blair wouldn’t engage in anything so strenuous as exercise.

“Besides,” continued Blair without missing a beat, “if I did damage my nails, I have the best manicurists money could buy to fix them right up,” she finished with a snap.

“Well,” broke in Cindy, “I’m just glad there is one. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get in my morning exercise while I was here. The only way this place could be more awesome was if there was like a basketball court or something like that,” Cindy replied.

Jo chuckled first then smiled. “There is one actually.”

“WHAT!” everyone said in unison except Blair.

“That can’t be true!” Sue Ann exclaimed. “This is like straight out of a movie!”

“Get real!” Kelly said.

“I’m not lyin’ to you folks,” Jo said.

“How come you didn’t tell us about this the last time we were here?” Yvonne asked Jo.

“It was still under construction.”

“Oh,” was all that Yvonne could say.

Still, Jo saw doubtful looks on the group’s faces, so she said, “Don’t believe me? Let me show you.”

Jo walked to the left end of the entertainment center where there was a regular door. Jo pulled out her keys and opened the door. When opened, there was a small hallway with a door to the end. Half of the group followed with Jo to the hallway up to the door. Blair, Geri, and Nancy decided to stay back.

Jo opened the door and the minute the group laid eyes on the basketball court, what they saw amazed them. It was only half-court, but it was of NBA regulation size.

“Jesus, Jo,” exclaimed Cindy as she looked around the court, impressed by what she saw. “I know where I want to be if this country was threatened to be nuked!”

“Yeah, and that’s a huge possibility with Putin still around,” Sue Ann replied with a hint of dismay.

Yvonne looked on in amazement. “I remember when this was just a small empty spot. At the time it was going to be Jo’s personal room.. It didn’t seem possible to make much out of that blank canvas, but all I have to say now is ‘wow!’”

Jo grinned. “Yeah, it was my own pet project. I made sure that I saw over the work and made sure it was getting done without any of Blair’s meddling interference.”

“Yeah, that can be a good thing,” Kelly said, as everybody, including Jo nodded in agreement.

As the group was checking out the court, Kelly got an idea that she hoped would help her bond with the group.

“Hey, let’s get a team together,” Kelly suggested.

“Cool, I’ll have Yvonne on my team,” Jo said.

“You’re goin’ to take Fifi? She probably don’t even know how to dribble the ball.” Kelly laughed, with some joining her. Yvonne just kept quiet.

Jo just smiled. “Fine then, I’ll take Kimberly, and you can join the Blonde Duo there.”

“Cool,” said Cindy.

After the team was selected, the women went to change their clothes and came back to the court.

Since this was home court, Jo’s team got the ball. As soon as Jo passed the ball to Yvonne, Kelly trash talked her.

“Whatcha gonna do Frenchie, try to kick the ball into the basket? This ain’t soccer, Zidane!”

Yvonne just looked at her with mild amusement and smirked back, “No, but I’ll do this instead.”

She crossed Kelly up, making her fall on her butt in the process (or as they would say in the playgrounds, Yvonne broke Kelly’s ankles). Then she drove to the basket, but Cindy was there to attempt to block it. However, Yvonne quickly did the Eurostep and laid it in the basket. Needless to say, everybody but Jo was shocked to see how well Yvonne played.

On the next possession, Jo passed the ball to Kimberly, who then passed the ball to an open Yvonne who was behind the 3-point line. She shot it and it was nothing but net.

“Damn. Frenchie got mad skills!” Kelly said.

C’est vrai , Mick!”

“Huh?”

“I said, ‘That’s right, Mick!’”

“Don’t call me that!” Kelly spat.

“Then don’t call me Frenchie or Fifi. My name is Yvonne!” she spat back.

The game was never close, as Kim was proven to be good at stealing the ball and passing, while Yvonne was just too good overall.

The score was 20-4, with Jo’s team crushing Kelly’s, thanks to Yvonne’s skills and Kimberly’s ability to steal the ball.

Cindy, Sue Ann, and Kelly were tired and defeated.

“I can’t believe that Ms. Grey Poupon here kicked our butts!” Kelly said, referring to Yvonne with a motion of her head.

“It’s Yvonne, Ms. Guinness.”

“Hey, Kel. Looks like Yvonne’s gonna trade ya wisecrack for wisecrack,” chuckled Jo. Everyone else just laughed at the banter between the former NY daredevil and the French badass that they all came to see in Yvonne.

“It’s all good. I don’t mind being called Ms. Guiness anyway. It’s not a bad beer,” Kelly said smiling.

“Ugh. The beer taste horrible. Though I did have guinness ice cream before and it’s good,” Yvonne commented.

“Whoa, wait a minute, there’s an ice cream made from guinness beer?” Sue Ann asked with a sour look on her face.

Oui . It’s popular in Jamaica. Geri and I had it while on our trip to Montego Bay.”

“Hold on, you went to Jamaica and you didn’t get lynched?” Kelly asked. “I always wanted to go to Jamaica, because I love reggae and dancehall, but I was always afraid to go there . . . for obvious reasons... After all, I knew a few Jamaicans, and they’re crazy!”

“Are you sure it wasn’t for the ‘greenery’?” Jo slyly hinted. The rest of the group laughed.

“Well, yeah, that too,” Kelly replied with her cheeks turning red.

“Montego Bay is actually pretty gay friendly. The rest of Jamaica . . . not so much,” Yvonne commented. “We had to be very careful there.”

“Oh I see.” Kelly said. “Well, I’ll just wait until things get better down there.”

“So, Where did you learn to play ball like that, Yvonne?” Cindy asked.

“Oh, I played professional for three years during the early 90s in Europe. Mostly in France, Spain and Italy.”

“Were you ever like an all-star?”

Yvonne shook her head while answering. “Nah. I was basically a role-player. I started a few games when the starter was hurt, but I was never considered an all-star.”

“So, did you stop singing to play pro ball?” Sue Ann asked.

“Only during the season. On the off-season I went back to singing.”

“Then what made you stop playing?” Sue Ann continued asked.

“I ruptured my left achilles tendon. I wasn’t the same after that.”

Everybody cringed when she said that, replying with “ooh…” and “ouch!”

“Oui.” she responded. “I was on crutches for a while.”

“Well, next time we play 3-on-3, we’re gonna take Yvonne!” Cindy proclaimed. Everybody laughed. Yvonne just had a bright smile on her face.

They left the court and went to the locker room to change and take showers.

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Later on in the day, some of the group decided to go to the entertainment center.

“Ooh, a stage!’ Tootie exclaimed as she saw the setup for karaoke.

“Brings back memories, huh?” Nancy recalled.

“Oh yeah, that karaoke place we went to back in 86.”

“Yeah, it was totally a trip. I remember always picking that one song . . . and slaying it.” Tootie smiled.

“Well, guess what? I have that song,” Blair said.

Tootie quickly got excited when she heard that. “Really?”

“Yep.” Blair grinned.

However there was one problem... “Umm, I don’t exactly remember all the lyrics, Blair. It’s been a while, after all. I may be a little rusty.”

“Don’t worry. The lyrics will appear on the screen for you. Just wait until it comes down.”

Blair pushed a button on the control deck next to the stage. A 30-inch widescreen TV came down from the ceiling.

Tootie was amazed at how well the place was set up. She looked at Blair and said, “That’s so cool!”

“Yeah, thank Tracy for building it. She’s the mechanical genius around here.”

Tootie got on stage and Blair typed in the song’s name on the screen. She selected it with the lyrics option check out and started on the music. It was Whitney Houston’s first solo single, “You Give Good Love.”

Instantly in many people’s minds who were there at the time, it took them back to the time they visited one of the first karaoke bars in New York City...

(Flashback to 1986)

It was yet another night hanging out in East Village. It was Blair, Jo, Natalie, Tootie, Cindy, Sue Ann, Molly, and Nancy hanging out together. While they were walking down the street, they noticed a place with a weird name: Karaoke Klub.

“Ka-ro-kee? Ka-ra-oak? How the hell do we say this name?” Cindy asked.

“I dunno, but it seems interesting. Let’s check it out!” said the adventurous Natalie.

“You sure?” Nancy asked.

“I’m sure,” replied Natalie. “Besides, the night is still young and we might meet some available bachelors.”

“Maybe it’s a new form of self-defense like karate. I think it could be fun,” said Jo who secretly knew something about martial arts.

They all agreed to go in. Upon entering, they saw a middle-aged Asian woman sitting behind a podium.

“Welcome to NYC Karaoke, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” said the woman. Her accent was clearly Japanese.

“What is this ka-ro-kee place?” Jo asked. “Some sort of dojo where we can mix it up a little,” she inquired while punching the air. Some of the people in the group were laughing.

“It’s Ka-ra-o-kee,” she said correcting the pronunciation. “It’s where you get to sing over a song with just the instrumentals. Think of it as a modern version of the player piano. Instead of a piano, it’s a portable stereo with two tape decks and a microphone.”

“That sounds interesting,” Molly said.

“I say we check it out. We have nothing to lose,” piped in Tootie who was always ready for the spotlight.

“Great. We have a stage over there.” The hostess said as she pointed to the stage on her right.

They looked at the stage and it looked ordinary. Just a small stage with a microphone. The seating area was not much bigger. There were around eight small table, with two taken.

There, they saw a guy singing to the tune of the Romantics “What I Like About You” way off-key.

The gang took sat at two tables, with Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie at one table, and Cindy, Sue Ann, Nancy, and Molly at another.

“Oh, my God, this guy is terrible!” Blair shouted as she made a sour face.

“Yeah, someone call the music police because this man is murdering that poor, defenseless song,” joked Natalie as she plugged her ears with her fingers.

“Heck, my pop sings better than that in the shower!” Jo joked. She spotted the waiter who was nearby and then asked him, “Why is the guy allowed to sing?”

“Oh, this is a karaoke bar, and karaoke is when a person sings over recorded music. So anybody is allowed to sing, as long as each one of you order two drinks minimum.”

“Is that part of karaoke? The two drink minimum?” Cindy asked.

“No, that’s just house rules,” the man replied.

“Guess you gotta make your money somehow,” Jo justified, “cuz it sure ain’t the entertainment.”

“Plus, some people may need to drink before going up there and making a fool of themselves,” added Molly.

“I guess some people would need the liquid courage or at least something to help them forget afterwards,” chimed in Cindy.

As they were watching the man’s performance, Tootie was very unimpressed.

“I can sing way better than that!” Tootie boasted.

“Oh, yeah?” Sue Ann said. “I doubt that.”

“Are you questioning my singing skills?”

“Yep.”

“I bet you $10, I’ll get people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles.”

Sue Ann grinned. “You’re on!”

The waiter overheard her and said to Tootie, “If you want to sing right after the guy, just stand right next to the stage.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I think he’s only gonna do one song.”

“Thanks.”

Tootie quickly got up and waited near the stage. After the guy was done, Tootie was ready to get on stage.

When Tootie got on stage, there was a book of songs to look through, and it had the available songs listed in alphabetical order. She looked through the book and saw Whitney Houston’s “You Give Good Love.”

“Hey, you got this one?” she pointed it out in the book to the waiter.

“Sure. It’s rather popular.”

The guy went out to get the cassette tape. He put it in and then asked Tootie, “Do you need a lyrics sheet for the song?”

Tootie shook her head. “No, I know the song by heart.”

“Alright then. Get yourself ready.”

Then he hit play, and the song began.

The synthesizers came, and after the intro, it was Tootie’s turn to sing:

I found out what I've been missing
Always on the run
I've been looking for someone

Now you're here like you've been before
And you know just what I need
It took some time for me to see

Just as the bridge was about to start Cindy decided to do something - she grabbed Sue Ann and started to dance with her like a couple would. Some of the customers were shocked to see two girls dancing together.

Blair and Jo was shocked at their bold behavior at first, but then they decided to join along, so they got up and danced as Tootie was singing:

That you give good love to me, baby
So good, take this heart of mine into your hands
You give good love to me
It's never too much
Baby, you give good love

At this time, some of the patrons left, while others complained to the owner about what was going on. The owner told them that the group was fine and if they didn’t like it, they could just leave. Besides, it was just a couple of friends out having a good time, so no harm done.

Tootie noticed the people complaining and leaving, but she kept on singing.

Everybody who remained cheered at Tootie’s singing and clapped. Tootie won the bet.

She bowed and said a lot thank yous before she left the stage and told Sue Ann, “Pay up, you lost the bet.”

“Oh, alright, here you go.”

She handed the $10 bill to Tootie and someone shouted, “Encore. Encore”

“Go ahead and get back up there,” the waiter said. “I’ll exempt you from the two drink minimum.”

Tootie got back up on stage and instead of singing the same song, she decided to sing another Whitney Houston song - “Saving All My Love For You.”

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As Tootie was singing the song, Cindy and Sue Ann were slow-dancing to the tune like they were 25 years earlier, as well as Jo and Blair. This time, however, Kim and Kelly joined in on the act, as well as Yvonne and Geri. Yvonne carefully guided Geri who was not usually one to dance, but she felt comfortable doing so her. Heck, even Molly and Nancy got in on the act, as they got up and danced together. That got some chuckles from Nancy’s kids and everybody else who was watching.

“Hey, you two planning to switch teams and join the club?” Cindy cracked. The new “couple” just laughed it off.

Mrs. Garrett-Gaines and Beverly Ann were watching with delight, seeing the girls they helped raise acting peaceful. They were even proud that Kelly D. was not in rage mode. She was basically leaning her head on top of Kimberly’s as they were dancing to the music, considering she was the taller of the two.

As Tootie finished up the song, everybody applauded.

“You still haven’t lost it,” said her best pal, Natalie.

“Thanks, I didn’t know how I’d do since I totally forgot the lyrics.”

“Well, you still did good. That’s all that matters.” Jo smiled. “It brought us back to that day we went to thak karaoke bar in midtown.”

“That was like 25 years ago, right?” Cindy asked.

“Yeah. I can’t believe it was that long ago,” Jo replied.

“Didn’t ya drive half the customers away because you two were dancin’?” Kelly asked without a serious face as she was pointing at the two lesbians before she laughed.

“Yeah, I wish I was there to see it,” Kim said as she giggled along with Kelly.

“Unfortunately, some people were small-minded and left, but we were just lost in the music, and ourselves,” she said as she smiled at Jo. “Yeah, I’m sure it sure the hell surprised many of them, but who cares?” she added.

“I know the waiter and lady told them to leave us alone when they complained because we were ‘just a couple of young friends who were out for a good time.’ Whether they knew the truth or not, it was nice that the owners of a place didn’t kick us all out for giving the place a bad name,” proclaimed Molly with a smile on her face.

“But I gotta admit, it was fun watching some of those narrow minded people being shocked,” Sue Ann joked and Cindy laughed with her.

Then Natalie screamed, “Encore!”

“Yeah, another encore, will ya?” Kelly D. cheered. Then others joined in.

“Okay, okay.” Tootie grabbed the mic from the stand and looked at Blair. “Hit it, Blair!”

Blair nodded and she started the song again…

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After the song was done, Tootie was a bit tired, so she asked, “So, who’s gonna sing next.”

Nobody said a thing for a bit, so Geri tried to edge Yvonne into singing.

“Come on, Yvonne, go ahead,” she whispered to her partner.

“Sure?” said Yvonne.

“Very sure. French or American?”

“American, the last time we were here, she didn’t have many French songs. Besides, since we are in an 80s R&B mood, I do want to do a song from the same genre.”

Geri smiled. “You mean that song?”

“Yeah, mon trésor .”

“Well, then, go right ahead.”

She quickly gave a peck on Geri’s left cheek and then approached Blair.

“Hey do you have this song?”

“What song?”

Yvonne told it to her and Blair nodded. Immediately, Yvonne got on stage as Blair was getting the song ready.

“So what are you singing, Yvonne?” Jo asked.

“The Jets - You Got It All.”

As soon as she said that, the the slick and polished mid-80s synthesized sound came out.

I, I was the game he would play
He brought the clouds to my day
Then like a ray of light
You came my way one night...

All the couples in the room grabbed a partner and started slow dancing, except Geri, who was watching her lover singing one of their favorite songs. Then Tootie came up to her and offer her a dance.

“Care to dance, ma’am,” Tootie asked, trying to sound like a gentleman.

Geri smiled, “Sure.”

Then they started to dance. Yvonne noticed and nearly flubbed on the song because she was about to laugh.

When the song got done, every clapped and cheered.

“Bravo, Yvonne,” Blair said as she got back to the panel.

“Thanks Blair. Hey, I wanna sing another song. It’s a song by a fellow Southern Frenchman, named Charles Trenet.”

“Let me guess, La Mer ?”

“Oui, but most Americans know it as ‘Beyond the Sea’ , done by Bobby Darin, but trust me, his version is better.”

“I don’t think Blair has the song. She said she didn’t last time,” Geri said.

“I do now,” Blair replied with a smile.

“Great! Whenever I get homesick, I sing this song. It brings me memories of Marseille.”

As soon as Blair pulled up the song and hit the button, she started to dance with the song.

La mer
qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
a des reflets d'argent,
la mer,
des reflets changeants
sous la pluie.

(The sea,
We see dancing along the shores of clear bays,
Shimmers with silver
The sea
Changing shimmers
Under the rain)

Even though only 3 or 4 people in the room understood what she sang, everyone clapped at the end.

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While the other women were still doing karaoke, Mrs. G. found the perfect time to approach Blair, as she was sitting by herself. Jo had taken over the control panel.

“Blair, we need to talk,” the older woman said in a serious tone.

Blair knew why Mrs. G. wanted to have a word with her, thanks to Jo’s earlier warning, but she wasn’t looking forward to it. Granted, Mrs. G. was pretty much always fair in her lectures and treated the girls like equals, she never liked feeling like she had disappointed her mentor. Despite her reservations, she complied.

They left the entertainment area and went upstairs to the business area. They went to one of the smaller conference rooms, and Mrs. G. had her word with the heiress.

“Blair, I am VERY disappointed in you. Your actions against Kelly D. was beyond deplorable and I expect much better from you.” Mrs. G. scolded her in a normal tone, but was sure to emphasize the word very .

“My actions?” Blair asked, since Mrs. G. hinted that there was more than one bad act.

“Yes, actions. From the way you carried yourself at the rehearsal, to you attacking her in the mall, to not telling her about the other Kelly being here. These actions are reprehensible and I know that I brought you up better than that. At least, I thought I raised a responsible young woman with a strong moral foundation.”

For once, Blair was completely speechless. She had no answer for Mrs. G. who was 100% right on everything she was saying to Blair. All Blair could do was just stand there and listen.

“And you didn’t tell her about Kim or Yvonne either. Your actions this past week have been unsatisfactory. Now, I don’t justify Jo’s actions for running away, but with the way you’ve been acting, I have to say that you pretty much scared her off, Blair.”

“I know. I know,” Blair blurted out as she tightly hugged herself.

“And of course, let’s not forget the last minute change in the wedding,” continued Mrs. Garrett as if she didn’t even here Blair’s exclamation. “I know you have always been pretty impulsive when it came to certain things, but to do that to Jo and everyone else who was willing to participate is just plain wrong. You slipped by with it when you were younger, but Blair, you’re in your 40s now, not your teens. You have to change your ways.”

“Yeah, Jo and I talked about that a while ago,” Blair said as she slowly shook her head in agreement. She paused a bit before continuing, thinking over a lot of things. “She addressed my issue of making sporadic decisions, and I addressed her issue of always running away.”

Mrs. G. had a small smile on her face, but revealed why she couldn’t fully smile to what Blair told her. “Well, it’s a start, along with you offering the rest of us a place to hide, but you have to do more than that.” Mrs. G. paused for a bit and took a deep breath before continuing. “And I’m afraid to tell you that it won’t be a quick fix. You have done this so often that people expect nothing else but this behavior from you. You may not be as quick tempered as Jo, but your temper can be just as vicious. Just ask Kelly.”

“Yeah, but -” began the blonde.

“Yes, I have the feeling that I already know what you are going to say. From what Jo told me yesterday, I know about what Kelly did to Dina, and you have every right to be angry about that. However, attacking her, setting her up for an emotional confrontation, and belittling her every chance you get is just wrong. Kelly did her best to rectify the situation, after all. She did pay for Dina’s rehab before she was arrested, and she did visit her at the institution when she got out. Also, I know that Kelly tried to punch you at Jo’s 40th birthday party, but I also know that you provoked it by insulting her.”

Blair couldn’t look up as she was really feeling ashamed of her actions.

“See, your actions against Kelly was uncalled for too. So as I see it, you are even with Kelly now, so please, let it go between you.”

“That’s a lot to ask for Mrs. G.” replied Blair as she looked up to meet the older woman’s eyes.

“I’m not asking you two to become best friends or anything. Just coexist without baiting each other.”

“I guess I can at least do that.”

The older woman wasn’t going to let her off that easily. “Blair, a lot of people were hurt by your actions, and that’s not going to be remedied in a day. You will have to change how you treat people and respect their time as well. That’s going to take months, maybe even years.”

Blair couldn’t say anything to refute her because Mrs. G. was right, as usual. So instead she quietly agreed.

“You’re right, Mrs. G.”

Mrs. G. saw how sad and depressed Blair was getting, so she told her, “Look, moping about it will do you no good. It won’t fix the situation, nor will it make your life or any of the people around you better. Start by respecting Kelly, and take other people’s time into consideration, then build upon that. The worse you can do is to not try, and I sure as heck didn’t raise you to be a quitter.”

Blair then finally looked at Mrs. G. and drew a small smile. “No you didn’t. Not at all.”

“Good, because the Blair that I know is not a quitter. Now, let’s join the rest of the group and enjoy our time here. Heck, I feel inspired to sing a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I know I sound nothing like Aretha, but who cares?”

Blair smiled. “I may even join you,” she said as Mrs. G. put her arm around her girl and they walked back to the entertainment center to continue on with the karaoke.

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It was late at night, and mostly everyone were in their bedrooms. However, for the most part, the couples weren’t doing any sleeping, especially Jo and Blair.

As they were in their master bedroom, Blair was wearing her Japanese silk robe, with nothing underneath. She was on her tablet, reading an article at Vanity Fair’s website. Jo was wearing a blue cotton bathroom robe with nothing underneath, she just came out of their bathroom, finishing brushing her teeth. They both knew exactly what the other had in mind.

“Well, I’m glad things turned out peaceful at the end of the day, anyway,” Blair said.

“Same here,” Jo replied.

Jo got in between the sheets, joining Blair.

“I just talked to Affinado, and she agreed to the truce.”

Jo let out a sigh of relief. “That’s good. So, we are going to have them agree to it tomorrow?”

“Yes. I want them to at least be peaceful while they’re here,” Blair said. “I don’t think they’ll ever fully forgive each other, but agreeing not to make waves is at least a start.”

“I agree 100%, Blair. Some people will never fully get along. As long as they don’t try to destroy each other like they did earlier today, well, that’s good enough for me.”

“Also, I was thinking, and of course it’s only if you are okay with this, but maybe we should have Geri and Yvonne as one of mine and yours bridesmaids respectively?”

Jo shrugged. “Why not? We’re going to redo the rehearsal right?”

“Yeah.”

“So, let’s tell them tomorrow and see if they are okay with it.” Jo paused a minute and then asked, “But if Geri’s not going to be the MC, who will?”

“I can make a few calls and contact a professional who can to it,” replied Blair with a quick flip of her hair.

Jo chuckled. “I can always call Flyman and . . .”

“I am NOT going to have someone named Flyman MCing my wedding rehearsal” interrupted Blair.

“Blair,” Jo glared at the blonde, “you’re not taking my suggestions into account again.”

“Well, I just don’t want him to upstage me. Besides,” she said as she snuggled up to Jo, “he tried to woo you away from me.”

Jo smiled at Blair. “We could always ask Tootie to contact Jermaine Jackson for us.”

Blair tried her best to hold in her laughter. Instead she snorted, and said, “If you bring that up to her, she’ll probably take a baseball bat to our heads!”

“Yeah, and show the Yanks what they have been missin’ all season.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind, Princess,” said Jo as she kissed Blair on the top of the head. “But, seriously who could we get to MC?”

“Well, there’s this one singer, Gloria Loring who I heard is not bad. We could see if she could do it.”

“Yeah. Hey, didn’t she sing at Mr. Bradley’s one shindig years ago?”

“Oh, yeah,” exclaimed Blair. “They could duet singing “Friends and Lovers.” I mean, it does sound fitting doesn’t it?”

“As you wish, Blair,” said Jo with a smile.

Then Jo looked at Blair and said. “Enuff talkin’, let’s do some lovemakin’!”

“Even though we did it earlier today?” Blair said with a tease.

“I know, but I want more, Blair.” Jo said, wagging her eyebrow.

“Well, if we’re going to do it, at least make it special.”

Blair got the iPod and put it in the speaker system. She selected the song “Hold Me” by Whitney Houston and Teddy Pendergrass. Instantly, their minds make a time-travel trip back to 1985, when they first made love.

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(Flashback to August 1985)

Blair and Jo finally had alone time together in the living room at Blair’s Park Avenue home. Her mother was not at home, as usual. She was out there either at a party or social gathering. Blair was hoping that her mom didn’t get anything to drink, since she was five months pregnant. They were watching a tape that Blair had bought - the romantic thriller, Against All Odds . It was romantic, yet somewhat boring. Jo only knew about the movie because of the hit soundtrack Phil Collins sang about the previous year.  This was the night that they sealed their relationship together - by making love.

“Well, that was an interesting movie,” Jo said.

“It sure was,” Blair replied . “But it wasn’t as good as the original.”

A surprised and puzzled look appeared on Jo’s face. “Huh? Are you saying that it’s a remake?”

“Yes. It’s a remake of the film Out of the Past. It was done sometime in the 1940s and Robert Mitchum was in it. My mother and I watched it on HBO last summer.”

“Wow, you two actually had some bonding time? I’m surprised,” Jo said. She knew the history between Blair and Monica and was surprised to see them doing something together that involved entertainment.

Blair, at first, simply nodded, then she said, “Well, we were bored and I was flipping the channels looking for something decent to watch. Mom said that she saw it in the theaters when she was younger so I thought I’d give it a try.”

“Oh,” was all that Jo could muster.

“And trust me when I say this, but it’s a lot better than Against All Odds .”

“Well, maybe we should pick it up at Video Room someday.”

Blair responded with a small smile, then she said, “Perhaps, but I have something else in mind.”

“Really? I hope it doesn’t involve wearing leather. I still remember that time you came with me to the Chug-A-Lug when Black Flag was having a concert there! You can’t pull off a punk look!”

Blair huffed. “No! It’s nothing like that!” She then rolled her eyes and said, “Just follow me.”

Jo shrugged and obliged, following Blair to the hallway.

Blair wanted to wait until she got married to lose her virginity, but now that she knew that her life partner was a woman, she knew the chances of her getting legally married was practically zero.

So, unknown to Jo, she made a makeshift wedding in her room.

As Blair led Jo to her room, there were a thousand thoughts running through her mind. She wanted this moment with Blair, but she wasn’t sure if the time was right.

When Blair opened the door to her bedroom, Jo was taken aback at what she saw. The room was decorated with Blair’s bed covered in velvet red sheets. There were dimly lit candles, a bottle of champagne on the nightstand, and a rose on top of the bed.

“Wow, Blair. You’re serious about this?”

“Yes, I am. I know I want to be with you for the rest of my life.” She smiled with a tint of red showing on her cheeks. The slight blush was just visible enough for Jo to see, given how dim the candlelights were.

Blair took Jo’s hand and slowly led her to her bed. As they got there, Blair stopped and looked at Jo lovingly. Neither said a word, as they let their eyes do the talking. For many years their eyes said more than words ever could, but the intensity that they shared never burned like the fire in their eyes at this moment. The chemistry was so evident that any spark could set off an explosion of passion. However, instead of a grand gesture, the slightest touch was all that was needed. Blair was the first to act as she began to stroke Jo’s cheek. Jo followed suit, by stroking Blair’s luxurious hair. Blair then brought Jo closer and she started to kiss her. It began with small pecks that graduated to tongue-sharing smooches. They started to explore each other as they kissed. Blair stroked the firm muscles of Jo’s arms and legs, appreciating her well-toned and athletic partner. All those years complaining about how sweaty Jo was when she came home from a field hockey game or pick-up game of basketball were forgotten as she now appreciated what they did for Jo’s form. Meanwhile, Jo’s hands trailed over Blair’s curvaceous body, admiring Blair’s voluptuous breasts and bottom as a skilled sculptor admiring his work, though Jo knew that only she could hold this masterpiece with her own hands. Blair’s natural softness made it even more enticing to Jo. Finally, Blair fell onto the bed with Jo on top of her. They continued to make out and touch each other until Blair suddenly stopped it.

“I want it to go on, but I need some music,” claimed Blair, slightly out of breath.

“Really, what do you have in mind?” Jo asked, equally breathless. She was expecting Blair to put on some sort of classical music.

“Well, there’s one song I listened to quite a bit recently, thanks to Tootie.”

“What is it, Princess?”

“It’s “Hold Me” by Teddy Pendergrass. He sings good, but I was more impressed with the female singer. I found out it was some young girl named Whitney Houston.”

“Oh, that’s interesting.”

“Very interesting once you hear her. You would think that she’s 30, when in fact she’s barely past 20.”

“Oh,” was all that Jo could say about it.

“I think this is a special moment for us, so I wanted to use a special song.”

Blair got off of the bed and walked across the room to her CD player, putting in the Teddy Pendergrass’ Love Languages CD.”

Jo walked over and took a look. “Wow, that must be a new player, and it’s from Sony!”

“Yeah, I just had to get it since I heard that a lot of the classical music sounds better on a CD.”

Blair pressed the forward track button a few times until she got to the song she wanted. As they got back to the bed, Jo said, “Let’s continue where we left off.”

Blair grinned. “No problem.”

As they started to kiss again, they began to take each other’s shirts off, leaving them with only their bras on. Jo admired Blair’s voluptuous figure, while Blair admired Jo’s firm figure. Blair was the first to take off her bra and Jo really liked what she saw.

Jo immediately went to Blair’s neck, kissing a line from it down to the middle of the chest. Then she went for Blair’s left nipple, sucking and nipping on it with pleasure, while gently squeezing the other nipple with her right hand. Blair started to moan.

“Yes, Jo, don’t stop!”

She kept at it for a while, until Jo stopped, and then she undid her bra and tossed them along with her panties across the room. Blair followed, taking off her underwear. She was now fully naked to Jo.

“Wow, Blair.”

“What? What’s wrong,” asked the blonde as she glanced at herself.

“That body of yours would put a lot of porn stars to shame.”

Blair just giggled. “Well, be glad that I will only perform for one person.”

Jo smiled, and started with Blair’s outer thighs. She was kissing it down to near her knees, then she switched to her inner thighs, kissing it up all the way to her moist area. Right there, her tongue went in to taste Blair. She went up and down in Blair for a few good minutes.

“Ooh yeah! Jo!!!”

Jo kept at it until Blair reached her peak, letting out a wave of fulfillment and bliss. As soon as Blair was able to come down from her climax, she returned the favor. She seductively got on top of Jo and started to kiss all over Jo’s body, eventually reaching her breast, sucking it with tenderness while her left hand was in Jo’s moist area.

“Oh Blair! It feels so good!”

Blair didn’t say anything, as she slowly went down between Jo’s legs and started her tongue activity there.

Jo didn’t want it to stop, she was in total ecstasy as Blair was having her way on her. She kept at it until Jo finally released herself in climatic orgasm, rewarding Blair in the process.

They made love at least two more times before tiredness kicked in and they fell asleep - naked and entwined with each other. Now they could truly say that they were a couple as they consummated their relationship.

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Back in the present, the two partners were naked between the silk sheets - embracing each other as the Isley Brothers’ love-making classic Between the Sheets was playing. However, they weren’t the only ones who were enjoying their moment together.

In one bedroom, Cindy and Sue Ann were keeping each other busy by kissing all over each other’s bodies. In another bedroom, Geri and Yvonne were passionately making love with each other, as Geri was holding tightly to Yvonne’s soft behind. Then there was also some wild threesome action going on between Kelly Affinado and the couple. Even Kim and Kelly D. were getting busy, despite the short amount of time they knew each other. However, both Kim and Kelly were both known to have lots of unrestricted sexual energy so it wasn’t much of a surprise that they were engrossed with each other.

Throughout the bedrooms on the floor, all the partners were having their precious time with each other; meanwhile, Natalie and Tootie were busy playing Uno.

There was no escaping the “noises” that were coming from all the rooms. It almost made it hard to concentrate on the game.

“Oh, my God. I can’t believe all this going on!” Tootie exclaimed.

“Yeah, makes me wish my honey was here,” Natalie said with a sigh.

“Same here,” Tootie lamented. The thoughts of missing her husband and her baby was already on her mind, even though it had been only a few days.

“All of this makes me feel like I am in a club I cannot join.”

“What do you mean?” asked Tootie.

“It’s almost like a girls only club if you think about it, but with a twist. A club we are not a part of.”

“Oh,” said Tootie understanding what her best friend meant. “And they’re doing a lot more than just twisting.”

“Chubby Checker, look out.”

Both girls laughed before Tootie spoke in a more serious tone. “You know, Natalie? Even though I had fun here, I already miss my family.”

“Same here. Maybe we should talk to Blair about it. Sooner or later, we need to return back to civilization.”

“Yeah, I know,”  Tootie said followed by a small sighed. “You know what else?”

“What?”

“Uno! I won!” exclaimed Tootie.

“Dammit, that’s four in a row!”

“Well, that’s because of my mad Uno skills.”

Natalie took a pillow and hit Tootie in the head. “Oh, shut up!”

Tootie winced in pain and then rubbed her head. “Are you asking for a pillow fight? Because I will win in that as well.”

“That’s what you think, short stuff!”

“Hey, remember that night we were all studying for our midterms and I knocked that ridiculous hat off of your head with a pillow?”

“Yeah, and if I remember correctly, I told you I would lay you out. I think now is the time to do just that.”

Natalie once again hit Tootie with the pillow. Tootie quickly retaliated with a quick pillow hit to Natalie’s face, which left a red mark on her cheek. Now it was on.

The night ended well for the group.  The next day was going to be Independence Day, so there was a good chance for some fireworks, in more ways than one...

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