Peter Stroker and Anita Lai
The Borscht Bowl Club, April 17, 2019, 10:10 p.m.
Fortunately, Phoenix wasn’t given much time to wallow in his
new-found misery, as Tiffany returned at that moment with a half dozen Dead
Lawyer drinks on her tray and a beguiling smile on her lips.
“Here you go y’all. Please pardon the delay folks, I’ve been running all over hell's half acre tonight!” The waitress busied herself by personally setting down everyone’s drink directly before them, saving Phoenix’s for last.
She then “accidentally” brushed the side of her cleavage against the blushing lawyer’s face as she leaned over to place his drink down. “Oops!” She giggled, looking the furthest thing from embarrassed as could be. “So sorry about that handsome, how clumsy of me.”
“Um, no worries at all, Tiffany.” Phoenix turned an even deeper shade of crimson, grateful for the distraction from his earlier tormented thoughts. “At least you didn’t spill the drink on me or in my lap, right? Heh heh.”
Maya quickly raised her glass to her face to hide her grimace at this exchange. A non-drinker for the most part, she found herself cringing as she took a sip of the unexpectedly strong drink that was undeniably, as Edgeworth had requested, a double.
Aptly named drink indeed. Dead Lawyer and a dead spirit medium if I have any more of this.
“Well sugar, if I’m ever the cause of making your pants get wet, I’d have to ensure that I helped you dry them off, wouldn’t I?”
Maya took her glass and tipped the entire remains of the drink into her mouth to keep her from saying anything regrettable, gasping at the fiery sensation going down her throat. Franziska caught her eye, looked over at the fawning waitress and Phoenix, discreetly wrinkled her nose in disdain and pretended to stick a finger down her throat in a gagging motion. Maya spluttered with unexpected laughter, nearly spewing her drink out of her mouth.
Although if she had happened to have ‘accidently’ spit the concoction all over Tiffany, as surely as the waitress had ‘accidentally’ brushed herself against Phoenix like a cat in heat, would it really have been such an epic tragedy?
Well, the horny bitch would finally have a lawyer all over her then, wouldn’t she? Maya giggled to herself as she barely resisted the temptation to fulfill her fantasy. Albeit the Dead Lawyer variety!
The exchange between her and Franziska was not missed at all by the ever-observant Edgeworth, who simply gave his fiancée a subtle nudge to the side and smiled conspiratorially at Maya, whose cheeks burned at having been busted. The expression on the prosecutor’s face was a mixture of mirth, and to her chagrin, sympathy.
Also quite possibly relief, since the attentive waitress’s attentions were solely focused on Phoenix this time around. Of course, it probably helped that Franziska had very visibly rested her head on her fiancé’s shoulder and given him a can’t-miss kiss on the cheek the moment Tiffany had arrived at the table.
Maya couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy and wistfulness at how easily the other woman was able to ‘mark her territory.’ She of course, was in absolutely no position to ‘stake her claim’, since Phoenix wasn’t even her boyfriend, never mind fiancé!
So there she miserably sat, holding back her helpless frustration while idly trying to continue conversation with the rest of the group. She discreetly ensured her back was turned to the gruesome twosome, while wishing she had another drink to help obliterate what was turning out to be the most atrocious of nights, even with the unusually benign Franziska Von Karma on her best behavior!
Suddenly a loud whoop was heard across the bar, and an adorable young man with curly auburn hair and glasses jumped up onto his chair, clanging a spoon against his glass and beaming from ear-to-ear as he did so.
“Everybody, may I have your attention, please!” The ecstatic guy crowed, cupping his hands around his mouth and using them as a megaphone. “My name is Peter Stroker. This gorgeous gal here is my brand-new fiancée, Anita Lai!”
He gestured to the female seated at his table, a sweet-faced Asian girl, who had her hands pressed up against her flushed pink cheeks as she smiled adoringly at him.
“Anita here has made me the happiest man on God’s green earth tonight because she has just agreed to be my wife! To celebrate the future Mrs. Anita Stroker, I’d like to buy a round of Mind Eraser shooters for everyone here…all on me!”
A Mind Eraser, Maya thought in amused disbelief. I’ll certainly drink to that! Hope it’s as appropriately named as the last cocktail!
“Good heavenly days that is so romantic, idnit?” Tiffany cooed, clasping her hands to her chest and swooning slightly. “Imagine a man loving a woman so much! Bless his pea-pickin' lil' heart!”
“I think he’s a fool to be squandering so much money to celebrate with a room full of strangers that he doesn’t even know,” Franziska declared. “I’ve never understood you foolish Americans needing to make every single aspect of your lives a larger than life public spectacle. Quite tacky.”
“His heart is in the right place, although I do agree this is a most frivolous expense,” Edgeworth agreed. “I personally believe moments like this should be private, though.”
“I’m just happy to have a free drink!” Gumshoe laughed.
“I think it’s sweet too,” Maya sighed. “To have a man be so madly in love with his woman he doesn’t care if the whole world knows it!”
“You wouldn’t catch me making a public spectacle of myself like that!” Phoenix exclaimed. “I’m with Edgeworth on this one, these moments are meant to be just between the couple themselves. There’s no need to be so dramatic in your actions just because you love a girl. Besides, we’re lawyers. We have to at least attempt to maintain the dignity of our office.”
Larry stared at Phoenix incredulously at this proclamation, which honestly sounded like something more suited to have come from Edgeworth. The artist opened his mouth as if to say something to negate the uncharacteristic statement the defense attorney had just made, but Gumshoe caught his eye and inconspicuously shook his head. So Larry shut his trap and instead effected his most mournful expression.
“I don’t see what’s so terrible about telling the whole world how much I love my girl. That Stroker guy is just lucky the Lai chick said yes since he popped the question in public! I remember I proposed to a girl once,” Larry added glumly. “At a football game. I had the ‘will you marry me Libby’ message spelled out on the blimp that flew above the crowd to make it extra romantic, too. But she still refused! She ducked out to the bathroom during second quarter and never came back!”
“Wait, wasn’t that Libby Doe, back in high school, senior year?” Phoenix recollected, rubbing his chin with one hand as he conjured the memory. “And wasn’t that only your second date?”
A loud giggle erupted from Tiffany just then, which she immediately tried to mask as a cough.
Maya shot her a dirty look. Yes, Larry Butz was a walking comic-tragedy of a man when it came to his love life, and they’d all had a few guffaws about it over the years. But for the waitress, who was a complete stranger, to do so struck her as most unkind. After all, they’d known and loved The Butz for years, despite all his shenanigans; he was their friend.
Tiffany caught the hostile glance, and sobered slightly, rapidly morphing back into server mode. “I’m going to get those Mind Eraser shooters for y’all now,” she said quickly. “Is there anything else you folks would like?”
“Hey Pal, I know you said you’d get the next round, but I have to at least get the birthday girl her next drink,” Gumshoe told Phoenix. “Please bring back a beer for me and a Cosmopolitan for Maya, Miss. It was my wife’s favorite drink, but since she’s expecting and can’t have it right now, she made me promise that we’d have one for her.”
“Sounds good,” Phoenix smiled. “Tiffany, a round of beers and a Cosmo martini is!”
“You got it, sexy. I’m right on top of it.” The bar wench ran her nail lightly over Phoenix’s forearm and flashed her now customary wink before heading off.
“And on top of him, no doubt, if she had her way.” Maya hadn’t even realized she’d muttered the words aloud until Larry, who was seated next to her, nearly choked on his drink trying to stifle his laughter. She blushed furiously at the slip up; the cocktail she’d so hastily consumed had loosened her tongue dangerously.
“What was that, Maya?” Phoenix asked, looking over at the two of them with slightly narrowed eyes.
“Nothing at all,” Maya replied innocently, opting to forego decorum altogether and relieving Gumshoe of his barely touched Dead Lawyer, draining it in one gulp. No doubt the detective was trying to pace himself and had switched to a lighter beer, as he knew he’d be driving later that night.
Phoenix frowned. “Isn’t it a bit too early in the game for you and Larry to already have ‘inside’ couple jokes?”
Was he for real? Maya wondered, looking at him with exasperated disbelief. After suffering through him and Tiffany’s grotesque little ‘mating dance’ all night, Phoenix was actually trying to play this card?
“Don’t worry, Nick,” she scoffed, starting to feel the effects of the drinks in her system now but not quite at complete inebriation level yet. “We are light years away from being as chummy as you and your octopus friend there!”
“Hang on! Just what is that crack supposed to mean?” Phoenix demanded.
“Oh, gimme a break Nick! Don’t you dare play dumb with me! She’s had her hands…hell, her whole body draped all over you like a cheap suit all night and you’ve been loving every minute of it! Just admit it!”
“I see no reason to need to justify my actions, or that of a friendly waitress, to you at all,” Phoenix stated, obviously struggling to control his temper. “Maya, you’re being ridiculous.”
“No, you’re being ridiculous if you’re going to deny the fact that you’ve been salivating all over each other like a couple of horny dogs all this time! Why don’t you just cut to the chase already and take her out back so you can sniff each other’s butts?”
Phoenix reeled back as if she’d slapped him. “You’re way out of line, Maya Fey.”
"Well, hell's bells, woman! I'm going to have to agree with the fetchin' fox on this one," a sugary Southern drawl unexpectedly uttered. "Although, if I'm guilty of committing a crime of any kind, I'd reckon that I'd get the chance to at least defend my actions before I'm sentenced to a hangin'."
Maya gulped as she looked up just then and saw a very unimpressed looking Tiffany, laden with drinks, standing at their table. For the first time that night, the bubbly blonde was not smiling. And from the turbulent look on her face, she’d obviously heard everything.