Perion was up for another late night sandwich when Debi came in from a date. “Hey Peri, did you and Blaine have another fight,” she asked comically, eyeing Perion’s monster sandwich.
Perion smiled around a mouthful of sandwich. Debi made a sound of utter disgust. Perion chewed the bite, swallowed it, and then giggled. “I know, very unladylike, huh? No one would guess that thousands of men per week lust after me, would they?” At that thought, she giggled again. “No, Blaine and me are fine, for tonight anyway. I didn’t tell you Lein was there again, did I?”
Debi’s eyes opened wide in disbelief. “No, you didn’t. He was in the audience again? Why? I mean, he found you, didn’t he? He has an ulterior motive for being there is what I think.”
“That’s what Blaine says, too. But I think it’s bullshit myself,” she said simply, taking another bite out of her sandwich. “Well, I don’t. I think he’s there because he wants to get into your pants. Otherwise, he wouldn’t keep coming back.”
Perion laughed sarcastically, then she took another huge bite from the sandwich. “Yeah, right. Oh boy, I’m such a desirable person. Hell Debs, I didn’t get freaking curves until I was sixteen. Lein Blake’s just a horny guy, nothing more, and nothing less. He likes to look at naked women just like a million other guys, no big freaking deal, that’s what I say.”
“But it is a big freaking deal, it is. I don’t want him interested in the band because he’s interested in you. I want him interested in the band because of our talent.”
“So do I, I really want that, too.”
“Well then, we have to straighten him out. On your next work night, the rest of us are coming down with you to confront him about it, all right?”
On Perion’s next work night at The Rose Bush [which was a night later], the girls accompanied Perion to the club. As expected, Blaine came along as well. Before the show even started, everyone saw Lein in the audience. As a collective group, they decided to confront Lein, but not to approach him together. In the end, they suggested that Debi approach him. She balked at first, but went out anyway, since she was usually chosen to be the diplomat of the group.
Lein was somewhat shocked to see Debi approaching him. Without a word, she took a seat at his table.
“Can I take a few minutes of your time,” she asked him.
“Uh sure, okay,” he said, not sure why she had chosen a strip joint to take a few minutes of his time.
“Look Lein, I know you’ve been here every night watching Perion dance, and I think I know why. You’re only interested in our band because you have a thing for Perion. If that’s true, then we don’t need your kind of help,” Debi told him flatly.
“No, no, that’s not true. It’s not true at all. Your band is the main reason I’m offering help. You’re extremely talented, and I…”
Debi interrupted him, “Lein, if that’s so true, why do you keep coming here? Why are you here every night even after you’ve already found Perion? There’s got to be a reason.”
There was no way out; the only way he could get on with business was to tell her the truth. “Okay, there’s another reason I keep coming here and you’ve already mentioned it. It’s to see Perion. I’m, shall I say, a little drawn to her.”
A little drawn to her was the understatement of the decade. He visited the club so frequently because he wanted her. Actually, what he felt was a little stronger than simple wanting. There were no words in any language to describe what he did feel. But he definitely couldn’t communicate it to the girl who sat at his table.
“That’s what I thought,” she said.
“But I’m not saying that’s why I’m interested in your band, so please, don’t think that. It’s wrong to even suggest it. I know she has a boyfriend, and I’ve accepted it and I’ll deal with it. I’m going to help you despite what I think about Perion. I’m sorry you even had to consider the idea.”
“I just wanted to get this out before we get our hopes up too high.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. You’re a hell of a lot better than you give yourselves credit. If it’s a big deal, I’ll stop coming.”
Debi smiled a little. “I don’t think Perion minds, maybe Blaine does, but she doesn’t.”
She left him alone after that. Lein thought about getting up and leaving the club. He didn’t want to start any trouble, nor did he want the band to lose any of its possible success. But he didn’t. He couldn’t make himself get up and leave the club. There was no way. He was addicted to seeing the girl dance, to her beauty, her voice, to her, for God’s sake. Addicted, that was the only word to describe his nightly sojourns to the club.
Lein waited for Perion to hit the stage and when she did, his eyes were riveted on her. Not once did he look away, not once did he care to do so. There was no one in the room his eyes could see, only her. His mind blocked out all the noise, the people, and the overly loud music.
After Lein went home, Britta was there. He took her to bed as usual. But what stuck in his mind as he made love to her was the fact that it wasn’t exactly Britta he visualized during the act, it was Perion.