In the background of the
“So you’re from
“Nerayma?” Martin asked coyly with his Illocano accent. “That’s a pretty name.”
“No,” Ranma replied inquisitively. “You have to roll the tongue.” He instinctively drew his hands onto Martin’s face, feeling his smooth coconut skin. “Neh-ree-mah.” Martin repeated it back like a lovesick puppy.
Ranma shrugged the sight of a soaking wet Kerry Kwok successfully seducing another gullible gay chickenhead a few tables away. “Really?” he tried to focus on Martin.
“Oh yes,” Martin replied quickly. “He’s pretty cute, not as cute as you though. And my friend is totally crushin’ on him, but he’s kinda scared because the guy is young and new to bein’ gay, of course.”
“Hey,” Martin said, quickly to Ranma, “I think you should meet him.” Martin, stupefied by the sight of the handsome and mysterious international visitor had no idea what can of worms he had opened.
The crowd applauded wildly at the Sundance Saloon. Ryan and the guys humbly bowed and jumped off the bar stool. Ryan strolled his way back to the bar where Ryoga and his beer were waiting.
“You were pretty good,” Ryoga said bashfully, not noticing that his groin was now giving Ryan a standing ovation.
Ryan grabbed the beer bottle from Ryoga with one quick smile and then chugged down half of it. “That routine is the scariest,” Ryan replied. “Did you know that I fell off the bar several times?”
As Kenny Chesney’s sun went down for good, Shania Twain’s “Forever and for Always” started up. A syrupy twang filled the room.
“Alright, here’s something for the couples,” the deejay said over the intercom.
“Finally!” Barry roared. “A slow song!” He grabbed his partner Stephen and they headed onto the dance floor. Other cowboys and their partners followed.
Shania crooned through synthesizers. In your arms, I can still feel the one who really wants me.
Ryan waited for a few beats to pass.
“Well, I made a fool of myself,” Ryan chuckled to Ryoga. “It’s your turn.”
Ryoga was still daze by the cowboy waltz unfolding before him.
“You want to dance?” Ryan felt himself boldly saying.
Ryoga heard that one and he was taken back by it. “I…I don’t know how,” he stammered. His palms were getting sweaty.
“It’s easy,” Ryan replied, with a tinge of nervousness. He stretched out his hand. “I’ll show you. We can dance on the side if you don’t want to be in the crowd.”
Ryoga nodded. Ryan drew closer to Ryoga, almost whispering. The music was too loud.
“Take my hand.” Ryoga nervously took Ryan’s hand. And Ryan moved it towards his beating chest. Ryan felt a tingle of excitement as he put his hand onto Ryoga’s waist. His fingers were so tempted to almost lift the shirt and feel the smooth skin underneath. He grabbed hold of the light threads of his white cotton shirt. His mind wandered to other thoughts.
“Just follow me,” Ryan whispered. Ryoga could smell Ryans cologne. It smelled like hickory and cinnamon. “Slow…slow…quick…quick..slow.” He gently pushed Ryoga’s hands and Ryoga felt his legs move rhythmically, Ryan’s drawing closer to his. He hadn’t danced since the shenanigans at Club Earth.
Ryan was positively glowing. He also smiled coyly and looked down and then back up at Ryoga again. And now they were moving rhythmically together. Ryoga could not believe it. He was actually dancing to country music! If only Ranma could see me now.
Ranma did. He entered the Sundance Saloon with Tyler and Martin shortly before Shania started. Martin had enough of Kerry’s drama (actually, they got kicked out) so he wanted to introduce Ranma to Ryan since they were both Japanese and all.
And there was Ryan dancing with his guy.
Ryoga looked unbelievably happy. His eyes looked longingly toward the “Ryan” character, and he brought out his mischievous fanged smile. The guy smiled back and briefly put his black cowboy hat on Ryoga’s head, which made Ryoga smile even more.
Ranma felt the weight of an entire bullet train run right through him.
“I want to go home,” Ranma whimpered to Martin.
“But we just got here,” Martin replied. “And I haven’t introduced you to—“
“Take me home now!” Ranma shouted back like an impatient date.
Ryan wanted Ryoga. Ryoga, vice-versa. Ranma wanted Martin.
And no one wanted
As drawn as he was to the
beautiful forms before him,
Open your eyes, Barry whispered in the back of
And with that, Tyler Stonebrook finally let Ryan Hitomi go.
Ranma was mostly quiet for the rest of the car ride back
to Ranko’s house. They dropped
“Nice place,” Martin said.
Ranma was silent.
“Are you going to be alright?” Martin asked.
Ranma paused. Then, he kissed Martin. Martin smelled like mangoes and spicy cinnamon bark. Martin kissed back, fiercely. His soft wet lips soaked Ranma’s in no way that a woman could.
Ranma stumbled as he got out of Martin’s car. The harsh wind jabbed at his cheek. He turned around to see his chauffeur grinning back like an idiot.
“Call me,” Martin smiled. He peeked out the window in a daze and he drove off.
As soon as Martin left, Ranma’s smile turned to a frown. He had to go back to his world. And Akane was waiting for him. She was wearing a fuzzy pink bathrobe and fuzzy pink slippers. Some English late show was blaring in the background.
“Where have you been?” Akane grumbled angrily. “Ranko and Bret gave up waiting on you.” Akane sniffed. “Is that alcohol I smell?”
“I don’t want to deal with this right now,” Ranma shrugged. He wanted to go to bed. He wanted to sleep the hangover away and the unwelcome memories gained tonight.
“By the way,” Ranma told Akane. “We’re even.”
PHEW. This is my
favorite scene of the novel. I’ve mentally debated to myself if the chapter
should start with Ryan or with