|photo Roger Hyland|
Precious Orchids by Elizabeth Cage continued...
Val had even managed to set things up to bring Harry to the club on the allotted night, using her current boyfriend, who happened to be a mate of Harry’s. Then, before I knew it, I was only hours away from putting Harry to the test. My stomach was awash with drowning butterflies.
‘Ouch!’ I yelled, my eyes snapping open. ‘What the hell are you doing, Val?’
‘Just a stray eyebrow hair,’ Val replied, brandishing tweezers. ‘You know I’m a perfectionist.’
‘I can’t do this, Val. It’s a crazy idea.’
‘No it’s not and yes you can,’ Val reassured me. ‘You’re pretty good at this burlesque stuff – a natural, I’d say. You have a great routine. Remember the club is dimly lit and he won’t expect to see you there. It’s all about expectations. He won’t in a million years imagine the woman on stage is you.’ She took me by the hand and led me over to the full-length mirror in the corner of the bedroom. ‘Take a look at yourself. He won’t recognise you. I guarantee it.’
Tentatively, I took a step forward. I stared in disbelief at the glamorous siren reflected back at me, gazing in wonder at the blonde bombshell with dark, smoky eyes and full, cherry-red lips.
‘Do you like?’ asked Val.
I smiled. ‘I like.’
‘Wait till you see what you’ll be wearing,’ said Val smugly.
However, later, after a short taxi ride to the club, I began to feel guilty. ‘I made Harry lie to me tonight,’ I told her. ‘He said he was going out and when I asked where, he looked evasive and said, ‘Just a boy’s night. A bar, drinks, the usual.’
‘At least you can be sure he’ll turn up then,’ said Val. ‘What did you tell him you’d be doing?’
‘Having a girl’s night in with you.’
‘Like we agreed.’
‘Maybe this is wrong.’
‘He didn’t have to lie to you about going to a naughty cabaret club,’ Val pointed out. ‘He could have told you the truth.’
But I was feeling sick with nerves by now. I hardly dare peek at the audience to check if Harry was there.
‘Deep breaths,’ suggested Val. ‘You’re on in a minute.’