Sin City, Part 1

(by, 05 January 2003)

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"Sin City" 

by uciboy


Jean Tanaka looked out the window and watched the heat rise off of Highway
15.  The glass was hot to the touch and she bunched up her long black hair as
she wiped sweat off of the back of her neck.  Had it not been for the
airconditioner going full blast, she was certain the Honda Accord would
simply melt under the burning sun.  If only her friend, Jessica Song, would
keep the window closed, the car would cool down.  But Jessica was a smoker,
and it was her car, afterall.

Jean didn't mind that her friend smoked.  In fact, she herself smoked
occasionally - and in all honesty enjoyed it - but feared the kind of smoking
addiction that her parents suffered from.  And so an occasional cigarette on
a Friday or Saturday night out with Jessica was the most she allowed herself.
She had no idea how her smoking habits were about to radically change over
the next few days.

"I am so glad you decided to come with us," Jessica said with her eyes on the
road.  She reached down and expertly pulled out a Benson and Hedges Menthol
cigarette, lit it freehanded, and took a deep drag with a slow exhale out of
the side of her mouth before reaching up for it gingerly with her fingers and
placing her hand back atop the steering wheel.  Jean watched her friend with
amusement.  "She could light a cigarette with her eyes closed," she thought
to herself, "and still look as sexy as Lauren Bacall."

"We had such a blast when we went to Vegas in December," Jessica continued
before bringing the all-white 100 up to her mouth for another puff.  She held
the smoke in her lungs for several seconds before letting it float from her
mouth.  Jean watched the wind grab hold of the misshapen cloud as it pulled
it out through the crack in the window where it dissipated into the hot
Mohave Desert.  "I promise you're gonna have a great time."  Then Jessica
glanced over at her friend, a lock of her short black hair just draped over
her eyebrow, and with a wink said, "Especially with Steve in tow."

Jean smiled back at Jessica.  Yes, she was looking forward to this trip.  Of
course, she always had a good time with her best friend Jessica, but Jean was
especially eager to spend some time with Steve.  She had had a crush on him
for the last five months since she met him through Jessica in Premodern Asia
History in the Spring Semester.  He was the only white guy in the class but
had no inhibitions about mixing with Asian Americans.  She and her friends
good-naturedly started to call him an "egg" - white on the outside, yellow on
the inside.  But though she definitely had the hots for him, she got the sad
feeling he didn't feel the same about her.  They were friends to be sure, but
he never made a move for her.  What was she doing wrong?

"Don't drive too fast," Jean said to Jessica as she looked out the rear
window.  "We don't want to lose the guys."  Steve was driving with Luke and
Tong in the Camry behind them.

"Don't worry," Jessica said with a glance into the rear-view mirror, "they
know the way to Vegas," and she stepped on the gas, increasing her speed to
85 mph and leaving the Camry in the dust.

"You know, Jess, I just don't understand why Steve won't hit on me.  Do you
think he finds me unattractive?"

Jessica glanced over at Jean, trying to hide her own intimate feelings for
her friend.  "You are so beautiful," she thought to herself.  Then out loud
she said, "Maybe you're just not sending him the right signals."

"What do you mean," Jean responded.

"Look in the glove compartment.  I brought something for you."

Jean opened up the compartment and pulled out a pack of Virginia Slims 120's
Menthols.  "What are these for?"

"They're for you, silly."

"Jess, I told you before, I'm afraid I'm gonna get addicted to these things."

"That's what I'm hoping," Jessica thought to herself.

"You know that I like to have an occasional cigarette," Jean continued, "but
anymore than that and I'm gonna get totally addicted.  My parents both smoke
over a pack a day, and I've watched my younger sister over the last few
months increase her smoking by the week.  It's like it's frickin genetic, you

"Come on, Jean," Jessica replied.  "Don't be a party-pooper.  This is Vegas!!
Sin City!  Here you can go a little crazy.  We're all gonna be drinking and
smoking this weekend."

"Wait a minute," Jean said, very interested now in what Jessica was saying.
"You mean, Steve smokes?"

Jessica continued to look only at the road ahead of her, but she had a
devious smile on her face.

"Tell me!" Jean pleaded.

"Yeah, he smokes.  We've had several cigarettes together, usually when we run
into each other at the library.  We'll step outside and have a smoke - and
that's when he tells me things."

"Like what?"

"Well," Jessica brought her cigarette up for a puff and then gave it a tap
alongside the crack of the window, "he thinks you're pretty cute."

"Really?!" Jean replied, now gushing with enthusiasm.

"Yeah, really.  But..."  Another pause as Jessica took one last extended puff
and then threw the cigarette out the window.

"But what..." Jean replied, now with some worry in her voice.

"Now, you're probably gonna think this is really weird, but believe me, it's
not.  He has a thing for Asian women who..." Jessica looked over at her
friend and nodded down at the pack of Virginia Slims, "...who smoke."

Jean was flabbergasted.  She didn't know how to respond beyond, "Na-uhh."
After a moment of reflection, she said, "I've never even seen him smoke."

"Well," Jessica replied, "he's the quiet type - kinda like someone else I
know," and she glanced over at Jean with a raised eyebrow.  "But in Vegas,
it's like he becomes a totally different person.  That's how I met him, you
know, through Luke and Tong on our December trip.  Anyway, in Vegas the shy
guy steps out of the closet and becomes a wild man.  And in Sin City, he is
gonna be tempted by many beautiful and sexy Asian women who are smoking - so
if you want to attract his attention this weekend, you need to be sending out
the right signals; and I'm talkin' smoke signals, girlfriend."

Jean sat quietly for a few minutes, trying to imagine Steve as a smoker.  How
odd, she thought to herself, that he would be turned on by Asian women
smoking.  Then again, it wasn't much different from her being attracted on
occasion to a sexy hunk puffing on a cigarette.  There was just something so
masculine about it.  Why wouldn't a guy find the opposite to be true with a
woman who smoked?  "How does he look with a cigarette?" she shyly asked

Jessica turned her head towards her friend.  "Very hot."

But Jean was conflicted.  Was winning Steve worth the risk of getting
addicted?  She opened the pack of Virginia Slims and pulled out one of the
120s.  "Wow," she said as she inspected the cigarette, "these are really

Jessica reached down and pulled out a Benson and Hedges for herself.
"Sometimes to catch a man you need a long net," she said as she lit her
cigarette.  Keeping her eyes straight ahead, she offered the flame to Jean,
who put the 120 in her mouth and moved the tip to the flame.  "This should be
an interesting weekend," Jessica thought to herself as the Accord sped down
the highway.


The five friends had reservations at the Mirage down on the Las Vegas Strip.
Jean had no preference, this being her first trip to Sin City, but Jessica,
Luke, and Tong (and of course Steve) liked to stay at a place that had a lot
of Asian guests - and the Mirage had many.  She guessed that more than a
third of the people waiting to check in were Asian Americans or nationals.

As soon as the five walked into the doors, their senses were engulfed by the
sights, sounds, and smells of the hotel's casino.  Lights flashing, bells
ringing, coins clanking, cigarette and cigar smoke hanging thickly in the
air.  For Jessica it was a paradise on earth and she immediately lit a
cigarette after she set her luggage down.  Tong and Luke, both Dunhill
smokers, did the same.  

These people she had seen smoke before, but there was one person she watched
very closely.  Steve confidently pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights from
his pocket and lit one of the all-white 100s.  She could feel butterflies
forming in her stomach.  She was surprised that she found herself growing
excited - even aroused - by the sight of him smoking.  Jessica was right:  he
did look hot with a cigarette - the way he held it firmly in the cup of his
hand with his thumb and index finger; how he'd take a full puff, hold the
smoke inside his lungs for several seconds and then cock his head slightly as
he blew a stream of smoke straight in front of him with an attitude that
said, "Fuck you if you don't like my smoking."  Yes, she decided, this is an
improvement to an already perfect man!

But should she join him?  She hesitated.  The Virginia Slims were in her
purse, waiting to be opened, calling to her.  All she had to do was pull one
out and light it.  It would be so easy.  Luke and Tong knew she was a social
smoker, so they wouldn't be surprised; and she fantasized about what Steve's
reaction would be.  "My, Jean," she imagined him saying, "you are a beautiful
smoker.  Would you join me in my room?"  

Jean smiled to herself as her hand reached into her purse and began to pull
out the pack of 120s - but then she paused.  What if Steve didn't find her to
be a beautiful smoker?  What if Jessica was pulling her leg and he was
actually one of those guys who got turned off by women smoking?  Was this
really worth the risk of becoming addicted like her sister and parents?  She
let the Virginia Slims slip out of her hand back into the bottom of her purse
as she whimped out.  Feeling depressed now, she decided to sit down by the
pay phones while Jessica stood in line at the check-in desk.

Jean gave a heavy sigh.  "Fuck," she mumbled under her breath.  "Now I'm
totally confused."  But as she looked into the casino, she saw a number of
Asian women smoking as they played the slots.  One thin and attractive women
with glasses, probably in her late twenties, slowly and methodically smoked a
thin cigarette as she watched her friend put coins into one of the machines.
Occasionally, she would place the cigarette in her mouth so as to free up her
hand to insert some quarters into the slot beside her.  The tip of the
cigarette would momentarily glow a bright orange and then smoke would cascade
down through the woman's nostrils.

Jean turned to her left and saw by the shops a family from Japan, both
parents in their 30s thoroughly enjoying the pleasure that their cigarettes
provided while their kids looked on with interest.  Occasionally the mother
would hand her cigarette to her daughter - who couldn't have been more than
16 - who would take a deep puff and hold the smoke for several seconds before
exhaling.  The mother finally got tired of sharing and just gave her daughter
the pack of Mild Sevens at which time the girl smiled and lit a fresh
cigarette for herself.

Then right next to Jean, a young Asian woman, probably no more than 5 feet,
came up to use one of the pay phones.  She was stylishly dressed in a sweater
and slacks, and her short, bobbed hair kept her just feminine enough to be
sexy.  She pulled out an all-white 100 from a cigarette case and lit it
freehanded as she dialed a number.  It was a perfect light, and Jean watched
the smoke rise from the tip of the cigarette the young woman held casually
between her fingers in a way that made her look sophisticated and seductive.

When Jean turned to look over at her friends at the front desk, she saw Steve
standing in line, viewing with intense interest all the same smoking scenes
she had just witnessed.  "Oh, yeah," she said with new confidence, "he's got
the fetish."  Without any hesitation now she pulled out her Virginia Slims,
put a 120 in her mouth and lit it with a slight tilt of the head downward.
Moving her head back up, she took a draw as she placed the pack and lighter
back into her purse, crossed her legs, and brought the cigarette to rest on
her kneecap as she blew a perfect creamy exhale in front of her.  "If Steve
wants a smoker," she thought to herself, "then he's gonna get one."

Jean pretended to look at the large fish tank behind the check-in counter,
but she kept her eye on Steve to see his reaction as he gazed in wonder at
her.  After saying a few words to Tong and Luke, Steve stepped out of line
and began to walk over to Jean.  She smiled and turned her head as she took
another puff and then tapped her cigarette over an ashtray next to her.  She
tilted her head upwards and let loose a stream of smoke at an angle, giving
Steve a good view of her exhale.

"Hey Jean," he said as he stood in front of her.  "What you doin' over here?"

Feeling a new sense of confidence with a cigarette between her fingers, Jean
decided to play coy.  "Oh, I'm just waiting for Jessica to get the room."
She took a gentle puff and brought the cigarette back down to her knee as she
exhaled through her nose.

"I didn't know you smoked.  I mean, I did know - because Jessica told me that
you did occasionally, but I didn't believe it until just now."  He glanced
over at the check-in desk and saw Jessica smiling at him.  "Listen," he said,
"I'm pretty good at Blackjack.  Would you like to join me at the table a
little later tonight?"

Jean just smiled at him as she confidently brought the cigarette up to her
lips for a slow puff.

"I could teach you some tricks," he added.

Jean lifted her eyebrows as she removed the cigarette from between her lips,
revealing just the tail-end of the ball of smoke in her mouth which she drew
back with a snap.  "Sure," she replied in an exhale, the smoke billowing up
towards Steve's face.  

He momentarily closed his eyes, clearly enjoying the experience, and said,
"Cool, let's get the rooms settled and we'll go get something to eat."

Jean watched him walk back into line and talk with Tong and Luke.  With his
back to Jessica, he couldn't see her giving Jean a big smile with a thumbs
up.  "So this is Vegas," Jean whispered to herself.

Within a few minutes he returned.  "Shall we go?" Steve asked holding his arm
out to her.  Jean smiled coyly and took a final puff on her Virginia Slim
before dropping it in the ashtray next to her and putting her arm around
Steve's as they turned the corner towards the buffet.


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