A Sure ThingbyWonderstorm©
"No offense, Cat, but you don't seem be very lucky when it comes to gambling."
Mia Mannix was lying flat on her back, staring up at the ceiling. Dressed in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, a pink bra, and nothing else, she was on the floor of the living room, sipping her margarita.
"Screw you," Cat shot back. "I usually turn out okay. It's just that the funniest stories to tell are the ones where I've lost. Those are the ones that I've made an ass out of myself."
She paused, thinking about that statement for a second. "Or, you know, flaunt my ass."
Cat McIntyre was usually pretty lucky. Last month, she'd won nearly two hundred dollars in the office basketball pool. And then, last week, she had gotten into a fight with Spencer Wesley-Brandt about who originally wrote Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic," and bet him his office. Spencer was ultimately proved wrong, which meant that Cat now had an amazing view from her office, right over 28th Street and into Sentinel Park. Spencer was stuck looking at the side of an old movie theatre.
But, given the two examples of Cat's gambling-gone-wrong that she'd just recounted for Mia, she could understand how Mia had gotten the impression she was unlucky.
"Whatever," Mia just brushed Cat's defensive position aside. "I still can't believe you got naked at work. Was everything okay afterwards?"
Cat thought back to the week following her nudist stint at Wonderstorm Entertainment. Things had definitely been awkward at first, but no more so than they'd been the week before, when she'd actually been naked. At first, everyone sort of avoided talking about the whole thing, which had been terribly uncomfortable. Eventually, though, Cat just began joking about it, and soon everything returned to normal.
Cat was attractive, which meant that no one in the office had been terribly put off by her nudity. Sure, the women probably would have preferred to look at a naked man, but Cat certainly wasn't painful on the eyes, no matter the gender or the sexual preference of her audience. She was tall and thin, with shoulder-length brown hair that she'd been trying to grow out for a few months now. She had large (but not enormous) breasts, which spent most of their time hidden by the C-cups of her bra...with an exception now and then.
Mia couldn't believe that Cat had gotten naked at work? CAT couldn't believe that Cat had gotten naked at work. In the weeks that followed the incident, she wrestled with her feelings of both embarrassment and excitement. It had been right for her to be embarrassed, but it had been wrong for her to become turned on. Cat eventually just wrote off the latter emotion - it had been a crazy week, and she had been stressed because of the nudity thing. Honestly, it was probably natural to get a little turned on, but Cat wasn't eager to repeat her show; she had been dressing much more conservatively around the office since her naked week - she didn't want everyone in the office thinking that she was some sort of exhibitionist slut.
"Yeah, it turned out okay," Cat replied. The whole week she'd been stripping naked at work, she hadn't said a single word about it to her roommate. Cat and Mia had definitely gotten closer since they'd moved to Babylon together last year, but Cat had been too embarrassed about her lost bets to bring them up even with Mia.
Mia and Cat had known each other at Green College, but it would have been a stretch to say that they had been friends. They had a lot of mutual friends, and they had hung out together from time to time, but that had been about it. Cat spent a good portion of her time with the track runners and other athletes, while Mia spent hers with mostly Drama students. After graduation, though, Cat had been hired by Wonderstorm Entertainment, and Mia had been signed on as a cast member in a Babylon-based production of "Rent." They had both been looking for a roommate, and had lucked out with each other.
"Did I tell you they're sending me to French Polynesia?" Cat asked.
Mia rolled her eyes. Cat had been asking the same question over and over and over again, all evening. She was ecstatic about being asked to go on any business trip, but a chance to go to Bora Bora was just unbelievable. So excited about the trip, she'd been repeating it out loud since she'd gotten home from work.
"Damn it girl," Mia began chiding her roommate, "I'm happy for you. Just stop rubbing it in my face."
Leo Kelly himself had selected Cat for the trip. Wonderstorm Entertainment was interested in acquiring a game called "Woocurai," a game currently available only in Japan. "Woocurai" meant "War Cry" in Japanese, and the higher-ups in Wonderstorm were salivating over the game. Kelly had been working with a representative from Tekkei Electronics for months now, trying to woo them with offers so that Wonderstorm could release the game in America. After five different offers, Tekkei had finally accepted, much to Kelly's absolute joy.
"The deal's pretty much done," Kelly had explained to a small cadre of people in his office that morning. "All that's really left to do is ink the papers, and worked out some of the smaller details. So, for that, I'll be sending Elsa Lindsay from Financial, Cat McIntyre from Advertising, and my son, to meet with Okura Koremasu and his people in Bora Bora."
Everyone had balked. Wonderstorm was really going to send people to French Polynesia just to finish this deal?
"We're doing our best to prove that we're a big name player," Kelly had explained after seeing their face. "Yes, it's going to cost the company some money to pay for the flights and stays of both our people and Koremasu's people. But ultimately, I think 'Woocurai' is going to be a big thing for Wonderstorm, so it's worth every expense."
Cat leaned back on the couch. She herself was wearing nothing but jeans and white bra. She and Mia were both fairly comfortable around each other. They'd spent the evening watching television, drinking, and talking. It wasn't odd for Mia to strip down to her bra around the apartment, as she was a dancer and was used to skimpy clothing, and it was becoming less and less odd for Cat to join her.
Her body may have been still here, in her crummy two--bedroom apartment in the North Village, but her mind was already in French Polynesia, lying on the beach, in just her swimsuit.
"Okura Koremasu," Elsa said, the syllables rolling off her tongue. "Kor-eh-mah-su."
Elsa, Cat, and Jay Kelly were all sitting around a table in Jay's office, going over background on Tekkei and its representatives. Elsa, currently, was reading up on one of the companies executive vice presidents, Okura Koremasu.
Elsa was only twenty-seven years old, but she'd been at Wonderstorm Entertainment for just over five years, right after she'd finished college at Sussex University in downtown Babylon. She was comfortable at Wonderstorm's financial department, and she was good at her job. Short, chin-length black hair surrounded a thin face, with thin lips and hauntingly beautiful green eyes. She had been married, and then divorced, all before she reached twenty-six.
"Okay, okay," Jay replied as Elsa sounded out Koremasu's name one more time. Jay was a fairly patient guy, but he wasn't sure how many times he could listen to Elsa repeat the rep's name. "Could we stop with the koremasu-ing?"
There were some at the office who thought that Jay's position as Vice President for Corporate Relations just screamed nepotism. His father, after all, was Leonard Kelly, the president of Wonderstorm Entertainment. But, the bottom line was that Leo Kelly had started the company himself, and no matter how much Wonderstorm had grown, it was still his company. He made the decisions, he hired the vice presidents.
To be fair, though, Jay could have easily gotten the job on merit alone. At thirty-three years old, Jacob Kelly had a resume that would have impressed a president or CEO at any company, having worked as a banker for Citation Trust for a while, the head of Financial Services as the law firm Howe Associates, and the head of corporate development for Umbra Biotechnologies. When Jay had left this last job, he'd been the target of corporate headhunters everywhere. Ultimately, though, he wanted to work with his dad, and that had been more important to him than a larger paycheck.
Cat had been a little uncomfortable around Jay since Marcus Hale had told her that Leo Kelly had been eyeing her as a possible girlfriend for his son. Even her selection to the trip to Bora Bora was suspect - was this just a chance for Kelly to put Cat and Jay together? Cat had mulled over this thought ever since Kelly had first brought it up a week ago. In the end though, Cat wondered if it was really such a bad thing. After all, this would be her chance to shine, to show how good she was at her job. And if she had to spend time with Jay Kelly? Not really such a bad thing.
Aside from being relatively powerful within Wonderstorm Entertainment, rich from the significant salaries from his previous jobs, and extremely intelligent, Jay was amazingly good looking. He had a strong, chiseled jaw, and curly black hair, and eyes that seemed to see right into you. Cat's only problem was that he was a little cocky, and always had to be right. Cat herself suffered from this latter problem, as well, which meant that sometimes the two could get into heated arguments about insignificant things. Like the etymology of the word "okay."
"O.K." Elsa replied. "OK! His initials are OK! Is that OK with you, Mr. Kelly?"
Jay looked up from the paperwork he'd been studying, giving Elsa a warning look. For a few minutes, it seemed to work.
"What does OK actually stand for?" the black-haired woman asked the two others.
"Oh, I actually know this," Cat replied. She rested the manila folder she'd been reading through on her lap. "I took an early American history class at Green, and we went over all of the first bunch of presidents. 'OK' started off as a nickname for Martin Van Buren."
"MVB?" Elsa asked, not understanding what Cat meant.
"No, it's for 'Old Kinderhook,'" Cat explained. "It was his hometown. A bunch of Van Buren's supporters started the OK Club, and began using the letters all over the place. It sort of developed into its current meaning because if Van Buren was for it, it had to be good - it was OK."
"Huh," Elsa said. "That's kind of stupid."
"And it's wrong." Jay looked up at the two women.
"Excuse me?" Cat replied. "That's a fact. I remember hearing my prof explain the whole thing."
"Maybe your prof was wrong," Jay ventured. "OK comes from an advertising campaign, for soap or something like that, in the early 1800s. Before Van Buren."
"No way," the brunette defended herself. "No way. You're just going to have to back down on this one, Jay-Jay. I'm right."
Jay looked at the young brunette. There was nearly ten years of difference between the two in age, but she delighted in calling him Jay-Jay, the childish name that Leo Kelly still called him when he thought that no one was around. Jay didn't bother responding with words again. Instead, he put his wallet on the table, and pulled twenty dollars out.
"Twenty bucks?" Cat scoffed. "That's it? You're not very sure about yourself, are you?"
"Well," Jay said, looking at the girl slyly, "I could always put underwear up for the wager."
Cat turned bright right out of embarrassment. She didn't know how Jay had heard about the bet (his father, maybe?), but she was glad that it hadn't traveled around too much, because Elsa didn't know what he was talking about.
"What?" Elsa asked. "What about underwear?"
Cat and Jay shared eye contact for a second. Jay wasn't going to try to embarrass Cat further. But he had made his point.
"Fine," Cat replied. "Twenty bucks."
"Fine," Jay agreed. "You've got until tomorrow at noon to prove me wrong."
"No problem. I know I'm right. It's a sure thing."
The next day, Cat strolled into Jay's office. Jay was already seated in the corner, with Elsa, and they were going over the contracts that needed to be signed during the business trip.
Cat smugly sat down with them, and caught Jay's attention. "We're still on for twenty bucks, right?"
Jay looked back at her. "Yeah, I still think you're wrong."
"You sure don't want to, you know, make the bet a little more interesting?"
"Fine. Fifty. Let's bet fifty."
"Oh, come on. You're more sure than that, aren't you?"
"Fine. A hundred dollars. But you've got to be good for it, too?"
There was a wicked smile on Cat's face. "No, I was thinking something even more interesting than money."
Jay was starting to get the drift of what Cat was offering to bet. Elsa, though, looked on without a clue, but remembered the conversation from the day before.
"So you're betting underwear now?" Elsa asked the younger woman.
"No, not underwear," Cat replied. "How about this, Mr. Vice President for Corporate Affairs? How about the loser spends the entire time we're in Bora Bora - four nights, three days - in nothing but a bathing suit?"
"Number one, Cat," Jay answered, "we're going to be on the beach most of the time anyways. That's not really much of a punishment. But number two, we ARE going to have to have the occasional meeting, and wine and dine the Tekkei people. We can't just show up in a bathing suit to a nice restaurant."
"No, I had Big Betty do some research," Cat said, referring to the temporary office manager that had replaced Karen while she was on maternity leave. Betty lived up to her epithet, though - she was a big, big woman. "We check into the right resort, the one that doesn't have any sort of formal dress requirements. We have meetings at the resort, we have dinners at the resort's restaurant, and we wine and dine the Tekkei people from the beach and on boats. Trust me, it's not going to cost us Woocurai. It may just cost you, my friend, a little dignity."
Jay hedged. He wasn't sure that he wanted to make this bet. Not because he thought he was wrong - Jay, after all, was almost never wrong. But because he didn't want to foul up the business deal that his father had been working on for so long. Ultimately, though, his ego got the best of him, and he agreed to make the bet.
"Alright," Jay said. "You make all the arrangements, though, and make sure that your swimsuit-clad body doesn't make us look like weirdoes."
"Well, I can speak for mine, but I assure you that I'll be well-dressed throughout the week," Cat said. Looking at Elsa, she said, "Okay, Elsa's the witness, right? If I'm right, and 'OK' is from Old Kinderhook, President Martin Van Buren himself, then you're wearing a swimsuit from the moment we get off the plane in Bora Bora to the moment that we get back on."
"And if I'm right, then you have to do the same," the vice president said confidently. "What happens if we're both wrong?"
"You both wear swimsuits and I'll be the only one who doesn't make an ass out of herself?" Elsa offered.
"Nothing. It's a draw," Cat replied. "Shake on it?"
As soon as they had shaken hands, Cat slammed a printed out piece of paper from the Internet down on the table. "Aha!" she yelled, as Jay looked over her proof.
"Cat," Jay said as he read the sheet, "this is from somebody's stupid web log or posting board or something."
"I knew you'd say that," Cat said, reaching into her purse. She pulled out a mini tape recorder, and pressed play. She had called her history professor that morning, and gone over the Old Kinderhook story. His voice was on the tape, assuring her that she was right about the etymology of 'OK.'"
Jay sat silently on the far side of the table when it had finished playing. He looked depressed and let down. "Fine," he said dejectedly, "you win. You've got proof."
A huge smiled flashed across Cat's face. She had won. She'd be well dressed, while Jay sat alongside her in nothing but a bathing suit. It wasn't like he had to go naked, or shave his pubic hair or anything, but it felt good for Cat to be on the winning side of this bet.
It was six o'clock on Saturday night in the fine metropolis of Babylon. Elsa and Jay were sitting in Raphael's, a trendy restaurant in the University District, and waiting for the third member of their party to arrive. Cat eventually showed up, five minutes late, and carrying a shopping bag with her.
"Jay-Jay, honey," Cat said as she sat down at the table. "I just came from buying you the cutest things."
"What are you talking about?" Jay asked, confused.
Cat didn't respond with words, but instead reached into the shopping bag and pulled out a small, leopard-print Speedo.
"Bullshit!" Jay cried. "The deal was to wear a bathing a suit, not a freaking thong! I can't even pick out my own swimsuit?"
"You know, Jay, some of us are winners, and some of us are losers. Me, I happen to know certain things, like say, the etymology of the word 'okay.' You, on the other hand, are stuck on the losing end of things." She leaned in real close to him, and made a big production out of whispering him sarcastic advice. "So just suck it up and be a big boy."
Cat giggled maliciously, and was joined by Elsa.
Jay was obviously perturbed, but he was playing along. "Whatever. I guess I'm going to be humiliated enough, what's a little more. Any other special conditions that I'm going to have to live with?"
"Well, I had Big Betty make the travel arrangement," Cat explained. "You've got your own bungalow at the resort, but we thought we could save Wonderstorm a little bit of money if Elsa and I shared one. Along with your clothes, of course."
Jay raised an eyebrow.
"Don't bother packing anything other than a toiletry bag. Elsa and I will hold onto the clothes you wear on the plane while we're in Bora Bora. And, at the end of the day, I think it'd be best if you gave me the swimsuit at the end of the day, and I'll give you a new one in the morning."
Jay was obviously displeased. "You know, I AM your boss."
Cat smiled. "You wouldn't fire me," she replied, "I'm too cute, and you know it."
He just stared at her, forcing Cat to ask, "So are you playing?"
Reluctantly, Jay agreed. "I just doubt that you'd be willing to do the same thing if this were the other way around."
"Honey," Cat began, "I have done this the other way around, remember? I don't know who told you, but I was compliant with my bets, down the very last detail."
They argued some more, but it was clear that Jay was going to follow through the bet itself, and conditions that Cat had outlined afterwards. He didn't want to do it, he didn't want to have spend each and every night completely naked in his bungalow. But he owned up to his lost bet, and he was prepared to follow through. They discussed the story of Old Kinderhook some more, enough so that they caught the attention of an old man that was sitting just two tables away.
"Excuse me," he said, coming over to their table, "I couldn't help but overhear the argument you were having about Martin Van Buren. Do you mind if I have a seat?"
As the old man sat down with them, Cat blushed slightly. If he had heard the parts about Martin Van Buren, he had undoubtedly heard the rest, as well.
He introduced himself as Dr. Bob Buchanan, an American Politics professor at Sussex University. More than that, though, he'd actually written a biography about Van Buren, and caught enough of Cat and Jay's argument that he wanted to come over and set things straight. He even produced a business card to show that he wasn't just making it all up.
"You're both right, in a way," Buchanan explained, as Cat's jaw dropped in disbelief. "'OK' definitely got its currently popularity from Martin Van Buren and the OK Club. But you're friend Jay is correct, Miss McIntyre, in saying that the saying ORIGINALLY came from an advertisement."