Davey shook his head. “You’re wrong. What you need to do is tell—-” He saw the way Seri paled, as if she believed his next words would kill her.
He opened the door, saying brightly, “Let’s party!”
Goukon was basically the Japanese term for mixers, a drinking party where men and women had blind dates as a group and it was up to them who ended up with whom. Normally, finding a way to sneak in alcohol would be a pain, but since a friend of a friend happened to own the karaoke place, an ample supply of booze had been made available from the start.
When Davey and Seri entered the suite reserved for the party, the goukon was already in full swing, with everyone made livelier by the free-flowing booze. The room was dark except for a huge retro disco ball showering the room with multicolored rays of light, and the music playing out of the speakers was loud enough to have everyone yelling to get heard.
There were only two chairs left unoccupied, but they were in separate tables. When Davey looked at her worriedly, Seri summoned up a smile, saying cheerfully, “I’m going to be okay.” She pushed him towards one of the tables. “Go on.”
Davey hesitated, knowing this would be the first date – of any kind – for his friend.
Seri rolled her eyes at her friend’s evident worry. “Stop acting like you’re one of my brothers and have fun.” She gave him another push and when Davey reluctantly made his way to one table, she took a deep breath and made her way to the opposite direction.
There were five guys and two girls, but none of them looked familiar to her.
Maybe all of them were from the other agency, Seri thought.
There were about fifty of them in attendance, half from Shiawase, the casting agency that Davey and Seri both belonged to, while the other half came from Kane Enterprises. Everyone was good looking, of course. Gone were the days when looks didn’t matter when it came to being voice actors or seiyuu. These days, one had to be versatile and multi-talented, someone who could impress behind and in front of the cameras.
She gestured to the chair, asking uncertainly, “Is it taken?”
The guy seated next to it shook his head with a grin. “For you beautiful, you can sit wherever you want.” He patted his lap. “This included.”
She managed a laugh as she took her seat, but she also couldn’t help inching her chair just a bit further away from him. While she did find the guy’s words funny, they also left Seri feeling slightly discomfited and awkward. No one in school had ever flirted with her so openly before.
“I’m Rob,” the guy was telling her as he offered Seri his hand.
She shook it and had to struggle a bit before the guy released his hold on her hand.
Rob gestured to the other guys at the table. “These are my friends, Colt, Ian, and Gary, then the girls are Marie and Sam and finally, there’s Finn—-” He nodded at the slightly older-looking guy seated at the other end of the table. “He’s on vacation from Hollywood.”
Oh. The last word immediately had her thinking about Vassi, but she hurriedly pushed all such thoughts aside. The point of coming to this goukon was to find someone who could replace him and not to continue fantasizing about someone out of her league.
Clearing her throat, Seri swallowed back her shyness and smiled at the sea of strangers in front of her. “Hi, I’m Seri Devereaux.”
She waited for the usual chorus of hellos, but instead there was just silence, with six out of seven pairs of eyes widening at the sound of her name.
“Seri Devereaux.” Rob repeated her name in a sick-sounding voice.
“Isn’t that the same name as the stepsister of the Grachyov brothers?” This was from the redheaded Marie, who had an uneasy expression on her face.
Seri hesitated for a second before admitting reluctantly, “I’m their stepsister—-” She was barely finished speaking when Marie shook her head at her.
“I’m out of here,” the other girl said.
And just like that she was gone.
Okaaaaay. Had she done something to offend Marie, even if it was her first time to meet the other girl?
She turned to the others and was astonished to find that Rob and his three friends were also busy scrambling to their feet. “Umm, what’s happening?”
“I’m sorry.” But Rob looked more anxious than apologetic. “You look like a nice girl. Actually, I’m very sure you’re a really nice girl, but…” He backed a step. “Nothing personal, you know? I need my job.”
“We all do.” Although Ian had only muttered the words under his breath, Seri had been able to interpret the movement of his lips, and her confusion deepened.
“What do I have to do with your jobs?”