Ladies night out.  That was what their weekly tradition amounted to.  Since their lives seemed to  intertwine and overlap, it had begun as a way for them all to become better acquainted.

The original members of this exclusive conclave were Sabrina DeLane, Dara Jensen and Ellen Burgess.  Over time they had gradually widened the circle by inviting in family and friends.

Dara had invited Justus Ward’s sister Faith.  Just because Dara and the handsome Quartermaine heir were no longer an item did not mean that they were no longer friends.  Faith had come to Port Charles knowing only her brother and younger cousin Keesha.  But over time and several short conversations, Dara had come to like the outspoken, self-assured woman.

Fast friends, the four women were kindred spirits.  Faith, Dara, Sabrina and Ellen were strong, beautiful women who looked at life from very different, but surprisingly similar viewpoints.  When they gathered, the conversations were frank and lively, and no topic was out-of-bounds among them.

Occasionally, like tonight, the circle was expanded to include others.  People who, as Sabrina once said, were not ready to handle the four women on a weekly basis.  Her half-sister Alexis Davis was a prime example. 

Sabrina and Alexis shared a relationship that could be described as ‘stormy’ at best.  Rare was the occasion when the two women could occupy the same space without instinctively going for the other’s throat.  Still, in the end Alexis was Sabrina’s family and that superceded any dislike she might have harbored for the family attorney.

For Alexis, the invitation to accompany Sabrina to Ladies Night Out did not occur often.  Each time it did, the secretly grateful attorney made an outward show of grudgingly accepting the offer.  Alexis did not have many female friends in Port Charles.  The opportunity to spend an evening with women of such diverse personalities was truly a gift.  By tacit agreement the constant bickering between herself and Sabrina was put aside.  It was at these times that the two half-sisters strengthened their unacknowledged bond of affection.

Also invited on these occasions were Keesha Ward and Emily Quartermaine.  The two younger women were both related to Justus and Faith.  Unanimous agreement among the conclave members was that both were in desperate need of some strong female guidance.

Keesha, who had in later years been reared under the hand of Mary Mae Ward, showed some of the fine traits that the older woman had tried to instill into her grandchildren.  But Mary Mae’s death and Keesha’s unfortunate experiences with romance had made her bitter and judgmental – two things the other women knew could never be allowed to happen.

Emily Quartermaine, on the other hand, was young, sweet and too trusting.  Life among the Quartermaine family had given her a twisted sense of what was real and acceptable.  If she was ever to survive her family and make a life outside of it, then Emily would require some guidance.

Faith had met the Quartermaine women.  Lila, bless her soul, was a wonderful old lady.  Emily had inherited her grandmother’s giving heart and forgiving soul.  She would need those traits to deal with the others of her family, including her mother Monica.  But she would also need what Dara, Faith, Sabrina and Ellen could give her.  And that was living, breathing examples of strong independent women taking charge of their lives and their loves.

Like tonight.

Tonight’s unplanned outing had come about due to Keesha’s mournful lament that she was currently romantically unattached.  Faith had impatiently listened as Keesha recounted the fact that she had no man in her life.  The words, said in such tones of defeat, angered Faith.  “So you don’t have a man!  Does that make you a failure?”

Keesha had been startled by her cousin’s vehemence.  “That is easy for you to say, Faith.  You’ve got someone in your life,” she countered.

“I have always had someone in my life,” Faith replied coolly.  Me.”  She took a long look at her young cousin.  “Learn to love yourself first, Keesha.  You won’t be able to truly love anyone else until you do.”

Looking around the table, Faith’s words echoed in Keesha’s ears.  The women seated around her were everything that she aspired to be: beautiful, confident, self-assured, determined and completely at ease with themselves, their lives and their bodies.

Since entering the popular little diner, the conclave had been the center of attention.  Even casually dressed, the women had drawn the attention of every man in attendance.  And several women as well.

It was more than the clothes they wore, Keesha realized.  It was their attitudes as well.

“Here’s a dollar.”  Ellen slapped a single bill on the table before Dara.  The sound startled Keesha from her thoughts.  “Go and change the mood in here.”  Ellen directed Dara’s attention to the corner where a state of the art jukebox played one melancholy tune after another.

“A dollar?!”  Dara scoffed, “That’s only enough for one song!”

“Then you had best choose well, huh?” Ellen drawled.

Everyone at the table watched Dara make her way to the jukebox.  For several minutes the beautiful young attorney stood there depressing the button that flipped through her choices. 

The sudden change in her body language alerted them all to the fact that she had made her choice of songs.  Dara inserted the dollar bill Ellen had given her and punched out the code for the tune she had selected.  With a bright smile she returned to the table. 

< Let’s go, girls! >

As the initial strains of Dara’s offering filled the diner, Faith and Sabrina immediately nodded and raised their glasses in salute.

“Excellent choice,” Ellen said. 

< I’m going out tonight – I’m feelin’ alright

Gonna let it all hang out

Wanna make some noise – really raise my voice

Yeah, I wanna scream and  shout... >

The song’s infectious beat soon had all the ladies seated around the table nodding in time.  Faith placed her drink down on the table, stood up and extended a hand to Sabrina. 

< Oh, oh, oh, go totally

 crazy – forget I’m a lady

Men’s shirts – short skirts

Oh, oh, oh, really go wild – yeah, doin’ it in

Style > 

Sabrina was not sure which was more amusing – the shocked, open-mouthed stares of Alexis, Keesha and Emily as she and Faith danced with abandon to Shania Twain’s sassy little anthem, or the hungry, open-mouthed stares of the male diners who watched them dance with equal fascination. 

< Oh, oh, oh, get in the action – feel the attraction

Color my hair – do what I dare

Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free – yeah, to feel the

Way I feel

Man! I feel like a woman! > 

All too soon the song ended.  But before Faith and Sabrina could return to their seats, the song began to play again.  Mildly surprised, the entire table of women turned toward the jukebox.

…And saw a line of smiling men, dollar bills in hand, all queued up to keep the jukebox playing.