“Well,” he said, patting me on the shoulder, “You’ll do fine. You always do.” Then he left us to go talk to the instructor.
“Kota, what’s wrong?” Sue asked as we made our way down to the court.
My smile had disappeared as soon as the coach’s back was turned and my unease returned. I glanced at her curious face and shrugged, but before I could answer I heard someone step down behind me and say, “So, Kota, lucky for you I’ve decided to ignore all these other pretty girls and take you as my partner. How do you like that?”
I turned around and saw Dave standing there, wearing that self-worshipping smile of his, and rolled my eyes. “In your dreams, quarter back.” I said, smirking as I waved a hand at him dismissively and made to turn away, but instead, he caught my hand and brought it to his lips. I turned back in surprise and repulsive chills instantly ran up my arm. My face burned with irritation and I was about a second away from slapping him with the same hand he kissed when the coach called for attention.
“Alright guys, everyone come over and watch a piece of the dance we’ll be trying.” he said, an enthusiastic smile on his face as his gaze swept over us and then turned back to the instructor.
The group of dancers looked up at his announcement and immediately went over to them as their instructor called for one of them to help her with the demonstration, my crush’s eyes never turning my way. I inwardly gave a sigh of relief that he hadn’t seen and was about to turn back to Dave and smack him anyway, but the coach’s announcement had given him enough time to walk around me and flash another conceited smile before running with the rest of his teammates to the coach.
“That was unexpected.” Sue said as we made our ways slowly over to the growing crowd.
“Tell me about it, and he’s lucky Coach Bailey called us when he did or he wouldn’t have a head right now.” I said, glaring at Dave’s back.
“Yeah,” she said, “I just wonder how your dancer’s going to take this.”
I looked at her. “Wha— What are you talking about, my dancer?” I asked. I scrunched my face in confusion, trying to act like I didn’t have a clue to what she meant.
“I mean the dancer you’ve been staring at this whole time. What is he going to think about Dave?” she asked.
I opened my mouth to say something, but then closed it. I turned around and looked at the dancer who at that moment had his back turned to us.
I had no idea what he would do, or if he would even do anything at all. I didn’t even know if he knew I existed, I mean he wouldn’t even look at me. But then again, if I was in his shoes, I would have trouble meeting the eyes of someone who had been staring stupidly at me all this time too. I mean, who wants to be with someone who looks like an obsessive freak, which I imagine is exactly what I looked like to him.
“C’mon girls. Come watch.” Coach Bailey beckoned and we hurried over.
“Hello, everyone, I’m Mrs. Peters.” she said, looking at us all sweetly. “The dance you’ve just seen is called a Waltz, and that’s what we’ll be learning the basics of today. My two students, Mira and Alister, will be demonstrating what is called Closed Changes.” The serious boy and his partner from before came together and took their stances. Mrs. Peters instructed us to all stand behind her since we were circled around the dancers, and then she began telling us about the steps as Mira and Alister took them.
Closed Changes was actually the linking of three different steps that took three beats each to complete, together creating the sweeping movement known for the Waltz. Mrs. Peters made them do it three times, each time stopping them at different places and explaining where the feet were supposed to go for both the boy and girl, and then how to move from that step to the next, and so on.
But as I listened to her, I noticed on certain words I could hear a foreign accent. I could only tell it was Italian from movies I’d seen, but she looked nothing like an Italian. She seemed too pale, and her features didn’t remind me of any Italian I’d ever seen on TV. I thought that was weird, but dismissed it since she probably just spent some of her childhood there or something.
After the demonstration was done, she wanted us to pair up and try it, so my dancer started setting us into pairs and spacing us out. Dave slid up beside me smoothly, making my hand itch with the urge lay it upside his head, but he couldn’t get passed my dancer. He grabbed Dave by the shirt and pulled him away towards another girl in the back, Dave protesting the whole way. He glared as my dancer walked away, and when he passed me I swore I could see the crack of a smile on his lips.
I tried to stay still while I watched him pair everyone up and when he had finally finished, every dancer was paired with a student and I was the only one left. This always happened because even though we had an even number of students, every time we had something to do and it was optional, there was always a group of students that sat out, leaving one student forcibly alone. The only people left were me and my dancer.
He paused now, looking unsure of what to do. Then he walked off and whispered something in the coach’s ear, who was standing over by the bleachers beside Mrs. Peters. When she heard what the dancer was saying, she gave him a confused and questioning look.
The coach turned to the bleachers. “One of you come down here and dance with Kota.” he called to them. No one moved. My eyes widened for a second, my feelings hurt, and then they narrowed dangerously.
“Come on now. If one of you doesn’t come down here, you’re going to fail for not participating.” he warned, but the kids just shook their heads and waved uncaringly.
I couldn’t believe he didn’t want to dance with me. I thought that pulling Dave away from me meant that he was interested in me. But then if he wasn’t, why did he do it? Had he changed his mind?
My feelings were bruised and I looked down just when I heard someone say, “Pssst.” I looked over at Sue, who was with the dancer she had pointed out but I never got to examine. He was handsome and looked a lot like my dancer, the only difference being that I could see this guy’s face. He had short dark brown hair like my dancer and moss green eyes. He held her gently and looked at me too as she pointed to her boot and acted like she was squishing a bug.
Her cutie looked down at her boot too, but the look on his face told me that he didn’t exactly agree with that. He didn’t say anything though, and looked up at me like he knew I needed comfort. And I must admit that was odd for a guy, especially if that guy happened to be a stranger.
But as they both looked at me I set aside his odd knowing look and smirked quietly. Sue was right, the dancer was a grody little bug and I didn’t need him. I still looked over at him as he stood there for a minute, looking upset. Then he walked over to me and reached out to grab my hand, but I jerked it away.
“Excuse me.” I said sharply, my eyes narrowed at him again. He froze, raising his hat just enough so I could see his nose and high cheek bones. They seemed tight, like he didn’t want to be there, and that was all I needed to know.