It was still mostly dark on Monday morning when I awoke, and found myself humming a song from my dance class. I sat up in my bed and yawned, only just recalling my dream before it slipped away. I’d been Waltzing with Connelly in the gym, no one but me and him in the room.
I sighed, longing for the dream to come true, and then pulled myself out of bed to get ready for the day. And as I rushed around I had a feeling that today was different, that something big was going to happen today. Maybe Connelly would be at school today! And maybe he would talk to me! Well, the last one was stretching it a bit, but at least he might be there. That would be enough for me for a while.
Sue and I were early for History this time and as I walked into the room behind Sue I almost tripped over my own feet when I saw who else was in the room. Connelly was sitting there in his seat. And I was surprised to see that he wasn’t tense like I expected him to be since he knew I’d be sitting beside him, but looking comfortable and leaned over his desk, writing without digging the pencil into the paper.
There was something different about him, and I watched him as I walked down the first row to my desk. He tensed gradually as I approached, but not nearly as much as before and was it me, or did I actually feel less hostility coming from him? He stayed leaned over his desk as I set my things on my desk, and when I sat beside him he turned his head over to me and smiled.
I caught my breath and my heart skipped a beat.
His smile was so seductive I almost started drooling on the spot. His smile faltered a little and I realized that I was staring at him stupidly and quickly flashed a smile. He regained his dazzling smile and returned to his notebook, leaving me to beat myself up for being so retarded.
I got out my pen and notebook, quickly flipping passed my doodles onto a new page. The teacher hadn’t come in the room yet, so I was going to have to sit there, fighting with myself not to look at him. I grudgingly set myself to work filling in my assignments, focusing unnecessarily hard on the paper, feeling like I might go cross-eyed if I focused any harder.
“Hello.” said a melodious voice and I looked over at Connelly. His head was facing me, the brim of his hat raised so I could see the circles under his eyes.
No wonder he’s been so horrible acting. I thought. He hasn’t gotten any sleep in it looks like weeks. Poor guy. I felt bad for him and angry at myself for getting mad at him. I wonder why he hasn’t gotten any sleep?
Then I realized he was still waiting for my reply so I quickly said, “Hi.”
“I’m Connelly Peters.” he said, smiling at me again.
I had to force myself not to stare stupidly again. “I’m Dakota Riley, but people just call me Kota.” I smiled back.
Connelly nodded, but then he looked down and his smile vanished. “I was rude the first time we met — And a lot of other times. I’m sorry.” he said and even though his head was down, I felt his eyes on me.
“It’s okay.” I looked down too. It was quiet for a moment, neither of us knowing what to do. I absently scribbled on my paper and looked around the room at the posters hanging on the wall.
“So, are you going to do the dance competition?” he asked. It sounded to me like he was forcing himself to talk to me.
Truthfully, I had completely forgotten about the dance. Ever since you’ve stopped coming to school, the class has become completely boring to me. I thought about saying, but decided that it was too romance novel-y. No, way too immature and besides, it would make me look desperate, which I was definitely not.
In fact, school had almost become a nuisance, except for Louis, Dale, Sue, and Ivan. Ivan was the only connection I had to Connelly and besides, he was the only one of his family that talked to me.
“Yes I am. Are you?” I said instead and looked at him casually.
“Have you picked a partner?” he dodged the question.
“Why not?” he looked at me when he asked. He sounded like he was happy that I hadn’t picked one yet.
“I don’t know. I thought Coach Bailey was going to pick one for us.” I had no idea where he was going with this. He had looked surprised and confused at the same time when he asked and I leaned back slightly, raising my eyebrows.
“Oh.” he said and looked back at his desk. I kept my eyes on him, waiting to see if he would do anything else unexpected.
“Who would you want to be your partner?” he asked, casually fiddling with his pencil.
“I don’t know. I doubt anyone would want to be my partner. I haven’t even started dancing yet.” I said. I relaxed and looked back at my paper.
“What about Dave? He likes you.” Connelly suggested, obviously halfhearted.
“I don’t think Dave would want to be with me after what happened last week.” I smiled at the smirk he badly hid.
“Don’t worry. I’ll show you.” he said.
I looked at him, totally devoid of words to say. “Does this mean we’re partners?” I asked, still not believing what was happening. Was I actually going to get what I wanted? A tingling and fluttering went through me and an excited smile crept onto my face. He smiled back, obviously pleased with my reaction, and then the teacher walked in, depriving us of maintaining our conversation.
All through class there was a tingling energy running between us, and when I peeked at him, he was already looking at me. I thought this was weird for him to suddenly be so nice and flirty with me when before he had been horrible, but I didn’t want it to stop either. I was quite enjoying his turn of mood.
I was having such a good time in fact, that it was saddening when the bell rang and I knew he was already gone. I started to get my things together when someone said, “So,” I turned around to see he was still there, obviously being slow so he could talk to me. This turn of events was getting better and better.