“Now, the coach and I have set up four places for you all to practice. But let me warn you.” she looked us all dead in eye, her sweet face gone and a stern and serious face in its place. “If any of you think just because there isn’t a teacher watching you that you can act up, you better think twice. Because if I ever see, hear, or even suspect you of mischievous behavior and you lie to me, you will not be allowed to participate in this dance competition. Do I make myself clear?” she said, looking at us all again and I could tell there wouldn’t be any misbehavior.
Everyone either nodded vigorously, said, “Yes ma’am” quickly, or even both.
“Very good.” she said and smiled. I looked over at Connelly who was standing beside me and he smiled.
“Now, the Salsa and Waltz groups will be practicing in here as we have a large curtain that we will use to separate you two, and then the Tango and Swing will be separated on either side of the football field. Coach Bailey and I will be with either of you and may switch from time-to-time. Okay, let’s get this started.” she smiled and took us and the Swing group out to the football field while Coach Bailey stayed with the others.
Mrs. Peters gave two small stereos to the two groups for them to set up on opposite ends of the football field while she went over and sat in a chair in front of the bleachers.
“So, am I still going to meet your parents tonight?” Connelly asked as we stood ready for the music to start.
“What? Oh, I totally forgot about that. Uh, yeah we’re still on. It would do my parents good to have a surprise once in a while.” I smiled. He didn’t seem at all surprised at my forgetting the date, and I guessed Ivan was the one responsible for that.
“Good.” he grinned back and we started moving to the music and we were silent. He led me across the grass fluidly and I followed willingly, not wanting to stray from his rare closeness to me. This was the only time he was ever this close to me and I didn’t want to waste it by being slow. Even though it was a silence I wanted to fill, it wasn’t uncomfortable; I was able to be close to him, while still being able to concentrate on my feet so I could keep up with him.
A good hour later, after instruction and praise from Mrs. Peters, we were done and on our way back inside. Then, after we got our stuff, we went out to our vehicles, Connelly and I holding hands through the entire thing and not saying anything.
“Well, I’ll see you Kota.” said Dale, grabbing me up in a tight hug.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.” said Chase, hugging me next. After Chase let go of me, I expected Louis to swoop in next but instead saw him walking away towards his car. Dale saw my morose face and followed my gaze.
“Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him.” he said, looking back at me apologetically and then ran after Louis, calling for him to wait up. As soon as they were gone, my hand filled with Connelly’s again and I smiled up at him.
“Kota, come look at my car!” Sue called a few empty car rows away. I nodded and Connelly and I went over to her.
“Sue, it’s so cute!” I exclaimed, staring at the yellow bug.
“I know, isn’t it!” she said, grabbing me and jumping up and down happily.
“I’m going to miss driving with you, though.” she said, letting go of me.
“It’s okay. We can switch driving each other sometimes.” I said, smiling at her.
“Sounds great.” she said, coming to her driver’s side door.
“Well, I’ll see you in a bit.” she said and got in her car and drove off.
“So, I was just wondering if I could drive you home.” said Connelly, coming up behind me after Sue had left.
“Oh, I’m sorry, but I have to go to work.” I said, turning to him apologetically.
“It’s okay. Maybe next time then.” he said.
“Definitely.” I smiled. He smiled back and brought my hand up to his face and kissed it, looking me in the eye. My emotions started running and I leaned forward slightly, inviting him to come closer. But instead he leaned away and furrowed his brow at me.
“What?” I asked. Did I have bad breath? I leaned back and put my free hand over my mouth and checked. No, my breath was fine. I looked at him for an answer.
“I can’t.” he said, restraint evident in his voice. He looked at me apologetically.
“Oh.” I said.
“I’m sorry.” he said quickly, not yet letting go of my hand.
“No, it’s okay. I understand —not the right time.” I said, looking down. He didn’t fight when I took my hand back and I turned to go to my car.
“It’s not like that.” he said and I had a feeling Ivan had told him what I was thinking. He grabbed my hand and turned me back around to face him.
“It’s not like that. I do want you —I just… I just don’t know if I can do it and it be safe for you.” he said, taking my other hand and holding them close to him. I was still looking down, but now glanced up at him. He was looking at me softly and honesty bloomed in his eyes.
“I know… I have to go to work.” I said, once again taking my hands back and once again he didn’t fight it. I walked back to my Xterra, got in, and drove away, leaving Connelly standing alone in my rear view mirror.
I knew he was telling the truth, but I just didn’t know what I thought about it. I wanted to be close to him, but every time I tried he moved away. I knew how dangerous it was that he was a vampire and I was just a human, but I was willing to make this work, and he had to be just as willing too. One way effort wasn’t going to cut it. I was willing to wait for him to be ready, but not much longer. I didn’t know how hard he was working on it, or if he was even trying at all… I just didn’t know. And now with him being my boyfriend, that made it all the worse for me to bear. I sighed as I drove.