I ended up being anything but a cucumber.
When I got to the studio I was surprised to see Sutton dressed in a grey t-shirt and shorts, chatting with Talgus.
"Is it casual Friday or something?" I asked, throwing my bag down in its usual place, "I missed the email."
Raphael looked at me with skepticism.
"Would it have changed the way you usually dress?"
"Hey, I can't exactly wear couture when I'm dancing-"
Gus cut me off.
"-Play nice you two." he warned, "This is a professional institution, you hear?"
"Of course, Gus." Sutton assured, "It's all in good humour."
Since when did he call Talgus 'Gus'? And why hadn't I heard about it?
My old coach waved and headed out of the room, leaving me to my annoyance.
"To answer your question," Raphael offered, "I can't dance in couture either."
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked, confused.
"You want to be the leading lady, don't you?" he asked, "Well, that means that you'll need to learn the parts that involve a partner. As much as I respect Gus I didn't think he would make the greatest stand-in."
My mind was racing. I...was going to have to dance with him? I hadn't mentally prepared myself for this.
"Shouldn't we keep working on the solos?" I asked, chewing on my lower lip.
"I want you to have a basic understanding of the entire routine, so that I can have you run through it and see what needs work."
I couldn't find any fault in his logic. I swallowed hard. My stomach lurched.
"Okay. Where do we start?"
My brain was going into overdrive. Not only was I trying to place my feet, keep my posture, hands here, no not there, and listening to what Sutton was criticizing me on, but I felt as if I'd gone and chugged a gallon of coffee.
My limbs were buzzing and my face had likely taken on the colour of a flamingo.
Step, pirouette, slide...I lost my train of thought as I felt Raphael take my hand and twirl me around, pulling me neatly to him.
"Straighten up." he commanded, touching the small of my back and brushing exposed skin.
There was an overpowering buzzing in my chest, and I could swear he scorched me whenever we made contact.
It was the pressure. Going toe-to-toe with a legend wasn't easy. Yes, that was it.
Sutton stopped and sighed.
"You're being sloppy." he said pointedly, "And even sloppier than you usually are."
It was too hard for me to think up a witty reply.
He looked at me strangely and his eyes softened for a millionth of a second.
"Relax." he advised, putting a hand on my shoulder, "I'm here to help you."