The rest of the week was full of training and practices, and The Nutcracker came together before my eyes. I didn’t talk to Vera again, but whenever we crossed paths she would shoot me a warning glance.
On the night of our dress rehearsal everything went smoothly, and I had to say that it felt amazing to be part of the troupe. Despite what Morrison had said about it being a mad power struggle there was an overwhelming sense of companionship and good spirits.
After we finished, everyone laughing and chatting excitedly as the order broke apart, I headed down off the stage, smiling when I saw Sutton.
He handed me a bouquet of white lilies, taking my other hand and twirling me around before walking towards the exit with me.
I’d changed out of my costume, but my hair and makeup was still done and I probably looked just a touch strange. Regardless of that I felt like a million bucks.
Performances would start tomorrow. I was finally a legitimate dancer. I would get to hear the roar of the audience, feel the spotlight shining on me. It was all quite exciting, to say the least. I had finally made something of myself.
Vera was smoking outside, and barely even looked up when she saw me.
“If it isn’t the gold digger.” She said sardonically, probably looking to get under my skin.
I hated to say it, but it worked.
“Fuck you too.” I replied calmly, walking on and pulling my hand out of Raphael’s grasp.
The car ride was fairly silent, mainly because I was quietly seething. That woman had a knack for throwing my mood. It was almost hard for me to restrain myself from hitting her, but when I remembered her crying in the bathroom I held it together.
She had her reasons. But what had actually disturbed me was the idea that I could be a gold digger. I hadn’t stopped Raphael from spending on me, and I had to admit that from an outsider’s perspective our...relationship, if you could call it that, probably seemed strange. The poor girl just conveniently falling for the rich man, and getting into the dance world?
I hoped he didn't see it that way.
Raphael and I had a candlelit dinner in a restaurant with a view of the Chicago River, and that did brighten my spirits considerably. He also assured me that he had dealt with his fair share of gold diggers, and that I was nothing like one.
When I got home, naturally, my phone went off and Bea resumed her interrogation.
“What kind of flowers did he get you?”
“Lilies. White ones. Why does that matter though?”
“Flowers have a language, silly,” she explained, “Now, wait a second...”
She sounded like she was flipping through a book, and let out a noise of triumph.
“Found it! Lilies are supposed to represent...beauty, elegance and sweetness. White ones specifically symbolise purity.”
“I...think he just picked up whatever flowers looked nice, Bea.”
Bea tutted in response, and I heard the book close.
“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s highbred. He’s been educated in these things, obviously.”
“Obviously.” I repeated back sarcastically.
“I have to go out with Alain, and he’s been telling me to meet him by his car for the past hour.” She sighed, “Might as well go have some fun.”
She hung up and I plopped onto my bed, wondering how she could go out so late with a performance the next day. Bea was undoubtedly a night owl.
I, however, was not, so I promptly went to sleep.