Ten Seconds to Fall

Lucy doesn't know what to do with herself after graduation. That is, until she stumbles upon The 10 Second Fiesta.

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10. a night for something new

I promptly began to put some of my own things around the apartment to make it feel like part of it was mine. A picture frame here, a vinyl figure from Gurren Lagann there, a stack of books on the shelf in the living room. Dad had alerted me to moments when my mother wasn't home so that I could sneak in and grab my things. He wasn't exactly pleased with my living with my boyfriend, but I was short on options.

It was nice living above work, too. I almost never had to leave the comfort of the Ten Second Fiesta if I didn't want to.

On Sunday's, we would close and I would stay in to watch B movies with Lew.

It was a nice little pattern I'd fallen into and I wasn't keen on changing anything.

"But, you've got to change up something," Kali nudged my foot with hers as we sat on the roof top to talk.

"Like what?" I asked.

"I don't know, I just don't want you to internalize everything and let this stuff with your mom turn you into a hermit," she sighed. "You're too awesome of a person to lose yourself to that."

"I'm doing great," I snipped. "I have an awesome boyfriend, a fun job, and I see concerts pretty much every weekend."

She rolled her eyes.

"None of that is you being you," she said. "The Lucy I know always had her nose in a book, digging up new subjects and learning constantly. You've settled."

"I'm not settling-"

"I'm not talking about your surroundings," she said. "I think Jude is great for you, and I'm happy for you, but you've settled on yourself."

"You think so?" I asked, nervous.

"Do something," she begged. "Be happy. Be happy with yourself."

"I feel like I've abandoned my dad to the wolves," I sighed and dropped my head onto my knees. "Or, to the wolf."

"Oh come on," she groaned. "Stop blaming yourself for the fact that your dad is staying with her, and don't you dare blame yourself if he leaves. Come on."

She stood up and held her hand out to me.

"What?" I asked.

"We're taking you somewhere for an immediate change," she smiled. "It will be superficial, but it will be a start."

Four hours later, I returned to the cafe and met Jude's eyes. He gaped at me from behind the bar, swallowed, then grinned.

"Well, hello," he smiled at me. "This is something else."

"You don't like it?" I looked down at my feet.

"I love it," he stepped out in front of me and ran his fingers through my now baby pink tresses. "It's crazy, but it's awesome. You look fantastic."

"It isn't cheesy?"

"Not at all," he said and could seem to stop touching my hair. "In fact, let's close the cafe early and go out tonight. I want to show you off a little bit."

"Really?" I asked.

He nodded and quickly pulled off his apron, tossing it to the ground. I flipped the sign and we waited for the last of the customers to leave.

"Where to?" I asked when we got into his car.

"Let's go dancing," he suggested.

"Dancing?" I asked and he nodded.

We ended up in a room in the community center with two dozen strangers and learned how to do the Lindy Hop before we were given reign to 'free dance'. Swing dancing was crazy, and I was clumsy, but Jude led beautifully and kept me on my feet the entire evening.

I went to get some water after a few songs, but was cornered by a guy wearing a vest and a ponytail in the hallway outside of the dance hall.

"Would you care to dance?" He asked, but he leaned in in a way the suggested he was going to make me say yes.

"I'm here with-"

"It's just one dance," he placed a hand on my arm and I grabbed his thumb with my free hand, pulling back as hard and quickly as I could.

He yelled and backed away, yanking his thumb out of my grip.

"I don't know you," I said. "If appreciate it if you would touch me uninvited."

"Geez, I was just-"

"You okay," Jude popped his head into the hallway and looked directly at me.

I nodded and walked towards him.

"Wait-" the guy grabbed my arm again, but let go immediately when I looked at him.

Jude came out completely into the hallway and stepped between us. He was much taller than the other guy, but the other guy had broader arms and shoulders. I really didn't want to see them fight.

"Jude, let's just go," I said and tried to pull him back into the room.

"Okay," he acquiesced, but the guy persisted.

"I only wanted one dance, but your lady injured me. I want an apology."

"First, she's her own lady. If she doesn't want to dance with someone, that's her choice. If she feels threatened and wants to defend herself, that's also her choice and her right. If she needs to apologize to someone, that's her responsibility, not mine, but I don't think the situation warrants an apology from anyone but you."

He went to turn away from the guy, but the guy threw his fist. It connected with Jude's jaw and sent him falling into me.

My self-defense classes kicked in and I grabbed the guy's arm, shifting his center of gravity and pulling him swiftly over my shoulder to flip him on his back. He landed with a groan and a thud before I knelt down beside Jude and helped him to his feet.

"That's going to bruise," he padded at the skin around his chin with the tips of his fingers.

"Come on, let's go home, bruiser," I said and let him lean on my shoulder as we walked to the car.

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