In Rhythm

When Kara struggles with a new dance for a competition, her teacher, Ruby, partners her, to show her how it’s done. Their chemistry is clear and it’s the best time Kara’s ever danced that routine, the only problem is she has to dance with Felix not Ruby, and the competition is tomorrow.

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5. Chapter Five: In Time

The ten minute call went out.

The last girl grabbed her water bottle and hurried out the door, she gave Kara a confused look but said nothing.

Kara just sat, alone in the locker room, devastated.

She had known this would happen; she had been stupid to come. She had been stupid to believe that Ruby would just appear, she’d said she wouldn’t dance, she’d made it clear but Kara had wanted to believe she would just turn up and now she had made herself look like a complete idiot.

She started to pack away her stuff: if she left now, then she could sneak out without anyone spotting her. None of the other girls would notice she had gone, none of the judges would care; it was just one less person to look at. She could get a bus home, break the news to her family and just work something out later on.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

Kara spun around to see Ruby, standing in the doorway.

She was wearing red, a sparkling ruby red dress that hugged her thighs, her hair fell about her shoulders, her lips were red, her nails were red.

She looked stunning.

Kara stared at her, speechless.

“I had trouble finding this place,” Ruby said, as if she had been expected all along, as if there had never been any question that she wouldn’t appear “I took a wrong turn and then when I got here that woman on the reception desk gave me the third degree, it’s just a good thing I dressed before I left home… come on,” she said, grabbing Kara’s hand “we’d better get a move on.”

Ruby pulled her through the doors, and they headed towards the backstage area, where all the other dancers were waiting for the call.

There were butterflies in Kara’s stomach, spinning and fluttering in anticipation, but not because of the competition. It was the sensation of her hand touching Ruby’s that made shivers of excitement run across her body.

Suddenly the numbers were being called. All the couples were filling out to walk the circuit of the ballroom in front of the judges, before the couples would dance, one by one. Ruby and Kara queued up with the other dancers, waiting for their number: eight.

As they heard ‘seven’ Kara couldn’t help looking up at Ruby, she wanted to see her look back, to see her smile, to see her excited to be there, to be dancing, competing. But her face was like stone, her jaw was set and she was looking straight ahead, concentrating hard.

Eight was called; they strode out into what felt like an arena, there were bright lights and quite a lot of people cheering. Kara knew her family weren’t there. She had told them that they would make her too nervous to dance, but it was really because she didn’t want them to be disappointed when Ruby didn’t arrive. But Ruby had arrived, she was here and they were finishing their circuit of the room and coming to stand with the other dancers, while the final few were called.

Finally Kara felt like she was actually a dancer, she was actually part of this competition, standing shoulder to shoulder with other, professional dancers who’d trained for years in ballroom. Just to stand next to them, to be judged on an equal standing as them was an achievement she hadn’t expected to ever make.

Finally they were all given the signal to head backstage again and wait their turn. It would be a long afternoon.

Kara stayed back for a moment, at the edge of the wings; she wanted to watch the first couple dance. They were good, but she knew she could dance better. She knew she had it in her to nail this competition and suddenly everything seemed to be within her grasp, everything that had been so far away this morning was within reach.

Delighted at the thought of what she could achieve, Kara almost ran back to find Ruby, to tell her that the first couple was mediocre, their choreography was nothing compared to the dance Ruby had come up with.

But Kara stopped when she saw her. Ruby was beautiful, she was standing at the edge of the greenroom, a cup of water in her hand and she was laughing as she talked to another dancer. A tall, good looking guy, his chest almost bare in his opened shirt, his abs looked as though they had been chiselled from marble and, just briefly as they talked, his hand brushed Ruby’s arm.

Those same words came flooding back into Kara’s mind again ‘I think you know…

It was no wonder she hadn’t turned to look at her as they went out on the dance floor, she didn’t even want to be here. Ruby didn’t want to dance with Kara, the only reason she was here was to get a pupil through a competition.

Kara had almost managed to pretend to herself that Ruby was hers, for this afternoon at least, for this one dance, this one competition, Ruby was all hers.

Only she wasn’t and she never would be.

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