Milton 'n' McGold


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10. Chapter Ten

At the end of the week, where she kept having vivid, horrible nightmares about Sebastian and Jenna dancing on her parents grave. Abbi had to take action.

"You're through to the American Embassy. How may I help you today?"

"Oh, hello. May I speak to Mr Long? The military attache." Abbi felt awkard asking. She got the impression, form the few times that they had met, that Mr Long didn't approve of his daughter being friends with her. Even so, she was taking the risk as Sebastian had assured her that the text she sent Jenna had recieved no answer.

"Who's asking?"

"My name is Abbi Milton. I'm a friends of Jenna's."

"I'll see if he's avalible to take your call, Miss Milton."

Abbi teiddled the phone cord round her finger of the school's pay phone in the lobby, as some music came down the line as she waited. She had a row of twenty pence pieces lined up but the phone machine was eating them up, fast. Come on, come on. She fed another coin into the slot machine.

"Thank you for holding, Miss Milton,. I'm afraid Mr Long is unable to take your call at the moment. If you would like to leave a message, I'll make sure he get it."

"Ok, thanks. Can you tell him that Abbi called and wanted to know if Jenns was all right. She's not back to school yet and I'm worried about her."

"Do you have a number where he can contact you?"

"Could he leave a message on the school's main line?" Abbi read off the number for the school.

"Got it." The receptionist recited it back to her. "Anything else I can help with?"

Sorting her life out? Solving her money problems? "No, thank you. You have been really helpful."

"You have a nice day now."

Unlikely. "Thanks." Abbi put the phone back on the hook and heard the money tumble into the machine. No change in the slot for her to claim. The call had cost her over three pounds thanks to being on hold so long.

"What are you doing out of class, Abbi?" The head teacher paused on her way through the lobby, a party of parents with prospectus pupils in tow.

"It's my free period so I was calling Jenna's father, Miss Harper." Another note arrived this morning; this time it was a gravestone with her name on it and Abbi was desperate to talk to Jenna about it. Stupid things were responsible for her nightmares. She hated feeling scared in a place that had once been her refuge.

The head teacher did not look pleased, but with parents around she could not make a big deal of it. "We like our students to keep in contact with friends and family. Mobiles are allowed, naturally, but this one is also avalible for their use."

One of the father steped forward. Cheerful chap with croped straw like hair. "How do you like the school, if you don't mind me asking?"

Abbi glanced over at the stoney face of Miss Harper. Just at the moment she loathed Parton, it would be suicide to say that in fornt of the head teacher. "It's fine." If you don't mind threatening anomous letters and getting attacked in the changing rooms.

"Friendly? My Sally is a little shy. I'm looking for a school where she'll fit in."

"As you'll se in the prospectus, we can offer many extra character building courses at our annex to help with problems like that."

"I don't see shyness as a problem," The father said stiffly. "I just want to know if she'll be happy here. Abbi wanted to give him a cheer. "Will she enjoy it here?"

"She'll do Ok." Abbi hated lying, she couldn't say something she didn't believe in. She looked at her ehad teacher for premission to leave.

Miss Haper scowled at her. "Hurry along, Abbi. The bell for next lesson is about to go off." Miss Harper turned her back but continued in a loud voice. "Abbi is one of our scholarship pupils. We have bursaries for a number of special cases. We see it as part of us giving back to the community. The vast majority of our students, however, come from the very best of backgrounds. We think that this is one of the principal considerations for many parents who send their children here. We can guarentee that they will mix with others form the very highest echelons of society."

Snob. Abbi walked quickly down the hall out of sight and checked her time table. Dance next. She wandered what excuse Sebastian would give today for not doing any actual dancing. He was going to mess up her assessment and she had actaully been planning to take it for A level. That was going to stop. In the mood she was in, either he produced the goods or her danced solo.

All business, Abbi launched her plan at the beginning of class. "Mr Turner, Jenna's still not back. I think Sebastian and I will have to choregraph a new routine. Can we use one of the music practice rooms if they're free?" The music block had a number of large, soud proof rooms for orchastra practice. Abbi was determined to pin Sebastian down and she prefered to do it somewhere private.

"Good idea, Abbi. Got your music?"

Abbi held up a CD.

"Off you go then. I'll pop over in fifteen minutes and see how things are shaping up."

"C'mon Sudoku." She held the door open for him.

"You'r very assertive today." Sebastian picked up his bag. It was bulging open with heavy tomes on, what Abbi read the title, number theory and astronomy, as well as a pad with closely written but beautiful handwriting. Her scrawl would look alughable next to his. "I thought I was suppost to lead the dance."

Not if her was leading them into a blind alley.

"I don't see the point of time wasting when you can cut staright to the chase." Abbi poked her head round one door in the music block. "Good, this one is empty." She switched on the music player and slid in the disk, nervous about what she was about to do now the time had arrived. He already detected that her surface confidence had cracks, one of the many reasons he disturbed her. "Ok, now let me lay my cards on the table. I want to know if you can dance or if you've been messing about since you arrived."

His eyes went to the door.

"Uh-huh, no escape today." Was she really being this bold? Go her! "I'm counting on getting a good mark in this exam so I can do this course next year. If you rain on my parade, I will not be happy."

"Your parade?"

I will not fold, I will not fold. "Ours, if you pull your weight."

"I can't see that being a problem. It's only dance." Sebastian did some stretches and adbominal crunches. Abbi had to remind herself not to get sidetracked, stick to her aim. "You're treating this class, Abbi, like it's rocket science."

She saw the trap before she fell in; he was baiting her to say 'it's not rocket science' so her could give her one of his looks. "Fine, if you don't want to be here, just leave." She waved at the door. "I never said that."

"No, you just beahve as if all of this is beneath you. You're really starting to irritate me."

She bunched her hands in frustration, his eyes following her hands again in that unerving way. "What can you do, Ace? It's clear we have to satr again on this routine anyway, so we might as well play to your strenghts."

"My strengths?"

"You do have some right? I saw you do a Sudoku puzzle in seconds flat so you clearly have quite a brain. Dancers need to be quick thinking on their feet, understandng patterns, that's good."

I'm glad you think I have some strengths." He sounded so superior she wanted to kick him.

"Being the genius that you are, I'm sure you already appreciate that music is like maths."

"Yes, in may important aspects."

"Do you play an instrument?"

"Piano."

She could imagine that, he had the long artistic fingers. She shoved away the thought that she had always found people with musical skill incredibly attractive. "That's goog. The piece is 'Shake it out': do you know it?"

He wandered over to the piano at the far end of the room adn played a melody, something by Mozat, she thought, thought she didn't know it's name. "I don't listen to much contempary music."

Why was that not a surprise? "It's got great lyrics. Let's listen together and see what strikes you."

Sebastian kept his eyes closed for the duration of the song, looking like a person deep in meditation. She let the track play to the end. "So? What do you think?"

Sebastian proceded to give her analysis of the key signature, the structure and even the sound engineering. Abbi dropped her head into her hands.

"What about the gusty singing, the ballard building up to the explosion of sound, the emotional content?"

Sebastian shrugged.

"What kind of emotion do you think the song is trying to convey?" Abbi would haev found his ducking of any feeling-related language fascinating if it weren't at such an inconvienent time. "Ok, look, she's singing about being in a bad relationship, a bad romance that she has to shake free, a kind of rebirth." Abbi's mind darted to all kinds of possibilities. "Yep, that's good, that's strong. You can be the emotionally repressed guy; I can be the girl that gets away."

"I'm the what?" He did not look pleased by her casting. "The guy who is the devil on her back, weighing her down. Now let's put some moves together." She shook her arms and legs to losen the tension. "Ok, what do you think of this move?" Humming the chorus, she did a series of back arches, turning into a pirouette.

Sebastian eyes glistened with what might have been appreciation. "You're very althetic."

"I enjoyed doing gymnastics since I was little." her skin prickled with awareness of him; she had to admit he had a well toned body for a smart ass. Bicpes, triceps and six pack all visable under his tight back top. She wasn't going to look at them, she wasn't. "Maybe that's why I like dance. Got a problem with that? Have a go."

"Ok, I will. It looks easy enough." He attacked the floor, springing over, failing to spot as he turned and ending up with a wobbly stance. He looked taken aback that it hadn't gone well.

Abbi folded her arms across her chest. "Don't tell me, big guy; you have no sense of balance?"

"I understand balance." He put his hands on his hips, runnung over the move he had just made. "It's suppost to be easy."

"Easy?" Abbi had never seen such incometence fom someone doing Dance. He clearky hadn't done the basics. He had to be doing this as a joke, messing with her future. "You don't know the first thing about how to move, do you? You've been lying to me!"

"Obviously I don't understand it yet. Not your kind of dance, at least."

"And what kind of dance would that be then?"

Annoyed he crossed his arms and stared over her head. Eyes fixed on a poster displaying the various parts of an orchastra.

"Hey! Are you even listening to me?" She knew she was getting too confrontational with him but his remoteness was getting really frustrating. "I need you to work with me here. You can't be completly useless at everything, you must be able to move a little."

He clutched he elbows, looking as remote as Jupiter. "Please, give me something to go on. Ballromm, maybe? Isn't that what you posh kids learn? or...or Latin?" Hell, no. He had no passion for that. "Hip-hop?" That sounded too ridclous so she committed the fatal error of laughing.

His expression became even more distant. "Do your own dance, Abbi. Tell the teacher I quit." He picked up his bag.

No she didn't want to be the only one doing solo. "What, are you giving up on me, just like that?"

He walked out. It was an answer of sorts.

"Aargh!" Abbi stood in the middle of the empty room, wishing she had something to throw. She kicked the piano stool over. She really shouldn't have lost her temper like that; now she felt an inch higher. The annoying thing was she had to go and appologise now and saying sorry to Mr Arrogant was about as attractive as eating a *Prickly plant C*. One thing she had learnt was that he didn't take failing very well; she shouldn't have rubbed it in.

Zapping the music back on with the remote, she worked off her temper by dancing alone.

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