“That’s right. Calm down.” He put a hand on mine and looked into my eyes. “Everything will be okay.”
“Okay,” I said and we both smiled.
It seemed everyone was nervous, because in Home Ec., there were a few people who over-cooked their soufflés and failed. Except Louis though, and Mrs. Stettler was very proud. “Aren’t you nervous?” I asked him when she finished giving me an ‘A’ as well.
“Nope,” he said confidently. “I am a great dancer and so is Diane. We’re gonna ace this test. How about you? You nervous?”
“A little, but Connelly says I shouldn’t be.”
“He’s right. You are a good dancer. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all got in? How cool would that be?”
“That would be cool.” I laughed at his enthusiasm.
In Bio, I found Dale at our table going over the steps in his mind and moving his feet. “Dale? Earth to Dale!” I said, and he snapped back to reality.
“What? Oh, hey Kota,” he said, still sounding distracted.
“A little, but mostly because of everyone watching. And because of who I have as a partner.” He sighed.
“I feel for you,” I agreed.
“Did you see what she was doing the other day when we were doing the Tango? I thought she was going to start dirty dancing or something. Ugh.” He rolled his eyes.
“If you’re lucky, and I’m sure you will be, you’ll get picked and not her.” I patted him on the back in reassurance.
“I thought she was going by couples.” He looked at me with hope in his eyes. I shook my head and his face brightened considerably. “Yes! Mrs. Peters said it was too late for Johanna and I to switch partners, but she would put us together if we both made it through the test.”
“That’s great!” I said and he nodded just as the teacher came in.
“So, how was your practice with Connelly?” he asked after a few minutes. “You didn’t call me, so I assume everything went fine?”
“You assume correct. It was nice. We all practiced together and went through every dance style, then I played some games with them and ate dinner,” I said, smiling at the memory of the night before. It had only been the second time I was able to practice with Connelly out of school, and I was desperate to make sure I knew how to do everything right. Again, however, he roped me into having dinner with him and his family. Under any other circumstances I would say he was flirting with me and trying to make it more of a date than just a practice session, but this couldn’t be that. We were just friends, and friends practiced over at their extremely attractive partner’s mansions, then ate luscious dinners with them and their family… right? Right. Of course they do.
“Was this a date too, then?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“No, it was just practice, but it was late when we got done and they asked me to stay for dinner.”
“Hmm…” he said broodingly. Oh no, I thought.
“What are you doing, planning some kind of intervention, are you? Just because I went over there twice does not mean we’re dating or that he likes me. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”
“But you like him,” he said, looking at me. “Don’t you.”
I glanced immediately at Vincent, whose back was turned. “We’re just friends, that’s it.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know you too well, Dakota.” He narrowed his eyes speculatively.
“We just started getting along again. I don’t want to mess it up by trying to speed things up. And don’t use my full name like that.”
“But you do see it eventually going there? Am I right?” he said and I sighed. “I’m right.”
“Will you be quiet!” I whispered severely at him. “His brother is right over there and he can probably hear every word you’re saying!”
“Well, if what I say isn’t true, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Or should you?” He laughed then and I rolled my eyes.
After Math, everyone was let go early and led into the gym, while those of us who were performing in the test were gathered around Amelia outside the gym. Despite the cold weather, some girls were still wearing dresses at mid-thigh length with leggings. I myself was wearing a white sweater dress with white knitted leggings and high-heeled white boots. When Vincent saw me he said, “Kota, you look like a snowflake.”
“Well I think she looks nice.” Connelly slid in beside me and looked me over approvingly. Just friends. I reminded myself. We are just friends. Business, business, business!
“Hush, hush, everyone. Listen up,” Amelia said and the murmurs fell silent. “Now, I will be calling everyone’s name to make sure we’re all here, then you will all go into the gym. I’ve had a curtain drawn across the room so you won’t be able to see your audience and so you can do some last-minute practicing with the music if you want. But, while you are waiting your turn, I want everyone to be quiet and whisper if you must talk. If I hear anyone’s voices over the music while the test is going on, that person or persons will be disqualified. And when you are done dancing you may go and sit in the bleachers with the audience. Does everyone understand? Any questions? Good.” She then started calling out names, and as their names were called they were allowed to go into the hidden part of the gym.
“Hey, where did Vincent go?” I asked, turning around.
“He, Aubrey, Mira and Alister are entertaining the audience while we get everything ready.”
“Oh,” I said, and when we were allowed to go into the gym, I heard the music playing loudly and the audience giving ‘whoops’ and ‘oooh!’s and applauses. Curious, I walked up to the curtain and peeked out at the other side.
The two couples were dancing magnificently, and as it progressed, it somehow turned into a dance off as each of them did bigger and bigger tricks. Everyone was into it, even the jocks, and some of them were rooting for their favorite people. The song was coming to an end, and just before the music stopped, Alister and Mira did an over-the-top trick that left the crowd in roaring applause. “Looks like Alister and Mira won’t be so unpopular after this, huh?” I turned to Connelly, Ivan, and Sue beside me.
“Nah, because they’ll still be them,” Ivan said and we laughed.
Both Alister and Vincent were smiling as they came through to our side of the gym. “That was cutting it kind of close, don’t you think?” Vincent was saying.
“I knew what I was doing,” Alister said, sure of himself. “It was perfect timing. Don’t take it too hard V, the best man won.”
He patted him on the back and everyone said, “Ooooh!”
Vincent just laughed and shook his head. “It’s okay, I’ll let you think that for now. It makes you happy.”