You have time now.
It was a small dig from him. Since I wasn’t dancing, I had all the time in the world.
“Why did you think of me?”
He frowned. “I don’t know. But here you are, and I’ve been meaning to reach out. Maybe I telepathically called out to you to come see me?” There was the old Matt I remembered. He’d always been a flirt. A dancer first, a flirt second. He sidled even closer, folding his arms over his chest. His muscles rippled from the movement. “Really, Quince. How are you doing?”
I forced a light laugh as I edged back a step. My hand reached behind me, finding the barre, and the touch settled me. “I’m good, Matthew. Really. How are you doing?”
He noted the backward shift, and a knowing smirk filtered over his face before he let out a sigh. He moved to face me at the barre, his hand touching it as well. “There’s a new production in town, a new choreographer.”
My chest tightened at the thought of something new. Jealousy spiked through me.
We both bent forward, heads moving past our knees. Or mine was. I heard Matt answer, and we both paused and held the stretch, letting our lines show. “Too bad you’re still not dancing. You’d be perfect for the lead. They’re looking for a Latina lead, but I told—”
“Who is it?” I jerked upright, my heart pounding more than it should be.
Coming back from being gone so long would be hard but coming back to be a lead was not realistic.
But… I couldn’t help myself.
“What?” Matt straightened upright, frowning. “I didn’t think you could dance anymore. That’s why you left.”
“Things have… I might be able to do a production.”
His lips parted in surprise. “Well, then. The casting is in a couple of weeks. I can show you the routine.”
“I can do that.”
He stepped back, seeming to reassess me. “I heard your agent dropped you.”
“I can get a new agent. You know I can.” Why was he now fighting me on this? “What’s the issue, Matt? Why even mention the opportunity if you didn’t think I’d be interested?”
He opened his mouth, then shut it and shrugged. “I’ll let the new choreographer know. I’m the male lead.”
Of course, he was.
My chest tightened up. “Who’s my competition?”
A dry laugh. “Everyone, but no one’s going to be expecting you. I’ll only tell Patrice.”
“That’s his name? The new choreographer?”
“Her name, and yes. She comes to us from Switzerland. It’s through Seattle Dance.”
I moved my head up and down. I figured. They were more progressive than the other two established companies. “Thanks, Matt. Thanks for telling me.”
He let out another sigh, letting go of the barre. “You want me to show you the routine? I mean, it’s almost like kismet.” He shot me a teasing grin.
I ignored that, saying, “I’d like that.”
For the next hour, he moved me through the steps.
He broke each section down, moving me through each at a fast pace so I could get the steps down. It was complex but new. There was some hip-hop, some step, and some modern thrown into it alongside the usual ballet. I loved it, and he was right. As we began moving through the steps at a faster pace, my heart was pounding, wanting to burst out of me.
This dance was for me. I felt it in my blood.
I just needed to make sure I wasn’t rusty.
When other dancers started coming into the building, we slowed and began going through the arm motions.
Matt wiped some sweat from his face, his eyes gleaming. “I forgot how fast you pick up on routines.” Then he sobered, his arms dropping completely when the door opened, and a group of girls came inside. They looked over, gasping when they saw Matt, but he turned his back to them. He lowered his voice. “I’ll talk to Patrice, and I’m fairly certain I can get you on the call list, but you know they send out last-minute changes through agents. You think you can get one in time?”
Nate. Nate had contacts, and he was right. I was hoping he was. I could put feelers out and see who got back to me.
“About that other girl? The dance therapy girl. Should I give her your information?”
I hesitated, but that right there was my answer. “I want to focus on this routine and the agent first.”
“Okay. She’ll be around, so there’s no hurry for that.”
I dipped my head in a small nod. My chest was heaving from the workout. “Thanks, Matt. I mean it.” Bending down, I grabbed my phone and headphones. I was walking to the door when he called after me.
“I wasn’t lying when I said it was nice to see you. I’ve missed dancing with you.”
My chest warmed.
With Matthew, and with certain dancers at the level he was at, you never knew if they were genuine or not. It was nice to feel that he meant what he said.
“Back at you.”
I hadn’t shared with Nate about the casting or the show, but I talked to him about finding an agent. I reached out to a few I knew from before, and so did Nate. I considered asking other dancers, but Matt was right. If I was going to go in for that casting, I wanted it to be a surprise. There was a risk reaching out to the agents I did, but I knew most would keep it close to the chest. Or I was hoping. One agent from Nate’s contacts suggested meeting at the football game instead of a whole separate dinner.
I wasn’t a football fan, but I was game. It seemed more low-key than a dinner, and Nate would be there.
I didn’t know why that helped ease my nerves, but it did.
“So this friend who’s playing, how do you know him?”
We were driving there now, and the traffic was horrible.
And because I couldn’t help myself, I asked, “If we’re late, this agent won’t hold it against me, will they?”
I hated being late for anything.
He chuckled. “No. He’s probably going to be late as well, but you don’t have to worry about that. We won’t even talk until during halftime or after the game.”
“Because this guy is Mason’s agent, and I know how he works. The fact he’s coming is a good thing. It means he’s serious about trying to represent you, but he likes things to be casual. He likes to try to get a feel on the athlete.”