A whole new murmur went through everyone.
“Yes, yes.” She was talking to herself, nodding and walking around me once more. “Yes. I want to do a new solo piece for you, but I need to think about it first. Give me the day. Or wait. You come with me.” She turned. “Miss Aimes.”
“Run through the rest with the dancers. Start at the end of where she and Matthew would finish.”
“Uh…” Miss Aimes was looking at Matthew. “What should we have Matthew starting from?”
“He’ll run in with them and go to his normal place. We’ll use her understudy today. I’d like Quincey to come with me for the afternoon.”
Matthew was frowning at me, but I held my hands up in a slight shrug. I didn’t know what was going on, either.
“Yes.” Patrice wasn’t waiting. She rotated on a heel click and motioned for me. “Quincey, if you may?” She strode off, and I hurried to pull off my pointe shoes, then darted to grab my bag and go after her. She was halfway down the hall by the time I cleared the room.
“Come, come, Miss Quincey. We need to get into our feelings this afternoon.”
I followed her to one of our back rooms, and she cut the lights except for two.
“Okay. I want you in the middle and hunched over. Look like you’re in pain.”
I did as she said.
She had moved to a corner.
“I’m going to go through the moves in my head, but for now, I want you to dance by yourself. But--” Her voice raised on a sharp note. “I don’t want you dancing as a woman. You’re going to dance as a man. I want aggressive, fierce, and raw. I want beautiful lines. Grace. But fierce. I want you to make the crowd gasp at the things you can do, and I know you can do them. I’ve seen you move.” She waited for a beat.
The music from the show started playing.
I hesitated, but then instead of the music, I heard Nova’s laughter.
I began to move.
I heard Nova’s babbling.
I moved faster.
I saw her picture for the first time.
I saw Valerie opening the door with her in her arms.
I saw her on Valerie’s lap as we laughed in her kitchen.
I saw Nova in my arms as Valerie was talking to Nico in the living room.
I heard the phone call to tell me that Valerie had died.
I saw my mother as I walked into the room, how Guy was helping her stand.
I saw Valerie in the coffin for the wake.
I was holding Nova.
When the coffin was lowered into the ground.
The first time Nova spent the night.
That first night with her in my father’s house.
Nate with Nova.
The first time they met, as he held her, as they studied each other.
I saw Nova waving Miss Penguin in the air.
I kept moving. Spinning. Throwing myself in the air. My back arched.
I pushed off, looking as if I was levitating, and it was all Nova.
I was dancing to her.
Smelling Valerie’s favorite perfume.
How Nova quieted.
How I felt walking out with Nate at my side.
Him touching me.
How he claimed me.
“I want to fuck you.”
I was spinning, spinning, spinning, and I stopped on a gasp. My back arched out. My arms in front of me, and I pushed up, then I began moving backward. My fingers and arms were moving as if they were ribbons.
I was going to Nate.
He was embracing me. I was feeling loved by him.
I was loving him back.
I switched, bending almost all the way down so my head was behind my ass, and my arms were in the air. The ribbon was still moving. I was attached to the sky above, to the ground below, and I was moving again. Round and round. I was going faster and faster.
Tears were streaming down my face.
The music was building.
The tempo was increasing.
My spins kept going, going, matching the same pace.
Until it stopped.
This was the moment when Matthew was supposed to dip me to the floor as he covered my body with his.
I flipped my body over as if I were him, and I was staring at the ground. I was panting. Sweat was rolling down my body.
I had blended my movements and his movements.
Now it was done.
And I was broken.
The music cut out. I couldn’t move, not yet. The emotion was pounding through me.
Patrice strode from her corner. She added, “You can do what I want you to do.”
I was almost gasping, the emotions were still rolling through me, but she moved to me. She was speaking as if she were waiting for my own opinion on the weather.
I looked, straightening now. I stood, the sweat falling down my face.
She wasn’t looking at me. She was focused on her phone. “Do you have your own studio? I heard that you did.”
She put her phone away and smiled at me. “I’m going to need the afternoon to go over your steps, but tomorrow is my last day. I’m going to have everyone asking me questions, so I’m thinking total privacy is needed for us to get this piece down. Could I come to you?”
She frowned. “No. I won’t need that long. This evening. We’ll go through everything. Is that doable for you?”
“You want to come to my place and go through these steps?”
“Yes. Is that an option? I like what you did just now, and I don’t want to lose its momentum. If we finish in time, I can be here tomorrow for everyone else then.”
She was coming to my house. Well, Nate’s house. “I dance in the pool house. It’s not that big.”
“That won’t work. New plan. You go eat and then come back. Meet me in an hour. I’ll have everything ready to go. It’s going to be a long night.”
She strode off, and I was left wondering what in the hell just happened.
“What’s going on?”
Quincey had called, explaining that she needed to rehearse this evening. She sounded excited but nervous, and I knew something was different. This didn’t sound like a normal event for her.
“She wants to do a new piece with just me. It’s a solo. It’s last minute, so we have tonight to go over everything. It’ll probably be late.”