The Sweetest Fix

Page 10

All she’d ever wanted in her life was to be part of that spell. Knocking people under and sending them back on the streets refreshed, affected by what they’d witnessed. But today she would get on a bus and go back to Wisconsin a failure. No, it was worse than that. She didn’t even seize her chance to succeed or fail. She’d spend her whole life not knowing.

Sure, she’d come to New York and auditioned a few times, but dancers often went to hundreds of open calls before getting a break. She’d been so grateful for those few unforgettable chances, nonetheless. They were hard to come by without a lucrative job and a single mother who poured every dime she made into a mortgage and food. Still, she’d never had the opportunity to give her dream everything.

On the sidewalk outside of the Bexley, with the lights of Broadway beginning to turn on around her, giving up and going home didn’t sit right.

There was that Victory Fund.

Some of the money in the untouched account was left over from a national yogurt commercial she’d done as a child, though she’d burned through the bulk of those earnings paying for dance classes over the last decade. The rest of the cash in the kitty had been earned by Lorna, day in and day out at Cedar-Boogie.

Rather importantly, the Victory Fund was supposed to be used only if she made it. To help her transition to living in New York City while waiting for that first, glorious paycheck. It could buy her a week, maybe a week and a half.

If she used it now—when she decidedly had not made it—the funds would afford her one last chance to go full throttle and catch the right casting director’s eye. Wasn’t this what she’d been training for her entire life? A real shot?

Indecision needled Reese in the side.

She might have won an audition with Bexley, but she couldn’t even hold an audience at the car dealership. She’d never even made it to the second round of an audition in this city. Was she being selfish risking the money? Would using the money in her fund be a waste? If anything, the money should go back to her mother, the woman who’d earned it. There might not be a ton of cash in the account, but it would take a lot of pressure off the woman who’d done everything for Reese.

She supposed she could try and get a job. But where? She had no waitressing skills. Definitely no office experience. She taught little kids how to shuffle hop and pulled soft serve cones. By the time she found a job she was qualified for, she could be out of money. And anyway, having a job would prevent her from using the meager space of time to attend auditions.

With no solutions forthcoming, Reese did what she usually did in a moment of indecision. She called Lorna.

“Hello, my darling Reese’s Pieces,” Lorna answered slowly, expectantly. Reese could see her mother rocking side to side, toes digging into their old carpet. “Before you tell me if you were chosen by Bexley, I want you to know I’m proud of you, no matter what. Okay?”

Reese’s eyes slid shut, a pang catching her in the breastbone. “Thanks, Mom.” She blew out a breath, finding herself incapable of revealing the depth of her shame. Not even making the audition. It was too hard a pill to swallow herself, let alone ask her mother to share in the grief. “Mom, it’s, um…not going to happen with Bexley. I’m so sorry.”

“Okay!” Lorna said too quickly. “Hey, that’s okay, kiddo. Why would you be sorry? I’m sure you gave it every ounce of effort you had. Did you have fun? That’s what I want to know!”

The only fun she’d had in the last twenty-four hours was with Leo, but there was no point in thinking about that right now. “Mom, I was thinking…and you can say no, of course. Please say no, if it’s better for me to come home. I’ll understand. But—”

“You want to use the Victory Fund.” She could hear the smile in her mother’s voice. “I was kind of hoping you would say that. You’ve never really had a chance to dig in, Reese. You need time in New York. The cash won’t buy you much, but it’s yours. It’s been waiting for you.”

Reese tipped her head back and let out a long breath, relief cascading downward from the crown of her head to her toes. “Are you sure you’ll be okay teaching classes without me?”

Her mother’s voice was warm. Reassuring. “I’m positive, kiddo. Go get ’em.”

After hanging up the call with Lorna several minutes later, Reese took a moment to let the situation sink in. It was really happening. She had the gift of time, thanks to Lorna. Not a lot. But after the sacrifices her mother continued to make for the sake of Reese’s dancing? She wouldn’t let a single second go to waste.

Reese woke up her phone again and tapped open the site advertising short-term sublets she’d been browsing on and off all morning. As soon as the ads went up, they disappeared almost immediately, gone in the wave of competitive New York apartment seekers. Even single room rentals were out of her price range…

A new ad appeared at the top of the feed and Reese sat up straighter.

$100/night. Midtown West.

Was that number a typo?

She could afford that. For a week. Two, even, if she was stingy with her food budget.

Holy shit. This chance was going to vanish in a heartbeat.

It might be early in the morning, but this city never slept. Especially on real estate.

Coming to her feet, Reese tapped the ad, her thumb hovering over the phone number that would connect her with the advertiser. Was she really doing this? Was she going to use her savings on what could be a pipe dream?

The Pikachu’s words floated through her mind with startling accuracy.

You got all the way to New York on a day’s notice and you’re just going to pack it up and go home to friggin’ Wisconsin? At the first sign of an obstacle?


If she was the heroine in a musical, she would pull up her stockings, pick up the new edition of Front and Center, start circling open calls. She wouldn’t let this setback be the end of her hopes and dreams. Doing so would plague her for the rest of her life.

Reese turned in a hoppy circle, then pressed the phone number, blanching when a brisk French-accented voice answered on the first ring. “Oui, hello. You are calling about the room?”

“Yes,” Reese breathed. “Am I the first?”

The woman hummed an affirmation. “I’ll text the address to this number. When you get to the vestibule, ring the bell listed as LaRue. Sixth floor.”

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