"Ms. Riley?" Lucy asked for the third time, finally pulling her studio head from her thoughts.
Riley sighed and rubbed her hand on her eyes. She let out a yawn and turned towards the teen girl standing in her office.
"I'm sorry Lucy what were you saying?"
"I was saying thank you for taking us to the aquarium the other night. I had fun. We all did." She said with a big smile on her face.
Riley smiled back. "I'm glad you all had a good time. I did to. It reminded me of when James and I were in A-Troupe."
"What was it like winning internationals?" Lucy asked as she perched on the arm of the couch.
"Honestly it was unforgettable. It was a dream come true. I think for all of us it was a huge sense of euphoria. It was like we were dancing on air." She gestured towards the picture on the wall of her and James after they won internationals. "Honestly one of the most important moments in my relationship with James was our tie-breaking duet that won internationals."
Lucy smiled as she listened to her studio head talk and watched as a smile formed on the young women's face. "Wow. I really hope we get to experience that feeling."
Riley smiled. "I think we have a really good chance, but first we have to win regionals and to do that all of you are going to have to practice." She said giving her student a knowing look.
Lucy stood up, "alright I'll go to practice. Thanks again Ms. Riley."
"You're welcome." Riley said and gave her student a smile.
"Oh." Lucy said as she went to exit the office and turned around to face her studio head. "Do you know the name of the hotel we're staying at?"
"Umm its…" Riley mumbled trying to search her brain for the information.
What was the name of that hotel?
And that is when it hit her. She had never confirmed their reservations for the weekend of Regionals. Did she even make reservations to begin with? Riley was pretty sure she did, but now here she was second guessing herself. Sure, there was still 5 weeks before regionals but there were a lot of dance teams competing. What if they couldn't find a hotel.
Riley was so lost in her own thoughts she didn't even realize that her breathing was becoming increasingly rapid, and she could feel her heart pounding against her chest.
"Ms. Riley are you okay?" Lucy asked, deeply concerned that her mentor seemed to be unable to breath.
Riley looked at her with terrified eyes and tried to speak but all that came out of her mouth her were panicked sounds and ragged breath.
Finally, she managed to let out a couple of words. "Get James." she instructed the terrified teen who looked at her hesitantly before turning and running out of the office towards the stairs.
As she struggled to regulate her breathing, Riley found herself sinking to the ground.
"I'm failing again." She thought.
"James!" Lucy cried as she ran into studio A where James was going through a couple of hip-hop moves with some of the guys. "James, you have to come right now!"
Everyone turned their heads and starred at the girl with both confusion and concern written on their faces.
"Lucy calm down. What's wrong?" James asked, concern etched across his face.
"Its Ms. Riley."
James felt his stomach drop and his heart sped up. "Lucy what about Riley?"
The flustered teen shook her head, "I don't know, we were talking and then she started having trouble breathing. She's like panicking. She asked me to get you."
The words all barely finished leaving her mouth before James was running out of the studio.
"Okay all of you stay here and…um keep practicing" he cried, glancing back at the teens. He knew he should have given them more instructions, but his mind wasn't focused of that right now. All his mind was focused on right now was Riley.
"Riley?" James called as he ran into the office. His eyes rapidly searched the office for her until he noticed the top of her head which was just visible next to the desk. He ran over and knelt down next to her.
Riley had her knees drawn up to her chest and she was rocking gently back and forth as she tried to regulate her breathing. She turned and looked at him with a look of pure helplessness.
James knew exactly what was happening. She was having a panic attack. Given that they'd been together close to a decade, this was far from the first time James had seen this happen. When Riley got really anxious, she could sometimes have a panic attack. The last one she had was roughly a year ago. Right before an exam during her last year of business school.
Just like he had done then and all the times before that, James wrapped his around her and pulled her close. "It's okay I got you. Just breath Riley." he whispered into her ear. "Just breath."
"I messed up James." Riley mumbled as she sat beside him on the floor still wrapped in his loving embrace. It had taken some time, but she had managed to calm down and get her breathing under control. "I never confirmed our reservations at the hotel for regionals." She turned her head so she was looking up at him.
"Riley its okay. Don't even worry about it." He said, flashing her a reassuring smile.
She sighed and shook her head, "No don't say that. It is a big deal. It was my responsibility to make sure that we had hotel rooms for regionals, and I forgot to confirm our reservation."
"Okay but that doesn't mean you failed. I'm sure that if we just confirm now everything will be okay."
"James, I booked the rooms over a week ago. There is no way that they are still holding them for us without confirmation." Riley said shaking her head.
"Hey." James said gently getting her attention. "We won't know that for sure unless we check. So, let's check."
"Okay. Let's check." Riley said.
"And there we go." James said, clicking the return button on the laptop. "Five rooms on the 3rd floor booked and confirmed.
Riley let out a sigh of relief and leaned back against the couch. She had been right. The reservations that she had made had expired. Thankfully James was able to book them another reservation at a different hotel.
"I can't believe I let that happen," Riley said in a sad voice.
"Riley it was an accident. It happens. We figured it out. We have a place to stay for regionals. Everything is all good." James said reassuringly and leaned over to kiss her cheek. "I should probably get back upstairs and check on the troupe. Let them know that everything is okay."
He stood up from the couch and turned to look at his fiancé. "Will you be okay here until practice is done?"
Riley nodded but didn't say anything.
Reluctantly James left the office.
"I'm going to take a shower." Riley mumbled as she walked down the hall to their bedroom.
"Okay. I'll order us something to eat. Pizza?" James called from the kitchen.
"Whatever if fine." He heard her call back. A minute later he heard the shower turn on.
Riley sighed as the hot water hit her bare skin. She felt so drained after today. So tired. So, embarrassment. So frustrated with herself for what happened. Sure, everything was okay now but that wasn't because of her. That was because of James. He had stepped in when she failed and fixed the problem.
She felt the tears building in her eyes. It was happening again. She was starting to let the ball drop. In the grand scheme of things, forgetting to book hotel rooms wasn't a big deal, but for Riley it was an example of failure.
She started thinking about all the other things she should have done already. She should have contacted the bus line about transportation for regionals. She should have submitted the permits for the renovation. She should have spoken to building maintenance about the problem in the men's bathroom that had been going on all week.
She was failing as studio head. Just like last time.
She wrapped a towel around herself and left the bathroom. She barely made it to the bed before she felt her knees buckle and she fell to the floor as the tears started to fall. She let out a sob. All the stress and anxiety that had been building up for weeks had finally broken the dam.
Sobs racked her body and tears continued to cry.
That was how James found her a few minutes later.
He sat down on the floor and pulled her onto his lap. Wrapping his arms around her body, he gently rocked back and forth, running his hand in soothing circles along her back.
"I've got you Riles." He said in a comforting voice. "It'll be okay."
Riley only wished she could believe him.