There was one thing most people didn't know about Jade West.
She was a ballerina.
She had been dancing since she learned to walk. Her mother pushed her into it, all the while her father was trying to push her into the lawyer business. The dance studio only a couple of minutes away from her home became her second home. She stayed there all day, almost every day. When school started, she was there every day after school. She knew every dance move, the names, all the positions, everything. She was in every recital, every show, every performance. She became the most talented ballet dancer there. And now that she was a teenager, seventeen, almost eighteen, she still studied there.
But after Tori came along, she studied even harder. She was trying to be better than Tori. She had to be better. She HAD to be skinnier, a better dancer, more beautiful, more talented. She overworked herself, and stayed, practicing, for hours after her two-hour-long class was over. She practiced until her arms were sore and overworked, until her legs felt like jelly and she could barely stand, clutching the bar at her waist for dear life. She practiced and practiced and practiced. One night, she lost track of time, and Beck eventually came looking for her.
He found her in the dance studio, her right hand still clutching the bar. She was sitting on the floor, her legs folded in an awkward position, her left arm limp at her side, her breathing slow and heavy. He had to carry her out, because when he tried to stand her up, her full body would go limp and she would collapse on him.
Jade breathed dance. She lived dance. She WAS dance. In her auditions for Hollywood Arts, there was dancing. In her auditions for talent agencies, there was dancing.
Jade West died dancing. She had overworked herself; her heart couldn't take it. She collapsed into her fiancé's arms, and he later learned that she had a weak heart with a serious heart condition that she had never known of.
And now, as he leaves flowers by her grave, red roses with thorns, her favorite, just as he's been doing every day for the past seven years, he thinks of how much he misses her.
He reads her gravestone, one more time.
Jadelyn August West
July 24, 1994 - September 12, 2016
The most graceful and beautiful dancer anyone could ever see
Loved by many, missed by all
He can still hear her last words.
"I love you so much."
His fingers gently trail across the thorns of the roses, accidentally cutting one of his fingers open, just slightly, and it begins to bleed. He doesn't care, he ignores the pain.
He stands and begins to walk away, knowing that this is not the end.
This is only the beginning.
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