It's only 7:15? It has to be later than that.
I had been checking the time basically every five minutes. I just want this shift to end. Chloe is eyeing me suspiciously as I look at my watch for probably the hundredth time tonight.
"What is up with you?" she asks crinkling her lips into a cute smile.
"What do you mean?" I am trying my best to act nonchalant.
"You keep checking the time. Do you have a hot date tonight?" she teases.
Little does she know that I have been waiting anxiously for tonight practically the entire week. When Mike Phillips asked me to be his best man, the last thought I had was that by some odd twist of fate, Juli Baker and I would cross paths again. She had moved all the way across the ocean, to a different continent. Yet suddenly, here she was again. And to make matters worse, she somehow manages to put a bit of a spell over me. I keep attempting to convince myself this isn't the case. But it's useless. I can't keep her off my mind. I don't give myself away though.
"No, silly. I promised Mike I'd take the dance class for his wedding."
Chloe is giving me a funny look. "Dancing, huh? Since when do you dance?"
"I don't." Let's just say I have the rhythm of a white boy. " That's why I'm taking the class. So they can teach me not to look like a jackass on the dance floor for my best friend's wedding," I answer with a clever grin.
She giggles. It's kind of cute when she giggles.
"Ok, Fred Astaire. I can cover the rest of the shift tonight. Get out of here and go practice," she says smiling.
"Really?" This isn't the first time she's done something really nice, but it still surprises me.
"After all, Mike will never forgive me if you look like a jackass for his wedding," she replies with a wink.
"You are incredible. I owe you!" Finally, free. I am heading for the door when her voice stops me.
"You'll have to show me those moves sometime. We'll make a night of it!" She is smiling hopefully at me, with a twinkle in those turquoise-green eyes.
Goodness, she has a cute smile. Suddenly it dawns on me, she is asking me out.
"Oh." I reply stupidly. I hadn't been on a date in months. I did say I owed her, and she was really pretty. What's there to lose? I shrug and smile back. "I'd like that."
"Great!" She is practically beaming.
I gather the last of my belongings and wave. "I'll see you later, Chloe." And with that, I'm on my way to the little dance studio. Within a short amount of time, I arrive. The distance between my job and the dance studio is not very far. I walk in and see the girls stretching a bit while Mike looks completely miserable.
"I thought you weren't going to show," Mike says with a sigh of relief.
"What is the best man for?" I assure him with a pat on the back.
Dana and Juli are walking towards us.
"You boys ready to shake your groove thing?" Dana asks excitedly.
"Honey, if me taking a dance class doesn't prove that I love you, I don't know what does." Mike is half joking, half serious.
Dana gives Mike a brief kiss. "Juli, isn't my fiancee just the sweetest?!"
Juli nods. "You really are lucky. Now can you both stop being so adorable? It's kind of sickening how perfect you are together." She makes her way to the dance floor, barely acknowledging my presence.
There are a few couples on the dance floor, but not many. Everybody is partnering up and Juli seems to be avoiding the inevitable. Finally, the instructor makes her way over.
"Come, come. You've heard the expression, 'it takes two to tango'. You can't very well dance if you stand as if there was a ten foot pole between you. Now, don't be shy. Get closer." She gently tugs Juli in my direction.
"Hi," I say rather stupidly. She is standing directly in front of me and looks just as uncomfortable as I feel. All eyes are on us, thanks to the instructor bringing us to the attention of everyone taking the class.
The instructor shakes her head. "No, no, no, this will not do!" She proceeds to place my right hand on Juli's hip. She brings her left hand to rest on my shoulder and the other in my hand. She circles us, observing our "frame" and shakes her head in disapproval. "You are like an ironing board. The woman needs to be delicate and fluid. Relax, darling." The instructor loosens Juli's shoulders, takes a step back, and breathes a sigh of relief. "Perfect," she sings out happily and chaseès her way to the front of the class to begin the lesson.
Dana is snickering next to us and I give Mike a pleading look to make her stop. I already feel embarrassed enough as it is. Juli is probably feeling ten times as mortified. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough, we are stuck in the position we were left in, staring directly at one another. Well, this is awkward. The instructor keeps glancing in our direction, making it clear we are to keep our "frame".
"Look, I'll try not to step on your toes, 'darling'. But no promises." It's an attempt to mock the instructor and hopefully make it a little less awkward.
To my relief, Juli laughs at this. "Thanks. That's really comforting, Bryce," she replies sarcastically.
"You know I've never been much of a dancer," I admit somewhat embarrassed about my lack of rhythm.
"Oh, I remember all those school dances. I'd spend hours trying to convince you to dance and when you finally agreed, you'd barely manage to keep rhythm; not even on a slow song," she teases.
"I did try though. You have to at least give me credit for that."
"I suppose that's true."
"And whatever lacked in my dance abilities, I made up for with my charming looks," I add with a wink.
Juli rolls her eyes. "Sorry, I'm not giving you credit for that one," she answers playfully.
The dance lesson commences and we are learning the basic steps. Everything is going great. Her body language is more relaxed and she's laughing. It's the first time since she's been back and I feel like she's let her guard down around me.
Ms. Regina, the tango instructor, is making her rounds, making sure everybody is catching on to the steps. "Ok, you know the basics. Now we dance! Remember, tango is the dance of love. There must be fire. There must be passion. There must be heat!" With that, she blares the music, the sound filling the room.
For some reason after her little monologue about passion and love, Juli and I seem to have gone back to square one. We reluctantly form our starting position to begin dancing. Ms. Regina is calling out steps. She seems intent on making sure we are committed to the dance. She stands nearby, coaching us. "You are doing the steps, but not dancing," she says rather pointedly. "Your feet know what to do. Now look in each other's eyes. Tell a story!"
With nowhere to go, we finally give in. The music is sweeping us across the dance floor and I am no longer concentrating on the steps. In fact, I can't even think as Juli has this intense look in her eyes. There is something fiery and fierce burning inside them. For a brief moment, I can see just a fraction of the Juli Baker I remember. The one who had made me flip like no other girl had before. She had always had something special. She was the girl with the sparkle in her eye. I'm unaware that our frame has gotten much tighter, her body brushing against mine with every move. I am too wrapped up in those eyes to notice. Somehow our faces have moved just inches away from each other, our lips almost touching. The urge to close the tiny gap between our lips is overcoming me. Just when I can no longer bear it, the song suddenly ends. Immediately, Juli and I are thrown out of the trance. The whole class is applauding, to my surprise. How long had they been watching?
"Yes!" Ms. Regina exclaims with excitement. "Now, THAT is how a tango is done. Bravo! This couple here has it. So much passion! You two keep doing what you're doing," she adds with a wink and makes her way to the other couples on the dance floor.
Juli has backed away. All I can do is stare dumbly after her, longing for the closeness we had just shared while dancing. I already miss the feeling of having her near.
Dana makes her way over to us. "That was fabulous. Whatever you just did, teach me to do at my wedding. That was spicy!" Dana squeals with excitement.
"I'll try, Dana," Juli smiles meekly.
"I'm starving from this dancing stuff. Let's go get some grub," Mike suggests to the group.
"Spoken like a true man," Dana grins.
"I'm actually sort of tired. I think I will just go home," Juli is quick to respond.
Why does the night have to end now? I haven't felt like this in so long. I don't want it to end yet...
"Juli, we won't be out too late. We can have girl's night at my place and you won't even have to drive home," Dana suggests.
Juli shakes her head. "No thanks, Dana. I really am tired. But I will see you all at the rehearsal dinner." She hugs Dana goodbye, and doesn't even hug Mike as usual as if having to avoid hugging me too. With that she's out the door and an unexplainable feeling of sadness washes over me.
"Odd. Juli never turns down a girl's night." With a shrug, Dana marches towards the exit, while Mike and I follow. "Let's go eat, gang."
Mike gives me a strange look. "What the hell was that all about?"
This time, I shrug. "If only I knew, Mike. If only I knew..."
A/N: First off, SORRY for not updating in so long. I did not anticipate this semester being so difficult and busy, so I haven't had much time to write. I've been working on this chapter and finally feel like it is good enough to post. Hopefully you like it! Secondly, to those of you who reviewed and so patiently waited on this this update, I really appreciate you reading the story and your excitement for me to continue. It really motivates me to keep writing, even with my crazy schedule. Thirdly, thanks to new subscribers/followers. You are all awesome! I guess next chapter will be the rehearsal dinner or the actual wedding? I haven't decided yet... :b