Thursday Night: Dance with me


(Author’s note: Transition to after-party)

Before me stood Tyler Brendshaw, in spite of how badly I’d treated him today.

“Dance with me.”

I shook my head.

“Oh, come on. It’s the least you can do” He took my hand and pulled. I followed, reluctant but also a little thrilled that he still wanted to be with me.

“I love the way the lights sparkle in your eyes.”

I rolled my sparkly eyes at him.

“Really? That’s your opening line?”

“You are a decidedly unromantic girl.”

“Woman. Am I?”

“I think somewhere along the way you decided not to be romantic, and now it’s a matter of pride. ”

I blinked at him. Was I being insulted? He saw me wondering, and spoke quickly.

“It’s cool. I like it. It cuts through to the heart. Still, you know what?”

He let go of my waist and took both my hands in his, bringing them up between us and resting his lips on our intermingled fingers.

He whispered, “You should let me romance you a little. I’m good at it. Let me sweep you off your feet. ”

“And crash when you’re done. You might as well say, let me hurt you.”

He paused. All the tease left his face. He was a grown man, after all.

“That’s right. Let it hurt, if that’s how it goes. But it doesn’t have to go that way. Hope is the way to the future, Christine.”

There was something in his expression that softened me. I felt like he wished me hope for my happiness, not just because my fear was in his way. And, also, that my being afraid wasn’t something wrong with me, it was just another part of who and where I was.

He released my fingers and took my hips, pulling me a little closer to him before sliding his hands back from my waist to flatten his palms against the small of my back. Like he owned me.

“What would you do if I kissed you right now?”

“I’d push you and run away.” He looked closely to see if I meant it.

“You would, wouldn’t you? ”

He actually seemed hurt, like a let-down little boy.

“You haven’t asked me why.”


“Because these people would think I’m a slut. I was living with Chris, I spent Tuesday night in Jamie’s workshop, and now they all think I’m sleeping with Trix. Kissing you tonight would be over the top.”

“Wow, you are a slut. Might as well kiss me at this point, for all the good your restraint is doing. Who’s Chris? Who’s Jamie? And you’re not sleeping with Trix.”

He seemed so self-assured.

“Chris was my boyfriend until Tuesday. Jamie is my honorary kid brother. And how do you know who I’m having sex with?”

“I don’t know who you ARE having sex with, I just know that you’re NOT having sex with Trix.”

“You’re right, but I don’t believe you really knew. You were guessing.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re not even gay.”

“Everyone seems to want to weigh in on that question lately.”

“Well, whatever you are, you are beautiful. Thank you for dancing with me.”

He leaned in and kissed my cheek before releasing me. He disappeared into the crowd.

I tried to remember if anyone had ever called me beautiful before. I was often cute or pretty. Beautiful seemed too grandiose for the likes of me, a term reserved for those who achieved the highest societally-preferred appearance criteria on many levels.

When Tyler Brendshaw said I was beautiful like he meant it, the word landed in my stomach and spread warmth through my core. I suddenly felt beautiful. I was glad he was gone, so I could savour the feeling without him watching. I didn’t want him to think he had that much influence – he planted the seed, but this flower was mine.

I understood why he was such a successful playboy – you really believed him. Until he left and you could think again. Then it was clear that he was the last kind of complication you needed, simple as he made it sound. But I did love to be flattered, and I felt really happy as I looked around a party where I actually belonged, feeling beautiful. The music had sped up and I was already its slave before I’d even noticed myself moving in flow. I laughed out loud. Everything was utterly ridiculous.




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