Could This Be Love? (03)

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A Story by Deborah Benson


One day I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday. Why live life from dream to dream…

As grateful as she was for the help, Kimberly couldn’t help but find the man’s lack of skill when it came to cleaning was almost pathetic.

They had split the stage into half in order to cover more ground and while her side was clean enough to reflect the stage lights overhead John’s side was still covered in confetti from the final number and wouldn’t reflect a single light. It was almost as if he had never even had to clean anything before.

“You know just pushing it around isn’t going to get you anywhere,” she said, placing her mop back into the bucket at the front of the stage.

“I’m sweeping. What’s so wrong with that?”

John gestured to the small pile of dust accumulating at his feet.

It was almost humorous how little of the stage he had managed to clean in the time it took her to do her entire half.

“Well for starters your only getting the stuff to move into a pile.” Kim walked over to his side of the stage, pushing the mop and bucket with her. “You have to sweep it quickly then mop everything afterwards.” Taking the broom from him she began to show him how to sweep properly, getting a larger section done in only a few moments. “You act like you’ve never had to clean the floor before. Your kitchen must be a disaster.”

Continuing to clean the stage Kim managed to work around the now silent man, focusing too much on her job to consider why he chose now to be quiet. He’d been complaining about the smell of the mop water the entire time along with the amount of glitter on the stage. She had become so accustomed to hearing his complaints that the silence was almost uncomfortable.

“Well I wouldn’t know, the chef doesn’t allow anyone back there unless she’s had it cleaned,” he said finally, almost as if it was the obvious response.

Kim looked back from her cleaning expecting to see him smiling to give away the joke. His face however, made him seem just as confused as she was.

“You have a chef… like a personal chef?” she clarified, cleaning while they spoke. “Yes. Though she’s not with me at the moment, she doesn’t like to travel.”

This was all absurd. People who have the money for personal chefs didn’t bother to hang around theaters after closing to talk to waitresses, and they certainly didn’t agree to help with the cleaning.

“Who are you anyway?” Kim began to mop up the remainder of the stage, leaving it sparkling clean.

“John Grey, ” he said without a moment’s hesitation, finding nothing strange in their current situation at all. “My father owns these resorts and my cousin runs these silly little shows, I’m sure you’ve met her, she’s rather hard to miss.”

Unable to even think of where to being apologizing for goofing off in front of the owners son Kimberly quickly finished her cleaning, shoving everything back into a closet backstage.

“I’m sorry, s-sir. You and Dakota don’t look alike so I didn’t even think that that would be why you…” Kim caught herself rambling, too embarrassed that she couldn’t recognize someone who could very easily have her fired just for making fun of how he couldn’t clean. “Kimberly,” John chuckled. “Relax, I’m just here on vacation. I’m just like any other guest at the resort, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Something about the way he said her full name made her pause, coming back down from her small panic. The small smile on his lips made her stomach knot, and for a moment she thought about how the few stray pieces of glitter stuck to his skin made him all the more enjoyable to look at. But before she could even open her mouth to accept his small gift of security the theater doors swung open. The silhouette of a rather gangly man breaking the privacy of the empty theater instantly.

“John, come on! Honestly how long does it take you to get a wallet—” The man’s voice trailed off as he saw both John and Kim on stage, his smile becoming more noticeable as he walked forward to the pair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were… Well I’m not exactly sure what you are doing anyway.”

“Mark.” The obvious strain in John’s voice made Kim smile, he seemed to appreciate the interruption even less than she did. “You certainly took your time coming back.”

“Got lost, it’s a big place.” Mark gave Kim a wave, motioning for John to follow him out.

“We really should head back though, I don’t want to be up all night unpacking.”

Reluctantly John left the stage, giving Mark one good shove in the direction of the door before looking back at Kimberly. The look in his eyes escaped Kim, though for a moment they almost seemed to have darkened simply by being pulled away from her but it must have just been the fact the stage lights couldn’t fully reach the audience.

“I’ll see you around then. It was very nice meeting you, Kimberly.”

I used to be so happy… Serena’s dressing room was nearly empty now.

She had been packing away her things since she had received the news of her demotion to the chorus lines. Though technically she still had a job, everyone in show business knows that if a lead loses her part so unceremoniously her career is over. No matter who they were, if they lose their role they lose purpose.

And no one kept around something without a purpose.

I was the star, I did everything right. All I did was make sure I stayed on top. It’s what Dakota would have wanted. Serena ran her hands across her costume, the crystals sewn into the bodice weighing it down substantially. I gave everything to make you love me, I was the favorite and this is how you treat me?

She had no use for the costume now, but she couldn’t simply part with it after everything it had done for her. She had been offered publicity spreads and small television deals by different agents who had seen her dance, even a few advertisements in smaller fashion magazines that knew the Grey name allowed her a spread or two. She was so close to having everything she had given up pay off in her become a real respectable actress and now all her plans were shattered all because Dakota decided she was too much trouble for the business.

Placing the costume in her suitcase Serena began to wonder if she would even be allowed to stay in the suites considering her employment was practically terminated. If she lost the suite she would have to pay for her own place somewhere else in the city, she would have to leave the resort if she lost her paycheck.

I need to stay here. I need to get back my role. Serena began to zip up her suitcase, noticing a picture that had fallen from her vanity mirror.

The smiling faces of her original cast mates looking back up to her with wide hope filled eyes. Her own face showing so much of the innocence she had since abandoned to make it as far as she had in the business, it left cold numbness running through her body.

The photo never affected her like that before today; she never had a reason to think of it as anything more than a happy piece of memorabilia. But now that she had lost everything the girl in the photo was looking to achieve she couldn’t help but wish to forget how many dreams she had placed in the glittering costumes and heavy makeup.

The doe eyed look each of Dakota’s favorite dancers entered with was almost sickening to Serena know, despite the fact the photo was proof she had it too at one point. Now that she thought about it the new girl from earlier in the day had the same look in her eyes. Perhaps that was why Serena wanted her to leave so badly, she was a threat, she was meant replace her. It was then Serena realized something.

Dakota had hired her replacement before she even left the building.

It hadn’t been more than a few days since they arrived and Mark could already tell convincing John to leave would be even harder than convincing him to come. Though Mark had hoped for John to enjoy himself he couldn’t have predicted how quickly he would take to the pretty waitress with the sweet brown eyes.

He barely knew anything about Kimberly besides her name but he spent every moment around Mark trying to find an excuse to bump into her.

He knew John thought he was subtle and if Kim hadn’t been so busy with Dakota it would have all backfired in his face. To John’s delight though, she seemed completely unaware of his convenient appearances to be anything more than coincidence.

As happy as Mark was for his friend, he couldn’t help but feel as though he’d bitten off more than he could handle by trying to get the two together. John was falling fast in his own strange way and Kimberly seemed to become more and more dependant on Dakota instead. He doubted she even realized the cousins playing a tug-of-war for her attention but he doubted it would end innocently.

He’d gotten John into trouble before but never anything he wasn’t certain he could get him out of. For the first time since he was hired Mark was walking John into a situation blind, knowing that there may not be a light waiting at the end of the tunnel.

“She’s busy with Dakota again,” Mark pointed out, having been waiting in the gym with John for Kim’s dance lesson to let out. He wasn’t so sure why the lessons were part of her employee perks, but she had never missed a lesson since they arrived at the resort despite John’s best efforts to distract her. “We can always find her later, when you don’t smell like gym socks.”

John simply grunted to push aside Mark’s comment. He had spent the past hour occupying his time by working out to try and appear as though he wasn’t simply waiting for Kim’s class to let out. Though Mark couldn’t deny it helped with the other dancers that spotted him on their way to the class he doubted Kim would be the type to fall for someone simply because they managed to glisten when they sweat. Especially when they stunk.

“You just don’t want to be reminded of how small you are, Mark,” John stated, watching the dancers leave as the class let out, sitting straighter whenever someone similar to Kim’s size walks out. “She’ll be out soon.”

Dozens of dancers walked by, giggling to themselves or making small passes at John as they left, but not a single one of them was the woman he was waiting to see.

Peaking his head into the studio Mark could see Kim deep in a conversation with the lead from the other night, her eyes surveying Kimberly like a hawk. Unable to hear the entire conversation Mark could only relay certain pieces. “Kim needs new shoes…Something about broken ankles…The other lady is talking about private lessons. John I really don’t think she has time to talk to you.”

John opened his mouth to protest, only to be silenced when the two women walked out of the studio, Kim pinned to the taller woman’s side like a child. Their eyes meeting for a brief moment before the woman pulled Kim away.

“The audition is tomorrow, and Dakota is going to try and make things difficult for you.” The woman gave John small smile. “You can’t get distracted, Kim. I promise, you listen to my advice and you’ll be topping the playbill in no time.”

Kim mouthed an apology to John as she was pulled away, too involved in the conversation to simply leave. It was enough to slow John for the moment but Mark knew very well he shouldn’t be expecting to see his friend back in the penthouse until at least an hour after Kimberly’s shift ended.

Mark only hoped John wasn’t setting himself up for disappointment

…to be continued

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