Could This Be Love? (06)

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A Story by Deborah Benson

First Rehearsals

Love makes us act like we are fools. Throw our lives away, for one happy day.

The sound of distant snoring slowly woke Kim from her much needed sleep. Despite her best efforts to go back to sleep both the sunlight coming in from the window and the snoring kept her from returning to her pleasant dreams. Half awake she began to look around, trying to figure out where the annoying noise was coming from or why she had forgotten to close her blinds.

It was only when her pillow started moving underneath her that she woke up enough to remember where she was. The snoring getting louder in her ear as she felt a small pressure around her waist tighten, pulling her closer against the slowly rising and falling pillow.

Looking up careful not to move too much and risk waking John up Kim could just barely see his head leaning back against the wall. His head turned away from in the window in an attempt to block the sunlight. Despite his strong jaw line and the slight stubble appearing on his chin his entire face seemed to soften as he slept. He’d almost have a childlike innocence to him if it weren’t for the broad muscles across his chest.

The broad muscles Kimberly just realized she had been sleeping on all night.

Trying her best to keep from overreacting she carefully moved his arm off her waist, laying it across his chest in place of her weight. Slowly she inched down from the window seat to pick up her clothes she could only assume Mark had left on the coffee table. The wood floor creaked slightly underneath her feet as she went to pick up her dance bag from the couch.

Too preoccupied with trying to be quiet Kimberly hadn’t even noticed the fact the snoring had stopped.

“Goin’ somewhere..?” John’s groggy voice muttered from behind her.

Feeling her cheeks heat up at being caught Kim slowly turned around, keeping the bathrobe tight around her.

“I shouldn’t have fallen asleep,” she said, slowly making her way back to John. “Thank you for letting me stay.”

With a groan John sat up, stretching himself out from having slept in such an odd position. His muscles straining as he forced them awake. Kimberly found it nearly impossible to keep from staring. If she hadn’t known better she would have thought his little show was on purpose.

“You don’t have to thank me, Kimberly. Though next time you stay over maybe we should at least sleep on the couch.” A small smile waking up his face easily.

Sitting back beside John Kimgave him a playful shove, managing to move him back against the wall easily while he chuckled. He didn’t seem like much of a morning person and had the sunlight not been so bright she doubted it would’ve taken him very long to fall back asleep. The sweet glances he made back to her however, almost made him seem happy to be awake so early.

“What makes you think I’d want to stay over again?” She asked, helping him calm his hair down.

“I…I don’t know,” John said genuinely searching for a reason. “Because I want you to?”

Kimberly felt her hands drop from his hair, her heartbeat picking up like it had back in the grotto. Slowly she began to realize how many times she had wanted to be close to him like they were then or how his eyes always seemed to darken slightly whenever they were together.

She almost didn’t want to believe he meant it in the way she thought she did for fear of being let down, but at the same time she wanted him to mean every word.

“Then next time we can sleep on the couch,” she managed to get out. Her face barely inches away from his.

Whether it was the fact neither of them were fully awake or the fact they’d just realized how badly they wanted each other Kim wasn’t sure. But before she could even register her own body moving closer to his she felt his lips against hers. Her hands reaching around his shoulders to pull herself closer to him as she kissed back, his hands holding her face gently.

For someone so much larger than herself John was incredibly tender, almost as if he couldn’t  believe what they were doing either. With a small smile Kim kissed him a bit harder finding it incredibly easy to fit herself onto his lap. They could’ve stayed in that position for hours and Kimberly certainly wanted to, but the sound of someone clearing their throat across the room quickly pulled them apart. Kim’s hands shooting down to make sure the robe hadn’t moved apart as she scooted offJohn’s lap as he adjusted his position.

“Good morning…” Mark said, too tired to bother with teasing John. “I would’ve knocked, but there isn’t a door.”

John’s face seemed to have turned the same shade of red as the throw pillows on the couch. “So you thought just standing there would be better?”

“Relax you prat, I was going to the kitchen. The last thing I want to see in the morning is you snogging our friend.” Mark rolled his eyes, making his way through the living room to head into the kitchen. “By the way, good morning Kim.”

“Morning,” she said, thankful she didn’t blush as brightly as John.

“If you two are done in there I was going to make breakfast.” Mark’s voice came from the room next door along with the distinct sound of pans being banged against cupboard walls. “Though John ate all the bacon, we still have eggs and I can make pancakes.”

Trying not to bump into John Kimberly got back up, checking the clock on her phone beside her dance bag. She still had to change into proper clothes and if she didn’t hurry she’d be late on her first real day.

“Do you mind if I take mine to go Mark? I slept through my alarm.”

“Johns snoring can do that.” The glare John shot towards the kitchen erased any childlike drowsiness on his face. “I’ll make something quick.”


Bleep The rehearsal had been going on for little more than an hour beforeSerena lost interest. She was a far better dancer than many of the girls Dakota had cast in big roles and she knew it.

It took all her self-restraint to keep from marching up onto the stage just to put the girls back in their place.

She instead resigned herself to sitting back at the bar with Reed and several others of the male dancers. The rehearsal was mainly to allowDakota chance to see how her new leads moved in order to build a show around them. It took time to make the product worth its price tag. And though Serenahad been doing her best to sweet talk her way into a partnership with Kim Dakota seemed to have her own plans for the girl.

It was almost sickening watching the dancers fawn over her trying to recreate the moves Serena had taught her. It was even worse to admit that she was good at them.

“She’s almost as good as you were.”

Only for Serena apparently.

Slowly she turned her head back to see Reed smiling down at her from the other side of the bar, a cup of coffee in his hands to try and hide the fact he’d been out all night again.

“It’s only because I’ve been helping her. She still doesn’t know how to move in the dance shoes though. She almost sprained her ankle last time she tried them.” Serena went back to watching the girls practice.

“That is how you get them isn’t it? You break their feet and then manage to have learned all their steps,” Reed said with a chuckle. “Has Dakota told her about the investor yet?”

“I’m sure she will in private,” Serena scoffed.

“She doesn’t want her little flower getting jumpy over her price. She needs her to trust her.”

The smile on Kimberly’s face as she danced made Serena’s heart sink. She could still remember her first time dancing for Dakota and being pulled aside to be told how much money she could bring the theater.

In retrospect she could tell how every word out of Dakota’s mouth was just a gentle way of saying she was only worth what the investors wanted for her.

Kimberlywas every inch as naïve and hopeful as she had been. By the time she realized what Dakota wanted from her it would be to late to say no.

“Dakota’s going to ruin her,”Serena said, watching Kim carefully.

“Serena, if Dakota doesn’t ruin her, you will.” Reed turned back to watch the dancers. “The spotlight is only big enough for one person and you know it.”

Bleep John had been waiting outside the theater as soon as his morning business calls were handled. He had never been good at taking extended vacations but he’d be damned if he had to leave any sooner than absolutely necessary. Especially after that morning.

He could barely stay focused during the calls as his mind started to drift back to Kim. Mark even managed to slip giving John an uncooked egg past him for a good ten minutes before he caught on. He couldn’t get his mind off her no matter how hard he tried.

Thankfully he didn’t have to wait long before the rehearsal let out,Kimberly walking over to his usual waiting spot with a smile.

“Do you ever do anything around here besides waiting for me?” She asked, walking him out of the resort for a change.

“Sometimes, I try not to make a schedule. Vacationing, remember?” He smiled, holding the door for her as they walked out into the city. “Where are we going anyway?”

With a practiced wave Kimberly hailed a cab, throwing her dance bag into the backseat. “I’m going home, I need some new clothes even if Mark washed these. And the next rehearsal isn’t for a few more days. Dakota’s planning some big party for tomorrow instead.”

Taking a seat in the cab Kim motioned for John to join her, catching on to the fact he wasn’t too sure about how to ask if he was allowed in. He hadn’t found much of a reason to ever get a public cab before but if that was what it took to stick by Kim then so be it. “What kind of party? She usually tells me about those things.”

“Something to do with getting money for the next show.” Kimberlybquickly gave the driver directions to a part of town John had never visited. “I’m supposed to go wih Serena since she’s done those sorts of things before, it’s apparently a big deal.”

The view from outside the cab quickly became less inviting than the neighborhood around the resort. The buildings looking older and much more in need of attention than the ones he was used to seeing, and the people weren’t any different.

“This man is coming to offer a ridiculous amount of money if he likes what he hears, so I’m going to be pretty busy tomorrow.” Kim seemed to be avoiding his gaze as they reached a worn down apartment building.

Paying the cabbie she quickly got out, holding the door open for John before heading back up to the building, letting herself in with a kick to the gate in front of the door.

Without a word John followed her in, doing his best to keep from staring at the worn out paint or the occasional open door with an equally worn out owner staring back at him. He didn’t doubt that his own watch was worth more than what most of the building’s residents made in a year.

“This is my place,”Kim said, stopping beside a brown door with the paint peeling around the edges. “You can come in if you want, there’s not much to look at.”

Giving the door a small shove with her hip Kimberly walked inside, leaving the door open for John to follow. Making sure he closed the door behind him she hurried through the small living room into a room just out of sight, pushing her way past several cardboard boxes tapped up with different numbers written on their sides.

“You moving?” John asked, careful not to bump into anything as he walked around the apartment.

“Hopefully.” Her voice came from the second room. “Dakota gets the leads a place in the resort so she wanted me to move in as soon as the investor signs his contract. I packed most of the stuff yesterday with Serena before the audition. I didn’t think I’d actually be moving.”

John continued to look around the apartment, seeing a few photos of Kim and another man a few years older than her who had the same bright smile she did. Though they didn’t look too similar he assumed they were related somehow. He at least hoped they were.

“You have a brother?” he asked, moving towards the bathroom, spotting a bright orange container by the sink.

“Yeah, his name is Simon. He’s out doing something with the army, nothing serious though. He just likes moving around.”

“He doesn’t look very much like you,” John called, picking up the container as he spoke. The pills on the inside moving around as he read the label.

“He looks like our dad,” Kim said, her voice coming closer as she walked back to the living room. “I take after my mom… You looking for something Sherlock?”

John quickly dropped the pills, looking back to Kim with a smile, noting her change of clothes before replying. “Just checking the place out, that’s all.”

“Right,” Kim said, obviously not buying it. Walking over to John she pushed him out of the bathroom easily, picking up the container easily. With a simple pop she took off the cap, pouring two white pills into her hand as if to prove to him they were nothing sinister.

“They’re pain pills John, nothing to get all jumpy about.” To prove her point she took the two in her hand without any water. Serena lent them to me after she started helping me.

Dancing hurts your feet more than you realize.” “Sorry,” John said, moving back into the living room.

Taking a second look at the apartment John began to notice all the small details that made the place distinctly Kim’s. Pictures from old magazines cut and framed on the wall beside pictures of her family, small flowers by the windowsill, little things here and there to distinguish it from just another shabby apartment.

“If the party goes well I’ll have a place twice this size,” Kim said, putting away the pictures of Simon. “The man is willing to invest fifty grand, at least!”

John couldn’t pretend to understand how much that seemed to someone who wasn’t in business but judging by Kimberly’s tone he knew it was more than she thought was necessary.

“Maybe I should go to help you, I could get him to go up a bit. I work with my father’s investors all the time,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound as though he was bragging.

Kim’s face dropped, closing up the box with the pictures quietly. “No, it’s not something you can help with,” she said before smiling back to him. “Dakota said he only wants to talk to me, since I’ll be the one carrying the show. But I’ll bring you and Mark some leftovers from the dinner, okay?”

John nodded, not entirely sure what made Kim’s mood change for a moment. Walking over to her side he kissed her forehead, hoping that would help calm her down.

“That would be great. I’m sure it’ll go fine,” he said, smiling down to her. “He’ll love you, I know businessmen and your worth far more than fifty grand.”

Kimberlylaughed, shoving his chest lightly to try and hide the pink tint across her cheeks.

“You’re an idiot… but thank you. I’ll try not to have too much fun with all those stuffy business people.” She smirked, going back to packing different things around the apartment. John chuckled, helping wherever he could. He was glad to see her relax after a while but the idea of her with a man willing to pay so much without even knowing what he was getting into kept gnawing at the back of his head. He knew businessmen and he certainly didn’t trust them.

And he certainly didn’t want to share Kimberly with one of them either.

…to be continued

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