3: Chocolate Box Girls: Summer's Dream (7 page)

BOOK: 3: Chocolate Box Girls: Summer's Dream
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‘It’s going to be weird,’ I frown. ‘Mum and Paddy away and a big-shot TV producer staying …’

‘Nikki, she’s called,’ Skye reminds me. ‘The producer. The one who came to stay in the spring, when she was sussing out locations …’

‘That’s right … the one with the good-looking son,’ I remember. ‘What was his name again?’

‘Jamie Finch,’ Skye says, her cheeks flooding with pink. ‘His friends call him Finch apparently …’

I look at Skye, picking up on her blush, her eager tone. I remember her questions a few days back about what it feels like to fall in love, and the penny finally drops. My twin is crushing on a boy called Jamie Finch, a boy who will be spending the summer at Tanglewood. The clues were there when Jamie and his mum were here, back in the spring … I guess I just didn’t take the time to notice them. Back then I was worried that my twin and I were drifting apart, and although we’re working on that now, I can see there’s still lots we don’t know about each other. I promise myself we’ll stay close this summer, be there for each other.

‘So … you think he’s good-looking then?’ Skye is asking. ‘Jamie?’

‘Well, you obviously do,’ I grin. ‘Honestly, Skye, I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it sooner. You couldn’t take your eyes off him when he was here. And I bet he likes you too – face it, he’d be crazy not to!’

Skye laughs. ‘I don’t suppose he even noticed me, not that way, but … well, I noticed him. D’you think he might like me, Summer? Honestly? I mean, you know these things. You’ve got Aaron …’

My smile slips a little and I haul it back into place before Skye can notice. Yes, I have Aaron, but I sometimes wish I didn’t. Dating one of the popular boys from school used to feel cool, but lately, it is starting to feel slightly oppressive. Dates with Aaron are a tangle of anxiety about saying the right thing, or finding anything to say at all. I have to remember to look interested when he tells me about his latest Xbox game or the footy match he watched at the weekend. I have to pretend to look interested when he leans in to kiss me.

I am not quite as expert as Skye thinks when it comes to boys.

‘Jamie Finch likes you,’ I tell Skye, hoping I’m right.

‘Maybe,’ Skye sighs. ‘I don’t suppose I’ll even see him, most of the time …’

‘Of course you’ll see him!’ I tell her. ‘He’ll be living in the house with us, won’t he? With the production crew. Your eyes will meet over the breakfast table across a plate of Grandma Kate’s French toast, and violins will start playing in the background …’

‘If this is a fantasy, can we leave Coco and her music practice out of it?’ my twin protests. ‘Please. No cats-being-strangled!’ She elbows me in the ribs and I slide off the wall, dragging her with me. We fall into each other, laughing, and the set painters stop their work to peer at us, slightly perplexed.

‘Shhh!’ I whisper. ‘They’ll think we’re mad!’

‘So what? We are,’ Skye giggles, and the set painters wave and abandon their brushes, walking over to talk to us. Their names are Chris and Marty and it turns out that they are theatre design students helping on the film for the summer. We tell them we’re from Tanglewood House and they seem to know all about us … the B&B where the production bosses will be staying and the chocolate workshop and the five stepsisters.

‘We’re filming your gypsy caravan too,’ Marty grins. ‘Bringing it down to the woods along with the two we have
here. Great location. This must be an awesome place to live.’

‘It’s OK,’ I shrug.

And then I think of the beach and the ocean and the woods with their little twisty trees; I think of the moss-green fields, the hills, the moors, the village with its jigsaw of thatched cottages and old-fashioned shops crowded together. I would miss all of that if – when – I go away to dance school.

Chris and Marty give us a guided tour of the camp. We get to see the props tent and the hair and make-up truck with its mirrors and swivel chairs, its palettes of colour and pots of lipstick, its hairdryers, straighteners and curling tongs. The minute we step into the wardrobe tent Skye is lost, transfixed by the racks of embroidered dresses and faded tweed jackets.

‘It’s like the best and biggest vintage shop ever,’ she breathes, and Jess the wardrobe manager laughs and stops her ironing to show us the clothes. A few minutes later we are twirling around in fringy shawls, feet clomping in pairs of ancient buttoned boots. When the dresses are safely back on their hangers, Chris breaks open a couple of cans of
Coke. I take one without thinking, letting the sweet, dark fizz explode on my tongue.

‘I’ll have an assistant from next week,’ Jess is telling us. ‘But I can always use an extra pair of hands, if either of you are interested? Wardrobe can get crazy with period dramas like this one. We’ve a couple of big crowd scenes with extras in, and they’re always total madness. It wouldn’t be glamorous, just ironing, mending, helping the actors and actresses …’

‘I’m interested,’ Skye answers, her eyes shining. ‘I’ve never been more interested in anything in my whole, entire life! I’d love to help!’

‘OK,’ Jess grins. ‘Brilliant! You too, Summer, if you like?’

I say nothing. A few weeks of hanging out with the film crew, helping with the costumes while a film is shot practically in our own backyard … it sounds too good to be true, and of course it is.

I know that my August will not be spent here, helping out in the costume tent, watching the filming unfold. It will be spent in the studios of the Exmoor School of Dance, practising, pushing, striving for perfection, preparing for my audition. I have a dream to pin down, and that dream has nothing at all to do with films or fun or summer jobs.

You have to make sacrifices, Miss Elise says, to get to the top in ballet, and if that means missing out on some of the fun this summer, well, fine. The dream means more to me.

‘Maybe,’ I shrug, but there is no maybe about it. I won’t be helping out. I can’t afford the time, the distraction, not even for something like this. Suddenly, the Coke tastes sickly – nothing but sugar and bubbles and empty calories.

Skye chats on, telling Jess about her collection of 1920s velvet dresses and cloche hats. Me, I put the can down and step back, on to the edge of things, into the background.

9

I am standing at the salad bar in the school canteen, trying to decide whether I can face yet another plate of lettuce, tomatoes and sweetcorn or whether I could cut loose a bit and have tuna pasta. My stomach is growling with hunger.

Alfie, the most annoying boy in the western hemisphere, appears at my elbow.

‘Swap you,’ he says, wafting his dish of syrup pudding and custard right under my nose. ‘Go on … sure I can’t tempt you?’

The pudding smells gorgeous, but I know it is bad news, the kind of pudding that should carry a government health warning. Death by syrup pudding. At least you’d die happy, I guess.

‘Get lost, Alfie,’ I sigh. ‘Dancers don’t eat that kind of stodge.’

‘You could eat anything you wanted to, Summer,’ he shrugs. ‘You’re really slim and pretty. And dancing must burn up about a million calories a second anyhow …’

Slim and pretty? I look at Alfie and he smiles, his brown eyes holding mine. He’s good, I have to admit. He almost has me fooled. A part of me actually thinks he might mean the compliment, and then I remind myself that Alfie lives to wind people up.

‘I’ve been watching you,’ he says quietly. ‘You’ve been surviving on rabbit food lately.’

Anger catches in my throat, hot and sharp and sore. Alfie has no right to be watching me, noticing what I choose to eat. I always make healthy choices, but I have made a conscious decision to eat mostly salads lately. I can’t shift Jodie’s words about being told she was the ‘wrong’ shape for dancing, and I’m determined nobody will ever be able to say that to me. Nothing is going to come between me and my dance school dream.

‘Don’t watch me then,’ I whisper. ‘I never asked you to. I mean it, Alfie. I don’t need your wisecracks right now.’

‘What’s up?’ Aaron demands, appearing at my side and squeezing my waist as if marking out his territory. ‘Is he bugging you, Summer?’

‘No more than usual,’ I say. ‘Alfie didn’t want his pudding, so he offered it to me, but … I don’t want it either. Obviously.’

‘She’s keeping an eye on her figure,’ Aaron says with a grin. ‘I’m keeping an eye on it too, and between us we have it covered, Alfie. We don’t need your help. Clear off.’

My cheeks burn.

When Aaron first asked me out, I was so flattered I just about fell over myself to accept. These days, he seems to annoy me more every time I see him. When he puts his hands on my waist in the middle of the school canteen and tells the class joker he is watching my figure, I just want to cringe.

Alfie shrugs sadly, hands me the syrup pudding and walks away. The aroma of hot syrup and custard makes my mouth water, but I know it is not the kind of thing my body needs. It would be a bad idea to even taste it. Wouldn’t it?

Aaron rolls his eyes, lifts the dish out of my hands and tips the pudding into the bin.

School is winding down in a muddle of school trips and sports days. Even on ordinary days, the teachers shift down a gear, filling lesson time with quizzes and films. Less homework means more time for dancing, but I’m looking forward to the holidays when I’ll have weeks to devote to rehearsing for the audition. My friends are looking forward to summer for different reasons, though.

‘This is going to be the best break ever,’ Tia says as we loaf on the school playing fields at lunchtime the next day, making daisy chains and trying to soak up some sunshine. My friends are snacking on crisps and doughnuts; I have chosen an apple instead.

I am writing a sneaky rota in the back of my homework diary, planning out the next three weeks. I pencil in regular ballet lessons, dates for our extra sessions, days when the senior studio at the dance school is free. Then I block out time at home to work on my expressive dance and time for general practice.

‘We’re thirteen years old,’ Tia is saying, in between mouthfuls of doughnut. ‘Proper teenagers! We should make the most of every minute!’

‘Too right,’ Millie chips in, nudging Skye and me.
‘Especially you two, with no parents keeping an eye on you for three whole weeks – Tanglewood can be party central!’

‘No chance,’ Skye laughs. ‘Our gran is staying to keep an eye on us – we’ll have to be on our best behaviour!’

Millie shrugs. ‘Grans are pretty soft, right? You can wind them round your little finger usually. Just say you’re missing your mum and need to have lots of parties with your friends to take your mind off it all …’

‘That wouldn’t be fair on Grandma Kate,’ I say.

I add a list of things I can do to help Grandma Kate to my rota, then frown. My days are looking pretty full. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for socializing.

‘Come on,’ Tia says. ‘You have a movie being made right on your doorstep, and a whole bunch of crew camped out in the next field. Not to mention the important ones right there in your house. It’s the most exciting thing to happen in Kitnor in ages! You have to have at least a few parties!’

Tia peers over my shoulder trying to see what I’m writing.

‘Summer! That looks like the dullest holiday ever!’ She grabs the pen out of my hand and writes
FUN
across the page in giant letters, in case I am not getting the message. My neatly drawn rota is wrecked, but I try not to mind.

‘We could try to squeeze in the occasional party,’ Skye says. ‘We’ll work on Grandma Kate!’

Tia and Millie and Skye start planning beach bonfires and picnic parties and whether to invite boys from school or try to get to know any cute teen-boy actors taking part in the film. I frown and decide to copy out my rota again, once I get home. Minus the fun. I pick some daisies and thread them together instead.

‘There have to be some boys in the film,’ Millie frowns. ‘It’s the law of averages, right? And teen-boy actors are bound to be hot.’

‘They’ll be better than the local talent anyhow,’ Tia comments, watching Alfie and a bunch of other boys running piggyback races across the grass. There is lots of staggering, flailing arms and yelling. ‘It’s really quite depressing. No offence, Millie … I know you like Alfie. He isn’t bad-looking, but he’s just such a clown!’

BOOK: 3: Chocolate Box Girls: Summer's Dream
3.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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