Authors: Kathryn Vance-Perez
Tags: #General Fiction
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Copyright © 2013 by Kathryn Vance-Perez
Cover design by Sarah Hansen of
Interior book design by
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
You are forever my truth, my love…
“Wake up, Nicole!” Mom yelled. “How many times are you going to hit the snooze button this morning?”
She flipped on the light in my room and began shuffling around, picking up the cap and gown I had left on the floor the night before. Last night I practically collapsed from exhaustion due to all the festivities that my family felt necessary for my graduation celebration. You would think I had just graduated from Harvard Law or something. It was just high school graduation, but all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents came in for the occasion. Mom made a huge spread and threw an elaborate party. While my friends were at after-graduation parties celebrating around bonfires and drinking from kegs, I was here with my family, drinking punch and listening to Gran talk about how fast time has flown by.
I may have been disinterested in this party, but I always loved when Gran visited. Ever since I was a little girl, I was always mesmerized by her. It seemed as though she could do anything and she always did everything well. She could plant the best flower beds and vegetable gardens and had the most well-manicured lawn on the block. She had been divorced three times and always told me, “a strong woman doesn’t need a man for anything, but if a good one comes along hold on tight.”
She always called me Nicole Ray or Honey Bunch. She loved the outdoors and she lived on a gorgeous piece of Texas lakefront property. She taught me how to water ski, fish and swim. She drove a sports car and always dressed to the nines. I was fully convinced that my Gran was invincible and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Listening to her talk last night about my love of Texas horny toads, frogs, and lizards made me smile, because I remembered how much my Dad hated me touching all of those critters. But my Gran would just wink and smile.
All of that had changed now. I was all grown up, so searching for critters under rocks was in the distant past. I spent the last four years playing the
; always walking the straight and narrow, spending my time studying or at the local dance studio. I began dancing when I was two years old. My dad got me started. He called me his “princess ballerina”. I loved it and used to scream when it was time to take off my tutu. I wore it so often that my mom used to hide it from me.
I grew to love dance and music. It became part of me. I branched out and took many styles of dance through the years, even though my teachers and father insisted I focus on ballet. To tell the truth, ballet was not my favorite. I loved contemporary dance and jazz was such a thrill. I could get lost in contemporary dance, feeling the lyrics and pouring my emotions into my movements, the music as my guide. Jazz was electrifying and I loved just letting go. Ballet was so reserved by comparison, so controlled. It was just like my life; I wanted to be free, I wanted to let go, but that was not acceptable for me or my family. I spent my nights and weekends in the studio, and fit in my homework whenever possible. My friends came into class on Monday mornings talking about shopping at the mall, and the hot guys they saw at weekend parties. I always felt like an outsider. I wasn’t unpopular and I had
, but my life revolved around school and dance. My friend, Annie, was the only person that really knew me outside of school or the studio, and we had been friends since preschool.
Growing up in our tiny East Texas town, you were certain to end up graduating with the same people you used to play puzzles with in Miss Janine’s preschool class. Everyone knew everyone, which made for some good gossip, that’s for sure. Annie was upset, but not surprised that I would be skipping all of the after-graduation parties. I think she was hoping that since high school was over, maybe things would change a little.
No such luck.
It was 7 am on Saturday morning, the day after graduation, and I had to go into the studio for five hours. Unlike my peers, who were probably hungover and asleep, I was eating a banana and drinking a protein shake, listening to my Mom go on about how old she felt having a high school graduate for a daughter.