Moon White: Color Me Enchanted with Bonus Content (7 page)

BOOK: Moon White: Color Me Enchanted with Bonus Content
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“Yeah. I gotta go.”

“Did you invite anyone to the party?”

“I’m going to,” I say quickly. “Do you think it’s okay if I invite Liz?” I’ve already explained to her about how Liz isn’t completely sold out on her dad’s development and how I’ve decided to befriend her.

“I think that’s a wonderful gesture,” says Augustine. “And I, for one, would like to meet her.”

“I just hope Dad doesn’t initiate any confrontational conversations.”

“Oh, honey, Vince wouldn’t do that.”

“Well, you make sure to warn him not to, and I’ll invite Liz.”

She smiles. “Anyone else?”

“I’m thinking about it.”

“Good. Because so far I only have about fifteen people committed to coming. I’d really like to see about twice that here.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

As I drive downtown, I practice some of the deep-breathing techniques I read about on the website that Willow recommended. I
want to be centered and relaxed at class today. I want to do my best. I also want to go back to The Crystal Dragon for some more things. In fact, if I didn’t have ballet, I’d go right now. But I remind myself not to get distracted. First things first. In fact, that’s one of the things I really appreciate about Wicca — the sense of discipline and order that it values. I’m beginning to understand how the universe shows us that there is a correct way to do things and that life goes better if you don’t fight it. It’s better to embrace the energy and get the power to go with you. Then you can accomplish anything. That’s what I tell myself as I park next to Liz’s sleek Acura. I grab my bag and, holding my head high, hurry up the stairs to the studio. I know I can do this. I know I will dance my best today — and I think my best might be better than Liz’s.

As we’re stretching in the warm-up room, I start to tell Liz about the equinox party. But then I realize it might not be polite to bring this up with Katy and Rebekah listening. Not that I
wouldn’t
want to invite these girls, but I suppose I don’t really
want
to invite them either. It would just be too weird.

“What?” asks Liz as she executes a deep plié.

“Later,” I say as I do a quick series of battement, grand. I smile, giving her a quick sideways glance meant to suggest this is private. She nods as if she understands, and no one is the wiser. Then we hear Naomi calling us into the main part of the studio, clapping her hands and instructing Sienna in French to play a slow number to start with. And as we begin to go through a routine, I feel stronger than ever, and my movements are clean and graceful. I try not to watch Liz, but I think I might be upstaging her, just a bit. And when the routine is over, Naomi claps her hands and compliments me on my jeté.

“Very nicely done, Heather.” Then she starts us in another
routine. “Allegro!” she says, which means “brisk and fast.” The tempo increases and suddenly I feel myself struggling to keep up. It’s like I can’t catch my breath, and finally, about midway through, I double over and clutch my aching side.

“Are you okay?” asks Naomi, coming over to me.

“I think so,” I tell her. “I just got a cramp.”

“Go get a drink of water,” she tells me, “and then walk it out.”

I go down the hallway to the bathroom, hearing the lilting tones of the piano continuing and the occasional thump of hard toe shoe against the wood floor. I feel like a failure as I stare at my image in the bathroom mirror. My face looks paler than usual and my skin has a taut appearance, but that may be due to the tightness of my ponytail. I remove the band and let it fall free. Then, holding my hair back with my hands, I stick my head down into the stained porcelain sink and get a drink directly from the spigot, taking long, cool gulps and ignoring the fact that the water tastes stagnant and rusty.

“Everything all right in here?” asks an unfamiliar female voice.

I look up with water still dripping from my chin and see Sienna standing in the doorway. “Naomi asked me to check on you,” she explains. “She’s showing the other girls a new step right now.”

“I’m okay,” I say, pulling my hair back into a looser ponytail. “Just tired I guess.”

She’s leaning against the doorjamb and adjusting the gold chain on her necklace with a slightly disinterested expression. Maybe she’s just enjoying a break from the piano, and this makes me wonder if she likes her job. She rarely smiles. But once again those dark eyes remind me of my mother, and I find myself staring at her. Then she returns my gaze and I feel self-conscious.

“Is that a crystal?” I say in an effort to distract. I nod toward the
pale purple stone pendant hanging from the chain.

Her eyes light up just slightly, and her lips almost curve in a smile. “Yes. It’s a quartz crystal. It has good energy.”

I sort of laugh. “Maybe I should get some of that myself.”

She scowls at me now. “You shouldn’t make fun of things you don’t understand, Heather.”

I’m sort of surprised that she even knows my name. “I wasn’t making fun of it,” I say quickly. “Seriously, I’m really into all that.” I begin telling her about my visit to The Crystal Dragon and about some of the stones and herbs I purchased there and how I’m convinced that these elements are making a difference in my life.

“I just thought I’d do better today,” I finally admit. “I’ve really tried to focus myself, and I did some exercises right before class. But it didn’t seem to help much.”

She nods as if she understands. “Something might be blocking your power. And if you’re new at this, it’s likely that you’re doing some things wrong. Most novices don’t get it right at the beginning. But if you ever want some tips, feel free to ask me. I’ve been practicing for years. I’ve even written a book.”

“Really?” I try not to look too surprised. I mean, I don’t like to judge people by exteriors, but Sienna, although somewhat bohemian-looking, is also sort of frumpy and pretty overweight and, if you ask me, not exactly the picture-perfect image of successful life — nothing I’d aspire to anyway. Not to mention her illustrious career of playing second-rate piano for a small-town dance studio. Not exactly impressive. Naturally, I don’t say this. And yet, despite her general lackluster appearance, I’m still pulled in by her eyes. They’re so similar to my mother’s that it’s like I almost feel Mom’s looking at me now.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she says, catching me by surprise.
“But you need to understand I’ve gone through some hard times just recently. Just because I’ve practiced for a long time doesn’t mean my life is perfectly on track.”

I blink, then nod. “Yeah, I’m sure. And thanks for the offer of help. I’ll keep it in mind. I’m sure I could use some pointers.”

She nods. “Naomi is renting me apartment number three upstairs, if you ever want to talk or anything. And I should also tell you that I’m very experienced in communicating with the other side. That’s what my book was mostly about. Just in case you’re ever interested in anything like that.” Then she gives me this long sort of perceptive look, like she knows way more than she’s saying, and I actually get goose bumps.

Okay, my first reaction is to feel freaked, but I guess I’m also impressed. I mean, not only has this woman nearly read my mind, but I have a feeling that she knows I’ve been trying to speak to my mom recently. But instead of admitting any of this, I just thank her again and tell her that I need to get back to class now.

“Are you okay, Heather?” asks Naomi when I come back.

“Yes.” I nod and join the line of girls. “Just a cramp. It’s gone now.”

We continue through our instruction without further ado, but I know that I’m seriously lagging. It’s as if my body is rebelling against my mind, like my limbs refuse to cooperate. Even Rebekah and Katy are outdancing me today. I’m totally discouraged and consider making a mad dash out of here again when it’s over — and never coming back. Too much humiliation.

“Heather,” calls Naomi as we finish our last routine.

I can tell by her expression that she wants to have a private chat with me. I slowly walk over, careful to maintain my posture lest she tweak me on that too. “Yes?”

She crooks her long forefinger at me. “Come into my office for a minute, please.”

So I follow her into the tiny cubicle that serves as her office, and she closes the door and leans against her desk. But even when Naomi leans, her spine remains straight. Good posture is essential to ballet. “You know that I don’t like to interfere in my girls’ personal lives, but I’m very concerned about you.”

“Why?” Suddenly I think she may have heard about my involvement, albeit minor, with Wicca. I know that Naomi regularly attends a church, although she’s not nearly as vocal about her Christianity as Lucy or her family. Still, she may disapprove of what I’m doing. And so I prepare myself for a spiritual lecture.

“It’s this whole vegan thing,” she says in a tired voice. “I just don’t think it’s the proper diet for a dancer, and I don’t think it’s helping you at all.”

“Oh.”

“And it worries me that you could develop a serious health problem. I just don’t want to have you — ”

“I was thinking about quitting,” I say, eager to end this unsettling conversation.

“Quitting?” She blinks in surprise now. “You’re giving up dance?”

“No, no. I was thinking about giving up being vegan. I’ve had second thoughts about it too. I don’t really think it’s working for me.”

She actually reaches over and hugs me now. “Well, that’s good to hear. Oh, I’m so relieved. I didn’t want to say anything, but I’ve noticed a real lack of energy in you since you started eating that way. It concerned me.”

I nod. “Yeah. I think I mostly did it initially because of my
stepmom. We were in Ireland at the time and I sort of got into it. Augustine’s been vegan for years, and it seems to agree with her and she says it keeps the weight off. But, besides that, I do feel bad for the inhumane treatment of farm animals. In fact, I may never be able to eat beef again.” I sigh, considering this. “Anyway, I do think I’m done with being a vegan.”

She grins. “Good for you.”

“Although it’s going to be kind of embarrassing to admit to everyone that I was wrong about this.”

“It’s better to admit that you’ve taken a wrong turn, then get back on the right road, than to simply wander around lost.”

I sort of laugh. “I guess so.”

For some reason, I feel a huge sense of relief now. I thank Naomi for her little intervention, then go back out to find Liz is dressed and waiting for me. “Did you want to talk about something?” she asks.

“Oh yeah.” I sit down and untie the ribbons on my toe shoes.

“How about getting coffee?” she asks.

“Sure, want to meet at the WC?”

“The what?” she looks confused now.

I chuckle. “Westport Coffee,” I explain. “We call it the WC.”

“Oh.” She laughs. “I thought you meant the water closet. You know that’s like a toilet in England.”

“Yeah, I know. And sometimes their coffee tastes like they got it from there too. But I usually get Chai tea anyway.”

“Me too,” she says with enthusiasm. “I love Chai.”

So we agree to meet down there. The next class is lining up now, and the piano music starts in again. As I leave the studio, Sienna actually smiles and nods at me, and I wonder if I should take her up on that offer. I have a feeling there’s more to that woman than meets the eye. I walk across the street and into the WC, deciding
that today I’ll have real milk in my Chai tea. No more soy glop for this girl! I step up to the counter and order my tea, then go over to where Liz is already seated at table by the window.

“My stepmom is planning this party for Saturday night,” I begin. “You see, she’s an artist and she’s really into celebrating seasonal things, and anyway it’s the autumnal equinox this weekend and Augustine wanted to have a party, and she wanted me to invite some friends, and I wondered if you’d want to come.”

“Won’t that be kinda weird?” Liz asks as the girl sets my Chai tea on the table.

“Well, yeah,” I admit. “It’s pretty weird. But then my stepmom is sort of a different — ”

“No, I mean
weird
since our dads are sort of at odds with each other?”

I shrug. “I think it’ll be okay. Augustine promised to ride herd on my dad. And he’s usually a pretty agreeable dude. Besides, by the time he has a couple glasses of his homemade wine, he’ll be a happy camper anyway.”

“Homemade wine?”

So I explain about Dad’s little hobby. “He might even let you sneak a taste, if no one’s looking.”

“Sounds like this could be fun.”

I try not to roll my eyes. “Well, anyway, I’m sure it’ll be different. Oh yeah, Augustine hired a band, and there will dancing. But it’s hard to say what the food will be like since she’s kind of a health nut. Still, the decorations should be cool — she’s really a good artist.”

“I think it sounds interesting.”

“Right,” I say. “Interesting. It should be.”

“Did you invite any other friends?”

“Actually, I had this crazy idea today. You know when Hudson
and Porter were talking to us? I thought about inviting them. Is that totally lame?”

“I think it’d be fun. You
should
invite them. They seem nice.”

I kind of shrug. “Yeah, but they might not want to come. I mean it’s kind of weird when you think it’s a party mostly for grown-ups. But Augustine really wanted me to invite people too. I don’t know.”

“How about if I invite them?” she suggests. “I could say it’s because I’m the new girl and I want to get to know some kids. Would that help?”

“Sure,” I say. “That’d be cool.”

“Then if they say no, you don’t have to take it as a personal rejection. You can just figure it’s because they don’t like me.”

“Yeah, right.” I look at the pretty blonde girl sitting across from me. What guy wouldn’t like her?

BOOK: Moon White: Color Me Enchanted with Bonus Content
5.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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