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Authors: Megan Atwood

Stolen Luck

BOOK: Stolen Luck
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Text copyright © 2013 by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

All rights reserved. International copyright secured. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., except for the inclusion of brief quotations in an acknowledged review.

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A division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

241 First Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN 55401 U.S.A.

Website address:
www.lernerbooks.com

Cover and interior photographs © Marco Costa/
Dreamstime.com
(main);
©
iStockphoto.com
/Selahattin BAYRAM (paper background).

Main body text set in Janson Text LT Std 12/17.5.

Typeface provided by Linotype AG.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Atwood, Megan.

Stolen luck / by Megan Atwood.

pages    cm. — (The Dario Quincy Academy of Dance ; #2)

ISBN 978–1–4677–0931–6 (lib. bdg. : alk. paper)

ISBN 978–1–4677–1628–4 (eBook)

[1. Dance—Fiction. 2. Haunted places—Fiction. 3. Supernatural—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.A8952St 2013

[Fic]—dc23

2012048710

Manufactured in the United States of America

1 – BP – 7/15/13

eISBN: 978-1-4677-1628-4 (pdf)

eISBN: 978-1-4677-3320-5 (ePub)

eISBN: 978-1-4677-3319-9 (mobi)

To my parents, for their constant support. And to Patrick, who literally held me up when I fell down. My love and gratitude to you.

Chapter 1

“No, Kayley! Your turnout is simply poor! You're being lazy—I know you can do a proper turnout! And lift your leg in the arabesque. It droops every time!”

Madame Puant slammed the butt of her cane on the floor and glared at Kayley. Then Madame waved her hand impatiently at Patrick, the pianist, until he stopped playing. Except for the sound of heavy breathing in the room, no one made a peep.

Kayley could feel her face growing hot. Hotter, anyway. She and the others were already an hour and a half into the class, and Kayley was tired. And maybe she
had been
drooping a little—but she didn't think it was fair that Madame called her lazy.

She grumbled under her breath, “Lazy, my butt,” then took a peek at her friends. Ophelia looked irritated, like always, probably because she had had to stop dancing. Sophie and Emma were exchanging looks because they couldn't do
anything
without each another, even have a thought. Madeleine stared at Kayley with sympathy.

Madame said, “What was that, Kayley?”

She replied sweetly, “Sorry, Madame.”

Madame harrumphed. “You've been sorry all class. That's the second time I've had to interrupt everything for you. Take a break and gain your breath and we'll work on the stepsisters. Sophie, Emma.”

Madame nodded to Patrick, who played a hint of what the orchestra would sound like when the class actually put on the show.

Kayley walked to the side of the room, avoiding the gazes of her classmates. She slumped down next to her bag and threw her legs in a wide split, pretending to stretch down to the floor so she wouldn't have to look at anyone. Her legs were sore. Maybe over fall break she should have practiced more often.

Coming back to the school after seeing her family in Connecticut had been more than a little hard. As the youngest sibling out of five, Kayley loved being home with her big family. All four of her brothers were superstars in some way, of course. Her oldest brother was literally a brain surgeon in Boston. The next oldest one was a lawyer in New York, and the next one was a professional tennis player. The brother closest to her, still in college, was planning to be a psychologist
and
a psychiatrist. He would, too, because he was by far the smartest person in her already smart family.

And then there was Kayley.

Kayley loved to dance. She really did. It was just that everyone expected so much of her all the time. Even over fall break, in the middle of a laughing episode at dinner, Kayley's dad pounced.

“So, are you up for any leads this year, Kay?”

She hated it when he called her Kay.

“Daaaad. I told you, I got fairy godmother in
Cinderella
.” She took a big bite of her mom's lasagna and added, “It's a solo part. Everyone loves that part.”

Her dad frowned at her. “But no leads. Maybe you should practice more. We could set you up—”

She shook her head impatiently. “I want to have an actual break during my break!”

Kayley could feel the disappointment wafting off of him.

“OK, honey,” he winked. “Anyway, we can't wait to see you dance whatever part you dance.” And then he ignored her once again and started talking to Brian, her oldest brother, about his possible upcoming job as chief of neurosurgery. The pride in his face could've made anyone teary.

Kayley stared down at her lasagna and put her fork down. Suddenly, she wasn't hungry.

And now, a week later, Kayley couldn't seem to even dance the fairy godmother role, let alone a lead part.

She leaned down and touched her forehead to the ground, feeling the pounding of pointe shoes as Emma and Sophie danced. She could feel it when Ophelia jumped in. People always thought ballet dancers were delicate, but if they could hear the floor when the dancers jumped …

She felt someone sit down beside her but refused to look up. A voice whispered in her ear, “Everyone has bad days.”

Kayley sat up and smiled at Madeleine. She really was the nicest person. Also an incredible dancer, but because Madeleine was new to the academy, she was only in the corps this performance. It was only a matter of time, though, until Madeleine started to land lead roles. Ophelia had some competition.

And Madeleine's talent was only part of it, Kayley thought. Yes, Madeleine had musicality, and yes, she had a grace that couldn't be taught, no matter who was doing the teaching. But she also came to class early every day and practiced. Kayley couldn't even think about that. She already felt it was torture to be up at six. And she was almost always late.

She shrugged at Madeleine. “It's all right. Madame needs someone to yell at. I guess I'm the lucky one today.”

And the last few days, she thought.

Madame clapped her hands, which meant it was the end of class and time for reverence—the period when the ballet dancers thanked their teacher through dance and paid respect. Kayley couldn't think of anything she'd like to do less. She got up, went through the motions, and finished just slightly before everyone else. She was already at her bag by the time everyone else finished the movements. When she looked up, she could see Madame's angry eyes flicker over her and then look away. Kayley flinched. She didn't like that look.

She got out a gummy worm from her bag—so what if it was only nine in the morning?—and started to chew on it. This was definitely not her day. She shrugged. The afternoon practice would just have to be better.

Chapter 2

But afternoon practice was not better. Not by an inch.

Kayley just couldn't seem to catch up. Her counting was off, and she literally tripped over her own feet during two of the moves.

With a look of disgust, Madame waved for her to go sit down. Kayley, secretly relieved and trying to hide her heavy breathing, slunk happily to the floor.

And then her world collapsed.

“Madeleine, have you been watching the godmother scenes?”

Madeleine stole a quick glance at Kayley, then nodded her head.

“Well, do you think you could dance them?”

Kayley stared at Madame. Was she doing what Kayley thought she was doing? Suddenly, more than the tough dance routine was causing sweat to trickle down Kayley's spine.

Madeleine looked at her guiltily and nodded to Madame.

“Let's try them. Patrick, from the top of the fairy godmother scene.”

The pianist began the music that started the scene.

And Kayley sat horrified as she watched Madeleine take her place.

The worst thing about the whole affair was that Madeleine
should
have been taking her place. She was wonderful.

Kayley watched as Madeleine performed every move flawlessly. Two fouettés, an arabesque that lasted forever, bourrées … Kayley couldn't watch anymore.

Madeleine had danced Kayley's part perfectly. And with a sinking feeling, Kayley realized what that meant.

When Madeleine was finished, the whole class clapped, and Kayley's face burned. She felt tears behind her eyes, and she could feel people stealing glances at her. Madeleine looked down at the floor and frowned. Kayley knew she felt bad. But she also knew Madeleine just couldn't help being a good dancer.

Madame said curtly, “OK, Madeleine, you dance the fairy godmother. Kayley, you try corps. Patrick, let's go from the top of Cinderella's entrance. Ophelia, take your place.”

And with that, Kayley's dream was crushed.

Madeleine walked toward her with a worried expression on her face. The rest of the class looked on.

Kayley didn't cry. With four brothers, she had grown up pretty tough. At least that's what she told herself. And she certainly didn't cry in public. But she felt the tears welling up and knew they would spill soon. The minute Madeleine said a word to her, Kayley was sure she'd lose it.

So she did something she'd never done before: she ran out of ballet class.

She grabbed her bag and darted around the front of the room, behind a flabbergasted Madame and in front of the whole class. But she didn't care. The situation was more than humiliating, and she needed to get out before the tears spilled.

She ran all the way to her room, down the sinister hallway with flickering candle lights and red carpet, and made it to her door as the first sob came. She unlocked the door quickly, then fell on her bed, the sobs coming harder and faster.

What would she tell her dad? Her brothers? How could this have happened?

She sat up and threw her bag against the wall, then buried her face in her pillow and screamed.

She had been a dancer—a soloist—for as long as she could remember. She had always been the best in the class until she came to Dario Quincy Academy. But she didn't mind not being the best once she came here because the dancing was so fun and amazing, and the other dancers pushed her to be better. And she'd worked hard, at least for a couple of years, to get to be a soloist. And in one fell swoop, she had been demoted back to the corps.

With the fourteen-year-olds and the ones that everyone knew would never get a professional ballet job.

She was just another corps dancer.

The sobs turned into anger. Who did Madame think she was, to treat her this way? What did Madame know anyway? Kayley deserved the part of the fairy godmother—it was hers!

Just then, her door opened and Ophelia, Sophie, Emma, and—way in the back—Madeleine stood in the hall, looks of pity on their faces. Even Ophelia, who had the empathy of a pigeon, looked sympathetic.

Kayley wiped her cheeks and said, “I want to be alone.”

Ophelia walked in anyway and threw a bag of Sour Patch Kids on her bed, then flopped onto Kayley's desk chair. Sophie and Emma followed and sat down on her floor. Finally, Madeleine came in and leaned awkwardly on her dresser, her eyes looking everywhere but at Kayley.

Kayley sighed. Friends don't listen when you want to be alone.

Ophelia pointed to the package of Sour Patch Kids. “We thought you might want those.”

Despite herself, Kayley was touched. Ophelia was always taking candy out of her hand and throwing it away. So she knew her friends understood, in some way, what she was going through. But Kayley shook her head anyway.

“Not hungry.”

She could feel Sophie and Emma looking at each other and could imagine what they were thinking. That Kayley never turned down sweets. And Kayley never did. Except, apparently, when she was failing at life.

She picked at her bedspread.

Madeleine cleared her throat and said, “Kayley …” Suddenly her eyes were full of tears. “I'm so sorry. I don't know what to do. If you want me not to dance it …”

Kayley was truly touched. No ballet dancer in the history of the world would turn down a better part if she were able to do it. So as much as Kayley wanted to, she told herself that she wouldn't deny Madeleine the part.

She shook her head and sighed. “No, Madame wants you to do it.” Kayley smiled. “And it's not your fault. So don't feel sorry about it.” She meant it too. Madeleine was too nice to be mad at.

And, anyway, Kayley knew where to lay the blame: Madame Puant. Suddenly, resolve took the place of her sadness. She was not going to lie down and take this.

She smiled bigger at Madeleine. “But don't think I won't fight for the role.”

Madeleine's smile was warm and big too. A collective sigh of relief filled the room.

Opening the package, she dumped out a Sour Patch Kid and popped it in her mouth. She felt good again. Powerful. She would make this right.

“Tomorrow I'm going to have a little talk with Madame and set her straight.”

She caught a tiny frown line between Ophelia's eyes and saw a look pass between Ophelia and Madeleine. Madeleine looked relieved, but Ophelia looked dubious.

A tickle of unease danced up Kayley's spine. Ophelia shared looks with her, not Madeleine. Dumping out more candy, Kayley put the thought out of her mind and began to strategize for her talk with Madame.

BOOK: Stolen Luck
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