"One last dance." Jenna pleaded.
"No. It's just a stupid tradition, and anyway, my feet hurt." I threw off my blue slingbacks, resting my sore feet on the chair next to me.
"Well, you know what they say about the last dance…" She sang.
They say that during the very last dance at the Belle's Ball, you find your soul mate. They say it's magic. I say its bullshit.
"Forget it, Jenna." I was holding my ground. There's no way in hell I was going to willingly make an idiot of myself just because some drunk high school students hooked up one night and called it fate.
She looked disappointed. "Whatever, Julia. I'm going. And I'm going to find him."
"You have fun with that. And while you're at it, can you tell Santa Claus I'm looking for him?" I called after her.
Jenna turned around to stick her tongue out at me, to which I happily reciprocated. It had become our ritual, our signal that we weren't mad at each other. I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed in my chair, checking out the ruffle-covered crowd.
A hand came out of nowhere and pulled me, still barefoot, into the mix. It was either Jenna in one of her semi-passive-aggressive tactics or I was being abducted. Either way was, at this point, preferable to sitting at an empty table and wondering why on earth it took two hours of primping to get ready to do it.
It was neither, I discovered as I was spun around and found myself staring right into the deep green eyes of…Jared Darenson.
"Wonderful." I muttered.
"What's the matter, you don't like me?" He teased, eyes flashing.
"No, not really." I snorted, concentrating all my energy on not accidentally-on-purpose slamming him onto the floor. Jared was my number one enemy. My arch nemesis. For no other reason, really, than the fact that he was a complete and total imbecile.
No matter how attractive he was. Which he wasn't. Not really. Except he was. Which would explain the death glares I was getting from every girl within a three-mile radius.
"Well, you did agree to dance with me."
"No, you abducted me." I said angrily, trying to ignore the girl on my left who kept unintentionally except not really elbowing me in my side. And over what? Jared? She could have him. "And I'd really appreciate it if you let me go now."
He leaned in closer, whispering in my ear. "If I let you go, you'll run away. And we can't have that, can we?" Just slowly enough to infuriate me.
Without a heel to stab him with, I settled for kicking him swiftly in the shin. He immediately buckled, loosening his grip on my wrist but not enough for me to pry myself free. "Whoops, that's gonna leave a bruise." I snarked.
"You're incorrigible, you know that?" He smiled, wincing slightly.
"Well, if you'd stop pissing me off all the time…" I shrugged.
"Aw, Julia, I just want to talk."
"What about?" I knocked my knee lightly against the bruise, just to see him wince again. Satisfied that it had worked, I decided to stop the torture, if only momentarily.
He shrugged. "I don't know. Quantum physics, foreign affairs, your secret love for me, the president…"
"My what?" I screeched, certain that the entire room had now put their lives on hold to stare at us.
"Do you deny it?" He pushed, staring me straight in the eye. He was bold, I'd give him that. But I wasn't about to be another one of his conquests.
"Yeah!" I nearly yelled. "You are a selfish, arrogant…man whore!"
He blinked, surprised, before bursting into laughter. "No one's ever called me that before." He said between chuckles.
"Not to your face."
He was silent for a moment, looking at me carefully. "You're kind of annoying."
"Thanks." I said bitterly.
"I like it." He announced.
"Well, how nice for you." I cut in. "Can I go now?"
He leaned, close enough that I could feel his breath hot on my neck. "And I like you."
His sudden declaration caught me so off guard that I almost slipped, only to be caught by a strong hand on my back. "So what do you say?"
I scoffed. "You're deranged."
The silence swelled, filling the room until the only noticeable thing was the slow, steady drumbeat of the very last song, the last dance, coming to an end. And his eyes. Those deep green eyes, filled with emotion. Those eyes that forced me to reveal the one thing I had suppressed, the secret I vowed to keep forever.
"And I like it." I said breathlessly.
Jared bent down, capturing my lips in his, taking everything I had and giving it all back, and so much more. I knew everyone was staring now, mouths open in shock. But right now all I could think was that they were right, those drunken high school students all those years ago, that the last song was magic. The last dance was fate. And it had all been a stupid tradition, or so I had thought, until it brought me to him.
And as we broke and he rested his forehead on mine, breathing shallow, fate seemed so far away, yet so close, and I realized that I'd waited my whole life for this moment, to be swept off my feet at the last moment, in this last chance, the last song. In this wild, unbelievable, life-altering last dance.