"Gianna, loosen up! You're still too stiff", instructed the dance teacher. "Everyone from the top!"
Once again after 45 minutes of practicing the same routine, Gianna was beyond discouraged. She was tired and tense; her hopes of impressing her instructor were looking dim. The class continued for the remaining hour while the teacher signaled Gianna to speak privately with her.
"Gianna, I think you are very bright and show great potential, but I sense something holding you back. I've given you over two months but still have seen no improvements."
"I'm trying really hard Mrs. Swanson, promise. I want this so bad, please give me more time."
"This is a very prestigious group...I'm going to give you another chance to prove to me how bad you really want this." The teacher walked over to her bag and took out a CD case. "I want you to create your own routine for one of these tracks. You have two weeks. Make it fresh and incorporate some jazz and even hip hop movements. I want you to break out of your cage and impress me."
Gianna nodded. Taking the CD and realizing she had better do well this time or there would be no more chances. After her birthday, things didn't necessarily look up for a while. Between school and battling insecure feelings, it seemed like everything was against her. Not to mention an unexpected false alarm.
There had been a few times where Gianna received private missed calls, preventing her from ever returning them. Until one day, when she finally answered, the director of her old boarding school had stated that an investigator wanted to speak with her. He claimed to have information regarding a possible distant relative. Over-joyed by the thought, she risked a week of school and practice to travel back to Pennsylvania.
Cory insisted on tagging along but Gianna refused, expressing that she wanted to go alone. Only to feel stupid and lonely after finding out that her possible cousin was really a file mix up. Disillusioned and lonely, she returned to her new home town. Sadness ate her bit by bit, every day, overtaking her concentration in class and in her performances.
Talen and Cory, had tried to show their support. On days where Gianna struggled with mental walls, they were there to cheer her up. As for Fran's wish list, it had taken a plunge. Losing sight of why it was a good idea in the first place. Some girls she knew had only kissed 3 to 5 guys in their life, but at least they were meaningful; while Gianna was giving them out like handshakes.
She soon feared that she would lose the magic and flutter, as her emotions couldn't develop any further once it was done. Especially after her experience with Mason, the list was shoved to the bottom of her drawer. It was fun for a while but now it's a distraction from my real life, which I know isn't one of those romance novels we talked about Fran.
Hard days, sweat, even blisters and bruises paid off for Gianna. Obsessed with hours and hours of practice, she won the approval of Mrs. Swanson and her respect. So much so, she sent her to audition for an upcoming show. Gianna managed to snag a small part as an extra, but that was good for starters. While this was the path she had dreamt of, Gianna remained uncertain and unhappy.
"What do you mean you want to get out of the academy? I thought you loved ballet?" Cory said shocked.
"I know, but that was before I began to experiment with all these different styles. It was such a rush. That assignment Mrs. Swanson gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me."
"So where do you see yourself dancing…please don't tell me on a pole!" Cory took her clothes out of the dryer.
Gianna, standing beside her, began to help her fold the laundry. "Why a pole? Anyway, I need to gain as much experience as I can. I'll do whatever Mrs. Swanson recommends, but I must take more contemporary and hip hop classes."
"Wow that's going to be weird. I don't see too many blonde chicks dancing, I mean they usually look like they could beat me up. But you…you're so delicate."
"I hate that perception people have of me."
"Then prove them wrong sister! You can do this! Just don't go auditioning for Justin Bieber or anything…or I'll kick you out." Cory winked while nudging her friend.
Indeed there was a lot of work to do if Gianna planned on aiming that high, but she had never set her eyes on anything greater in her life. With this decision to loosen herself came the boldness to lose herself, and what better place than a dance club.
Using the excuse as homework, Cory willingly agreed to go dancing with Gigi along with some other friends. This was the ideal place to observe fun new steps and practice them right on the spot. It didn't take long before they were recognized by the regular goers. One of which had moves that put the whole club to shame. Her name was Sasha, a former professional dancer who now owned her own studio and was a VIP guest in all the clubs in the city.
Gianna expressed her interest in becoming a dancer just like Sasha, and luckily was accepted as her new project. In the mix of the fun and practice, Gigi hadn't forgotten entirely about the pink list. There were plenty of handsome men at the clubs, but being so focused on mastering new moves and studying all she could take in, left no time to cater to any flutters.
Except for one night…
Gianna had been dancing with Cory for most of the night, when a pair of guys came up to them and separated the duo. Her friend attracted the blonde cutie while Gigi's partner styled a shaved head with dark brown eyes. He was muscular with strong features; like his square jawline and thick eye brows. This wasn't the type of guy Gianna was attracted to at all.
She kept it friendly, but it wasn't till she witnessed his moves on the floor that made her change her mind about him. They hadn't spoken a word, not even an exchange of names. Though it wasn't necessary, all Gianna wanted was to keep learning from him. And with one swift move where he grabbed her by the waist to twist her back and forth and then around him, he came up and surprised her with a quick kiss.
Laughing it off, as it didn't spark any exhilarating feelings, Gianna danced a few more songs with the suave stranger and didn't condemn him from stealing a kiss. Cory was a different story; she and her partner had gotten further by the exchange of names, numbers and a future date. More importantly was Gianna's connection to Sasha than another scratched place off her list.
It was 11am on a Saturday and the girls had just gotten up. Feet still sore from the previous night of dancing, they dragged themselves around the apartment. Bowls of cheerios would be the only thing on their minds as far as cooking, along with a conversation recapping last night's highlights.
"I can't get over how much you've improved in these last few weeks with Sasha."
"She is an amazing teacher. I can't believe it myself! She said she wants to introduce me to her agent and see where things go from there. She thinks I'll be ready soon." Gianna bragged.
"Gigi, you are doing it! Your dream is actually going to happen!" Cory exclaimed in a raspy voice.
"I hope so. When you're at the bottom, all you can do is look up."
In that moment, they were interrupted by the faint sound of a phone chime, coming from one of their rooms.
"I'll get it, it's mine." Gianna stood and walked faster before it stopped.
Frowning, she sat on her bed as she read private again. Not anticipating more emotional strain from the lousy investigator. She took a deep breath.
"Hi, is this Gianna?"
"Umm, hi, I don't know if you remember me…we sort of met a couple of months ago…"
Gianna heard his thick British accent echo in the receiver. Her mind time traveled to the very moment she last heard that voice; back to the music store, when she was swept off her feet by the disguised star. She fell on her pillow as her face and smile lit up the room, her nerves tingling and tongue-tied.
"Yes, I remember you, the thief."
"Ah, I see you do remember now. Did I catch you in a good time?"
"Yeah, I had just finished eating breakfast."
"Oh God, it's close to supper time here."
"I woke up late though…I can't believe I'm going to ask you this, but how did you get my number?" Gianna asked stunned.
"I thought you left it for me, at least that is what the officer said."
"Yes one of the security officers said a fan left the piece of paper for me. Before I could toss it, I recognized the name. I thought it had to be you, but was not sure since you didn't know who I was."
"My roommate gave me a free ticket to that concert actually. But I had never heard of your band before then."
"I suppose I believe you."
"You have to believe me!" She giggled quietly.
"Alright then, I believe you… I was really hoping this was you."