Lyrical: Chapter 15


Pen

“Good work today, Pen,” Sebastian says as I hand him my assignment later that week in my ballet lesson. Written work has never really been my thing, but it’s actually been quite fun researching famous ballet dancers and then coming up with some choreography to tell their story. “So Luka Petrin, eh? Quite an interesting choice.”

“He’s an interesting man,” I say with a shrug. “I mean, his dance career was epic and everything, but it was his off-stage antics that got me intrigued. He kinda disappeared off the face of the Earth after his wife’s death.”

“He was, indeed, an incredible dancer. One of the greats, actually. Though he’s a prime example of how the fame side of dance can be a major downfall. Damn shame.”

“What happened to him?” I ask.

Sebastian smiles at the other students, taking their written work and thanking them. He waits until they all file out of the studio before answering. “If you’ve done your research, I’m sure your assignment will tell me. He may have left the dance world behind because he was heartbroken over his wife’s death but it was no secret the man was a serial philanderer with plenty of skeletons in his closet, I’m sure.”

“Do you think that him sleeping around had something to do with her death?”

“Rumour has it she committed suicide. It was all very hush hush, but yes, I believe so.”

“Wow.”

“Either way, he left the ballet world behind. No one knows for sure what happened to him.”

“So he dropped dance completely?”

“Yep. His career was destroyed by the media coverage following his wife’s death. Being an incredible dancer with a fantastic career is the one thing we all hope for, but the fame? That’s what kills the best dancers off in the end.”

“Kill?”

“Their career, sweetie, not literally.”

“Is that why you’re here teaching? Didn’t you want the fame?”

“At one point I did. I’m gay and, frankly, love the attention, but I’m also heavily into self-preservation. I don’t want to live my life under the microscope. Take Madame Tuillard. She’s suffered at the hands of the British press recently, especially since dating D-Neath.”

“Really? I didn’t realise.”

“Don’t you read the gossip magazines or hear the whispers?” Sebastian asks me.

“Err, no.”

He laughs. “I love a bit of gossip…”

“No shit. So, she’s dating an ex-criminal, what’s the big deal? You can’t help who you fall for.”

“This is true, and whilst I totally get why she’s into Duncan—the man is delicious, after all—I’m not entirely sure he’s quite let go of his criminal tendencies.”

“Should you really be voicing your concerns with me?” I ask, laughing a little inside. He really doesn’t know the half of it, because the Breakers sure as shit aren’t here to dance.

“No. I absolutely shouldn’t. This conversation didn’t happen, okay?” he winks, his eyes sparkling.

“You’re such a gossip.”

He waves his hand in the air, then gathers up all the assignments and his bag, and grins. “I can’t help it, comes with the territory,” he says, repeating the same phrase that I used when we first talked about me being judgemental of other ballet dancers.

“What, being gay, you mean?”

“No, sweetie, being a Robinson. My mother was the biggest curtain-twitcher on our estate. She knew everything about everyone. You couldn’t take a shit without her knowing about it.”

He laughs loudly and I can’t help but join in.

“Right.”

Sebastian’s phone pings with a new message. “Damn, I completely forgot that I need to be at a meeting with Madame Tuillard in five minutes. We’re discussing the end of year show. She wants to bring in some experts to help with the choreography.”

“Doesn’t she like what we’re putting together?” I ask, bristling a little. It’s not like we haven’t been busting a gut in rehearsals lately or anything.

“Oh no, she loves it. But there’s always room for improvement, no?”

I pull a face. “Have you seen what we’ve come up with? It’s pretty fucking good.”

“Good is wonderful, Pen. Great is what we’re aiming for. There’s no room for pride in dance. Don’t take offence.”

“I’ll try not to,” I mumble.

Sebastian pulls a face. “You wouldn’t do me a favour, would you?”

“Sure.”

“I need to grab a quick shower. Could you just let Madame Tuillard know that I’m running a little late?”

“Sure. Her office is on my way to my next dance class anyway.”

“Fabulous!” he calls, rushing off with a little wave.


Madame Tuillard’s office is tucked down the end of a corridor just off the first floor. I’ve never had any need to go there, but remember where it’s situated from orientation week. I lift my hand to knock on the door when I hear raised voices. The door has been left slightly ajar and I can see Madame Tuillard with her arms folded across her chest. She looks pissed off.

Uh-oh, lovers tiff.

I consider backing away slowly and letting Sebastian deal with being late, but something D-Neath says makes me pause.

“It’s a solid plan, mi cielo. I’ve got this covered.”

“Duncan, this is an establishment for dance. I have not built this place from the foundation up for it to be bulldozed by some man I’ve never met. No. You promised me that the Academy would be kept out of this. We are already under scrutiny in the press. I do not need the police on my doorstep too.”

“It’s just for a short while. No one will know. It’s a watertight plan,” he cajoles. His voice is smooth, velvety, and I can see Madame Tuillard falling for his charm despite the tightness of her lips and the way her arms are crossed over her body. He leans in close, his finger running over her cheek and down to her jaw, where he lifts her chin, so she meets his gaze.

“I’m doing this for us,” he says, his voice rough with intensity. He might sound and look sincere, but I’ve been around enough bullshitters to know when someone’s getting played and it pisses me the fuck off. D-Neath is using her love for him to get what he wants. It makes my blood boil.

I knock on the door loudly, not bothering to wait for permission to enter. My sudden appearance has the desired effect and Madame Tuillard is shocked out of his spell. D-Neath, however, just steps back casually and smiles at me. He’s a real pro at being a dick, that’s for sure. He’s just gone down in my estimation. I knew he was shady, the guy just got out of prison for fuck’s sake, but I’d kinda hoped he’d turned a new leaf and was here because he loves dance. Then again, maybe I’m just fucking projecting. My thoughts immediately go to the Breakers and why they’re here. This is all shady as fuck.

“Oh, shit, sorry to interrupt,” I say, pulling a face and plastering on a sweet smile. “Sebastian asked me to deliver a message. He’s running late for your meeting. He’ll be here in ten.”

Madame Tuillard seems to pull herself together and nods. “Thank you, Pen. I appreciate it.”

“Sure,” I fire back, looking between the two.

“Anything else?” D-Neath asks, raising his brows.

“Actually, yes,” I state, stepping into the room. “Sebastian said you’re bringing in some experts to help with the choreography for the end of year show. Is that correct?”

Madame Tuillard nods and D-Neath just glares at me. Screw him, this is a dance academy first, not some sideshow for his underhand dealings. “Yes, that’s correct.”

“Can I ask why? Do you not like what we’ve come up with?”

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise, Pen. I told you all in your first week here that I would be bringing in the best of the best to help with this performance.”

She’s right, she did. “Yeah, but I thought…”

“You thought you were all so spectacular that you wouldn’t need the help?” She laughs, shaking her head. “Arrogance isn’t a good look on you.”

“That isn’t what I meant,” I mumble, feeling entirely put in my place.

“That is not to say I’m not impressed by what you’ve all come up with so far, because I am. But this is my academy and how I choose to run it begins and ends with me,” she says adamantly, and I can’t help but think that her response was aimed more at D-Neath than it was at me. By the look on his face, D-Neath believes that too.

“Fair enough.” I nod.

Madame Tuillard sits on the edge of her desk, cocking her head to the side as she studies me. “Mr Tyson was correct in teaming you up with Dax. He’s a talented dancer, however…”

“However?”

“He came to me recently to request another partner for the duet. Can you tell me why that might be?”

“He did what?”

“Ah, so you’re unaware. Well, I told him no anyway. You’re perfectly matched in my opinion. Whatever is going on between you two needs to be put aside for the performance, which I also told him. Keep your personal issues off the dance floor, understand?”

“Mi cielo—” D-Neath begins and we both look at him. Madame Tuillard’s eyes narrow.

What, Duncan?”

He glances between us, then shakes his head. “Nothing that can’t wait.”

Madame Tuillard looks furious, but she clearly doesn’t want to have an argument in front of me. “Well, if that’s all?” Madame Tuillard says, effectively dismissing me.

“Yep, that’s all,” I reply, plastering on a fake smile as I stride off down the hall in search of Dax, and wondering what the fuck the Breakers have got mixed up in.

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