Book 2 - Chapter 1
"Oh, Charles sweetie, you and your back problems always remind me of this portion of the story — teaching me and my husband to dance was an interesting moment in our personal dynamic."
"Sarah, everything I said to you back then, still applies today, including how much I care about you, along with Mom, Claire, Kalista as well as my two children, Rose and Michael. These memories, that include you, and our times together will always be a celebrated part of my life - now hush, or I won't continue."
"Sorry, Loverboy," my mother-in-law said giving me a wonderful peck on the cheek.
The next Cotillion was a blast. Kalista and I'd performed 'Hate on Me' for everyone there, which made Jimmy proud, and Sarah even had a twinkle in her eye, as we hugged when it was over.
Next on the agenda were final preparations for Kalista and my 'date'. We shortened rehearsals down to twenty-five minutes long, with five-minute breaks for any and all purposes. After all four ladies had a go - we took an extended break, with Claire and Sarah alternating giving my back a good rub, to keep me from tightening up.
Sarah was actually trying to explain to Claire, how the muscles, nerves and bones were all connected, so Claire could do more than just rub my back in the future.
Yeah, way more!
Everybody seemed satisfied that they were getting enough practice time with me. After lunch, I got up and asked Sarah if she knew how to Waltz. We hadn't specifically practiced that dance together. She said she knew a little from watching Claire and me, and remembered a few steps from dancing with her husband.
Claire picked up my phone to see what I have downloaded recently, and she looked over to me, and nodded her OK. I saw her eyes glistening.
"OK, Sarah - Let's cover some Waltz steps for the next time I give you and Mr. McArthur a lesson, all right?"
"Sure, Honey-Buns," she said with a smile.
Ignoring that, we covered the Closed Changes, Natural and Reverse Turn, and the Whisk, keeping it simple. Sarah was easily as quick a study as Claire - but not quite as quick as Kalista.
"You want to try this to music, my dear?" I said to Sarah.
"Certainly, Charles. What music are we dancing to?" she replied.
"Something I downloaded recently, remember Jerry Vale?"
"Yes, I do. What a beautiful tenor voice he has ... what song?"
I nodded to Claire, who'd hooked my phone into the sound system and started 'Sunrise Sunset', by Jerry Vale.
"Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older, when - did - they?"
Sarah put her head on my shoulder as we danced, very close together.
"When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday, when they - were - small?"
She looked up at me, and mouthed 'thank you'. I heard her quietly singing along.
"Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset...
Swiftly flow the days.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze."
We heard my mother sing along.
"Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years..."
I finished, giving Sarah a turnout and in, which we'd done before, and the song was finished. I heard sobs all around me, including Kalista.
Sarah looked into my eyes and gave me a soft kiss, and we hugged each other as well. She said, "Maybe we can get the Palace Orchestra to play that for us, when we get there the day after tomorrow?"
"That's a great idea," Annie said coming over and hugging Sarah.
Claire took the opportunity to give me a clinch and a kiss, although her kiss had a different kind of effect on me.
She said quietly, "That was really nice of you to dance that song with her. She's always loved that song, no matter who sang it. When she found out it was our first dance in Competition, she cried, just like now. You're really the best boyfriend in the whole world, you know?"
After the break, which included homemade cookies made by Sarah and Kalista, which were wonderful; Sarah, Claire and Kalista had to leave to replenish their 'go-bags' so it was just Annie and me for an hour or so. I was a little tired, so I sat down and kicked off my shoes.
Mom came out of the kitchen and sat by me, telling me to take off my socks, so she can give me a foot rub. She'd done this before a number of times for me. She told me Dad used to really like them, and then she broke down, sobbing.
"Mom, don't cry ... he left you, but you're a much stronger person today compared to back then. I remember the day he called you, while we were at the Rising Star Competition. That tells you what a mealy-mouthed miscreant he was. When you channeled that initial rage and told off those WEDCO gentlemen, I was as proud of you as I'd ... ever been in my life."
"Honey, thank you ... I'm sorry for being angry before, I just felt a little wounded, you telling Sarah about your future proposal to Claire, before telling me."
"Mom, I was worried for Sarah. She's always checking to see where Kalista is, and how much affection Claire, and I are expressing to one another; I just felt the necessity to explain how deep my love is for all of you ladies, specifically Claire and Kalista."
"And where does Kalista fall into these plans of yours, Charles?" she asked, rubbing the bottom of my feet.
"Ooh, that feels so nice - You know Mom; I'm uncertain about that. Thinking ahead a little, if that's all right with you, maybe ten years ahead. I see Claire and I married, possibly with a child or two. Relax mom, I haven't said anything about any of this scenario to anybody else."
"I don't know where we're living. That would depend on what University we attend? Maybe we don't even go on to college; we could become Professional Dancers at eighteen, or twenty, and start dancing all around the world, winning trophy after trophy, getting you your fifteen percent to spend on yourself."
That made Mom chuckle a little. Her face went ashen when I mentioned children; again when I talked about 'not' going to college.
"Mom, remember this is all speculation; no plans are made, outside of my proposal on graduation day, OK? Do you have any ideas along the lines of 'what about Kalista?' I feel that leaving town to go to college is tantamount to abandoning her. You know how much and why I care for her; any ideas would be helpful?"
Putting down my feet, having finished her massage, she said, "Well, she'll be in your wedding party, as Claire's Maid of Honor. She'll be fourteen then, so maybe she'll have found a boy of her own," she snickered. "If she's over her crush on you; if not she'll probably be crying all through your wedding ceremony, and sobbing in my or Sarah's arms, saying that she has nothing to live for."
"Mom, What you think is funny, ISN'T!" She looked at me with a knowing smile.
"K is so special to me — I just don't know what to do about her? Let's run another scenario. Something, I don't even want to think about, happens to Claire. So, ten years from now, I'm twenty-four, Kalista's eighteen. We can dance together now in Competitions; we could get married, have children - I don't know."
"The hardest part of this scenario, is that, for it to happen, something horrible would have to happen to Claire. Oh, Mom ... if something happened to Claire, my whole world would be shattered. I'm sorry if I'm sounding melodramatic, but sometimes I think of these things, and I just can't sleep." I was quietly sobbing.
"Charles, come on and sit on the floor in front of me. Face the TV and take off your shirt. I'm going to give you a deep tissue massage, like I used to give your father. My goodness, Charles — all of your dancing certainly has made you quite buff," I blushed, although she couldn't see it.
"Sorry Charles. Now, this is very likely to put you to sleep, or at least relax you from some of your worries. A fourteen-year-old boy shouldn't have as many worries as you do. Come on; scoot over in front of me, all the way."
I was now in a position for her to do this. I know she did this for Dad a lot, so I figured, why not, and I tried to relax. I closed my eyes and leaned my head forward.
She started at the base of the back of my neck, using her thumbs to exert pressure. Oooh my, that feels so good, almost like when Claire gives me one of her 'special' kisses. Mom spread her hands to massage the tops of my shoulders, which actually felt great, and I heard a click in both of my shoulders?
"Don't worry honey, your Dad had the same thing. It's some kind of floating cartilage or something. Relax Charles, does this feel as good as when Sarah did it for you after your fall?"
"I'd have to say she directed her hand pressure, so that the pain dissipated quickly, while what you're doing actually is quite relaxing and comforting. Oooohhhhhh, Momma — that really feels great."
"Charles, I need to tell you that I may accidentally cause you to have your 'problem' again, so at any point if this massage gets strange, or you get 'aroused', let me know, and I'll move my hands so it doesn't exacerbate your situation."
"Oh Mom, when you say, exacerbate like that, it really turns me on." I felt a light slap on the top of my head.
"Thanks Mom, I needed that. I didn't want you to think Sarah was getting all of my love," I said with a snicker.
This time the slap was on my back.
"Thanks, this massage does feel very nice." I gave her a thumbs up, as I started to fall asleep.
Her hands were now on my shoulder blades, and I was occasionally moaning rather loudly. Mom leaned over and calmly said in a wonderfully soothing voice, "Relax, think of your dances, all the steps you know, all the dances you've performed, with your CASK; Claire, Annie, Sarah and Kalista."
"Now think of dancing at your wedding, think about the first dance you dance with your bride, then your mother."
The McArthurs coming through the door woke me up. I quickly pulled on my shirt, socks and shoes, and welcomed everyone 'home'.
I heard a wolf whistle from Sarah; however, Claire gave her a nasty look.
"Everybody, here's my plan for the rest of the afternoon. Starting with Claire, we go over all of our dances, until they're polished. I figure ninety minutes each; then Annie, the same thing, then Sarah and finally Kalista. If we don't get through everybody this afternoon, we'll take up tomorrow wherever we've left off - Everybody OK with that?"
They all agreed to the plan.
I reminded the ladies of two important facts; the songs we'd been practicing may not be on his set list that night, and they'll undoubtedly sound different because different orchestras were involved.
That prompted Sarah to walk up to me and say, "Even if none of the songs I practiced to, are played Charles, I've had a blast getting to know you better, and learning more about you, and what makes you tick." Sarah gave me a kiss, and Claire said, "Just remember mother, he's my boyfriend, not yours."
"I know, but I can fantasize a little can't I, dear?" Sarah sighed with a pout on her face.
Everybody, but Claire, laughed out loud.
I gulped a little.
Hurray - 'Date' night has come!
Everyone's dashing about, fighting over bathrooms and such. We'll be picking up the rest of them at the McArthurs; our final 'guest list' is as follows:
Kalista, Sarah and Daniel McArthur, Josiah McArthur and Cassandra Wickers, Brian and Shirley Fleming, Susan Williams, Antoinette Newman, and Charles Newman and Claire McArthur; and a last minute replacement since Brian's father was out of town - Jimmy Bradshaw.
It was time for all of us to gather in the living room. Annie looked magnificent in a shimmering dress of navy blue, her hairstyle up, off her neck, with some bling, of course, to finish it off.
Sarah had on a Kelly green dress, with a bit of a plunging neckline, which made me ... a little nervous. Her red hair was down, with a small gem in her hair, just above her right ear. She had on the appropriate amount of bling as well, including a pearl necklace.
Yours truly had on his first nice three-piece suit. It was deep navy blue, and I had a maroon colored tie. I actually convinced Mom to get me a new pair of wingtips, the first lasted through a lot of dancing, but this event was important.
I actually got them a few days before to break them in, so they wouldn't break me tonight. Sarah gave me a haircut, and even if I do say so myself, I looked good ... but nothing to compare to my ladies, my CASK. I may have Sarah always cutting my hair; her hands feel really soft, and the view is nice.
I heard an 'Ahem' from behind me; Annie pointed to the top of the stairs ... and there was Claire. My Claire ... my ... one in a million Claire ... my girlfriend, and my best friend! My lover - someday ... along with all of my hopes and dreams.
Her hair was in curls around her face. Her brown eyes seemed to sparkle like diamonds. She had on a dress similar to what she wore to Cotillion, but this was pink, and a little shorter; such a very pretty shade of pink.
She had on a little more eye makeup than usual ... but not too much. I'd told her a couple of times, how I think many pretty girls overdue their eye makeup, thus reducing their attractiveness. She was putting on her lip-gloss as she walked down the stairs. I wonder what flavor she has on tonight? I'll likely find out, later.
Suddenly, music came on. I looked up at the top of the stairs and saw - K. 'Lady in Red' was playing in the background, but a lady in red, was standing at the top of the stairs looking down on me.
Her hair was down. She'd been letting it grow since I first met her, now it's almost to her elbows. Her eyes were glistening, again with just the right amount of make-up. She had on, what looked like two-inch heels, making her beautiful legs look even longer.
The red of her dress seemed to match the red of her hair perfectly, as did her shoes. The dress was shorter than Cotillion or the NDCA would approve of, but I certainly approved. When we get there, and the 'Pawporazza' gets a look at her ... all camera lenses will be affixed to her legs.
The music continued, as she finished coming down the stairs; I moved to the base of the stairs and put my hand out for her. That made her giggle.
Ooh, that wonderful giggle. The song was over half over, but I placed her in my arms, and we danced together, chest to chest. I took our hands and pulled them inside, holding her so very close. I love this young lady, and ... NOT just like a sister.
She 'is' my soul mate. When the song was over, I leaned down, just a little and gave her the most passionate kiss I ever had. Her mouth opened and so did mine. I knew this could cause a lot of consternation, but I felt so compelled to express my deep love to her.
We pulled apart, and I said very softly, "I love you, Kallie," she whispered in my ear, "I know." Then she raised her voice and said, "Let's go dancing, everybody."
I turned and saw everyone crying, rubbing their eyes, trying to fix their eye makeup. Claire gave me a look, wiped off Kalista's lip-gloss and said, "You dog!"
I said back to her, "Tonight - I'm the luckiest fourteen-year-old on the face of planet Earth."
We headed off to the McArthurs, to pick up the rest of our cabal. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Brian had on what looked like a new suit as well. Susan was holding on tight to him - as Cassandra was holding onto Josiah. After everyone was finished oohing and awing over how nice everyone looked, we piled into the twelve-seater. Jimmy would meet us there.
Daniel was driving, and he turned around and said, "OK people, we're leaving now, settle down. Remember whose date this is; we all were invited to be part of this wonderful night." Sarah added, "And to shake things up," which made us all laugh.
We arrived at the Palace Restaurant, and there were indeed paparazzi there. Everyone exited, leaving Claire, Kalista and I.
"Kalista, are you OK?" I sincerely asked her.
"Charles, I'm so ready for tonight, Remember — I get you first," she said rather assertively. She looked over at Claire and added, "But I know how to share, Sis." They both giggled.
I got out, first helping Claire, then Kalista. Cameras were off to the races. Somebody said, "That's Charles & Claire?" and "I didn't realize they were so young."
We walked arm in arm in arm, taking our time ... soaking it all in. I asked Claire to go catch up with the rest of the group. I turned to the crowd, hoping I could remember the speech I'd prepared, for the moment. They say public speaking is the greatest fear of most people — me too.
With Kalista on my arm, beaming, I began, "Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Yes, Charles & Claire is in the building." That caused them to all chuckle, and it helped me to relax. Breathe.
"Tonight, however, is my date with my newest protégé, Kalista McArthur. Yes, they're cousins. We've prepared a number of dances to the styling's of Mr. Michael Bublé. We plan to enjoy ourselves and dance all night. I'll take two questions?"
They talked over each other, making it difficult to hear or understand anything. Finally, a voice rang out, "When are Charles & Claire going to start dancing in the adult category at your Competitions?"
"Next year, we both turn fifteen in late July; we'll be petitioning the NDCA for adult status at that time. Final question?"
"How old is Kalista, Mr. Newman?"
I trembled, squeezing Kallie's hand and said, "First off; Mr. Newman isn't here. Mr. Newman left my mother!" I was ready to really rail against him, but this is K's night, so calm down a little and breathe. Don't embarrass yourself, Charles.
I smiled a great big smile and said, "Charles Newman is here, and this wonderful young lady turns eight, October Fifteenth of this year. That's all, goodnight."
They were all shouting different things, but the one I heard was 'Kiss her Charles', which is something I could do something about. I leaned into K and asked her permission, telling her that 'this' is what a scandal might look like.
She mis-understood me, maybe, and moved her face into mine and kissed me, just like the kiss in the living room, but now, cameras were going off like crazy.
We walked forward catching up to Sarah, who said, "In the old days, when a fellow kissed a girl like that, he had to marry her."
I let Kalista go on ahead to catch up with Claire.
I looked over at Mr. McArthur, who had an odd look on his face, and he asked with a smile, "Exactly which one of those young ladies do you think you'll end up with, Charles? They both seem to care deeply for you."
"Mr. McArthur, upon advice from counsel, I invoke my rights, under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, against self-incrimination."
"Great answer Charles, best I've heard in a while. Whichever one of them you may end up with, I'd like you to know, I approve of you as my future son-in-law. You can't have too many grandchildren, Charles." Sarah slapped him on the chest, admonishing him for his last remark, giving me a wink.
They'd created for us, a square table that could sit sixteen, but things were spread out so we'd be more comfortable, three to a side. I saw a number of video set-ups at the far stage-left end of the dance floor, including what appeared to be a NBC logo on a large style floor camera.
I turned to Sarah and asked her, "Is this your doing, my dear?"
"You wanted the world to know about this event Charles. I told you once before, 'Be careful what you ask for', didn't I?"
"Call me Daniel, Charles. It seems odd to hear you call me Mr. McArthur, while you call my wife 'my dear.'"
"I'm sorry sir, we've danced together and have become quite close. You better dance with her tonight, or I may have to bring her into my harem, Daniel."
We all laughed. That was more than I should've said but it's fun to banter with an adult to get a reaction out of them.
I sat Kalista to my right and Claire to my left, on the side of the table where the camera placements seemed to expect us.
I excused myself and walked up to the orchestra leader, and spoke to him for a moment. As I walked back to the table, 'Cry Me a River' had started up. I asked Kalista to dance and we walked to the dance floor.
I noticed that all the cameras were on us. The orchestra leader walked up to his microphone and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Charles and Kallie."
The music started, and we began to dance to it, Kalista beaming in my face, then a voice started to sing, it was Michael Bublé! He wasn't supposed to sing for another hour! He smiled over at us, and we went on dancing, doing our spins and K was hitting on all cylinders, smiling and dancing.
I felt like I was just along for the ride, although I was keeping up with her, when the break came, and it was just the orchestra, we spun and spun, and then got back to our routine, then the end was near, and I knew we were about to finish the best dance of either of our lives.
And it was done!
The place made twice as much noise, as I'd remembered from our last time here. I'd shown Kalista a 'show-curtsey', which we did together, and we went over to Mr. Bublé and we shook his hand. I was trembling.
He said, "That was quite a dance, you two. I understand you've a list of my music somewhere, give it to me please? I want to watch you dance as much as you want to hear me sing - how's that for a deal, Charles?"
I was fishing the list out of my coat pocket, handed it to him, and he looked it over. He said, "I like these also, give me thirty minutes and I'll make sure we do them all for you. I thought the TV camera was for me tonight - but I believe I was mistaken," he smiled and laughed.
I gave K a much more chaste kiss as we arrived back at the table. Kalista and I sat back down. She was giggling so much it was infectious. We told them all about our conversation with Michael Bublé. Apparently, he heard his music playing and went out to see what was going on. Once he saw us dancing, he jumped in.
'Wow' was the interjection of choice. I looked over at everybody, and I said, "Thank you all for being here at the 'Kalista McArthur Coming Out Party, '" which caused all them to laugh. I leaned over to K and told her that I'd explain that to her later; she nodded and said "OK, X." She grabbed my hand and held it tight.
I looked down at our hands, intertwined and got lost in the thought of the possibility ... the possibility of marrying this young lady someday. Talk about Wow!
The waitress came to our table and said, "Mr. Bublé was so taken with Charles and Kallie, that he wants to pay for your evening tonight. Would that be all right with you, Mr. Newman?"
Tensing up a little, I looked over at Annie, and I just said, "Yes, fine ... thank you - thank him." We went on to order our food. Sarah ordered a bottle of champagne and a bottle of sparkling cider that looked a lot like champagne.
Jimmy spoke up and said, "Everybody, I don't drink alcohol, so I can be the 'designated driver' if you'd like? I can always come back and get my car later, or tomorrow. Don't worry anybody, Dancing is Fun, So Have Fun Dancing."
I heard the beginning strains of 'Sunrise, Sunset', so I got up and took Sarah's hand to the dance floor. As we walked up, I said, "That's such a beautiful dress you have on, I hope I can remember to look you in your eyes," I blushed, as I said that.
"Thank you Charles - Mr. McArthur didn't say a thing about it."
"He's an ass," I quickly replied.
"Thank you for that as well," she responded with a quirky smile.
We joined others, already on the dance floor. Sarah really does have the identical glimmer in her eyes that both K and Claire do. We were dancing very close together, and I had a 'reaction' to her dancing so close to me. She smiled and said, "Thank you, Charles. I'm glad to see I didn't waste money on this dress."
Blushing, I stuttered, "I'm — I'm so very sorry for that happening, Sarah; it's not the proper thing to happen between a young man and a woman old enough to be his ... beautiful aunt." She squeezed us together even closer, and said, "It's OK, Loverboy - I won't tell anyone ... if you won't."
She danced superbly, about halfway through though; I felt a tap on my shoulder. Daniel was cutting in. I excused myself and went back to the table, said I was heading to the bathroom, and then after a bit, came back and sat down.
I looked back at the dance floor and saw Josiah and Cassandra dancing, as well as Mom and Jimmy. They were talking a mile a minute while they were dancing. I better have a talk with her later.
Brian and Susan were dancing together; they really make a beautiful couple. I wonder which one of us will get married first?
Wow - I remember the first time I had a flash about getting married, it scared me to death; now with my choices of Kallie or Claire in front of me, I'm looking forward to connubial bliss someday, whichever one of them it is. The song was over, and everybody got back to the table. I was rubbing my eyes.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, special guests - The Palace Restaurant is proud to ask Charles & Claire onto the dance floor."
The spotlight came on, and hit us as we were walking there. The crowd rose to their feet and applauded us. Whew - this - is the big time.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Bublé and his signature song, 'At This Moment.'" Along with everyone else, Claire and I applauded and Claire gave me a kiss, and we started to dance.
We started to dance to the song, using our Competition Slow Waltz routine; Claire and I were looking into each other's eyes. We knew this routine better than any other, as much as we'd practiced it. I went to face hold, and Claire went with it. I went to right hand only and we actually did a spin, only connected with a single arm. I wouldn't have known that was possible, but we did it.
All the time, we were only looking at each other. I saw a tear on Claire's cheek as the song was ending, but that was OK, we went to heaven together, as we hesitate-stepped as Michael finished his singing. I wanted him to enjoy the end, so we stepped out, and let him trill to the end.
He was finished, and nodded to us saying, "Everybody give a great big hand to not only the best fourteen-year-old dancers I've ever seen, but the best dancers, I've ever seen of any age - Charles & Claire."
The audience was standing and cheering, the orchestra was applauding us. We acknowledged Michael as well. He asked us over to him, as the orchestra started another number in the background.
"Charles & Claire ... you are, without a doubt, the best dancers I've seen in a very long time. Is it correct that you're only fourteen-year's old?"
"Well, Mr. Bublé," Claire responded, "We don't actually turn fourteen-until the latter part of July, sir."
"Well, kids; if you're ready to make some real money with your talent; here's my card. This is a direct line to me - I'm deadly serious about this. I'd like to hire the two of you to dance as the featured performers of my tour. Being underage, you'd need a chaperone."
"I'm even willing to sweeten the deal, by inviting your protégé, Kalista to join us as well. Think about it, talk to your parents about it, and get back to me in the next seven days. You guys are the real deal."
"Mr. Bublé," I asked, "Pardon me for this ... but how much would we be paid, to go with you?" Claire looked at me like I'd just said a curse word. Michael came back and said, "Probably, five thousand a week, to start, each of you?"
"You two have gotten a lot of positive press this past year, so this offer's a limited time one. Go tell everybody the good news. We both still have some work tonight, you two."
I spoke to Claire on the way back to the table, asking if we could wait until tomorrow and talk to our Moms about this. She thought that was a good idea, and we quickly made up a story to cover our extended conversation with Mr. Bublé.
I walked Claire to her chair and I asked Mom to dance. They were playing a waltz number I didn't know the name of, and decided to brief Mom on parts of our 'offer', to which she was amazed.
"Five thousand dollars a week, each of you? And he wants Kalista too?" she replied sounding astonished.
"I think it's probably only for a year or so, Mom; but it's a legitimate offer nonetheless. I see you coming along as Mom slash chaperone slash manager. Sarah might even be open to this, but Daniel, I see as the 'stick in the mud.'"
"Well Charles, this is truly one of 'those' moments, like I've heard you talk about, that could change your lives. Being paid to dance will change your status irrevocably with the NDCA, if it's only for a year, you could be back in time to dance as a Professional at Nationals, the year after next. You're the math guy, Charles. How much is that a year and what's my cut?" She let out a giggle.
"Ha-ha mom, that's two hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars for each of the three us, assuming one year, and your twenty percent would be fifty three thousand dollars - a grand a week. And he said that was only to start with, sounding like more was possible."
"Charles, our agreement was for only fifteen percent," she said firmly.
"I love you, mom, but what would I do with all of that money anywho? Just blow it on all of you beautiful ladies."
"It sounds like you want to do it, Charles?" she said her eyes glimmering at me.
"I think so, Annie. I love you. Maybe, we could get Sarah to come along as well."
"I can tell you've grown fond of her, Charles," mom smirked.
"When I look into her eyes - I see Claire."
"Have you been looking in her eyes ... tonight Charles?" she asked.
"That dress she's wearing is beautiful but more than a little distracting. I even told her so."
"Oh, I can't wait to hear this story from her, it sounds deliciously naughty, Charles." She slapped my chest, just like Claire does.
"The song is over beautiful, may I escort you to our table?"
"Certainly, Charles. You're dancing wonderfully tonight. Pace yourself, honey."
Kalista's and my 'Cut-time' Samba, 'Hold On', was starting. I knew that there were about fifteen seconds before the singing started, so we walked up and the floor cleared, and the whispers started.
"Ready for this Princess?" I asked.
"Ready Loverboy," and she kissed me as Michael started to sing. I've perhaps overused the term beautiful, but this time it's the only word to describe my Princess.
She's glowing as we started this unique dance. Our legs were together - her legs were dazzling. She's so beautiful, and we sambaed, causing our hips to touch a few times.
K giggled and went on looking at me like I was the only one in the room. Our flourishes were so together - at the key change - we ad-libbed a Samba turn and I was at that moment, in awe of my little sister, who pulled herself up to me, as we finished the dance of our lives ... chest to chest.
The rest of the country - and the world deserves to see these two girls dance ... with the joy that they have in their hearts. I may be a little biased. You think? The cheers for her were dazzling; she glowed like a diamond that had a source of light that wouldn't run out.
We walked off the floor together, heading back to the table. I seated her and asked Claire if she'd said anything to Sarah yet. She kissed me, like I'd kissed K earlier, then said, "I only told her a bit about it. We're all getting together about it tomorrow, correct?"
"Yeah, Sugar Bear ... tomorrow may be our Day of Reckoning."
"That's sounds a little ominous, Charles, but I understand the reference. How're you holding up so far? You've danced with all of us, once. We don't have to dance to them all?"
"I want to dance to them all - and show Mr. Bublé all of our dances." As I said this, I heard the beginning strains of 'Heartache Tonight', and I took Claire up and she gave me a kiss as we started our only scheduled Quickstep of the evening.
We started with our flicks and kicks, causing the audience to gasp, as well as clap along with the beat. We got into the more intricate steps and transitioned from step to step, effortlessly.
I suddenly had in my head both 'Bad Romance' and 'Marry You', wondering to myself if the orchestra knew either of these numbers.
It'd be a real kick, to do one of them, maybe both. Our dance was almost over, and we happened to be just over sixteen measures from the end, so I prepared Claire by raising my hand.
She knew what I wanted her to do. So, at seventeen measures to go, she started them, the crowd realizing what she was doing and was counting, as she got to ten, I saw her face and she was smiling so big ... and her sixteenth was as spot on as her first.
We ended with a promenade chasse together, with our hands in the air. We both laughed as the orchestra finished exactly with us. She fell into my arms, as Michael Bublé himself said, "What'd I tell you folks. The night's barely started, and we've seen some of the most amazing dances of our lives. Let's all give a great big hand to Charles & Claire."
We walked over to the orchestra leader asking if they knew either of the songs that'd popped into my head. Michael listened in and said, "I've been learning Marry You myself kids, want to do it together? I can't decide which of your lovely young ladies is prettier, Charles. Which one's prettier to you?"
He thought he was putting me in the spot about this, but I've had an answer ready for this question for quite some time now.
"Whichever one of them I'm dancing with at the moment, Mr. Bublé."
Claire gave me a slap on the shoulder, as Michael said, "Good answer Charles ... and call me Michael, OK."
"OK, Michael," I said as we walked back to the table.
Our food had come earlier, and I ate as I'd had the chance. Annie told me to sit and eat, to have the strength to keep dancing. I'm not sure where I got my energy from, but every time a new song started, I almost got up.
The orchestra leader came out and said, "Mr. Bublé will be taking a break and will be back in thirty minutes."
It was about 2:00AM when we got back to the McArthurs. Since they all had fresh 'go bags', my ladies and I went on home to our house, including Sarah.
I went to the sofa and lay back, thinking back to earlier in the evening...
What an evening. After Michael came back from his break, He, Claire and I did 'Marry You', and then the orchestra played a jazzy style version of 'Bad Romance', which we did the Six-Pack to.
Michael, my ladies, the orchestra, and me performed all the songs and dances we'd prepared for the evening.
As we all had started to leave, Michael came over to our table, shaking everyone's hand and giving Claire and Kallie each a great big hug. He nodded to me and said, "Thanks for letting me join your party everybody, I had a blast. I went to Cotillion myself, but it didn't stick ... so I became singer instead."
Everybody chuckled at that, although Mom cut loose with a snort. Michael walked over to her and said, "Mrs. Newman — these are the finest young persons I've ever been around - and they're not bad dancers either."
I saw a look on my Mom's face; she was swooning over being so close to Michael. He turned towards me and asked, "Can I give your mother a hug, Charles?"
"OK by me," I said shrugging my shoulders.
You could barely hear my mother say, "Me too," as Michael put his arms around her and hugged her like she hadn't been hugged in too long. She started to slowly put her arms around Michael, but he turned to go, and said, "You're right Charles, your father was an ass, to let 'her' go..."
Back on the sofa, I realized that it was very late, however, everyone had changed from his or her 'date' clothes and we all sat around to discuss the offer, but first I needed to bring Kalista up to speed. I told her about what Michael had said and what he'd offered. She was shocked.
"You mean, he wants us to travel around with him, and dance all the time - what about school?" She asked her eyes glittering still from the events of earlier in the evening.
Sarah said, "Well, Annie and I could get your school work messengered to us, or we could get a tutor to travel with us, but that'd cost money, although I don't know how much?"
"And he'd really pay us to dance?" K asked.
"Yep," I said. "He offered each of us kids, $5,000 a week to start, and it could get to be more. My guess is that it'd be for a year to a year and a half. Now, here comes the complication, everybody. The moment we accept the money, we lose our amateur status, all three of us. We can still dance at the NDCA, but only as professionals," I explained.
"Will you and I be able to dance in competitions together then, Charles?" Kalista asked hopefully.
"Annie, have you looked that up yet?" I asked.
Annie responded, "It gets rather confusing, guys - If Kalista stays an amateur, and you and Claire become professionals, then you can dance with Kalista in what're called Pro/Am events, and with Claire in Open Professional events. If Kalista declared herself a professional, then she could become a Pro/Am Student Dancer, who'd dance with her Teacher/Mentor, but it mentions that she can't dance for compensation in any style of Ballroom Dance."
"So, why don't we all just become 'full-pledged' Professionals, and take the money and run?" Kalista wondered aloud.
That caused a great big belly laugh amongst us all.
"The term is full-fledged, K," I said bringing her to my lap.
Sarah suggested, "Annie, why don't we set up a Trust Account for each of these kids, pardon me, young adults, and have their income, direct deposited. Then we put them on a very liberal 'pay-day schedule' that we all agree to."
"Wouldn't that also keep the money away from prying hands," I pointed out, "Like my father, or Randall."
"Excellent point, Charles," Sarah said. "It's all on the up and up, Daniel and I have a trust for each of Claire's brothers and sister, for when we pass on. It's all very common these days."
"Speaking of Daniel," I said. "What do you think would be his reaction to all of this, Sarah? He knows nothing about any of this yet, does he?"
"No, not a bit. He never even said he liked my dress, and I bought it just for tonight." She put her head down in despair.
I slowly walked over to Sarah, getting a nod from Claire as well as Annie. I took Sarah's hand and I said, "Young lady, apparently your bushel was very well lit tonight, but Daniel didn't see you for the beautiful woman that you are. I was a little obnoxious early in the evening, but I got your attention, and your dress certainly got mine."
We gave each other a kiss. Sarah wiped her lip-gloss off my lips with her finger. Annie and K giggled.
Claire said, "Somebody find a ring for Sarah - She looks branded and tagged." I heard giggles from all corners.
Annie said, "It's three o'clock in the morning people, let's all get to bed."
I was still holding Sarah in my arms. Her head was leaning on my shoulder. I got up, holding her tight and gave her a kiss on the forehead and sent her to her room. I went to Kalista and Claire's room, giving them both a hug and a kiss goodnight.
I did the same with Annie, knocking first. She came out to me and said, "Honey, you were magnificent tonight. I'm so proud of you, and whatever happens, I love you." She kissed me and went into her room.
I knocked on Sarah's door and she said, "Come in, Charles." She was only wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt to bed. After noticing, I quickly turned around, facing the door and asked, "Sarah, would Daniel keep Claire or Kalista from doing this, even if they both told him they wanted to do it."
"He's Claire's father, Charles, and Kalista's legal guardian. He has the final say so in the matter. Why're you turned away from me?" She must've looked down and saw how she was dressed and quickly said, "Oh, I'm sorry Charles." I heard her put on another shirt. "You can turn around now, my little gentleman."
"Am I safe in here with you, my dear?" I said with a smile.
"I don't know, Charles — am I safe from you?" she said.
I gulped, and probably blushed.
"All we can do is present our case to Daniel as soon as we can schedule it; maybe the day after tomorrow. Everyone can come over, he'll cook, he'll eat, maybe if we soften him up just right, we can get him to the good side of the Force."
A Star Wars reference? Maybe I 'should' buy another ring.
I started to walk out and I said without turning around, "I'll never admit this to anyone but you Sarah, but you were the prettiest woman there tonight. Thank you for all you've done so far. We've quite a task ahead of us. You may need to use that dress again on your husband to distract him, sort of a diversion tactic."
"I used to turn a lot of heads when I was younger, Charles," Sarah said with a reminiscent tone in her voice.
I turned back around to her, walked back into her room and said looking directly into her beautiful eyes, "Well, you certainly turned my head tonight. If either Kalista or Claire becomes as beautiful a woman as you are ... I'm going to be one lucky young man. Goodnight Sarah, I love you."
I went to up my room and fell forward on my bed, and slept.