The next day all the dancers, that were there, were crowded along the barre' in the back studio. Some were relating the events of their weekend, or better yet what someone else did. While others simply warmed up their ankles.
"So my parents are making me pay for the window, and all that happens to twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum is no video games for two weeks." Carson informed Sophie, Meredith, and Olivia. "That's seems a little unequal." Merdith replied, stretching her back out. "You're telling me! At least Mrs.Emma said I could pick up some more student hours, so hopefully it won't be too long before I've paid for the window." Carson said.
"How was your weekend Olivia?" Meredith asked. "Fine." Olivia answered. Sophie immediately thought of Dean. Where was he, Sophie thought. She wondered who else knew about the Dean revelation. Who else had Olivia told. If she had told people about that, had she told them what she saw in Ian's room? But the real question she was thinking of the most was, what was what Olivia saw in Ian's room. And what did Sophie want it to be.
Meredith tried not to appear as though she had expected more information from Olivia, which she had. "How was your weekend Sophie?" Meredith asked. Sophie tensed up a little. "It was good." Sophie said, smiling convincingly. "Anything exciting happen?" Carson inquired, pushing the hair pins back in her bun. Sophie shook her head nonchalantly. "What's the matter Soph? Someone got your tongue?" Olivia teased, putting her hands on Sophie's shoulders. Sophie laughed nervously in response. "No, just a regular weekend.".
"So have you worn that halter you got yet?" Carson asked Meredith. Sophie faced the barre' and started to rise onto pointe. "No, but I was thinking of wearing it at Cassie's party Friday night" Meredith replied, "Darn it! If you had worn it already I would've asked to borrow it for that" Carson whined. "Why didn't you get one if you liked it so much?" Olivia questioned. "Because, why waste my money when I can borrow from Meredith" Carson explained. "Logical point" Olivia agreed.
"Wait! I thought she wasn't having it this year" Sophie interjected. "She wasn't, until her new boyfriend Luke mentioned that he thought she should have it" Carson informed. They all nodded. "I love Cassie but all she does is do what her boyfriend wants" Meredith said. "I know, it's so sad when a girl completely loses herself to a guy" Olivia agreed, shifting her eyes sideways at Sophie. "Well he did talk her into having the party" Sophie said, hoping to change the subject. "You should wear your burgundy sweater dress Soph" Carson exclaimed. "Maybe, good idea".
Mrs.Nora and Mrs.Emma entered the studio discreetly. The students didn't notice their presence until Mrs.Nora placed two fingers in her mouth, emitting a shrill whistle. They abruptly stopped whatever they were doing and turned their attention to Mrs.Emma and Mrs.Nora.
"Thank you Mrs.Nora" Mrs.Emma said. "I assume you're all warmed up" Mrs.Emma addressed the dancers. They smiled and nodded as a sort of affirmative. While some just looked down at their pointe shoes knowing all they had done was talk. "Good, because we're diving straight into choreography tonight! Sophie I'll need you in the next studio with Ian" Mrs.Emma said. "Ian? Where's Dean?". An almost pained expression crossed Mrs.Nora's face. "He won't be back for while" Mrs.Emma answered.
So they are considering him a suspect, Sophie thought. "I want everyone in the middle of the floor" Mrs.Nora called. The dancers scampered towards the middle of the floor.
Sophie only had a moment to see the confused expressions on Carson's and Meredith's faces before Mrs.Emma motioned her towards the next studio. If Sophie was looking for a sign as to whether or not Olivia had told others about Dean than that was as good a sign as any.
When Sophie and Mrs.Emma walked into the studio Ian was standing at the far end, peering in the mirror, fixing his hair. Ian noticed them from out of the corner of his eye. "Oh hi" he greeted, waving slightly. Sophie smiled shyly. "So let's get started" Mrs.Emma said as she popped a cd into the cd player.
"Y'all are doing great!" Mrs.Emma exclaimed. "Really?" Ian said, his breathing heavy. Mrs.Emma couldn't keep herself from laughing a little. "I know Sophie's doing great, but I highly doubt I am." he explained further. "Well you are. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement, but then again you haven't been dancing since you were twelve" Mrs.Emma assured.
Mrs.Emma looked up at the clock on the wall as she placed her hand on the doorknob. "Why don't you two take a ten minute break seeing as I have some things to take care of. And by break I mean drinking more water and stretching out those muscles" Mrs.Ema told them. Sophie and Ian both nodded before Mrs.Emma disappeared from the room. Sophie picked up her water bottle and a took a long gulp, focusing her eyes anywhere but on Ian.
That's what she had been doing for the last hour. Although it was nearly impossible when not only did she have to dance with him but he also had to lift her. It wasn't that she was embarrassed about that night. She just didn't quite understand what that made them now. Did Ian truly have feelings for her? Or was he just looking to forget about all of the tumult and pain of the last month.
"How do you do it?" he asked. Sophie cocked her head in Ian's direction. "Do what?" she questioned him, her syllables slow and exact. "Pick up choreography like that, like it's nothing.". "I don't know, muscle memory I guess.". Ian smiled.
"How come you stopped dancing?" she asked. He folded his arms. "I was getting more into basketball at the time and my teammates thought it was hilarious to give me a hard time about it.". "Oh. Do you ever miss dancing?". "Sometimes. Until I remember how much work it takes. Not that basketball isn't grueling, it's just.....different.".
For a while they just stood there, both of them wondering who would address the elephant in the room first. Or more appropriately, elephants.
"You're probably curious about what happened to Dean?" Ian said. Sophie edged closer to him. "Yeah, I am.". "He's being looked at as a suspect now, so his parents didn't think it would be a good idea for him to have contact with anyone from the studio.". "What do your parents think about that?". "They think he could be involved so they think it's for the best right now.". "Didn't they think I was involved at one point too". "Yeah, but only because you were the last person to see her, at least that's what we thought. So until we know of someone that saw her after Dean saw her he's suspect number one.". "What has Dean said about that night?". "He claims that when they met up he told her he was having second thoughts about leaving, she got mad, told him if he wouldn't go with her she would go by herself, then she ran off, he tried to follow her, but he lost her.". "What did he do after that?". "Went home. He figured she needed some time to cool off.". Sophie placed her thumbnail in between her teeth, not really gnawing, just there. "That's all I know. At least for now." he announced. "Good to know." she replied, nodding.
Ian walked over to the window and separated the blinds. "Well what do you know! It's raining and the sun's out." he proclaimed, an awed tone to his voice. Sophie smiled slightly to herself, amused by his child-likeness. "You know they say when it's raining and the sun's out the devil's beating his wife." she said.
He released the blinds from his fingers and turned to look at her. "That's a kind of morbid thing to say.". She glanced down at her feet then up at him. "Yeah, I guess it is." she said. She swiftly turned towards the mirrors and began to go on and off of pointe. He watched her for a moment, and suddenly he was aware of how petite and delicate she appears. Even when they were children she seemed taller, stronger. As though her quick wit, and logical, yet imaginative mind, made up for a few inches or so.
"Although I must say, a little bit of morbidness works on you." he said. She laughed, more out of surprise than humor. "Is that a line?". "Why? Is it working?". "You've never struck me as a line sorta guy.". "I'm not. And for the record that's wasn't a line." "Good. But just for curiosity's sake, what did you mean?". Ian scratched the back of his head. "It's unexpected. I like that about you. You're not predictable.".
Sophie rolled his emission over in her head like a glass marble after it's shot. "I guess there's worse things to be." she finally spoke. Ian walked closer to her. "You're terrible at taking compliments, you know that?" he said. She smiled, rolling her eyes. "Maybe I'm just not used to them coming from you.". "Maybe you should. Get used to it I mean.".
Sophie took a deep breath. preparing herself. "Ian, what is this?". Ian smile, uncertain of her meaning. "What do you mean 'this?". "This!" she said, motioning to the space between them. Ian moves towards her, eclipsing that space. He took both of her hands in his own, lacing their fingers together. "This. Is perfect. It' what I've wanted ever since I can remember. At least since I can remember you. Oh how I remember you.". He brushed the wisps of hair off her face, and kissed her gently.
Suddenly they heard the door creep open. They whirled around to see Carson standing in the doorway. "Carson! Hi!" Sophie exclaimed. Ian waved at Carson awkwardly. Carson grinned. "Um, Mrs.Nora needs the two of you." Carson explained. "Okay. Thank you. We'll be right there." Sophie replied. "Don't mention it" Carson said, trying not to laugh.
Carson exited the room, closing the door quietly. "Well that wasn't awkward." Ian quipped. Sophie erupted with uncontrollable laughter. "I have to say. We have the worse timing ever." Sophie said, picking up her water bottle. "Eh, you can't have everything." Ian replied, draping his arm around her shoulders as they left the studio and entered the desolate lobby.
"If y'all would listen to the music you would know that it's not nearly as fast as you think!" Mrs.Emma said as she turned the music off.
Ballet had ended almost an hour ago, and they had been going over the jazz routine for almost half an hour. So far it wasn't coming along well. "I think we all should take a few minutes to listen to the music. I mean really listen to the music. Maybe then y'all can get the tempo correct". Mrs.Emma said.
With that she turned on the music. As the intro boomed through the speakers the dancers tried to find the tempo. Unfortunately most of them couldn't find it or were too distracted.
Carson's mind kept wandering towards the broken window. She couldn't quite wrap her head around how long it would take to pay for the repairs. But she could assume it wouldn't be anytime soon.
But the thing that truly perplexed her was what she saw in the studio. Sophie always behaved as though she hardly noticed Ian in that way. Like they were on different planets entirely. Then again everyone could see the way they looked at each other. If there were any two people who should be together it was them. She couldn't be happier that they finally gave in to what everyone else already knew. If only everyone else could be rooting for her and Lars.
"You can't do this!". Everyone immediately stopped listening to the music and turned their attention to the shouting coming from the lobby. "Y'all stay here. I'll take care of that." Mrs.Emma said, the only sign of uncertainty coming from her fumbling hands.
Once she had disappeared from their sight they all crowded themselves around the door. "Do you think that's someone we know?" Cassie whispered, more of an audible thought than a question for the group.
Sophie scanned the group to check that they were all together. She knew the last thing they needed was for someone to intervene. She only noticed one person missing among them. Olivia. "I'll be back." Sophie told Carson. "Wait! Where are you going?" Carson frantically called after her.
Sophie sauntered out the studio by way of the door on the opposite end. She could hear the shouting building as she got closer. Sure enough there was Olivia. And Dean. Mrs.Emma was trying in vain to get Dean to leave by his own will, while Mrs.Nora held her cellphone, ready to call 911 if necessary. Dean was yelling at not only Mrs.Nora but Olivia too. Yet he didn't appear enraged or hostile. Truth be told he looked hurt.
"You can't keep us apart!" he yelled, his fist beating his thigh. "Dean, listen to me. You need to leave before things get worse." Mrs.Emma told him, bridging the distant between Dean and Olivia. "I don't see how it could get much worse. Not only can I no longer see my girlfriend, but everyone else thinks I'm responsible for her disappearance.". Olivia shook her head at him in disdain. "I was never your girlfriend." Olivia corrected him. "My bad Liv! I didn't know were getting all technical now.". An air of mockery crept into his voice.
Mrs.Nora finally noticed Sophie, who was standing in the background, motionless. "Sophie! Go back in the studio! And take Olivia with you." Mrs.Nora ordered. Sophie nodded and reached for Olivia's arm to guide her back. "No, I'm fine!" Olivia exclaimed, pushing Sophie off. "You stop right now Olivia, and go with Sophie." Mrs.Nora snaps.
Olivia gave in and reluctantly followed Sophie back. Sophie stopped at the bathroom. "Why were you out there?" Sophie asked. "I didn't know it was him. I was curious. Can you blame me?" Olivia repsonded, raising her eyebrow. "No. I can't.". Olivia turned swiftly, heading for the studio, leaving Sophie just a few feet from the door.
Eventually Mrs.Emma and Mrs.Nora were able to coax Dean to leav without the police's help. After all of the tumult they decided it would be best to send the dancers home.
Although they were all eager to know what was going on none of them felt brave enough to ask. They barely even talked as they taped toes, put away shoes, and threw on clothes. Even the air felt strange and unknown to them.
Olivia was the quietest of them all. Almost as quiet as the night she was found in York Park. They weren't surprised when she left by the back door.
"Sophie, do you need these tights for class tonight?" Carol called upstairs. "No, but thanks Mom." Sophie answered.
It was Tuesday, just less than an hour before she was suppose to be at the studio. All last night she had tossed and turned. All she could think about was Dean. She even dreamed about him. They were in the woods, and she was bound to an oak tree. But those were the only details she could recall.
Sophie finished pushing hair pins into her bun. Then she glided over to her dresser. She lifted the lid from her mint colored box and extracted a cream ribbon. She stood in front of her mirror , carefully the ribbon in a bow around her bun.
Ding-dong! Sophie took one last look at herself before she bolted down the stairs. She unlocked the door and swung it open. "Carson, what a surprise!" she exclaimed, a genuine smile spread across her lips. "Yeah, well I was in the neighborhood.".
And suddenly Sophie knew why she was there. "Why don't we go up to my room." Carson nodded. They filed up the stairs. Then once they were in Sophie's room Carson plopped down on the bed as Sophie shut the door.
"So you want to know what that was yesterday, don't you?" Sophie assumed. "Oh, you mean you and Ian Webb kissing in the studio." Carson replied in her peppiest of tones. "Yes".
Carson situated herself so she was resting on her stomach. "Proceed." Carson announced. Sophie pulled out the chair to her vanity and set down. "I think we're, um, together." Sophie said. "Together? Please define.". "A couple."
Carson practically sprang off the bed towards Sophie. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! This is so exciting!" Carson squealed as she held her hands just under her chin. "I mean I think we are. We haven't actually put a label on us yet.". "Will you stop worrying and just let yourself be happy. Even if it's just a minute.". "Oh trust me, I'm happy, I'm ecstatic. I'm just....".
Carson tilted her head as though she could understand it all that way. "Just what?". "I can't stop thinking about Dean.". An expression of shock hits Carson's face like a cold wind. "Are you seeing Dean too?" asked Carson. "No.". "Good. Because he's crazy.".
Carson picked up the snow-globe from Sophie's dresser, wound it, then set it down. "If you're not seeing him though, then why are you thinking about him non-stop?". "You remember what happened last night?". "Uh, of course! Why? Do you know why he's not in The Sleeping Beauty anymore?". "Yes. I wasn't seeing him, but Olivia was. That's why he was there.". "No way! You're not serious! You can't be!". "I know. I thought the same thing.". Carson sat down on the bed dejectedly.
"I guess that explains the mall. I just can't believe it though. She used to rag on him worse than anyone.". "It's true though. Ian told me. Apparently Olivia and Dean were going to run away together the night she went missing. At least that's what she's telling people.". "If they ran away for those two weeks then how come Dean was still here?". "That's just it, they didn't. Dean claims that he has second thoughts that night, she got mad and said she was leaving anyways.". Sophie licked her lips absentmindedly.
"Why would she want to leave in the first place?" Carson mused. Sophie shrugged. "The only thing I know for certain is the police are looking at him as a suspect now.".
Sophie took a peek at her clock, remembering they had class. 4:47. "Hey Car, I hate to cut this short but we have class in like thirteen minutes." Sophie said. Carson pulled herself up. "You're right. Why don't we take my car.". "Sure! Thanks!".
Sophie grabbed her jacket from her closet, threw her dance bag over her shoulder and followed Carson out of the room. They jostled down the steps and out the front door. Once they got Carson's car Carson took her keys out of her pocket and thrust them at Sophie. "Here Soph, you drive. I don't think I've recovered from that shocking news enough to drive.".