Damaged

By: H.M. Ward

CHAPTER 10



Millie is wearing her new dress with a pair of heels. I’m wearing a black skirt and white blouse. It’s boring, but it’s the only thing I have that even comes close to swing clothes. The silky fabric swishes next to my thighs as we walk. The club was given use of the old gym. Old is literal. The gymnasium was constructed in 1919. It has no air conditioning, which is an issue in the heat. But Swing Dance Club is pretty low on the roster, in terms of getting a good room to use, so we were banished to sweat it out in the oldest building on campus. The fa?ade is all brick and the inside smells of moldy socks.

Millie pulls open the door, and we walk through the darkened halls and find the gym. It’s much smaller than the new one. We go inside and see Brent. Millie runs over to him and throws her arms around his neck. He holds her tightly and spins her around. Her red skirt twirls as he does it and Millie laughs. I smile at them. She seems happy, which makes me happy. Despite Millie’s shortcomings, she’s a good friend.

I walk over when Brent puts her down. The club isn’t very big. There are less than a dozen kids standing around. From the looks of it, most of them are girls that like the idea of dressing up and dancing. The guys tagged along hoping to get lucky for being such good sports. Guys can be so dumb. Dancing, especially this kind of dancing, is a chance to get close to a girl. He can feel her whole body against his and it’s expected. Dancing is hot and heavy, all hands with racing hearts and ragged breathes.

As I’m thinking these thoughts, I start to feel goose bumps come up on my arms. I ignore the sensation, thinking about being held in someone’s arms and wish that I had someone that I wanted to hold…someone besides Peter. That’s when things get interesting.

Trevor, a dark-haired, tall, thin student calls us to attention. I sit on the last row of bleachers so I don’t have to climb in my skirt. He claps his oversized hands three times and everyone goes quiet. “As you know, we finally got the Swing Dance Club approved.” Someone whoops, and Trevor continues. “We have a faculty sponsor, which was hard to find. No one dances like this anymore, so I can’t tell you how lucky we are. So,” Trevor presses his palms together. “Is there anyone here that has a basic understanding of Swing? Maybe you know the steps well enough, but nothing fancy.”

I lift my hand along with a few others, most of whom are girls. We put our hands down as Trevor looks around and nods at each of us. “Okay, great. I was hoping that would happen. It’ll help us get started, which is always the hardest part of forming a club. Until we have the basics, we really can’t get into advanced moves, and we sure can’t do throws. I don’t suppose anyone in here is up to that level?”

I lift my hand, shyly, and wave my fingertips at him. He looks surprised.

“Jersey girl can dance?”

“Well, not alone. It’s not like I can do anything more than the basic steps without an experienced partner.” I rub my hands nervously in my lap. Everyone is looking at me. I squirm in my seat a little bit until a voice makes my heart skip a beat.

“How experienced are you, Colleli?” Peter says, rounding the bleachers from the side.

My mouth falls open. I glance at him and then back at Trevor, who introduces him. “This is Dr. Granz, our sponsor. He’s also very experienced. This is great! Maybe you guys could show us a thing or two?”

Until then, I’d been staring at Peter. It isn’t until Trevor offers me up, that I come back to myself. I act shy, and shake my head, saying, “That’s okay. I’m sure we should just start with the basics tonight anyway.” My heart is thumping in my chest, flopping around like a fish out of water. I can’t breathe. I can’t dance with Peter. Every time he touches me, my brain melts. The night we were almost together will come rushing back. I can’t do it.

Peter cuts his gaze from Trevor and takes in my reaction. “We should stick to the basics. Advanced moves are very challenging. A novice would have issues and we don’t want to single anyone out. Now—”

“I’m not a novice.” I interrupt, offended. Peter turns his face toward me and I realize that I’ve been played. Bastard.

He’s smirking. “Would you like to prove it?”

“Damn right, I would.” I get up and smooth my skirt, annoyed with him. If the arrogant prick thinks he can do this better than I can, he’s got another thing coming. Peter turns on the music. It’s something newer, but it’s still big band music—it’s still swing.

We walk up to each other and lock eyes. It’s as if I’m daring him to touch me. Peter’s hands slip into place and we start. Our feet move in step with each other. I pull and move, trying to take the lead, testing him. Peter won’t let me. He dances me across the gleaming wooden floor, snapping my wrist back every time I try to defy him and move in a way he doesn’t want. Peter’s grip on my hand tightens, before he launches me into a spin. I shoot out from his body and twirl on my foot, before he stops me. Our hands are connected. He waits a beat and then yanks me back to him, hard. I smirk and spin back.

Okay, so he doesn’t suck. That’s when he kicks things up a notch. Our bodies move closer together as the music slows for this middle section. He plays my body, moving his hands down my sides and dips me back slowly until my long hair dangles to the floor. The faster rhythm resumes and Peter surprises me. I’m smiling now. I can’t help it. We rock-step and twirl our way around the room. The students watching cheer and whistle. This is what they came here to learn.

The next time Peter whirls me against his chest, he holds me tight. His muscular forearm is across my chest as he presses my back tightly to his body. I hear his voice in my ear, asking, “You up for throws?” I nod, without hesitating. He releases me, spinning me out.

“Do it,” I say, breathless. The pounding inside my chest won’t stop and I can’t wipe the smile off my face. The song is almost over and I wonder what kind of move he’s going to do. When he shifts his hands, I follow his lead and I know.

Peter swings me out and snaps me back. When I race toward his chest, his hands slide from my arms to my waist. I grab hold of his strong shoulders and feel the momentum. Peter guides me, leading the move. My legs kick straight back up behind me. I feel the air catch my skirt, forcing it up. Peter’s hands hold me tight as I glide back down. Peter guides my body so that my legs wrap around his waist before he dips me back.

The music crescendos and ends with us in that pose—eye to eye and breathing hard. A thin sheen of sweat covers my body. I’m suddenly very aware of his hands and my thighs. It’s the way we were the other day, right before he pushed me away. Peter seems to realize this, and sets me down. His hands slip off my body and he turns back toward the other students.

Breathing hard, he says, “Start with the basics. No throws. You guys haven’t signed the waivers yet.” I watch him walk across the gym and grab water from a cooler.

Turning away, I wonder how bad that just looked. Everyone had to be able to tell how much I want him. I couldn’t hide it, not with his body pressed against mine like that. I sit down on the bleachers and Millie slips next to me, overly excited.

“That was so awesome! Dude, you were like all,” she makes a movement with her arm, “and he was all…OH MY GOD! It was so cool! I would die if I could dance like that. Why didn’t I know you could dance like that?” Her eyes are bugging out of her head.

“Uhm, you did.” I say, looking at her. “You dragged me here because I love swing dancing, remember?”

“Ah, so you were an unwilling participant this evening?” Peter appears from over my shoulder. He holds out a bottle of water for me. I take it, crack open the cap and drink.

Millie answers for me. “I dragged her here. It’s for her own good. She’s going to turn into an old maid if she doesn’t find some guy to drool over soon.”

Peter says nothing. His eyes are on my face, but I don’t look up. Millie talks too much.

Trevor has taken lead of the class and Millie bounces off to rock step with Brent. They step on each other, a lot. Every time it happens, Millie stops and laughs.

Peter sits next to me. “So, old maid, I wouldn’t have pegged you for a swing dancer.”

“Yeah, well…Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.” I don’t look at him. I drink my water and watch the newbies kick each other as they try to dance together. I lift my chin, tilting my head towards the couples dancing. “This club should have shin guards.”

Peter laughs. “Yeah, right. We weren’t even allotted a budget for water and I had to fight with them to get this lovely building.” His eyes flick to my face. “As you can tell, when April comes around, we’re all going to be sweating buckets.”

A bead of sweat rolls down my neck and between my breasts. I’m dripping way more than I’d like already. April is going to suck. “Maybe we can borrow a class room? There aren’t that many kids here.”

“Trevor thinks that it’ll grow pretty fast.”

“Does he?” I ask, looking at the guy.

“Yeah, he said there was a lot of interest, but no one comes in the beginning. It’s the kind of thing people don’t want to start, but they’re happy to come once there are enough people to dance with.”

I can barely understand what he’s saying. All rational thought has left my brain. Damn, he smells so good, even covered in sweat. As Peter speaks, I act as though he has no effect on me, but he does. Every word he says pulls me to him. And it’s the whole package, not just his looks. Why does he have to dance too? And he’s good. I loved every second of it. If we practiced, I bet we could do more complicated moves and I’d love every second of that too. How pathetic is this? I’m crushing on my teacher.

“Yeah, I suppose so.” I nod before getting up, trying hard to make it look like I don’t care what he does. “Well, off to mingle with the masses.”

As I’m walking away, Peter calls my name. “Sidney.” His smile fades, but there’s still a sparkle in those beautiful blue eyes. I look at him, waiting for him to say something, but he just shakes his head and looks away, “Never mind.”

I want to know what he was going to say, but I don’t ask. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. Maybe if I say it enough times, I won’t care about Peter Granz.

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