Once In A Lifetime: Chapter 1

“‘Cause you know in California there’s something better for us all.”

– Plain White T’s, Meet Me in California

I looked out the window of the airplane, watching the clouds roll by. The feeling of leaving home was starting to set in, and I tried to keep myself from crying by listening to happy music on my iPhone. I jammed my headphones tighter to my ears, trying to drown out the sound of the old lady snoring next to me, and the baby in the back of the plane wailing away. I sighed and leaned back in my seat.

It had been the hardest to say goodbye to my best friend Tyler. We had been at different colleges during the year, and hardly ever got to see each other, and as soon as we had the whole summer together, I took off to California. To be fair, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had been chosen to dance with pop superstar, Melina on her tour in the United States. Her tour kicked off in L.A., and we would be traveling around the States all summer performing with her. As a low-key dancer, it was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I was completely jazzed. But that only took away some of the sting of leaving my family and friends behind.

I had also left Sam behind. Sam had been my on-again off-again fling for the majority of my senior year of high school. But we didn’t talk much during my freshman year of college. That is, until the few days that I was home before I had to leave for L.A. We had left our relationship in a big fight, and I was still bitter about it, not ready to give in. So I left for L.A. hoping for new opportunities. New boys. And fewer problems.

* * *

My stomach churned as the plane landed. I was suddenly nervous. I wasn’t going to know anyone. And I was most likely going to be working with dancers who were much better than me. I turned my phone off of airplane mode. I had two texts from my mom, wanting me to let her know when i landed, and one from Sam, saying he was sorry and to text him when I got the chance. I texted my mom back, and shoved my phone in my pocket.

I picked up my bags from baggage claim, and made my way outside to catch a taxi. it was much harder than I had imagined. I had lived my whole life in Indianapolis, but I had rarely had need for a taxi, considering I lived in the suburbs, and had my own vehicle. When I finally got one, I gave the driver the address of the hotel all of Melina’s dancers and crew were staying in for the next few weeks while we had rehearsals before the tour kicked off.

When I got to the hotel, I gave the receptionist my name. She welcomed me, and gave me my key and room number. I thanked her, and made my way to the elevator. When I made it to the third floor, I found my room, and swiped my key. As the door swung open, I almost jumped out of my skin. A small Asian girl ran up to me. Her black hair was piled on top of her head, and her face was clear of make-up. She looked around my age, and was obviously not shy, considering she ran right up to me and hugged me. This caused me to drop my duffel bag, and let go of my suitcase handle.

“Hi!” she said enthusiastically, releasing me and reaching down to pick up my duffel. She did it with ease, though I was pretty sure I could fit her inside of it.

“You must be Annabelle!” she said, and I grimaced. nobody called me Annabelle other than my grandmother. When I was younger, my family called me Bell, and it was eventually shortened to Bee. The girl must not have noticed my grimace, because she proceeded to take my luggage to what I assumed was my side of the room.

“I’m Dahlia,” she said, smiling wide. She was at least a head shorter than me and yet I was so overwhelmed by her presence. I eventually found words.

“Nice to meet you. I assume we’ll be roommates for the next few weeks? I asked.

“For the whole tour!” she said. I nodded, and smiled. There was no way that I could match her enthusiasm, but I didn’t want her to think I was being rude.

“So where are you from?” I asked, trying to make conversation as I began to unpack my things. By the empty suitcases next to her bed, I assumed that Dahlia had already unpacked.

“Denver,” she said, and sat down on her bed to watch me unpack. “What about you?”

“Indianapolis,” I answered, neatly placing my clothes in the empty drawers. I knew they weren’t going to stay neat for long, but I might as well make the attempt. She nodded, and checked the watch on her tiny wrist.

“Oh gosh! Everyone is meeting downstairs for dinner in about five minutes. You ready to go?” she asked. I was taken aback. I had barely been there for fifteen minutes.

“Uhh…” I mumbled, looking down at my sweatpants and baggy t-shirt. Dahlia was dressed in leggings and a t-shirt with a bright purple cardigan over it, and a thin belt wrapped around her small waist. “Let me change really fast.”

I quickly pulled out a pair of skinny jeans and a form-fitting sweatshirt. I slipped on my favorite pair of Nikes, and followed Dahlia out the door. She seemed to know what she was doing, so I was perfectly fine following in her footsteps.

When we reached the lobby, it was already filled with about twenty people, all talking and introducing themselves. Dahlia grabbed me by the hand and took me up to a tall guy with long brown hair that was barely dusting across his eyelashes.

“Annabelle, this is Josh,” she said, “We were on the plane together. He’s from Sweden, and had a layover in Denver.”

“Nice to meet you, Annabelle,” he said without much of an accent, smiling and showing two rows of perfect white teeth. I smiled back.

“Hi, um, I actually go by Bee,” I said, awkwardly. Dahlia covered her mouth.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry!” she said. I was about to tell her that it was fine, when my eyes met with someone across the room. It only lasted for half a second, but it was enough to make my heart leap into my stomach. His dark eyes mixed perfectly with his mocha skin. His hair was in twists, covered by a gray snapback. His smile had been leftover from whatever conversation he had been having, but i caught a glimpse of it, and had the urge to smile back. He turned back to the group he was talking to, and I realized the guy next to him had to be his twin, if not his brother, and they both looked extremely familiar.

Dahlia followed my gaze, and made a noise of recognition. I turned to her, my face heating up.

“What?” I asked. She grinned.

“Les Twins! The twin dancers from Paris? Everyone’s really excited that they’re on tour with us,” she said. “They’re amazing dancers.”

Ah. I had seen videos of them on YouTube dancing at the World of Dance tour. They were amazing dancers, and I was suddenly self-conscious of my own abilities. I watched as the twins moved from one group of people to another, shaking hands and making conversation. I tried to focus on what Dahlia and Josh were saying, smiling and throwing in an opinion here and there. All focus was lost, however, when I realized that the twins were making their way toward our group of three. I tried not to be obvious that I had seen them coming, and tried to look engaged in my conversation with Dahlia and Josh.

“Hello,” said a voice from behind me. I stepped over to let the twin with the afro into our circle. “I’m Laurent,” he said, smiling charmingly. Dahlia let out a small giggle.

“Dahlia,” she said, and Laurent took her hand, kissing it, leaving her flawless olive skin bright red. He turned to me.

“I’m Bee,” I said. He took my hand an did the same. His twin came around his left side, opposite of me. He grinned, and Laurent gestured toward him.

“This my brother, Larry,” he said. Larry smiled at Dahlia and I, and let his lips linger on my hand a few seconds longer than he had on hers. Ice shot up my arm, and I could tell that I was already in trouble.

All “Once In A Lifetime” stories written by Cara Ford.

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