“Hate to stare, but you’re winnin’.”
– Britney Spears,Hold it Against Me.
Larry’s mouth lingered on my hand, and he raised his eyes to meet mine before straightening back up, taking his place next to his brother. He never uttered a word, and just when he looked like he was going to, a blonde girl pulled the two over to another group of people. Dahlia grabbed my arm as soon as they were out of ear-shot.
“Oh my gosh! They are so cute!” she said, getting an eye roll from Josh, who checked his watch. He suddenly looked bored. “Aren’t they cute?!”
“Um, yeah. I guess,” I said, still looking after Larry and his brother.
* * *
Eventually someone must have made the executive decision that it was time to leave. We walked a way down the street to an Italian restaurant on the strip. The sun was starting to go down, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful L.A. was.
Once we got inside, I took a seat next to Dahlia and across from Josh. I tried not to show how thrilled I was when Larry took a seat next to Josh. He had this presence about him that made me want him as close as possible. But I was also too nervous to have him TOO close. It was strange and exhilarating at the same time.
Laurent had taken a seat on the other side of Dahlia, and I noticed her take a sudden interest in him, and vice versa. I sat mostly quietly, listening to Josh and Larry talk about their home countries compared to America. I was almost afraid to say anything, not wanting to make a fool of myself. I couldn’t help but notice however, that Larry would occasionally look away from Josh to make eye contact with me. Almost every time my face would heat up, and I was sure that it was obviously pink against my fair skin.
I knew it had nothing to do with any interest in me. I was just overreacting. I couldn’t help but feel like maybe he was looking at me because he was feeling the same exhilaration that I was. But every time the thought crossed my mind, I felt incredibly stupid, and would push it out of my head.
I was glad when our food arrived, because I didn’t feel so awkward about being surrounded by conversation I wasn’t involved in. I pretended to be extremely interested in my food. I had a mouthful of spaghetti when a smooth voice with a French accent said, “So Bee, where you from?”
I looked up, shocked that he was speaking to me. I tried to play off my surprise by washing my spaghetti down with a sip of water, and clearing my throat.
“Um, I’m from Indiana,” I said, unable to elaborate. Larry just nodded when I said nothing else. I was sure he probably didn’t know where Indiana was, but I just couldn’t find the courage to explain myself. He smiled at me, and I smiled back, trying not to be shy about it. But let’s be honest, I just couldn’t pull off the “confident and sexy” act that he was pulling off with flying colors. I felt Dahlia brush my leg under the table, raising her eyebrows slyly when I looked at her. I just shrugged, playing it off.
I should have known, however, by Dahlia’s personality that she wouldn’t let me off so easy. As soon as we got back to the hotel that night, she grilled me on my secret sort-of-crush on Larry.
“Sooooo…” she said once we were both ready for bed. She was perched on her bed cross-legged, and I was brushing out my hair in the mirror. I knew exactly what she wanted out of me, but I played it off, hoping she would get the hint that I didn’t want to talk about it.
“So what?” I asked, casually. It was easier to play things off with Dahlia. I wasn’t nearly as nervous around just her. She rolled her eyes.
“Oh come on. You are so into Laurent’s brother,” she said. I caught onto her calling Larry “Laurent’s brother” and I took this as my opportunity to turn the situation around.
“Oh ‘Laurent’s brother’ huh? What’s with you and Laurent?” I asked, playfully. Once I got over Dahlia’s overwhelming personality, I realized that it was actually easy to talk to her. She blushed.
“I mean, he’s cute. AND he’s going places. Sue me!” she said. I laughed, and crawled into bed, turning my light off.
“But you still didn’t answer me. You’re into Larry, aren’t you?” she asked. I turned away from her.
“Night, Dahlia!” I said. I heard her sigh before she turned her own light off.
* * *
Getting up the next morning was brutal. I wasn’t used to getting up before 8 a.m. Rehearsal was even harder. The choreography wasn’t too difficult, but I definitely needed the six hours of rehearsal. Larry and Laurent however, did not, seeing as they didn’t show up until around noon. The choreographer seemed a little annoyed about this, but didn’t bother to say anything. I had a feeling that Melina wanted them on her dance crew too much to have them fired, or leave.
Josh seemed slightly annoyed that they came in late, which surprised me. But no one else seemed to react. Especially when they picked up the choreography quicker in twenty minutes than I had in the first two hours.
When we got off the bus back at the hotel, I was starving and couldn’t wait to shower and grab something to eat. As I was about to get on the elevator to go up to my room, someone caught my arm. I turned in surprise to see dark chocolate eyes smiling down at me. Gosh he was tall. And so beautiful.
“Bee,” he said calmly. The smoothness of his voice made me weak at the knees. “You going out tonight?”
“Um, what?” I asked. I couldn’t believe how stupid I sounded, but I just couldn’t get myself to form full, functional sentences.
“The club? We go to the club. You come?” he asked. Was he seriously asking me to go to the club with them? I swallowed. There was no way I could go with them alone.
“Dahlia too?” I asked, still unable to form a full sentence. Larry grinned. He let go of my arm and began to back away.
“Meet here, eleven o’clock,” he said, before slipping down the other hallway. I stood there dumbstruck.
Dahlia, of course, was thrilled, and spent the next four hours getting ready, AND getting ME ready. I didn’t complain, though. She had managed to make me look presentable. I honestly couldn’t believe that it was really me that I was looking at in the mirror. She had also managed to rummage through my clothes and pick out an outfit that didn’t make me look like a little boy. I actually looked kind of…hot. Dahlia, of course, looked amazing as well.
The two of us made our way downstairs to find Larry, Laurent and a few of the other dancers standing around in the lobby. Laurent smiled when he saw us, and motioned for us to join the group. It looked like we were the last ones to arrive downstairs. Larry grinned when he saw me.
“Bee,” he said, making my heart do somersaults. “Vous avez l’air incroyable.”I had no idea what he had said, and he knew it, but I had a feeling it deserved the twists in my stomach. I swallowed hard, and followed him out of the lobby.
All “Once In A Lifetime” stories written by Cara Ford