Par Jo Lee
Rehearsals for the Ayara show started almost immediately. Summer in France was in full effect which meant the tourists came flocking in as the locals went frolicking to the south of Spain and Portugal. Work was a breeze on most days. The two loudmouths were out of the house the majority of the day and the younger ones just spent the majority of their time playing videogames or watching anime. The busiest period of the day was lunchtime when they would all gather around the large table, everyone trying to be the first one served and the first one excused from the table. Luckily, the Ayara show was occurring in Europe. The first in London, the second in Belgium and the final show in France. Laurent had been working hard to secure Jen a pair of VIP tickets. The assumption was that crew members and dancers had extra perks like free tickets but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the most, they could be granted a healthy discount at the manager’s discretion. For dancers to have added perks, they’d have to be tenured and most likely be favored by the actual artist. Dancing was just like any other job, just a little more fun and spontaneous. Everyday Lau and Larry would come back visibly exhausted from the strenuous rehearsals. The show was in a week, before the tournament and the other tour they had lined up so in between rehearsals, they had to find suitable track beats to perform during the tournament battles and come up with new moves. Jennifer felt overwhelmed for them. She couldn’t fathom being that busy but understood that as dancers, that simply meant they were in demand. Which in turn led to more exposure which only resulted in more bookings. A rich boyfriend is a good boyfriend to have. She laughed at her greedy thought. The twins didn’t make any extravagant purchases, between generous contributions to the household and a few frivolous purchases, she assumed they saved the majority of their earnings. They didn’t drive…no one smart in France drove. Parking in Paris was insane enough to secure anyone a stay at an asylum. Nor did they own their own places. Seemed kind of pointless to do so with warm and embracing Genevieve available to cook them home meals and give them the sort of motherly attention they didn’t get when they were away from home. Besides, they were gone most of the time, none of those responsibilities would’ve been justified.
On the bright side, Jennifer started contributing to an online magazine on the side which was slowly gaining her a bit of recognition. She enjoyed getting praises from her editor and receiving mail from readers periodically. It kept her sane in the solitary moments when it was just her and her rebellious thoughts. She was sitting in front of her computer, replying to the latest influx of e-mails when her phone started vibrating madly. She smiled once she saw the caller name on her ancient phone’s tiny screen.
“Hey,” She answered casually with a smile plastered on her face.
“Hi beautiful. Do you miss me like I miss you?” Laurent’s voice was clear on the other line. He sounded very hyper.
“Depends…How much do you miss me?” Jennifer beamed happily.
“Ahhh, you can’t ask me that. You know I miss you so much. Whachudoing?” He pressed for a response like a kid begging his parents for icecream.
“Writing.” Jen took a bite of the apple next to her laptop. It’d been sitting there since this morning and she was anxious to sink her teeth into her favorite fruit.
“Stop chewing in my ear,” She almost spit out the generous bite of apple she took. The tone of his voice and his comment sent her into a fit a giggles. “You couldn’t wait until I’m off the phone. You chewing like a hungry kid. Stop.” Her laughter led the conversation and encouraged Laurent to keep teasing her.
“If you don’t like it, hang up.” Jen retorted audaciously.
“No. I have something to ask you,” And with a huge gulp, Jen swallowed the piece of apple she’d been chewing on and gave him her full attention. “Ayara is having a party before the show. It’s going to be crazyyyyyy. I’m taking you with me.”
“As your date?” Jen confirmed.
“No, stupid. As my girlfriend!” Her mouth split into a smile at the sound of that title. She’d accept it, cherish it, worship it. Surprising, even to her to hear him sound so soft when he called her that.
“I’d like that.”
“Ok, I come get you after practice. We go shopping for the best dress in Paris. Because if I’m going with swag, you have to come with me with swaggggggggg.”
“Where do I get swag?” Jen joked.
“Baby, you’re with me, you already got it.”
“I like it when you call me baby,” Jen said shyly.
“I can hear you smiling through the phone. I want to see that smile,” Lau bit his lip. “I can’t wait to see you tonight, baby.”
“You sound naughty.” He laughed and with that, they exchanged goodbyes and arranged a time to meet later that night. When Jen re-opened her e-mail, there was a message from her editor asking her to arrange an interview with one of Les Twins. They didn’t want an interview with both as they were trying to broadcast their individuality. Jen replied immediatly advising that she could have one with Laurent completed by the end of the week. She and Larry had been on very quiet terms and were practically strangers in passing since he’d stopped by her apartment last week. He rarely gave her the time of day when they did cross paths. Although, she had the comfort of being lusted after by Laurent, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d been used everytime she saw Larry. He didn’t even allow her a glimpse, she wasn’t even in his field of sight. That didn’t hurt as much as the silence he offered. She was glad he took what she’d asked of him to heart. With his current behaviour, there was no way Lau would suspect anything ever happened between them. Jen didn’t want to admit this to herself but Larry had been looking very sad around the house. He was already quiet before but now he looked simply miserable and she couldn’t help but wonder if she had something to do with that. On the other hand, Lau was constantly in a good mood. He was even nicer to her — if that was possible, more considerate and had shown up at her place with flowers, chocolate and shirt branded with a picture of Les Twins as a gift last week. They’d been doing nothing but making love whenever Lau visited. Jen found it impossible to keep her hands off him and was very glad Lau was so diet drama, unlike his brother. Jen had the pleasure of meeting Lola last week as well. Larry’s alleged girlfriend. She was at the supermarket with Laurent after their rehearsals, he was still wearing his clothes that reeked of transpiration when he called and asked what she was up to. She answered that she was doing the groceries and within ten minutes, he was there at the store, pushing the trolley as she considerably bought items off her grocery list. Upon exiting the store, they bumped into this Amazonian Goddess and Jen was immediately a little jealous of her legs that seemed to go on for hours and days. Jen had a perfect height but there was something about models, something effortless about them that you couldn’t help but envy. She was fuming at the familiarity between her and Lau, at the prospect that this flawless creature could’ve been one of his exes…until she started going off about Larry and their demise. Lau listened enthusiastically, reassuring her that since that night he left her apartment, he’d been miserable and practically a burden to be around so he was surely regretting stepping out on her. When Lola mentioned that Larry admitted to cheating on her, Jen almost died of embarrassment. Her cheeks flushed and she felt her scalp burning, even though the air was rather cool that night. She wanted to stuff Lola’s mouth with the baguette she’d just bought. She didn’t even know Larry had a “girlfriend”, much less that he considered their flimsy tryst enough to mention it to her For someone who’s just been cheated, she was more adamant in finding out who he cheated on her with than anything. Lola obviously wanted Larry back and stated very clearly that no one was good enough for him or her, therefore it was worth working out. She quizzed Lau about any girls Larry could have met during their constant travels and Lau embarrassingly denied any wrongdoings or flirtations and once again reassured her that since the night in question when she’d last seen Larry, he came back home looking very meditative and hasn’t been himself since. This cheered Lola up immensely, knowing that he was going through as much remorse as she thought he’d deserved to. Jen smiled politely throughout their entire conversation, feeling the familiar nauseous feeling she’d begin to dread recently. When Lau and Jen kissed goodbye, she felt overwhelmingly emotional and without reason, wanted to break down and cry. Would that night always haunt her?
She finished the rest of her apple and forced herself to stop thinking about the heavy secret she beared. She couldn’t imagined how Laurent would feel if he knew his girlfriend had been seduced and had by his brother first. She shook the thought out of her head and starting working on isuitable nterview questions. She was beginning to know Lau inside out and he was so beautiful, her heart flourished around him. His love inspired her, so did his passion and patience. She felt accepted by him and it was such a relief to be liked by Genevieve as well, and to already feel like such a part of the family. It was comforting to know that your boyfriend’s family knew you.
Larry was rehearsing along with the rest of the dancers when he felt his heart beating abnormally fast. Lately, he was exhausting himself ridiculously fast. Unbeknownst to him, his emotional rooting was strained and was affecting the balance in other aspects. He didn’t sleep much at night, thinking about that discussion with Jen. Everytime he saw Lau with her, he wanted to tell him the truth, out of spite. That alone disappointed him as he wanted the best for his brother and technically had to feign disinterest whenever he talked about Jen with him. Lau liked her first, he courted her and pursued her so what was the problem now? He couldn’t bear the sight of them together, to know his twin was using the same chimney he’d blazed through once bothered him immensely. But unfortunately, he was trapped in his own thoughts. He couldn’t talk to anyone. Not his friends, not his brother or mother. Lola was still annoying him, calling at least a dozen time a day, leaving half as many messages. He didn’t want to deal with her perturbance right now, her paranoia and curiosity were just burning what little fuses he had left. When Lau mentioned he’d bumped into her with Jen, Larry felt a headache stir to his forefront and form ground into a full-bown migraine. One more mention of that girl’s name and he might really lost it.
He noticed that during all the breaks, Lau was going out of the practice room along with Ayara instead of staying in and stretching with the dancers, which was silent protocol. Most dancers didn’t smoke which would defeat the whole health aspect of dancing, so during breaks that was the time for dancers to familiriaze themselves with each other, joke around, make introductions, stretch together, exchange ideas or numbers or just breathe, take a sip of water. Larry hadn’t been sleeping properly so he assumed anything he saw or thought to be a reasoning fluke. Perhaps Lau was just making calls to Jen. The thought of her made Larry wince, he wanted to hold her in his arms again — for longer this time. Why did he leave that morning? Regret frequently revisited him on that quick, volatile decision. Break was called again and just like clockwork, the only two people exiting the room were Lau and Ayara. She seemed overly flirtatious with him but then again, her reputation was enough warning so it wasn’t much of a surprise. The majority of her act was very sexy and sexually mature, with lots of groping between her and the dancers. There wasn’t much choreography to learn which warranted the frequent breaks and allowed the dancers to improvise often on the stage during the actual performance. Larry was bored, sitting on the squared-designed linoleum floor watching his sullen reflection in the full-length front mirror. So many things to do, so little time. If he wanted to do any, he’d have to start catching up on sleep. He’d aged so much in just one week.