Chapter 5

I spent a week arguing with Jenna that the salsa class will survive if they have a substitute on Monday night and that I can still be on track with the choreography with the Junior Team, if I cancel the Tuesday practice. They could have a night off, or they can have a ballet class. Never hurt anyone. That, and I had to promise her that I would be back on Wednesday.

I stepped off the train at Union Station at about 7 pm. Cam waited for me at the exit from the platform and drove me to Four Seasons.

I got out of the limo and just as I was about to get into the hotel, out comes Deanna Sulivan.

“Deanna?” I said, and she swung her head towards me, you know, as if someone has seen you but wanting to pretend they hadn’t?

“Marla!” She beamed at me. “What a pleasant surprise. I hear you are going to Rio this year.”

“Yeah, I am. I just need to find a partner.” I didn’t want to admit it to Deanna, but somehow it just came out.

“Oh,” She said and gave me one of her well rehearsed, plastic smiles. “I saw that Alan’s judging. I think you might be his favourite.” And then she winked at me. I just about slapped her but I was so shocked with her behaviour that I couldn’t really move.

“I am sure that Alan has disclosed our previous relationship.” I said with a sour smile on my face.

“What are you doing in Toronto?” She continued casually.

“Oh, you know. I just have some business here. Dancing, you know, a choreography.” I didn’t want to tell her. It was none of her business.

“I see.” Deanna said and something in her look changed.

It was as if she had seen a ghost. Did she know? How would she know? Did George tell her?

“I’ve got to go. It was nice to see you. Good luck with a partner hunt.” She said gloating.

I can’t believe that she just stood there and wished me luck and hadn’t offered to help. There’s no way that she does not know someone who could dance with me. Bitch!

I reached my room and slid the key that Cam gave me into the card slot. I opened the door and saw George. He was on his Blackberry.

“I’m not discussing this anymore. I have to go.” And just like that, he hung up on whomever was on the other line.

“I thought this was my room. Cam must have-”

“This is your room.” He said.

I wasn’t sure if I was prepared for that kind of professionalism quite yet. Besides, I could not shake Deanna’s impudence quite so eaily. I was not expecting company.

“You have a key to my room?”

He looked at me, and without saying another word took the champagne out of the mini fridge and poured two glasses. He handed one over to me.

“Welcome.” And he smiled, closed the distance between us, circled his hand arund my waist and kissed my cheek. “And as fo’ the key?” He handed me back the card he was holding in his hand. “I got a call and Janet and Derek are arguing about something in my room. It was way too noisy.”

I raised the glass and drank as Deanna’s words echoed in my head.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

How the hell does he know something is wrong?

“Nothing.” I tried my darnest to look genuinely calm. “Why would anything be wrong?”

“I told you I was perceptive.”  He looked at me, but said nothing else. Until…

“Have dinner with me tonight. Just the two of us.”

I was taken aback. To be honest, I was looking forward to bumming around in my loungers, watching cable TV and eating Four Season’s room service. Besides, this was getting too close for comfort and I had to put a stop to it.

“Look, George, I don’t think that would be the best idea.”

He came up to me again and slowly pushed me against the back of the vanity chair. I stopped and he came really close. He took my coat off and put it on the chair. I was wearing a Queen’s sweatshirt. There was nothing less flattering than Queen’s sweatshirt. He came in closer and grabbed the bottom of my shirt.

“I thought you were going to keep an open mind.” He said as he took off the sweatshirt over my head and threw it on the coat.

I couldn’t quite comprehend what exactly was going on, but I knew that I was neither ready nor willing to go there with George da Silva.

“I know I did.” I said, not knowing how was I going to explain it, especially since it I wasn’t actually willing to keep an open mind.

He put his palms on my hips and pulled me in. Despite the fact that I vowed this would not go anywhere, I did not stop him. “I just… you know… I can’t risk it. Dancers talk.” I smiled, forcefully and it did not go unnoticed. But, yet again, he did nothing about it.

He rubbed my hips very gently. “Do dancers eat?”

I looked at him and he took advantage that I shifted my focus to his words and closed his arms around me. He rubbed his cheek against mine. I could feel his breath on my ear before I heard him say really softly.

“It’s just a dinner. I’m sure you’re starving and I have a reservation for eight thirty. Your suitcase is in the bedroom. You can change. I’ll wait.”

As if under a spell, I walked over to the bedroom, sat the glass of champagne on the night stand and laid on bed for a second. I can’t get involved with George. There was no way that I could allow myself that added stress right now on top of everything else. I needed to resist. I couldn’t succumb to him. For the best.

I fished the emergency outfit that Jessie has put together for me and smiled. In order to wear everything like she intended, she had placed the outfits into little fabric bags with all the accessories. It’s a god’s gift when you are style challenged and have to dress in a hurry to go out with George da Silva. And yes, I am style challenged. Price I had to pay for spending most of my adolescent life wearing tassels and tutus.

Oh my God, it’s Valentine’s Day! How the hell did I not notice until now. And what is he… Crap! I fell for his trick! No, no, no!

I walked out of the bedroom. This can’t be happening. I had to call him on it! And, since Jessie did not skimp on the inches of my heels, I was feeling gutsy.

“So, nobody special in your life?”

He just looked at me and smiled.

“George, it’s Valentine’s Day.” I straightened my face and blurted out.

“Is it?”

“How stupid do you think I am? Do you expect me to believe that one of the world’s biggest mac daddies doesn’t know it’s Valentine’s Day.”

“I’m taking a day off.”

I walked up to him. The extra 5 inches I had now brought my eyes much closer to his.

“I will go for dinner on one condition.” I said. It was me smirking this time. I was kind of enjoying myself.

“What’s that?” He asked as he grabbed my hand and used it to get closer to me. I am literally going to physically hold him off, if I really don’t want this to progress.

I shook his hand off. “You admit that this dinner reservation was not originally for me.” Gotcha! “You and your little lady friend had a spat and she stood you up and now you are working it here, trying to get me to believe that you are some romantic who engineered this evening for us and subtly working down my resistance. Seriously, does that ever work?”

He let go of me completely and moved away about a foot.

“I never said that the reservation was originally for you. I just said I had one.” He said calmly, stood next to me and offered me his arm. “Shall we?”

I kinda felt stupid. But what am I supposed to do.

The restaurant was up the street, few blocks up the Avenue Road, but we had to take the limo. Granted, it was a little cold, it being February We hadn’t even arrived and I had already started to feel my will dwindling.

Sotto Sotto Trattoria is a dreamy little Italian restaurant on Avenue Road with stone walls and brown satin curtains separation, illuminated by a soft, yellow light that complimented the earthy tones of the walls. There were Corinthian pillars with fabric skirts in a rod iron frame dispersed through a great room and through each hole on my horizon, I could see a painting, a sculpture or a centrepiece. I think I unknowingly smiled.

“Appropriate for a Valentine’s Day date?”

“This is not a date.” I repeated the mantra.

“Right!” He nodded. “Not a date.”

We were led to a private room with a table set for two and a violinist playing.

“Nice touch, by the way.” I said. “Could have been romantic.”

We were somewhere between the entree and the coffee, and I must say, it truly was a non date. Nothing datey going on and he even kept the glares to the minimum, until…

“Why don’t you stay until Wednesday evening?”

Here we go. The ‘non-date’ boundary. But I had my balls on tonight.

“George, this all… is very lovely. And this is the best non-date I’ve ever been on, but I have committed to this competition, largely because of this and I have a lot to prove to these people this year. You have no idea what is really going on, so please–”

“You still need a partnah. For Rio.”

He stopped me cold. I blinked, once, twice… “Excuse me?”

He better not be thinking what I think he may be thinking.

“I know someone. You should meet him. You still need a partnah?”

“Well, yes, but who? Who told you?”

He put his elbows on the table and leaned in. I glared down at the half-line of the table. Approaching the boundary.

“His name is Marcus. And he loves to dance. He’ll be here tomorrow after we sign the contract, we can have dinnah, you two can, ya know… talk and we’ll see.”

He smiled again and this time I deserved it. It has occurred to me that I was imagining his glares or at least misinterpreting them. Adam. I was supposed to have dinner with Adam tomorrow. At his place. He was cooking for me and Sandra had said that she would not speak to me for a week if I didn’t go. I wasn’t going home till Wednesday, but I wasn’t planning on spending the time with George.

“What’s wrong?” There we go again. Pry, pry, pry!

“It’s just that… I had plans for tomorrow night… but I can cancel.” I was a brand new me, on this non-date and I can prolong this agony by voluntarily agreeing to go on more… non-dates. “I can cancel.” I repeated, but the gumption behind it was gone.

He just smiled again, that amazing, lights-camera-glory smile. It was intoxicating. Was I getting all fangirly.

“No, don’t cancel.” He said. “We can work around your plans.”

“No, no… I’ll cancel. It’s no big deal.” I’ll just have to stay horny and have dinner next to a guy, oozing sex, but with whom I’ve solemnly sworn to myself, not to have sex. No big deal!

We were in front of my room soon after we had said goodbye to Cam in the elevator.

I couldn’t wait to get out of my shoes, but there was the ritual that needed to be observed, the one that I have agreed to, silently, when I agreed to work with George, and the one that I was still not completely comfortable with. The good night kiss.

“Thank you for dinner.” I turned to face him.

“Mm-hm.” He mumbled and dove straight for my neck, right below my right ear and gripped a piece of skin with his lips. The shock propagated through me like a bolt of lightening and when he pulled back, I took a deep breath in order to ensure that my heart continues to beat.

“Good night.” He said, smiled, turned and walked around the corner. I collapsed towards the door and shoved the card into the card reader.

Was I in over my head?

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