Body Alive Dance Studio
Thursday, July 22nd
There were five Skye Hamiltons in the Body Alive Dance Studio. One on each mirrored wall and one in the flesh. As in-the-flesh Skye step-turn-step-plié-step-fan-step-ball-changed, the reflections followed. So did the nine other girls in Atelier No. 1. Or at least they tried.
A trickle of sweat slithered from the base of Skye’s tightly bunned blond waves down the back of her pale blue leo. She drew her shoulder blades back (even more), trying to pinch the salty snake, not because she was embarrassed, but because she could. Her body always did what it was told. All she had to do crank up the music and ask.
“And one . . . twooo . . . thu-hree . . . fourrrr . . . five . . . six . . . seh-vuuuun . . . eight.” Madame Prokofiev slow-clapped to the jazzy ooze of Michael Bublé’s “Fever” while scanning her students for TICS (Timing, Incongruity, Carelessness, and Smiles). As always, her scrutinizing brown eyes whizzed past Skye like two bullets aimed at someone else.
“Too wristy, Becca!” She clapped. “Less chin, Reese.” Clap. “Rollllllll the knee, Wendi. Don’t poke.” Clap. Clap. “And I swear on my tendons, Heidi, if you don’t fix that posture, I’m going to use you as a throw pillow!”
Chignoned and clad in a no-nonsense black cami with matching flare dance pants, the aging brunette looked like a prima ballerina laced up tighter than a pair of toe shoes. Yet she moved like honey and stung like a bee.
Skye loved her.
Charged by Madame P’s silent approval, Skye added a turn before the freeze, then came out of it with hands in prayer pose, or rather, a Bollywood Namaste Flower. The routine hadn’t called for it—her instincts had. She’d downloaded the MIA track from Slumdog, and like some people got songs stuck in their heads, Skye had this one stuck in her body.
“Enough.” Madame P clapped sharply, the frown lines in her passion-wrinkled forehead bunched like loose leg warmers. Had she gone too far with her flower?
All nine dancers stop-panted. But Skye’s heart kept hitch-kicking against her rib cage. Finally, she crossed her arms over her B-minus cups and ordered it to take five.
She lined up with her dance BFFs Missy Cambridge, Becca Brie, Leslie Lynn Rubin, and Heidi Sprout. Like Skye, her besties were blond—two in braids, two with ponies—and wore identical pink balloon skirts over gray leotards and tights (BADS Anna Pavlova Collection). Skye had added her signature sleeves; today’s were black mesh with five mini sterling silver locker keys dangling from the holes—one for each of her friends. Every time she moved they jingled, adding a little extra something to the otherwise humdrum musical score.
“Flair, ladies.” Madame P heel-toed to the center of the room, clucking her tongue in disappointment. “Dance is not just knowing the steps. It’s interpreting them.” She winked at Skye, releasing her from the scold. “So please try to remember. We’re doing Twyla, not Twilight, so stop sucking!”
boys r us exceprt
THE BLOCK ESTATE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11th
Claire Lyons trudged across the immaculately manicured lawn of the Block Estate, feeling the same way she felt after a worthy contestant got voted off American Idol: Technically, she hadn’t been the one everyone text-rejected. But she felt the sting just the same.
Cam Fisher flirt-punched her shoulder. “You okay?”
“Huh?” Claire glanced up at her crush. The warmth in Cam’s one blue eye and one green eye shielded her against the late afternoon chill. She buried her hands inside the sleeves of the burgundy Briarwood Tomahawks jersey she wore over grey leggings and flirt-punched him back. “Easy!”
“Ow!” He laughed. A grape bubble gum-scented cloud puffed from his mouth. It smelled like love.
“Worried about Massie?” Cam slipped his arm around her shoulder and left it there for approximately three Mississippi’s before stuffing it back in the pocket of his red hoodie.
Claire nodded, nibbling her Blistex-coated bottom lip to keep from purring. Now was not the time to think about how she and Cam were so close or how he could practically read her mind. And now was definitely not the time to sneak an intoxicating noseful of Drakkar Noir. Now was the time to focus on being there for Massie, since the rest of the Pretty Committee was avoiding her way Lindsay avoided food.
It had been less than forty-eight hours since Alicia, Dylan, and Kristen had boycotted Massie’s Friday night sleepover, but to Claire, it felt longer than lent. She’d spent most of that time fielding four-way texts and calls from her friends, having no idea how to respond. Dylan vented about how she and Derrington could have taken their crush public a week earlier if it weren’t for Massie holding her back. Alicia bragged how much better her cheer squad, the Heart-Nets, was going to be than Massie’s, since Alicia was a superior choreographer. And Kristen kept moaning about bad sushi.
Massie, on the other hand, hadn’t reached out since Claire and Cam had shown up to her sleepover and found her totally alone. Her silence felt eerie, like the calm before the doors opened for a 75 percent off sale at BCBG. Because madness was sure to follow.
“Do you really think Alicia and Dylan’ll stay mad forever?” Cam’s gentle voice brought Claire back.
She wished she could tell Cam that the Pretty Committee would be back together before dinner. But Alicia and Dylan seemed done with Massie’s rigid, Lycra-ing ways. Done with the alpha controlling who they crushed on, what they wore, and what they did with their Friday nights. Actually, Claire understood their frustration better than anybody. Before Massie, she’d been perfectly content with her non-designer wardrobe. Now, she could barely walk past an Old Navy without imagining being shot at by a round of deadly comebacks.
“Dunno,” she replied honestly. She tried not to think about what could happen if her friends stayed mad. Sure, Lycra kept a tight hold on things. It could even feel suffocating. But it also held everything in its place. Without Massie, the Pretty Committee could fall apart. And where would that leave Claire?
“Sucks,” he offered, obviously trying to sound sympathetic and male at the same time.
It was adorable that Cam thought he knew just how dire the situation was. But no matter how many times Claire tried to explain, he couldn’t possibly understand. At this point a reunion for the Pretty Committee seemed less likely than a five-year wedding anniversary for Spencer and Heidi.