The Tycoon's Stowaway(3)

By: Stefanie London



‘It’s nothing, man.’ Brodie held up his hands in surrender and stepped back.

He was bigger than Scott, but he wasn’t a fighter. The guilt in his eyes mirrored that in Chantal’s heart. How could she have done this? How could she have fallen for her boyfriend’s best friend?

‘Didn’t look like nothing to me. You had your hands all over her!’

‘It’s nothing, Scott,’ Chantal said, grabbing his arm. But he shook her off. ‘We were just dancing.’

‘Ha!’ The laugh was a sharp stab of a sound—a laugh without a hint of humour. ‘Tell me you don’t feel anything for Brodie. Because it sure as hell didn’t look like a platonic dance between friends.’

She tried to find the words to explain how she felt, but she couldn’t. She closed her eyes and pressed her palm to her forehead. She opened them in time to see Scott’s fist flying at Brodie’s face.

‘No!’





CHAPTER ONE


REJECTION WAS HARD ENOUGH for the average person, and for a dancer it was constant. The half-hearted ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ after an unsuccessful audition? Yep, she’d had those. Bad write-up from the arts section of a local paper? Inevitable. An unenthusiastic audience? Unpleasant, but there’d be at least one in every dancer’s career.

Chantal Turner had been told it got easier, but it didn’t feel easy now to keep her chin in the air and her lips from trembling. Standing in the middle of the stage, with spotlights glaring down at her, she shifted from one bare foot to the other. The faded velvet of the theatre seats looked like a sea of red in front of her, while the stage lights caused spots to dance in her vision.

The stage was her favourite place in the whole world, but today it felt like a visual representation of her failure.

‘I’m afraid your style is not quite what we’re looking for,’ the director said, toying with his phone. ‘It’s very…’

He looked at his partner and they both shook their heads.

‘Traditional,’ he offered with a gentle smile. ‘We’re looking for dancers with a more modern, gritty style for this show.’

Chantal contemplated arguing—telling him that she could learn, she could adapt her style. But the thought of them saying no all over again was too much to deal with.

‘Thanks, anyway.’

At least she’d been allocated the last solo spot for the day, so no one was left to witness her rejection. She stopped for a moment to scuff her feet into a pair of sneakers and throw a hoodie over her tank top and shorts.

The last place had told her she was too abstract. Now she was too traditional. She bit down on her lower lip to keep the protest from spilling out. Some feedback was better than none, no matter how infuriatingly contradictory it was. Besides, it wasn’t professional to argue with directors—and she was, if nothing else, a professional. A professional who couldn’t seem to book any decent jobs of late…

This was the fourth audition she’d flunked in a month. Not even a glimmer of interest. They’d watched her with poker faces, their feedback delivered with surgical efficiency. The reasons had varied, but the results were the same. She knew her dancing was better than that.

At least it had used to be…

Her sneakers crunched on the gravel of the theatre car park as she walked to her beat-up old car. She was lucky the damn thing still ran; it had rust spots, and the red paint had flaked all over the place. It was so old it had a cassette player, and the gearbox always stuck in second gear. But it was probably the most reliable thing in her life, since all the time she’d invested in her dance study didn’t seem to be paying off. Not to mention her bank accounts were looking frighteningly lean.

No doubt her ex-husband, Derek, would be pleased to know that.

Ugh—she was not going to think about that stuffy control freak, or the shambles that had been her marriage.

Sliding into the driver’s seat, she checked her phone. A text from her mother wished her luck for her audition. She cringed; this was just another opportunity to prove she’d wasted all the sacrifices her mother had made for her dancing.

Staring at herself in the rearview mirror, Chantal pursed her lips. She would not let this beat her. It was a setback, but only a minor one. She’d been told she was a gifted dancer on many occasions. Hell, she’d even been filmed for a documentary on contemporary dance a few years back. She would get into one of these companies, even if it took every last ounce of her resolve.

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