Dear Diary, this is my first entry in the legacy diary and I don’t know exactly what to write.
Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
Let’s see, I graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance a few weeks ago. While I was there, I met the girl who became my partner, Julie Graves. More on her in a minute.
While I was in the academy, I became much stronger and my dance improved immensely. All my instructors said I showed great promise. Oh, and growing about eight more inches in height helped, too.
Right after Julie and I graduated, we applied to audition for the dance company that performs at The Royal Court Opera House. We were both fighting our nerves as we waited on the stage to begin our routine. Inside, I was a pretty good blend of excitement and fear. I wanted to make it so much, I thought I would die if I failed. This was the most prestigious company anyone could perform in and I could practically taste the contract already.
Julie was beautiful, when she wasn’t scowling, that is. We’d worked together for so long, I could anticipate her every move. Well, nearly. We had those days just like anybody else. There was the time she kicked when I wasn’t expecting it and she broke my nose but that’s just part of the learning curve.
Today, she seemed much more uptight than usual.
“Relax,” I whispered to her, “we know this inside and out. We’ll be great.”
Julie seemed to be avoiding looking at the bright lights and dark seating in the nearly empty auditorium. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but glance to try to see if the panel of judges were seated and ready to go.
“I’m not worried about us getting in,” she said. “We’re going to blow their socks off, make no mistake about it”
“Okay, then what’s the problem?”
“I’ve seen the other girls and I just know they’re going to fine me once I’m in. It’s really upsetting, Holden.”
I’d been trying not to think about all the rules this company had. In fact, I’d only heard a bunch of rumors and didn’t even know if they were true. Apparently, the heaviest girl and the lightest guy got their paychecks docked until those circumstances changed. Did I have a problem with the rule? Absolutely. Still, I didn’t know what I could do about it. Right now, I wasn’t even the lowest rung on the ladder. I didn’t even have a rung yet. But I was going to get one even if it killed me.
Turning my thoughts back to my partner, I gave her an easy, reassuring smile. She was hourglass curvy which I happened to find extremely attractive. On top of that, she possessed high cheekbones and fine features. There was nothing that could convince me she was anything but perfect.
“First of all, give yourself a break. I bet none of those girls had a baby six months ago. Besides, your curves are super sexy and I hope they stay.”
She smiled just a little and I continued, “Our lifts are smooth and you’re the best dancer I know, so let’s just focus on getting in and worry about all the other stuff later, if we have to.”
Her smile widened a little but didn’t quite reach her eyes so, I took her hand and squeezed it. When I’d met her, she was confident and sure. Nothing seemed to ever ruffle her. Since getting pregnant and having her baby, though, things had changed between she and her husband. I didn’t have all the details, just little pieces she mentioned here and there. From what I gathered, things had gotten so tense, I was surprised she could concentrate on dance at all.
“You’re right,” she said and in her brief nod, I could see the determination I loved so much about her return to her eyes. “Let’s do this.”
Moments later, we were dancing for the panel.
As usual, I thought we did a great job. Julie was a breeze to lift and our last one of this routine was particularly intimate. We included it because we wanted to show we could act as well as dance.
As I held her, I lost myself. Her body fit against mine perfectly and even through our sweat, I could smell the sweet honeysuckle shampoo she always used.
I guess over the past few years, we’d grown pretty close although her husband didn’t like me. I couldn’t say I blamed him even though I’d never been inappropriate with his wife.
As the music ended and before I slid Julie to the floor, she gave me an extra hug.
“I’m sure we’re going to make it!” she breathed as I lowered her down.
She was right. I had a good feeling about this, too. Usually, if something bad was going to happen, I kind of got this weird sensation that made my skin tingle. I’m not sure why I could sense trouble, I was only glad I had the head’s up.
After our audition, we went back to the brownstone I shared with Rosetta and Chris. I think this is as good a place as any to catch you up on my roommates. Chris graduated from college around the same time I graduated from the academy. He’s now in the police academy, much to his mother’s dismay. I can’t say I blame Olivia for feeling that way since police work can be so dangerous. But Chris seems to like what he’s doing, so who am I to say?
Rosetta is pursuing her master degree and she’s still determined to be the leader of the free world. When she isn’t studying or telling me what I should be doing, she’s joining protests, trying to influence politicians and working with our parents in The Inheritance.
By the time Julie and I got home, it was getting late and the drinks were already going around. Julie went straight to the bar where Rosetta already had a full glass waiting for her.
“One Passion Fruit Sizzle for you,” Rosetta murmured, the corners of her lips curled into a pleased smile as Julie took a long, appreciative swig.
“You are the best mixologist,” Julie said when she finally came up for air.
“I know,” Rosetta said, turning back to her concoction of ingredients. “Would you like a pick-me-up, Holden?”
She asked every time and every time I declined. There would be no alcohol in this body. They all knew it but it didn’t stop them from trying to goad me into joining them. I couldn’t be swayed so easily, however. My body literally was my temple. I put way too much work into maintaining my physique to allow something like alcohol to ruin everything.
Besides, they were all so cringey when they got wasted. I could never understand how anyone would allow themselves to lose control over their own minds like that.
As I was speaking to Chris about his day, Fletcher strolled in. He stopped short when he saw Julie, his eyes narrowing. Sighing inwardly, I headed toward him. The dynamic in this house was enough to drive anyone insane. Fletcher couldn’t stand Julie. I suppose it had to do with the fact that she and I were such close friends and always in close proximity physically because of dance.
Julie didn’t seem to mind Fletcher, yet I’m sure she got his jealous vibe loud and clear. Rosetta liked Julie but also hated Fletcher. Chris, too. They never got over the fact that he used to bully me when we were kids. It was ancient history and he’d proven himself loyal for years now but Rosetta and Chris wouldn’t let it go.
And where was I in this messy situation? Just call me the peacemaker. I’m the guy in the middle that just wants everyone to chillax and get along. I can’t understand what’s so hard about that.
“Why it’s Fletcher Klark,” Rosetta said as if she was surprised he might stop by. I could tell she was getting buzzed by the way she said his name – as if it was a four-letter word. “Greetings, Fletcher.”
“Hey,” he said uneasily. “So, how was your audition?”
“I think it went well. We did a good job,” I said with a grin.
“That’s terrific! I’m sure you’ll get it.”
“Thanks,” I said, taking his hand and pulling him in for a kiss.
Fletcher responded immediately, sinking against me slightly and reaching his hand up to pull me closer.
“Get a room,” Chris joked as he swallowed another shot.
Julie snorted and put her glass down for a refill.
Self-consciously, Fletcher stepped out of our embrace, his face turning bright crimson. Even after all this time, he didn’t seem comfortable in his own skin. It made me wish the others wouldn’t tease him but at the same time, I also wished he would just decide to be whatever he was going to be.
Despite being bullied, I think it was easier for me than it has been for Fletch. Sure, growing up, Rosetta pestered me non-stop for a while because she thought I wasn’t facing my own sexuality. In reality, however, I was just confused about it all, I wasn’t denying anything. Over time, I realized I’m pansexual. It was so freeing to finally put a name to it, which is quite the opposite of what I’d always thought. I never wanted a label because I figured that would limit me. But accepting that I’m gender-blind helped me understand myself better. For a while, I thought maybe I was bi-sexual but it still didn’t fit me because bi-sexual people are attracted to more than one gender. A pansexual person like me is attracted to people regardless of sex or gender.
Fletcher was not able as a kid to identify as gay because when he tried to tell his parents, his dad tried to beat it out of him. This led to his bullying and I was an easy target. He tried so hard to measure up to what his parents thought he should be. When he was in high school, he tried to kill himself. It angers me so much that this all happened to him. Instead of empathizing with their son, he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. That’s where he and I reconnected but in a more positive way because I decided he wasn’t going to bother me anymore. Little did I know the pain he had inside of him. It’s something he still carries.
Fletcher stays here at the brownstone in our guestroom pretty often even though Rosetta and Chris only tolerate him. I wish they could see in him what I do.
“I’ve gotta get going,” Julie said, sliding easily into my arms and resting her head on my shoulder. “I love you, Boo Bear.”
Wrapping my arms around her short frame, I rubbed her back a little and kissed her temple. “I love you, too, Jules.”
When she didn’t let go right away, I realized she was shaking. “Do you want to stay here tonight? You could have my room.”
In my peripheral vision, I could see Fletcher’s whole body tense up. I tried to push it out of my mind but I had a feeling Fletcher would be bringing this up later.
Pulling away, she shook her head. “No, Brent is expecting me and I don’t want to make him worry. Besides, the baby will be up bright and early and I want to be there for her.”
“Okay.” I searched her eyes as dread began to seep its way into the pit of my stomach. “You’re trembling. Do you want a ride home?”
Forcing a smile, she said, “No, don’t be silly. Everything’s fine, it’s just later than I thought it was.”
She turned to Fletcher and tried to smile. “Hey, um, when he ices, he needs to do his right shoulder, too, okay?”
“Yeah, whatever,” Fletcher said with a yawn.
“Well, bye,” she murmured before hurrying for the door.
I took that opportunity to head to the kitchen. I grabbed a large bucket from under the sink and filled it to the top with ice. We always kept extra bags of ice just for me. Going into the dining room, I dropped the bucket on the floor and shoved my feet into the ice, up to my knees. If I didn’t do this every night, I couldn’t move the next morning. Mornings were rough.
Chris had gone to bed but I could hear Rosetta and Fletcher. I couldn’t tell what they were saying to one another but it didn’t take a genius to figure out they were hissing their words at each other. Putting my earbuds in and listening to MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” full blast was my only escape…
Later, when I was fully iced up and the house was quiet and dark, I knocked on Fletcher’s door and let myself into his room.
Things didn’t go how I planned, though. We ended up getting into a fight about how close I am to Julie. I tried to explain to him that we’re just close friends but he wouldn’t believe me. He ended up pulling his clothes on and storming out into the night.
I was tempted to follow him, but this wasn’t our first argument and I knew we would both do better if we stayed in our own corners, at least for the night.
Between worrying about Julie’s well-being, getting into the company and my argument with Fletcher, I did my typical thing of hiding out in my attic bedroom, stretching and practicing difficult turns and jumps.
Julie and I still hadn’t heard what the results were of our audition and I hadn’t seen Fletch in a couple days. I’d left him voicemails and texts but hadn’t received any response.
“Do you know what time it is?” Rosetta asked as she came up the stairs, yawning.
“Get off my floor with those shoes,” I said, continuing my practice.
Of course, she completely ignored my instruction.
“I just got back from another event with Mother and Father. If you were in touch with them more, you’d know about the new items donated to the Sprague Collection.”
“I don’t want to be a part of that crazy life, you know that. Besides, they know I love them.”
“Yes, yes,” she said dismissively.
“What’s eating you, Rosetta?”
“I would think it’s quite obvious I’m concerned about you.”
“Don’t you have enough to worry about without adding me to the list?”
She sighed as if I was the densest person she’d ever encountered. “It’s true, I have a lot on my plate at the moment but you know what they say. If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.”
“You really don’t need to concern yourself with me. My problems aren’t really that unusual.”
“Will you stop that for a minute and talk to me?” she said.
I stopped stretching, giving her my full attention. “Will you get those damn heels off my floor?”
“Yes, of course,” she said although she didn’t budge. I was used to this but it didn’t make it any less irritating.
“I just want to know if you’re all right. I can’t stand that Fletcher Klark but I also can’t tolerate the thought of you being unhappy.”
I flashed my best smile at her and said, “We had a fight but I’m sure he’ll come around.”
“If he hurts you, I’ll have to annihilate him.”
Somehow, it didn’t seem so far-fetched that Rosetta might do just that.
Early the next morning, I was really feeling all of the extra dancing I’d been doing. Icing couldn’t even provide me with relief. Like an eighty-year-old man, I slowly pulled my clothes over my screaming muscles after my shower, tied my hair back and creaked and moaned all the way down the stairs to get breakfast.
To my surprise, Fletcher was there.
“Hey,” I said, sitting next to him.
“Listen,” he began, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I know this jealousy of mine is going to destroy our relationship but I don’t know how to stop it. I’m just so afraid of losing you.”
“I feel like you don’t trust me,” I told him. “I’m a touchy kind of huggy person, you know that, but I’ve never cheated on you. I don’t think I’ve given you any reason to be suspicious.”
“You admitted you were attracted to Julie,” he reminded me.
“I’m attracted to a lot of people, that doesn’t mean I want a relationship with them. If I’d ever cheated on you, I could understand your distrust of me, but, Fletch, this is getting old.”
“So, there’s nothing going on between you and Julie?”
I sighed loudly but realized he needed the reassurance for whatever reason. “No. She’s married and has problems of her own with all of that.”
“That’s just the thing. You never share with me what’s going on that she has to hang on you all the time.”
“Dude, we’re dance partners, she’s supposed to hang on me.” When he didn’t laugh, I changed gears. “I don’t share her problems with you because she asked me not to tell anyone. She’s one of my best friends and I won’t betray her trust. It’s the same with us. I don’t share what you tell me with anyone else either.”
He nodded slightly, staring into the distance, then finally nodded more and said, “I get it. I’m so sorry we fought. I hate it when we’re not getting along.”
“I hate it, too,” I said, trying to smile. “I’m sorry about our fight, too.”
Relief seemed to wash over him and he looked more relaxed. “Hey, you’re going to be late for work. Do you need help with your tie?”
He laughed a little under his breath. “You know I do.”
“I have to be at the studio by ten, but I have plenty of time to help with this,” I grinned as I reached over and began working on his tie.
“I really love you, Holden. More than I’ve ever loved anyone.”
“I love you, too,” I said softly, my heart happy and full. He was my first love. Even after a few years had passed, we’d managed to always find our way back to each other no matter what we’d been through. I cupped his jaw in my hand and touched his soft lower lip with my thumb. I could just as easily undo the tie and take him right here…
As so often happened when I was feeling good about things, fears began to pick at the back of my mind… what if Julie and I didn’t make it into the company? What if I let her down?
Shaking my head, I pushed the negative thoughts aside and leaned in to brush my lips tenderly against Fletcher’s. This is where I needed to keep my thoughts. I was certain about what I wanted and I wouldn’t let anything stop me.
Author’s Note: Thank you once again, Bee, for creating the ballet poses for me! They are so good and I can’t wait to use them all! If you would like to use Bee’s poses, you can find them here: Poses by Bee!
I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get the picture out of my head of Holden blasting MGMT’s “Time to Pretend.” LOL
Guess what? This is my 200th post! Can you believe it? Thank you so much, everyone, for your encouragement and support. I can’t even begin to fully articulate how much I appreciate you. Just know that I do.