Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dance Partner

"Ask him!" Janet yelled above the pounding music and then nudged me with an elbow. "He wants to dance. Look at him moving to the beat. Pretty smooth."
"You ask him," I said.
"You! You're the reason we're here tonight."
I gulped. Then blew out a breath. I slipped off my tall stool, shuffled over to the man, and said, "Looking for a dance partner?"
He was square-jawed. Very attractive. With the biggest smile he answered, "I'd be honored.

Dancers jammed the dimly lit dance floor. Loud music ricocheted from wall to wall, making conversation impossible, though my partner and I managed to exchange first names—Judd and Kaitlin. He danced unbelievably well, but after the third dance we drifted off to the sidelines where we could catch our breath.
"Where did you learn to dance like that?" he asked, smiling that big smile again.
"High school. Show choir. You?"
"Three older sisters who made me practice with them when I was a kid. You come to this club often on Saturday night?"
"First time." Then, "I'm the assistant manager of a women's clothing store in the mall. How about you?"
"New in town. Photojournalist for your local newspaper."
With that he hooked his arm in mine and whirled me onto the dance floor again. After two more dances, breathless once more, I told him I couldn't leave my friend Janet sitting alone any longer. "I'll introduce you," I said.
"You guys are awesome together," Janet said as Judd and I slid onto stools.
"Aren't you dancing?" Judd asked her.
"Not tonight," she said. "I'm just having fun watching you two."
And that's the way the rest of the evening went. Judd and I chatted with Janet, danced a few more dances, chatted, danced...until I finally said, "It's getting late."
"Will I see you again?" Judd asked, locking his eyes with mine.
I admit it—my heart beat a bit faster. "Um...maybe next Saturday night."
"Great. I'll be here."
As I drove Janet home that night, she said, "Why didn't you give him your cell phone number? He's hot."
"Because...I want to see if he'll show up. And I'm not sure the first guy I dance with at Dance Land is someone I want to know better. No matter how good-looking."
Next Saturday night, my heart was in a panic. Janet and her fiancé were attending a wedding reception, so a fierce debate raged in my head. Should I go to Dance Land alone and look for Judd. Or stay home? I decided I'd go, peek around inside for a minute or two, and if I didn't spot him right away, I'd leave. I waited until nine-thirty to arrive, thinking he'd surely be there by then. And he was.
"I was afraid you were a no-show," he yelled, over the pulsing music. "Where's Janet?"
"Sorry I'm so late," I said, and then explained about Janet.
"Look," he said, sheepishly. "I'm not really a dance club kind of guy. I was here last Saturday because I was...well, new in town, and looking for something different to do."
"You'll never believe why I was here."
"Can we go someplace quiet? You can tell me."
"I'd love that."
Judd and I settled into a both in a quiet diner with steaming cups of coffee in front of us and discovered we had a lot common—a love of books, museum tours, and symphony performances. Not dance clubs. And then I felt compelled to explain why I was at Dance Land last Saturday night.
"It's Janet who loved hanging out at Dance Land," I said, "and always begged me to come along—I'd find a guy. I told her I'd go with her if she'd come with me to my church picnic—maybe she'd find a guy."
"She did? She found someone?"
I smiled. "In a volleyball game. She spiked him in the face and broke his nose. She played in high school. And now they're getting married. Last week Ted was out of town, so she finally dragged me to Dance Land."
Our eyes locked again. Held a moment. I loved his eyes. Was it the coffee making me feel warm all over? Or was it a thought that had splashed into my head? "The Tri-city Symphony is in town next week," I said, amazed at how brave I'd become. "If you'd like to go."
I held my breath. My cheeks flushed.
Judd sat back, a bit surprised, I think. He offered his big smile once more, and I said, "Of course I'd like to go."
"I promise you won't get your nose broken."
With that we both laughed.
"You want to know something?" he said, still laughing.
Yes—I loved his laugh.
"What?" I asked.
"I'm not worried," he said. "And I wouldn't even care."
The End
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