The sofa felt like a saving grace when Giselle sunk into it. Her tense back muscles loosened painfully as she threw her head back and sighed.
The moment they got on a flight home from Paris, Giselle started networking, only stopping when they had to put their devices off. When they were in transit, she was texting, emailing, and calling. When they were laying over, she was doing the same. When she couldn’t use her charm to get discounts, she’d hand the phone over to her dad and he opened the doors she couldn’t. Giselle was stubborn when it came to figuring things out on her own, but she was too exhausted to care at this point. If what they wanted was to hear Edwin Balaco, she would get out of the way. Whatever sorted things out faster.
Some sponsors only got back to her days later. Once she had slept off the jet lag, she had more energy to handle things. When everything was paid for and organized, she started figuring out an itinerary for their two visitors, something she would deviate from anyway. Marie helped with this.
She hadn’t taken any calls from Eric during this time, knowing just the sound of his voice would get her to spill everything. She was exhausted from just planning and knew he would jump in and try to help. She didn’t need that, she could do this on her own, she just needed the time to do it. They had texted back and forth, and she realized quickly that she wouldn’t be able to book a flight to Palanadia any time soon. She needed to hold things together at home before Kayley and Elaine came, and she’d rather fly back with them when everything was over than before.
Only, she never got to booking that ticket, too worried she had forgotten something. And she had. Mark and Matthew’s birthday’s were smack in the middle of the week and they wanted a private family gathering. The week after she had two weddings, one where she would be playing solo, the next she would be with the Balaco students.
In one month, she realized how fragile their relationship actually was. When everything was sorted, they started talking over the phone again, and arguing. Resolving conflicts over the phone royally sucked!
But then he’d say something so sweet that she’d melt completely.
"I’d rather have this than nothing at all," he said after last night’s argument when they were face-timing. "I know we won’t be able to see each other for a while, and I hate it, but I’d rather have the distance and the conflicts over not having you in my life."
She didn’t want to let him go.
Kayley giggled from the other side of the couch, making Giselle smile faintly.
"So this is Giselle Balaco – behind the scenes," Kayley said.
"You haven’t seen anything yet," Giselle said with her eyes still closed. Elaine and Marie were taking a walk through the neighborhood while Kayley and Giselle took a breather. Kayley wasn’t used to flying so long and the girl fell asleep the moment they got to their B&B, according to Elaine. Giselle had picked them up the morning to show them around town. They went shopping to get Kayley outfits for the week, a present from the Balaco sisters. Giselle loved to shop with her sister and Kayley needed to look the part to increase her chances of getting a scholarship. After Marie did her make-up and Kayley dressed they went to the university and got a full tour by herself and some of the instructors. Kayley could barely keep her eyes in her head when she saw the studio she’d be auditioning in and Giselle could only laugh.
"I’m glad you like our facilities," she said, rolling her head to the side so that she could look at Kayley. The girl had her elbow on the backrest of the couch and lightly playing with her nails. She dropped her eyes and shook her head. Giselle smiled. This was a new world for Kayley. Another thing that would be completely new to her was the amount of attention she’d get, and not only from scouts and instructors. Although the university held groups of ambitious students, it was also a family. A very competitive family. But instructors and tutors knew to stress team work in all occasions. If your attitude sucked, it didn’t matter who you were or how great your talent was, you would be humble or placed at the back until you learned how to be, a mistake Giselle learned early on, painfully.
And as she looked at Kayley now, her eyes low and her shy manner when girls and guys alike passed her approving glances earlier, she knew the girl would feel like she were tossed into the deep end initially. Giselle also knew that she couldn’t wait to see Kayley grow.
"I don’t know how I’m going to get in," Kayley said quietly. At that, Giselle’s smile deepened. Clearly she had no problem with humility.
"You’re going to nail it," Giselle said. Kayley looked up and met her gaze. "I’m sure of it, just promise me you’ll work hard."
Kayley gave a small smile and nodded. "I promise."
"We need more dancers like you. We’ve got enough ballerinas and Latin dancers. I’ve seen you do hip hop and contemporary." Giselle gave a nod. "You’ve got this."
She rolled her head back up to look at the ceiling. "I’ve also seen you do ballroom and Latin." Giselle laughed and shook her head. "If you don’t get in then, nobody deserves to be at that university."
She felt her phone vibrate in her jacket pocket and took it out, already knowing who it was. She had customized his vibration weeks ago. She smiled at the text.
"Eric is jealous that you guys got to see the university before he has. He also hopes you guys slept well after all the flying," Giselle said and rolled her head to look at Kayley again. Kayley smiled, her dark eyes shining. Giselle loved the glow of her dark skin and the way her short dark curls and freckles complemented each other so well.
"You two are really cute together," Kayley said. Giselle felt herself go hot and cold all over at the same time. Kayley laughed.
"Wow, relax, Giselle! I think you just answered my unasked question. So how long has this been going on for?"
Giselle lowered her phone slowly, trying to decide how to respond.
"I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry. Not until you guys make it public, at least," she said. "I saw the way he was looking at you that last day you guys came to visit. And I saw how shy you became around him. You’re not shy around anyone, Giselle!"
Giselle laughed nervously. She lowered her eyes. "I can’t believe he saw something in me. I sometimes wake up thinking none of it ever happened and then I see his name on my phone and it’s like . . ." she blew out a breath of air then looked at the ceiling again. "It’s beautiful," Kayley said after a moment. "I’ve always wondered if any girl could break through Prince Eric. I’m glad someone did, and I’m really glad it’s you," Kayley said. Giselle looked at her and smiled. "Thanks."