Chapter 2

1569 Words
I stand in front of the mirror and stare at my reflection, trying to figure out what it is about me that Kai doesn't seem to find attractive. Is it my hair? Does he prefer blondes? Or maybe it's because I'm so short. Maybe he prefers taller girls. Or maybe he doesn't like girls at all? I've never even considered that possibility before. I've never seen him talk to anyone really, so it's hard to draw any kind of conclusions. "Mara?" a voice calls out from behind me. I turn around to see Leo standing in the doorway. He's dressed in a pair of black joggers, a loose fitting white hoodie and black sneakers. His black hair is messy and falls over his eyes, kind of like Kai's does. He's smiling, as usual, and I find it hard not to smile back. He drops his gym bag to the floor and his eyes travel over my body. I'm only wearing black leggings with a matching sports bra, what I always wear when I dance, but now that I'm not alone, I feel so exposed. I can feel my cheeks heating up, so I turn away from him and take a deep breath. I kneel next to my bag and reach for my phone to connect it to my portable speaker. When the music starts playing, I stand up and turn around to face Leo. "Let's see what you've got," I smirk. He nods, proudly accepting my challenge. He gives his arms a shake and kicks his legs out a couple of times to warm his body up. He closes his eyes and takes a second to connect with the music. Something I like to do as well. My jaw drops to the floor when he starts dancing. His rhythm and style are unlike anything I've ever seen before. He effortlessly nails each move, some of which are far more difficult than anything I've ever attempted. I can tell dancing is his passion. He feels the music in his soul and lets it travel through his veins, electrifying his limbs. He stops for a moment and pulls his hoodie off over his head, revealing his tight white t-shirt that fits his toned body like a second skin. He tosses it aside and goes right back into his routine. He oozes sex appeal. I don't think I've ever seen someone so sexy before. I blink a couple of times, hoping he can't read me like an open book. His smirk would suggest otherwise though. He stops in front of me, raising a brow as if he's waiting for my applause or something. "Wow. You're good," I say, nodding my head. "Yeah?" he asks, turning his head and tossing his hair out of his eyes. "I don't think I'm anywhere close to your level. Where did you train?" I ask him. "With Deeko Watson in LA." "Deeko Watson trained you?!" I ask in surprise. He shrugs like it's no big deal. "Who trained you?" I'm almost embarrassed to tell him anything about my training background. Especially considering he's trained with one of the best dancers on the planet. I look down, trying to escape his intense gaze, while I think of something to say. "Well, my mom is a dance teacher. I learned everything I know from her," I say, looking up at him. He smiles, to my surprise. "That's awesome. Are you gonna show me what you can do?" A sudden panic settles over me, freezing my body in place. I've never minded showing off my skills before, but Leo is so intimidating. I've never seen anyone that could dance like him. Not in person, anyway. "Okay, but don't laugh," I say. He furrows his brows and opens his mouth to speak, but I step around him and walk out to the middle of the floor. The room is big and has lots of open space. It's perfect for dancing, but unfortunately, I'm the only one who seems to use it. The walls are lined with mirrors, so I can see myself from every angle. I squint my eyes and notice the girl looking back at me is missing her usual spark. It's like Leo walked in here and put out the fire I once had. I close my eyes and try to sync my mind with the music. My mom always told me to dance like no one is watching, so I try to forget Leo's here. I relax and let my body loosen up a bit. I purposely look anywhere but at Leo, who is standing at the front of the room. I can feel his eyes on me, but I ignore him the best I can. I get lost in the beat and do my thing like I always do. Over the years, I've won countless awards and competition trophies. I've always thought dancing was in my blood. And while I'm sure it is, I've never even questioned my talent until today. Getting overwhelmed by my own insecurities, I stop and sigh in defeat. "I'm sorry. I can't..." "What do you mean you can't?" Leo asks, coming towards me. "That was amazing!" "Amazing? No, what you did was amazing. What I just did was..." I trail off and scoff at myself. I've never been so insecure. It's really doing a number on me. "I'm nothing like you." "Because you're you. You have your own unique style. It's not the same as mine and it shouldn't be," he says, inching his body closer to mine. While his words are reassuring, the closing space between is making my heart beat out of control. It's a brand new feeling. No one's ever had this affect on me before, other than Kai. "You know, there's a big contest out in LA that pays out a pretty hefty cash prize to the winner. I was thinking of entering. You interested?" he asks. I laugh. "No thanks. I'd never want to compete against you." "Then don't," he says quickly. "Let's enter together. As a duet." His offer renders me speechless. Under normal circumstances, I'd tell this guy no in a heartbeat. I've always been a solo dancer, and there's a good reason for that. I don't work well with others. But I know how hard it's been on my mom keeping the dance studio open since my dad left. If I could snag some sort of cash prize, I could lift a huge burden off her shoulders. "When is the competition?" I ask. "It's not until June, so we'll have plenty of time to put something together," he replies. "And just how hefty is this cash prize?" I ask, narrowing my eyes and crossing my arms over my chest. "A hundred grand," he smirks. My mouth drops open. "Are you freaking serious?!" He nods. "It's not going to be a piece of cake though. There's always a lot of competition. Fierce competition. But I think we could give them a run for their money." That puts a smile on my face. "Okay, well..." I bite my lip shyly, pretending to think about it. "I'm in." His eyes light up in response. "Really?" "Yeah. I mean, if I'm entering with you, I like my chances." My compliment seems to have an effect on him. His cheeks are tinged pink, but he tries to smile confidently. Leo and I spend some time talking about ideas for our routine before calling it a night. After he leaves, I turn out the lights and lock the room up. I head down the hallway to drop the keys in the front office before walking out to my car. I get in and turn the key to start the engine, but nothing happens. I try it again, but there's still nothing. Not even a sound. Since I know very little about cars, I don't have a clue how to fix it. I could be out of gas, have a blown fuse or a dead battery for all I know. I pull out my phone and notice I only have 1% left on my battery. I quickly pull up my mom's number and press call. As soon as she answers, my battery dies and ends the call. I throw my head back against the headrest and growl in frustration. With no other options, I get out of the car and start walking. Rue and Anna share an apartment nearby. I guess I'll just use one of their phones to call my mom to come get me. I follow the sidewalk next to the road, trying to stay underneath the streetlights. There's a few cars out tonight, but it's quiet for the most part. I can see the apartment complex in the distance when I hear a car come to a stop behind me. I keep walking, too afraid to turn around to see who it is. "Mara?" I look over my shoulder and see Kai standing right behind me. "Kai?" my voice is nearly a whimper, thick with shock and emotion. "You shouldn't be out this late alone." His voice is so deep and smooth, easily sending chills all over my body. "My car won't start," I reply distantly, still reeling from the fact that he's standing right in front of me. Talking. "Get in," he says, opening the door of his old, rusty, station wagon. "I'll take you home."
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