Paris - Chapter 1, a short story by lscc. Date added: 2012-03-23. Times viewed: 1228.
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- Intro: a group of four friends who are dancers...this is Ashlee's story, Pandora was first in Rio.
Ashlee was breathing heavily as she finished her routine.
She stayed in position for a few seconds while the crowd started their round of applause. Lifting herself into a standing position she bowed and exited the stage, the crowd’s cheer following her.
The other girls were waiting in the wings for the final curtain call and as they moved back out to the stage the applause increased and she couldn’t stop her grin of pleasure. This was what she’d trained thousands of hours for.
Joining hands, they bent at the waist as one and then rose just as smoothly to wave at the now standing crowd.
After a few minutes they went backstage.
“That was amazing!” Poppy squealed, bouncing on the balls of her feet as they made their way to the changing rooms in the back of the theatre.
“I know. They loved us!” Darcy said, just as giddy.
Ashlee plopped into the chair in front of the her mirror and stared at her reflection for long seconds, hardly recognising herself, before she got on with removing her exaggerated make-up.
“We have to celebrate!” Someone said from behind her and she grimaced as she remembered the last time she’d gone out to do just that.
One of the theatre staff appeared in the doorway, “Excusez-moi, mesdames, un gentleman voudrais parler avec vous.”
Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at each other. Victoria turned to look at Ashlee. “You speak French, don’t you?”
She nodded and translated, “She just said that a gentleman would like to speak to us.”
“Well I think you should go since none of us know a word of French.”
“Yeah.” Someone agreed.
With a sigh she turned to the woman, “Dites-lui que je vais être dans aminute.”
She nodded and walked off and Ashlee turned back to her reflection to finish removing the dramatic make-up she’d applied for her last dance. When she’d done, she pulled on her regular clothes, some low-riding jeans and a crop top, and went in search of the gentleman. Probably some sixty-something who’d never seen anything like what they’d just done and wanted to ask her how they got their bodies to move like that. She rolled her eyes at the thought.
When she came through the stage door the only person she saw was a man in his late twenties or early thirties and she frowned. Was this the man who wanted to talk to her?
He turned and paused when he saw her, “Ah, une vraie beauté que vous êtes.”
Ashlee felt her cheeks grow pink at his compliment. Being called a true beauty didn’t happen that often to her. “Merci, Monsieur…?”
“Reynaud, Pierre Reynaud. I’m sorry,” he apologised, “I should speak with you in English.”
“It’s fine, it gives me the chance to practise my French. I’m a little rusty,” she admitted.
His eyes slowly raked her body, “I doubt that very much.”
Her eyes widened a little at his boldness but she smiled back at him, determined to stay polite.
“I would very much like to hear about your dance school. May I take you out to dinner?”
Dinner? It was half ten at night and she was tired. Plus she wasn’t exactly dressed for anything fancy. Never mind the fact she didn’t know him from Adam.
She indicated her clothing, “I’m not really dressed appropriately,” she hedged.
Pierre shook his head and placed an arm about her waist. “You look étonnant. Amazing.”
Closing her eyes for a second, she took a calming breath. It seemed he wasn’t going to let her go without having dinner with him. Giving him a polite smile, she said, “Thank you.”
He led her outside to a waiting limousine and helped her climb inside. She glanced around the interior, wondering who he was to be able to afford this amount of luxury. The seats were the best quality leather and the paneling in the car was real wood. The carpet was thick under her feet and she heard the glasses in the bar ping as they knocked against each other when she shuffled across the bench seat. Pierre slid in beside her and the door closed.
“We’ll go to a small, discreet restaurant I know. They won’t mind what you wear.”
Ashlee nodded before glancing out of the window.
“So, does your dance school specialise in all forms of dance?”
That was a much safer subject, she thought, as she turned to answer him, “We do a bit of everything. We aren’t your typical dance school. You see, each girl has been trained differently at schools all across Britain, some are even self-taught, and we work together on routines, each adding our own little bit to make it unique.
Pierre inclined his head, his eyes briefly lowering to the expanse of skin on show before raising them to hers again. “That sounds unusual but I like the idea.”
Ashlee shrugged and glanced out of the window again at the passing buildings and saw the Eiffel Tower alight in the distance. Her eyes widened as she watched the light show, the tower turning every colour of the rainbow. It was hypnotic and beautiful.
The car turned and she lost sight of it. A few minutes later it pulled to the curb and the driver opened the door and helped her out.
“Merci,” she thanked him.
He bowed his head and waited for Pierre to get out before shutting the door and waiting for his instructions.
“We’ll be about an hour.”
“Oui, Monsieur,” the driver bowed again and returned to the limousine.
Pierre turned to face her and offered her his arm. Expelling a breath, she took it and allowed herself to be led inside.
It was furnished traditionally with rectangular tables covered in white linen and well used but comfortable chairs at each one.
The little restaurant was very busy and a part of her hoped they were full so she could go home and sleep but she noticed a man weaving through the tables towards them, a huge grin on his face, “Monsieur Reynaud, un plaisir de vous revoir,” his eyes moved to Ashlee, “table pour deux?”
The older man smiled wider and weaved his way back through the tables until he reached one in the back that was slightly hidden behind a pillar. Pierre held her chair out so she could sit before taking his own seat and Ashlee couldn’t help but notice how well-mannered he was-well, apart from the flirting in the theatre-and smiled at him as she picked up the menu.
“Shall I order for you?” He asked.
Her eyes narrowed at his words, “Excuse me?”
Pierre indicated the menu with a shake of his own, “It’s in French.”
She glanced down at the open menu and sure enough, it was in French. “Um…okay. I’m not fond of seafood though.”
Ashlee nodded. “I love lamb but I eat most meats.”
He nodded and turned to address the waiter who she hadn’t even noticed, “Carré d’agneau a la Provençale et Boeuf Bourguignon, s'il vous plaît.”
The waiter wrote down their order and left them so Pierre turned his attention back to her. “Where is your school based?”
“It’s in London. Islington.”
He nodded and continued to question her about it. “Would you know if Mrs Grant would be looking for a new benefactor?”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t know. She doesn’t talk to us about the running of the school.”
He glanced down into his wine glass thoughtfully. “Your dance school seems like the perfect place.”
The perfect place for what, she wondered but just then the waiter appeared at their table with two steaming dishes and set them down.
“Merci,” she thanked as she looked down at the food. It looked amazing and tasted even better. It was a rack of lamb with a mustard, rosemary and thyme crust.
They ate in companionable silence and were just about to order coffee’s when a man appeared at their table and spoke to Pierre in fluent French.
She tensed in her seat.
She’d understood enough to realise there was a problem that needed Pierre’s attention. It wasn’t the message that had her frozen; it was the voice of the messenger.
“How important is it, Lucas?” Pierre asked in English.
Lucas? It couldn’t be, could it? Turning her head, she saw it was and just stared at him in shock. What was he doing here? In Paris?
“Very,” he answered gravely.
Pierre stood. “Will you escort Miss Ward back to her hotel, please?” He turned to face her and she quickly shut her mouth, “Ashlee, I’m sorry but I must go.”
Lucas’ head snapped around to face her but she didn’t dare look at him in case she cried or threw herself into his arms so just nodded at Pierre understandingly as she stood to shake his hand.
Surprising her, he gave a small tug on her hand causing her to stumble closer and Pierre took the opportunity to kiss her full on the lips and she just stood there, too surprised to do anything else. “Another time, petite amie,” he murmured gently as he released her and stepped back. He was gone a moment later.
Ashlee blinked, still stunned.
“This way, Miss Ward,” Lucas gritted out as he turned and stalked away.
She stared after him. He was angry? He was angry?
Clenching her fists at her side she followed after him, weaving her way through the tables. Once outside, she saw he was waiting beside the same limousine she’d arrived in. Moving to his side, she opened her mouth to argue but he grasped her elbow tightly and opened the door for her to get in.
She obliged, climbing into the plush interior and waited for him to get in too. He slid smoothly into the car and the vehicle set off instantly.
Leaning back against the cushions, she stared at the man she had fallen in love with over two months ago. In his pressed black suit he looked harder, tougher, than she remembered but everything else was the same. His dark brown hair was still short but just long enough for her to run her fingers through and his green eyes looked stormy as they took in her outfit.
“What are you doing here?” He asked harshly.
She hesitated at his tone. “We’re on tour-”
“I know about the tour. What are you doing here? With Reynaud?”
Ashlee frowned across at him, “He was interested in the show and asked about the school.”
Lucas snorted. “Is that what that kiss was about?”
Anger took over again, “You left me, remember?! You’ve had two months to come and find me so don’t you dare start acting territorial over me. I am not yours!”
She watched as his jaw clenched and his nostrils flared and felt a moment of triumph before he crossed the distance between them and cradled her throat in his large hand, his thumb brushing the pulse at its base. “You are mine and I was coming back for you-we all were-before we were given our latest assignments.”
Her breathing had grown uneven at his admission and she licked her dry lips. The movement of her tongue caught his attention and with a groan his mouth took hers.
Oh, she’d missed his kisses.
After several breathless minutes he rested his forehead against hers and she realised the car had stopped. “We’re here.” He moved back across the seat and readjusted his clothing. “Stay away from Pierre Reynaud. He’s a politician but he’s not completely above board. A lot of people would love to see him dead.”
Ashlee opened her mouth to protest but he pressed a finger to her lips. “Ashlee,” he said softly, “go back to your hotel and forget you ever met him.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?” His brows drew together in a frown.
“Do I forget I ever saw you?” She whispered, unexpected tears clogging her throat.
“Ashlee…” he breathed, sounding tortured.
Tears fell down her cheeks as she stared at him. “I love you,” she croaked and swiped at her tears.
Without waiting for a response she let herself out. Sucking in a calming breath she mounted the steps and disappeared inside her hotel.
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