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I was fourteen when I met him, danced with him, and fell for him.
I walked out as the boy Piper had loved for far too long.
Can we have a second chance at love?
*This is a standalone new adult romance with mature situations.*
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The class before me watches my every move. Christopher, my mentor and boss, beams as he always does. The man who’s become a teacher to me smiles with pride on his face. My body moves and sways, twists and turns. The beat of the song carries my feet through the steps without my mind having to think.
Lifting my foot, stomping it on the floor, spinning on one hand, I lock, pop, and glide into the positions. The kids shout and scream. They’re excited for the upcoming show. So am I.
It’s been years since I’ve not hurt. My heart ached for four long years. I’m twenty and I’ve had my heart demolished by one person.
Most girls move on, find another boy, or man to fill the void, but I can never do that. Because each time I take the stage, every time the music pumps through me, he’s there.
My heart remembers him. My very soul knows him better than I know myself. I wanted to stop dancing when he left. He walked away, leaving me with a goodbye and promises he never fulfilled. He never came home to visit when my brother, Preston, did, and he never kept the one promise he made before he left. The one boy I’ve loved all my life went to chase his dreams, and I didn’t beg him to stay.
His life was his own. I had no hold over him. When he left to study in Los Angeles, he didn’t just take the sun from my sky, he took my heart and soul.
I overheard my brother telling my parents about life in the City of Angels. About how he, Jeremiah, and Ryder were on track to make it big in Hollywood in a well-known dance movie. But not long after his news, my brother was back home. When I asked what happened, he didn’t want to talk about it, shrugging it off as nothing. I didn’t ask outright, but when my parents brought it up, Preston said things didn’t work out for them, and he wanted to come home to see his family. I knew it was bullshit because if there’s one thing I know about my brother; he’d rather be anywhere but with family.
The song ends as I land in an open leg split on the linoleum floor. My chest heaves with ragged breaths. I’m smiling. It’s a real one, more so than the other ones I’ve offered my family since Ryder left.
They didn’t know about us. Not that there was anything to tell.
No, Ryder Kingsley was my secret.
The door to the studio flies open and just like magnets finding their mates, my eyes find his. My smile falls. His gaze hardens when he sees me, but there’s a coldness to those pools I used to see affection in. And I’m no longer the girl who loves him, I’m a stranger.
“Piper, this is our new teacher, Ryder Kingsley. You’ll be working on the show together,” my dance teacher of three years announces happily and my heart that was thudding wildly in my chest drops to my feet like a lead weight.
This can’t be happening.
But it is.
Ryder saunters forward with a slight limp, holding out his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” he utters in that low husky tone I remember.
And that’s how the boy I fell in love with came back a broken man.
It’s in the moments you allow yourself to feel something, nothing can hold you back. That’s what happens to me when I dance. Since I was little, being from an overly privileged family, I was sent off to ballet lessons. My mother said all little girls had to do it. As I got older, I filled out, got curves, and I hated those damn classical music snippets we had to dance to.
The day after I quit, I found myself following Preston to his secret meeting place. I didn’t know what he and his friends did there, but something told me he was up to no good. And I was right. He was drinking, smoking, and I would’ve told on him, if I thought my parents would care.
When Preston saw me skulking in the shadows, he called me out. That was the moment I found the two things I’d love for the rest of my life.
Hip hop dancing and Ryder Kingsley.
I was fourteen at the time and he was the forbidden older boy and brother’s best friend, yet all I could do was think about him kissing me. I wasn’t stupid to think a boy—scratch that, a man of seventeen, would want anything to do with a kid.
He was everything, with those deep hazel green eyes, full dusty rose-colored lips that had a small, silver ring pierced through the lower corner of his mouth. He had messy black hair and ink adorned his body, arms, chest, and back. With lean muscles, he was tall and overshadowed me each time he was near.