Cole woke to the sun shining in his window and the smell of food. That could only mean one thing, Yasmine or Blake, more likely Blake, was cooking breakfast. She had stayed with Landon in their side of the duplex last night. He purposely stayed downstairs with the Television on to drown out any noises that might have come from his bedroom until they had gone to sleep.
He showered and walked downstairs. He could hear laughter and it sounded like everyone beat him up this morning. “Hey! What smells so good?” he called out.
“Blake made bacon and eggs,” said Landon like the proud boyfriend he was.
“Here, I saved some for you,” said Blake smiling that pretty smile she had. Blake was one of the sweetest people he knew.
Yasmine stood up and motioned for him to take her place. “I just finished. Here take my spot.”
Cole gratefully sat down to eat and Yasmine shoved some coffee and a plate over to him. “Thanks so much. So what were you guys talking about?”
“We were taking bets on whether or not this was your old girlfriend,” said Landon pointing to some papers on the bar.
Yasmine picked it up and read it to him. It was an advertisement for a performance of Swan Lake by the Taylor Paul Dance Company company out of Bridgeport.
Cole felt his heart skip a beat and he was speechless. She’s supposed to be in Europe, he thought.
“It’s the dance company she works for, isn’t it?” asked Yasmine.
Cole got up and took the flyer from Yasmine.
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was Laney on the flyer. How did she get the lead dancer? Or was this just a side trip for ‘second string’?
When Cole just stood there, not talking, Yasmine filled in the silence. “Ohhh. It must be her,” she said, “Cole, sweetie, are you okay?”
Cole blew out a shaky breath. “Yes. I am. I’m just shocked. It’s her.”
“Hot damn,” said Landon, “she’s hot. No wonder she didn’t want your ass!”
“Landon!” said Blake and slapped his arm.
“Landon,” joined in Yasmine, “Cole’s upset and that’s so mean.”
“It’s okay,” replied Cole, “He’s right anyway, she was way too good for me.”
“Hey, listen, why don’t we all go out tonight,” said Landon, “It’s Saturday. We can go out and have a good time. We can get all of our class work done this morning so we can sleep in tomorrow.”
“Oh, I can’t,” said Blake, “I have to work on the outline for a paper that’s due on Monday. You guys go on without me.” Landon gave her begging puppy dog eyes. “And don’t give me that look, Landon Lockhart, you know I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back.” Then she smiled sweetly and Landon went all gooey.
“Umm, sorry, I already have plans too,” said Yasmine and Blake shot her a quick glance, complete with a raised eyebrow. Cole wondered what that was about, especially since Yasmine pretended not to notice.
“Okay then,” said Landon. “Looks like it’s a guys night out. See ya’ll later. I’m gonna go finish up my class work.”
“Excuse me,” said Blake and grabbed Landon, “You aren’t going anywhere. I cooked, you clean. See you next door when the dishes are done, m’kay?”
“Yas,” said Cole, “after I help Landon with the dishes, do you have time to help me with this stupid accounting?”
Yasmine gave him an approving nod, “Sure thing sweetie.”
Cole and Landon decided on Dreamer’s because the music and drinks were good there. When they pulled up, the parking lot was empty and a closed sign was on the door.
So plan B. They didn’t want to go to the Calico Club because Nicky might be there and Cole didn’t want her to think he was stalking her. So to they would up at the bar. It was crowded since the Dreamer’s patrons had nowhere else to go. They found a seat and ordered beers.
“So, wanna tell me about your ballerina?” asked Landon. “I have to admit I didn’t believe it when Yasmine told us. She was going to hide the flyer from you, but you caught us red handed.”
“Not really, but I will,” said Cole a little snarkier than he intended. He began to tick off on his fingers the events of their relationship. “We dated a little over a year. We had a fight. We got back together. Then right before graduation a talent scout called her and she left. She came back for one day. And left again. The end.”
“Ouch. You sound bitter.”
“I don’t know, maybe. It was the shock of seeing her on the flyer. It’s like I should be celebrating her success with her, not someone else. It’s like we’re strangers now.”
Landon took a swig of his drink. “So I take it, you haven’t moved on. Is that why you pushed Yasmine away?” he asked.
“I didn’t push her away. Well, I guess, maybe, I did. But we are getting along really well as friends. It’s probably better that way anyway.”
Cole didn’t want to discuss his lack of a love life. “So, what about you and Blake?” he asked and picked up his own drink, “It looks pretty serious.”
At the mention of Blake, Landon got a faraway look in his eye and the corners of his mouth turned up. After a minute, he responded. “She was a hard one to get close to, but now that I have…she’s definitely a keeper. She is so good. You say you don’t deserve Laney, well there is no doubt that Blake is too good for me …. Anyway, I see you’ve been taking advantage of the weight bench. Maybe we will do that calendar after all.”
“Oh, subject change huh,” said Cole with a laugh, “Must be serious. And yeah, thank your parents for the weight bench. It helps work off stress, and Yasmine likes it.” He flexed his arms to make his point.
“Damn, look at that,” said Landon, and pointed his beer towards the tables in the back. “if I didn’t know better, I would say your ballerina is dancing on the goddamn tables!”
“Someone’s dancing on the tables? Holy shit,” said Cole, and stood up to turn around and watch. He inhaled sharply when he realized it was Laney on the table.”
“It IS her!” said Landon when he saw Cole’s reaction, “Damn, you gotta introduce me. Come on.”
“No…I can’t,” said Cole as he watched.
“Chicken shit,” he said.
“Look, her boyfriend’s probably with her. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to mess with my ex’s and their boyfriends.”
“True, but damn, Debbie Downer….well, I’m going to take a video to show the girls.”
Cole couldn’t peel his eyes away from Laney. He watched, mesmerized. She was so beautiful and full of life.
She seemed to be having a good time, without a care in the world. Probably celebrating her success. As he watched he wondered if he had made a mistake letting her go. Maybe he should have applied to another school and gone with her, but she had made it clear she had moved on. He thought he had too, until today and then actually seeing her again.
When the song ended, she curtsied while everyone, including Landon, clapped. She started scanning the bar, probably looking for her boyfriend, when her eyes landed on him. He quickly turned around and sat back down in his chair.
“Are you really sending that video that to Blake?” asked Cole.
“Hell yeah,” said Landon and looked up. “Hey dude, she saw you and she’s heading this way, along with some blonde guy.”
Fuck, he thought. He hoped she hadn’t seen him. Cole turned around. And came face to face with Laney. She was gorgeous and she took his breath away.
“Cole? It IS you. Hi! How are you?” she asked.
“Hi Laney, he managed to say, “Looks like you’re having fun. What are you doing here?” Stupid.
“Here? As in the bar or here as in Brindleton Bay? Well, I wasn’t stalking you, if that is what you thought, but here you sit, acting like you didn’t see me. Why?”
“I didn’t think we had anything left to say to each other,” he said sadly.
“Cole…I had hoped you would be happy for me. You know, as much as it sucked, you did the right thing for me. For us. And, I’m sorry if I made it worse or harder.”
“Lane, allons-y come,” said the blonde guy, with a heavy French accent..
“Lane?” asked Cole with a raised eyebrow.
“Cole, meet Marco, my boyfriend. Marco, mon ami, Cole.”
Marco smiled and stuck his hand towards Cole, “Ah. Cole, is my pleasure.”
Cole had to try hard not to roll his eyes, and didn’t take his offered hand. “Nice to meet you,” he said almost bitterly.
“Cole…” admonished Laney, so he stuck his hand out. He was surprised Marco’s grip was so firm. He expected and flimsy wrist. He was sure the man was smirking at him now.
“Did you come see the performance?” she asked.
“No. I didn’t know about it until today,” said Cole.
“I wish you could have come. It was the last one of the season …. Cole, I really am sorry about …. well … we need to go.”
Cole finally stood up. “Laney,” he said before she could leave and held out his arms. Laney took a step towards him and he pulled her into a hug. “I am proud of you. I just wanted you to know that.”
“Thank you. I thought of you when they named me as a principal dancer. I wanted to call, but I left things so awful … forgive me,” she said and started to pull away.
He held her and didn’t let her go. “I think he loves you…” he whispered.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yes. I am. Good luck Laney,” he said and finally released her.
They couple turned around and walked off, Marco now wrapped possessively around ‘Lane’.
“Wellll, that was interesting, or should I say très intéressant,” said Landon with a smirk.
Cole groaned. “You speak French?”
“My mom is French so I know a few words, mostly curse words though.” said Landon and laughed, “He didn’t use any, FYI.”
“God, I need another beer or ten,” said Cole relieved they were gone.
Landon laughed. “Dude. She’s cute as shit, but she’s a hot mess. You are better off with Yasmine.”
“No “ he said quickly, and wondered why. Maybe because he liked her too much to get involved. It would just lead to no good.
“Okay, be right back. Beers are on me. Maybe we can get you laid tonight. I’ll see if I can rustle up someone at the bar.”
Cole thought a one night stand might not be so bad after all. But not with Yasmine. It would mess up their friendship.
Landon came back alone, but with a couple of beers. “Here you go. Everyone at the bar was already attached. So here,” he said and slid one of the bottles towards Cole, “drink up. This’ll have to do for now.”
He drank his beer and watched the couples dancing. Then he saw another body he would know anywhere, dancing very suggestively with someone he didn’t know. “Well fuck. This night is getting better and better.”
“What?” asked Landon.
“Look over there.”
“Oh shit. Yasmine – and she has a date. I guess she got tired of waiting on you.”
“Well, she didn’t have lie to me about it,” said Cole feeling beat up, “Come on. I’m ready to get out of here.”
“She said she had plans. Obviously, she did. That wasn’t a lie. Let’s go before she sees us and it gets even more awkward. Next time, we should get some guys together and play poker. It would be a helluva lot more fun and a helluva lot less drama. Let’s go.”