Charles & Claire Ch. 14bySchuppinzigh©
Sarah stayed over and was talking to Annie, but was keeping a very close eye on Kalista the whole time. I went over to her and Annie.
"Excuse me, Sarah... may I speak to you privately?" I asked.
Mom looked over at me, and probably figured it out.
"Yes, Charles... you sound so serious. You're not asking for Claire's hand in marriage yet, are you?" she said with a curious smile.
I glanced over at Annie, who was also smiling.
I lowered my volume so only Sarah could hear me, "No, Sarah... this isn't even about Claire? I was hoping to spend a little more time, teaching Kalista some more dances this summer. What I'm asking of you... is to tell me when she may be ready, for me to implement this plan... and please, don't tell her about this, I want to surprise her each time, OK?"
"That's so very sweet of you, Charles. Your mother and I've been arguing about whether to tell you something about Kalista. Annie come over here for a minute?" she said, raising her voice.
"Yes, Sarah?" mom responded walking over to us.
"Annie, is it all right with you if I tell Charles about Kalista's condition?" Sarah replied.
I pestered, "Condition? What's wrong with her? You said she was just real tired, what's going on, please tell me?"
"Calm down, Charles, I'm trying to tell you," said Sarah.
"I've started my periods, Charles," Kalista said, walking into the discussion, and perhaps a little bit too loud, causing all the other ladies to either blush, snicker, or both.
Turning towards Sarah and Annie I asked, "I thought young girls don't get them until... they're older?"
Sarah responded, "It's rare, but not unheard of... it's called 'Precocious Puberty', aptly named for Kalista's sake."
"So that explains the phone call I got from Kalista last night?"
"Yes, Charles... I overheard her say those things to you. After you got off the phone, I explained how she needed to be very careful and not to blurt out, 'I love you, Charles' at a totally inappropriate time," Sarah said, rather matter-of-factly.
Claire decided to join the conversation, and offered, "Is there ever an appropriate time for a eight-year-old girl to say 'I love you' to a boy, her cousin is dating?"
"I'm sorry, Claire," Kalista said. "I'll do my very best to keep my hands off your fella."
That blew the lid right off the uncomfortable nature of the dialogue that had been going on, and everybody laughed and tittered, with Annie snorting a bit, trying to hold it in, but that... just made it worse.
I said, "Kalista, have a seat. Claire and I'd like you to see a dance that you've seen, but I'm certain you were too tired to enjoy. Mom would you start the Leann Rimes number?"
Claire gave me the kiss, and we danced it again, just for Kalista. I even threw in an extra spin that Claire handled perfectly in tempo. I'm so glad that this little girl is in my life. Whether she's my soul mate, my dance partner, my wife, or the little sister that I had wanted my whole life... Kalista is a beautiful spirit to be reckoned with.
I knew that I was crying while I was dancing, so was Claire, but it was a much more satisfying performance than the previous time that we'd performed it.
When it was over, Kalista came and jumped up in my arms, and started her maniacal kissing all over my face. However, she stopped to add a kiss to my lips, which almost caused me to drop her. She'd put her hands on either side of my face and pulled herself up tight next to me, and locked her lips onto mine.
It took both Annie and Sarah, to get her off of me, and when they did, the smile on Kalista's face told us everything.
This little girl is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Sarah took me aside and apologized for Kalista's actions. I told her that it was... no big deal, which made Sarah walk away a little less frazzled.
Claire, on the other hand, sat down next to me, and had a look on her face that told me she was more then a little upset.
Now, I've two girls, both wanting my time, and my lips as well, apparently. I turned to Claire.
"Claire, honey - Are you OK? I'm worried about you, you know? Please understand that Kalista doesn't have the control over her rush of hormones, like you do."
"Charles, I love you, and I don't know how I feel about 'Special K' telling you, that she loves you."
"Sugar-Lips, I consider her my sister, but you're my girl," I said to calm her down.
"Sugar-Lips, I like that. That's what your Mom called me once. We were Honey and Sugar-Lips."
"So you like it? It's been pre-approved, so to speak, by Annie."
"My Mom should get a kick out of it. I heard Daddy call her Sweet-Lips a couple of times," Claire explained.
"Maybe I should kiss your Mom and find out?"
I knew the punch was coming before I'd even finished the sentence... "Oww!" She may be a prim and proper young lady, but she hits pretty hard. That might leave a mark.
There was a rush of people over to where we were sitting... when asked what happened, Claire demurely replied, "Nothing, Charles and I were discussing our favorite music and we disagreed, and I hit him; just a love tap. You're all right, aren't you, Honey?"
I just shook my head and said, "I'm just fine, Sugar-Lips."
Mom and Sarah chuckled at my remark and my new moniker for Claire. Sarah left to go back into the kitchen. Annie followed her.
Kalista giggled and said, "Charles, could you give me a nickname, too?"
"You're already my Special K, Kalista. Nobody else calls you that but me, right?"
With a slight hesitation in her voice, Kalista said, "Well, No... nobody else calls me that."
"I want to start a new dance, a new routine, how about a Rumba, Sugar-Lips?"
She responded, "I'm getting to like that nickname more and more, Honey-Buns?"
The woman who gave birth to the shrieker, entered the room from the kitchen quickly, and got right in the face of Claire, saying, "What did you just call Charles?"
With a defiant look on her face, and her hands on her hips, Claire stood up to her mother and said, "If he can call me Sugar-Lips, than I've a legitimate right to call him Honey-Buns. What do you think about that Kalista?"
"He does have a nice butt, doesn't he Claire?"
Claire started laughing, Sarah was unsure of what to do, I heard a snort come from the kitchen, and I just stood there... soaking it all in, waiting for the blow.
Claire couldn't stop laughing, Sarah walked back into the kitchen in a huff, Mom sounded like a pig now she was snorting so hard, and Kalista didn't have a clue to the reason why everyone was so beside themselves!
"Well... he does!" Kalista expounded.
I went back to looking for a Rumba piece of music; 'Let's Stay Together' is a good piece of music, but I wanted something a little... sexier. I had the beat count in my head while I was going through the music, and there it was... from Pocahontas, 'Colors of the Wind' although I wanted a certain speed, not too slow, so I looked on the computer to see who covered it.
It's rather amazing how many people are out there, and all they do is cover somebody else's hit songs... almost three hundred covers, oh my god!
Claire was getting impatient, but I told her the best songs take time to find, so she relaxed a bit and after a while, "Bingo, I found it."
Claire came up behind me and said, "What, Charles... what did you find?"
"Listen Claire... isn't that beautiful, we can hesitate-step at the start and then start a slow rumba, but no hold until we have to. It'll be a different kind of dance for us, a story driven number. We can only, not use a traditional hold for only twenty seconds, so we'll minimalize our holds, alternating a no hold with a face hold."
"A face hold, Charles? What's that?" my lovely dancing companion asked.
"Stand up Claire, let's start a slow rumba, OK, now a traditional hold, now drop that completely, and I'll hold you by your face, that'll be our only physical connection. We'll go back to a traditional hold, than another face hold, this time you'll be holding my face. Back to a traditional hold, then a no hold; we don't touch each other at all. We have to time it just right or we'd be disqualified. Let's try it again. The beginning we'll add later, let's start with a no hold, traditional, face hold me, traditional, face hold you, traditional for a double count, no hold, traditional, both face, traditional to end."
We heard women crying in the doorway, "How did that feel to you, Claire?" She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me so tight. "Where do you think up these steps and holds, and find this incredible music, Charles?" She was sobbing in my arms.
"You... you inspire me to try to be better than I was before. Anybody can dance using the rules, but I want to dance, on and just over the edge of the rules, and that's what we're doing here. We have to practice, until our counts are perfect, not just good enough, but perfect."
"I'll practice with you forever, Charles," Claire said along with a great big smile.
I saw my Mom usher the other ladies out so Claire and I... could express ourselves. Using the face holds we danced with, we drew into each other's lips and kissed, the music had restarted and we were kissing and dancing together. That's kind of fun.
We needed to go downstairs and take a break.
Claire asked, "Honey-Buns. Let's dance to something?"
"Sugar-Lips, what did you have in mind? Just a second, Claire - Sarah... Claire tells me that Mr. McArthur has a nick..."
"Charles, let's dance. I've always wanted to learn a routine to that song from the Muppet Movie... what was it, 'The Rainbow Connection?' Yeah Charles... I don't know if we'd ever use it or not, but it is a really pretty Slow Waltz."
"OK, Claire... Special K, it should be by the player."
And we went through, and created a real simple, but tender, Slow Waltz routine, to Kermit the Frog singing 'The Rainbow Connection'. Something tells me it's going to come in handy, sometime in the future.
We practiced it; tinkered with it, until it was worthy of using in a Competition. Something Kermit said, made me think that Claire and I are 'lovers and dreamers'. I remember looking for a cover for this a long time ago, but there just wasn't one nearly as well produced as good old Kermit.
Maybe this could become a 'second choice' for when we go to Competitions. We're bound to encounter somebody else using our music eventually.
Sarah left, leaving Kalista with us, since K had remembered to bring her 'go-bag' with her. Sarah had quietly told me, at the door, to wait a day before asking Kalista to dance. I promised her I would.
"Claire, what song and dance, that we have a routine for, would you like to perform at this next Competition?"
"Charles... you know I don't like the pressure of making that choice; any way... I really like that song you played by Michael Bublé ... what was it?"
"'You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You', Claire... it could be either a Tango or Foxtrot, but we haven't prepared a routine for it?"
"You asked me what song I wanted, and that's my choice. We can put together a routine quickly - we have in the past?"
"OK, let's do it. K would you please go to the CD player and help us, as we learn a new Tango? Claire we haven't danced a Tango it quite a while, is it OK, if we go back over all the steps, in progression?"
"Sorry, Charles?" She put a real serious look on her face, but giggled anyway.
"It's OK, all right, the Basic Walks... remember two important things about the Tango; we don't slide our feet, we pick them up and step... and there is NO Rise and fall in the Tango."
"Thank you, Charles... I never knew that before? Kalista, did you know that there is NO Rise and fall in the Tango?"
"Claire, I didn't know that there was NO Rise and fall in the Tango?" Kalista giggled.
"OK, girls... have you got that out of your system now," I said?
Mom just walked in from the kitchen, "Charles, Is there Rise and fall in the Tango, I don't remember real well?"
"OK you guys, what's going on? I'm just trying to teach something here, and repetition is important. You must be trying to tell me that you think my style of teaching isn't as good as somebody else's could be. Fine! Annie - why don't you and Claire find a professional dance teacher for us? I'm beginning to not feel very appreciated around here."
I left and went up to my room and locked the door. I was pissed, none of them ever taught a single step, or picked out a song, or... decided what dance to perform... or - what the hell? What am I talking about? I've been doing this for over a year now. I've become one of those bossy, impatient jerks. I've got to go back down there and make peace with all of these ladies.
I opened my door to a chorus of, "We're sorry Charles," from all three of them.
"Not nearly as sorry as I am, Claire, K and Annie?"
"Give me a minute," Claire said to K and Annie, as she walked into my room. "We were just having a little fun at your expense, Charles... can you forgive us, Please?"
"Sure," I said, as Claire wrapped her arms around me and gave me a kiss. "You know how much I love you, don't you?"
"Yeah, come on... let's go dance some Tango."
After getting back to dancing, we had a solid routine for 'You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You'. That along with the 'Rainbow Connection' and 'Bad Romance' gave us two strong performable routines, and an encore piece, if needed.
"Annie, Claire... Kalista, I want to have three routines always ready for Competitions, along with our encore piece. We've been a little lucky so far about getting the music we wanted. They've all had a year of learning what we like to do, so I wouldn't be surprised if we don't get our last position much anymore, so we need to be ready for changing tack at a moments notice."
"Claire, let's start to polish up the 'Colors of the Wind' routine. We need to do something at the very beginning, before the melody starts, and I've an idea for some additional holds."
"That's My Charles," Claire said.
"That's My Charles, too," Kalista agreed.
"And that's My Charles... First," Annie said, which caused all of us to laugh out loud.
We got to work on 'Colors of the Wind', adding some Rumba elements to the beginning, and we worked, and timed out, our holds. I changed our face holds from using both hands, to using only one hand, and alternating as the song goes on.
This version, a little quicker than the Disney movie version, is spot on Rumba, so we're loading up the arsenal and adding steps we didn't take the time to learn before.
Annie pointed out, quite perceptively, that my steps should start from my hip, and not my upper leg, giving me a more polished professional look to my legwork. Kalista giggled at this realization and said, "Come on, Charles, give us some more hip action."
We arrived at the first Cotillion of the year; Annie, Kalista, Claire and I. Most of the kids we knew from last year came back, and we all greeted each other like it was camp.
Claire and I walked up to Jimmy and shook his hand. He looked right at me, and said, "I see a new fire in your eyes, Charles, having a pretty girl on your arm, and winning a National Dance Award can give you wings, can't it?"
"Yes, sir... She gives me wings all by herself."
"So," Jimmy said, "What have you been cooking up? I know you've been practicing; there's a Competition in two days. For those of us who won't be able to make it, why don't you do it for us tonight?"
I turned to Claire, "Colors of the Wind?"
"Exactly what I was thinking, Loverboy."
Annie got the music to Jimmy, who looked at the title and smiled, "Everyone - performing to The West End Singers and Players, singing 'Colors of the Wind', from Pocahontas, are Charles & Claire... doing a Rumba for us tonight."
We walked out to applause, Claire gave me a kiss, and Jimmy started the music.
We'd added some fancy footwork and a severe hesitation step, to time up with the opening sound effects and drum beat, than snapped to close as the melody started, and we danced with a confidence we never had before, our first no hold, drew gasps from everyone, and as we went forward, we drew from the crowds' emotions and were openly crying during most of the second half of this dance.
As I touched her face during the last face hold of the dance, I caught a tear, and we went to closed hold to finish the dance. We slowed down to match the slowing tempo, and the crowd started to spontaneously applaud, before the song was even over. We stayed in character, finished the number, and then bowed to our throng.
Jimmy came up to us and said, "I didn't think you could get much better than you were last year, but I should've know better than to underestimate you two. Stunning, kids... is that your dance for the upcoming Competition?"
"Actually, Jimmy," Claire said, "That's probably our back-up dance?"
"You're kidding... tell me you're kidding, by all means, show us your first choice dance, please?" Jimmy pleaded.
He jumped up to his microphone and said, "Kids, everybody... I was just told that that was their second choice dance for this week's Competition. Don't we want to see their first choice?"
Everybody yelled, "Hell yes," as I motioned Mom to give them the tango music.
Again, Jimmy looked at the CD, reading the rhythm and the title, and did a double take, and walked up to his microphone again, "All right gang... settle down now, Charles just handed me a piece of music, that I'd hoped he'd choreograph to, knowing he and Claire as well as I do. Performing a Tango to Michael Bublé 's version of 'You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You' ... I give you, Charles & Claire."
I got my kiss, and we were off, Claire was smiling and looking deep into my eyes as we did our routine, spinning in place between verses, as we tucked in close to each other and started our staccato steps, preparing for the second verse.
We were proud of each other, and of our dance. We got ready for the end, some one-handed double spins, and finished together in closed position, and I kissed her during the end steps. Oops, there'd be repercussions; I was sure.
The crowd didn't spontaneously applaud, but there were both boys and girls crying, loudly... and the applause came and grew to a crescendo, before we left the dance floor, and went to the refreshments area. Annie and Kalista were there waiting for us, both of them rubbing their eyes.
"Mom, before you say anything, I'm sorry for the kiss in front of everyone. The music and the girl just moved me so much."
"Oh, everybody here knows how you two feel about each other, Charles & Claire. Don't worry about it," Annie replied.
Kalista came up to me and said, "I really, really want to learn that routine with you Charles."
The morning of the Competition, we were scrambling around a bit more than usual. We had a drive of about ninety minutes to where the Competition was and, as usual, Annie was in charge of getting us going.
"We got everything we need, Annie?"
"'You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You', two copies; 'Colors of the Wind', two copies; 'Bad Romance', two copies; 'Rainbow Connection', one copy; Charles didn't you make a second copy of it?"
"Mom, it's our third-string dance music, we're OK. There isn't time to make another copy now."
"Let's go gang... bus is leaving, it's just us four this week," Annie yelled.
We had a nice and easy drive to our Competition, getting there and signing in.
"Do we have a choice on position?" I asked the NDCA registrar, an older woman, who I don't remember encountering before.
"You are the last to check-in, you'll be the last to perform. What music are you performing to today?" The woman asked curtly.