Charles & Claire Ch. 18bySchuppinzigh©
I immediately broke down sobbing into my hands; Kalista came over to me and gave me a big hug asking, "What's wrong Charles? Why are you crying? Annie… Claire, Why is Charles crying?" Her eyes were moistening, ready to be released.
"Princess, there's a secret Annie and I've been keeping, and it's making me crazy. Everybody please, sit down on my bed for a moment; Mom, please?" Everyone sat down, awaiting my next words.
"Remember the night Annie made the reservations for all of us at The Palace Restaurant?" They all shook their heads, yes.
"Annie found out, that that same night, there was going to be a famous person performing… singing, with the Palace orchestra; A very famous person."
Claire made a sound, "Ooooooh," but covered her mouth quickly.
I went on, "Claire just figured it out, Annie already knew, and I suspect Sarah already knows. That leaves Kalista and the other guests, out of the loop."
"Yes, Charles," Annie said, putting her hand on mine, rubbing it, "Sarah knows."
Kalista's eyes were still brimming with tears, as I said, "I - I didn't want you to be nervous about it, so I kept it from my girls… and I've never kept anything from my girls."
I rubbed the tears from my eyes using the palm of my hands, and reached over and picked up my IPod, turned the volume all the way up, and started 'At This Moment'.
"This man, Princess… his name is Michael Bublé, and he's going to be performing live, with the orchestra at The Palace Restaurant. I want to be able to dance with all of my girls that night, but especially with you, because I love you so very much. Will you be able to dance to a person singing live? I'm sure Annie could pick us out a different night if you can't."
She put out her hand, and I realized she wanted me to hold it, as she said, "Charles, when I dance with you, I'm not listening to much of anything, other than the beat of the song, and nothing else matters except that I'm in your arms." We cried as we held each other. Claire went over to Annie and they hugged.
"Annie," I asked, "Are we all right, about that other thing?"
Rubbing her eyes, Annie spoke and said, "Slick Charles escapes again - Film at Eleven."
"Girls, don't we have the very best manager/Mom in the whole entire world?" I offered.
They all said 'Yeah', as we all scattered to change into something to practice in, while I downloaded a bunch of Michael Bublé songs and burned it on a CD. While I burned the it, I took a quick shower and changed 'into something more comfortable'.
I grabbed the CD and went downstairs, where they all were waiting for me. I noticed that Claire and Kalista had on their lifts, while Annie didn't.
"Ladies, here's my plan:"
"Claire and I've three of his songs 'routined' already, 'Your Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You', 'At This Moment' and 'Sway'. Kallie and I've started, but not yet finished, a routine to 'Everything'. Let me listen to each of these songs for just a moment, and we'll divvy them up."
"Don't forget Sarah, Charles?" Claire said.
"I won't, dear. Would you call her up and find out if she can come over and practice. I'm really stoked about this now; dancing with four beautiful different women in the same night will be grand. Oh, Annie what's scheduled the day after the 'Date?'"
"Absotively Nothing, Charles," she said.
"And the day after that," I asked back.
"Also, abso-fricking-nothing, Charles," she responded, this time with a snicker.
"Good, we can stay late and dance all night. OK, ladies, gather around, here is the list of who gets what song, all right?"
A series of 'yup's' were heard. Good enough for me.
'Annie – Samba – Crazy Love'
'Annie – Tango – Haven't Met You Yet'
'Claire – Tango – You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You'
'Claire – Waltz – At This Moment'
'Princess – Foxtrot – Everything'
'Princess – Jive – All of Me'
"Sarah's on her way, Honey-Buns," Claire interjected.
"OK, Sugar-Bear," I responded.
'Sarah – Tango – All I Do is Dream of You'
'Sarah – Foxtrot – Whatever it Takes'
'Claire – Quickstep – Heartache Tonight'
'Claire – Samba – Sway'
'Princess – Rumba – Cry Me a River'
'Princess – Samba – Hold On'
"Whew - OK guys - We all have a bunch of songs to dance to. He may or may not include all of these in his set list, and they may sound different at the Palace because, it's a different orchestra, but as a good Boy Scout would tell…"
"That's Eagle Scout, Charles," Claire said, with a satisfying smile on her face.
"That's right, Sugar-Bear… an Eagle Scout with two Palms; can I put my palms around you?"
"Anytime, at all," Claire said, as she walked up to me and kissed me. I held her, while Kalista and Annie grabbed each other's hand as we all left the room to go downstairs.
We had a quick breakfast while we waited for Sarah, to get her up to speed on the dances. I talked with Mom, and she agreed to say nothing about Claire and my 'sleepover' last night.
There was a knock on the door, I got it and welcomed in Sarah. I went over the plan of all the dances.
I asked, "There's a Competition in three days, right Annie?"
"Actually, it's the day after tomorrow, Charles," Annie corrected.
"How far away is it?"
"Ninety minutes each way."
"OK," I said laughing a bit. "Today we Bublé practice, tomorrow we Competition practice, the following day is the Competition. The day after that is Bublé practice for at least three consecutive days."
"Annie, as our manager, aren't you allowed to put out Press Releases, regarding where we may be performing?" I asked.
"Annie," Sarah interjected. "I used to write those things for a living… made good money. Can I help, after I practice dancing with your son?" She had a wicked smile on her face.
"Please, Sarah – thanks a bunch." Annie gave her a hug.
"Sarah, Foxtrot; Princess, cut eleven. 'All I Do is Dream of You'. Stay by the player please?"
We went over the steps from the other night, after re-engineering them a little. I asked Sarah, "Want to learn a showy step, Beautiful?"
"You make dancing so easy to learn Charles, sure," Sarah answered.
I showed her the Closed Impetus and Feather Finish, which she did perfectly the third time we attempted it.
I organized in my head the order of steps, nodded at Kallie to start the music again. Just before she started it, Sarah leaned forward and gave me a modest kiss on the lips. "Isn't that part of every routine in the Charles & Claire Dance Company?" She smiled, and we both blushed a bit.
We danced and I talked her through each transition. After a bit, Sarah was dancing with energy, not unlike Claire. She and I were talking, and the dancing took care of itself. Wow, what a great lady - A babe by any definition!
I'd put Annie on a hard, one-hour clock for each of them. Sarah's hour was up. She left me with a kiss on the cheek.
"Ten minute break," yelled Annie. "Kalista you're up in ten minutes, honey. Be ready."
After I came down from the bathroom, Claire practically accosted me. "Charles, I'm officially jealous of my own mother. Gosh, she was practically glowing while the two of you were dancing. Now, you behave with her… Daddy might get jealous." That precious, wonderful giggle of hers is so darn cute.
"Princess Kalista McArthur; Foxtrot – 'Everything'. Claire, please; cut seven. Stay by the player please?"
I leaned over Kalista and quietly mentioned, "Sarah sure can dance, but I think you're a better dancer, let's show them, OK?"
K and I went over all the Foxtrot steps I'd taught her previously, plus I added The Change of Direction, a figure that consists of three steps danced over six beats. K picked it up very nicely, so we now had enough steps to continue.
I nodded to Claire, and we danced to this really beautiful song for this fascinating young lady. She added some 'extra' hip swivels, but I expected no less. In less than thirty minutes, we had a solid routine.
"How much time do we left in our hour, Annie?"
"Twenty-five minutes, Charles."
"Princess, Samba – Cut ten; Claire, be ready?"
"K, this'll be a Samba in what is called 'cut time', or two-two time – instead of a leg move every beat, you'll move a leg every two beats, so you need to count in two's, but only move on the two. Can you do that, Princess?"
"Have you ever done this before, Charles?" K asked sounding nervous.
"No, dear, but there's always a first time. I read about it on a dance tempo web site."
Leaning into her I said, "I think you can do this better than Claire could, but you know I can't tell Claire that, and you can't either, ever – you promise me? Pinkie Swear?"
She put out her Pinkie, attaching hers to mine, I heard her say, "Pinkie Swear, Charles."
I looked over, and saw a delicious smile on Claire's face, as K started to try the cut time tempo. She was hesitating. "Look at me, Princess? This song is called 'Hold On', so you can hold on to me, and I know you can do this. Try it again… yeah, oh princess, I knew you could do it."
To a casual observer, what we were doing looked like a dance in slow motion, but it wasn't really. Princess was gaining some confidence and was using those legs and those hips, while I was doing my best to keep up with her.
When the song was over, we finished together in a very flashy move, where she was bent over backwards and I was holding her by her hips. Her arms and hands looked perfect.
I pulled her up and kissed her with slightly parted lips, and she returned the kiss in kind.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room, counting mine. I grabbed her and swung her around, causing her to giggle.
"TIMES UP – BREAK TEN MINUTES – Claire's up next. CHARLES, how come I'm last?" Annie bellowed.
"Haven't you ever heard of the expression, 'Saving the best for last?'"
"Nice Save," Sarah said, coming up behind me, slapping me on the shoulder.
"Mom, how'd you like to learn a Jive number, when it's your turn?"
"Sure, Loverboy… what have you decided to add to your already crowded dance card?"
"How about my last dance of the evening? With my gal, my Momma… to 'Save the Last Dance for Me', if he performs it."
"Oh, Charles – I'm not sure if I'm Third or Fourth, after seeing you dance with Sarah, but I'm so proud of my little boy… No, my young adult, learning to dance and learning to love," Annie said.
"Sarah," I asked, "Why don't you rough up a Press Release, mentioning that Charles & Claire, along with a new protégé, and their entourage, will be at the Palace Restaurant on the date, blah blah blah."
"Excellent idea, Mr. Newman. I can have something together, in about an hour. Annie can I use your computer?" Sarah rejoined in a very business tone of voice.
"Certainly Sarah, who'll you send this to, exactly?" Annie asked.
"Media Outlets - like newspapers, radio stations, local TV affiliates. We could get a TV station or two to be there for the arrival of Charles and his 'Girls'. Kalista honey - would you mind if we advertised this as a Charles & Claire event? When he gets up on the dance floor with you, everyone will want to know who the 'new girl' is?" Sarah said with a flourish.
Kalista stood up and said, "I don't mind at all, but I get first dance with Charles, no matter what, OK?" Kalista was standing up for herself. It made me very proud of her. I looked over at Claire who was also looking very proud of her 'sister'. I saw Annie and Sarah give each other a look as well.
"OK, Competition change of plan. 'A' is 'At This Moment - 'B' will be 'Sway' - 'C' is going to be 'What A Wonderful World'. Encore is 'Six-Pack.'"
There was an audible gasp, but they all liked the choices.
"Charles, your hour with Claire starts now," Annie voiced.
"I only need a moment to tell Claire how much I love her… then I'll have fifty-nine minutes left to show her how much, by dancing with her," I said.
Claire walked up to me and gave me a kiss, our first open mouth kiss in front of Sarah. I think Claire wanted to go until one of the mother's said something, but I separated us saying, "Save the emotion for the dance, Mi Amour."(My Love.)
"Claire, Waltz – Cut three, Kallie - please?"
We went over our 'At This Moment' routine, fixing a few things. After a couple times through, we moved on to the 'Sway' routine. Being a Samba, it'd show off my girlfriends' legs and hips. We must've had it right, because Sarah was talking to Annie all the way through it.
When we were done with it, I looked over at them, waiting for one of them to say something; and waited for a good minute.
I turned back to Claire and started our Quickstep routine to 'Heartache Tonight'.
"Cut four Kallie, please? I'll nod when ready."
We had quite a few Quickstep steps learned, so it was a case of picking through them for what I wanted. After about thirty minutes at it, I turned to Annie and asked, "How much time left?"
"Ten minutes, Charles… then I get you." She raised an eyebrow.
"It's been a while since we practiced the 'Six-Pack', Sugar-bear. Mom, could you get Kallie the 'Bad Romance' number?"
I saw Mom digging through her purse, and a moment of joy came across her face as she pulled out her collection of 'Charles & Claire' music, which has been steadily growing over the past fourteen months. She was feverishly flipping through the CDs, and grabbed one, giving it to Kalista.
"I've got to reorganize this music somehow?" she said. Sarah came up to her and they started discussing something.
"OK, Charles, whenever you're ready," Kalista said.
"Claire, you remember this, its been a while?" I said.
"Come on Honey-Buns, we're burning daylight," she responded with a giggle.
I nodded to K, and it started.
We took off with the Waltz portion, and away we went. Not having quite enough room, we did the best we could, but it went well and we finished it.
Suddenly, I felt a pinch in my back. I stopped dancing and fell to my knees. Claire shrieked, which got everyone's attention.
Annie got to her knees, holding my shoulder and asked, "Where does it hurt, Charles?"
"My back, my shoulder, my back just below my shoulder. I … need someone to rub my back, it feels like a muscle was just plucked, like a guitar string," I said grimacing a little.
"Can you walk, Charles?" Annie asked.
"Yeah, but help me up, please?" I asked feeling the strain of raising my head up.
Sarah and Annie got me to my feet and helped me over to the sofa.
"Get some pillows, girls – lots of pillows," Sarah requested.
Claire and Kalista came back with four pillows.
"Put them on the sofa in two stacks," Sarah said. "Take off his shirt, Annie." She did.
Sarah said, "Lay on your stomach on the pillows, Charles. Annie do you have any Menthol Rub around?"
"Yes, I do – I'll get it," Annie said, running off.
"Thank you, Sarah," I said, through gritted teeth.
"It's not a big deal Charles, my husband has muscle cramps from time to time, late at night. I keep Menthol Rub by our bed, just for that. You're going to be all right," she said with a wonderfully soothing voice.
Suddenly, a very cool wet-like substance was exactly over where it hurt. Sarah was rubbing in the menthol, and giving me something of an upper back massage at the same time. Oh, it started to feel really good. I started moaning a little, which caused Claire and Kalista to giggle. Sarah was really making my back feel much better.
I moved a pillow out of my mouth and said, "I could use a massage like this once a week. Sarah, what would you charge me for giving me a neck and back rub once a week?"
"Does your neck hurt as well, Charles?" Sarah asked chuckling at my request.
"A little bit on the right side… Oohh, right there – thanks beautiful."
"Sure, and Charles… you couldn't afford me?" Sarah tittered looking directly into my eyes, "Maybe dance lessons, though?"
"Mom, show me how?" Claire asked. "Then I can give Charles a rubdown whenever he wants one?"
I saw a look between Annie and Sarah, just before Sarah said, "Honey, as much as Charles would… probably enjoy that, I think he's going to be all right, but I also think you both had better save yourselves for your Competition rehearsal tomorrow."
Kalista suggested, "Wouldn't getting him back into the spa, putting one of those… jet thingies against his back, help?"
"It probably would, but I think he should just lay down for a while and relax. Can you get up, Charles?" Sarah asked.
"Thank you so very much Sarah, it's good to know that you're not just a pretty face, but you're smart and you got 'great hands,'" I said.
Claire gave me a slap on the leg saying, "That's not something a girlfriend should hear her boyfriend say to her mother."
Everybody laughed at that, as Claire walked me up to my room, opening the door and helping me lay down on my bed. She crawled around to the other side, and lay down, holding my hand.
I must've been more tired than I'd realized, after all of that dancing. I heard muffled sounding voices arguing, but I couldn't make them out. I turned to my right side and saw Annie and Sarah in the doorway, hearing Annie whisper, "See Sarah, it's perfectly safe. Claire's on the other side of the bed."
I rolled over to my left side and put my hand on Claire's, and fell asleep.
I woke up, feeling a weight on my back. And soft hands were rubbing me, although not as strong as Sarah's. They were doing the job of making my back feel better. I moaned contentment, and I heard a giggle.
"Press harder, Claire… Charles needs to be better, so you guys can practice," I heard Kalista saying.
"I'm trying Kalista, I'm just not as strong as Mom is?" Claire's voice responded. I turned my head to the left, and saw Sarah and Annie in the doorway.
"Get off Charles back, Claire," Sarah said, holding back a grin.
"I told her to do that, Annie. She couldn't get enough pressure without crawling up on his back," Kalista explained.
"It's OK, Kalista. Claire, you could've hurt Charles, lying on top of him like that. Charles are you all right, dear?" Annie responded.
"Yeah Mom, don't get too mad at the girls. They were just trying to make me feel better," I said.
"Do you feel better, Charles?" Annie asked.
"Yeah, could everybody leave, so I can take a hot shower please? That would really help me right now," I said.
"I could wash your back for you Charles," Claire said.
Sarah and Annie were both nonplussed that Claire said this by the looks on their faces.
"Uh, Claire… I'll be fine, but thanks anyway. Please everybody leave," I requested, with a nervous laugh.
They did, and I carefully walked into the bathroom and started myself a shower. The hot water felt so good. I just let it run on my neck and back for as long as possible. It felt so good. I put on some fresh clothes, went downstairs and said, "Claire, we need to practice each of our routines, at least twice. Sarah and Annie, please critique us as we go."
We went through all three comp routines and Six-Pack, and considered ourselves ready for the Competition tomorrow… My shoulder had no lasting pain or tightness, although I noticed Sarah was keeping a closer eye on Claire and me, than she had been before.
"Sarah, could I please talk to you in private please?" I asked.
We walked to another part of the house and sat down.
"Sarah, you know exactly how I feel about Claire, don't you?"
"Charles, tell me more about your feelings please, I need to understand them better," she responded.
My tears came faster than my words did, "I love her, with every bit of my heart, I love your daughter. I'm aware of what you may think of me; you likely don't trust me around your little girl. You may even think I'm a cad of some kind; but I plan to stay chaste and of high moral fiber around both of your young ladies. I respect them as I respect you. You are all so wonderful and beautiful, and pretty good dancers, too."