Charles & Claire Ch. 19bySchuppinzigh©
By Richard King
(The Italicized portions of this BOOK, bordered by the #sign, occur approximately Twenty Years in the future.)
This is the Second book of a Pentalogy; Five books with a continuing theme surrounding Charles & Claire.
“Oh, Charles sweetie, you and your back problems always remind me of this portion of the story – teaching me and my husband to dance was an interesting moment in our personal dynamic.”
“Sarah, everything I said to you back then, still applies today, including how much I care about you, along with Mom, Claire, Kalista as well as my two children, Rose and Michael. These memories, that include you, and our times together will always be a celebrated part of my life - now hush, or I won’t continue.”
“Sorry, Loverboy,” Sarah said giving me a peck on the cheek.
The next Cotillion was a blast. Kalista and I’d performed ‘Hate on Me’ for everyone there, which made Jimmy proud, and Sarah even had a twinkle in her eye, as we hugged when it was over.
Next on the agenda were final preparations for Kalista and my ‘date.’ We shortened rehearsals down to twenty-five minutes long, with five-minute breaks for any and all purposes. After all four ladies had a go - we took an extended break, with Claire and Sarah alternating giving my back a good rub, to keep me from tightening up.
Sarah was actually trying to explain to Claire, how the muscles, nerves and bones were all connected, so Claire could do more than just rub my back in the future.
Yeah, way more!
Everybody seemed satisfied that they were getting enough practice time with me. After lunch, I got up and asked Sarah if she knew how to Waltz. We hadn’t specifically practiced that dance together. She said she knew a little from watching Claire and me, and remembered a few steps from dancing with her husband.
Claire picked up my phone to see what I have downloaded recently, and she looked over to me, and nodded her OK. I saw her eyes glistening.
“OK, Sarah - Let’s cover some Waltz steps for the next time I give you and Mr. McArthur a lesson, all right?”
“Sure, Honey-Buns,” she said with a smile.
Ignoring that, we covered the Closed Changes, Natural and Reverse Turn, and the Whisk, keeping it simple. Sarah was easily as quick a study as Claire - but not quite as quick as Kalista.
“You want to try this to music, my dear?” I said to Sarah.
“Certainly, Charles. What music are we dancing to?” she replied.
“Something I downloaded recently, remember Jerry Vale?”
“Yes, I do. What a beautiful tenor voice he has… what song?”
I nodded to Claire, who’d hooked my phone into the sound system and started ‘Sunrise Sunset,’ by Jerry Vale.
“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older, when - did - they?”
Sarah put her head on my shoulder as we danced, very close together.
“When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday, when they - were - small?”
She looked up at me, and mouthed ‘thank you.’ I heard her quietly singing along.
“Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset…
Swiftly flow the days.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.”
We heard my mother sing along.
“Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years…”
I finished, giving Sarah a turnout and in, which we’d done before, and the song was finished. I heard sobs all around me, including Kalista.
Sarah looked into my eyes and gave me a soft kiss, and we hugged each other as well. She said, “Maybe we can get the Palace Orchestra to play that for us, when we get there the day after tomorrow?”
“That’s a great idea,” Annie said, coming over and hugging Sarah.
Claire took the opportunity to give me a clinch and a kiss, although her kiss had a different kind of effect on me.
She said quietly, “That was really nice of you to dance that song with her. She’s always loved that song, no matter who sang it. When she found out it was our first dance in Competition, she cried, just like now. You’re really the best boyfriend in the whole world, you know?”
After the break, which included homemade cookies made by Sarah and Kalista, which were wonderful; Sarah, Claire and Kalista had to leave to replenish their ‘go-bags’ so it was just Annie and me for an hour or so. I was a little tired, so I sat down and kicked off my shoes.
Mom came out of the kitchen and sat by me, telling me to take off my socks, so she can give me a foot rub. She’d done this before a number of times for me. She told me Dad used to really like them, and then she broke down, sobbing.
“Mom, don’t cry… he left you, but you’re a much stronger person today compared to back then. I remember the day he called you, while we were at the Rising Star Competition. That tells you what a mealy-mouthed miscreant he was. When you channeled that initial rage and told off those WEDCO gentlemen, I was as proud of you as I’d… ever been in my life.”
“Honey, thank you… I’m sorry for being angry before, I just felt a little wounded, you telling Sarah about your future proposal to Claire, before telling me.”
“Mom, I was worried for Sarah. She’s always checking to see where Kalista is, and how much affection Claire, and I are expressing to one another; I just felt the necessity to explain how deep my love is for all of you ladies, specifically Claire and Kalista.”
“And where does Kalista fall into these plans of yours, Charles?” she asked, rubbing the bottom of my feet.
“Ooh, that feels so nice - You know Mom; I’m uncertain about that. Thinking ahead a little, if that’s all right with you, maybe ten years ahead. I see Claire and I married, possibly with a child or two. Relax mom, I haven’t said anything about any of this scenario to anybody else.”
“I don’t know where we’re living. That would depend on what University, we attend? Maybe we don’t even go on to college; we could become Professional Dancers at eighteen, or twenty, and start dancing all around the world, winning trophy after trophy, getting you your fifteen percent to spend on yourself.”
That made Mom chuckle a little. Her face went ashen when I mentioned children; again when I talked about ‘not’ going to college.
“Mom, remember this is all speculation; no plans are made, outside of my proposal on graduation day, OK? Do you have any ideas along the lines of ‘what about Kalista?’ I feel that leaving town to go to college is tantamount to abandoning her. You know how much and why I care for her; any ideas would be helpful?”
Putting down my feet, having finished her massage, she said, “Well, she’ll be in your wedding party, as Claire’s Maid of Honor. She’ll be fourteen then, so maybe she’ll have found a boy of her own,” she snickered. “If she’s over her crush on you; if not she’ll probably be crying all through your wedding ceremony, and sobbing in my or Sarah’s arms, saying that she has nothing to live for.”
“Mom, What you think is funny, ISN’T!” She looked at me with a knowing smile.
“K is so special to me – I just don’t know what to do about her? Let’s run another scenario. Something, I don’t even want to think about, happens to Claire. So, ten years from now, I’m twenty-four, Kalista’s eighteen. We can dance together now in Competitions; we could get married, have children - I don’t know.”
“The hardest part of this scenario, is that, for it to happen, something horrible would have to happen to Claire. Oh, Mom… if something happened to Claire, my whole world would be shattered. I’m sorry if I’m sounding melodramatic, but sometimes I think of these things, and I just can't sleep.” I was quietly sobbing.
“Charles, come on and sit on the floor in front of me. Face the TV and take off your shirt. I’m going to give you a deep tissue massage, like I used to give your father. My goodness, Charles – all of your dancing certainly has made you quite buff,” I blushed, although she couldn’t see it.
“Sorry Charles. Now, this is very likely to put you to sleep, or at least relax you from some of your worries. A fourteen-year-old boy shouldn’t have as many worries as you do. Come on; scoot over in front of me, all the way.”
I was now in a position for her to do this. I know she did this for Dad a lot, so I figured, why not, and I tried to relax. I closed my eyes and leaned my head forward.
She started at the base of the back of my neck, using her thumbs to exert pressure. Oooh my, that feels so good, almost like when Claire gives me one of her ‘special’ kisses. Mom spread her hands to massage the tops of my shoulders, which actually felt great, and I heard a click in both of my shoulders?
“Don’t worry honey, your Dad had the same thing. It’s some kind of floating cartilage or something. Relax Charles, does this feel as good as when Sarah did it for you after your fall?”
“I’d have to say she directed her hand pressure, so that the pain dissipated quickly, while what you’re doing actually is quite relaxing and comforting. Oooohhhhhh, Momma – that really feels great.”
“Charles, I need to tell you that I may accidentally cause you to have your ‘problem’ again, so at any point if this massage gets strange, or you get ‘aroused,’ let me know, and I’ll move my hands so it doesn’t exacerbate your situation.”
“Oh Mom, when you say, exacerbate like that, it really turns me on.” I felt a light slap on the top of my head.
“Thanks Mom, I needed that. I didn’t want you to think Sarah was getting all of my love,” I said with a snicker.
This time the slap was on my back.
“Thanks, this massage does feel very nice.” I gave her a thumbs up, as I started to fall asleep.
Her hands were now on my shoulder blades, and I was occasionally moaning rather loudly. Mom leaned over and calmly said, in a wonderfully soothing voice, “Relax, think of your dances, all the steps you know, all the dances you’ve performed, with your CASK; Claire, Annie, Sarah and Kalista.”
“Now think of dancing at your wedding, think about the first dance you dance with your bride, then your mother.”
The McArthurs coming through the door woke me up. I quickly pulled on my shirt, socks and shoes, and welcomed everyone ‘home.’
I heard a wolf whistle from Sarah; however, Claire gave her a nasty look.
“Everybody, here’s my plan for the rest of the afternoon. Starting with Claire, we go over all of our dances, until they’re polished. I figure ninety minutes each; then Annie, the same thing, then Sarah and finally Kalista. If we don’t get through everybody this afternoon, we’ll take up tomorrow wherever we’ve left off - Everybody OK with that?”
They all agreed to the plan.
I reminded the ladies of two important facts; the songs we’d been practicing may not be on his set list that night, and they’ll undoubtedly sound different because different orchestras were involved.
That prompted Sarah to walk up to me and say, “Even if none of the songs I practiced to, are played Charles, I’ve had a blast getting to know you better, and learning more about you, and what makes you tick.” Sarah gave me a kiss, and Claire said, “Just remember mother, he’s my boyfriend, not yours.”
“I know, but I can fantasize a little can't I, dear?” Sarah sighed with a pout on her face.
Everybody, but Claire, laughed out loud.
I gulped a little.
‘Date’ night has come. Hurray.
Everyone’s dashing about, fighting over bathrooms and such. We’ll be picking up the rest of them at the McArthurs; our final ‘guest list’ is as follows:
Kalista, Sarah and Daniel McArthur, Josiah McArthur and Cassandra Wickers, Brian and Shirley Charles, Susan Williams, Antoinette Newman, and Charles Newman and Claire McArthur; and a last minute replacement since Brian’s father was out of town - Jimmy Bradshaw.
It was time for all of us to gather in the living room. Annie looked magnificent in a shimmering dress of navy blue, her hairstyle up, off her neck, with some bling, of course, to finish it off.
Sarah had on a Kelly green dress, with a bit of a plunging neckline, which made me… a little nervous. Her red hair was down, with a small gem in her hair, just above her right ear. She had on the appropriate amount of bling as well, including a pearl necklace.
Yours truly had on his first nice three-piece suit. It was deep navy blue, and I had a maroon colored tie. I actually convinced Mom to get me a new pair of wingtips, the first lasted through a lot of dancing, but this event was important.
I actually got them a few days before to break them in, so they wouldn’t break me tonight. Sarah gave me a haircut, and even if I do say so myself, I looked good… but nothing to compare to my ladies, my CASK. I may have Sarah always cutting my hair; her hands feel really soft, and the view is nice.
I heard an ‘ahem’ from behind me; Annie pointed to the top of the stairs… and there was Claire. My Claire… my… one in a million Claire… my girlfriend, and my best friend! My lover, someday… along with all of my hopes and dreams.
Her hair was in curls around her face. Her brown eyes seemed to sparkle like diamonds. She had on a dress similar to what she wore to Cotillion, but this was pink, and a little shorter; such a very pretty shade of pink.
She had on a little more eye makeup than usual, but not too much. I’d told her a couple of times, how I think many pretty girls overdue their eye makeup, thus reducing their attractiveness. She was putting on her lip-gloss as she walked down the stairs. I wonder what flavor she has on tonight? I’ll likely find out, later.
Suddenly, music came on. I looked up at the top of the stairs and saw - K. ‘Lady in Red’ was playing in the background, but a lady in red, was standing at the top of the stairs looking down on me.
Her hair was down. She’d been letting it grow since I first met her, now it’s almost to her elbows. Her eyes were glistening, again with just the right amount of make-up. She had on, what looked like two-inch heels, making her beautiful legs look even longer.
The red of her dress seemed to match the red of her hair perfectly, as did her shoes. The dress was shorter than Cotillion or the NDCA would approve of, but I certainly approved. When we get there, and the ‘Pawporazza’ gets a look at her; all camera lenses will be affixed to her legs.
The music continued, as she finished coming down the stairs; I moved to the base of the stairs and put my hand out for her. That made her giggle.
Ooh, that wonderful giggle. The song was over half over, but I placed her in my arms, and we danced together, chest to chest. I took our hands and pulled them inside, holding her so very close. I love this young lady, and… NOT just like a sister.
She ‘is’ my soul mate. When the song was over, I leaned down, just a little and gave her the most passionate kiss I ever had. Her mouth opened and so did mine. I knew this could cause a lot of consternation, but I felt so compelled to express my deep love to her.
We pulled apart, and I said, very softly, “I love you, Kallie,” she whispered in my ear, “I know.” Then she raised her voice and said, “Let’s go dancing, everybody.”
I turned and saw everyone crying, rubbing their eyes, trying to fix their eye makeup. Claire gave me a look, wiped off Kalista’s lip-gloss and said, “You dog!”
I said back to her, “Tonight - I’m the luckiest fourteen-year-old on the face of planet Earth.”
We headed off to the McArthurs, to pick up the rest of our cabal. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Brian had on what looked like a new suit as well. Susan was holding on tight to him - as Cassandra was holding onto Josiah. After everyone was finished oohing and awing over how nice everyone looked, we piled into the twelve-seater. Jimmy would meet us there.
Daniel was driving, and he turned around and said, “OK people, we’re leaving now, settle down. Remember whose date this is; we all were invited to be part of this wonderful night.” Sarah added, “And to shake things up,” which made us all laugh.
We arrived at the Palace Restaurant, and there was indeed paparazzi there. Everyone exited, leaving Claire, Kalista and I.
“Kalista, are you OK?” I sincerely asked her.
“Charles, I’m so ready for tonight, Remember – I get you first,” she said rather assertively. She looked over at Claire and added, “But I know how to share, Sis.” They both giggled.
I got out, first helping Claire, then Kalista. Cameras were off to the races. Somebody said, “That’s Charles & Claire?” and “I didn’t realize they were so young.”
We walked arm in arm in arm, taking our time… soaking it all in. I asked Claire to go catch up with the rest of the group. I turned to the crowd, hoping I could remember the speech I’d prepared, for the moment. They say public speaking is the greatest fear of most people – me too.
With Kalista on my arm, beaming, I began, “Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Yes, Charles & Claire is in the building.” That caused them to all chuckle, and it helped me to relax. Breathe.
“Tonight, however, is my date with my newest protégé, Kalista McArthur. Yes, they’re cousins. We’ve prepared a number of dances to the styling’s of Mr. Michael Bublé. We plan to enjoy ourselves and dance all night. I’ll take two questions?”
They talked over each other, making it difficult to hear or understand anything. Finally, a voice rang out, “When are Charles & Claire going to start dancing in the adult category at your Competitions?”
“Next year, we both turn fifteen in late July; we’ll be petitioning the NDCA for adult status at that time. Final question?”
“How old is Kalista, Mr. Newman?”
I trembled, squeezing Kallie’s hand and said, “First off; Mr. Newman isn’t here. Mr. Newman left my mother!” I was ready to really rail against him, but this is K’s night, so calm down a little and breathe. Don’t embarrass yourself, Charles.
I smiled a great big smile and said, “Charles Newman is here, and this wonderful young lady turns eight, October Fifteenth of this year. That’s all, goodnight.”
They were all shouting different things, but the one I heard was ‘Kiss her Charles,’ which is something I could do something about. I leaned into K and asked her permission, telling her that ‘this’ is what a scandal might look like.
She mis-understood me, maybe, and moved her face into mine and kissed me, just like the kiss in the living room, but now, cameras were going off like crazy.
We walked forward catching up to Sarah, who said, “In the old days, when a fellow kissed a girl like that, he had to marry her.”
I let Kalista go on ahead to catch up with Claire.
I looked over at Mr. McArthur, who had an odd look on his face, and he asked, with a smile, “Exactly which one of those young ladies do you think you’ll end up with, Charles? They both seem to care deeply for you.”
“Mr. McArthur, upon advice from counsel, I invoke my rights, under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, against self-incrimination.”
“Great answer Charles, best I’ve heard in a while. Whichever one of them you may end up with, I’d like you to know, I approve of you as my future son-in-law. You can’t have too many grandchildren, Charles.” Sarah slapped him on the chest, admonishing him for his last remark, giving me a wink.
They’d created for us, a square table that could sit sixteen, but things were spread out so we’d be more comfortable, three to a side. I saw a number of video set-ups at the far stage-left end of the dance floor, including what appeared to be a NBC logo on a large style floor camera.