Turn Around, Look at Me Ch. 01byYDB95©
"Okay, class dismissed!" With a cheerful wave, Kate signaled to her ballet students -- a dozen girls and three boys -- off to their locker rooms.
"Great job, everybody!" added Seth, her co-teacher, clapping his hands in encouragement. "Recital's in a week, don't forget!" Chattering among themselves, several of the girls and at least one of the boys cast longing looks at Seth in his black leggings and tight gray top as they made their way out of the room. Kate looked once again for a reaction from Seth, but he was professional as ever. No surprise, she admitted, and of course it was very much for the best that he wasn't interested in the kids like that. Now, if only she could get him to look at her the way the girls looked at him...
Picking up her water bottle for a drink, Kate flashed her widest grin at Seth. "Great class today, wasn't it?"
"It was, it really was," Seth agreed. "They're such a great bunch. I can't wait to see how the recital turns out. He reached over for his own bottle. "I wish I'd been that dedicated to the craft when I was their age."
"Same here," Kate said. With a shyer smile she added, "It's been great working with you on them, too. I wish we had more guys in dance."
"Thanks! That's sweet." Seth capped his bottle and looked to the teachers' changing rooms. Though Kate was dressed in a leotard and tights as usual and standing with her legs crossed to accentuate her curves, he had once again only looked her in the eye as he spoke. "Well, then. See you tomorrow?"
"Of course!" And she remembered to smile through her disappointment as he turned to the changing rooms. She'd appreciated his professionalism ever since they'd started working together on the rehearsals weeks before, but this was becoming frustrating. All that gentle flirting and he hadn't even invited her for a drink after class.
"He MUST be gay!" Kate groused to her flatmate Julie and Julie's boyfriend Scott over wine later that evening. "I didn't assume so at first because that's the stereotype about guys who like ballet, and then I didn't want to think so because he's so cute and such a great guy. But he must be! A month working together now and nothing!"
"I'll bet you still haven't tried asking him out yourself, have you?" Julie asked.
"I shouldn't have to!" Kate whined. "He must be able to see how interested I am."
"Maybe he's desensitized to that, being around so many women all the time," Scott suggested.
"Good point," Julie said. "He's probably had lots of attention from girls ever since he took up ballet, and that's probably going back to before he was even attracted to them."
"If he is attracted to them," Kate sniffed.
"Kate!" Julie was just as frustrated as her friend now. "Not everybody picks up on flirting, and some guys are shy. How can you tell if you don't ask?"
"He's seen me in a leotard every day for a month," Kate grumbled. "What's to be shy about after that?"
"Maybe he's overcompensating," Scott said gently.
"That could be exactly it, Kate," Julie agreed. "It could just as easily be that as it could be he's gay."
"Overcompensating for what?" Kate asked.
"It's something we learned about in gender studies back in undergrad," Julie said. Turning to Scott with a smile, she continued, "I'm glad to see he remembers, too. When you get involved in a sport or a hobby that's traditionally identified with the other sex, a lot of people are going to accuse you of just wanting to be surrounded by guys if you're a girl or by girls if you're a guy. So just to show everyone that you're serious about your love for the game or the dance or whatever, you clamp down on your attraction to people you work with even when it really is there. And that makes a lot of people think you're not interested in the others at all even when in reality you are sometimes."
Kate thought about it. "Okay," she admitted. "That makes sense. I remember back in middle school I used to wonder about some of the boys who took ballet with us, and of course some of them really were just there to check us out. Not all, but a lot. Did that happen to you too, Julie, when you were working with the football team?"
"Yes," deadpanned Scott, who'd been a halfback on their college team while Julie was a trainer. He was now an assistant coach at the university where Julie and Kate were working on their grad degrees.
"Thanks a lot," Julie said, punching Scott lightly on the arm with a laugh. "Seriously, though. I didn't realize it at the time, Kate, but it did happen. You remember the jokes, 'gee, it must be great to see all those big sweaty guys off to the locker room, do you ever join 'em? Hur hur hur!' At first there was a lot of eye candy, but I was there because I loved the game. And I made up my mind early on to be all business about it."
"Until Scott came along," Kate said.
"Yeah!" Julie grinned, looking at Scott as she did. "But he didn't dare ask me out until our third season working together, because I did such a good job of playing it cool. So that could be what this Seth guy is up to also."
"That makes sense," Kate admitted. "So how do I get through to him without waiting three years?"
"Show up naked," Scott deadpanned.
Kate and Julie both laughed, and each conceded that would most likely work. Then the conversation turned back to more subtle strategies, but it soon became clear that Julie and Scott saw no way for Kate to get what she wanted without asking for it. And that, she conceded, was really only fair. This was what Kate liked having Julie and Scott around for, she knew. She may have been the brainiest of the trio, but going all the way back to freshman year in college, Julie had been the more worldly of the pair. Every time there was an issue with dating and sex, Julie had been the giver while Kate had listened carefully. She'd even nursed Kate through that long sore weekend sophomore year when Kate had lost her virginity and had spent the next day agonizing over its lack of the fairy-tale ending she had hoped for. As for Scott, there was nothing like having a man in the house for learning to understand men. Like many football players, Scott had been roped into taking ballet, so that offered common ground as well.
Kate knew she was now a bit old for fairy tales. As she lay in bed later that night, Scott's joke continued to both amuse and titillate her. She knew better than to take it seriously, of course, but the idea of really throwing herself at Seth had a certain appeal. She had always been such a well-behaved young lady, always the one girl at the party who'd dance with all the boys but nothing more, no matter how wild her imagination may have run when it came to some of her male friends along the way. Many was the time she'd wondered after the fact how things might have turned out if for once she had let her hair down. And it had been quite some time since she had even tried. Between dance and studies, she had been much too busy for dating lately. And there had definitely been a lot of nights lately when she had longed for some crazy abandon with a special someone. Though still a straight-laced girl, she smoldered underneath like any other liberated twentysomething woman, and that itch was getting harder to scratch by herself all the time.
That feeling had escalated quite a bit ever since Seth had appeared on her radar about a month before.
When Kate had applied for the instructor's job at the ballet school last year, dating had been the last thing on her mind: she had just wanted a break from the day to day grind of studying all the time and a chance to share her lifelong love of dance. When she'd been tapped to lead the rehearsals for the year's big recital last month, she'd been delighted but slightly apprehensive about having a partner. Kate was used to teaching solo, and she hadn't felt she needed the help. "It's too big a job for one person," the director had told her. "Your new partner is also a grad student, just moving to town, and comes with great recommendations from other people I've compared notes with."
"I'm sure she's great," Kate had said, "But I feel funny about co-teaching with her when I've never even met her before."
"She's a he, Kate," the director had replied. "And I'm told he's a great dancer and a really nice guy besides."
And he was both. For just over a month now, Kate and Seth had made a remarkably effective team in keeping the kids focused on their practice, five days a week. They had also become fast friends in the little spare time they had just before and just after class, comparing notes on their studies and more interesting matters like music and movies. He was always completely professional, with nary an off-color comment or even a lingering look at Kate in her revealing dancewear that she was aware of. Which had been wonderful at first and was still appreciated now.
The trouble was that Kate had come to enjoy their comfortable conversations immensely, and for a couple of weeks now she had longed for more than just talking. She had come to live for those few minutes of easy banter when she could admire him in his own dancewear, so lithe and graceful and secure in his manhood. She had even taken to hoping she would catch him checking her out for a change, but it hadn't happened.
Kate had tried more than once to turn the conversation to matters more serious. It had started with the standard litany of clues that she was single -- living with her best friend from college and the best friend's boyfriend, with no mention of a boyfriend of her own; telling him she'd had a boring weekend of studying and nothing more; mentioning an ex here and there but never a current beau -- and Seth had responded in kind and left it at that. When that had gone nowhere, Kate had thought of introducing racier topics into their conversation, such as how she would have reacted to having a male instructor when she was the kids' age. She even had the big line rehearsed -- "He'd have had plenty of time in my dreams at night!" -- but it had just seemed too risky.
Now, though, "risky" was starting to look like a pretty good idea. Night after night alone in her bed while Julie and Scott were going at it in the next room (indeed Kate could hear Julie moaning passionately even as she tried to get to sleep that night), and meanwhile Seth was right there for the taking if only he could see what was before his eyes. But he couldn't. Julie had a point, Kate finally accepted. It was so much easier to let guys take the lead, and she felt terrified thinking of sticking her own neck out...until it occurred to her that Seth might only be just as scared as she was. There was no denying, she also admitted, that in the twenty-first century there was no good reason why guys should always have to make the first move anymore.
Perhaps, Kate concluded, it was time she forced him to take a closer look.
It took Kate a long time to get to sleep once she'd hatched her plan, because she was excited and horny and deliciously terrified all at once. Sleep, though, she eventually did, and she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when she left for the dance studio the next afternoon. To save time on her plan, she had put her long brown hair up in a bun before leaving rather than doing it at the studio like she usually did, and the breeze was cool on her bare neck. Just as well, Kate reasoned, if that would bring a bit more color into her cheeks for the big moment.
By the time she arrived at the studio -- fifteen minutes or so before her usual arrival time, and she estimated at least ten before Seth's -- Kate found the chill hadn't helped. She was burning in anticipation and nervousness, and she could feel her face flushing. This was so unlike the well-behaved young woman she always was...but that, she reasoned, probably had something to do with all those nights she'd been on her own lately.
The studio had students' locker rooms down the hall, and two private changing rooms for teachers: one on the left and one on the right at the back of the room. Seth usually arrived earlier than Kate, and she had noticed that by habit he usually took the one on the right. Even on days when she got there first, she had taken to using the one on the left. Today, though, with the studio still empty when she arrived, Kate turned right. There was little time to waste, as Seth might show up at any moment and there would be no second chance to catch him off guard, she knew. She didn't relish the wait in the state she would be in, both physically and mentally, but at least it wouldn't be long.
Kate closed the changing room door behind her, but didn't lock it. She set her backpack down and looked at herself in the mirror. There was still time to back out and just ask him out like a grown-up. Quickly Kate reminded herself, for what felt like the hundredth time that day, how Seth had rebuffed every step in that direction so far. No, this required drastic measures. The worst that could happen was a moment's embarrassment with a guy she was sure she could trust. The best that could happen was that he might well be in her arms that very night.
With that happy possibility ringing out in her nervous mind, Kate bit the bullet and pulled her sweatshirt and t-shirt off in one. She kicked off her shoes at the same time, and unbuttoned her jeans without looking in the mirror again to discourage herself. Out of habit, she folded the jeans carefully and set them beside the chair in the corner. 'Don't look in the mirror,' she reminded herself silently as she reached back and unfastened her bra. She had reminded herself time and again that Seth would not see all the imperfections she would see in herself; rather he would see a beautiful woman who wanted him. But that didn't make it any more desirable for her to have to examine herself up close for the long minutes that were to follow. Despite her best efforts, Kate did catch a glimpse of her 34B's -- just small enough that she could have pursued a professional dance career had she been willing to practice fourteen hours a day -- falling free as she shrugged off her bra straps. 'No obsessing about those, he already knows the size after all!' Leaning over to pull off her socks gave her an excuse to not check herself out any further.
It was ever so tempting to at least keep her panties on until the last moment, but Kate forced herself not to. She also succeeded in looking everywhere but the mirror as she sat nude on the chair and waited for a sound from outside. There was no turning back now, she mused, no time to get her clothes back on even if she did wimp out. Although she could still lock the door...
At long last -- a minute and a half at least after she had finished undressing -- Kate heard the studio door swing open. She had been careful to turn the lights on so Seth wouldn't notice the light under the changing room door, but now it occurred to her that he might wonder why the light was on with nobody there. No time to worry about that now...but what if it wasn't Seth? Kate looked at the doorknob and fought down the urge to reach up and lock it. There were still a few seconds to spare...but then she would always know she had come this far only to wimp out in the end. Her heart pounding in her throat, Kate stood up, took her bag in one hand, and willed herself to look confident. She struck a pose that she hoped would make it look like she was in the midst of changing, while still putting her body on full display.
The doorknob turned. Kate took a deep breath and pretended to be rummaging in her backpack.
Seth flung the door wide open. In that split second Kate realized to her horror that if any of the kids were already in the studio, they would get an eyeful of her body as well. So she looked appropriately shocked when Seth caught his glimpse of Kate in her full glory. In that moment everything seemed to happen at once: Seth yelped in embarrassment and pulled the door shut -- but not before Kate was aware that no one but him had seen her, or before she instinctively pulled her backpack against her body even though she had secretly wanted him to see everything, or before she could sense that he probably liked what he did see. Or maybe that last one was her imagination running away with her, but in that delightfully naughty moment she was sure of it all the same.
It was over before Kate was fully aware of what happened, even though it had gone exactly as she had planned. From behind the door she could hear Seth retreat to the other changing room. Now she locked the door. Embarrassed but not ashamed, she hurriedly pulled on her tights, leotard and slippers. It was most important that she be present and looking comfortable when Seth emerged for class. No need to make things any more awkward by having him think she was spooked.
A few of the girls were already warming up when Kate emerged. With the thrill of new intimacy still tickling her insides, she joined the girls and engaged them in small talk with a smile. When Seth came out, he looked nervous and more bashful than ever. "Hi, Seth!" she said cheerfully and casually.