The First Dance (A Romance Short Story)

The First Dance

While secretly taking ballroom dance lessons to surprise his fiance at their wedding’s ceremonial first dance, Jordan falls into an adulterous relationship with his dance teacher.

Written by Gregory Patrick Travers

I leaned over, pressing my hands against my thighs and exhaling heavily.

“I need to quit smoking…”

Looking up at me, Dayna sat on the bench, back resting on the second-floor dance studio window, giggling at my exasperation. She put her tiny hand in front of her mouth in an effort to dilute my embarrassment. 

“You’re doing fine,” she assured me. “Your fiance is going to be so thrilled when it comes time for the first dance. You’re going to blow her mind.”

I let out a sharp cough and straightened up, saying, “I’m going to blow a lung…”

Dayna tossed her jet-black ponytail over her shoulder and got to her feet. With a playful smack on my chest she repeated herself, “You’re doing fine. You’ve made so much progress in just a few lessons.”

This was true. 

My whole life I had been cursed with two left feet. It took about five minutes of dancing in front of the mirror in third grade for me to realize that. Instead of doing something noble, like trying to get better, I came up with any excuse I could to avoid school dances or nights out at the club; from faking colds, to lying about previous engagements I had to attend, to straight up trying to convince myself, and those around me, that dancing was a practice strictly for squares, gays, and Melvins.

Now, in my early thirties, I could run from it no longer.

I would be on the spot.

The idea that there would be a room full of close family and friends all watching my every step, pulling out their phones and recording the entire spectacle, cementing in stone that its reference was forever only a quick scroll away…well, it was enough to induce a panic attack at the mere thought of it.

But fear was not something easily discussed with a girl like Shannon, my bride to be. She was perfect, and she expected just the same from me. And in most aspects of my life, I was perfect. If not perfect, I was damn above average, that’s for sure. I had managed to keep my hockey body, though hadn’t been near a rink in close to a decade. I had a closet full of designer shoes and suits. I whitened my teeth. I drove a Benz. The payments were a little rich for my blood, but I took the hit anyway and bought the thing brand new.

You see, Shannon expected a certain standard from the man she chose to be her mate. And who could blame her? She was Barbie doll beautiful. A head turner. An alpha. If I couldn’t be the desired missing piece to her puzzle, there were about a million jigsaws out there ready to take my place. 

Hence, the ballroom lessons.

When the time came to lead Shannon onto that dance floor, and all the eyes were fixed on us, I wanted to be able to give her a first dance fit for a princess…If I didn’t, there’d be hell to pay.

But somehow, I could not tell you exactly how, Dayna had managed to teach this old dog some new tricks. I was no longer the worst dancer I knew. I would even go as far as to say I was kind of good at it now.

“Okay, ready?” asked Dayna.

Dayna had no problem letting me take a breather here and there, but she was always eager to get back to task. I suppose she didn’t want me to think she was wasting my money.

I nodded, exhibiting my readiness to reconvene.

Graceful and rhythmic in her strides, Dayna walked over to the out-of-date, old-school cassette boombox on the floor, bent over to the point of nearly folding in half and pressed the play button.

Immediately, the same piano Waltz melody that had been on repeat for the last month exhumed from the speakers.

Her slender figure, wrapped tightly in a black leotard, bloomed toward the ceiling. She turned her body, exhaled slowly and with focus, then looked me in my eye as she stepped towards me. In my head, I could hear her gentle voice keeping time over the melody, “1,2,3. 1,2,3.”

I took position over the imaginary box at my feet. We had started with square-shaped tape strips on the ground, but, surprisingly, I had figured out the step succession in the first couple lessons and no longer needed a guide. My left hand stretched out and interlocked with her right, my right hand rested on her left shoulder blade.

“Remember,” she said. “Palm cupped, fingers together.”

“Oh yeah,” I sputtered, cupping my palm and sliding my fingers inward over her back.

Her body shivered for just the slightest of seconds.

“Now,” she continued, clearing her throat. “We need to get rid of that slouch.”

I straightened up my neck, consciously adjusting to the correct posture. As I did so, our eyes met again, closer now. I could see the intricacies of her corneas; specks of gold and silver speckled in the rich hazel that reminded me of wet beach sand.

My eyes darted quickly to the left, avoiding her gaze. I scolded myself internally for my cowardice and found her eyes once more. I smiled to break the tension, even if I was the only one feeling it.

It was not because my eyes didn’t want to look at the young woman in front of me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was actually very taken by Dayna. Her features were more subtle, her make-up less dramatic than most, but her beauty was present in a classical sense. It was simple and honest. Dayna seemed like the kind of girl you dream about as a boy, in grade school, when the idea of true love is first instilled in your mind, before the harsh realities of life, lust, and loss came mercilessly crashing down.

Though I had always made a conscious effort to avoid too much eye contact with Dayna out of fear for making her uncomfortable, during this lesson in particular it had been notably hard to keep a steady regard. I felt as if she would take one glance into my quivering eyes and immediately know of the very embarrassing, very private dream of which she was an integral part that had played out in the theatre of my unconscious the previous evening as I slept next to my fiance. Granted, having a familiar person appear in one’s dream is usually nothing to get worked up about, or even something worth remembering, but this dream was different. This dream…I could not forget if I tried.

We were in a warm embrace, high above the clouds, weightless and free of the constructs of gravity. Below us was the most magnificent of sunsets, surrounding us in a soft blanket of oranges and reds for as far as the eye could see. A choir of trumpets and strings played the same melody coming out of the boombox. The music swirled all around us, as if it could be touched, or even tasted. We stared into each other’s eyes without a wisp of hesitation, our souls every bit as interlocked as our bodies. Her hair blew carelessly behind her. Her face tilted, only slightly, and drew close to mine. Our eyes closed and our lips touched. But I could see every moment, from every angle, as if watching on the silver screen.  The sleeve of her dress, red as blood, fell loosely over the length of her tender arm, exposing the top of her breast. Her skin, like caramel, called for me, screamed for me…I could not deny its siren song. I kissed softly on her chin, down her neck. Her head bent back, welcoming me in. Her hips pressed tight against mine. She dipped back, deeper. And then…

Then I woke up in my bed, the rod between my legs pulsing upwards against thin cotton sheets.

It was Shannon who received the benefits of my primal desire that morning, but it was Dayna who deserved the credit for my enthusiasm and stamina. As I climaxed, I closed my eyes and Dayna’s face appeared once again. I sunk back down on my pillow and, as Shannon nestled close and rested her head on my chest, Dayna’s specter evaporated into the ether.

It was this flash of recollection of the previous night that broke my concentration from my current reality, causing me to lose timing and foolishly step on Dayna’s slippered toes.

She yelped and let go of me.

Out of reflex, my head looked downward to assess the damage I had just inflicted on my poor teacher. Unfortunately, her instinctual reaction was to do the same, and our heads smashed together with a dizzying clunk. It sent us both back a few steps, disheveled.

“I’m such an idiot,” I muttered, condemning myself. “Are you okay?”

Despite her obvious pain, she flashed a forgiving smile. “It’s fine…I think I might need to sit down for a second, though.”

And so she did.

I followed her to the bench by the window and took a seat next to her, unsure of how to help and kicking myself for my clumsy idiocy.

She removed her hand from her crown and looked up to me, concerned. “Can you feel if there’s a bump?”

I inched closer to her as she leaned into me, lowering her head for my inspection. I gently ran my fingers over her scalp, my heart sinking as I felt the swollen elevation.

“A little,” I winced. “God, I’m such a twit.”

Unexpectedly, she broke out into a sharp laugh, even letting out a nasally snort before she caught herself and once again put her small hand over her mouth to stop herself from losing her wits.

Her head raised, her ponytail fell to the side. Once again we were eye to eye.

“Twit?” she mimicked. “Who says twit?”

My shoulders dropped and I relaxed a little. “Well, I was going to say cunt,” I said. “But I wasn’t sure how you would take it.”

She laughed again, seemingly coming out of the physical anguish I had just put her through.

She slapped a hand down on my thigh.

“You’re funny, you know that?”

I looked up from my feet, back to her.

Her gaze remained on me, still. Without a word. Without a blink.

Then, void of meditation, as if I were being pulled by some sort of cosmic force greater than you or I, I leaned in and drew my lips to her’s…

***

When I walked into the condo, Shannon was sitting crossed-legged on the couch, still in her office wear. A glass of red wine rested elegantly on her knee. It looked as if she might’ve been watching television, but the television was off. She had been sitting in silence, which was odd for Shannon. She always had to be talking, or moving, or cleaning, or fidgeting with something. But, there she was; perfectly still and calm, watching me closely as I stepped into the apartment.

The smell of Dayna’s perfume on my collar, a scent that had been a pleasant afterthought on the drive home, now made me sick with worry.

Shannon placed the glass of wine gently on the coffee table and once again leaned back on the couch, running manicured fingers through her golden lion’s mane dazzled with platinum highlights.

“I came to see you at the office today,” she said, finally.

The words stabbed me in the gut like a shiv.

“I saw you leaving as I pulled in,” she continued. “So I followed you…”

Though my face remained stiff as stone, the wind had swiftly been knocked out of me. My heart beat faster and even faster yet. I had been caught. The first affair of my life, and I had been caught.

What a dummy.

Still, in that moment of vulnerability, I felt little remorse for my actions. When I was inside Danya, her heavy pants and moans warm in my ear as we rolled about on the hard dance studio floor, I felt more alive than I had in years.

Maybe my father had been right all along…maybe Shannon wasn’t the girl for me. 

Shannon got up from the couch, readjusting the silk blouse tucked in the high waistline of her skirt.

“I saw everything, Jordan,” she said. “I can’t even believe it…”

Meaningless words dripped from my lips. “Babe…I’m sorry…It was a mistake…”

But that was a lie, and I knew it. I would have done it again, a million times over.

“Well, yeah, it was,” she stated firmly. “But still…I’m impressed.”

Suddenly, the spinning room stopped dead. Even my heart seemed to stop its pounding in my chest so my ears could make sense of what had just been said.

“Impressed?” I uttered.

A thin smile curved upward on her face. “Taking ballroom dance lessons for the wedding? That’s so…romantic!”

I let out a concealed sigh of relief. She hadn’t seen everything.

Her heels clicked on the hardwood panels as she headed toward the bathroom.

“Take as many lessons as you want, babe,” she teased. “Because you need lots of help.”

She laughed to herself as the bathroom door shut behind her.

As I heard the running water of the shower, I knew I was safe. I dropped onto the couch and took a sip of wine from Shannon’s lipstick-stained glass. I leaned back, relaxed, and closed my eyes, only to find myself high above the clouds, with a magnificent sunset below me, radiating the most vibrant oranges and reds for as far as the eye could see. A choir of trumpets and strings played a familiar Waltz melody as Dayna’s voice whispered softly in my ear, “1,2,3. 1,2,3…”

The End

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