This is an ongoing story, due to the pandemic I've had to take a new job that doesn't allow me as much time to write. If you enjoy the story please leave a comment and I will update it when I can,
Lilly stood nervously on the stage, her palms sweating as she waited for the judges to make their final decision. The lights were blinding and hurt her light sensitive green eyes and formed a sheen of perspiration across her forehead. Luckily her belly dancing costume was skimpy and light weight so it didn’t add to her suffering; the same couldn’t be said of the girls in their elaborate ballerina outfits on either side of her. The girls sharing the stage with her had given her dirty looks and the cold shoulder when the dance competition had started, but now they were giving her grudging respect. Her dance in the last round of the competition had been the saber dance which she’d performed blind folded and with a razor sharp sword. Her flexibility and leg extensions had also proven to everyone there that just because she wasn’t doing a “classical dance” didn’t mean she didn’t work just as hard as they did. The dark haired girl beside her gave her a nervous smile as she subtly blotted at the sweat running down her face, with her gloved hand.
“If I don’t win I hope you do, Vera is a bitch.” The girl whispered.
“Thanks, same here.” Lilly whispered back looking to her left at Vera. Vera was tall, thin, long limped and beautiful with jet black hair that was glued to the top of her head with enough products to with stand hurricane force winds. Vera had been the first and the most vocal against Lilly dancing in the competition, first because she said Belly dancing wasn’t a real dance form and secondly because Lilly was white she was being culturally insensitive. The judges had thankfully disagreed and allowed Lilly to compete; it was evidently galling that Lilly had not only made it to the finals but that she had made it to the final four. Vera was not the first person who had made such comments since Lilly had started to learn to belly dance almost twenty years ago. The fact Lilly’s teacher and adopted grandmother was Egyptian didn’t matter; Lilly was a pale skinned red head with green eyes. Lilly thought of everything she could do with the ten thousand dollars that was first prize. After she paid off her expenses for the trip she would have nine thousand dollars left, enough to pay off the last of her debt for grad school and her rent, that was if she won. Many people still viewed belly dancing just a step above pole dancing.
Lilly heard a rustle and looked up to see a middle aged gentleman in a suit climb up onto the stage, a piece of paper held stiffly in his hand
“Our first runner up is Vera Cunningham.” He read in a deep voice, bringing a spattering of applause from the audience.
Vera mumbled an unlady like curse and shot Lilly and the remaining four girls on the stage a dirty look, as the announcer continued reading.
“In third place, Samantha Smith.” The announcer stated, and a woman in a dark red gown stepped up to the friendly girl beside Lilly and handed her an envelope and a small silver trophy shaped like a ballet shoe. The girl dipped a curtsy as she accepted the trophy and envelope.
“In second place is Laura Daniels.” The announcer read and there was more applause as the woman in red presented an envelope and trophy to a pretty young woman at the end of the line of girls. Laura had done two traditional Scottish dances to make it to the finales that had impressed even Lilly. There was now just Lilly and a girl who’d done a modern dance left. Lilly fought down her nerves and the knots in her stomach; if she didn’t win she’d be out the fifty dollar entrance fee as well as expenses for gas and hotel. It wouldn’t be the end of the world but it would be a serious hit to her finances.
“In first place is Lilly McTaggert.”
It took Lilly a moment to register she’d won; she smiled broadly as the woman in red handed her a large trophy and a white envelope, and then congratulated her before walking away. Lilly resisted the urge to open the envelop and check its contents. The friendly girl turned to Lilly and held out her hand a smile on her face.
“Thanks, you too.” Lilly replied giving the girls hand a quick squeeze before looking towards the audience for Nenet, her teacher, and her son Paki. Lilly saw them towards the side of the large auditorium and waved, she quickly congratulated the other girls, ignoring Vera and made her way towards the steps at the side of the stage. She’d give Nenet her trophy and the check to hold then change into her street clothes. When she stepped off the last step a large man stepped before and Lilly tensed momentarily. Over the years she’d become use to men grabbing her or harassing her because she was a belly dancer, when she danced for parties or events Paki was usually close beside her, serving as both her body guard and musician.
“Hi, I didn’t mean to scare you, I just wanted to compliment you on your dancing you were amazing.”
Lilly looked up and tried not to gasp the man was gorgeous, in a Greek god sort of way, with jet black hair and dark brown eyes. “Thank you.”
“My name is Marcus Stirling, I own several night clubs in the city and am opening a new club, and was hoping I could talk to you about coming to work for me.” He held out a business card, after a moment’s hesitation Lilly took the card quickly scanning it. It said Marcus Stirling, owner of club Navarra, followed by a phone number and an email address.
“Work for you, doing what?” Lilly asked cautiously.
“As a dancer, my head dancer in fact. The club is going to have a Moroccan theme and I think you’d be perfect as my head liner.”
“I don’t know Mr. Stirling.” Lilly paused. She wasn’t a professionally dancer, she danced because she loved it and as a way to earn a few extra dollars to pay for graduate school.
“Please call me Marcus, I know its short notice but I was wondering if you’re free for dinner. I’m only in town for the contest, I was scouting for talent and saw you and knew you’d be perfect, so what do you say.” He gave Lilly a smile that sent her heart racing and she paused, unsure what to do. Guys didn’t usually approach her, except when she was dancing and then it was to play grab ass. She was a science nerd, in fact she was a one month away from achieving dual doctorates in robotics and engineering. When her brains didn’t chase guys away her looks did. She was usually dressed in loose dress jeans and baggy shirts that hide her rather voluptuous figure and amble breasts, then there was her fiery red hair and lack of height. She was as far from glamorous as you could get, most men didn’t even notice her when she wasn’t dancing.
“She’s a good girl, you leave her alone.” Nenet’s rang out and Lilly sighed in annoyance as Nenet and Paki arrived. Lilly loved Nenet, who’d been like a grandmother to her for the past twenty years but at times she could be a pest.
“Nenet it’s all right, Mr. Stirling was talking to me about a job dancing at his club.” Lilly gave the scowling Nenet a smile and pressed the trophy and envelope into her hand. She turned back to Mr. Stirling.
“No it’s fine, your mother is right you should be cautious who you talk to.”
“This is Nenet my teacher.” Lilly replied.
“Ah, you’re obviously a wonderful teacher then to have trained someone as talented as Lilly is.” Mr. Stirling stated winning a smile from Nenet.
“Thank you for your offer but I can’t make it tonight.” Lilly replied, though she would of loved to have gone to dinner with the handsome Mr. Stirling.
“I understand, keep my card and call me. I really would like to discuss you working for me.” Mr. Stirling gave Lilly a broad smile then with a polite nod he walked away.
“You stay away from him Lilly, you’re a good girl, now go change it is a long drive home.” Nenet stated sending Lilly a dark look.
“Yes, I know, but maybe I’d like to be bad for a bit.” Lilly mumbled, before hurrying off to the dressing room to change. She looked at Mr. Stirling’s business card as she walked, she would call him once she was home, what could it hurt and she could always use the cash. What harm would come from listening to him.