She looked in the mirror as she put on her mom’s pearl earrings and stepped back to look herself over. Vivi had been so great in telling her about the beautiful long white tulle skirt with a silk tank top that had a gorgeous pearl and rhinestone half jacket that matched, in a bridal store. It was perfect. They found shoes that looked like white ballet slippers with thick sateen ribbon. She thought back to last night when her dad and Vivi picked up dinner and then sat around her mom’s bed waiting to eat. It seemed that her dad had invited Jagger, even after the major blow-up he and Owen had at the club, when they went there to talk to him. But as much as she loved her brother, she loved Owen more.
There was a knock on her door, and she turned around to see her dad standing there. “You look so beautiful, baby.” He smiled and then held up a bouquet of white Calla Lily’s. “Mom had this made for you.”
“They’re gorgeous, dad… thank you!” She said, going over and giving him a hug.
“Your welcome, baby.” He answered, but looked sad.
“You know that you can come to the service, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, baby. But if your mom can’t be there, then I’ll stay home with her and keep her company.”
“I know.” She frowned hugging him and trying not to think about how much longer her mom would be around on a day where she should be celebrating the beginning of a new step in her life. “Maybe I shouldn’t go to New York? I mean, what if something happens and I’m not here?”
“You’re here now, and she’s so proud of you. And she really likes Owen, so that is some major brownie points. So, don’t be silly about not going to this audition. Between you and me, I think your mom wants this for you probably more then you want it for yourself.”
She didn’t say anything, because she couldn’t. Her mom was one of the main reasons she was taking this interview… she wanted to make her mom proud. “Alright, if you think it’s okay.”
The sound of heels clicking on tile made her turn and look out her bedroom door. The next thing she saw was Vivi rushing in dressed in her swanky blue dress and camera in hand. “Come on, slowpoke, you’re going to be late for your own wedding.” She said taking her by the arm. “You look fabulous, by the way.” Then she stopped looking the situation over. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Dad just wished that him and mom could be there.” She confessed.
Vivi rolled her eyes. “They are going to be there. I’m going to be streaming the whole thing for them to watch. So, they won’t miss a thing. See, easy peasy… so let’s get our ass in gear. I need to get some photos before we head out!” After that, the photos were taken, and then she and Vivi were in the car with Vivi driving like a madwoman to get them to city hall on time. When they pulled up to the courthouse, she didn’t see Owen, and her heart started to race. Maybe he didn’t show? Perhaps he thought that all this was happening a little too quickly, she had had that thought as well. Maybe he didn’t want to give up his life with the band and his record store to move to New York? She couldn’t blame him if that was the case… but not to tell her? In the midst of her anxiety attack, the car came to an abrupt halt, breaking her of the dreadful thoughts. “Come on, they’re waiting inside,” Vivi said, opening the door.
Jojo shut her eyes and took a deep breath before getting out of the car to followed Vivi, who was walking as fast as the energizer bunny into the building.
When she came up to the waiting area, she looked around and saw Rocco, Axle, Derrick, and Kevin, but no Owen. Her stomach started to drop when he walked out from behind the doors of the courtroom. He was the most gorgeous man she had ever seen, and when he grinned and winked at her, she couldn’t help but giggle.
His mom was with him as they walked over, and Jojo drank up the sight of him. He was wearing black jeans, a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up just below his elbows, showing off all his tattoos, and a gray vest with a white rose pinned on it. She bit her bottom lip as he came closer, and then Derrick took Owen’s mom by the arm. He walked over, taking her by the hand. “I didn’t know if you were going to make it.”
“I’m sorry I’m late. My mom wanted to have some pictures taken before I left.”
“Princess, you could’ve been as late as you wanted. I wasn’t going anywhere.” He growled and shook his head. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Thank you… and you don’t look too bad yourself there, handsome.” She giggled.
He grinned, wrapping his arm around her waist. “Are you ready to become Mrs. English?”
“Yes, very much.” She sighed. “Are you ready to spend the rest of your life with a dancer? You know, one who will be traveling the country, in shows three times a week and practicing from six in the morning till eleven at night? Dealing with me even when I’m so tired and so emotionally exhausted that when I hit the pillow at night, all I’ll most likely be able to do is close my eyes.” She whispered. “Is that really something you want, Owen. Because if it isn’t, please tell me now. The thought of you leaving me over my career would kill me, I think.”
His finger went under her chin, tilting her head up so she would look him in the eyes. “I know what I’m signing on for, and to be honest, it will be an adjustment for me for a little while.” He admitted. “But you are what I want, and that means everything that comes with you. A man couldn’t do any better than to have his own personal princess in his life… now could he? But when I see you dance, you look like an angel, and knowing that you’re mine is all I need.”
“Really?” She breathed.
“Yes, really. So, shall we head on in and get hitched?” He winked.
“There’s nothing I want more.” She smiled as they walked to the doors to the courtroom.
They were about to go in, when a voice shouted at them from the lobby. “Hey, hold up! Jojo, Owen, hold up!” The voice said, and when she turned around, she saw Jagger barging through people as he ran towards them. When he came to a stop, she wasn’t sure if she was happy to see him or wanted to put a foot up his butt for all the things he had said to Owen the other night. “What are you doing here?” She asked, crossing her arms.
“You didn’t think that I would miss my little sister’s wedding, did you?” Jagger said in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
“Yes, I did. And from the looks of it, it seems like you didn’t think you were coming either.”
“Well, I might have thought that I wouldn’t, but I knew I had to be here.”
“So, you talked to dad, and he was mad that you weren’t going to come… so now here you are.” She sighed. “Jagger, if you’re not happy for us, then I don’t want you here.”
Jagger ran his hand threw his already messy hair and swore under his breath. “Look, I’m sorry, okay. I love you and I guess I never thought anyone was good enough for you, let alone one of my friends. Hey, don’t give me that look, it’s a guy thing. Owen would even agree with me on this.”
She glanced over at Owen. “No, he’s right. Guys are supposed to stay away from sisters. Especially little sisters. That’s just asking for an ass-kicking. I just couldn’t help myself… I fell in love with you the first time I saw you.”
She turned back around and looked at her big brother. “All that doesn’t matter to me. I love him, Jagger, I really and honestly do.”
“I know twinkle toes, and after dad had a long ass talk with me, and seeing the way Owen treats you, and the way he looks at you, I know he loves you to. And that’s all that matters to me. I’m sorry I was such an asshole about everything. But I want to be here to see my best friend marry my baby sister.”
She couldn’t help but smile; Jagger wasn’t the type to admit he was wrong about anything, let alone apologize for it. “I forgive you, you big dummy… and I love you too.” She smiled, going over and giving him a hug.
Jagger smiled then looked over at Owen. “How about you?”
Owen took Jojo’s hand then stuck out the other with a grin. “Yeah, I forgive you to… asshole.”
Jagger smirked, accepted the handshake, and then chuckled. “So now that the best man is here let’s get the show on the road.”
“Hey, now, I’m the best man here!” Derrick growled.
“Yeah, you keep thinking that.” Jagger laughed, swatting him in the stomach and walking towards the doors. Owen smiled, wrapping his arm around her waist, and then walked them over to get his mom before going in to see the judge.
The ceremony was quick, but it was everything she ever imagined it would be. Vivi sat in the courtroom, wiping tears from her face as she held up her cell phone, streaming the ceremony for her mom and dad. Then when the judge said to kiss the bride, the room erupted in cheers and whistles. She was now Josephine English, and she had never felt so completely happy in her whole life!
When they walked out of the building, she couldn’t help but start laughing when she saw what all the guys had done to the rental truck. They had tied beer cars to the back bumper and blown up condoms everywhere they could put them. Then all their friends and family came out and started throwing rose petals in the air.
Owen gave his mom a kiss, then scooped Jojo up in his arms and brought her to the truck. After she was in, she waved to everyone and blew her brother a kiss as Owen went to the other side to get in the truck.
“Well princess, you ready to start our honeymoon?” Owen grinned.
“More than ready.” She smiled and then drove off to start their new life together.
Two days later, she woke up early in the morning. She and Owen had gotten into New York city and the hotel much later than expected becaue he decided to he couldnt wait any long to make love to her. So, he pulled off the freeway and took her out into a field of flowers to make love to her.
The smile at that thought stayed on her face as she turned over and looked at the man who had made her so happy. She reached out and tugged at his beard lightly. When he didn’t budge, she did it again… only to have him turn over and get on top of her. “One thing I’ve got to tell you, princess, you never mess with a man’s beard.” He chuckled.
“I wanted to make sure you were up.” She smiled pushing some hair out of his face. “Are you sure you want to go with me today? I mean, it’s going to be boring for you. You can’t come in to the audition with me.”
“But I can be there for you when you get out.”
“Yes, and I’d really like that.” She admitted.
“Good. Now get that sweet little ass of yours out of bed before I start something that will make you really late for an audition.” He growled rolling off.
There was a part of her that at that moment, didn’t mind if she was late or not. But also knew better that she couldn’t go to this audition fully prepared. After her stretches, she washed her face, pulled her hair into a ponytail, and twisted it into a bun. That feeling of unease she always got before an audition was there, but it felt like there was something more to it. She came back to Bayside Beach because she thought she wanted to be done with dancing, or at least the ballet. Yet there she was, in New York, going to try out for another dance company.
Her hands went to the counter and doubts filled her mind on the reasons why she came to New York, and it wasn’t because it was something she wanted, but because she was going to prove to that asshole Vasily that she was just as good, or better, then that bitch top ballerina that he’d left her for. “What are you doing here, Josephine?” She murmured.
Owen walked in, scratching his chest, but stopped when he saw her. “Everything okay?”
“Oh, yes, everything is fine.” She answered, forcing a smile. “I’m just going to start getting my slippers ready.”
“You mean go massacre a perfectly good pair of shoes hacking into them and re-making them… gotcha.” He winked turning on the water. She didn’t laugh, just stared at him as he stripped and started to get into the shower. “Hey, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Um, yes. I just get nervous before an audition.” She lied, not ready to tell him what made her really decide to be there and what she really felt about her career because she wasn’t so sure about it either. He didn’t say anything, just watched her. “I’ll be finishing up getting ready.”
“Make sure you put on your bootie slippers. Your mom wants me to take pictures and send them to her. So, I’m making sure I get the before and after shots.” He chuckled, stepping into the spray.
“You’re making sure she doesn’t come back to haunt you?”
“Damn straight, I am!” He answered, and she smiled, but then it faded at the truth of it.
The dance company was in downtown Manhattan. At first glance, you wouldn’t think it was anything more than just another brick and mortar building. Just one among so many other skyrises, with concrete steps leading up to a brick-faced wall and big double doors. They got out of the taxi, and she stood on the sidewalk as Owen paid the cabbie. He put his arm around her waist. “Are you ready?” He asked and started to walk, but stopped when she didn’t move.
“What if I told you that I wasn’t sure that this was the life I wanted anymore?” She whispered.
He went in front of her and lifted her head with his finger so she would look at him. “What’s brought all this on?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yeah, you do.” He said. “So, tell me.”
She bit her lip, knowing she wanted him to know, but not willing to divulge everything. Only a small part. “I left Amsterdam because I wasn’t sure I wanted a life on the road anymore. All the practice, the traveling, the strictness in the lifestyle. It started to feel like a prison instead of my passion.”
“So, if you got accepted into this dance studio, would you want to take it?”
“I really don’t know.” She admitted. “When I accepted this audition, you and I weren’t together, and I wanted to prove a point.”
“Prove a point… what point?” He asked.
She took his hand from her face and held it looking at his chest, not being able to look into his eyes. “One of the reasons I left my dance studio was because of my ex-boyfriend. Well, he was the main reason I left. You see, I got pregnant.” She confessed only stopping a second to glance up, then quickly looked back down at what she saw on his face. “I was in love, or so I thought. I had been dating him for two years. But as I thought we were a couple, Vasily had other ideas and had been sleeping around with multiple women.
“When I told him that I was pregnant, he said it wasn’t the right time for us to get married and start a family. I stupidly let him talk me into an abortion, but I take full responsibility for what I did, and I hate myself for it. But right after I had the procedure done, he broke up with me and married a famous ballerina that was once in our dance company.” She whispered wiping away a tear. “That’s when I started to question what I was doing with my life and came home. When I accepted the invitation to come to New York, I saw a photo of Vasily with his new wife who was pregnant. That’s when I thought I would show him that I could be even a better ballerina then the woman he married, and I accepted.”
He nodded. “And now, what do you think?”
“I think now, I could care less what Vasily thinks of me. The only thing I want is what will be good for you and me. I don’t think I want to wait five to ten years from now for us to start a family. I don’t think I want to live a life in hotels and hours and hours on end in practices and not seeing my husband before I go to sleep.”
He nodded again and then hugged her. “I’m sorry that guy you dated was an asshole to you and what he did. But let me tell you, something princess the way you dance is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Yes, really.” He grinned. “Can I tell you what I think?”
“Why not go in there and audition? If you get the job and you want it, then go for it! I knew what I was getting into when I asked you to marry me. And if in a year, hell, a couple years, you don’t want to dance anymore… then that’s fine with me too. I just want you to be happy, and I know if you don’t go up there and show those people what you can do, it will eat you up inside.” He said into her hair. “Besides, as long as it’s me that you crash into bed with… all’s good in my book.”
She took a breath letting his words sink in and then nodded. “Really, are you sure?”
“I’m very sure about you staying in my bed.” He chuckled.
“You know what I mean.” She smiled.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. And princess, I’m in this for the long haul.” He smiled, pulling back looking down at her, then kissed her lips. When he was done, he took her bag and started to walk them to the entrance. “Now, let’s get that gorgeous ass of yours up there.”
“You’re not mad?”
“Mad about what?”
“About the baby?” She asked, having her heartbreak.
That question made him stop. “I’m not mad at you over that, Jo. In fact, what I’m pissed off about is that asshole who put you through it. He better hope I never see him, or I’ll kick his ass. But you, never.” He growled. “That was something from your past, and you didn’t have to tell me about, and I can see that it still hurts you to talk about. But now I understand the want for children, and that’s one thing you won’t have to worry about princess. I’ll give you as many as you want.”
“You know that I love you, right?” She asked.
“Yeah, I do. And I love you too.”
The place was big and beautiful as dancers walked all around them. She glanced up as a group of guys passed in their workout clothing, which were nothing more than black leggings with some wearing tank tops and others a t-shirt. “I get it now.” He chuckled.
“The guys you dance with might as well be butt fucking naked. I don’t think you can even call what they are wearing pants.”
She giggled as they walked up the staircase. They came across a long bench that sat up against the wall where people were sitting. “I have to go warm-up. You can sit here and wait if you want.” She offered taking off the coat and slippers that covered her ballet shoes.
Owen took them from her and grinned. “Sure thing, princess. That’s why God gave us cell phones.” He winked, giving her a kiss before sitting down next to a man who looked old enough to be someone’s great grandfather.
Jojo walked into a large room looking out in front of her at the open skyline, and then looked around to see that the rest of the room was all mirrors and bars. There were over twenty people there, stretching out and getting ready. After a second, she found a space that was empty and made her way to the spot. She put her leg on the bar and her head to her knee when two girls came and started to warm up next to her.
“Can you believe that they have a special judge here today?” One of the girls said happily.
“I know, right? All the way from Europe. How lucky can we be!” The other girl beamed. “And did you see him? Oh, so yummy!”
“I sure hope I get this part. I wouldn’t mind working with someone like that every day.”
“Who wants to just work with him when I can come up with so much more interesting things to do.” The one girl giggled.
“But I heard that he was married.” The other sighed.
“That’s never stopped me before!”
“You’re terrible!” The girl laughed.
“Hey, did you see that drool worthy babe sitting out on the benches?” She sighed. “Now that’s the kind of man I would want to take me home and into his bed.” The girl laughed, and Jojo knew right away who they were talking about. Owen was a gorgeous man, and there was a spark of anger that went through her when she heard these girls talking about him. But instead of saying something snarky, like she wanted, she took a breath and ignored them.
Soon one of the instructors walked into the room from the hallway that leads to the audition room, and she glanced up. “Josephine English” The woman called out, looking around at everyone, and Jojo rose her hand. “They’re ready for you.”
Jojo nodded and received a smile from the lady before she turned and walked back down the hall. She closed her eyes and rolled her neck out after the woman left the room and then followed. The door at the end of the hall must have been made of solid oak because she couldn’t hear a thing through it. With her hand on the nob, she opened it up knowing that no matter what, she was going to give this her best. Regardless if she knew what she wanted to do in her life considering her dancing career, she was going to give one hundred and one percent at this audition. If she didn’t get the part, she would know that it wasn’t from her lack of trying, and if she did get it, she and Owen would discuss what they were going to do together.
With her back straight and a smile pasted onto her face, she walked into the room ready to dazzle. She smiled at the first judge who was a man, then the next three were woman. But when her eyes hit the fourth judge, they stopped, and her smile dipped. There, right in front of her, was Vasily.