The Year Package

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Dancing on my Mind [Part 1]

𝕯𝖔𝖒𝖎𝖓𝖎𝖈


I should not be here.

I move the bouquet of flowers from one hand to another, I had convinced myself that flowers would be enough of a gift to hand to Mae before she asks what the hell I was doing at her house. Not her house, her mother's house. Her family home, which she wanted to visit. Alone. This is low even for me.

Borderline obsessive is what is it. No, actually this is just obsessive.

"Can I help you with anything?" A tall man is standing by the open burgundy door his hands deep in his pockets. "You've been standing outside my house for the past twenty minutes." It is here I am grateful for the fact that we are in Scotland, and he most likely doesn't have a firearm on him.

I rub the back of my neck, suddenly blank for any reasonable excuses.

"I'm here for Mae." Well, that just sounds possessive. "I'm her boyfriend, she said she would be here." And now you're lying.

He stands there, glazing me over unimpressed and not swayed with my reason. I place the flowers under my arm as I reach for my pocket.

"I have a picture of us." That part is correct, as traditional for Mae when she completes an outfit she'd taken a photo of it one for her notebook and another for me which she insisted I have.

"Come on Dominic, I'll put a timer on. Smile for me please," Mae said, angling my phone so it could capture us and the mannequin in between.

"Wasn't the first photo enough?" I asked, leaning an arm on the shoulder of the doll.

"I hardly ever get to take these photos with clients."

"Fine," I mumble, Mae pressed a button skipping next to me and did a thumbs up. A light flashed several times momentarily blinding us before it stopped. Mae went to the phone, turning it over before frowning.

"Damn I cut us off at the bottom, lets-" I snatched the phone out her grasp, lifting it high above her where I could still see, but she was unable to reach.

"It'll do, it got our faces in it." That was true, though the photo stopped just shy of our waist leaving out our legs. "And besides, you have the other photo."

I show the man the evidence, and he takes my phone to survey it closer, I am lucky it wasn't precisely to Mae's tradition.

"She made you a suit?" He hands the phone back to me. "My name's Max, I'm sure you know that already being Mae's boyfriend and all." The 'and all' couldn't have been anymore dismissive and I smile the best I can with my hand outstretched.

'"Dominic, nice to meet you." Max shakes my hand hard and firm before dropping it and shutting the door behind us, "I guess you brought the flowers for her performance this afternoon?" I stare down at the bouquet of white and pink flowers, most of which I don't know the name of.

I'm surprised she'd tell him of Kenny's performance. I clear my throat as his thought drifts through my head.

"She's performing as well? I thought it was just Kenny?" I try to come off knowledgeable as though Mae and I had discussed this like a proper couple.

"Kenzo will be dancing as well, it's a family thing. They dance together. Have you seen Mae dance?" That is a good question. Aside from our first night together which I would call more gyrating of the hips I haven't seen her dance.

"No, though I can imagine she's as good as her mother when she was Mae's age." Max narrows his eyes slightly at the mention of his wife, maybe I crossed a line. Mae's mother was in a wheelchair. Is that a touchy subject?

"Well, Daniele consults now." He checks his watch quicker than the average person would. "Show starts in about 20 mins. Did you drive?"

I turn slightly to point at the four-year-old silver Mercedes across the road that I had rented when I arrived to be as inconspicuous as ever.

Again plays into the possessive troupe Dominic. I frown at my inner thoughts.

"Great, follow behind?" Max doesn't give me much time to reply and heads to the black ford next to me. I take myself to my own car staring it up and waiting for the man who will no doubt leave me to the winding streets of Inverness the first chance he gets.

***

I step out of the car, slamming it shut behind me as Max steps out of his own next door.

The dance studio or at least where the performance is to happen is in a drama hall an extension to a secondary school.

The double doors had been left open, and I follow behind Max as he leads the way inside.

Chairs have been set up in several rows with a walkway in between them, and the rest of the space is filled with mingling family members.

The pressure of what I have done weighs on the back of my neck. You honestly could not have maimed yourself anymore. What excuse can I make up to leave? Could I compel Max to make him forget?

I stare at the man ahead of me talking to someone, faint creases in his light brown skin. There is no smell emitting from him that suggests he is anything but human. In fact, glancing around, I noticed no colours. The whole room is human.

"Mae is in the back getting ready," Max is standing next to me a drink in either hand. "Squash?" He hands me the orange liquid, and I smile, taking it from him.

"What can I expect this afternoon?"

"She didn't give you a schedule?" Max sighs, placing the cup on a nearby table before pulling out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket and hands it to me.

1. Sarah & David

Time Apart

2. Kristin & Layla

A Summer Breeze

3. Margret & James

A Midnight Song

I trail my eyes down the list of unimportant people until I find her name.

6. Kenzo & Lillian with Mae & Charlie

Dancing on my Mind

I hand the paper back to Max, who folds it away.

"It thought it was Kenzo and Mae?"

"It is, Kenzo has a dance partner for his piece, so Lilian's brother is paired with Mae. He performs professionally. She's in good hands."

"Could you call me when Mae is up?" I ask.

"Not trying to watch the other performances, I get that."

"But you're going to have to." A velvety voice broke between us and I turn, my gazing lowering to Mae's mother. Despite her sporting, a grey buzz cut in every possible way, she reminds me of Mae.

The broad smile that makes her cheeks rise and begin to cover her brown eyes, the jasmine scent that wafts around her. Her's felt tamer, with a hint of honey to it while Mae has a hint of chocolate. Either way, the smell was intoxicating and enriching every inch of my body.

"Mrs Niko," I smile politely. "My name is Dominic." I hold out my hand to her.

"Daniele is fine. I haven't heard of you before, Dominic." Daniele takes my hand, shaking it firmly. "Who is my daughter to you?" There is a bite to her words another reminder of Mae's own voice.

"Boyfriend would you believe, Daniele?" Max says. Daniele raises her brows, making an 'o' with her mouth.

"Well that would be a first, where has she been hiding you?"

"In America." I notice that voice and gulp loudly, looking past Daniele to Mae her arms folded, a smile that is wavering with every passing moment.

A.N. A little double post for you guys! Mae is not pleased, but I thought it'd be nice for Dominic to meet her family, albeit uninvited. Let me know what you guys think and most importantly, thanks for reading.

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