Beyond the Ocean's Depths (Not an Average Shifter Romance)

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Chapter 32: Shall we Dance?

TOBIE

I couldn’t believe Anne wanted to go to La Azteca - on Salsa Nite, nonetheless! When she was little, she loved dancing, but sadly, as she got older and acknowledged her lack of coordination, her self-consciousness got the best of her and she gave up on it. But she really enjoyed Mexican food and said she was hungry for that tonight. I thought I might enjoy the music and she promised to dance a little with me, so I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity. It wasn’t like I had anybody else to go with. The food ended up being delicious, and I now had a new favorite restaurant in Navarro Beach!

After finishing our flan, I flashed Anne a smile, telling my semi-willing dance partner that it was time to partake in the offerings of the dance floor. I could tell she was putting on a brave face and told her that we could hang out on the side, trying to reassure her that no one would care how she danced as it looked like the number of professional dancers here tonight was about... none! So long as we were having fun, who cared how good or bad we danced!

We took it easy on the first dance, facing each other, hands at waist height, with Anne maintaining eye contact with my feet. “You’ve got it!” I encouraged as I led our easy side-to-side stepping, moving in time with the rhythm and beat.

At the end of the song, I managed to spin her under my arm as we both giggled, feeling carefree and silly. By the end of the second song Anne’s nerves were gone and we were simply having fun now. She was a beautiful girl, even if she danced a little awkward - she was my girl!

Turns out Salsa Nite was less about salsa music than Any-Latin-Music-Will-Go Nite, and the dance floor began to get a bit more crowded as more popular Latin Pop hits came on over the speakers. Halfway through Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ Senorita, Anne had excused herself to go to the restroom and left me alone to do my own thing. I was far from the only solo dancer, as I turned to face the center of the room, my back against the wall, swaying nonchalantly to the catchy tune.

I have no idea how long ago I’d been spotted, but if I’d realized my worst nightmare, in the flesh, had entered the establishment, I would have faded into the shadows and crawled back to our table ASAP, instead of swinging my hips and letting the music take over. How embarrassing!

The worst part was that I was still suffering over why Torin seemed to hate me so. I was here to forget about those kinds of problems, not face them yet again! All this week I’d had to endure facing that problem every time I ran into him - which seemed oddly frequent. With each stern expression and glare, I posed the question to myself. Why did he really hate me?

Besides the fact that someone hating me was unusual in itself, there was truly something deep inside me that cared about how Torin felt about me. And that something in my gut wanted - no needed - him to like me. In fact, I’d meditated on this very question in my alone time on the dock on the days I had seen him over the course of the week. “Why did it matter so much?!”

Back to the present moment, I now understood just how Anne felt about dancing in front of people - mortified! I instantaneously halted as Rainie waved from the middle of the dance floor, and I plastered a stiff smile on my face as I’m sure the blood drained from my features as soon I saw her dad standing next to her. When Anne approached them, and the girls started talking, I figured that was my cue to mosey on over and make-nice for a minute before telling Anne we should probably head home. She didn’t want to dance anyways.

“Hey!” I said, primarily talking to Rainie as the girls acknowledged my arrival, “Do you guys come for Salsa Nite a lot?”

I wanted to know which nights I shouldn’t come.

“No. Rainie and I have never been before - for dancing,” came Torin’s serious reply.

“Oh.” I issued in response.

“It’s our first time, too,” Anne volunteered telling them what we’d had to eat and how good the food was.

“Yeah, the food is pretty good,” Torin replied to her kindly. At least he didn’t treat my child like he treated me. That would have been grounds for execution. Perhaps that’s why she didn’t see, nor understand my extreme dislike for him. Well, maybe I didn’t necessarily dislike him as a human being - just his extreme and unreasonable dislike for me.

“Do you know how to dance?” Rainie asked Anne, who shook her head honestly telling her friend that she didn’t really like dancing.

Of course, the conversation couldn’t end there, and she proudly proclaimed, “But Mom does! She’s real good!”

My face turned beet red as the three of them looked in my direction, and Rainie proclaimed in tandem, “Dad’s pretty good, too! Way better than me!”

Well, now we were both embarrassed I thought, though I definitely did not make eye contact with him to see just how embarrassed he might be.

But Anne may as well have stabbed me in the back as she continued with enthusiasm, “Hey Mom, now you can dance with someone who knows what they’re doing!”

“Ah-haha...” I nearly choked on my shocked laugh as I made instant plans for the murder of my only child! Yeah right, I’d be the last person Torin Waters would want to dance with!


}<<(((}> * <{)))>>{


TORIN

What were these two girls trying to do, cause their parents to have heart attacks!?

I’d caught a glimpse of October doing a little solo dancing on the side of the crowd when Rainie pulled me onto the dance floor, just before Anne suddenly appeared out of nowhere, giving us a bright hello. I don’t know why I was surprised to see them here, as the duo seemed to be everywhere Rainie and I were this week!

Seeing October dancing alone, regardless of the short moment it was, it was apparent that she might know a little something about dancing. But after everything I’d put the woman through to date, I was probably the last person she wanted to dance with. And technically, I wasn’t so sure I would be safe dancing with her. She looked hot tonight, and my imagination (or Onyx’s) didn’t need any additional visuals of her sexy moves to implant into my dreams.

For a whole week after our coincidental bowling night, Rainie and I had managed to run into the Davis Duo several times, and I had to say that I was losing my edge. October had called my bluff at the bowling alley, though I was counting my lucky stars that I hadn’t had to explain myself at that time. And every time I saw October and Anne thereafter, they seemed to be having some serious mother-daughter bonding time. They were always cordial and pleasant to me, and especially to my daughter. And Anne seemed to be a positive influence in Rainie’s life as they were texting each other all the time and Rainie seemed brighter than usual.

If Anne had been raised by her single mom for almost a decade (at least that’s what Rainie told me), her attitude and positivity must reflect on her mother. It was becoming more and more difficult to find fault in the woman. And the worst of it was that I didn’t mind bumping into them nearly as much as I wanted to. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was starting to look for them with slight anticipation instead of apprehension when I’d go to town. So, when October nearly laughed out loud at the idea that her and I should dance upon Anne’s suggestion, I suddenly lost my senses completely.

“What, you’re not afraid I’d be a better dancer than you, are you?” I blurted out unexpectedly.

The girls giggled and October raised a shocked eyebrow. Oh yes! That’s exactly how it happened at the bowling alley when the girls forced us together and October had issued the initial challenge - I was simply returning the favor! Why?!

She took a deep breath, apparently weighing her options - I was betting that one part of her wanted to chicken out while the other part liked the idea of a challenge, though of course, that would actually mean dancing with me. I hadn’t given her any reason to think that I wasn’t so opposed to her anymore, and perhaps a part of me wanted to give her a hint, while the other part of me was still scared to death with Sandy’s ghost still hanging over my heart.

Nonetheless, I extended my hand towards the dance floor with a tentative smirk, which she most likely took as smugness, therefore helping her to make up her mind and accept my challenge.

“You’re on!” she proclaimed with confidence as salsa-extraordinaire, Celia Cruz’ La Vida es un Carnaval came on.

“Go Mom!” Anne whooped, while Rainie gave me her vote of confidence.

Making our way to the floor she faced me, and I felt both elated and nervous. I hadn’t really expected to be out here with her. We silently and mutually agreed that we needn’t hold hands or touch in any way, as we weren’t necessarily friends at this point and nothing in the rules said we had to dance together, just dance, right?

Little did I know that October was serious about dancing. And soon her feet and hips were taking over as she quickly found her element with the very familiar rhythm, beat, and tune. By the first chorus I’m not even sure if she knew anyone was on the dance floor, let alone me, as the next four and half minutes she stepped, swayed, and spun in her own little invisible box, obviously knowing how to Salsa extremely well.

If I wasn’t so awestruck by everything about her at that point, I would have at least tried to keep up - I did know a little bit about Latin dancing having lived so close to Miami all my life, after all.

“Ouch!” My whole body and mind said as she struck a final pose at the end of the song, while Rainie and Anne clapped giving October all the well-deserved accolades, at which she giggled towards the girls, completely ignoring my existence.

“Two out of three!” I suddenly blurted as she sported her own smug smile, finally acknowledging me, yet not having a clue as to what she was doing to me.

Her smirk turned up into a spectacular smile, and I think it was the first time she actually smiled genuinely at something I said to her, and she laughed, “You’re a glutton for punishment.”

“More than you know,” I wanted to say out loud.

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