Between work, finishing Leap of Faith, a week’s holiday and all the politics I’ve sadly neglected the site. I just don’t feel in the mood to speculate over the future or bemoan the past. Until the dust has settled and some time has passed for reflection, we won’t know how things will play out. So instead, I’d like to offer you a glimpse of Jack and Gareth that may or may not end up in book #4, Swings and Roundabouts.
I hope you enjoy!
“Can you waltz?”
Sweaty, tired and still breathing fast after his afternoon run, Jack had been about to pour himself a glass of water. At Nico’s question he paused, stepped away from the counter and twirled around the kitchen’s centre island in a carefully measured cadence. “Sure. Why?” He queried once he stood by Nico’s side.
“That prom thing,” Nico confided. “We got thrown out of the dance class. Well, Daniel did. But it wasn’t his fault. The instructor’s a creep. He keeps touching everyone. Hands on hips and ass and all. Daniel kept stepping away, and he kept yanking him back and… I’m sorry. I think… I think I was rude.”
“Did you hit him?”
“That’s a shame.”
Nico snorted. “Yeah. Jess came out with us, but now she’s pissed at Daniel and that’s never a good thing.”
“Ah, well,” Jack chuckled. “She’s got two left feet. She needs all the help she can get. Even if that help’s a creepy dance instructor. Who did you team up with?”
“The little blonde from the fencing team? She knows how to move.” Jack didn’t look the least put out. “It’s not a problem. Let me get cleaned up and then we’ll sort it out, ‘kay?”
He made his way up the stairs, mind going at double speed, and the moment he was showered and dressed he reached for his phone.
“Hey, Jack. I thought you’d call,” Pauline Wimmer greeted cheerfully. “I’ve already had words with Jess. Told her how much of a cow she’s been. But good for your two. They shouldn’t have to put up with that.”
“Yeah. I’m pleased they solved the matter. And without bloodshed. Nico even admitted he was rude.”
“He couldn’t have been rude enough, from what I’ve been hearing. Sorry about Jess, though.”
“Ah, they’ll make up again. Different question: you wanna come over and help me teach those kids to waltz? If we clear out the dining room there’s plenty of space. What?”
Choking sounds came from the other side of the line and then Pauline gasped, “You’re nuts. I can’t waltz or trot or whatever it is they’re doing!”
“Really? Ah well, come over anyway and I’ll show you as well.”
“You can waltz? Really? I had you pegged for trance or rock or something.”
“I don’t say no to that, but right now the kids need to waltz, so waltz it is. Are you coming over?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Want me to pick up Carol?”
“If you could. I need to shift some furniture and sort out the music.”
“Get the boys to help.”
“Don’t be silly. Daniel needs two hours to dress for Jess. And Nico needs two hours to give him grief over it… no way am I getting in the middle of that.”
“Well, in that case… I’ll bring the girls, pizza and ice cream.”
“Sounds good to me.”
That late of an evening, the house should have been dark and quiet. It wasn’t. Lights spilled from open windows as Gareth parked his car. Lights, and classical music. Along with shouts of laughter and admonishments to watch what you’re doing and get it right. Not sure what he was walking into, Gareth ignored the front door in favour of the path that led around the side of the house to the garden. The French doors between the dining room and the deck stood wide open. Every light in the room was on and three couples twirled and wobbled through the empty space amidst bellowed instructions and gales of laughter.
It was the craziest sight Gareth had seen in a long while. His eyes came to rest on Jack, who had Jessica’s mother in his arms and twirled her around while she almost suffocated on a wave of giggles. On the other side of the dining room, Daniel tried to spin Jess with much less success. And opposite him, Nico and a willowy blond girl stepped and spun a little more gracefully.
Nico had seen him first. He stopped his attempts at ballroom dancing and grinned. “Can you waltz?”
“Of course he can waltz,” Jack cut in from the far side of the room, smiling a greeting. “He was an officer.”
“Officers need to dance?” There was a hefty amount of dismay in Nico’s voice. Enough to remind Gareth of a conversation he’d had with Jack about Nico’s possible career choices. It seemed as if Jack had been right.
“Of course.” Gareth set his briefcase down. “What are you all doing here? I thought you were having dance lessons at school.”
“We thought so too.” Pauline came over and held out a hand in greeting. She was flushed and breathing as if she’d been running rather than dancing. But she was grinning from ear to ear. “It didn’t work out, so Jack suggested that he’d teach all of us here. And if you really can waltz, then maybe you should give Jess a hand and Daniel’s bruised toes a rest.”
“Mum! You’re awful.”
“Yep. Daniel is too nice to get his own back, so I’m doing it for him.”
The music changed from Viennese to English waltz and the four teenagers twirled much more neatly around the room. There was no sign of Jess stepping on Daniel’s toes, so Gareth held his peace. He took note of Jack’s smile, Pauline’s downright evil look and waited patiently to find out what had prompted dance lessons in his dining room.