The Bad Boy Bargain(9)

By: Kendra C. Highley

The little ones paid attention for another sixty seconds before wiggling like crazy, so Faith relented and put on “I Like to Move It.” Squeals of delight went around the studio and the first graders hurried into place to start their hip-hop routine. Through the observation window, Faith saw the parents whip out cameras to snap pictures of their little darlings. She wished they loved ballet as much as she did, but this was the fun part for all of them.

“Okay! Crisscross. Clap, clap, clap!”

Once class was over, Faith went to the barre and did some stretches. She had an hour before the next class came in, and Madame Schuler let her use the studio to practice after she was done teaching for the day. Lifting her leg onto the barre, she bent her body from side to side, arm up and curved over her head. Her back loosened up and her calves stretched in a satisfying way. For the first time since catching Cameron last night, she felt a little less wound up.

She breathed deep and slow, letting her body settle itself. Why couldn’t it be this easy to relax her mind? Even though she’d planned to break it off with him, it hurt to know he’d throw her away without so much as a word. That didn’t matter, though. She was free for the first time in months. She should focus on that. She could do what she wanted when she wanted, even if that was to come up to the studio and dance until her toes ached.

Warmed up, she went to her dance bag to pull on her pointe shoes and put on some classical music. When she grabbed her phone, though, a long, long string of texts from Violet showed on the home screen.

V: Are you okay?

That one was from last night. She’d left the party after calling her mom to pick her up. Mom hadn’t made a big deal out of it, thankfully, but had seemed happy to know Cameron was out of the picture. Once Faith was home, she’d shoved her phone into her bag and gone straight to bed for a good cry and a long sleep.

Now, though, she realized she should’ve checked in, because the next few messages were alarming.

V: That bastard! Do you even…

V: He’s telling everyone he dumped you. Shit on a shingle! I’m going to kill him.

That was bad enough, but an hour later, it got even worse.

V: Girl, he just told five football assholes that he dumped you because, and I quote, “She was a coldhearted bitch. Couldn’t warm her up to save my life.”

V: I kicked his ass out after that, but…oh God, girl, the damage is done. Everyone is talking about it. Hell, Holly’s bragging that she’s “no little girl” like you. I kicked her out, too.

Faith sucked in a breath. Cameron was telling everyone he dumped her…because she hadn’t slept with him? A hand flew to cover her mouth and her stomach churned around the granola bar she’d eaten for breakfast. He was telling the whole school she was a bitch?

That asshole.

She dialed Violet’s number, then savagely tied on her pointe shoes while it rang.

“Hello? Faith?” Violet sounded worried.

“Tell me this is a nightmare. That he’s not going around trashing me.”

“I can’t,” Vi said. “I want to wring his neck, but I can’t because my hands are too little and his neck is too thick, the bastard.”

Faith growled in frustration and stood. She wanted to whirl around this room like a dervish, then drive to Cameron’s house and kick him in the balls. “First he cheats on me, then he decides to tell his friends I’m a bitch?”

“Yeah. I don’t know what to say, girl.” Violet cackled. “Except to get revenge.”

“Well, obviously, but how?”

“Sleep with the first guy you see.”

She made an impatient noise. “Not possible since that’ll be the janitor at the studio. Besides, I’m waiting on Mr. Right.”

“There’s no such thing, but you be you.” Violet chuckled darkly. “You need to make a statement, though. It doesn’t matter if you’re still a virgin as long as no one believes it. Make them think—rightly—that he was the problem.”

Was that even possible? Faith raised herself up en pointe, considering. A thousand girls in black leotards and pink tights wearing her face stared back at her in the mirrors covering the studio walls, each one uncertain, all angry. Would anyone believe it if she did what Vi said? Could she act that well?

She’d just landed the lead in the school play. Of course she could.

“You’re right. I need to do something.”

After they ended their call, she punched up some Tchaikovsky on her phone and did pirouettes until her head was dizzy. It was the only way to drown out the rage—and humiliation. She had to find a way to get back at that bastard. But how?

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