12. Pitying Enemies

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I ignored the sound of sobs as I hurried down the hallway towards Studio C. Paige was already inside, standing at a barre beside Jordyn and refusing to look at anyone. As much as she tried to hide it, it was crystal clear that she was hurt.

Nobody mentioned the dressing room drama as Becca and I pulled out a portable barre to share and Riley found a spot next to Summer. I was honestly still trying to process everything I'd heard. It was hard to believe that Lauren would just be kicked out of the Clique like that, but this was Paige Mazor we were talking about. And Lauren was dating her ex.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and bent down to touch my toes, focusing on the stretch and not the latest drama. Why had my old studios never had drama? Sure, there had been fights and betrayals, but nothing like this! This--this was more dramatic than I'd seen in most movies! Was it because there were guys at our studio? Or because Paige was the ultimate Drama Queen? I truly didn't get it.

While I was stretching, Carter entered Studio C. He received some dirty looks from the majority of the class as he found a spot alone and began warming up. Paige was practically seething as she glared at him, unable to tear her eyes off his evidently despicable figure.

After Carter shot back an equally angered look and got settled at his barre, Mrs. Ava entered the dance room. Lauren still hadn't showed; I assumed she was still crying in the dressing room. It made me sad to know that she didn't have any friends to comfort her when this was all said and done. Carter didn't even seem to care!

"Regular plié exercise!" called Mrs. Ava, not even noticing Lauren's absense. She pressed a few buttons on the music player and a classical song began streaming out. I put my left hand on the barre and tried to force myself into the zone. I couldn't think about Lauren when I was in the middle of dance class. Every time I'd lost focus before, the results had been disastrous. Today, I had to be on.

The whole class breezed through barrework in a blistering twenty minutes. Mrs. Ava was clearly wasting no time; she called out combinations with lightning-quick speed and handed out corrections as the exercises went. Perched on her blue stool in the corner of the room with her eyes narrowed at the student she was studying, she looked more business-like than ever.

I didn't receive a single correction the whole time because I was upholding my vow. I had never been more focused. I didn't look at anyone else once, or forget the combination we were working on. I was determined to have a perfect class. I wasn't going to embarrass myself in front of everyone any more.

By the time we finished grand battements, the last exercise for barrework, Lauren still hadn't arrived. I half-wondered if she'd already left the studio for the night and wasn't even planning on attending class. I got the chance to find out when Mrs. Ava called for an unusual water break in the middle of class.

"Be back in two minutes!" she called, fiddling with the radio as she spoke. "Hurry up!"

We all filed out of the dance room, panting from the quick, grueling barrework. Paige and Carter kept at least four people between them at all times.

Becca and Riley were engaged in a conversation, clearly not even noticing that I was walking alone, so I didn't say anything to anyone as I hurried into the dressing room and pulled my water bottle out of my bag. Lauren had left, but there was a pair of pointe shoes and a slip of paper on the bench. I leaned over to read the note, which was hastily set on top of the shoes.

Paige,

Keep your pointe shoes. Clearly, only a "friend" buys her best friend her shoes.

~Laur

The gesture was dramatic, but it was still heart-wrenching. It was like the final straw. Lauren and Paige were officially no longer friends.

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