~26~

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After a relaxing night of board games and movies with the guys over in Kota and Victor's apartment while the paint dried, I had a fitful sleep. It got so bad that Gabriel actually crawled into bed with me, claiming my tossing was keeping him up. I didn't buy it, but was grateful for his company. He must have sung a dozen songs before sleep finally claimed me.

I step out of my room, refreshed and drawn by the scent of cinnamon and apples. Gabriel was gone when I woke, and when I exit the hallway, Luke greets me with a plate of apple fritters and a grin.

"Good morning, sunshine!" I smile at his enthusiasm, and at the fact that his apron says 'I cook in the nude', and swipe a fritter before taking a seat at the kitchen table. "Juice or milk?" He holds up a carton of each and I shake my head at both. I want a mocha. Reading my mind, he grabs one from the fridge, but also places a glass of orange juice before me and plants his hands on his hips. "You've got rehearsal today, Sang. You need more than just sugar and caffeine in your system if you're going to make it through the day."

In a fair imitation of North, he slides an omelette in front of me and snatches my fritter away before I can take another bite. Pouting, I try to grab it back, but he smirks and holds it high, out of my reach. "Eat the healthy stuff first, and I'll wrap up a couple of these for the road. Gabe told me to let you sleep, but if you don't hurry, you'll be late."

I glance at the clock and feel my pulse rate skyrocket. I have half an hour to get to rehearsal! I suck down the eggs, barely taking the time to notice the flavor, and bolt from my seat. "There better be some fritters for me when I get back, Lucian Taylor!" I mock growl at him, and he grins, shooing me to get ready. I throw my hair into a bun in less than a minute, and together, we rush toward his car.

At the studio, Luke hands me a bag filled with fritters and grins, holding up a second one for himself. "I have to work this afternoon, so Si will pick you up when you're done. I think he has plans for this evening."

***

Sweating and full of that meditative peace that comes from exhausting yourself physically doing something you love, I practically run into Silas as I exit the studio.

"Aggele Mou! You danced like a beautiful princess!"

He grabs me in his arms and swings me in a circle before setting me down and animatedly wiping his hands off on his shirt.

"You're covered in sweat, Sang." He smirks, and I grin up at him.

"Yep. Rehearsal was fantastic!" I pull him to the side, so that we're not blocking the entrance, and push him into one of the waiting room chairs. It's a little small for him, but he doesn't seem to mind, as it brings his face just a little below mine. I sometimes forget how tall he really is. "But you need to wait here for a little while longer, if it's not too much trouble. I have my last costume fitting before our rehearsals onstage, and I need to clean up before that. I promise I'll be quick."

"Not a problem, Sang." He waves his phone at me with a smile. "I can play games until you're ready."

Impulsively, still flying high on the endorphins from dancing, I lean over and place a quick peck on his cheek, which flames scarlet under my touch, and he grins wickedly at me as I pull away. Suddenly shy, I flee to the dressing room to freshen up, grateful that most everyone else had already cleared out. The small room with the bathtub is free, and I bathe at lightning speed, in and out before the water even has enough time to heat properly.

***

My tutu is a dream come true. Glistening crystals adorn the shimmering white tulle, and the lace overlay is made of tiny snowflakes. It's perfect.

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