Chapter Nine

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Days pass by without any sight of Blue again. Each day without hearing his snide comments and infuriatingly handsome smile reminds me why I'm here in the first place – for school, Juilliard, the school I fought tooth and nail to get into. I shouldn't even be thinking about another boy, let alone daydream about him during class. That's how I know he is wicked. He got in my head and twisted my mind to think of him as something else other than some rude guy my friend bunks with. When Friday comes he's barely a thought in my head.

"How is my baby doing after completing her first month at college?" Dad teases me, wrinkles tugging at the corner of his warm brown eyes. I stick my tongue out at him playfully, and he chuckles at the camera. Since he recently learned how to use Facetime, his phone angle lets me see up his nose, and I laugh at his innocent ignorance.

"I'm doing just fine, thank you," I reply and walk through a group of people. I'm currently on my way to dance class, and my dad decided to check up on me half-way there.

"Do you need any money?" he asks, cautiously slow. "I can send you some if you need, I got paid yesterday."

"No, no — I'm alright, save what you have," I tell him. I don't want him wasting any money on me. Instead of going out to eat like Riley does most days, I eat from the school's cafeteria. I didn't pay for a meal plan to blow it out on greasy food outside of school.

"Are you sure? I can go to the bank and transfer some cash right now." He starts to stand up from his spot on the couch, but I quickly stop him.

"Dad, I am sure. I don't need any money at the moment, but I promise to let you know if I do." The second I assure him this, I bump into a person. I profusely apologize, cheeks hot, and decide it's time to hang up. I'm nearing the dance studio anyway. "Hey dad, I have to go now, but I will call you later. I promise."

"Alright, have fun, butterfly. Go learn some spinning thing," he calls out, making embarrassing kissy noises. I cringe and quickly push the end button. Thankfully no one is around as I enter the empty studio. He is by far the most supportive dad in the world... but also the most mortifying, in a cute but horrific way.

Since I am the first one, as usual, I quickly change and begin to stretch at my own pace. Beethoven blares through my headphones as I stretch out my legs, arching my arms over my head. I take the serene moment to go over my plans today. I have to go out shopping for more leggings and other necessities, and protein bars. I'll ask Riley if she wants to come with, but I doubt she'll chip away time from drawing and proclaiming monologues in our room. Despite her neurotic personality, she's a nice enough person I like to call a friend.

Mid-way through stretching, the class begins to flood into the studio.

Dance class is getting even more intense. The two crying girls I noticed in the locker room after class was a clear indication. I can be foolish and say they let our instructor's words get in their head, but then I'd be exempting the rush of relief when I make it through the day with only a few remarks here and there. I've raised a thick skin since first putting on my pointe shoes, as did every other ballerina.

To craft a masterpiece I've had to be malleable to criticism, as do any artists, should it be writing, singing, playing instruments — everything you do gets criticized in some shape or form. You don't even have to strum a guitar or know how to wield a brush to be arraigned.

Which makes two tutu-clad girls with raccoon eyes of mascara running down their faces huddled in the locker room clarify what I expected... but secretly feared: no one is safe from ridicule. This school is known for pushing students to their best, not just to appear like bullies or anything. Just enough to make their school agenda clear as day — to create the next batch of artists to release to the world.

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