He's the Boss (Dance with Me) - Ep. 3
After quizzing me about my interview with Linc, Jemma drops me home. I walk up the driveway and knock on the door of Patricia's unit before letting myself into her place with the key she gave me.
Patricia is sitting in her living room in a dressing gown, her long salt and pepper hair down instead of up in its usual bun.
She stubs out her cigarette in the ashtray beside her and says, "How was your evening, love?"
"Good. I got the job."
"Of course you did. You're beautiful and clever. Anyone not interested in hiring you needs their head checked. Your old boss certainly needs his head read."
Patricia's loyal words make me smile. In the two years after Mum passed away, Belle and I lived with my uncle, and he helped out where he could. As a bachelor, he didn't know much about raising girls, but he was there to supervise Belle while I worked in the busy pub his friend owned. He met a woman through the internet a few years back, however, and moved to Queensland. Now Patricia is the closest thing we have to family in the state. There are two units on the block. We rent one and Patricia rents the other. Ever since we moved in, she's always put her hand up to help.
"How was Belle tonight?"
"Fine. At ten o'clock she was passed out in front of the TV. Just as well, really. She had Sex and the City on and Samantha was talking about some man's awful tasting 'spunk.'"
Patricia sees me grimace and chuckles throatily.
"I'm glad she missed that."
It had fallen on my shoulders to educate Belle about the birds and the bees. My sister was only nine when Mum died, and Mum had been too sick before then to explain anything about sex to her. Now I'm constantly challenged by how much to share with Belle, and how much she should know. I feel so lost sometimes. She's fourteen. Hardly a baby or young girl, as Jemma keeps pointing out. I know she's probably heard much worse at school, but I still want to protect her. She's still my baby sister.
"So, when do you start?" Patricia asks.
"Next Wednesday. Are you sure you don't mind keeping an eye on Belle four nights a week? It's not going to be too much?"
"Of course I don't mind, love. God knows what kind of neighbours I'll wind up with if you girls have to move out. The young man who lived there before you two had parties until all hours of the night and a car that woke me up all the bloody time."
I grin. She makes it sound like she only likes us because we're quiet, but her son left home a few years ago and I know she likes having us to fuss over.
"Well, I should probably go check on Belle, make sure she's gone to bed."
"Of course. Night, love. Talk to you tomorrow."
When I walk through the door of the unit I share with my sister, I can hear the television still going. Belle is passed out on the couch in the lounge room. She moans the moment I turn the lights on.
"I thought you'd be in bed, Belle," I say quietly, using the dimmer switch to turn the lights down.
"Wanted to wait up for you." She gives me a sleepy smile and then stretches. "I want to hear all about Midnight Frenzy. Ash is going to go mental when I tell her you met Lincoln Rivers."
I sigh and she wriggles over so I can sit on the couch with her.
It's a school night and it's well after midnight, but I don't mention this. I'm muddling through raising Belle the best way I know how to. Believe it or not, they don't write books on how to raise your sister. I've had to make do with reading every parenting book I can get my hands on and adapting the information to fit my situation. I'm constantly trying to find the balance between being a friend, a sister and her guardian.
I'm just grateful Belle seems happy. She studies hard and gets good grades, and she doesn't go out without telling me where she's going. I'm going to call that a win. Of course, she's only fourteen and we've got a long way to go, but I have to have faith in the relationship I've built with her. We're close. We talk. And even though we're a tiny family unit of two, we have our own traditions that mean a lot to both of us – like our Friday movie night and our Sunday chili night. I hate the fact that those traditions will be a thing of the past while I'm working at Midnight Frenzy, but we'll make new traditions. We Masters sisters can be adaptable when we have to be.
"So," Belle prompts. "What's he like? What's the club like?"
"Well," I start, smiling as mysteriously as I can. "The club is amazing. I don't know what I was expecting, but Midnight Frenzy is...I don't know how to describe it. Everything is big and bold. The staff dance-"
"Oh my God, I bet you love that," Belle squeals.
I nod. "Their routines are choreographed, and the dancing is really good – like the group numbers you'd see on So You Think You Can Dance."
Way, way, way sexier.
"And Linc? Ash will kill me if I don't tell her what you thought of him. She thinks he's like..." Belle changes her voice and mannerisms to copy her friend's over the top girly ones. "So dreamy."
Before meeting Linc, I would have rolled my eyes. Now I just look at Belle and whisper, "I think he's probably the hottest guy I've ever laid eyes on."
Belle's eyes are huge now and I can't help but laugh. "Shut up! Is he really that good looking?" she asks. "Ugh, Ash is going to be so jealous."
Linc Rivers isn't at all the person I thought he'd be. He's better looking than I'd ever imagined. He can dance well enough to be a professional. He teaches. He cares about his employees, and he doesn't try to screw them over, or just plain screw them. The moment he knew I was going to be employed by him, he stopped flirting with me immediately.
And the surprises didn't stop there, either. If I hadn't seen it for myself, I never would have believed Linc's office looked like that – a room devoid of the luxurious furnishings I would have expected a millionaire to have. No expense seems to have been spared when it comes to the rest of the club, but when it comes to his own personal space, he's made do. As an accountant, I appreciate that. As his newest employee, I'm not sure what to make of it.
"Did you study for your maths test?" I ask Belle.
She groans at my question. "Yes, I studied and then watched TV."
"What did you watch?"
"I flicked between channels. Caught the last half of Aliens." She sits up and grins at me, clearly more awake now. "Tell me more about Linc."
I sigh and look put out, but I'm anything but. Jemma already quizzed me about my first impressions, and I was careful with how I answered those questions because Linc is Jemma's boss too. With Belle, however, I don't need to be as guarded. After all, it's doubtful the two will ever meet. So, I give into her blatant curiosity and spill all the details. She's hysterical when I tell her I forgot my name while talking to him.
After we're done giggling and gossiping, I send her off to bed. I can't deny I'm nervous about how my being away four nights a week might change things between the two of us, but I have to trust we can make this work, at least for a short time. If things become too much to handle, I'll just have to leave Midnight Frenzy. This – what I have here with Belle – is all that matters. And nothing and no one will ever change that.
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