I tried to ignore Koby’s grumbling, wishing I could whack him as he filed through the door in front me.
“Zip it, man.” Nick snapped, pushing me forward to go in next. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Mrs. Darien asked us to stop and talk to a visiting dance troupe. She didn’t say who, or why, but everyone had merely assumed I was at fault. When you’re the only Christian member in a band, who just happens to be the leader’s ex-girlfriend, things aren’t easy.
The troupe was practicing with their backs to us, a large white sheet covering the mirrors they faced. Moving in fluid, graceful synchronization, I found myself transfixed.
“They’re beautiful.” Alyssa breathed. Shelby snorted, but didn’t contradict her. The music sounded familiar, but I didn’t get a chance to place it as the song ended along with the dance.
The dancers shuffled to sides of the room, and a woman spotted us, coming forward. It was her eyes and hair that brought me to my senses. Jet black, nearly waist length, sparkling purple eyes.
Jelena Mathur, seven-year winner of the world’s-most-talented-dancer award. “Hello. You must be the Screaming Whisper Band. Cassie Darien asked me to speak to you.”
I found my voice before the others did. “You’re Jelena Mathur?!”
She smiled. “That’s me-you must be….Laura.”
I couldn’t help the smile spreading across my face. “How did you know?”
“Save the act for later, Laura.” Nick growled, pushing in front, frowning at Jelena. “Whatever Mrs. Darien wanted you to say, say it now. I haven’t got all day.”
Jelena perked a brow at that, aiming a remote at the white sheet, she pressed a button. “I’ll show you instead.”
Images fuzzed then cleared, dancing across the sheet. Literally. That’s when I recognized the song.
Our big hit from the concert last night.
Shelby sucked in her breath and I knew she was trying to keep quiet. The images on the top half of the sheet were of us performing last night, those on the bottom, were Jelena’s troupe from a minute ago.
Compared to her version, our own looked like something my mom would change the channel on.
Jelena clicked it off, turning to look at Nick. He scowled, arms crossed over his chest. “I attended your concert last night. I suppose your music was alright-I had a hard time following the lyrics or anything else.”
She nodded towards, Shelby, Alyssa and I. “The messages you are sending to those young people, the images you’re portraying to your fans-are you aware of impact?”
Koby forced a laugh, and Nick glared at him, speaking up in the band’s defense. “Look, I appreciate your concern, you’re were famous before you became all religious-”
Jelena cut in. “Seven years ago I changed, mentally, physically and spiritually. I will also mention that for seven years, I’ve consecutively won the world’s-most-talented-dancer award. That has nothing to do with religion and everything with respect.”
Her eyes flashed. “When God gives you a gift, you don’t clutter it up, disguise it that you take away from it, or disgrace it. Music is a gift. An art. One to be valued-I felt like I was watching you throw it away last night.” She turned directly to look at me. “I noticed your heart wasn’t in it, but you didn’t drop out-why?”
All eyes turned to me, I swallowed. “Because….I’m a Christian, I don’t believe that God wants me to use…or dress…my body that way.”
“Why are you still in this band?” I mentally gave her points for bluntness, scrambling for a suitable answer.
“I-uh, well, I’ve been praying about it!”
“Kudos.” Jelena said dryly. “I’d be happy to teach you all some alternate dance moves and sequences, if you’d like.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “Like that’s all there is to ‘fix’ us.”
I think Jelena pitied him, because she leaned forward and whispered something into his ear that made him squirm, then look at the floor. Aloud she added. “There’s a fine line between ‘hot’ and ‘cool’.”
Her troupe gathered around her, studying us curiously. She turned the music on. “The choice is yours.” Her eyes searched us individually, and she held out her hand. “Who wants to dance?”
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