Ready for some conflict? I think Chantal is. Let's find out, shall we! Enjoy!
Hustle Into Love
Chantal looked at the furious woman in front of her and tried desperately to hold onto her own temper. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d blown up at a dancer who was giving her an attitude. In fact, she was famous for her dressing downs, but there was no way she was going to vent her anger now.
Not with Mace D'Avranches sitting in the audience.
Oh, she knew he was there. He’d tried to slink in unseen, but Chantal knew every square inch of her performing space. And he wasn’t the first critic to try and watch a show unannounced. Artists had a sixth sense where those people were concerned.
He was probably sitting up there watching her with those gorgeous ebony eyes and just waiting for her to make what he considered a mistake. Then he’d pounce and try and tell her what to do.
And then she’d tell him where to go.
She sighed. It was going to get ugly. Period. Full stop. Shaking her head, Chantal turned her attention back to the irate performer before her. She needed to deal with one problem at a time.
And Chóngdé Sun was going to be a problem. She shouldn’t even be on a stage. Every time the woman tried to do a choreographed move she looked more like someone jumping around and swatting bees than a sexy, sultry dancer. There were at least two others who were much better than her. So why had Chin made her lead?
“I have been your headliner since the casino opened,” Chóngdé hissed. “You have no right to take me out now.”
Chantal counted to ten. “I’m in charge, so that gives me the right. Now, I know things are changing, and you might not be happy about that, but I guarantee you, this is the way it’s going to be. So I suggest you get back in line and try to learn the dance steps.”
Fury turned the other woman’s face a mottled red. She stared at Chantal for several long moments then she gave a choking curse and spun around on her heel. She marched back and took her place with the others, her eyes flashing her discontent.
Well, that was fun. Shaking it off, Chantal took a deep breath and relegated the altercation with Chóngdé to the back of her mind. She glanced up at the darkened seats and wished she could do the same with Mace. The fact he was still sitting up there made her itchy. But as she’d told the dancers, they had work to do. She could only hope baby brother would get bored and dance on back up to his office in the sky.
Two hours later, she was hot, sweaty and thoroughly fed up with four of the dancers, including the irritating Chóngdé. If Chóngdé thought her instructions were stupid, the other three dancers would nod and ignore them as well. And it went downhill from there. If there hadn’t been four other women who were truly trying to learn and do their best, Chantal would have shut the whole thing down and gone to the nearest bar for a very large beer to calm her temper.
And Chin Zhao was no help. Every time she told the dancers to do something, he’d try and countermand her. Finally, she’d told him to keep his mouth shut or she’d shut it for him.
That had caused most of the dancers to titter uncontrollably, but Chin had only glared and stomped off stage. Chantal was very close to firing all of the malcontents, but then remembered Lì had advised her Asians were very different than Westerners in their work ethic. While most were extremely hard workers and would always go the extra mile for you if you asked, it was also true that in this part of the world, a lackadaisical attitude seemed to prevail when it came to workplace hierarchy.
It was frustrating to one like Chantal who knew exactly what needed to be done and how to do it, but if she were to make any headway with these people, she’d have to remember what her honorary brother had told her.
Yet…that didn’t mean she was going to take any crap. Not from someone who was supposed to be her choreographer, and definitely not from some woman who thought she was the next Ginger Rogers.
“All right!” Chantal clapped her hands and pointed to the dancer’s marks on the practice floor. “Line up and let’s try it again. And this time—” she shot a scornful look up at Mace who was still hiding up in the top row, “—pretend you have someone important up there watching you. Someone you like. So smile. And for God’s sake, don’t stare at your feet!”
She got into the proper pose in front of them. “Ready? Five, six, seven eight…” In the mirror she watched the dancers behind her, cringing as two of them turned the wrong way and collided with their sisters. “Come on! Don’t stop. Keep going.” Chantal executed a perfect petit jeté, then moved into a graceful pirouette. She smiled as two of the dancers followed her all the way through. A little awkwardly, but they at least didn’t forget which foot to start the jump from. And when they did the spin, they didn’t kick their neighbors and then fall on their ass.
“Okay, pretty good.” It wasn’t, but Chantal knew the benefit of a good fib now and then. “And remember, right after this, we go into more of a modern set of moves.” She demonstrated. “Step ball change, shuffle, shuffle, glide on air to a final arabesque, but toe to floor. Got it?”
“You can’t be serious.” Chóngdé stepped forward. The once immaculate woman now looked like every other dancer Chantal had worked with. Sweaty and exhausted. But unlike most professional dancers, the Asian had made the mistake of wearing full street makeup, and what she hadn’t wiped off during the practice was now running in black rivulets down her perspiring face.
“I’m very serious.” Chantal grabbed a towel and slid it over and between the cleavage of her breasts. When she heard the sound of a man groaning, she frowned and glanced offstage. Was Chin all right back there? Looking back at Chóngdé, she shrugged. “I told you at the beginning we were going to change up the disciplines. When you do it right, they all flow together like a beautiful melody.”
“And you will teach us?” One of the other dancers, the best of the lot, nodded eagerly. “Please, Madame? You will teach us?”
Yes! Got one. Chantal didn’t put her fist in the air but she wanted to. “Damn straight I will. And you—” she glanced over at her open notebook for the girl’s name, “—Dié? You keep working the way you are and I wouldn’t be surprised if you earn one of the lead positions.”
The young woman’s eyes widened. She looked like tiny astonished faerie. “Me?”
Chantal grinned and nodded, ignoring Chóngdé’s derisive snort. “You.” Then, not wanting to alienate the others who were also working hard, she went on. “Most of you are doing great. You want to learn and it shows. And that drive…that push to succeed is what is going to make a difference. You’ll see. In a couple of weeks, you won’t recognize yourselves.”
She glanced down at her watch. “That’s a good start for today. Why don’t you all take a break, and I’ll see you back here at five o’clock for our last practice session.”
There was a collective groan, but it didn’t bother Chantal. That she heard at every practice. “Five o’clock,” she reiterated with a chuckle. “Don’t be late!”
As you can see, Chantal doesn't take kindly to being told what to do. By a dancer OR a man. LOL It will be interesting to see what happens with Mace in the future.
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Follow Your Dreams