"Cut the music!"
The director called, waving his hand at the air above him like he was swatting at a fly or something. I was in mid Pirouette when the classical music surrounding me stopped abruptly and the director rose to his feet. My heels met the wooden floor of the stage again as I tried to calm my breathing, my nerves still rattling my sore limbs.
This is it, this is the moment..
I swallowed back the lump forming in my throat and flashed him an award winning smile, "So when do I start?"
He chuckled darkly as he looked to the side at his partner and muttered something that was just out of ear shot before glancing back up at me, "I'm afraid you're not exactly what we're looking for. Thank you for coming."
My eyes went wide at his response then even wider as he turned his back to me, "What do you mean I'm not what you're looking for?" I shouted causing him to whip around, "This is my third time being called back; if I wasn't what you were looking for don't you think you should've told me that the first or second audition?" I didn't usually let things like auditions get under my skin. There's always that chance that you won't get it no matter how hard you try, no matter how passionate you are, sometimes it doesn't work out.
This though? This was like starving for days, weeks even, and having someone dangle a nice, juicy steak right above your nose so close that you can smell each and every herb rubbed into its flesh. It's cooked perfectly to your liking and if you weren't starving then, you're definitely starving now. You're jumping through hoops and doing tricks because you're made to believe that that steak is so yours: it's already got your name on it, your knife is all nice and sharp, and you've even set the table for yourself, lit candle and everything!
But then some smug douchebag director with the phoniest of toupees' and the ugliest of knit turtle neck sweaters snatches your steak away and says something dumb like, "Oh, were you hungry?"
Dancers are always hungry.
It wasn't like I had never been picked or anything because it has totally happened many times before, but to have missed out on other great opportunities because I thought this was my big break was what made rejection sting a little more.
"Look, Bridgette-"He began with a tired sigh paired with an exaggerated eye roll.
"Brittany," I corrected him, "My name is Brittany."
"Whatever," He shrugged without a care in the world, "You're a talented girl, your moves were clean and you have amazing posture, but there is nothing special about you. You have nothing different to offer, you're useless to me, and we're looking for something eye catching."
His words cut a little deeper than I wanted them to, but I kept on a brave face and willed the tears from falling, "Eye catching?" I breathed out the words, "I can do whatever you want me to. I can dance circles around those girls and you know it! Just tell me what you want to see. I can do anything they can, better even! I didn't come all the way to New York, blow off other opportunities, just to have you-"
"You think we haven't heard the story before?" He snorted, his partner chuckling next to him. "You're from a small town. You came to New York to make it big. You're living in a shitty apartment and you need the money to pay rent. It's tired and just by you trying to go into your whole life story like that shows how typical you are. I come across one of you every single day."
I chewed on my bottom lip as he spoke; too choked up to even come up with a good argument as to why I'm perfect for this position. His words were sinking in faster than I could shrug them off and soon I actually kind of believed him. Nothing special. Nothing different. Useless. Eye catching. My brave face was starting to crack as I remained standing there and it was only a matter of time before I was stuck on the stage bawling like some child.
"Okay," I muttered with a nod and walked off the stage to the changing room, not able to bear one more minute under the hot lights and the director's criticism. I managed to wiggle back into my jeans and hoodie without shedding a single tear before stuffing the rest of my things into my duffle bag and rushed out of the building.
On the walk home I kept replaying the director's words in my head. It was like he knew exactly who I was; he didn't even have to read my pages, just glanced at the cover and formed his opinion so easily. He was right though: I did come from a small town, in Arizona to be exact, I do live in a shitty apartment with my boyfriend and right now he and my Dad are the ones paying the rent since I couldn't get a dancing gig, and I did move to New York to make it big. I kicked at the concrete as I realized how predictable I came off to the director then shook my head. Maybe I was as ordinary as they come.
Dad always said to choose words wisely because words can either heal the heart or poison the mind. With that, I've always been careful with what I said because why poison when you can heal? Clearly the director had other things in mind. I've always been an optimistic person, in high school they used to call me Sunny because I was always so happy and bright, but even the Sun has days when the rain clouds block its rays. I guess today was one of them.
At least my boyfriend will know what to do; Sam always sort of has a good idea and right now I just need someone to shake me from my gloomy thoughts and tell me everything will be fine.
After climbing the two flights of stairs, I dug the keys out of my dance bag and tired unlocking the door. Our apartment wasn't too shitty like the director had called it; I found it rather cute actually! It was a perfect size for just two people, it was nice and cozy.
"Hey babe, I'm home!" I called as I laid my bag on the kitchen counter and staggered my way into the kitchen, tripping on a pair of Sam's jeans or flannel shirt as I went. I rolled my eyes as I regained my balance, wanting to get a little frustrated at his messiness but choosing not to because I've already had a rough day, I don't need an argument with my boyfriend looming over me too. It wasn't until I poured myself a glass of iced tea that I realized I hadn't seen his goofy face greet me yet.
We hadn't really been together for that long, just a little over eight months, before we decided to leave Arizona and head out to New York but we both wanted to the same thing: get out of our small town and experience new things. We happily packed our bags and took the next flight out to the big city and have been trying to settle in for the pass couple months. Sam fell into a routine faster than I did though as he quickly found a job that paid enough for a little over half the rent. I on the other hand had a tougher time, but I totally believe the saying good things don't come easy so I took it upon myself to audition for everything I could.
I shrugged casually at not getting a response after calling Sam's name again; he's probably taking a nap, working doubles are rough and I had no problem with it since he was the only one with a normal job while I was still on the hunt for a dancing gig. I was more than okay with being the girlfriend that gave massages and attempted to make dinner because he was always so sweet and he worked so hard at keeping this place for us.
Suddenly a nap sounded pretty nice and seeing as it was getting slightly cloudy outside on my walk home, it was perfect cuddle weather! With the kind of day I had, cuddling with my adorkable boyfriend sounded like the perfect cure.
After setting my empty glass into the sink, I headed toward our bedroom, stumbling over yet another pair of pants. I made a mental note to bring up Sam's habit of leaving clothes everywhere as I grew closer to the cracked door. Someone could totally trip and sprain an ankle or something, but I'd wait to bring all that up until after the nap. It wasn't until my palm was pressed against the wood that I heard the softest of moans come from the other side of the door.
Hoping that maybe my mind was playing tricks or that it was just Sam watching porn, which I've only walked in on him doing once, I took a step away and looked down. As I stepped back, I realized that the second pair of pants I tripped over just seconds ago was actually women's and definitely not mine.
My chest tightened even more as my heart rate sped and I looked back up at the crack in the door. After that, my body sort of went on auto pilot.
I roughly pushed the door open, bracing myself for the image about to be burned into my memory, and just stood there shocked.
"Brittany!" Sam yelped and fell awkwardly off the girl beneath him, the sheets tangling around his bare body as he rolled to the floor and quickly jumped to his feet, "Uhh..it's not what you think!"
My jaw fell a little as my brows rose to my hairline. I thought people only said that in movies, it's not what you think, what else am I supposed to thing when my boyfriend is wrapped in our bed sheets, naked, with some other girl? I couldn't believe what I was seeing and really I didn't even feel a thing. I was numb. I was heartbroken. I was completely done.
"Baby.." Sam pleaded, taking hesitant steps towards me, breaking me from my daze.
"You have got to be kidding me."I managed to choke out, my insides churning and begging to crawl out of my mouth. I took one look at the familiar girl staring wide eyed back at me, her hands clutching the rest of the sheets to her naked chest for dear life, and shook my head, "Our neighbor? Really?"
My body tingled with rage and hurt and my eyes blurred with all the built up tears of the day, "How could you?" I sucked in my lips and spun away before my knees could buckle beneath me and I collapse to the floor.
"Britt, wait! Brittany! Please!"
Sam called for me but I was already grabbing my bag and slamming the front door behind me. I ran down the stairs, two steps at a time, and hoped that I didn't fall on my face as I went. Not like life hadn't already kicked me down and rubbed my face in the mud anyway, I just didn't want to add to it all.
I didn't remember how long I ran for, but by the time I finally stopped, it was already night. Amazingly enough, it ended up not raining so maybe there actually was someone up there looking out for me. At the first sight of a slightly less busy sidewalk, I let myself slump down against some hole in the wall diner, the bricks scratching my back roughly as I slid down. I tucked my knees into my chest and finally just let it all out.
How could one day be so damn bad? How could the whole world seem to crumble in a matter of hours? What could I have possibly done in a past life to deserve this? I'm a good person, I always do right by people, I always tip well, I'm a nice person; I don't understand!
I didn't know how long I sat curled up on the ground crying like that, but when I felt someone nudging at my foot, I picked my head up and was met with a pair of hazel eyes staring questioningly down at me.
"Hey-uhm-my friend owns this place and he hates when the homeless try to camp out here; bad for business." Her voice was so soft and sultry that she could probably insult me and I wouldn't even notice. Her perfectly sculpted brow quirked as she looked down at me in this analytical way before she spoke again, "But you're way too clean looking.." I just sniffled and rubbed at my nose with my hoodie sleeve.
"I haven't showered since last night.." I mumbled sadly but she just smiled angelically and tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind her ear before folding her arms.
"So you are a homeless person?" She challenged, the corner of her lips pinched to the side like she was trying not to laugh.
"N-no..well, maybe? I don't know, I don't really want to live with my boyfriend right now so.." I trailed off as I felt the tears starting to brim again at the mention of what had happened earlier. I dropped my head back on my arms and let out another body shuddering sob.
"Hey, I know what you mean," She sighed apologetically causing me to peek up at her, "Stuff happens.." She shrugged then held out her hand and smiled, "Here, it's really dark out and I don't think you should be sitting out here alone. Come inside, we can talk about it if you want, dinner's on me."
I looked at her extended hand then up at her skeptically, "I haven't eaten anything off another woman since college.." Her face contorted in an unreadable expression and I actually thought I might've broken her by how she seemed to go from friendly to confused to laughing.
"Come on," She giggled breathlessly and wiggled her hand out to me again, "Rory makes the best burgers on this side of town and you'll learn to ignore the accent." I furrowed my brows at whoever Rory was, maybe the owner? "I'll even tell him to serve it up on a plate if that makes you feel better?"
She seemed genuine enough, but I've been fooled before. Then again, I'm pretty sure I'm already at the lowest of lows; I doubt anything she could possibly have up her sleeve could do any worse.
"Well, I am a tiny bit hungry.." I mumbled and finally reached up to take her hand. She helped me to my feet and I was a little surprised at how sore my legs actually were from running so much earlier.
She smiled and led me toward the entrance of the diner, "I'm Quinn by the way."
"Brittany." I replied politely and returned her friendly smile as we both entered the brightly lit restaurant.
"Alright Brittany, have a seat at the counter and I'll let Rory know you're with me." Quinn instructed and nodded to the red and white leather bar stools lining the high counter top as she walked toward the younger guy working the register. I watched as the two talked; Quinn had this kind of charm about her, like the slight flutter of her eyelashes and the way she leaned against the counter could make anyone do anything she wanted. It was no secret she was pretty, I mean like really really pretty, like she could possibly have the face of an angle or something she was that perfect looking. Especially now that we were in the light and I could see all her facial features and how her milky skin seemed to glow under the white lights. Quinn seemed like one of those girls that constantly have people tripping over themselves to get her attention.
Kind of like the poor guy behind the register..
I wasn't necessarily attracted to her, she's very pretty and all but she isn't really my type. It was endearing to watch her be so charismatic though and I quickly found myself wishing that I had the same effect on people.
She's something different, she has something new to offer; I bet she doesn't have a problem with directors not wanting to hire her.
I was waved out of my thoughts when I registered her calling my name.
"What's that?" I asked from my end of the counter.
"What do you want to drink?" She repeated and held up a clear, red-tinted, plastic cup in her hand.
"Can I have Dr. Pepper?" I asked after a shrug; I need a little caffeine. She gave a single nod in response then turned back to the cashier and pointed the cup at him to take. He took the cup with this love struck grin and spun around to the ice bin while Quinn walked, well more like floated, my way as she slipped out of her jacket and sat down next to me.
"So Brittany, how long have you lived in the big city?" She asked as she settled her chin in her hand and tilted her head to me.
"A couple months now.."
"Yeah, I thought so." Quinn nodded. I kind of wanted to slump in defeat because of how easily people can read me, like seriously, am I that transparent? Just as I was about to ask how she knew, the cashier she was previously chatting with walked over with our drinks.
"Dr. Pepper," He said with a heavy Irish accent and set the cup down in front of me then set down Quinn's in front of her, "And sweet tea for a sweet lady." I giggled at his attempt at being flirty then at Quinn's scrunched up nose.
"When are you going to give that line a rest?" She teased, shaking her head as she slid the cup closer to her and took a sip, "Mm, just like home."
"Yeah, we kind of took your advice." He replied shyly.
"Good. Oh, Brittany, this is my incredibly charming friend, Rory. His family owns the place." Quinn smirked as she nodded to the Irish, "Rory, this is Brittany who is not a homeless person."
"Hi." I greeted meekly, my cheeks flushing at her description for me. Rory just chuckled and returned the greeting before nodding to the kitchen and muttering something about starting our burgers and fries. We fell into a silence as we both sipped slowly at our drinks until my curiosity got the better of me.
"Why are you being so nice to me?" I asked and faced her fully. My tone was harsher than expected, but I was over being taken advantage of, "You know I'm new to the city, if you're going to rob me you're out of luck, I'm broke. So what is it?"
She smiled again, almost like she was amused, as she turned to face me fully too, "Why should I go out of my way to be mean to you?" I instantly thought of what my Dad always said about being kind to people and I felt my shoulders ease. "You look like you've had a rough day, no one sits on the dirty ground in the middle of the night crying because their life is going just the way they like it. You seem like a good person too and honestly I felt a little bad for you." I chewed on my bottom lip and turned away to swirl my straw around in my cup; she pitied me, of course. "In a way, you kind of remind me of myself a few years back. We've all been new that new kid on the block before so I know how you feel, it can get tough. It's hard to fit into a place where everyone moves so much faster than you, you know? You just want find your place, somewhere you belong." She trailed off, "Hell, when I first moved here I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb! I was naïve and people were constantly giving me strange looks whenever I spoke, I had an accent back then, but I learned to adapt. You can too." I looked back over to her as she spoke, but this time she was looking down at her hands, her fingers pinching at the threads of her sundress, like she was going into deep thought. I made a mental note to ask her where she was from, I guess somewhere sunny like Florida or something. But as if she sensed me staring, she lifted her head and stilled her fingers, "Also, I don't think muggers would offer to treat you to dinner beforehand." I felt myself smiling as she teased me then spun around to face her drink like she was signaling that was the end of that conversation.
"Thank you." I replied, "That's really nice of you."
She just shrugged casually as she took a break from sipping, "Us girls have to look out for one another."
Shortly after, Rory came back around with our plates stacked with burgers and fries. I was kind of surprised at how someone so dainty looking as Quinn could really dig in! For some reason, I had this idea that she was going to eat her burger with a knife and fork. I didn't realize how hungry I was until I took my first bite of one of the best burgers I'd ever had. I was about half way through when I started to slow down and really enjoy the meal.
"You're so right." I smirked as I picked up another fry, "This is really good."
"Told ya! I'm pretty sure it's the fries that make it, you know the Irish love their potatoes. They probably had these flown in illegally or something." She winked and took another bite of her burger then pushed her plate away like she couldn't eat anymore, "So about this boyfriend.."
I had almost forgotten my reasoning for being on this side of town and not cuddled up on the couch eating take out and watching tv with Sam. I picked at my fries as I let out a deep sigh, it's better to talk about things rather than bottle them up, "I walked in on him with another girl-"
"In our bed."
"With the neighbor."
"Are you serious?" She gasped, "What a jerk!"
I just nodded, "Did I mention the girl's name is Kitty?" She shook her head in disbelief, "I knew I should've suspected something when she kept making all those cat puns and purring at him. I mean, really? Who on Earth names their kid Kitty? It's weird and makes me wonder if she has a brother named Doggy or something." I watched as Quinn tried to stifle her laughter as I continued to rant, "I don't understand what went wrong with us; I swore we were fine this morning. We rarely ever argued, it's so..it's so surprising. I never pegged him as that kind of person. I don't even know where to go from here; I don't even know what to say to him when I go back. I'll have to go back sooner or later. I don't know where to go; he pays for most of the rent while my Dad helps with the other until I find a job. I'm just.." I trailed off as I felt the tears brimming again.
"I'm so sorry about that, Brittany." She replied apologetically and rubbed her hand at my back comfortingly, "No one deserves that kind of treatment."
"That's not even half of it.." I sighed through a watery smile, "I walked in on him after I had just got turned down from one of the biggest opportunities since I moved here. I focused so much on just that one that I missed out on others. I don't know why I did that, deep down I knew better than to rely on just one thing." I shook my head in frustration and looked down at my lap, "I knew so much better."
"Well you know, Brittany, you're in The City of Dreams." Quinn answered softly, "And one thing you'll learn about living here; big opportunities are everywhere if you want it bad enough."
"You think so?" I asked, peeking up at her to see shinning hazel eyes staring down at me.
"Definitely." She nodded certainly and withdrew her hand from my back. She looked as if she was going to say something else when Rory called out to her.
"Phone for you!" He waved an old school, corded phone in his hand and pointed to it for emphasis.
"Who is it?" She asked like she was annoyed he was interrupting.
"Who do you think?"
"Tell them I'm not here!"
"Quinn, she can hear you.." Rory deadpanned, "Please, take the call. She's threatening to have Santana come get you personally. I don't want that, last time she almost broke a window!"
"Key word: almost."
"Quinn, come on.."
"Fine!" She huffed as she hopped off her stool and started making her way towards him, her demeanor slightly less angelic.
"Hey! Don't look at me like that, I'm just the messenger." He laughed as she snatched the phone from his hand and brought it to her ear. I watched as she slumped against the counter tiredly and listened to whatever the person on the other line was saying. Rory chuckled at the sight and slung a dish towel over his shoulder and walked towards me.
"Finished?" He asked and nodded to my plate.
"Yes, thank you." I answered. He smiled politely and started to stack our dirty dishes while I remained watching Quinn.
"You'd think they'd learn to try her cell first." He joked causing me to look to him with a quirked brow, "Then again, I'm sure they know her well enough to know she turns it off after."
"What do you mean?" I asked confused.
"Her work, I bet you they're trying to call her in on her night off." Rory shrugged as he took the plates and set them at the back counter, "I wouldn't be surprised if one of them came in looking for her, it's happened before."
I turned back to watch Quinn, instantly curious as to what she does for a living. Maybe a lawyer or journalist? Or maybe something glamorous like a fashion designer from how stylish she dresses? But working this late? That crosses out most guesses. Maybe she's a cop! They work super late and have random hours..
"What does she do?" I asked skeptically.
"She's a Babysitter." He answered simply. I looked back at him as he continued to moon over the girl still on the phone. Well, I certainly didn't expect that. It was weird, I couldn't really picture Quinn dealing with messy babies and changing diapers. She was way to, I don't know, pretty for all that. Not saying that she couldn't get her hands dirty or anything, but she seemed so much better than babysitting.
As if on cue, Quinn's voice rose to the point where I could hear her from where I sat.
"Come on, Sue, this is my day off!"
"Yup, they're trying to call her in." Rory sighed just as Quinn hung up the phone and stalked back over to us, "Duty calls?"
"Yeah, it was a nice day off while it lasted," Quinn shrugged as she slid back into her jacket then as if she almost forgot I was there she looked to me, "It was nice talking to you, sorry I have to leave so soon."
"That's okay, thanks for dinner." I smiled as she adjusted her jacket sleeves.
"You're welcome. Here," She pulled out a matchbook from her pocket and reached over to steal Rory's pen from his shirt pocket then started to scribble something down, "This is my number. If you need a friend or anything, give me a call." She clicked the pen and handed me the matches with a smile before sticking the pen back in Rory's pocket, "See you around!"
"Hey, wait!" I called just as she reached for the door.
"Where are you from?" I asked curiously, "Like where did you live before New York?"
She smiled sweetly and in her best Southern drawl she answered, "Savannah, Georgia."
Huh, I guess that explains the sweet tea comment from earlier and she does kind of have this sweet southern girl vibe too..
She waved one last time and shut the door behind her.
I stared after her, amazed at how she seemed to leave the both of us speechless by her grace. She seemed like a nice person and I wasn't used to someone being so friendly like that. I silently hoped that she would turn out to be a really good friend to me. Rory let out a lovesick sigh as he lifted a hand and covered his shirt pocket while a dopy smile filled his face.
"She is an angle." He whispered lovingly, drawing me out of my thoughts, "What'd she give you?"
Looking down, I flipped over the set of matches to see a logo of a baby bottle that looked to either be filled with pee or beer and the words Sloppy Babies printed in deep red above it.
"Ah, those are rare." He said nodding to the matchbook, "If a Babysitter gives you a matchbook, it's a formal invitation. You have to go."
"I don't have to go.." I mumbled as I stared down at the picture, "What kind of daycare gives out matchbooks to advertise anyway?"
"A daycare?" He laughed and shook his head, "No, definitely not a daycare." The way he disregarded my guess had me wondering what exactly Quinn did for a living, because obviously we didn't have the same definition of a babysitter. "It's this really awesome place; beautiful girls, great music, lots of alcohol.."
"So she's a stri-.."
"A Babysitter, the best in my opinion." He said proudly then leaned on the counter, "How long have you been living here?"
"A couple months?"
"And you've never heard of Sloppy Babies?"
"Well, you are missing out!" He answered, "Go there tomorrow night, take that with you too and show the bouncer. Free entry!" I nodded as I stared down at the matches.
Shortly after Quinn left, I decided it was time to head back to reality and go home. As much as I didn't want to see Sam, I really had nowhere else to go. Surprisingly, with Quinn's words replaying in the back of my mind, I found the walk home slightly easier. By the time I got back, it was nearly midnight and the apartment was pitch black aside from the bathroom light being on.
Of course, Sam always leaves the light on and his clothes everywhere and-
"Britt?" His voice called from the shadows as I kicked off my shoes and set down my bag on the counter. He moved slowly from the darkness, the light from the bathroom revealing only half of his body, "I've been trying to call you for hours." I let out a tired sigh and walked past him to the bedroom so I could changed into some pajamas before grabbing my pillow then choosing to leave it because Kitty probably had her head all over it, "Britt, please talk to me."
"I have nothing to say to you, Sam." I answered sternly and walked back out to the living room. As I walked pass him again, he reached for my arm.
"Brittany, I'm sorry!" He pleaded and tried reaching for my other arm, "Please, let's talk about this."
Roughly shrugging out of his grip, I pushed away from him, "Don't touch me. We're done-"
"We're going to live together until I find my own place; my dad will still put up my half until I find a job too-"
"But that's it, Sam. What you did-what I saw, I just can't believe you!" I started to feel tears forming again and I actually got frustrated with myself for crying so much in one day. "You hurt me, Sam, you hurt me really bad. I'm a forgiving person and all, but a couple sorry's isn't going to fix this."
"Britt, give me another chance..I-I love you."
"No, you don't." I answered firmly and spun around to face him, "I just want to go to sleep, okay?" He looked to the floor sadly and nodded before turning away back to the bedroom. My heart ached as I set up my sleeping arrangements on the couch and braced myself for the worse sleeps ever. I felt so tired, but my restless mind kept me from drifting off. I kept replaying the scenes from today over and over again and each time I just wanted to bury my face in my palms.
Never would I have ever thought that finally hearing those three words fall from the lips of someone I actually cared about would make feel so awful.
You don't cheat on people you love.
I flipped over on my back and stared up at the ceiling fan, my hands folding and finding purchase on my stomach.
Tomorrow would be a new day though; I'll wake up early, resist the urge to flick Sam off if he hasn't left for work yet, maybe go for a run, treat myself to ice cream after, visit the park or something. I'll just have a me day and I won't dwell on how horrible this day was.
My body buzzed with anticipation as I thought of all the possibilities, but I couldn't tell which had me anxious more: a day dedicated to cheering myself up or taking a visit to this mysterious place dubbed Sloppy Babies..
A/N Second Best was starting to get a little difficult to write(angst is tough!) and I kinda missed writing something comedic. Also, Unholy Trinity..I sorta love the dynamic & I love me some Burlesque and Coyote Ugly. I don't want to confuse you into thinking that this is going to be a Quitt love story or anything, it's most definitely Brittana. I've written the first 3 chapters already, so let me know if I should keep this going!