"James kill the alarm please." Riley groaned as the sound of symbols banging together pulled her from a restless sleep. She felt the figure next to her shift.

"On it." James mumbled as he reached over and hit the button on the top of the clock. This wasn't any ordinary alarm clock. On top of the digital clock sat a racoon that banged symbols whenever the alarm went off. The alarm had been a gift from West when they moved into the house a couple months ago. They were both annoyed by it but neither James nor Riley could bring themselves to unplug it.

James rolled over and placed a kiss on her cheek. "Good morning fiancé."

Riley smiled and let out a sign of content as she snuggled into his side, "I love hearing you say that.

James smiled back and sighed when he thought about the time.

"Come on babe we have to get up. We need to get to the studio in an hour."

Riley groaned, "Just 10 more minutes babe."

James let out a huff of laughter, "Come on Riles don't make me tickle you." He teased.

Riley turned over and glared at him "You do that, and I'll turn off the hot water while you're in the shower," she jokingly threatened.

"How are you going to do that if you're in there with me," he said playfully and wiggled his eyebrows causing her to roll her eyes playfully and tossed a pillow at him.

Riley stretched and slowing slid herself out of bed. "Sorry babe I don't think he have time to shower together this morning. Afterall you're the one who said we have to be at the studio in an hour." She teased playfully, giving him a playful smirk as she made her to the bathroom.

An hour later Riley and James were walking hand and hand into The Next Step studio.


As she sat at the desk in the office working on paperwork, Riley couldn't help but reflect on everything that had happened the past few months.

I can't believe I'm in this office again. It's my office. So much has changed these last six months. James and I moved back to Toronto after I graduated from business school. We always planned on coming back and with my graduation and the band no longer together the timing was kind of perfect. While I was in business school, James and his band had done really well. They released three albums, went on a couple of tours and one of their songs reached number 2 on the charts. James and I spent one summer traveling with the band on a world tour. We went to England, France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia. The band dissolved a couple months ago. It wasn't because of any drama or bad blood, all the guys including James just wanted to do something different. He still talks to them all the time and we saw them a couple months ago at our engagement party.

She found herself smiling while thinking thought about the engagement party and looked down at the ring on her finger in front of the promise ring James had given her years ago.

After 8 years together, James had kept his promise and proposed. I obviously said yes in a heartbeat. We were on a picnic eating shawarma a few weeks after we moved into our new house, and he had asked the question. I could not have asked for a better proposal. Soon after we had an engagement party at our place, and everyone was there. Our parents and our family from The Next Step.

Riley looked over at one of the photos on my desk. It was a photo of all of A Troupe at our victory celebration after we won internationals.

We've all come so far this that day. They're all off achieving their dreams just like James and I were.

Part of the reason we moved back to Toronto was because Ms. Kate had offered us an amazing opportunity. Ms. Kate received an offer to teach at a preforming arts school. It meant she would have to step down as Studio Head. Since I had graduated business school, she offered me the job to become studio head once again. She had also offered James the position of Head Choreographer.

Now here we are running the same Dance Studio that we had both started at so many years ago. It was a lot of work, but we're loving it. We won the qualifier a couple weeks ago and now we're getting A Troupe ready for regionals. Additionally, Ms. Kate is also expanding the studio, so I'm coordinating the renovation. It's a lot of work, but I love it. I'm doing my dream job, working with my fiancé, in a place that is very dear to my heart. I have no reason not to be happy.

"Good morning Ms. Riley" a voice said pulling Riley from my thoughts.

She looked up from her laptop and smiled when she saw one of the newest members of A Troupe standing in the doorway.

"Good morning, Lucy," Riley said.

"I have my check for you for the travelling expenses for regionals." She said holding an envelope in her hand. "Thank you for giving me some extra time to hand it in."

"Not a problem Lucy, thank you for bringing it to me. It's a good thing too because I need to book the hotels and you just reminded me." Riley gave her a smile and made a mental note to book the reservations before the end of the week.

"My Grandma wanted to know if you needed extra chaperones. It's my first competition on A Troupe and I think she really wants to see it." Lucy said, blushing.

As studio head Riley certainly didn't have favourites, but she really liked Lucy. She had gotten to know her well since she and James started running the studio. Lucy was a hard worker, a smart student, a really talented dancer and had such a big heart. James would say from time to time that she reminded him of Riley back when they first joined A troupe.

Their lives couldn't have been more different though. While Riley had grown up with loving parents, a comfortable life and so many opportunities, Lucy had lost her parents when she was five and had been raised by her grandmother who was the sweetest lady you could ever meet. She didn't have a lot of money and she and Lucy lived in a small apartment and Lucy also worked part time so that she could help her grandmother pay for dance. Despite all of the hardship in her life, Lucy was one of the most positive people Riley have ever met.

"Once I get the details firmed up, I'll let you know, okay?"

"Thanks Ms. Riley." Lucy said, giving the older girl a smile before she headed to the cubbies.

A couple minutes later Riley heard James's voice. "Okay A Troupe let's start with the female group number. Devon hit the music."

Soon she could hear the song "That's My Girl" by Firth Harmony blasting through the speakers as James called out instructions to the dancers.

Riley turned her attention back to the PDF she was reading on my laptop. Glancing down at the wordcount, she let out a sigh. 127 pages. About building codes. Why do renovations have to be so much work?

She clicked on another tab on my computer, pulling up the game of Sudoku.


"Babe you ready to go?" James asked his fiancé.

Riley glanced at the time on the computer. She was surprised to see that it was already 6:00.

"Yeah, just let me pack up." She said with a sigh before flashing him a smile.

She didn't get a lot done today. She hadn't gotten a lot done all week. She still needed to book the hotel for regionals. She still had to finish reading up on building codes, needed to file permits, speak with a contractor, do the budget for the next three months and pay the studios hydro bill. Riley figured she'd just finish it all on the weekend. Normally she and James spent their weekends doing things around the house and just relaxing, but it appeared that this weekend would involve overtime work.

Placing her laptop bag over my shoulder. She met James in the hall and wrapped her around his, resting her head on his shoulder.

"Pizza or Shawarma?" he asked.

Riley turned her head and looked him in the eyes.

"Shawarma." They said at the same time before letting out a laugh.


Riley stared at the ceiling. She didn't want to even look at the clock because if she did, she knew it would just make her feel worse. She needed to sleep. She was tired. She couldn't afford to oversleep tomorrow. She had so much to do. She didn't want to push it off until Sunday because they were going over to James's parents for dinner and Riley was hoping they could start planning the wedding.

Why can't I sleep?

She heard James let out a content sigh in his sleep and felt his arm tighten around her.

Here she was at 23, working her dream job with her best friend. She was engaged to the love of her life. A Troupe is going to regionals. Everything was wonderful. She had no reason to feel the way she'd been feeling lately. She had no reason to feel so unlike herself. So why did she?