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The Misadventures of Johan O’Malley: Chapter 10

I woke up the next morning with a terrible headache. Great, I thought. I probably blacked out and ended up embarrassing myself in front of that girl along with everyone else at the party. I then noticed that I was completely naked, and I was in someone else’s room.

Yes! I think to myself. I knew I would lose it before Mike did! Mohammed may have beat me by a few months, but I didn’t even care at this point. I just couldn’t wait to brag about this to my friends back home. But first I needed to keep making a good impression on this girl. I wouldn’t leave the room because she might tell all the girls that I’m just the Hit-it-and-Quit-it type, and they’ll all avoid me. I figured it would be best to roll over and kiss her good morning. I knew she wouldn’t mind. She didn’t mind anything I did last night. I roll over to give her a quick peck on the lips. But I opened my eyes and saw the room was completely empty.

“Hello,” I yelled out to no one. 

“Hey, Johan right?”

The blond guy who danced with Haley appeared in my line of vision. Oh shit, I thought. What happened last night?

“Um, what am I doing here?”

“You passed out so my friend Haley and I brought you here. We didn’t want you to get hurt so I made sure to watch you. My roommate bunked in another room.”

“Haley saw me like this?” 

“Yeah, so did the girl you were hitting on. Sorry, dude. You should go though. Musical theatre class starts in 30 minutes and you’ll be lucky to make it through the day. My advice is to hydrate and take a shower.”

Blonde guy closed his eyes long enough for me to change and sprint back to my own room. When I opened the door, Jared was nowhere in sight. He must’ve already left to have breakfast before class. I, on the other hand, showered, changed and ate a protein bar in record time. I even had time to put on the proper uniform for class. 

But by the time I made it to Studio B, everyone else already warmed up. I had less than two minutes before Ms. Donoghue would be in here herself to conduct today’s lesson. I made my way over to the bar and started to stretch, trying to drown out the laughter in the process. Hot blonde guy said something to Haley and her roommate that made them erupt into giggles. It seemed like everyone else knew about last night too. 

The noises subsided when the scary women entered and everyone ran to the center of the room. Her heels clicked and clacked against the wood floor until she took a seat in the single chair in the corner of the room.

“Good morning, seniors,” she said.

“Good morning, Ms. Donoghue,” we said in unison.  

“Now, all of you will start applying to competitive programs in the fall. That means that you’ll need pieces for auditions. I know that it’s a daunting process, but if you can impress me with your dedication, ability and hard work, I will be happy to write a letter of recommendation. But those do not come easy from me.”

I wanted nothing more than to be the top student in this program. Ms. Donoghue said that at the end of each week, the boys and girls would be ranked on a sheet that would be tapped at the end of the senior hallway. This is where we stood with her. If we were lucky, maybe the top few would get the letters. 

“Not only will we be focusing on dance, we will also work on stage presence and acting. For those who want a career in theatre, you should plan to be a triple threat unless you want to be a background dancer. So, let’s begin.” 

We started by going over some basic steps, like a box step and a kick ball change. While it seemed elementary, Ms. Donoghue said that we must master the basics before we can be considered professionals. She seemed impressed that everyone seemed good to go on the fundamentals and said the next class would be more difficult, before letting us out. The only other class today was an elective. Everyone could choose between ballet, hip hop, ballroom and tango. I chose tango, obviously, because I’d be paired up with a girl for the summer. My mind immediately went to Haley, hoping she chose the same elective. 

I went off campus to grab lunch at a small burger place that advertised an Impossible Burger and had time to change before my final class. This time I was the first to arrive so I could warm up properly. 

The class had an even mix of girls and guys. Unfortunately, none of them were Haley or her hot roommate. But my mood shifted when a girl with brown hair with a single purple streak started stretching next to me. I knew that she had to be my partner, no matter what. Since the end of the school year, nothing had gone my way. Now, I could take charge and change my future. 

When the teacher came in, she told us to find a partner and start making a connection. Tango, after all, is all about chemistry. I found mystery girl’s dark brown eyes and asked, “be my partner?”

“Sure,” she said, giving me a shy smile. 

“I’m Johan O’Malley.”

“Noelle Horvath,” she said under her breath. The two of us spent a few minutes chatting about where we live and our life goals. Turns out Noelle moved back to the United States just a few weeks ago from Lebanon. She and her parents settled into a new house in Maryland, outside of DC. Her dad held some important role in the government. 

I told her about mom, Arthur, Liam…and even Mohammed. I was still too pissed about Mike and Tory to bother talking about them. Even this afternoon while scrolling on my phone, I saw a picture Mike posted of the sunset and a sappy poem he wrote for Tory. Who even writes poetry anymore?

“Johan, are you okay? One second you were talking about Mohammed and the next you spaced out.”

“Oh, yeah. Just something annoying happened at lunch. I’m fine.”

Then the instructor called us to the middle of the room to give a brief introduction on the history of the tango. I didn’t pay attention because all I cared about was looking sexy in my all-black outfit for Noelle. Every time she twirled a lock of purple and brown hair, my heart went wild. 

“So, is everyone ready to learn some basic tango steps?”

Everyone in the class answered yes, before finding a place in the room. I found a spot in the far corner to mimic privacy. I ran my hand through my dark-brown locks and smiled at myself in the mirror to garner confidence. My moves would wow each and every person in this room. 

Noelle walked right up to me and we got in position. My clammy hand went to the small of her back and she reached up to grip my muscular shoulder. 

“Good, everyone. Remember, tango is the dance of love. To make sure you’re convincing, I need to see chemistry and passion,” the instructor said. I had daydreamed so long I never heard the instructor’s name. All I knew was she gave me an excuse to hit on the girl in front of me as a part of the class assignment. Part of my ranking at Broadway Bound would be based on my ability to convey sexiness in every move. 

“As I said earlier, the tango originated in 19th century Argentina. I assume you’re all here for your elective to have a new style of dance on your resume when you’re applying to conservatories. My instruction can take you to the next level. But I need all of you to put in the work.

“I’m a little nervous,” Noelle said to me quietly. “I hoped that tango would help with confidence and stage presence.”

I beamed. “I can help with that. I’ve done tango before so stick with me.” I hadn’t done tango before. But I had watched some competitions with Mike back in the day. For someone who didn’t want a career in dance, he had a surprising knowledge of salsa, tango and other latin styles of dance. 

“That’s amazing! You’re my knight in shining armor.”

“Just call me Mr. Tango,” I said with a wink.

“Johan, is something in your eye?”

“What?” I asked too loudly. “Um, yes, but it’s gone now.” 

The rest of the class went smoothly. The instructor talked about proper attire and the basic steps to master for tango. She even walked over to Noelle and I and said we had the early signs of chemistry. I looked down at the petite girl in front of me, watching as her cheeks turned pink. Just when the woman walked away, I brushed a stray strand of dark hair behind her ear. Her beautiful eyes met my own. “Thanks Johan, I have to do a better job with my ponytail next class.”

“Hey, I’m here for you. Since chemistry is a big part of our marks in this class, would you want to get dinner tonight? I know a great Italian restaurant close to campus.”

“I’d love to,” she squeaked. 

“Great, meet me in the lobby at seven and wear something nice.”

“It’s a date,” she said right before she pulled away and left the classroom. I knew the moment that I saw Mike and Tory kissing that I needed my own girlfriend to post pictures with. It only took me a few days to find her and she couldn’t wait to be part of my life. 

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