Reasonable Doubt: Volume 2 Page 2

“Miss?” The lead guard, Paul cleared his throat. “We’re going to need you to vacate the premises now.”

Ava scowled at me, shaking her head. “Really? You’re really going to let them haul me off like I’m some kind of animal?”

“Once again, rhetorical.” I sat down in my chair, signaling for Paul to get rid of her.

She said something else, but I tuned it out. She didn’t mean shit to me, and I needed to find someone online tonight so I could f**k her random and unwanted appearance out of my mind.

Evasion (n.):

A subtle device to set aside the truth, or escape the punishment of the law.


Andrew was the epitome of what it meant to be an ass**le, a shining example of what that word stood for, but no matter how pissed I was, I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him.

In the six months that we’d spoken, he’d never mentioned a wife. And the one time I’d asked if he’d ever done anything more than “One dinner. One night. No repeats.” –he’d said “Once,” and quickly changed the subject.

I’d been replaying that conversation in my mind all night, telling myself to accept that he was a liar, and that I needed to move on.

“Ladies and gentlemen of La Monte Art Gallery...” My ballet instructor suddenly spoke into a mic, cutting through my thoughts. “May I have your attention please?”

I shook my head and looked out into the full audience. Tonight was supposed to be one of the highlights of my dance career. It was an exhibition for the city’s college dancers. All of the leading performers for spring productions were supposed to dance a two minute solo in honor of their school, in celebration of what was to come months later.

“This next performer you’re about to see is Miss Aubrey Everhart.” There was pride in his voice. “She is playing the role of Odette/Odile in Duke’s production of Swan Lake, and when I tell you that she is one of the most talented dancers I’ve ever seen...” He paused as the crowd’s chatter dissolved into silence. “I need you to take my word for it.”

One of the photographers in the front row snapped a picture of me, temporarily rendering me blind by the flash.

“As most of you know,” he continued, “I’ve worked with the best of the best, spent countless years in Russia studying underneath the greats, and after a long and illustrious career with the New York Ballet Company, I’ve retired to teach those with untapped potential.”

There was a loud applause. Everyone in the room knew who Paul Petrova was, and even though most in the field were confused as to why he would ever want to teach in Durham, no one dared to question his decision.

“I hope you’ll come out and see the first transformation of the Duke ballet program in the spring,” he said as he slowly walked to the other side of the stage. “But for now, Miss Everhart will perform a short duet from Balanchine’s ‘Serenade,’ with her partner Eric Lofton!”

The audience clapped again, and the lights above them dimmed. A soft spotlight shone on me and Eric, and the violinists began to play.

Short, soft notes filled the room, and I stood on my toes—trying to dance as delicately as the music demanded. Yet, with each step, all I could picture was Andrew kissing me, f**king me, and ultimately lying to me.

“I’ve never lied to you, Aubrey. I trust you for some strange reason...”

I pushed Eric away when he held out his hands, and twirled across the stage until he came after me. He held my face in his hands—as if he was begging me to stay, but I spun away again, launching myself into a full set of nonstop pirouettes.

I was angry, I was hurt, and I wasn’t holding anything back as I showed off just how well I could dance en pointe.

The second the violinists struck the last note, the audience let out a collective gasp and applauded the loudest they had all night.

“Wow...” Eric whispered as he took a bow next to me. “I don’t think anyone will talk shit about you getting the swan role after that...”

“People have been talking shit about me?” I raised my eyebrow, but I already knew the answer to that. A junior landing the top role over all the seniors was unheard of.

“Bravo, Miss Everhart.” Mr. Petrova walked over to me. “She’s going to blow you all away in the spring, I’m sure of it!”

Another round of applause began to build and he moved the mic away from his mouth. “Where are your parents? I’d like for them to come up for a picture.”

“They’re out of town.” I lied. I hadn’t wasted my time even attempting to invite them to this.

“Well, that’s too bad!” he said. “I’m sure they’re very proud of you. You can exit the stage now.”

“Thank you.” I headed into the dressing room and changed into a short white silk dress and a grey feathered headband. As I looked myself over in the mirror, I smiled. There was no way anyone could tell that I was an emotional wreck inside.

I pulled out my phone and noticed a new voicemail from GBH. I knew it was about me missing my internship for the fourth day in a row, so I deleted it. Then something came over me and I googled “Andrew Hamilton” for the umpteenth time this week—hoping something would pop up.

Nothing. Again.

With the exception of his perfect, poised photo on GBH’s website and that less than telling bio, there was no information about him anywhere.

I tried “Andrew Hamilton: New York, lawyer,” but the results were just as dismal. It was as if he hadn’t come into existence until starting at GBH.

“Great performance, Aubrey...” Jennifer, one of Duke’s top seniors, suddenly stepped into the bathroom. “It really is an honor watching someone so young and underdeveloped get unnecessary credit.”

I rolled my eyes and zipped my purse.

“Tell me something,” she said. “Do you honestly think you’re going to last until the spring performance?”

“Do you honestly think I’m going to stand here and continue this dumbass conversation?”

“You should.” She smirked. “Because between you and me, four years ago—back before your time...There was a certain dancer picked to be the lead in Sleeping Beauty, a double major. She was quite talented—a natural really, but she caved under pressure because she couldn’t devote as many hours to the craft as the dancers who only wanted to dance.”

“Is there a point to this story?”

“I took her spot and I was only a freshman.” She smiled. “Now I’m a senior, and a certain someone is dancing in the role that belongs to me. So, just like back then, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I get what’s rightfully mine.”

I shook my head and moved past her, ignoring the fact that she whispered “stupid bitch” under her breath. I was supposed to return to the gallery room and watch the other performers, but I needed a break.

I slipped past the sliding doors to the other side of the room and stepped into the gallery’s bistro. It was much quieter on this side, and the people sitting at the tables seemed to be preoccupied with conversations not centered on ballet.

“Miss?” A tuxedoed waiter stepped in front of me with a tray. “Would you be interested in a complimentary glass of champagne?”

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