"Layla, call me when you get this message!" Reni's rapid words bellowed into Layla's ear from the replaying recording of her cell's voicemail.
Saving her hearing, Layla pulled the phone away from her face and smiled. No telling what Reni thought was so urgent. Even in elementary school Reni had been anxious and dramatic.
Layla sat behind her desk, in her office needing to rest her feet before the next class began. She speed dialed Reni.
"It's about time you called me." Reni ranted into the phone.
Pulling up the next months schedule and the new couple's waiting list, Layla said, "Look, you act as if I don't work. Besides, it's only been fifteen minutes since you called."
"News flash, doll face, it's not work when you do what you love."
"You may have a point." Layla nodded in agreement.
"I know I do." Reni rushed on. "You know I'd love to chat longer but I have some pressing items before me."
Layla could understand, Reni was the manager at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, which was a bigger burden than her small studio.
"Remember you called me." Layla laughed. "I guess the reason you called me will have to wait till later."
"No, it can't! Get this, I just found out from the facilities director that we will be hosting Tidewater Virginia's first annual Pro-Am Latin dance competition."
The air trapped in Layla's throat made her words come out like a squeaking mouse. "What?"
Layla could hear someone calling Reni from the background.
"Girl, look, I don't have time for you to zone out on me. I'll give you more details later, registration opens tomorrow. Ten thousand is the prize."
"Gotta go. See you on Saturday for lunch." In Reni's typical whirlwind fashion, the line was disconnected.
As if carved out of marble, Layla sat motionless with the phone still cupped to her face. Her mind reeled. Her hometown was having a dance competition. Not just any competition, but a Latin one.
Lowering the phone to her desk, she scanned her small office and all of its photos. All of the couples were elegant and dramatic in both dress and style, captured in daring or intense moves.
However, none of the pictures in her office or her studio were of her. When she'd opened the studio, it had made perfect sense not to post her pictures. Pictures of a life that was separate from her present.
That was then. Things had changed. This was now.
Unite Dance Studio wasn't designed to instruct dancers for competition. No.
Hearing the bell sound and the chatter of people as they flowed into her studio next door brought her to life. Unite Therapy Services was designed to strengthen the bond between couples.
There was a tap on her door.
"Layla, the class is signed in and awaiting you in the studio." Nina her co-instructor informed her, peeping her head around the side of Layla's door.
"Great. I'll be right there." She rose and forced a smile on her mouth. "Are you heading out?"
"Yup, Patti has a soccer meeting tonight." Patti was Nina's twelve year old daughter who was a goalie for her school team. "I'll see you on Monday."
"Enjoy your weekend." Layla adjusted the short chiffon wrap over her Capri leggings and followed Nina into the hall.
Nina exited out the front door and Layla turned the other way and strutted into the ball room. Seeing the four couples mingling around the room attempting some of the dance steps she'd taught them the week before warmed her heart.
"Good evening, everyone." The smile came natural and easy to her face then it had a few minute ago.
"Mr. and Mrs. Banburn, I believe it is your turn to start the class off by performing the review of last week's lesson."
The two sixty-five year olds, who had begun marital counseling after Mr. Banburn's retirement and discovered they, were headed to divorce court. They decided to get some help in being around each other all the time.
The couple moved to the center of the group with brisk steps as Layla selected the music for the waltz. She threw in a quick reminder for Mrs. Banburn to stay on the balls of her feet.
"Dancing is never executed flatfooted." Layla relaxed her shoulders and took on her role as the instructor.
As she observed the smiles from the group that had been coming for the last month, she was assured that this was where she needed to be.