A giddy laugh bubbled up from deep down. I snuck a glance at
myself in the mirror again. I was a lumpy diva, but, fuck it, I was a badass,
too. And I was slowly skidding closer to the ground as the sweat that gathered
behind my knee loosened my grip.
Every move I nailed got me a little closer to appreciating
how far I’d come. From the first days of slipping off trying to do a basic spin
with my feet planted firmly on the floor, to being a diva. This was my freaking
body and I loved the shit out of it.
And if I kept telling myself that, maybe one day I’d believe
I lowered myself onto my bedroom floor with a flourish, throwing
in one more spin for my imaginary audience.
The song ended and I braced my hands on my hips, panting and
sweating like I’d run a 5k, with a grin so damn wide I felt it in my toes.
Jumping up and down, I gave myself a high five and a few club-worthy woos.
It made it harder to figure out if I was doing the tricks one hundred percent
correctly, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to record myself to watch later or
head to a pole dancing studio with full-wall mirrors. I wasn’t at that level of
okay with me in all my glory—yet.
I flopped onto my bed and stared up at the ceiling. My
hip-hugging short shorts and sports bra gave me little coverage, but pole
dancing wasn’t exactly about modesty. I’d given it a try at the urging of my
therapist during freshman year and hell if it hadn’t helped—some. It was a way
for me to build strength, body confidence, and maybe attempt to feel a little
The door slammed downstairs and I shot up from the bed.
“Jules!” Berk’s unmistakable call sent me from pole dancing
heart racing to ‘floor it, Louise,’ careening toward a cliff. I shot up and
fell off my bed, rattling the perfume bottles on my dresser. Scrambling off the
floor, I grabbed my sweatpants and tugged them on, hopping from foot to foot
and sounding like I’d taken up bowling in my bedroom. I snagged my glasses off
my desk and shoved them onto my face.
Berk was probably wondering how I’d trapped a wild animal up
in my room. I grabbed my long sleeved T-shirt and hoodie off the back of my
chair even though it was August. The fabric clung to my sweaty skin and I
probably had a sweat-stashe going on, but that was better than him walking up
here and finding me half naked. A panic spiral shot through me and I got
dressed even quicker and threw open my door.
My feet barely touched any of the steps as I flew
“Berk.” I fell into the kitchen, bracing my arm against the
doorway. The butterflies in my stomach were replaced by a whole freaking
safari. I tightened my lips to what I hoped was a non-serial killer level of
smile. My heart was glowing like a spotlight, so I wrapped my arms tighter
around myself. Tingles tiptoed up and down my spine at the sight of his floppy
hair and jeans that hugged his ass and trim waist better than mine ever fit me.
His head shot up and the half of the cookie sticking out of
his mouth broke off and dropped onto the counter. “There you are.” His words
were muffled behind two manhole cover-sized cookies.
“Did you think I was hiding in my cookie box?”
“Is that what you’re calling it these days?” Killer smile
and a direct hit. “The old cookie box.”