Freddie sticks his head round the door.
‘We’re dancing the next one.’
‘I love that you’re telling me!’ I say, laughing. ‘That I don’t have any say in the matter!’
‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ He’s not, not really. And I do love it, really. ‘Do you already have a partner?’
‘Would you like to dance it?’
‘Yes, thank you.’
He laughs. ‘That was really silly!’
The music comes on. He takes my hand, though I try to extricate my fingers, and leads me onto the floor. As we dance, I find myself thinking, wishing, if only this was it. If only life, a relationship, a date, was just a dance. We work when we dance.
It takes me back to a night in early summer. Dinner and dancing, literally, between the tables. Then a club, grimy and stark. I walk in and who should I see but Milonga, leaning against the back wall, flirting with a nondescript brunette.
Freddie and I make for the dance floor, shuffling with the others at first. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Milonga and the brunette. Eventually I crack.
‘There’s someone here I had a brief thing with,’ I say, ‘and – well – he’s here with someone else.’
Freddie looks surprisingly sympathetic. ‘Who is he?’
‘Oh it doesn’t matter, but, well – I need to look good!’
He spins me.
At the bar, we encounter Milonga, alone. Freddie, oblivious, greets him.
‘You look great,’ Milonga says, kissing me on the cheeks.
‘Thanks,’ I mutter.
A new track comes on. I tug on Freddie’s arm. ‘I love this song.’
He doesn’t get the hint; he never does. I try a more direct approach.
‘Can we dance?’
Freddie excuses us and leads the way onto the floor. For the next half hour we dance like I’ve never danced before, a whirl of spins and drops. Onlookers applaud. I forget Milonga. I forget everything, lost in the dance.
‘You look incredible together!’ Beatrice says, when I come off the floor.
‘I know,’ I say, without thinking. I look back at Freddie, all smiles, telling another girl her fate for the next.