Pretending to Dance

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Book: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Diane Chamberlain
said finally, “I wondered when you’d ask. I’d hoped it would be later. Or perhaps never.” He chuckled, then gave me one of his totally attentive looks. If he could have leaned forward, he would have. He had to make his face do all the work someone else could do with his body. “Nobody cheated on anyone, darling,” he said. “Would you like to hear the story of how you came to be?”
    â€œYes,” I said. “Absolutely.”
    He looked out the window toward the forest, as if gathering his thoughts. “It might not be the happiest story ever told,” he said, returning his gaze to me, “but it’s one for which I’ll be forever grateful, because it brought you into the world.”
    I smiled, relaxing a bit as I folded my hands in my lap, ready to listen.
    â€œSo,” he said with a nod of his head, “I was twenty-eight when I received my doctorate from UNC and came home to Morrison Ridge. I moved back into the brick house with my parents and Claudia, who was still living there at the time. Trevor was already married to Toni and they’d built their house and had Samantha and Cal. So anyway, I got a job as a psychologist at a facility called Highland Hospital in Asheville. It doesn’t exist any longer, but it was a bit of an unorthodox place.”
    â€œWhat does that mean?”
    â€œThey had a unique approach to treating patients,” he said. “They often used art or music or nature to try to heal troubled people instead of relying exclusively on medication or shock treatment or psychotherapy. I found that outside-the-box approach appealing, as you can probably imagine.” He gave me a conspiratorial smile. “At any rate, here’s something you don’t know about me, Molly,” he continued with a bit of a sigh. “I used to love to dance, just like you.”
    â€œReally?” I could barely remember him walking, much less dancing.
    â€œTrevor and Toni and Claudia and I would go dancing every weekend,” he said. “Then we started going to the coast. Wrightsville Beach or sometimes Myrtle. Everyone there was playing beach music and doing the Carolina shag and we really got into it. We brought the dance back here to the mountains and helped start a shag group.”
    â€œIs that the group Aunt Claudia and Uncle Jim go to in Asheville?”
    â€œYes, Claudia actually met Jim there, and the group’s still in existence, although obviously I’m no longer a part of it. And Trevor and Toni lost interest somewhere along the way.”
    â€œIs that where you met Mom?”
    He shook his head. “No,” he said. “Nor is it where I met Amalia.” He shifted his head on the headrest and I could tell it was bothering him. “Amalia was hired by Highland Hospital to teach dance to the patients,” he said. “Well, not ‘hired’ exactly.” He looked off into space, kind of talking to himself. “Well, let’s just call it ‘hired,’” he said. “Easier that way. The hospital gave her room and board. She was only twenty years old and she was a wonderful dancer, as you know,” he said. “There was an easygoing element to her dancing that allowed her to connect to many different types of patients. She was so uninhibited.” He was someplace else in his mind, and I waited as patiently as I could. I was anxious for him to get to the part about me. “She had a very difficult childhood,” he said. “Her parents weren’t together and her mother was not a very good or caring mother. But that’s Amalia’s story to tell, not mine.” He gave his head a small shake. “Anyway, I told her about the dance group and she started going there with me. It was a friendship at first but gradually turned into … something more. I fell in love with her, although we were very different. I was nine years older, to begin with. She

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