I looked behind me again to see who it was that he was talking to. No one was there. Could he really mean me?? I turned back around, confusion bore into my face.
He flashed an encouraging tight-lipped smile.
“Yeah, did you not want to?”
I snapped out of befuddlement, “Oh no it’s not that, I just don’t usually dance…”
“Neither do I,” he said holding the same smile “but I figured, ‘why not?’ and I noticed you sitting here so I thought I’d ask you. You seemed a bit bored.”
By now he had his hand held out to me. I couldn’t really say no, could I? Without further thought I took his hand and he led us to the dance floor. Just as we found our spot in the middle of the dance floor the track stopped and I heard my aunt yell.
“Un disco para los gringos!!!”
I giggled to myself. Nick raised an eyebrow in question.
“Um, they’re changing the song for you and Joe.”
Nick let out a small chuckle.
Just then the song started. I knew this song by heart.
“Now this I know.”
Nick placed a hand on my back and led while my family encircled us and chanted.
I pretended I wasn’t blushing and focused all of my attention on his feet as he set the pace. It took me a minute to figure out how to dance with a partner but as soon as I showed any semblance of proficiency Nick began to twirl me around.
I ignored the fact that my entire body felt overwhelmed with the need to jump up and down like a small child and prayed that I wouldn’t step on him.
“You can dance, go and carry on, ‘til the night is gone and it’s time to go….. Save the last dance for me.”
The song didn’t last very long. Spanish music began blasting through the speakers again. I took Nick’s hands and taught him the basics which he managed to pick up fairly quickly. He fit in quite well at the party.
Eventually, my high heels, which almost made me look average height, tired me out and Nick accompanied me to sit down.
“I thought you didn’t dance?” He mentioned as I directed my eyes to the floor again.
“I think most of that was you, leading me into… not your feet?”
Was that a sentence? I don’t think that was a sentence. Why am I talking in not sentences?
Nick chuckled beside me, “well, you were very good at dancing on ‘not my feet.’”
I kept my eyes down and tried to avoid the embarrassment of letting him see the bright color on my cheeks.
“So, what is your relation to the birthday girl?”
I looked up and saw an encouraging smile playing on his features. I couldn’t help but return the smile.
“She’s my niece.” I responded, shyly.
“Oh, are you Vanessa?”
“Um, yeah, that’s me.”
“You’re the one who hired us, right?”
I thought about it for a moment and pondered the strangeness of the fact that Nick was technically working for me.
“I suppose I did,” I answered with a shrug.
“That’s a very kind thing to do for your niece. What made you decide to call us.”
“Well, I kind of got her into your music? Everytime I babysit and stuff. I promised her last year I’d take her to a Jonas Brothers concert, but then there wasn’t one and then I just felt like I owed it to her.”
“Sorry about that,” Nick laughed nervously, “we’re still working on that, actually.”
It was nearing nine when Kevin approached us.
“Nick, I think it’s about time we head on out. Joe left his location settings on, it’s been up on twitter for about an hour, if our fans show up, it could ruin the party.”
Nick nodded and looked over at me. “I’m very sorry to have to leave so soon, Vanessa, it was great getting to talk with you.”
By now, Joe had walked over, “great party, your cousin is super fun!”
I smiled, “I can’t argue with you there, she’s pretty cool.”
“Can we be invited to the next family function?”
“Joe, that’s not okay, you can’t just invite yourself,” Kevin scolded him.
“I know, that’s why I’m asking her to invite me. I’m Joe by the way,” he introduced himself as he shoved a hand past his brothers out to me.
I giggled slightly, “I never would have guessed that. I’m Vanessa,” I gladly accepted his handshake.
“Hey, can you give me your twitter handle so you can keep me posted on the next party?”
“Joe, seriously?” Nick and Kevin both remarked in unison.
“Sorry, I’m not on twitter.”
Nick and Kevin both shot incredulous looks at their ridiculous brother.
“I’m not on any social media, really.” I shrugged.
Joe mouthed a ‘wow’ before I continued.
“I do write a mean letter, though, my penmanship is fire, if I do say so myself.” I joked.
From the corner of my eye I saw Nick’s eyes on me and I wondered if my joke was only funny to me.
“Joe, let’s go,” Kevin urged him, placing his hand on his shoulder.
“Wait, I’m not finished, yet. Can I get your number? Address? Where should I send the smoke signals?”
I giggled again, “I can walk you guys out, if you’d like?”
“Yes, please!” Joe insisted.
We made our way back up the driveway and I ran into my mom, “Nessa, can you put my heels in the trunk for me, I don’t want to forget them.”
A pair of strappy sandals adorned her feet as she reached the high heels out to me.
I took my mother’s shoes as we continued walking up the driveway.
“Change of shoes and everything, your family means business, huh?”
“Excuse Joe, he’s not allowed out very often, since he doesn’t know how to act,” Nick teased him.
I giggled as Joe stood up for himself.
“Bro, its a hardcore party, you know that’s cool!”
The boys were parked right in front of my Mini Cooper so I said goodbye while I popped the trunk and dropped my mother’s shoes inside.
I heard Joe calling me over to their vehicle. Was he hoping to get Berry’s number or something?
“Hey, thanks again for having us, it’s been really cool being a part of an event this big.”
I tried to hide a smile at the implication that this was by any means a big event.
Joe looked ahead of him and found a group of about eight girls approaching quickly.
“Oh my god, look!”
I heard the voice but I couldn’t match it to one that I was familiar with.
“Uh, can you please get in the car?” Joe asked suddenly.
“Just- please? I’ll explain it later,” he pleaded.
“ Who is that girl? It’s them, look!” I heard another girl speak.
I figured there would be no harm in doing so. I don’t recall anyone being kidnapped by the Jonas Brothers in recent news, “… okay?”
I opened the door and hopped in the back. I had to climb over Joe and I sat in the middle next to Nick. Joe closed the door the instant I was in and their security guard took off.
“Where are we going?” I asked, feeling disoriented by my current predicament.
Joe must have sensed my current state of discomfort because when he spoke again he was more relaxed.
“Sorry about that but we had to leave before our fans arrived and things got out of hand.”
“And I had to come with you?”
Kevin and Joe shared a look I didn’t fully comprehend.
“We love our fans,” Kevin started.
“They’re the best in the world.” Joe continued
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” Nick tagged on.
This seems excessively rehearsed.
Kevin looked around at his brothers as Joe sighed.
“They can be a little intense at times.”
“Not all of them, I mean most of them are just amazing.” Nick reminded me.
“The ones who try to pinpoint us at every location, though,” Kevin’s mouth pressed together as he avoided saying whatever was about to come out of his mouth.
“Those can be a little more… excessive?” Joe finished.
“They’re great, though!” Nick threw in, again.
“So… like stalkers?” I asked.
“Not stalkers, no. They’re just… enthusiastic?” Joe tried again.
I nodded feeling slightly confused by their wording. Are they putting up a facade because I’m a fan?
“... so what happens to me?”
The guys all looked around at each other until Big Rob spoke up.
“For your safety, we need to drive around for a while to be sure we weren’t followed and then we can drop you off at home.”
“Can you drop me off at my car?”
“Afraid not, there’s no telling how long they’ll be waiting around for.”
“Oh,” I let out quietly.
I could feel the tension. These guys were no longer on the clock to be who I had paid them to be. This was supposed to be their settling time and still their entire space seemed uneasy.
I didn’t know what to say to fix the situation. I was an intruder.
I focused my eyes on the hem of my dress and traced it with my fingers trying to push away the thought that I was now far beyond the scope of my comfort zone.
‘Once you get out of your comfort zone, you start to see growth,’ my coach lectured me inside my head.
I shook my head clearly uncomfortable and clearly not growing the slightest bit. I knew he was lying.
I must have caught his attention because Joe’s head whipped around toward me, “So Vanessa… Nessa?” He asked not knowing what to call me.
I shrugged, “either is fine.”
“Nessa, what do you do?”
I saw Nick’s focus shift toward me as well as I kept my eyes steady on my dress.
Would it be more awkward if I stumbled through this or if I don’t respond? If I don’t respond will they think I’m a jerk? Am I a jerk?
I shook the thoughts out of my head, certain I was overthinking again.
“Um, I do school, I guess… After school stuff, too?...”
Why am I talking like my whole life revolves around school? Stop talking like you’re a child with no social life or responsibilities.
“I do non-school stuff.” I pressed my brows together, really hating the words that were coming out of my mouth.
“Are you nervous?” Joe finally asked.
I let out the breath that I didn’t recall holding in and just nodded.
“What if I was one of your school friends?” Joe asked before slipping into character. “Oh, my gosh, Nessa! Like what do you do?” His voice was animated and high enough to make Big Rob chuckle as he drove us around.
I giggled slightly and shook my head, “my friends don’t sound like that.”
I saw Nick smile out of the corner of my eye.
Joe gasped, “Can we go with it, though? I think it’s kind of fun!” He cleared his throat before proceeding, “Nessa, that math test was like, super hard!”
I laughed a little louder this time before looking up to see Joe’s encouraging smile. He lifted his eyebrows at me, encouraging me to speak up.
“I’m still, in high school, I guess. I’m graduating this year.”
“Did you make the cheer squad this year?” He tried again.
I shook my head trying not to laugh too hard, “I didn’t try out for the cheer squad. I’m on the Varsity track team, though.”
“Ugh, track? Like running, no thank you.” Kevin spoke up.
“I don’t disagree. I’m actually a sprinter… so my job is to run the least amount possible.”
“So are you fast?” Joe asked in his regular voice.
“My coaches seem to think so.”
“Coaches? Do you have one for the right foot and one for the left foot?”
I smiled up at Joe, “I have one for the running part and one for the jumping part.”
“Oh, you do the hurdle race?” Kevin asked again.
“No, just the 100 meter, the pit jumps and the high jump.”
“Nice, you’ve got hops?”
“My coaches seemed to think so.”
“Explain,” Joe demanded.
I finally stopped fidgeting with my dress. I was still careful to squeeze in, not wanting to invade anyone’s space. “They pulled me aside after a match to ask me to join the team.”
Nick scrunched his eyebrows together, “I thought they were called track meets?”
I blushed, “they are, or sometimes invitationals for the big ones. I just meant, they asked me to join after a volleyball match.”
“You play volleyball, too?”
“I did in the fall,” I shrugged.
“How many sports do you play?”
“Right now it's just Track, and I coach a little league softball team a few times a week.”
“Softball? You hear that, Nick?” Kevin cut in.
Nick scowled at Kevin and turned back toward the window.
“Can you take him out?” Joe asked, ticking his head toward Nick.
Take him out? On a date or something? I’m confused.
“It’d be great if we could find someone to take him down a peg.” Kevin added.
Sports! They’re talking about sports.
“I really wouldn’t know. I don’t know how good he is.”
“You know how good you are.”
Technically Joe is right, but I don’t really want to keep talking all about myself.
“I’d rather not say.”
“That’s a yes, you hear that, Nick? You’re not the best at everything.” Joe called out to him as he wrapped an arm around me.
My entire body stiffened feeling overwhelmed by the amount of contact going on between the two of us.
Nick turned to look at me before speaking up again, “let her go, Joe.”
Joe took his arm from around me before redirecting his attention toward me. I took the opportunity to lean away from him back to dead center away from both of them.
“If we invited you to a game next week, would you come?”
A game? “Dodgers or Angels?”
“No, we have a softball game next week with a couple of friends, and I need someone who can show Nick what’s what.” Joe smiled at me.
Are they inviting me because they’re doing ‘damage control’ for their previous comments on their fans? Do they think I’d tell?
“You don’t have to do that,” I promised.
“Nonsense, it's the least we can do after kidnapping you from a family event,” Kevin assured.
Oh right, that. This, rather, given we’re still here waiting for Big Rob to give us the all clear.
“Come on, you can’t come in here fronting like you’re the ultimate jock and not take Nick down,” Joe demanded.
I looked over at Nick as he shook his head, “even if you can’t take me, you’re still welcome.”
“See what we mean!” Kevin cut in. “This guy is the worst! You’ve got to put him in his place.”
“Worst part is he dances every time he crosses home plate.” Big Rob spoke up.
I tried not to laugh, as Nick tried to defend himself.
“I definitely don’t dance.”
Joe rolled his eyes, “he does this super annoying strut back to the box like he owns the place.”
“Looks like a dance to me.” Kevin mentioned.
Is this a real invite? Only one way to find out right?
“Well I guess you should save the last dance for me.”
Joe’s eyes widened as his mouth formed a perfect ‘ooh.’
I heard Kevin chuckle in the front seat.
Nick looked over at me again with raised eyebrows, “it’s on.”