Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

Rangers Lodge Saga - Dance Class

 “With any luck,” Brooke said to Kristen as they trudged back to the lodge worn out by their exertion in the sun, “Bel will sleep for a while so Ollie and I can crash somewhere with a drink.” She elbowed Kristen. “Aunty needs a break, too. Thanks for this morning.”

“You know I don’t mind.” But Kristen was tired. And she knew the idea of hanging out with Adrian was dragging her down even more. What a cold thing for a girlfriend to think, she chided herself. She should be brimming with excitement over all the activities they could try out together. But making sure he was engaged was like pulling teeth. How come it was so easy to engage her students? she wondered. Her talents there in her personal life seemed to suck.

She didn’t notice letting the others pull ahead of her until Adam spoke up beside her. “So what are you going to do now that your off duty?” She cut him a look and he grinned unperturbed. “That walk you suggested worked like a charm. I’d be happy to recommend some options for you.”

“To relax or to clear my head?” Her voice sounded weary to her own ears. “And what makes you think I need to do either?” she added hastily, kicking herself for letting the question slip out.

“Oh, just a hunch.” Catching a glimmer of a smile in her eyes, he gestured to the flowers beneath the willows. “Yes, I planted those. The yellow ones first, the blue ones more recently.”

Kristen was about to reply when Logan’s laughing remark cut her off. “Hey Kristen, looks like your next shift is here.”

Time to put your girlfriend hat on, she told herself and jogged to Adrian. She felt a pang of guilt for all the mean thoughts she’d had about him. He pulled out a chair and pressed a kiss to her cheek when she sat. “How long have you been up?” she asked. It was almost two.

“About twenty minutes.” Adrian stretched his arms above his head with a grunt. “At least this place has good coffee and breakfast. Mom said you helped out with it.” He snorted. “Don’t they have staff for that?”

“Breakfast is a smaller deal,” Kristen answered, thinking she really wanted a swim but Adrian didn’t swim. “Any idea what you feel like doing this afternoon?” She didn’t expect him to have an opinion and wasn’t surprised when he only sat back with his coffee and shrugged.

“Come with us to the couples’ dance class!” Raven chirped, bouncing up to them with Jackson in tow. “In a gazebo on the west lawn with a certified Latin dance instructor.”

Kristen’s face lit up. “That sounds cool.”

“Jeb was saying there’s a woodwork shop,” Adrian countered. “Now that would be cool.”

Raven hauled himn to his feet. “Oh come on and be romantic for once,” she chided. “Dance then wood work. Dancing won’t kill either you or Jackson.” She cast a laughing glance at her husband. “Humour us girls, then you get to play.”

The instructor was good, Kristen agreed as she and Adrian worked their way through a slow tango. Tall with a lean dancer’s build, caramel skin and a sweep of straight black hair that fell over one eye and to his shoulders, Miguel Carron guided them with counts and instructions delivered in a thickly Spanish accent. She braced herself for Raven’s gush when the women were paired together to practice.

“OMG, total porn fantasy!” Raven breathed out as she and Kristen danced. “Where was this place before I got married? It’s crawling with good-looking guys.” Her eyes sparkled with curiosity. “Heard you and Adam Ranger spent the morning together.”

Automatically, Kristen’s eyes went to where Adrian was practicing with Jackson. “I was interested in the rose garden at sunrise and he offered to show it to me,” she said off-handedly. “He did design the thing, so it made sense.”

“And now you’re his poster girl. His eyes kept going to you during our Frisbee game.”

“He’s probably never seen a grown woman play Frisbee with a toddler.”

Raven’s laugh trilled out. “Relax and enjoy the attention.” Her avid gaze shifted to Miguel again. “Seriously wish I knew more Spanish than cerveza. Oh mama, he’s coming over.”

Jackson and Adrian joined them first, Jackson rolling his eyes when he overheard Raven. “Be good, honey.” He moved to put an arm around his wife as Adrian took Kristen’s hand.

“Say something to him, I dare you!” Raven pressed Kristen, beaming at Miguel as he approached them with an easy flash of white teeth.

“Ladies,” Miguel said smoothly, “you’re my best students.”

De donde esta?” Kristen asked with an answering smile.

Miguel’s eyes lit up. “De Venezuela. Habla espanol?”

“A little. I’m from Trinidad.”

Now Miguel’s eyes glinted knowingly. He continued in Spanish. “Explains how you move so well.”

As the session wound down, Miguel clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. There was a smattering of applause. “I like to end the class with something you can all aim for,” he said, cuing a music track. He grinned at Kristen. “Senorita Kristen, puede bailar conmigo?”

Kristen flushed and took a step back but Raven pushed her forward. Kristen’s apprehension grew as a fast tango began to play. “Too fast for me,” she said as Miguel took her hands.

“Not at all,” he murmured confidently and led her through the dance, kissing her hand before releasing her. Raven hugged her exuberantly as they left the gazebo.

“Definitely earned woodworking,” Adrian muttered.

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