Previously on Move– Read Chapter 4 HERE
Aria stands in a mirrored room, with high ceilings.
Surrounding her are women in athletic tank tops and leggings.
She walks to the front of the crowd.
“Hello ladies! Welcome. My name is Aria and this is my first class teaching Zumba, but I love to dance. I love to move. And Zumba above all else is about moving. So no matter what, even if you need to modify the moves, go at your own pace, and just keep moving!” she smiles as she presses play on her radio.
Allie and Molly stand front row and center as they follow along with Aria’s moves, the rest of the class trying to keep up. Aria instantly gets lost in the music as she effortlessly moves.
“Keep those legs up ladies! You’re doing great!” Aria yells midway through her class.
Her curvy, toned frame bouncing along to the beat, beads of sweat gathering on her forehead and neck.
“Thank you so much ladies! You were all on fire, I hope you had a good time!” she says smiling brightly.
The ladies all cheer and clap as they begin to collect their belongings- filing out.
A woman comes up to Aria as she grabs a sip of water, and wipes her face with a towel.
“Excuse me, Aria?”
“Hi,” She smiles at the young woman.
“I just wanted to say your class was amazing! I’ve never worked my ass off so hard and had so much fun at the same time.”
“Oh well thanks so much. I’m so glad to hear that!”
“Do you have a schedule of nights that you’ll be here?”
“Um, right now it’s just on Tuesdays, but I can definitely keep you posted,” Aria says smiling brightly.
“Ok awesome, I’ll see you next week!”
“Yes! Great! See you then!”
“Bye,” the woman says waving as Aria waves in return.
Allie and Molly walk over with smiles.
“Killer class, I feel my butt just getting more bootylicious by the second,” Molly says doing a little flirtatious jig. “Seriously that was better than any of the other classes we’ve ever taken here.”
“Truth,” Allie says pointing her finger at Aria.
“Thank you,” She says smiling at her support system.
“Did I not tell you, you’d be perfect for this?” Allie says smiling.
“Yes you did. I’m so happy that they asked me to teach, but it’s still only one night a week, my savings account isn’t going to last much longer. I have to find a second job with more hours, like now,” Aria says as she and her girls walk out of the gym and into Manhattan nightlife.
“So where are we going?” Molly says dancing her way down the street as people pass by with looks of confusion.
Allie and Aria laugh.
“I don’t know about you guys but I am a sweaty mess, all I wanna do is go home, shower, eat and crash.”
“Should we pick up tacos on the way?” Allie says.
“Tacos? What… aren’t you ladies worried about our figures,” Molly says faking seriousness.
The girls look at each other and erupt in laughter as they walk over the nearby taco truck.
“Yea, because I got this big Latin ass just from dancing,” Aria says sarcastically.
“You are blessed,” Molly says looking at her own slimmer bottom, causing the girls to laugh.
Aria walks into her dimly lit apartment ready to collapse.
Her cousin and roommate Layla stumbles out from her bedroom, “I smell tacos.”
Aria laughs and holds up the bag shaking it.
Layla rushes over.
“Did you get me one?”
“But of course,” Aria says sitting down at their kitchen island; Layla joining her.
“She took a late shift at the hospital.”
“She’s been doing that a lot lately, huh?”
“Rent’s not cheap in Manhattan.”
“I know, she’s really been carrying us for the past few weeks.”
“You know Yoyo, she’s always gotta be taking care of someone.”
“No wonder she became a nurse,” Aria says laughing and taking a bite of her taco.
Aria places the rest of the food in the fridge with a post it note on the fridge door.
Sorry we missed you. Tacos on me. Thanks for always taking care of us. Job hunting bright and early tomorrow morning.
Aria stands in the middle of her kitchen, Layla kisses her cheek and starts to walk back toward her room.
“Hey Lay, I’m gonna just go take a walk.”
“It’s a little late, no?”
“I won’t be long.”
“You want me to go with you?”
“No go back to sleep, I just need to clear my head,” she says smiling.
“Ok well, I’m not going to be able to sleep til I know your back. Take your phone.”
“Ok,” Aria says laughing as she grabs her purse and heads out the door.
“Don’t be long- it’s late.” Layla yells after her.
Aria walks the darkened streets, her eyes glazing over her surroundings. People walking their dogs, couples sharing food truck meals, New York City really is the city that never sleeps, she thinks.
Aria decides to take a stroll through the park. She finds herself on a park bench just sitting there in silence staring up at the sky and the few stars that managed to break through the bright city lights.
Joggers squishing by her- one by one.
Aria’s head springs forward, and an athletically dressed Liam comes into view.
“Mr. Whitmore, Hi. I was a little spaced out there, I’m sorry” she says laughing.
Is there an award for cutest laugh ever? He thinks.
“Aria, love, how many times are we going to need to run into each other, before you realize you can call me Liam?” he says laughing as he removes his headphones.
“Oh,” she says smiling.
“What brings you out so late?”
“Nothing really,” she says shrugging and looking away, the weight of the world on her mind.
“Really? Because you seemed like you were pretty lost in your thoughts there.”
“I suppose your right,” Aria says with a smile.
“Do you want to talk about it, I’ve been told I’m a pretty good listener.”
“Oh, that’s ok, I don’t want to disturb your…what are you doing here?” she says out of sorts and mentally kicking herself for looking like a total gym rat.
“I was going for a jog, I usually try to go every night, because it helps me to calm my brain down just enough to allow myself to sleep a wink,” he says smirking.
“Does it work?”
“Sometimes.” He smiles.
Aria nods and looks down at her hands, lost in thought.
“Aria? How bought some ice cream?”
“It’s like midnight?” she says laughing.”
“Oh don’t worry the truck will still be there, it always is.”
“Mm hmm, come on,” he says cocking his head toward the direction of the ice cream truck.
“You’re serious?” she says looking up at him with a smile.
“Oh I don’t joke about ice cream, love.”
Aria gives him a side eye and then laughing she stands up and joins him.
“Ok, you sold me. Lead the way,” she says as he smiles brightly.
Liam grabs the ice cream cones from the ice cream truck lady and hands the chocolate one with rainbow sprinkles to Aria as he takes a lick of his vanilla with chocolate sprinkles.
“Thank you,” she smiles taking a lick of hers.
Liam gestures to the nearby table and chairs as Aria follows and sits down.
“So what’s on your mind?”
“Ugh,” Aria smiles looking away.
“I’m prying. I’m sorry.” Liam says kindly, not wanting to chase her off.
Aria locks eyes with him.
“No, you’re not. You’ve been nothing but a total sweetheart. I’m sorry I’m just…overwhelmed. I have this big showcase coming up at my dance academy and it’s kind of a huge deal for me. I have to choreograph an entire performance and it’s kind of my last big shot for dance companies to see my work.”
“Why is it your last shot?”
“The academy is pretty expensive and so is Manhattan rent. And I’m not exactly in my prime…”
Liam’s brow furrows as he smirks, confused. Aria smiles and clarifies.
“As a dancer 28 is considered old to break into the industry.”
“Ah…well if your body isn’t considered a work of art, I don’t know what is,” Liam says and then mentally kicks himself when he realizes the words he thought were actually voiced out loud.
Aria freezes and looks up at him. Instant blush.
“I’m sorry, that was forward of me. I just meant you seem to work at your craft, often. It shows. I am sure you deserve this shot, along with many others.”
“Thank you,” Aria says licking her ice cream cone to stop it from dripping.
Liam looks at her, studying her movements, he spots a bit of ice cream on her lower lip and instinctively reaches over and wipes it off with his thumb, licking his thumb after.
Aria gets caught off guard, as does Liam. Why does this suddenly feel like normal behavior for them?
Damn, he thinks. Damn, she thinks, a tingle running through her.
They lock eyes and then both shake it off.
“So do you have anything so far…for the showcase?”
“Just 5 different starts to 5 different routines. I just can’t nail anything down. I don’t know what these companies are looking for.”
“Maybe that’s the problem, you’re trying to do a routine based on what you think they want to see, instead of just doing your own thing.”
“You’re probably right, I just can’t seem to get out of my head.”
“Oh, don’t I know the feeling,” Liam says with a laugh as he tosses their garbage in the nearby trash.
Aria smiles her thanks.
“I can imagine. Your line of work probably gets pretty stressful for you.”
Liam nods, smiling.
“So what’s been keeping you up at night?” Aria says.
They lock eyes and suddenly the former sentence is laced with sexuality.
Liam looks down with a laugh.
You have no idea, love, he thinks.
Aria notices, “I meant with your job, you seem to be running your troubles away. And being that you were kind enough to buy me ice cream AND let me vent to you, the least I can do is lend you an ear,” she says laughing nervously as she thanks god for the smooth recovery.
“There are parts of my job that I just adore. I love art, I love finding new artists that we get to show to the world, I love this city, I love the energy. But then there’s a huge part that I just…hate. The crunching numbers, and dealing with stogy old businesses man who wouldn’t know art if it hit them between the eyes, or worse the young guys that just want to party their savings away at strip clubs and on expensive vacations. ”
“The corporate monster, rears its ugly head.”
“Art and money…sometimes they just-”
“Don’t mix? Yea, I completely understand.”
“So have you ever thought about changing your job, I mean there has to be a way where you could be more involved in the artistic side of things? I mean if that’s truly where your heart lies.”
“It is and I’ve thought about it a lot, and I would love to. But the business is a family business, it’s been around for years, my father ran it, his father before him, and so on, and so forth. My father recently passed so I am next at the helm, and the only son, so the pressure is on me to deliver.”
“I’m so sorry, that sounds incredibly difficult.”
“Some days are easy,” he says smiling up at her.
Aria smiles back.
“I have to say it’s weird seeing you in something other than a suit!” she says laughing.
“I know, contrary to popular belief I do own other clothes,” he says laughing.
“Good, comfort suits you,” she says smiling up at him.
“Thank you, I guess I’m trying to take your advice, and- what is it that you said-loosen up,” he says laughing as she smiles locking eyes with him.
Aria’s phone begins to ring.
“Oh I’m sorry it’s my cousin, I should get this.”
“Sure.” He smiles.
“Hello, hi yes I know, I’m sorry, I know. Ok yes, I’ll be home soon, ok bye,” Aria says standing up, Liam following suit.
“Sorry I should get going, I live with my two cousins and well one of them is home waiting up for me, because she knew it was kinda late. I know that might sound silly or childish, but we kinda look out for each other, we’re all each other has, so…”
“I don’t think that’s childish or silly at all, love.”
“Thank you for a really- unexpected, but really nice night,” she says smiling up at him.
“It was my pleasure,” Liam says smirking.
“Good night,” she says shyly as she begins to walk away.
Liam feels an intense rush of heavy energy as she passes him, his chest tightening, as his eyes follow her body, he doesn’t want her to leave.
Aria’s heart skips a beat at the sound of his voice as she turns, not waiting to leave.
“Can I walk you home? It’s late.”
“I would like that.” She says smiling.
Liam beams on the inside as they begin their walk.
Aria and Liam stand in front of Aria’s apartment building- she’s fidgeting. He notices.
“Thank you so much for tonight, Liam,” she says smiling up at him.
“You called me Liam,” he says smirking brightly.
“Oh my god, I did, I’m so sorry!” she says covering her face.
“Stop it, It’s ok, I told you to. That is my name, ya know,” he says laughing as he pulls her hands from her face and down to her side.
Their eyes lock as Aria’s butterflies grow and her skin crawls with electric energy.
Liam lets go, coughing away his nerves and distancing himself.
“Good night, Mr. Whitmore,” Aria says sexier and more flirtatious then she intended to.
Liam feels a flutter in his stomach as his eyes flicker, mirroring the same flirtation.
“You pierce my heart, love,” he says smirking holding his chest jokingly.
Aria laughs as she walks up her stoop stairs to her door.
“Call me if you need a job. I know the whole 2 week temp gig may not be that appealing, but we can always find you something more stable. It’s a big company, love.”
“I may just take you up on that,” Aria says shocking even herself.
“I look forward to it,” he says smirking.
“Good night, again.” She says unlocking her door.
“Good night.” He says walking off into the night wearing the biggest grin on his face and his heart.
Aria walks off the elevator to her loft apartment, as she walks in, she leans against her door and just stands there for a beat thinking, she closes her eyes and inhales deeply, followed by a deep exhale.
“Shit,” she says to herself.
Liam walks into his home, and tosses his workout bag to the side. In a complete daze he floats to his fridge to grab a Gatorade.
Taking a sip he sits on his couch, pondering his luck tonight.
I didn’t even have to plan that run in, maybe the universe is on my side, he thinks.
My god, she just gets more beautiful every time I see her. Even in sweats, she’s flawless. That body, my god.
The thoughts that followed were a bit scandalous for a man of Liam’s polish and “prestige” to entertain…or at least to admit to entertaining.
TO BE CONTINUED…
*I do not take credit for any images used in my edits or otherwise.*