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Do Me a Favor
Author: Jessa Kane









I’ve just broken in this pair of pointe shoes and they’re already ruined.

They’re caked in filth and puddle water, growing more and more soaked by the moment as I’m dragged forcefully through the dingy, moonlit alley. My ballet coach, Baker, has my arm in a vise grip and no amount of convincing will make him release me.

Mid-way through rehearsal for Giselle, he pulled me from the stage and hauled me out of the theater with a look of disgust on his aristocratic face. We drove thirty minutes to an unfamiliar neighborhood, well outside of the city. I have no idea where we are or what he has planned. God knows this man has unconventional coaching methods. As one of the best, he gets away with more than most. But this?

I’m scared.

Make that terrified.

“Please, let go of me.” The words scrape the sides of my raw throat. “Where are we going? I need to get back to rehearsal.”

My ballet coach scoffs, digging his fingers deeper into the bone of my arm. “There is no point in you being there. You’re not focused, Posy. You’re making a fool out of us both.”

“I’ll try harder. Please.”

Unmoved by my begging, he yanks me harder and I stumble along behind him. Where does this alley lead? It runs along the side of an abandoned warehouse. The only sound is dripping water from a drainpipe and a car alarm going off in the distance. And my labored breathing. My occasional sobs.

“You were cast as the principal dancer in the company’s biggest production in years. They are spending millions revitalizing the theater and advertising to the masses. All because you showed so much promise. More than any ballerina in a decade. And you are squandering the opportunity, Posy. For both of us. And do you know why?”

“No. I’m not squandering anything—”

“You have sex on the brain. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?”

I stumble in the wake of those words. Huh?

“I-I don’t understand what you mean.”

Baker mimics my response with a high-pitched impression. “Always chatting with the male dancers. Fixing your makeup. Did you think I wouldn’t notice you’d padded your bra?”

My face swarms with heat.

Oh lord. If my coach noticed, so did everyone else.

I only added a thinly padded cup. What else was I supposed to do after Baker told me he overheard the other dancers laughing about my “Tic Tac Tits”? I started wearing makeup for the same reason. Ever since I was cast as Giselle, I’ve become the target of every joke, every criticism. I’m a walking target to the others. Isn’t Baker constantly telling me that? Recounting the things they say about me? Their laughter at my expense?

I’ve become so isolated at the company.

As for speaking to the male dancers, they’re only my friends—and barely that. We rarely discuss anything but lifts.

“I can explain everything. I don’t have s-sex on the brain. I’ve never even…” Too much information, Posy. He probably suspects I’m still a virgin at age eighteen, but there’s no need to confirm it for him. “Well, I-I wouldn’t even know what to think about, exactly. I promise I am one hundred percent focused on dancing. On Giselle. It’s just there is so much pressure—”

“Pressure you seek to distract yourself from—with boys. Do you think I’m stupid?” We reach the end of the alleyway and he wrenches open a steel door with his free hand. “You are not going to ruin this chance for us.”

He pulls me into the pitch black warehouse and my heart shoots into my throat, ice forming a layer on my spine. “Why are we here? Why did you bring me here?”

“I have a surefire way to cure you of this fascination with men. Oh yes. Then we can finally get back to focusing on what matters. Giselle. The power that will come with a command performance.” He flips on his iPhone flashlight and shines it down a narrow corridor. At the end of the ominous hallway is another door. Light shines around the edges.

A shadow moves on the other side.

There is someone in there.

“One night with my lunatic brother should cure you real fast, Posy.” Baker laughs and hauls me harder, baring his teeth and pulling me forward with all of his might—which is more than required, because the tops of my pointe shoes are digging into the concrete floor, my body lurching in the opposite direction. One night with my brother.

One night with my brother.

What does he mean?

How would that cure me?

“Please, no. No. Cure me of what? I’m not even sick. I’m just under strain.” I slide forward on the floor several feet, bringing me closer to the door. “I d-didn’t know you had a brother. Who is he? I don’t understand…”

“Let’s just say he’s not fit for polite society.”

To my horror, we have reached the door and the shadow on the other side has stopped moving. The floor creaks. Loudly. Oh God, whoever lies beyond this steel door is very large. A stranger. One that lives in an abandoned warehouse and isn’t fit for polite society. And my coach is going to leave me here with this individual? For the whole night?

This can’t be happening.

I mean, Baker has done some crazy things in the name of training. He once made me walk on a tightrope over broken glass for hours. Blindfolded. Once, he ordered me to remain in the plie position so long that my muscles locked up and I needed to be taken to the ER. Sometimes it seems like he’s enjoying my pain and confusion.

But this?

This is on another level. He has gone far beyond his usual antics.

I’ve always wondered if he is more willing to try these experimental methods on me because I’m an orphan. No parents to call. No one to intervene on my behalf. There is the strict, yet fair choreographer at the ballet company, but she seems intimidated by Baker, as well. Who would even believe me if I told them this was happening? Even if I did have someone to protect me from my coach, he took my phone. I have no way of calling anyone.

“Smith,” Baker calls through the steel door, rapping on it with his knuckles. “Open up.”

Several bolts and locks disengage on the other side of the door.

And then it opens slowly, creaking on its hinges.

Revealed is a very, very large man, indeed. One so tall that I have to tilt my head all the way back to see his face. When I do see it, my lungs seize and I renew my efforts to get away.

But not because he’s scary. Or hideous.

No. It’s the violent snarl on his face. It’s directed at me.

This man loathes me on sight.

If it wasn’t for the utter hatred contorting his features, he might almost be handsome. His black hair is shaved down to the quick, his eyes a piercing shade of light blue. There is a scar bisecting his upper lip, five o’clock shadow darkening his jaw. Tattoos cover every available inch of his neck. There is no mistaking this man has been damaged somewhere along the line. It’s right there in his eyes—pain, rage, resentment.

“Posy, meet my brother, Smith. This is where he’s been living since they let him out of the institution. I bring him groceries once a week, because he doesn’t trust anyone else. Especially women. That’s how I know he hasn’t had one in years. Right, brother?”

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