Chapter 34:

Keeping the secret

Bonded by Music

“So…nothing else happened? Aside from the announcement and the activities, I mean.” Eloy managed to maintain an imperturbable expression as he answered Mako's question shaking his head. “Huh. Okay.”

Eloy felt guilty because Mako really looked disappointed. But he and Genta had agreed on waiting until the third challenge was over to tell everyone that they were together, in order to reduce any possible distractions, so he had to stay strong.

At that moment the door chimed in and both Narumi and Genta entered, talking animatedly. Eloy already expected that seeing Genta after what happened the previous night would be weird. The good kind of weird, but weird nevertheless. And he was right, since his stomach slightly clenched after seeing the renewed complicity and affection in Genta’s gaze when their eyes locked.

He really wanted to kiss Genta again. They had just been able to do it at the beach, before joining the rest, and it wasn't enough. But again, they needed to be patient. Their top priority now was the third challenge, after all.

With the - almost - whole group assembled at Harmony, Eloy was about to bring the whiteboard while Narumi prepared the laptop when he saw Mako approaching Genta. The girl was giving his back to Eloy, but he could tell she was trying to give something to Genta that made him shake his head, muttering something like: “after the challenge”.

It seemed that she was trying to settle the bet she'd made with Genta, which made Eloy suppress a gulp. He really hoped that Mako didn’t kill them on Saturday when their secret came to light.

* * *

From the start, the option of coming up with a choreography from scratch was off the table. That left them with the option of learning, and probably simplifying, an existing one. However, the main problem lay in what Genta had said the previous day: finding a song that was both impressive and feasible to do in such a short span of time was more difficult than they had anticipated.

“Maybe we should change the strategy,” Genta suggested, crossing his arms as he studied the whiteboard, full of the options they had considered and dismissed. “I mean, are we sure that we should discard slow dances?”

“It’s a pity, but I think we must,” Eloy interjected, interlacing his fingers and placing his hands on the top of his head. “There are at least five established couples in the competition who might choose that option. And it seems that ‘the Novas’ used to participate in ballroom dancing when they were teenagers. So if they go with that option–”

“We’ll be screwed, yeah. You’re right.”

“So, to sum it up,” Mako said, using the stick to point at the whiteboard. “Among the 13 other pairs, about 5 or 6 could opt for slow dances; there's a good chance that at least three will choose hip-hop or street dance; one pair tends to perform with more traditional music, so maybe they also choose a traditional dance; and the rest are a mystery.”

“Now that you’ve mentioned ‘traditional’, won’t you happen to know any Spanish dances?” Genta suddenly said, looking at Eloy. “For sure that would mark the difference–”

“No.” Eloy’s categoric answer made Genta’s eyes widen before exhaling a chuckle.

“Wow, that was a definitive answer,” he said with irony, causing Eloy to chuckle.

“Sorry, but if we're not sure that we can do it decently, I don’t want to risk ridiculing it.”

Genta nodded. “You’re right again.” He sighed and leaned his crossed arms on the table. “And are you sure that you don’t wanna go with my very first suggestion?”

Eloy snorted. “You mean trying to learn one of King’s choreographies?”

“Yeah. And I know that you think that you don’t have any leg coordination, but he has a few dances where coordination with your partner is more important.”

“Yes, but most of those dances involve lifting your partner in the air–”

“I already proved to you that I can do that with no trouble.”

“–or to move as if you wanted to have sex with your partner right then and there.”

Eloy had been so focused on his defense that he responded without thinking, causing Mako and Narumi to laugh and Genta to look at him with an amused smirk.

“Well, I wouldn’t be against it. I mean choosing that kind of song, of course. Not the bit about the sex.”

Eloy narrowed his eyes as the girls laughed even more. He should probably be annoyed at Genta for risking to expose their secret when he was the one who suggested keeping it, but he was really making an effort not to smile like an idiot as well.

“I’m with Genta on this,” Narumi timidly chimed in. “I don’t think anyone dares to pick one of King’s songs, which could give you the advantage.”

“If we do it right,” Eloy corrected. “And honestly, I don’t think I’m able to dance like that without provoking second-hand embarrassment.”

“Well, the first step to avoid that would be that you stopped feeling it yourself,” Genta said, as if it was incredibly easy to do. “But anyway, if you really don’t like the idea, we still have a few hours to find an alternative.”

They were about to come back to discuss other options when Eloy’s phone started to ring with an incoming whatsapp call.

“What the–?” Eloy frowned and stood up to separate a little from the rest before accepting the call, switching to Spanish. “Cristina, I’m sorry, but can you call me later? I’m a little busy right now–”

“Eloy, you were supposed to finish the new article for today and send it to me ASAP! And on the top of that, I heard you wasted yesterday at some beach event for that contest? I’m starting to be really concerned that you are taking your thesis seriously–!”

“Cristina, I sent you the article on Friday,” Eloy managed to finally say, after recovering from the initial surprise, that had been replaced by irritation.

There was silence at the other end before Cristina spoke again.

“Oh. It was in the spam folder.” There was another pause, but the embarrassed ‘I’m sorry’ that Eloy was hoping to hear didn’t come. “But still, I have the feeling that lately you’re focusing in that music contest too much, so you shouldn’t lose sight of–”

“Are you serious right now?” Eloy interrupted her, irritation now evolving into anger. “You call me to wrongly accuse me of being slacking off, and instead of apologizing you try to put the blame on me nevertheless?”

“I-I wasn’t trying to accuse you! I’m just worried and I made a mistake, that’s all–”

“Well, next time you feel like pointing fingers at someone else for not doing their job, do yours well properly by checking your email,” Eloy cut her out. “And now, as I’ve said, I’m busy. I’ll talk to you next week.”

“Next week? But we were supposed to meet weekly to–”

“Cristina, if at this point you don’t trust that I can do my job right without constant supervision, it’s your problem, not mine,” Eloy interrupted the woman for the third time. “So from now on, we’ll meet every two weeks. If there’s something you need in the meantime, you have my email.”

“But Eloy–”

He ended the call and let out a deep, relieved sigh. Damn. Facing Cristina like that had been satisfying. He should have done it sooner.

“Okay, so where were we–?” Eloy shut up when finally looking at the others, finding them with dumbfounded expressions. “What?”

“N-Nothing. It’s just the first time I’ve seen you angry,” Mako muttered with a light impressed tone, while Narumi nodded effusively. “Is everything alright?”

Eloy exhaled a surprised chuckle. “Yes, it’s fine. I just needed to clarify some things with my tutor. That’s all.”

After that, they resumed their search for the song before deciding to take a break. Mako and Narumi headed towards the kitchen area, and Eloy made a quick visit to the bathroom.

He had just finished washing his hands and was about to exit when Genta abruptly barged in, startling him.

“Seriously, Genta, one day you’re going to give me a heart attack—”

He was still talking when Genta captured his lips in a sudden, passionate kiss that, while brief, made Eloy’s blood travel south.

“You look really hot when getting angry in Spanish,” Genta whispered against his lips after pulling back, smirking as he did so. “Just wanted to say that. See you now at lunch.”

With his jaw hanging slack, Eloy stared at the bathroom door as it closed behind Genta. Eloy then exhaled a deep breath and removed his glasses to wash his face, hoping that the cold water helped reduce the warmth that had spread through him.

Yes. At that rate, Genta was going to be the death of him.

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