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Carlos by Krista Carleson (1)

1

“So, doc? Will I survive?” I asked Dr. Webber after my check-up, grinning at him.

He returned my smile and adjusted his glasses. “Just barely,” he joked and leaned his elbows against his desk. “On a serious note, you can rest assured that your hip has fully recovered.” I broke into a huge smile, thrilled to bits after six months of being in a slump.

I had a major car accident when a truck hit my car in the middle of an intersection, which left me with a broken hip and needing surgery. I was hospitalized for two weeks, bedridden and in terrible pain, and I had to go through several months of physical therapy. I wasn’t able to move without crutches, and in some dark moments, I actually thought I was never going to walk normally again.

But six long months later, I could finally close that chapter of my life. This deserved a celebration.

“Finally,” I said. “I know you told me I should be patient and that it won’t last forever, but it really felt like forever.”

“I understand, but it’s all in the past now. Your hip has healed nicely, and you can start doing some physical activity now. Something along the lines of yoga or dance to begin with. This would be great for your recovery and also, it’d be good for your agility and overall muscle tone.”

“I would love that,” I replied enthusiastically.

I’d always wanted to start dancing, ever since I saw Dirty Dancing as a teenager, thinking that one day I would have my own sexy instructor who would hold me the way Patrick Swayze held Jennifer Grey. There was something undeniably sensual about moving as one with your partner, letting the music pervade you and ignite you.

“Now, that’s the spirit! Just take it easy on yourself. Start with beginner classes and make sure you don’t over exert yourself.”

“Sure, doc. I’ll take it slow.”

“You’ll be okay, Lindsey. You’ve been through a lot, but you’re a strong young woman and a fighter.”

I was lucky to have met Dr. Webber. He was patient with me and guided me through some dark days, attentive to my needs. He told me I was able to recover quickly only because of my determination, but I had to give him some credit. If it hadn’t been for his optimism and understanding, I would’ve probably taken a few more months to recover. I couldn’t have asked for a better orthopedist.

I felt like a new person when I got out of his office and went down the street, able to breathe more easily after a long period of uncertainty and stress. The crutches that were my constant companion had been a pain in the ass, along with the dull pain in my hip that followed me occasionally, but I was free from them at last.

The physical therapy was the hardest. I had to fight to make each new step, and crossing a room seemed like crossing a mountain. I’d thought about giving up many times, but Dr. Webber wouldn’t have it, pushing me to work harder and never stop trying.

I fished my phone from my purse to look for some dance studios nearby. I had always wanted to dance with someone, but my ex-boyfriend wasn’t willing.

Glen. Ugh.

A huge cloud appeared above me each time I thought about Glen. I’d asked him many times to indulge me and try dancing but he couldn’t be bothered, telling me it was stupid and a waste of time.

He never bothered to do many things for me, which was proven time and again when I broke my hip.

I met Glen Burbridge three years ago at a mutual friend’s party. He was handsome, charming, and had a nice smile, so I didn’t think twice when he approached me and struck up a conversation. We had a great time together, and when we ended up at his place later that night, one thing led to another, and he took me against the wall, showing me how good sex could be.

The first few months were dreamlike, and I had fallen for him pretty fast. My best friend Natalie bet me he would propose by the end of the year, already coming up with names for our children. I thought it was too early to talk about marriage, though I wouldn’t oppose if he actually proposed to me one day.

However, it was true that all good things had to come to an end, because one year into our relationship, the first red flag showed up. Glen began displaying controlling tendencies, trying to limit my time with Nat and my other friends, and we started arguing so badly that at one point his neighbors called the police after all the screaming.

He apologized and brought me a large bouquet of flowers the next day, and the naïve and foolish me was too ready to forgive him and give him another chance. We made up in my bed, and the stars were aligned once more.

What followed were months and months of giving endless chances, during which I felt more miserable and lost. He did a number on me, often berating, controlling, and making me feel unworthy of love. He would go from nice to nasty in a flash and it was all too much to bear.

I loved him, and I tried my hardest to make our relationship work, blinded by his gentle and caring moments. However, it takes two to tango, and I realized too late I’d been living in an illusion all that time.

He was never there for me—especially during my recovery—and his indifference and lack of support were the last straw. Fed up with insecurities and loneliness, I broke up with him a month ago.

I’d thought life would get easier. I’d thought I would feel better, finally in control of my life. But I was wrong. I found myself experiencing some serious trust issues and my self-esteem had eroded over time. Whenever I saw a man who attracted me, this voice inside my head said I shouldn’t bother. That I wasn’t capable of making good choices when it came to men.

Nat wanted me to go out and have fun, and she had even set me up for a blind date two weeks ago, but the guy just stared at my boobs while we were talking, and all I could think about was that he only wanted me for sex and nothing else. So I left the date halfway through and stuffed myself with popcorn while reading a romance novel for the rest of the evening.

It wasn’t easy for me to go out and pretend my life was perfect, and I wasn’t even sure I could handle being with someone new at the moment, but I guessed only time would tell.

Maybe I should just adopt a few cats and become a spinster. That would bring me less headaches than giving it all only to get let down by the person you loved.

The sound of the horn in the distance snatched me out of my musing, and I focused on my phone screen.

Google search told me the nearest dance studio to me was a salsa studio. Apparently, it was a part of a chain of dance studios in the city, and it had great reviews.

Hmm. Salsa. I never thought about it, but I loved watching salsa videos on YouTube. Google said the studio offered beginner classes too, so I decided to give it a shot.

I crossed the street and followed an alley that led to a building with a dance studio with floor-to-ceiling windows that occupied its whole second floor. It was called Los Sueños.

I had no clue what it meant except that it was written in Spanish. I went upstairs and entered a large gym, immediately greeted by loud salsa music coming from the speakers, and my pulse got a bit faster. There was just something about this music that gave me life.

My eyes landed on a gorgeous man dancing in front of the set of mirrors with a brunette my age, and I halted mid-step, suddenly flustered. He didn’t even notice me standing in the room, looking at his partner as if she was the only woman in the world, which held me captivated.

All of a sudden, the idea of starting salsa classes seemed much more appealing.

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