HELLO Maksyl fam!
Just in case you’d like to hear the song that Meryl’s dancing to in this chapter, you can find it here!
I know you’ve all been waiting for this chapter, and I really really hope you all enjoy it!
Your feedback is what keeps me writing, so thank you so so much for your continued love and support.
I love you all, fam!
Upon entering dance class that Saturday, Meryl was immediately bombarded by her two favorite Ukrainians.
“How was ice dancing on Thursday with our good friend Charlie?”
Val ‘skated’ around the hardwood floors in his socks, clearly teasing Meryl, and his beautifully-idiotic brother struck a goofy ballerina pose.
“It was actually a lot of fun! I had a great time,” Meryl replied, chuckling at the boys’ actions.
“Not more fun than you have with us, though, right?” Val pouted.
“Oh, never,” Meryl rolled her eyes, grinning.
At that exact moment, a brilliant idea came into her mind.
She was kind of bored. She decided to act on it.
“Yeah, you guys are more fun—although, Charlie was a pretty good kisser—” She trailed off, and yep, that did it.
(The insinuation in the statement was totally false. Meryl would never actually kiss Charlie; she would never even consider it. Charlie was like her adorkable brother; not to mention, he was also her friend’s boyfriend.
She simply wanted to see what the boys would do.)
“What?” Maks hopped out of his passé immediately, no longer in a joking mood.
“You… You let him kiss you?” He spluttered, clearly horrified. “Doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”
Meryl wanted to laugh, but she managed to keep a straight face.
“Why do you care so much, bro?” Val shouldered his brother, a smirk playing on his lips.
“Because—because she’s only 13!”
Meryl felt a pang of indignation towards Maks.
“Oh, so because I’m so ‘young,’ I can’t take care of myself? I’m only one year younger than you!” She huffed.
“Меріл, you know that’s not what I mean,” he replied, rolling his eyes.
“Well, then, what did you mean?”
“We’re all young. No ‘relationship’, if you can even call it that, is going to be serious at this point. But even so, you deserve way more than someone who’s willing to be unfaithful to his girlfriend. You’ll need someone who wants to protect you and support you, not someone who wants to treat you as a passing fling. When the time comes for you to actually date and have it mean something, you need to put your best interests first. After all, it’s all about the end result,” he tried to explain.
“Wow, which speech from Mama and Papa did you get that from?” Val retorted.
Meryl promptly swatted Val on his arm.
“I thought it was cute,” she smiled, but Maks scoffed at her.
“No, it wasn’t cute. It was the truth. I can’t believe you let that be your first kiss!” Maks was clearly getting angry now.
She almost felt bad that she was leading him on like this…But she was having way too much fun.
Let’s keep the ball rolling.
“Wait, who said he was my first kiss?” She tried to appear as confused as possible for the full effect.
Maks looked like he was going to pass out.
Val started laughing like a madman, catching onto Meryl’s little game. Maks, however, was still in the dark.
Meryl laughed, too, and cast a quick glance around the room; she’d forgotten about the other girls in the room. The rest of the class was staring at her with envy clear in every expression.
“Z,” Meryl spotted her friend in the corner of the room and waved her over.
“Hey, Mer,” Zendaya chuckled awkwardly, giving a shy wave to her male companions.
“Hi, Val. Hi, Maks,” Zendaya continued on, but her eyes were settled on Val.
“Oh, hello, beautiful,” Val gave a sincere smile to Meryl’s now-blushing friend.
Meryl’s eyes darted back-and-forth between the two as she watched them interact. For a moment, it seemed like déjà vu, although she couldn’t remember exactly why.
Maks was pretty much ignoring her presence, too consumed by what Meryl had deemed to be barely-contained rage.
“Ladies and gents,” Miss Sharna clapped, immediately drawing the class’ attention.
“Today, we’re going to be trying something different,” she continued.
An excited smile was forming on her face, and the students all felt themselves becoming just as excited at the prospect of a fun dance class.
“Since it’s too early to plan anything for our recital, we won’t start working on anything yet. Still, I’d like to see what you all are capable of—” she trailed off.
The class waited on baited breath.
“So today, you’re all preparing your own routines! You’ll either be doing a solo, or a duet, or a trio,” she ticked the three off on her fingers as she listed the possibilities.
“If you’re in a duet or a trio, that does not mean you’re not as strong of a dancer as someone who got a solo. It means we have time constraints in this class that we have to use to our advantage. Think of partner dances as a collaboration; if you work together well enough, the dance could come out great for everyone! Now, don’t worry: I’m not expecting them to be ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ good. Also, guys, don’t worry too much about the choreography difficulty level. With that being said, I will want to see your strongest skills. If you can do any cool moves, make sure to show me in your dance! If you can do a cartwheel, or a backflip, include that in your routine! If you’re really energetic, I need to see that! Just leave everything out there!”
Meryl could see the wheels turning in the girls’ heads already.
“The dances aren’t going to be that long—they’re going to be one chorus to a song that I’ve taken the liberty of picking out for you. That’s actually the second part of the surprise,” Miss Sharna smiled.
The class drum-rolled accordingly, stomping their feet on the floor repeatedly.
“The songs I’ve chosen are all from Disney movies!”
Cheers erupted throughout the room.
“I’ve assigned each group a specific song choice that I feel they could do justice. Let’s get this started!” Miss Sharna began to read the list off.
“Haley, Mariana, Mary, the three of you are in a trio! You’ll be dancing to ‘Never Had A Friend Like Me’ from Aladdin!”
The three girls all high-fived each other.
“Alexis, you’ll be getting a solo! You’re dancing to ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ from The Lion King!”
Alexis smiled to herself, clearly pleased.
“Jenna, Allie, you’re in a duet. You’re dancing to ‘Under The Sea’ from The Little Mermaid!”
Meryl smiled as the two of her friends hugged each other excitedly.
“Zendaya, you have a solo! Prepare to dance to ‘Oodalalie’ from Robin Hood!”
Val whispered a ‘congrats, babe,’ to Zendaya, who turned, smiled, and thanked him.
“Meryl and Julia, you’ll be in a duet. You’ll be dancing to ‘I Won’t Say I’m In Love,’ from Hercules!”
Meryl had no idea a girl named ‘Julia’ even attended her dance class, and she thought she knew everyone.
Meryl scanned the room for this ‘Julia,’ ready to introduce herself, but couldn’t find an unfamiliar face.
She raised a tentative hand.
“Miss Sharna,” she politely interrupted, and her teacher smiled at her.
“Yes, Meryl?” Miss Sharna was all ears, but Meryl was never too amazing at conversing with figures of authority.
She became a bit shy at the class’ eyes on her.
“I don’t see Julia anywhere,” Meryl muttered quietly.
Miss Sharna frowned, flipping back to check her attendance sheet for the day.
“Oh, Meryl, I’m sorry! That’s my mistake. Julia’s absent today. Would you like to dance a solo?”
Meryl hesitated, casting an eye at her favorite brothers.
Val gave her a thumbs up. Maks, despite still seeming angry, gave her a definite nod.
“Sounds good to me,” she smiled.
She was going to have a solo.
“And last but certainly not least, Maks and Val, you’ll be dancing a duet to ‘I Wanna Be Like You,’ from The Jungle Book!”
Meryl could hear the boys laughing with joy behind her.
“Alright, class! You’ll have 30 minutes to create something. At the end of that, you’ll all be showing the class your piece! Start working… Now!”
Meryl rushed over to her flip-phone and accessed the internet.
What a day to have a terrible cell phone.
When she finally got internet service, she punched in the song name quickly.
Her phone keys decided not to cooperate with her frantic fingers and left out a letter in ‘Hercules.’
Her misspelling of ‘Hercules’ as ‘Hercule’ led her to what appeared to be the French version of the song—curious, she clicked the link.
After listening for a minute, she determined that the female singer was phenomenal; Meryl, smiling, decided at once to do the French version.
‘Jamais je N’avouerai.’
Music wasn’t so much about the language of the lyrics than the emotions they expressed, and Meryl thought French Megara would definitely work better with the choreography she was beginning to plan out.
She decided to choose the last chorus of the song to choreograph her dance to, starting when French Megara hopped on the floating columns in the lake, falling into Hercules’ statue’s arms, and ending with the Muses’ sighs. It sounded powerful, yet delicate. It was perfect.
Meryl loved her routine. She’d completed it in 20 minutes, and took the next 10 to run it until it looked perfect. (She always had been a perfectionist, and if she wad going to perform it for her class, she needed it to be perfect.)
Her years of dance made triple pirouettes easy. The fluidity of her movements came from her years of dancing, as well—her time in hip-hop allowed for sharper, more interesting movements as the music built to its crescendo, and then the moves became softer until the ending pose; at the song’s close, Meryl was kneeling on the floor, hair cascading behind her shoulders, her hands over her heart. She thought she looked great.
Maybe it wasn’t the jazziest routine, but the song didn’t allow much room for that. She just rolled with the punches.
“Performance time! Would anyone like to perform first?” Miss Sharna called out, and the class all assembled into one massive group again.
I’m confident in this routine. C’mon, me, volunteer! Get it done with!
Meryl raised a tiny hand, and Miss Sharna, looking pleased, called on her immediately.
“The floor is yours, Meryl,” she grinned, urging the students to back up to give the girl room.
Meryl hit the play button on her flip phone and began her routine.
“That was awesome!” Val hollered the second her routine ended.
The entire class clapped vigorously, although some applauded with reluctance due to their still-present jealousy over her friendship with the boys.
“Great job, Меріл,” another voice sounded.
She turned around, and sure enough, Maks was sitting cross-legged next to her.
“Thanks,” she beamed, but she was still slightly confused. “I thought you were mad at me.”
Maks smiled ruefully at her confession. “I was angry at the choice you made, but I can’t be angry after that dance. It was like watching a professional,” he chuckled.
The next duet were beginning to set up for their routine, and Miss Sharna shushed the crowd of chattering students.
“Hey, Maks?” Meryl whispered.
“Mhm,” he mumbled a reply lowly, not wanting to get in trouble for talking.
“Just so you know, I’ve never actually had my first kiss.”
“Oh, y—Wait, what?”
He turned to stare at her, mouth agape.
“Yep. I was lying before. I was bored, but your reaction was entertaining, you big teddy bear,” she teased quietly.
His eyes lit up at the newfound information, and he seemed like be was going to say something, but then he processed her new nickname for him.
His lips stretched into a pout at once.
“Hey! I’m not a teddy bear. If anything, I’m a grizzly bear,” he muttered defensively.
“Nope. You’re a huge teddy bear,” she rebuffed.
Not her best comeback, but it was true.
“I am not! Even in my dance, I’m the King of the Jungle!”
“Are you sure? I don’t think a teddy bear, no matter how big he is, would be that great of a king,” she mumbled back, snickering at her own joke.
She was waiting to hear his annoyed reply, but when none came, she turned her head to look at him.
A terrifying grin was forming on his face.
He had gotten a devious idea, didn’t he?
Meryl felt her heartbeat quicken.
Sure enough, he leaned into her side.
He wanted to deliver a quiet message to her.
“The second we get out of here, Меріл, you’d better run,” was the warning breathed into her ear.
Ignoring the proximity of their faces completely, she cocked a curious eyebrow at him.
“Oh? Why should I do that, Maks?”
“Many reasons. First of all, you lied to me. Second of all, you kept me believing your lie for as long as you wanted, all for your sick entertainment. Lastly, you called me a teddy bear.” he murmured, shuddering over the nickname, then continuing.
“I will not let those offenses slide. Once we leave this building, I can—and will—tickle you until you cry.”
Her eyes widened in almost-comedic horror.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she whispered back, but it was too late.
He was watching the next dance.
Once Miss Sharna declared class to be over, Meryl fled the studio as fast as she could.
Somehow, Maks didn’t seem like the type to bluff.
If I can just make it to my house and lock the door before he gets to me…
It was only about a minute after she started running before she heard footsteps swiftly coming her way. They were still a ways away from her, but Meryl knew they wouldn’t be that way for long.
“No,” she shrieked over her shoulder at her potential-assailant Maks, urging her little legs to carry her down the sidewalk quicker.
“Justice,” was the howled reply from behind her.
So it was definitely him.
“Run, Meryl, Run!” Val’s voice echoed out to her.
Thank you for the encouragement, Val.
Despite her best efforts, he continually grew closer and closer.
It wasn’t long until the footsteps were right behind her.
One girly scream escaped from Meryl as arms wrapped around her hips.
“Got you.” A quick mumble in her ear, and then she was tumbling to the grass.
“Stop,” she spoke, beginning to chuckle when strong fingers assaulted the sides of her stomach.
“I’m serious,” she pleaded through her growing laughter.
The fingers didn’t cease their movements, moving around her stomach.
“Maks, please stop,” she was hysterically laughing now, flailing on the grass as his fingers continued their attack on her stomach.
“Won’t—do it—again,” she tried to get out through fits of laughter. Tears were coming down her face from laughing so hard.
“Зупинити лоскочучи мене, Maks!” The words flew out before she could think about it. Stop tickling me, Maks.
In his native language…which he had no idea she was teaching herself how to speak.
He halted his attack, hovering over her, shock written on his expression. “How’d you know how to say that?”
“Um,” she replied.
Suddenly, Maks called out to his brother.
“She knows Ukrainian, Val! She knows and she didn’t tell us!”
Val was by her side in an instant.
“Are you serious?” His eyes were wide.
“I started teaching myself the night after we met,” she admitted slowly, and at once two pairs of hands were on her.
“You’re both jerks,” she was still trying to catch her breath after the tickle-fest.
“You still love us,” Val swung an arm around Meryl’s shoulders to punctuate the statement.
Maks gave her a lopsided grin.
“Remember that next time you think it’d be funny to lie to me,” he joked, and Meryl playfully shoved her shoulder into his side.
(Meryl didn’t want to impose, but Mama Chmerkovskiy absolutely insisted on having her over for dinner. Apparently, she’d been wanting to meet Meryl since the day after Meryl had met the boys. It seemed she wasn’t the only one blabbering on and on to her parents… After a quick call to her mom and dad explaining the situation, they allowed Meryl to attend.
She just needed to get changed from her grass-stained dance clothing into something a bit more presentable for dinner.)
Meryl’s mom greeted the trio as they walked into the house. While Meryl ran upstairs, she could hear her dad introducing himself to the boy. She wanted to laugh at the respectful tones in their voices.
Meryl chose to wear an orangey/pink sundress, since she felt was a sundress-y time of year.
She combed her hair to one side, as usual, cleaned up and reapplied her previously-smudged makeup, and headed back downstairs.
She smiled the boys’ amazed stares.
She must’ve looked pretty good, all dressed up.
They said their goodbyes to Meryl’s parents, promising to see them again soon if it was okay with tem.
It was, in fact, okay.
Looping one arm through Maks’, and the other through Val’s, they headed out the door again, the Chmerkovskiy house their destination.
“I really wanted to steal your first kiss from you when you walked down those stairs,” Maks admitted quietly, “but I won’t do that yet.”
Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet.
It was an implied promise that was left ringing in her ears the entire walk over to their house.
This was going to be a very interesting night.