All the Way (Romancing Manhattan #1)(6)

She sighs, and I park, shove the car out of gear, and prepare myself for the worst.

“I don’t think this is what you’re going to want to hear,” she says. “Roger, the producer of A Summer’s Evening, has decided to replace you permanently.”

My eyes close, my heartbeat speeds up, and I shake my head slowly. “Liz, I’m working my ass off to get better.”

“I know that, and so does he, but, honey, you’ve been gone for almost four months. He has to replace you. You know this.”

I nod, not caring in the least that she can’t see me. “Okay, so what now?”

“I don’t have anything on the line for you right now, London.”

“I want to work. I know that everyone thinks that I can’t come back from this, and maybe I can’t, but I’m trying.”

“I want you to take the time you need to heal, London. You’re respected in this community. And if you can’t come back as a dancer, there will still be a place for you here.”

I swallow hard, longing to believe her. “Okay.”

“Just keep me posted on your progress,” she says. We end the call, and I walk into therapy, already feeling both defeated and determined at the same time. Halfway into our session, I blow out a frustrated breath.

“You’re doing great,” my physical therapist, Joe, says as he stretches my leg out behind me.

“Don’t blow smoke up my ass,” I reply. “I’m not doing great. It fucking hurts, and my range of motion is for shit. I should be doing better than this, Joe.”

“Whoa,” he says, and guides my leg down, then turns me to face him. “Talk to me.”

“I missed my appointment the other day,” I say, as if he should already know all of this. “Which means that I fell back again. And it’s been hurting like a mother lately.”

“The rain will do it,” he replies reasonably. It started raining yesterday afternoon and hasn’t let up since. “Are you taking your pain meds?”

“Advil,” I reply with a shrug. “I have an addict brother, and the narcotics make me spacey. I don’t like it.”

“Okay,” he says with a nod. “I get it. Have you been using your cane?”

I look down without answering him and he shakes his head.

“London, I need you to use the cane, especially on stairs and on the beach.”

“I hate it,” I mutter, and then rub my hands over my face in irritation. “I hate all of this. I’m sorry that I’m being a bitch this morning, it just all sucks. And I feel like I’m not making any gains at all.”

“You are, I can see them. But you’re holding a lot in, and I can see that too. You’re angry.”

“I can’t see the progress.” I stare up at him. “And why shouldn’t I be angry? I was officially fired today. What if this is as good as it gets, Joe?”

“Well, first of all, it’s not. You’re still going to improve, you just have to give yourself time. You need to work on healing yourself. Your whole self, London, not just the leg. And second of all, there will be other jobs.”

I shake my head. “I don’t expect you to understand, but every single day that I’m away from New York, the more my career slips out of my fingers. Do you think they’ll wait? Because they won’t. Of course they feel badly that this happened, but there are a hundred girls behind me who would do more than any of us are comfortable with to get a role. Younger, with more energy, and without an injured leg.”

“We’re going to get you through this,” he promises.

“I should feel better than I do,” I insist.

“Your body is different from anyone else’s, London. You have a dancer’s body, which means that your muscles have been used to being stretched, moved, and exercised every single day for most of your life. For the past four months, you haven’t been able to do that, so they’ve tightened more than an average person’s would. You’re not just starting from square one, you’re even farther behind than that.”

“Yay me,” I reply, but look him square in the face. “I want to get through this, better than before, and work again.”

“Good girl. Now, enough slacking. Let’s get this done.”

For the next thirty minutes, he puts me through the paces. Exercises with weights, without weights, more stretching. Finally, he has me lie on a table so he can massage the abused muscles.

Believe it or not, that’s the part that hurts the most.

I want to cry when he finally lets me get up to leave. I’m sick of hurting.

“You did great today,” he says, and laughs when I flip him the bird. “You did. I wouldn’t just say that. I’ll see you in two days.”

I smile and limp out to my car, then just sit in the driver’s seat, feeling the steady thump in my leg and listening to the sound of the rain on the roof.

I hope it doesn’t turn into a raging storm. I hate those. They terrify me.

I shake my head, start the car, and head toward home. With the weather as bad as it is, traffic isn’t too bad. I wouldn’t have gone out if I didn’t have to either.

The drive home is roughly ten minutes. I pull into the garage and walk inside, not at all excited about walking up the stairs, but I have to.

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