Book 3 in The Jenna Kroon Series The House On Broadway deals with Jenna’s absolute height as a performing artist. The House on Broadway is a theatre, Jenna’s real home, the only place where, while dancing and performing, she feels at home. But what about Boras and little Ferdy? Do they count enough for her to step down from the stage and let the applause fade?
The House on Broadway is scheduled for 2017. The amazing covers for The Jenna Kroon Series are created by the cover artist Melody Pond.
Here’s a Taster on Chapter 1
A New Life
New York City, 14 March 2003
“You’ll have to find someone else to dance Gisèle with you as from May, Boras. I’m leaving the show. At least until the Autumn.” It was said casually but the words were so unexpected that Boras looked up from stuffing his ballet shoes into his sports bag to gaze up at Jenna. She stood before him, erect and with a firm, decisive look on her beautiful face. The violet eyes had a hard glitter, which Boras could now read as insecurity and withdrawal before panic would strike.
“How so?” It was intended to sound as casually as her utterance, which in fact had landed on him as a bombshell. Still sitting on his hunches, putting his neatly folded ballet clothes on the bottom of his bag, he continued to organise his belongings, thus giving Jenna the space to explain herself. It remained silent. He knew her so well, inside and outside and though his heart beat in his throat, he bit his tongue to refrain from asking her anything else at this point. He was still deeply in love with her, although Jenna remained aloof most if the time, and doggedly held on to their separate apartments. But they were lovers. There was no denying.
He must mean something to her?
Jenna mellowed somewhat as Boras had expected.
“I know it must come rather unexpectedly. It’s not like … you know… I had planned this. I’d rather stay, really. The show is great. But I can’t…” Her voice trailed off and that helpless look that always melted his heart but put him on guard at the same time, made him rise to his full 6ft 2 length and walk over to her. He took her in his arms. Jenna let him hold her but her whole body remained rigidly unreachable. He felt she was battling with something huge inside her, something she as yet couldn’t put into words. Still he tried,
“You can tell me anything, Guinevere.” By using the name only he addressed her by, he hoped to break through her defence mechanism but it was without avail.
“The thing is I need a break to visit Denise in Holland. I think I’ve been working too hard again.”
This was true. Since they had put Gisèle on stage in the Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway in early January, she and Boras had danced the lead parts five evenings a week. Next to that they had long practice hours every day, even in the weekends. Jenna remained at the underweight of what was acceptable for her body and needed to sleep almost all the hours that weren’t reserved for dancing and eating. Boras cooked their meals and Jenna had accepted this fact after some grumbling. As she had accepted his presence in her bed. Not all nights but enough nights for Boras to believe she must feel something for him. After all, Jenna didn’t really strike him as someone looking for attention. She was a loner, didn’t socialise and never asked him outright to stay with her.
Letting her slip from his embrace, he shrugged his shoulders. A thickened soul, that was certainly something Jenna had taught him.
“We’ll have to talk to Maradona and Birkenbach but I’m sure we can get Melodia Clarke ready by then to take over your part. If you think that’s a good choice?”
“Yup. Why not? Melodia’s been working hard enough to deserve a promotion. Would be my choice, too.” This unexpected praise from hard-shelled Jenna for another dancer was another surprise for Boras. Nothing in her tone or words betrayed any jealousy or supremacy. He frowned deeper. Jenna had something up her sleeve but he had no idea what it was. She’d said she’d come back after the summer? So she probably really did need some time to spend with her family? Boras stiffened. He too could do with a break, with the loving arms of his family around him, with a whiff of Turkish air but unlike Jenna he didn’t have the means to take such a break.
They left the ballet studio where they had been practicing together and suddenly Boras had a flashback to the same situation eighteen months earlier when he and Jenna had been training for their first ballet exam together. Nothing had basically changed. He still didn’t know when those flapping doors shut behind them whether he would be invited to her flat in Grove Street, or whether he would direct his feet to his own little studio off 6th Avenue. It was typically him that he thought that he’d at least left five decent meals in her freezer so that if she wanted to be on her own, she wouldn’t starve. But Jenna casually said over her shoulder, “My flat?”
“Sure, if that’s what you want.” Boras remained on guard after her sudden decision to deflate their first great dancing project together without consulting him and without giving him a clear reason, was weighing him down.
When they were seated opposite each other at Jenna’s modern kitchen table munching the Moroccan couscous Boras had whipped up in half an hour, Jenna suddenly put down her fork and knife and stared him straight in the face. As always he had the inclination to avert his eyes from these mesmerising violet irises that seemed to beckon him like the song of the Sirens. He was dismayed to see there were tears welling into those jewel-like eyes.
“Boras?” she began, and her voice almost broke. He was really alarmed now.
“What is it, Guinevere?”
“I would like to tell you the truth why I have to leave, really I would but I can’t. Not yet. But I promise you will be the first one to know when the time is right. Can you grant me that space?”
Boras thought for a minute, still more puzzled at her mysterious words.
“Of course. I can’t say I’m thrilled to do the show without you, far from that. And I will also miss you personally but we’ve never spoken of any commitment between us so it would be wrong of me to assume you would take my agenda into account when it comes to the decisions in your life.”
“You’re so damn unselfish, Bor. I suppose that’s why I’m so fond of you. You’ve got a surplus of what I lack,” Jenna smiled, wiping the unknown tears from her face, “you may not believe me but I do appreciate you a lot. A Lot. All you do for me and the great dance partner you are. I honestly couldn’t have gotten this far in my classical career without you.” Uneasy with her praise Boras got up to take the plates away and bring in the desert. Fresh peaches with cream.
“Thank you.” And after a while in which they ate in silence, “When are you thinking of leaving?”
“Let’s talk to Claus and Anjelica tomorrow, okay? The sooner the better. I’ll ring Denise tonight to see if she’s in Holland or in Venezuela. I might want to pop over there and see what it’s like.”
“Is she there more often now? What happened to that ex of hers, the one you beat to pulp?”
Jenna smiled at the recollection, “I didn’t actually beat Carlos to pulp. Wish I had. But yes, I’m glad I was of some help to the police so they could catch him.” Boras saw her play with her food, another sign she was strangely out of balance.
“I wish I could come with you,” he sighed, “I’ve heard so much about Denise and her children but I’ve never met her. Just spoke to her on the phone that one time. She seems so nice.”
“She is nice,” Jenna agreed, “and that’s why I need her now in this sh…” She halted her words as she saw the expression on Boras’s face change. The golden-brown eyes became slits and the normally smooth forehead wrinkled in dismay. Jenna waved her slim hands in an apologetic gesture. He would never get angry with her, raise his voice, put her in her place but she deserved it.
“Sorry Boras.” It was almost a whisper, “I really can’t tell you and yes I will tell Denise. But after Denise, you will be the first to know.”
“Shall I leave you now, Jenna? Pick you up tomorrow morning at eight?” Boras was already leaving the table, looking down on her with a pained grimace on his handsome face. When he used ‘Jenna’, the distance between them had set in.
“Please stay here tonight, Bor. I really need you here.”
“But why? If you don’t trust me with your secrets?”
“It’s not a secret. I know it sounds that way to you but it’s not that. There are no words for my situation right now. Never doubt, you’re closest to me in the whole world, Boras Mardin.” He heard the sincerity in her voice and the despair underneath it. Immediately he forgot his hurt feelings and went over where she sat with her shoulders hanging down. A broken ballerina. He urged her to stand up to take her in his arms. Willingly she let him draw her near to him, the rigidness gone. Against his breast, she muttered, “I’m so sorry, Bor. I wish it was different.”
“It’s okay, Guinevere.” He planted a kiss on top of her sparkling blond head, “I know, you mean what you say and I won’t pressure you anymore. Will you just promise me one thing?”
“Our remaining shows together, let’s make it into the biggest party on earth. Let’s dance as if it’s our last dance. Yours and mine.”
“But it won’t be, Bor. I promise to come back. You’re the best partner I’ve ever had and I can’t shine without you.”
“Still, let’s give it another extra 10%. Will you do that for me?”
“Of course.” She swallowed the words, ‘I’d do anything for you.’ They were too un-Jenna like but it was what her heart whispered to her at that moment. If only he knew, but he couldn’t, he mustn’t.
That evening they made the tenderest of love and Jenna fell asleep in his strong arms with a contented smile on her face, temporarily forgetting what was upsetting her whole scheme in life. Boras lay awake listening to her even breathing, taking in her clear profile in the city lights that filtered through the glass curtains. She looked like an angel, so pure and innocent and it tore at his heart. She was all he wanted in a woman but for the great darkness in her. He’d never looked for someone who would easily laugh, had that light-footed energy. He too, had deep feelings and hidden yearnings, he too lived at the edge of strong emotions, often bordering on a cutting pain: homesickness, aloneness, the extremes he asked from his body that raged and gnawed at his mind and soul. He too sought the escape from gravity in art. They understood each other. Life was tough, they made it tough.
Jenna stirred in her sleep and unconsciously wormed herself out of his embrace and turned her back to him. Soon she was snoring lightly.
‘If only she knew how little I sleep when I’m with her,’ Boras thought, noiselessly massaging his upper arm on which Jenna’s head had rested. The aching pain in that left arm worried him. He knew he’d strained a muscle but had no time to let it heal. The show must go on. He tried to sleep, feeling how exhausted his body was but Jenna’s decision to leave him and Gisèle and New York made him wide awake. He was both restless with her and without her. If only I too could take a break. Charge my batteries in the Ardahan Mountains. But Boras forbid himself to go down that track. It was too painful.
He must have fallen asleep after all because when he woke, he heard the splashing water from the bathroom, indicating Jenna was taking a shower. ‘I dreamt,’ he thought, ‘but what was it? Where was I?’