Victoria White, the principle dancer of the RBC, had acknowledged my presence exactly three times. Once was when she was staring at me when Harry had come to Cinderella. The second time was when she’d smiled in a friendly way to the girls in the corps while we were waiting to go on backstage. The third time was during Nutcracker rehearsals, when I’d been standing in front of the resin box and she’s said, “Excuse me.” I’d blinked stupidly at her before getting out of her way and letting her use it. I wasvery proud of all three of these moments, even though to most (sane) people, they seemed insignificant.
Before I’d met Kate (and even since knowing her), I was convinced that she was perfect. She never had a hair out of place, she never had food stuck in her teeth, she never snorted when she laughed. If I could multiply my admiration for her by about a thousand, that would be an accurate portrayal of my admiration for Victoria White. She was everything a ballerina should be: petite, dainty, lean muscles, not one ounce of fat. She had hair the color of champagne and perfect technique and form. Her knee could just skim her ear. She was beautiful and flawless. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she was a ballerina by day, crime fighter by night, was working on a way to end world hunger, and had never made a mistake in her perfect life.
She was not the kind of person who read the tabloids. She had no idea who I was and she didn’t care who I was dating. Which, at this point, was no one, officially. So I was shocked when Victoria White placed one dainty, ivory hand on my shoulder before the “Waltz of the Flowers” and asked, “Are you Foxy Roxy?”
I only had time to blink at her like a fish with my mouth open before the cue sounded for us to go on stage. By the time I was back with enough time to ask Victoria to explain, she was nowhere to be found, and when shewas found, it was on stage.
When the show was over, Bianca headed back to the dorm. “You coming?” she asked.
“Oh…I’ll be there in a minute,” I told her. I spent the next hour pathetically waiting in the freezing cold by the stage door for Victoria to come out. When she did, she signed autographs and took pictures for a couple of fans who had waited, too. She would have walked right past me, but I cleared my throat and asked, “Um…Miss White?”
She stopped and looked around for the person who had called her. It took a while before her eyes landed on me. She raised her eyebrows, a faint smile on her face. She clearly had no idea who I was or why I wanted to talk to her.
“Sorry. I just wanted to ask…um…you asked me…did you call me Foxy Roxy before?” I finally stammered out. Immediately after this ridiculous question was out of my mouth, I blushed. What if I had heard her wrong?
Victoria nodded slowly, realization dawning on her face. “Oh, right. Foxy Roxy,” she repeated. Okay then, she’d definitely said it…
Confused, I nodded. My heart started racing and my palms were sweaty. Why did she keep calling me that? “Yeah, but…excuse me, but why are you calling me that?”
She frowned and started digging around in her dance bag. “This is you, isn’t it?” she asked, handing me a copy of the Daily Mirror. The cover photo was a picture of Harry and I that someone had taken in Kensington Gardens. Only whoever had taken the picture had gotten it at the exact wrong (or right, as it were) timing. I remembered the moment – Harry had made fun of me for just recently having learned who William the Conqueror was, then wrapped one arm around my shoulders. I’d gone to push him off playfully in retaliation, but the photo had been taken at the exact moment that my hand was at level with Harry’s backside. So the picture looked like I was grabbing his ass. In blaring yellow type, the Mirror named me Foxy Roxy! and in smaller white boldface, it promised stories on RBA rocked by scandal! The Queen says “no way” to an American! and, the one that really hurt, Kate tells Harry to move on!
“Oh, no,” Victoria slowly lamented. “You’ve not seen it yet, have you?” I could only shake my head. She reached to take the tabloid back, but I held it just out of her grasp. “Look, Roxy, if you’re going to read it…perhaps you should go back to your dorm.”
“Why?” I asked, tearing my eyes away from the offensive cover and looking back up at her. “What’s inside?” My heart was pounding even faster, my stomach clenching with dread. When Victoria failed to respond as quickly as I wanted her to, I opened the magazine, flipping frantically through the pages.
My heart stopped. People always say that, but really, mine did. I felt it harden and crumble; lava into rock and rock into ash that then crumbled and blew away. All at the same time, I wanted to die, faint, throw up, and cry. Splashed all over the pages of a tabloid which had sold millions of copies that day, were grainy pictures of me back stage, half-naked, that someone had taken obviously with a cell phone. In a few of them, I was reaching for a costume, my face neutral. In others, I was laughing with Bianca. One had, unfortunately, caught me when I was blowing a kiss to Marcus, my flaming homosexual pas de deux partner. Only the magazine had conveniently cropped out the costume, Bianca, and Marcus. So the photos looked like I’d just been posing in my underwear. And since I’d been about to go on stage, the underwear was very small, the bra strapless, showing more cleavage than usual.
Victoria stepped closer to me, and in a soft voice she instructed, “Listen, I know you’re upset. But hold it in until you get back to your room or else someone will get a picture of it and you’ll wind up looking dramatic all over tomorrow’s paper.”
Numb, I nodded, stuffed the tabloid into my dance bag, turned around and walked away. As soon as the doors to the dorm lobby closed behind me, I clutched my stomach, doubled over, and let out a sob. “Miss DeLaSearle?” the receptionist asked timidly from behind her desk. “Miss DeLaSearle, are you all right?” When I couldn’t answer her through my tears and wails, she told me, “I’m just going to call down Miss Winchester. Is that okay?” Still, I was crying too hard to answer her, and I didn’t hear as she picked up the phone and called up to our room.
I did feel a hand on my back, and a moment later heard Bianca, in a soothing tone, coax me off the floor. “Come on now, Rox. Let’s get up and take a shower. You’ll feel better then.” If I had been able to, I would have told Bianca that I never planned on taking my clothes off ever again. But I was sobbing and too teary and snotty to say that. So, leaning on my friend, I stood on my weak knees and took the elevator to our room. Bianca got a towel for me, and my shower caddy and led me down the hall to the bathroom. “Do you want me to stay?” she asked. Choking out sobs, I shook my head. Bianca sat on a bench and said, “Okay, well I’m going to stay anyway, just in case.” She crossed her arms over her chest, and I knew she meant to be my bodyguard.
After a few minutes of hot beads of water beating down on me, I felt recovered enough to function. I wasn’t sure if I’d stopped crying or if the water had just washed away the tears and snot. Whichever it was, I was well enough to shampoo, condition, soap up, and rinse. I wrapped a towel around myself and opened the curtain. Bianca opened her mouth to say something but I held up a hand. “Not here,” I told her. She nodded, understanding, and threw me a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. It occurred to me that she must know what had happened, because she hadn’t asked why I was upset, and she’d brought a change of clothes with her, whereas we usually just walked back to the room in our towels.
When we got back into the room, Bianca made sure that the door was shut and locked. I picked my phone up off my bed, where it must have spilled out of my purse that morning. I had twelve missed calls from Harry, three from Kate, and even one from William. I had five voicemails and seventeen text messages. Swearing under my breath and feeling like all of my limbs were made of steel, I collapsed onto my bed.
“An unknown number had been calling me all day, and I didn’t have time to listen to the messages until I’d already left the Opera House. Harry said he’s been trying to reach you all day, but then I saw that you’d left your mobile here.” She sat on her bed and gave me a sympathetic look. “I’m so sorry, Roxy. Believe me, if I find out which of these sloaney bitches did that to you, I’ll tear the bun right off her skull.”
I made a face that was supposed to resemble a smile.
Bianca got off her bed and sat next to me on mine. I rested my head on her shoulder and she wrapped an arm around me. “Rox. Cheer up. On the upside, you look fantastic in the pictures.”
“I look like a trashy hooker,” I corrected her in hiccupping breaths.
“No way,” B insisted. “You look at least like a high class call girl.” I sniffled another smile. “You should really call Harry. He’s worried sick over it.” When I didn’t say anything, she carefully asked, “Are you angry with him?”
Sighing, I felt grateful that I didn’t have to be anything less than honest with Bianca. “I know it’s not fair,” I started, “but I’m pissed!”
“I know,” she sympathized. “If not for Harry, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Exactly,” I agreed, tearing up again.
Bianca reached for the tissues on my nightstand and handed them to me. “But you know you can’t reasonably blame this on him.”
“I know,” I muttered under my breath, wiping under my eyes with a tissue.
She waited patiently before again suggesting that I call Harry. “You don’t even have to say much. Just let him know you’re okay.”
Figuring she was right, I picked up my phone and dialed Harry. “Oh thank God, Roxanna,” he breathed into the phone. Then, after a pause, he asked, “How are you, my darling?”
I cringed at the term of endearment. “I’m fine.” My voice sounded hollow, even to me.
“Roxy,” Harry pleaded with me. “Please don’t be angry with me.”
“I’m not.” Well, I was trying not to be.
“I am so sorry. When I find out who did that, I’ll have the MI5 rough them up,” he offered. I actually thought he was serious. When I didn’t say anything, Harry asked, “Can I impose just one moment longer and ask that you call Kate? She’s worried that you’ll think what they said was true.”
That was ridiculous. Nothing about the magazine had been true. I knew that part was just as fabricated as the rest. “I’m tired. I should get to bed.”
Harry sighed. “Roxanna. Please call Kate.”
Adding onto the plethora of emotions I was experiencing, my heart wrenched with guilt now, too. “Yeah, alright,” I agreed.
“Thank you.” He paused before adding, “You must know, Roxanna, how very sorry I am about all of this. I…I care about you, immensely. And the idea of someone putting this out there just to hurt you…well, it just makes me sick.”
For the first time in what felt like forever (but was probably only an hour), I took a deep breath. The stretch in my lungs felt good, refreshing. I knew that what Harry was saying was true. And while I couldn’t fully appreciate it now, I thought maybe I would tomorrow. “I know. Thank you, Harry.”
“Alright. Call me tomorrow morning, will you? Just to let me know how you feel?” I was nodding, but Harry somehow picked up on it. “Okay. Have a good night.”
When I hung up the phone, Bianca handed me a glass of water. “What did he have to say?”
“Just that he was sorry,” I told her, taking a sip. “He said I should call Kate.” Bianca nodded and waited patiently while I did.
“Roxanna, you poor dear. How are you?” The combination of Bianca and Kate’s compassion made tears spring to my eyes again. Although these were happy tears, because I was glad to have the two of them.
“I’m okay,” I told her, but I wasn’t sure if I was lying or not.
“I know it won’t help right now, but you’ve got to believe me – I’ve been there.” She had. Some of the first pictures that had surfaced of Kate Middleton had been basically of her in her underwear. “Do you…feel ready to take some valuable advice on what to do next?”
Somehow, I didn’t think that Kate was going to suggest staying in my bedroom and only emerging while wearing a parka. “Next?” I asked wearily.
“The boys are playing in a polo match for Tusk Trust on Sunday. You’re going to come out. You’re going to be wearing something incredibly tasteful and fabulous. Everyone is going to say that you’re insanely brave and classy and gorgeous and everyone will forget about the Mirror.”
“I know, you’re thinking, ‘But where will I get an incredibly tasteful and fabulous outfit?’ And the answer is, in my closet.”
“So you’re going to come over tomorrow night and we’ll pick something out with enough time to get it tailored.”
“Kate, I really don’t want to – “
“Which is exactly why you should.” Kate paused to let this sink it. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow night.” Before I could protest anymore, Kate hung up.
Confused as to what had just happened, I tossed my phone aside. Bianca sat back down across from me on her bed. “Let me tell you how tomorrow’s going to go. You’re going to wake up, and you’re going to get out of bed, even though everything in your body will be telling you to do the contrary. You’re going to go to conditioning, and the girls are going to stare. And you’re going to ignore them. You’re going to be the kickass dancer you always are.”
With a doubtful look, I asked, “Are you sure I’m going to do all that tomorrow?” She nodded and I got into bed. “Then I’ll need to be well rested.”