Home > Dance For Me (Fenbrook Academy #1)(5)

Dance For Me (Fenbrook Academy #1)(5)
Author: Helena Newbury

Someone cleared their throat.

My eyes flew open.

Clarissa was standing there in the doorway—she must have crept in, thinking I might already be asleep. She was staring at me, mouth open, trying to find the words.

I glanced down at myself, puzzled. I was blushing a little at what had been going through my head, but it wasn’t like Clarissa was psychic. My robe hadn’t fallen open or anything, so why did she look so shocked? I just looked like I’d fallen asleep sitting on the couch, one arm across me and one—

OhmyGod!

My other hand was between my thighs. I must have slipped it there, about the time my hands reached Darrell’s ass.

My face bloomed with heat and my own mouth fell open. We just stared at each other for a moment, and then I whipped my hand away as if it had never been there. “Hi!” I said loudly, in the hope that would make her forget what she’d just seen.

Clarissa gave me a look, but didn’t push it. I had a feeling that moment was going to come back to haunt me. “How did the audition go?”

I’d been trying to avoid thinking about it. Not only had I met easily the hottest guy I’d ever seen and walked away from him, I’d also blown my big break. I shook my head.

Clarissa pulled me up off the couch and into a hug. “What do we say when we don’t get an audition?”

“I’m a useless dancer and I’m never going to get a job?”

She swatted my ass.

“Um...A door that’s closed...is just an opportunity disguised as a glass half full?”

She swatted my ass again.

“They’re morons. Where’s the vodka?”

“Attagirl!” And she headed for the kitchen.

All of us—dancers, musicians, actors—had rituals for when things didn’t go well. You had to have a way of dealing with it, and it couldn’t be going out on a three day bender (or eating a tub of ice cream) because we wouldn’t be able to function. It had to be a moderated release. Hence the ceremonial vodka shot.

Clarissa returned with two shot glasses and a bottle of vodka so violently orange it hurt my eyes. Clarissa had tried Skittles vodka at some party and I’d had the idea of making it using only the orange ones, extracting every one from about ten packs. We stored it in the freezer, so it was ice cold and syrupy.

“They’re morons,” Clarissa reminded me by way of a toast, and we clinked and drank. Orange sugar slid down my throat and then a second later the burn of the alcohol kicked in. I felt a little better.

“Anything else happen?” Clarissa’s eyes flicked to the couch. She might as well have asked, “Who were you thinking about?”

The whole thing was enough of a mess, without bringing anyone else into it. Besides, I was never going to see him again. I shook my head. “Nothing. There’s food in the refrigerator.”

I headed to bed before she could argue. And I dreamed.

Chapter Five

Darrell

This was going to be a problem.

Ever since seeing her there, hanging weightless in mid-air, I’d been able to think of nothing else. I’d gone looking for a muse and I’d damn well found one. That overwhelming feeling I’d had when I’d first chanced across the ballerina on TV, that there was something important about dance—had come back when I’d seen her, stronger than ever. She was what I needed.

What I hadn’t been ready for was her. The way her lips pursed in concentration, the way her hair shimmered and gleamed when it was pulled back into its severe dancer’s bun—save for that one, gorgeous lock that fell across her face. Her body, elegant yet curvy compared to the other dancers I’d seen, the firm swell of her br**sts making me catch my breath when she arched her back just so....

I wanted her, more powerfully than I’d ever wanted a woman. And I was never going to see her again. I had absolutely no way of contacting her—even if I could get her to change her mind.

I slapped my hand over my eyes as I remembered what I’d said. Who says they’re an engineer, even if it’s true? Why hadn’t I told her I had money, or a big house, or—

I knew why. I didn’t want someone who was interested in the money. I’d tried a few of the high society parties, mostly because Neil wanted to try his luck with the women. I’d put on the suit and stood around with a glass of champagne and pretended to be interested in trust funds and venture capital. And yes, some of the women had been beautiful and I’d even tried dating a few of them, but we’d broken up within months. We just had nothing in common. They were all rich. I was just a guy who built stuff, who happened to have wound up with money.

I needed someone more like me, someone who did something with a passion. She was perfect...and I’d let her walk away.

I hadn’t slept the night before, and eventually fell into bed around midnight, asleep before I could even pull my clothes off.

***

The next day, I got up early, made a pot of really serious coffee and thought.

Should I search for another dancer? It wouldn’t be hard to find someone who would dance for money, right here in my house. But now I’d seen her, I didn’t want another dancer.

I sighed. I had to give it up. She was one person in a city of eight million.

I stood up and paced, eventually winding up next to the half-finished prototype. Back to work, then. Forget about being happy, or having a normal life. Back to making a better, faster, more efficient way of killing people.

My knuckles turned white on the handle of the coffee mug and a voice inside me said, “No.”

I turned my back on the prototype and sat down at my computer. I had Google and Facebook and the dance websites I found the night before. I knew her rough age and I could make some assumptions—like she was probably in some sort of dance school. String all that together and I was looking at thousands, not millions. And although I might not know her name, her face was burned into my memory forever.

Of course, if she wasn’t from New York—if she’d flown or driven in from out of state to go to that audition—then it was all over. But you don’t solve problems by worrying about ifs.

I got to work.

Two hours later, I had a program that would grab the photo of anyone on Facebook between 19 and 22 (I’d pegged her at 21, but I couldn’t be sure) who went to one of the long list of dance schools, academies and colleges I’d drawn up. It eliminated the men and then flashed up the photos one every second on my monitor. I poured more coffee and clicked Go. The hell with the odds. I was going to find her.

Chapter Six

Natasha

In high school, endless dance rehearsals kept me way too busy for a boyfriend.

Freshman year at Fenbrook—my first week, in fact—I hooked up with a sophomore actor. He was playing the lead in some crazy post-apocalyptic version of Hamlet and that made him a superstar to wide-eyed little me. Three dates and we were rolling around on the bed in his apartment. Four dates and I was no longer a virgin. Fifth date and I found out about the violin player he was seeing behind my back.

Sophomore year, Clarissa set me up with Vincent (Vincent, not Vince), a brooding cellist who was practically her twin—his lustrous blond hair was even longer than hers. We went on a string of dates, and had sex a couple of times at my place. Things eventually fizzled out, though. I think he sensed I was hiding something from him, and it felt like he had secrets of his own. We split amicably, and I still saw him around the academy.

That was the sum total of my relationships, and it was pathetic. I hadn’t been with a guy—in either sense of the word—in a year.

That, I told myself, was the only reason I dreamed of Darrell.

I didn’t normally remember my dreams, and when I did, they were some abstract crap about flying—never about sex. This one, though, was all about sex. Full, Technicolor sex with sound effects and the feel of his skin under my palms. I remembered the touch of him against my thighs very clearly. In the dream, the skin there was flawless and smooth.

I woke in a tangle of sheets, feeling exhausted yet unsatisfied. This wasn’t good—Darrell had already been filling my every waking thought, and now he was in my dreams, too?

I needed a second opinion. I needed to know if I should do something—pursue this, somehow—or be sensible and leave it well alone. I told Clarissa that I’d tell her all the gory details of the audition if we could go to Harper’s for breakfast coffee and she agreed.

Harper’s was one of two local places with a workforce almost entirely made up of Fenbrook students. The other place was Flicker, the bar I worked at. Harper’s was a deli and a café, serving up half-decent coffee (depending who was brewing it), maple pecan twists that I pigged out on when I could afford them and huge sandwiches that formed the basis of most academy lunches.

We hooked up with Jasmine, too. Jasmine, an actress, had been part of our little group since freshman year. She had auburn hair down to her waist, huge pale green eyes and generous curves that stopped traffic when she wore anything low cut.

Clarissa bought us all coffee. Normally that made me uncomfortable—I made a big deal of making sure we always alternated, even though she had way more money than me. For once, though, I was happy to be pampered.

Clarissa brought over three steaming mugs. “So? Spill.”

I went quiet.

“That bad?” Jasmine asked.

I stared at the little cracks in the tabletop and told them about the guy who burst in. I left out the part about him being hot, and the part where I’d danced imagining his hands all over me.

“Idiot,” Jasmine said, as soon as I’d finished. “Probably just wanted to get a look at girls in Lycra.”

“He probably has a thing for dancers,” Clarissa told me. “I went out with one guy who wanted me to wear the whole thing: tights, leotard, shoes—every time we went to bed.”

“Did you do it?” Jasmine was fascinated.

“Only for a couple of weeks. Then he wanted me to stand en pointe while he”—she exchanged a look with Jasmine—“Uh, yeah. So I got out.”

Jasmine was doing her doe-eyed I’m shocked but loving it face. Seriously, that girl was going to be massive when she hit Hollywood. As usual, I sat there silently, not sure how to join in. Whenever the subject of sex came up, I sort of shut down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like sex, just that I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting me.

Well...maybe one person.

“He asked me to dance for him,” I mused. Then realized with a shock that I’d said it out loud.

“He what?” asked Clarissa, too loudly. Heads turned.

“Eww! Like, in his bedroom?” Jasmine wanted to know.

“Or maybe a lap dance. He probably wanted a lap dance,” said Clarissa.

I bit my lip. I’d had the same thought when he suggested it. Well, maybe my mind hadn’t gone straight to lap dance, but the idea had sounded weird. And yet...something about the way he’d said it had sounded so honest, so straightforward. I had a feeling that if a lap dance was what he’d wanted, he would have damn well asked for one and, worryingly, that thought didn’t horrify me as much as it should have done. “He said he wanted a muse,” I told them.

 

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