Home > Dance For Me (Fenbrook Academy #1)(8)

Dance For Me (Fenbrook Academy #1)(8)
Author: Helena Newbury

I took two.

I stopped no more than six inches from his body, close enough that he must have been able to feel the heat coming off me, my whole body glowing from the inside. My chest was heaving, my legs trembling. The leotard and tights felt like they were barely there, as if my body was throbbing nude before him.

The music stopped.

We stood there staring at each other. His eyes were just as clear and striking as before, but they’d lost that innocence, now. They were burning with something even more powerful: lust.

I thought I saw his shoulders twitch, as if his hands were moving, and I caught my breath, keeping my gaze fixed on his eyes. My lips parted just a little, my eyes closing. He’s going to kiss me! He’s going to—

He stepped back.

My eyes opened and I sort of swallowed and stepped back myself, turning away to hide my blush. For a few seconds neither of us said anything. I didn’t know if he was looking at me and I didn’t want to risk looking.

“Was that okay?” I asked, without turning.

“Beautiful.” There was pain in his voice, as if he was sorry it was over. “Could you come back again...tomorrow?” he asked.

I nodded. “Sure.” I retrieved my clothes and started pulling them on. It took me three tries to get my foot into the leg of my jeans. My hands were shaking as I picked up my bag.

When I turned, he was much closer than I expected. I almost walked right into the broad wall of his chest. We both froze, and I looked up at him again. His eyes brightly blue and—

And suddenly we were kissing. His palms were on my cheeks, thumbs brushing along the tightly-bound hair at my temples. His lips met mine and they were as gorgeously full and hard-soft as I’d imagined. They felt so right, so like the thing I’d been missing, that I let out a tiny shriek of astonished relief, and that opened my lips. His tongue was between them instantly, searching and pressing, a hot shudder travelling the length of me. I grabbed his arms to keep from falling.

As quickly as it started, it was over. He pulled back and we were both gasping. I felt like I was standing on a ledge no bigger than my feet, with plunging cliffs on every side.

He tried to say something, but no words came out. It was all too fast, too much. Being underground hadn’t bothered me before, but suddenly the thought of all those floors above us, pressing down...

“I—I need some air,” I told him.

He nodded, and led me to the lift. For three whole floors, we stood in silence, only a foot apart, neither of us daring to look at the other.

Just as the doors opened, he turned to speak to me. “Nat—”

The sound of a full-on screaming match hit us and we both snapped back to front.

Chapter Eight

Natasha

The shouting was coming from the kitchen. Even before I was close enough to make out the words, I could recognize Clarissa’s sharp, high voice. I’d heard her wield it like a scalpel to shred opponents—male and female—plenty of times. I was hearing it clash against the low rumble of a male voice, as solid and unyielding as a tank.

When I rounded the corner and saw him, I froze. Clearly, this was a home invasion.

The man was almost as big as Darrell, but with long, sandy-blond hair reaching down to his collar and a goatee. He was wearing a black t-shirt with faded, gothic writing on it—it could have been for a metal band or a biker gang, or some combination of both. His arms bulged under the deep tan of someone who lives their life outdoors, and his black jeans hugged his thickly-muscled legs all the way down to his biker boots. A complex tattoo covered one arm from wrist to sleeve.

I couldn’t decide whether to run to Clarissa and pull her to safety or grab Darrell and push him towards the intruder, so I wound up staying where I was. My brain was still trying to catch up to this sudden shift in events—I hadn’t even begun to process the kiss, yet!

Then what they were yelling began to sink in.

“Girl...you got a lot of nerve standin’ there criticizin’ my clothes when that skirt you’re wearin’ meant some woman in a sweatshop in China—”

“This is Prada! It’s from Milan!”

“Some woman in a sweatshop in France has made a buck eighty-six for a day’s work and a cow has died just so you can waggle your ass at the guys.”

“Milan is in Italy and I don’t waggle my ass and your boots are made of leather you—”

“My boots have been with me for ten years and they’ll last another five. That’s a good use of a cow. That cow died for a reason. Your skirt’ll be in the trash next season ‘cos it ain’t en vogue.” His voice was incredible. It was Californian drawl left over hot coals to bake and smolder.

“Excuse me for wanting to look good.”

“Only place that skirt looks good is on the floor of some rich dude’s apartment—”

Clarissa opened her mouth to speak and I rushed forward. “What is going on here?” I demanded. “Who is this?”

Darrell was rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Natasha, Clarissa: this is Neil. My oldest friend.”

“We’ve met,” Clarissa said darkly. She folded her arms and glared at Neil.

I looked between Neil and Darrell. “He’s...You’re his...”

“We were at MIT together,” Darrell told me.

I looked back at Neil. “You were at MIT?” I flushed. “God, sorry! I didn’t mean—You just—”

“Dress like a biker?” asked Clarissa.

“I am a biker,” said Neil. “You got a problem with that, too?”

“What started all this?” From the way Darrell said it, this sort of thing wasn’t unusual for Neil. Now I came to think about it, it wasn’t all that unusual for Clarissa, either. But usually the men she met backed down.

Neil pointed at Clarissa, the muscles in his arm bulging under his t-shirt. “I walk in and she’s readin’ the Times, man, and she’s all, like, let’s just execute anyone who doesn’t drive a BMW.”

“I said a tax cut here and there for the people who keep the economy going—”

Neil took a step towards her, the buckles on his boots jangling. “Yeah, you just keep gouging it out of the bottom ninety percent with your silver spoon—”

“Enough! Neil, please don’t argue with my guests. Clarissa...”

“What?”

Even Darrell blanched a little at the venom in her voice. “...nothing.”

“Oh, so it’s all on me?” Neil glared at Clarissa. “She can just sit up here and eat all the pastries—”

“I had one! And they were for me!” She took a step towards Neil, so that they were within touching distance. She had to look up at his face, now.

“They were for guests who were waiting. I’m a guest who was waiting!” He didn’t move towards her. He just sort of bristled, and even I could feel the animal heat coming off him. I wondered what it was like for Clarissa, right up close.

“OK, OK, enough!” Darrell took a deep breath. “Neil, I’m sorry. I forgot you were coming over. Clarissa, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to introduce you. Next time—”

“Oh, there won’t be a next time,” Clarissa told him. “You think I’m going to sit here next time while some weed-smoking drop-out tells me how I should dress?”

“Hey, one, I only smoke for medicinal purposes, two, unlike Mr. Millionaire here I got my degree and three, as for how you should dress...”—he leaned forward and loomed over her—“I got some ideas on how you could dress. You want to hear them?” And he gave her a mocking, wolfish smile.

Clarissa gave a howl of rage, grabbed a pain au chocolat and stalked out. A moment later, we heard the front door slam.

In the silence that followed, I shifted my bag up on my shoulder. “I should probably....”

“Sure. Oh!” He pulled something from a pocket—a white envelope.

I took it, surprised, with no idea what it was. I caught Neil looking between the two of us, a suspicious look on his face, and hurried out before things got any weirder.

***

Clarissa gunned the engine and tore off down the driveway in a hail of gravel. The gates barely opened in time. “That guy!” she told me. “That guy!” And she gave a little scream of frustration.

“I won’t ask you to go back there,” I told her meekly. “Sorry.”

She shook her head. “I wouldn’t. Not for anything. God, he was so annoying.” She sighed. “How was your billionaire?”

“Millionaire.”

“Same thing.”

I had to think. “It was weird,” I told her at last.

“Really? Dancing one-on-one for a slightly off multi-millionaire in his batcave?”

“It’s not a batcave.”

“What is it?”

“It’s an underground...workshop.”

“It’s a batcave.”

I started picking at a loose thread on the seat. Then stopped because this was Clarissa’s BMW and she’d rage if she saw me. “Do you really think he’s off?”

Clarissa shrugged. “If you had a mansion like that, would you spend all day down in the cellar?” She suddenly gasped. “Maybe he’s a vampire!”

I poked her in the side. “I’ve seen him in daylight.”

“Sunblock. Say what you want, next time I’m bringing garlic and a mirror.”

“I thought you weren’t coming next time?”

She didn’t reply. I finally opened the mystery envelope and gave a gasp of my own. There were five crisp hundred dollar bills inside. I’d completely forgotten about the money part of the arrangement.

Clarissa watched me fingering the bills. “Level with me. Was it a lap dance?”

“Clarissa!”

“I promise I won’t tell anyone, not even Jasmine.” She considered. “Maybe Jasmine.”

“No!”

“These days it’s almost okay. I wouldn’t see you any differently. I mean—”

“Okay, okay, yes. Yes, it was a lap dance and yes, we had sex. I went on top.”

Clarissa’s hands jerked on the wheel and we swerved, tires screeching. She fought for control while trying to look at me at the same time. By the time we recovered, I couldn’t control the smile any longer and let it break across my lips. She pummeled me in the arm while letting fly with some choice curses.

I let the laughter bubble up from inside me. I couldn’t remember when I’d last laughed—really laughed—and it felt good.

Chapter Nine

Darrell

The last chunks of gravel were still hitting the ground when Neil, chewing on a pastry, asked, “So, did you bang her?”

I closed my eyes and sighed. I loved the guy like a brother, but sometimes...“No. It’s not like that.”

“Uh-huh.”

“She danced for me. I need inspiration.”

“Uh-huh.”

“That’s all it was!”

“Was that an envelope of cash you gave her?”

“...yes.”

Neil didn’t even reply. Just looked at me and poured himself more coffee.

 

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