Former dance student Sara Hart had aspired to grace the stage on Broadway, but a reckless decision forced her to renounce that dream. Years later, while struggling with an ungratifying job and an even more unsatisfying love life, she literally stumbles upon a dangerously sexy stranger who sends her heart—and her body—into hyperdrive. His touch makes her feel alive again and sparks a desire to rebuild her dance career. But Sara is still haunted by the demons of her past. One dark lie could cost her everything.
Real estate mogul Tom Wright caters to the rich and famous. He lives the life of the perfect bachelor, partying hard and dating the most beautiful women in Manhattan. But he has one golden rule—no commitments. Ever. Then he meets sexy Sara Hart, and something about her makes him want to throw the damn rule book out the window. Every time she’s near, the blood in his veins pulses with a raging fire he can’t contain. But Tom’s shadowed history is resurfacing, unearthing ghosts he’d rather remain buried.
Will this wicked dance be their last?
|Publisher:||The Wild Rose Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.95(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Closed for Renovations
My alarm radio blared. Face down on my pillow, I reached over and pressed the snooze button, but nothing happened. Some pop song by some new singer I didn't recognize screeched in my ear. I continued to push down on the snooze. Harder this time. Then it hit me.
I'd used up my four snoozes.
"Oh, c'mon," I groaned as I turned over and stared at the clock. Seven forty- five a.m. bleeped on the digital screen.
I was going to be late for work — yet again.
Getting up for work every morning was a forty-five-minute ordeal consisting of multiple snoozes on my alarm clock and several acrobatic attempts to roll out of bed — without actually falling off and cracking my head open. I'd been snatching Z's with a ripped net and barely slept the last few nights. It was a miracle I ever made it to work at all.
Plus, I might as well be stepping onto the set of a horror movie instead of a dance studio. Every day was a new torture scenario specially crafted for me by my boss, aka Satan, aka personal tormentor, aka Rebecca, the Artistic Director at the Rebecca Fitzgerald Dance Company where I worked. She and her minion, Alexei Voronov, the resident choreographer, schemed daily to make my life a living hell.
Every night I'd lay in bed, my left eye twitching while my mind tried to shutdown, unable to get the day's shenanigans out of my head, haunted with thoughts about going back the next day.
Last night hadn't been any different.
I took a deep breath, praying no new dancers had been fired from the company and I wouldn't have to scramble to keep the whole performance from ripping at the seams. After shutting off the alarm and realizing I'd have to ditch my shower, I ran to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then put my chestnut hair up in a ponytail, attempting to spray down the stubborn strands sticking out in all different directions. It didn't work too well. Whatever. It would have to do. I went to my closet and yanked out the only blouse not needing to be ironed and stuffed my petite self into my last clean black skirt before grabbing my headphones and tote and heading out the door.
Black pumps beating fast against the concrete, I hustled down West 49th street toward Rockefeller Center. Gracefully bobbing and weaving through the morning masses in a choreographed dance, I slithered through the amplified horde of morning commuters, racing against the clock and knowing only divine intervention was going to get me to work on time. My feet burned from the long city blocks I'd trekked in heels, but I'd rather have throbbing sores on my toes than get mushed between strangers in an underground sardine can.
My heart kept pace with my feet, making me damp with sweat. Instrumental music chimed in my ears, blissfully drowning out the cacophony of indistinct chatter, honking horns, and hasty traffic vibrating off the streets. You'd think after living in the city for so many years I would be used to the symphony of New York City's lively sounds. Oh, well. I guess you can never take the Jersey girl out of me.
Le Café Au Lait, my favorite French bakery and everyday morning stop, was in the complete opposite direction of the dance company, but regardless of the hail storm waiting for me, nothing would keep me from getting my a.m. fix. Not to mention if I showed up without my boss's latte, the fire-breathing dragon would definitely char my body and feast on me for breakfast.
Just one more block ...
I jacked-up my stride and hurried past a herd of suits then dodged slamming into a delivery guy who was carrying boxes. As he teetered on one foot, he called out after me in brightly colored words. I shrugged in a half-hearted apology and kept rushing toward the cafe.
"Yes ..." I hissed with a smile as I finally reached the bakery's doors and pulled on the handle.
The door didn't budge.
"What?" I peeked inside, but the glass windows and doors were covered in construction grade paper, the words "Closed for Renovations" blazoned across in checkered patterns.
I reached up and yanked out my earphones, leaving the concerto of the morning chaos free to assail my ears.
The Closed for Renovations signs mocked me. Unamused, I rubbed the butt of my palm on my temple. My barista warned me the day before they'd be closed for a few days. I'd completely forgotten about their plan to revamp the interior. Catching my breath and holding my right rib in pain, the soles of my feet burned while I absorbed what happened. With my jaw dropped and hands on my hips, I caught my reflection on the golden-framed glass doors. I stood, cemented, eyes wide open, as if staring at the doors long enough would make the place not-closed.
I shook my head and let out an exasperated breath. Did they really have to be closed today, of all days? I'd barely slept, there was a monster-truck-size load of work waiting on my desk, and now this? What the heck was my caffeine- addicted body supposed to do without my cappuccino? And with the way things were going at the office, today was not the day to mess with my morning routine.
Okay, so yes, it wasn't the only cafe around, but to me, that French boulangerie was supposed to be my every-morning-ten-minutes-of-sweet- heavenly-delight on my way to work. Even though I was chasing the clock, skipping my usual coffee and scrumptious chocolate-almond croissant was not an option. I needed to be fully armed with an indulgent breakfast before heading into the inferno to face Lucifer.
My stomach growled at the inconvenience and my face tensed with annoyance. I couldn't possibly be the only one scoffing at the absurdity of this establishment, right? Closing on a Friday for renovations? Who does that? I scanned around for other patrons experiencing the same confusion.
Everyone passed by, dressed in the New York dress code — suit and briefcase — marching in equal urgency, unbothered by my personal dilemma.
Well, it appeared I was in fact, the only one who cared.
Fine. With another exasperated breath, I looked down at my watch. Eight- thirty a.m.
Thirty minutes late. Just great.
Rebecca was surely going to rip my head off for being tardy for the third time this week. There was no possible way I was going to face that demon without caffeine in my system. No effing way. All my pent-up frustration with this woman would certainly erupt, raining burning lava upon her puny form.
Time for plan B.
The Int'l House of Java was located right inside Rockefeller Center, and while it would make me even later, I needed coffee ASAP. I picked up my pace and rushed toward the busy cafe, almost getting knocked over as I was pushed forward by a rushing bike-messenger.
"Watch it," I yelled after him, but with headphones plugging his ears, my complaint went unheard. He stopped short in front of me and dismounted before slinging his track-bike over his shoulder and opening the door to the coffee house — forgetting to hold it open for me.
It smacked me right on the forehead. "Ow."
This was not my morning.
Take a deep breath, Sara. Just breathe.
I rubbed my head as I pushed through the heavy door, praying for some grace, but as I peered up, I choked on my prayer. Every New Yorker in a three- mile radius was cramped into this tiny place.
Why does the universe always conspire against me?
Decked out in the usual protective gear, the sweaty bike courier bounced to music piping through his headphones. I waited in line behind him, my scrunched-up nose only inches away from getting hit by one of his cycle's wheels. The waft of roasted beans barely masked the musty smell of body odor emanating from him.
More people piled in from the street, herding us forward and causing someone's elbow to jab me in the ribs. I huffed and puffed while I shifted on my feet and checked my watch, accidentally nudging the girl behind me and earning an annoyed grunt.
I shot her a dirty look. I was being a bit impatient and maybe a tad rude, but hey, they don't call it rush-hour for nothing. When I finally made it to the register, I brushed a hand over my head, trying to smooth away one escapee lock of hair. It sprung back up, apparently determined to add to my rattled nerves. Huffing, I ordered a cappuccino and gave the girl my name. While I tapped my toes, my eyes followed as the female barista moseyed around, preparing my coffee.
Forced to linger longer than I needed, it surprised me I didn't rip the coffee from the counter girl's hand. As I grabbed the darned cup, I turned on my heel, ready to book out of there, when my foot twisted, jerking me forward.
"Watch it, lady," the young fashionista standing behind me shouted as coffee splashed on my shirt and some spilled onto the floor by her feet. Her mouth agape, and scorn in her eyes, she checked her designer shoes for splatter. I could have apologized, but I'd left my manners back in front of Le Café Au Lait's entrance.
She earned a glare with my response. "It was an accident," I barked.
The angry teenager rolled her eyes in synch with her adolescent flare and walked past me to pick up her order.
Of course, feeling like a complete idiot, my face radiated with humiliation. Cursing the coffee gods, I wiped down my stained white blouse, then, with frustration smeared across my face, when I looked back up, my body froze.
There, blazing like fiery suns, and staring at me while their owner waited in line to place an order, was the most mesmerizing set of olive-colored eyes I had ever seen.
Then I saw the rest of him, the man who owned those eyes. My heart stopped. No, I mean it. It really did stop. All the oxygen was sucked from my lungs. Stunned, my body was boneless yet stiff at the same time. Flustered face aflame, my cheeks burned as our eyes locked for an eternity.
Fine. It was a mere second, but it'd been a cosmic second. One in which I was weightless and lifted off the floor in a trance. As my disembodied self floated toward him, he glanced away and headed straight to the counter, deflating me and planting me back on solid ground.
Yep. As quickly as the spell was cast, the enchantment was broken.
Or so I thought. As soon as he spoke, the hands on the clock stopped spinning once more.
"An iced double. Large," he said to the barista. His voice was velvety chocolate melting on my tongue, smooth and sensual.
Motionless, I gawked at the mysterious stranger as if I was some high- schooler ogling her crush.
I should be flying back to the dance studio.
And peel my gaze off that man? Good luck. Broad shoulders, definitely over six feet tall and golden brown mussed up hair — yeah, don't see many such fine specimens around here. And the fragrance trailing behind him? Surely it had to be some foreign cologne I wouldn't know how to even pronounce. Dressed in a ludicrously expensive, tailored gray suit, no doubt he was the CEO of a very important corporation. This guy oozed of success and power.
They didn't take long to prepare his coffee. Figures.
He retrieved his order and turned to leave.
Oh, crap. He's coming back my way.
"Excuse me, miss," he said as he stopped in front of me.
Everyone freeze-framed around us, all sound completely muted. Even the dust particles dancing in the sunlight were suspended in time. I peered up into the deep, green ocean of his eyes, my eyelids batting in slow motion, entranced by some unknown force. I curled a smile at the corners of my mouth, expecting that he was experiencing the same thing — we were spellbound in a magic universe and were sharing a moment.
Then he smiled. "Um, do I know you?"
The room came alive again — very quickly.
"Ah ... no. I don't think so."
"Oh?" A glimmer of disappointment settled over his eyes. "You always block the door for random strangers?" he asked, a sparkle returning to his gaze.
As he spoke, I could barely keep my eyes off his mouth. I fumbled through my words, realizing I was keeping him and the patrons behind him from leaving the coffee house. "Oh, um ... yes. I mean, no. Sorry, I just —"
His lips stretched into a crooked grin, perhaps amused at my stutter. Or maybe he knew the effect his body had on me, but before I could say another word, he leaned down and whispered in my right ear, "While I'd love nothing more than to gaze into your pretty brown eyes, you are going to have an angry mob on your hands in about two seconds."
I shivered as his breath tickled my skin. He locked eyes with me, winked and with one look, nudged me to the side. Speechless and dazed by the melodic chime of his sultry voice, I slid to the side and let him pass.
"See ya 'round," he said with a playful smile as he rushed out the door.
Okay. Who was that and what the hell just happened?
Compelled to know, I followed after him, but lost him in a sea of corporate suits. My heart squeezed in my chest, and for the briefest second, I was sad he was gone.
My phone rang, shaking me out of the bewitchment, the office number bleeping on the screen.
"Um ... hello?" My voice nearly trembled.
"Sara, girl, where are you?"
"Martha? Oh, thank God. I thought you were —"
"The Witch? No, but if you don't get your ass over here, the gates of hell will open. Alexei is at it again."
"Why am I not surprised? I'm on my way. Be there in a few minutes."
* * *
Rebecca wasn't by the reception desk, tapping her foot and waiting for my late ass to arrive.
Guess the universe isn't such a bitch after all.
Martha's head popped up as soon as she saw me push through the glass entry of our office. "Girl, Alexei decided to show up in full asshole getup today."
"What's he done now?" I whispered, leaning over her desk, trying to keep my late arrival quiet.
"What do you think? He fired two more dancers. Before rehearsals even started. He's got Rebecca going crazy."
Did God not open up his email this morning? I remember sending a prayer.
"Fantastic." A frosted smile traced across my lips.
"Good luck today. You're gonna need it."
"Thanks." I stealthily scurried off to my office and hurried to fire up my computer, plopping my butt on my swivel chair, pretending I'd been working all along.
A big sigh of relief blew out of my lips. Safe.
Then it dawned on me.
Rebecca's iced latte. How the hell did I forget the most important reason I was rushing this morning? I was so preoccupied with Le Café Au Lait being closed and with running into Mr. Iced Double, I completely forgot to get her effing latte.
There was nothing I could do. She would be furious, but the universe was determined to keep messing with my day. I leaned back on my chair, waiting for my computer to finish loading, and finally took a sip of my coffee. I gagged.
Just great. Nothing I hate more than cold coffee.
After all the drama of hunting for caffeine, I was left with either nuking my cappuccino or settling for burnt office coffee. Both sounded revolting. I opted for neither and placed the cardboard cup on top of a tall stack of manila envelopes.
New applications arrived every day, whether we solicited them or not. As the artistic director's assistant, it was my job to sort through the hundreds of packets we received weekly. The competition was fierce. Choosing one dancer out of the myriad of hopefuls looking for a spot on the company was a daunting job, but if there was something I was good at, it was finding true talent. Still, while I somewhat enjoyed what I did, I couldn't tolerate my boss, and to top it off, according to Martha — our receptionist and daily gossip buzz-feed — Alexei fired two more dancers. It was his modus operandi. Soon, we'd be running out of bodies to fill the stage.
As I opened up my email, Rebecca's screechy voice echoed down the hall from my office. Martha said she'd been on the phone with the dancer's union doing damage control since before we opened.
Good. At least Alexei is keeping her busy.
And off my tail.
Fifteen minutes later, my eyes were still glued to the initial line of my first email. I'd read it a million times and still didn't know what it said. Every time I tried to focus, my imagination went elsewhere. Well, not exactly elsewhere, but more toward someone else. I wasn't drinking coffee, but it was still on my mind — Mr. Iced Double that is. I couldn't forget the searing look of those olive eyes. And the way he smelled? My body shivered thinking about inhaling his scent. It was a mix of fresh mountain rain wrapped up in golden delicious honey. I know, it doesn't make sense, but my nose gets it.
Excerpted from "Wicked Dance"
Copyright © 2017 Olivia Boothe.
Excerpted by permission of The Wild Rose Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.