It’s a new season of summer TV and that brings dance shows. I waffle on watching these sometimes, and I have even gone years without watching them. Why? Because I was one. Not a dance show, but a dancer.

As I watch these incredible artists I often remember how much I loved dance. Like I LOVED it. Even went to college on a dance scholarship. But in the end injuries got the best of me. So sometimes I find it hard to watch these young dancers in the prime of their dance careers. But then I remember that I have found a new creative outlet in writing.

That said, I am loving World of Dance and it made me miss watching So You Think You Can Dance…so here I am writing this post as I watch these shows.

I love that they encourage such diversity of style. I love the music! I love feeling the dancers’ passion for what they do.

If you aren’t sure what passion and sacrifice looks like, watch a dance competition. That is the embodiment of passion and sacrifice.

At one point I managed to merge my past and present and I wrote Command Performance. Here is the first chapter for you:

Chapter 1

Trish basked in the moment. Relished the thunder of applause. Did it matter if she wasn’t the one standing front and center beside her partner? Not right now it didn’t.

She’d worked too damn hard to become a soloist with the San Diego Dance Theater (SDDT) to worry about being the Prima Ballerina. Yet.

Katerina, the reigning Prima Ballerina for SDDT, nodded and as a single unit the soloists stepped to the right, extended their left legs—toes pointed!—then they tucked their legs behind them and curtsied. Bow your head. Look up, smile, and turn to run gracefully from the stage. Just another bit of choreography to remember.

Dancing the role of one of the four swans in Swan Lake was a dream come true. One realized after years of hard work. The wings of the stage were crowded by squealing women and, sadly, men. Too bad she spent her days surrounded by incredible specimens of the male form who were completely uninterested. Not that she’d ever sleep with a coworker. The incredibly small dance community had the grapevine to match.

The high pitched squeals faded away as she wandered deeper into the bowels of the theater. At her dressing table she found her cold cream, the first step in scraping the layers of paint from her face. As much as she loved performing, she detested all the makeup she had to coat on her skin. Some days it positively suffocated her.

An hour later she finished showering and dressed for the opening night cocktail party. Everyone in the company was required to attend so they could schmooze the donors who were the monetary lifeblood of SDDT. It came damn close to prostitution, but she wasn’t naive enough to believe it wasn’t necessary. It just sucked to play dodge the handsy millionaires all night.

She walked into the art museum filled to bursting by patrons and dancers. With deft fingers she snagged a flute of champagne as it drifted by and sipped. At least there were some benefits.

And then she spotted him.

The obnoxious jerk with too much money, and even more ego. Given a bit of care she could avoid him the whole night. After all, there had to be two hundred people at the party. Surely she could avoid one lone billionaire playboy.

***

Ryland Washington stood next to a particularly eager little corps member who clearly thought sleeping with him would help her move up in the company. And while he would normally take her up on her blatant invitation, something—or more aptly—someone across the room caught his eye. There she was. Long mahogany hair hung down her back like a silky waterfall. Dark eyes scanned the crowd, in search of friends? A man? Damn. He hoped it wasn’t a man. He’d been trying to get her alone at one of these functions for nearly a year.

Right out of the gate, as a lowly new corps member, she had turned down his request for dinner. At first incredulous, he regrouped and tried again. And again. Over time he backed off. Clearly she was atypical of the young dancers who joined the company.

In the blink of an eye he lost her in the crowd. Damn it. He peeled the flirtatious dancer from his Ralph Lauren tux and went in search of the dancer he’d like to give him a command performance. And damn, the commands he’d give. He spotted her and bit back a groan when her deliciously rounded ass covered in canary yellow fabric came into view. The dress, while demure in length, sucked to every curve and dip of her body before it reached her knees. Long sexy legs ended in a pair of sky-high stilettos which only added to the effect. Oh God he wanted to take a bite out of her lush derriere.

The small group of wealthy men surrounding her included his best friend, both a fortuitous and disconcerting turn of events. Disconcerting because his friend was just as much a playboy as him, and fortuitous because it provided him an easy path to infiltrate the group. He strolled up and clapped Holt Buchanan on the shoulder. “Holt, I missed you at the ladies garden party this weekend. How did you manage to escape?”

His friend laughed. “Last minute business trip. Mother couldn’t object.”

“Ry, do you know everyone here?” Holt gestured to the group in general.

“Almost.” He shook the hands of two middle-aged men who remained single and often ran in their circles. Particularly when those circles included available females who required zero to few strings. Perma-bachelors. He shuddered. Finally, he turned to the object of his desire. “And of course, I have met Miss. Maitland.” He wrapped his fingers around her delicately boned hand and drew it up to his lips. After a chaste kiss on her knuckles he said, “You danced like an angel.”

Her face betrayed nothing. No hint of what thoughts whirled behind her dark, intense eyes. “Some would have said I was as graceful as a swan.”

He couldn’t resist the grin. “Touché.”

She practically jerked her hand from his grip and then leveled a dazzling smile at his friend. “Again, Mr. Buchanan, SDDT can’t thank you enough for your generous contributions.” She smiled at the remaining men. “Excuse me gentlemen.”

Ryland wanted to gnash his teeth as she walked away. Determination driving him past politeness, he excused himself from the group and followed close on her heels. She darted a glance over her shoulder and nearly stumbled when she caught his pursuit. Like a hunted animal, she sped up to outrun her hunter.

She dashed into the ladies room, mistakenly thinking she had thwarted him. All she had done was corner herself. He picked a spot by the door and leaned against it to wait for his quarry to peek her head out of her hidey-hole.

Ten minutes later he realized it had been five minutes since a woman exited or entered the restroom, so he decided to flush out his little swan. A surreptitious look around the hallway proved no one of interest lurked. He pushed up from the wall and sauntered into the bathroom.

 

 

Trish leaned over the bathroom counter and considered the possibility the lecherous man she’d run from still skulked nearby. No, surely he had given up by that point. She had been hiding in the relative luxury of the ladies room for ten minutes. The door opened. She turned to ask the newly arrived woman if she’d noticed a particularly debonair man in the vicinity when she came face to face with the very man in question. “What the hell are you doing in here?”

He grinned at her. The feral undercurrents of his suave smile sent shivers racing along her spine. Once again, chemistry proved to be an uncaring bitch; because, as much as he stood for everything she hated about the arts, her body didn’t care. It wanted him anyway. Her nipples beaded and tightened. Pressed against the fabric of her dress to show just how interested she was. Of course, she’d blame it on the cold if he was vulgar enough to comment.

“Why have you been avoiding me?” One dark brow rose to punctuate his question.

“It’s rude to answer a question by asking another question.” Stupid man. Why couldn’t he leave her alone?

He stepped toward her. She retreated and found her ass pressed against the counter.

“But it’s the reason I’m in here.” He took another step. “To get an answer to my question.”

“I’m avoiding you because I have no interest in being your personal little wind up dancer.” Lover? Maybe. If she thought it would last longer than the time it took for the sun to rise the next day.

He growled and closed the final distance between them. “I don’t play with toys.”

And then his mouth closed over hers, his lips warm and firm as his tongue surged past her teeth. She meant to bite him. But he slipped his hands around her waist and hauled her against his chest at the same time the heady taste of man and scotch invaded her senses. And when she inhaled through her nose, she sucked in a mind numbing mix of soap, fine Italian leather, and a spicy cologne designed to titillate instead of smother. Beyond the point of making a conscious decision, she realized her arms were wrapped around his neck when her knees turned as spongey as the toe of a worn out point shoe. One of his hands had shifted from her side to stroke her ribcage below her breast. A moment more and he would be able to mold his palm to her aching mound. Breathing had become an optional activity as she returned his demanding kiss unleashing all the fervor she had stored for nearly a year.

“Well, I never!” The exclamation shattered their sensual bubble and drew up Ryland’s head.

He winked at her before glancing over his shoulder. “Mrs. Buchanan.” He turned, hiding her behind his back. Was it for her protection or because he was embarrassed to be caught with one of the dancers? Damn she hated even wondering what the answer was. It didn’t matter. The kiss was a mistake. One she would not repeat.

“Ryland Washington. Your mother would be appalled.” The older woman’s face had turned a shade of fuscia slightly brighter than her dress.

He reached behind him and grabbed her hand in his and dragged her toward the door…and the formidable Mrs. Buchanan. “Now, I’m certain my mother would just be happy to hear I’ve found a woman who has resisted my inestimable charm for nearly a year. And that, in order to win her over I was forced to barge into the ladies room just so I could declare myself to her.”

The woman’s cold dark eyes softened as she glanced down at their clasped hands. One hand pressed to her bosom, she sighed. “You naughty boy. Your mother will be devastated to know I learned of this before she did.”

He tugged Trish forward and wrapped an arm about her shoulders. “Ah. Then perhaps, Mrs. B., this should remain our little secret until I can introduce my mother and the woman who has stolen my heart?”

It would seem her pursuer could charm the pants off any woman. Young or old. Mrs. B. grinned and waved them off. “To be young and in love again.” Another sigh. “But do try to keep out of ladies rooms while wooing your love. It wouldn’t do to sully your reputation.”

“Beauty and brains. If only you were still available.”

Trish damn near choked on that one. The man laid it on kind of thick. Didn’t he? A good thing to remember.

“Off with you. Spouting such nonsense.” She blushed brighter and shooed them out the door.

Out in the hallway he took her down a corridor and away from the party. “Ryland, wait.” She dug in her heels and forced him to stop.

“What’s wrong?” He turned and lowered the full force of his gaze on her.

The man was impossible. He assumed way too much. “I never agreed to go anywhere with you.”

“Hhhmmm… I was certain your body said yes, maybe your mind just needs a minute to catch up?” He grinned like the sinner he was.

For a moment she couldn’t believe he’d just said something so insulting. Anger surged past the sensual befuddlement. “Are you fucking serious? Did you really just say that shit?”

His smile wobbled and drooped. “Well…”

“I get it. Most women are so damn dazzled by your Hollywood smile they simply nod and agree with whatever bullshit you spew. Huh?”

An unexpected look of guilt settled on his handsome face until he resembled a little boy caught in the cookie jar. “Um.”

She sighed. “Sorry. Not this time.” She reached down and unwrapped his fingers from her hand. “I’ll be going home alone. That kiss was a huge mistake. And not one I am prepared to compound by going home with you.” She turned and fled back toward the party and safety.


I’m hoping to bring this story and few others to press in a little boxed set of short stories. So keep an eye out for it along with lots of other fabulous new works from me. 2017 is proving to be a super busy writing year!!!

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