Excerpt & Giveaway Dance for Me by Helena Newbury

Saturday, July 6, 2013
Title: Dance for Me
Author: Helena Newbury
Series: Fenbrook Academy #1
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publisher: Foster & Black
Release Date: July 1st

Natasha is one of the most promising dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy for the Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries...or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.
Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.
As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses...but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they're hiding consume them both?

I wasn’t ready for the sense of space.
I guess I’d prepared myself for some small, dark, claustrophobic room, maybe with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was one huge, cavernous space. I realized that the cellar must run the entire length of the mansion, maybe even beyond. The ceiling must have been a good fifteen feet high, but because the lights hung down from it, the ceiling itself just disappeared into blackness. The floor was smooth, flawless concrete.
The elevator had deposited us midway down the room’s length. To my right was heavy engineering gear: huge machines whose function I could only guess at, big tanks of compressed gas and a crane’s hook hanging down on a chain.
Right in front of me seemed to be where he did most of his work, and I could see immediately where his muscles had come from. There were workbenches littered with hunks of metal almost as big as me, and tools for pounding, cutting and welding it into shape. Farther on, there was a big, open space and then a sort of office area with a chair and desk and several large monitors. Was that where he’d sat and messaged me on Facebook? Directly over the desk, there was a poster for a local band I’d vaguely heard of called the Curious Weasels. I could see whiteboards full of math, too, and a coffee pot. I remembered the spotless kitchen upstairs. How much of his life did he spend down here?
This was no hobbyist’s garage. This was a workplace, the modern equivalent of a blacksmith’s forge. He must have spent millions building this place, constructing his perfect environment in which to build…what, exactly? I’d never heard of Sabre Technologies. Planes? Cars?
He didn’t rush me, letting me take it all in. Then he led me over to the large open space.
“I figured…here. If that’s okay.” He looked around, as if checking there was enough space.
At the back of the room, I saw a big, wheeled cart some eight feet long. He’d draped whatever was on top—his latest creation, presumably—in a white sheet, and then pushed it aside to make room for me.
I looked down at the bare concrete floor and traced the surface with the toe of my sneaker. “It’s fine. Floor’s going to be a little hard.”
There was absolutely nothing sexual in that. Not until I glanced up. Suddenly I was looking straight into his eyes and something there made me catch my breath. It had been a perfectly innocent remark…so why was I the one flushing?
“For dancing,” I explained. “Normally the floor’s sprung, so that we get some bounce.”
He looked at the concrete and nodded sagely, as if filing that away.
“It’s fine, though,” I told him. “It doesn’t matter.” And I started to unbutton my jeans.
He started, and sort of half-looked away.
“I’ve got dancing gear on underneath,” I told him.
He nodded. Disappointed? I couldn’t tell. There was a part of me that wished I had needed to get changed. Would he have turned his back? Would he have tried to sneak a peek?
Would I have wanted him to?
I felt that dark twist again, spiraling downwards between my thighs. For once, I didn’t feel like things were slipping away from me. Here, in this crazy, rich man’s world, three floors below a mansion, I actually felt grounded. I wasn’t in the past or slipping towards it; for once, I was right there, in the moment. And it wasn’t the place or even what I was doing that was making me feel that way…it was him. It was the way his attention was so completely focused on me, like I was the only thing in the world—I’d never been looked at so hard in my life. And underneath that cool, professional gaze, I could sense something else, something raw and sexual that made me heady and weak. Suddenly, the thin sweater and jeans I was wearing seemed insubstantial. What was it going to feel like in a leotard?
Time to find out.
I pulled off my sweater. Light from above cascaded down my body, making the black leotard shine. There was something weird about it—it wasn’t like the harsh flicker of a fluorescent light. I looked up, squinting.
“It’s called a light tube,” he told me. “It’s daylight, reflected down from the roof.”
I unfastened my sneakers and kicked them off, and then I couldn’t delay it any longer. My hands gripped the waistband of my jeans…and I stopped.
I told myself not to be stupid. I had tights on underneath, and I’d danced a million times before wearing the same outfit. I’d even danced in front of him.
But not like this, a little voice inside me said.
How could I dance just fine in front of a crowd, and yet just one person could reduce me to helpless mush?
I pushed down my jeans and stepped out of them. The tan tights where thin enough that I could feel the cool air of the cellar. I felt his eyes on my legs.
Of course he looked at your legs. He’s a man. That doesn’t mean—
“What would you like me to dance?” I asked, as much to silence my own thoughts as anything. I took my pointe shoes from my bag and then dumped it and my clothes out of the way.
“Your choice,” he told me. “Nothing that’ll be too uncomfortable on the floor.” He stepped back and stood against the wall.
That threw me. Him choosing would almost have been easier, because now I had to pick between pieces I knew solid choreography for and could do really well and the ones I truly loved but wasn’t as good at. I debated as I sat on the floor wrapping the ribbons around my ankles. In the end, I picked something in the middle. I loved it, I was pretty good at it, and there wasn’t too much that would be problematic on the concrete floor.
He handed over his phone, set up like a remote for his music system, and I scrolled through until I found the piece I wanted. A few seconds later, the first bars filled the room, the notes drifting and echoing in the huge space.
I was moving, almost without thinking about it. This wasn’t like the audition. There was no pressure to be the best and there were no inscrutable judges watching. I could almost have been on my own, dancing for pleasure.
I stepped, sank into the plié and glided into the turn, pushing harder than I normally would because of the concrete’s friction. And then I made the mistake of looking at him.
And suddenly, it was different again.
It wasn’t that he was looking at me with lust—at least, not on the surface. His eyes were as pure and clear as they’d been before, drinking in the movements and the flow. It was that he was watching me so intensely, relying on me to deliver…something. Inspiration? I couldn’t imagine inspiring anyone.
It wasn’t like a rehearsal, because I was alone. It wasn’t like solo practice, because when I got a step not quite right or didn’t nail a turn, I couldn’t go back and try it again. I was performing. For him.
It wasn’t the most challenging dance, especially that first section. So why was my heart racing? Why could one person make me nervous, when I’d danced for full theaters in our end-of-year shows?
I could feel his eyes on the shape of my extended leg as I leaned into a six o’clock arabesque, on the line of my arm as I straightened up. He wasn’t just watching, he was absorbing, in some way I couldn’t fathom, and whenever I messed up I felt like I was feeding him false information. It shouldn’t be like that! It should be like this!
I felt like I was in a spotlight, in the very center of a massive stage and instead of an invisible audience I could forget about, I was being watched by the one guy I wanted—needed—to impress.
Yet something made it bearable, kept me teetering on the knife edge of tension without tipping over. When I made a mistake, he never did that little hiss of breath, never made me feel I’d got it wrong. He just watched, without judging and without commenting. I’d never seen someone so lost in the beauty of dance.
And gradually, I started to relax. My steps became more assured, my moves more graceful. When it came together, I actually felt lighter, the little glides of each bourrée almost effortless. I risked a few small jumps, careful on the concrete but wanting to give him something he’d remember. For the first time in my life, I was dancing not for an audience or for a judge or to play my part in a group, but for someone.
I was doing it to please him. A little flutter in my chest.
I was doing it to give him pleasure. A sudden, darker heat, lower down.
I realized I was only an arm’s length from him. My last few steps had taken me forward, and normally I would have been near the front of the stage, staring out into the blackness. But here, in this underground room, it put me right up close to him. We locked eyes, and I was breathing harder than I should have been.
I sank down into a grand plié, and instead of just watching he crouched, his movements so harsh and cumbersome compared to my own, like watching a giant made of stone. He settled there, huge and hulking, and we stared at each another.
I rose, turned, feeling his eyes burning into my back. I pushed off into a pas de chat, airborne for just a second as both legs folded under me, then flowing into a turn as I landed. He was still watching me just as intensely, and he’d taken a step forward. I started to move towards him and something flickered down my body, like darkly sparkling starbursts that set every nerve humming. The dance called for me to take just a single step forward.
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.

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I’m a New Adult Romance author who loves writing about what happens when love and dreams collide with the real world. I wrote my first novel, Dance for Me, in daily chunks in a very busy, very noisy coffee shop, which meant I had to order a black Americano every hour, on the hour, to keep my seat and wound up wired on caffeine most days. Unlike some of my characters, I can’t dance.

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Rebecca Edwards said...

sounds great

Rebecca Edwards said...

Get low

Veronica said...

Obsessed with Little Mix-Wings right now!

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