With: Hazel Hughes
DANCE WITH ME
For love or glory? The choice Sherry makes may cost her life.
When reporter Sherry Wilson-Wong wakes up in bed with ballet bad-boy Alexi Davydenko, she knows she’s crossed the line. But the dancer with the body of Apollo and the soul-piercing stare wasn’t talking, so what choice did she have? Playing his little drinking game – a shot and a kiss for every answer – seemed like the perfect way to loosen his lips. She gets her story, he gets his fun, win-win.
But his answers only lead to more questions. And Alexi wants more than fun.
Investigating into the ballet company’s shadowy secrets, Sherry learns that the beauty on stage masks ugly dealings, some of which seem to bear Alexi’s signature. But the more truths she exposes, the more lies she is forced to tell herself.
That digging up dirt on a company with ties to the Russian mob isn’t dangerous. That licking every inch of Alexi’s naked body while hunting down evidence of his guilt isn’t a conflict of interest. That with each touch, each kiss, she isn’t falling deeper in love with the very man who could destroy her.
Sitting in the small bathtub in Alexi’s apartment, cradling a cold glass of vodka in her hands, Sherry finally stopped shivering.
The first thing he had done when they got there was text Minibar to bring over a flask of vodka. The second was to draw her a bath. He carefully removed her bloody, torn dress while she stood, telling him she was fine, shivering, with tears rolling down her face.
“Yes, of course you are. You are a strong woman,” he assured her, all the while tending to her like she was a child, wiping the tears and smeared makeup from her face and the sticky dried blood from her body.
She could hear him now, pacing in the kitchen and talking on the phone in Russian. His voice was angry, but controlled. Cold, like the liquid in her glass. Like the chill in her heart, under the red raised welt of the X the Russian thug had carved into her.
Was she a strong woman, she wondered? She had always thought so. Never had a problem standing up for herself, except when it came to her family. That was more complicated. But when it came down to the wire, she had, telling her parents that she was giving up a promising future in medicine for the inglorious field of journalism. She had been strong.
But this was different. No one had ever held a knife tip to her heart and looked at her like nothing would give him more pleasure than to plunge it in. No one had ever threatened her life.
Then there was Alexi.
As if he had read her mind, there he was, opening the bathroom door.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
She nodded, but her hand strayed to the X on her chest.
“Ah, yes. This. You will keep this, I’m afraid.” He sat on the closed lid of the toilet and reached down to touch the flesh around her wound, his expression grave. “The salt has done its work.”
“I’m a marked woman.” She gave him a grim smile.
“Tell me what happened. Who did this to you?” His eyes were coldly neutral, but the muscle clenched in his jaw.
She took a deep breath, feeling like she was about to jump off a cliff. “They were Russian.” She watched his face for a reaction. Nothing changed. “I … Sergei and I had a conversation this morning, after you left. I said some things that he didn’t like. He threatened me. Then those thugs attacked me at the benefit. Who knew I was going to be there, Alexi? You. Sergei. A friend of mine from the paper. That’s it.”
Alexi stood up with a suddenness and violence that made her shrink back in fear.
“No. This is impossible. I cannot believe that he would allow someone to do this to you.” He circled the X on her breast. “Unless he thought he was protecting me. Why would he want to protect me from you, Sherry?” His eyes searched hers. She had to look away.
Hazel Hughes is a contemporary romance writer and urban nomad. Born in London, Hazel has lived all over the globe, from the wilds of Northern Ontario and the cornfields of Iowa to the concrete jungles of Seoul and Abu Dhabi. Currently, she is living in Western New York, writing from wherever there is strong coffee and funky beats. When she’s not laying down steamy scenes on the page, you can find her whipping up hot and spicy concoctions in the kitchen or dancing to the beat of her own drummer.
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