Hi guys! I’m releasing ADAGIO on May 15th, and I can’t wait for you to see the inside world of the Union Ballet Company and meet Cain and Anna.
Just for fun, I thought I’d give you a quick glimpse now… Don’t forget, you can add the book on Goodreads right now! And the giveaway is still on over on my Facebook page. Go leave a comment telling me your most recent favorite book for a chance to win one of five fantastic recent releases!
Cain Gilliam took his usual place at the barre in the center of the cold studio and tried to will away the headache that was thumping just behind his eyes. Hal and Ian, his roommates, took spots on the other side of the barre. It was nine o’clock in the morning, and Cain realized that it wasn’t that early — unless you’d spent the night before playing quarters and doing shots. And the three of them had. Cain moved slowly, stretching his muscles quietly in the few moments before class started.
“Cain,” Hal’s gruff voice forced Cain to open his eyes again, breaking the concentration he’d started to find — concentration he’d need for class. “Fresh meat.” Hal gestured to a willowy dark-haired girl taking a spot at the side of the room, on one of the barres attached to the wall. Her hair was swept back in a tight bun, and she wore black from head to toe, her thin muscles sheathed in tights and a leotard, a dark sweater tied in the front. She looked around through huge, fierce dark eyes as she adjusted her pointe shoes and pulled on a leg warmer at one knee.
“Huh.” Cain watched her as he stretched. She’d taken a spot at the veteran barre, which would surely prove to be a problem. For her. Dancers at Union were very territorial and superstitious — and they weren’t above being downright bitchy. “Should we warn her?”
“Nah.” Hal grinned, his dark eyes lighting up under the wavy blond hair.
“Boys,” Ian said, sounding bored as he leaned in to whisper to them. “That’s Anna. She’s been at the company school for the past two years.”
“Any good?” Cain asked.
Ian gave a disinterested shrug. It took a lot for Ian to notice women in any more than a cursory way.
“Did you know she was moving up?” Hal asked.
“Knew she was ambitious.” Ian stretched his shoulders as he spoke. “She auditioned last week, and I heard talk around the staff that she met him after the audition was over.”
Hal chuckled. “Guess he gave her a private audition.”
Hal’s comment irritated Cain for some reason, but he couldn’t figure out exactly why. He shook his head and turned his attention away from the new girl. She was pretty, he had to admit, and there was something vulnerable in her that he didn’t doubt played well on the stage. But, Cain reminded himself, most ballerinas were pretty. Unlike Hal, who was busily sleeping his way through the corps, Cain didn’t date dancers. At least not anymore. They were neurotic, anal, and generally difficult. And those were the ones he liked.
He tried to focus on stretching, but as the scene in front of him began to unfold, it was hard not to watch. Julianna Devereaux, the prima ballerina at Union Ballet, took a spot in front of the new girl. Inches in front of her. There was no way Anna could know she was on the wrong barre, but she was about to find out.
A perturbed look crossed her face as she looked up from her stretch, and then she clearly recognized Julianna and took two steps back, giving the prima space. Seconds later, Erica Forbes, a demi-soloist with a notoriously bad attitude, took her usual spot, about one inch behind the new girl. She turned her body and allowed her hip to press Anna’s back, causing the new girl to jump and step forward, into Julianna.
“This isn’t your spot.” Erica’s voice was nasty and loud enough to attract the attention of the rest of the company.
Julianna turned to look, but gave Anna no more than a cold up and down gaze before taking a step back and turning back around.
Cain cringed. He hated dancer politics. If Anna chose to stand her ground, which she had every right to do, she’d be forced to dance in about six inches of space. And neither Erica nor Julianna would be able to really take class either, but he knew they would stand firm just to make a point.
“Christ,” he breathed, as Anna looked around the room, her dark eyes blazing. He stood and walked toward her. “Hey,” he said in a low voice, smiling. “I’m Cain.”
“I know who you are.” Her voice was a hiss. She was shaking slightly, but it clearly wasn’t in fear. She looked furious.
Cain swallowed hard. Her dark eyes were fiery and she actually had him doubting his own resolve. He tried another tact. “So there’s kind of a pecking order here,” he told her. “First and second years usually take the center barres.” He gestured toward three barres standing in the center of the room.
“I prefer the stability of the wall.”
“Me too. But these ladies here,” he indicated Erica and Julianna who were both clearly listening while pretending to ignore them. “These ladies worked their way up, and they’re a little territorial about their spots. And they’re also very rude to new dancers.”
Julianna turned and raised an eyebrow at him. He raised an eyebrow back at her in an exaggerated mimic and then gave her a grin. She huffed and turned back around.
“You’ll get a better class if you have more than four inches to move.” He smiled. She wasn’t being friendly, but she was new and probably intimidated.
Anna’s face was reddening and he could tell she was not the type to back down easily. “This is ridiculous,” she whispered, but her hand dropped from the barre.
“Not everyone here is a complete ass.” Cain walked her back toward the center barres. He was glad she’d relented before class had begun. He didn’t like watching people suffer, and the other girls would have made sure she did. “Carla here is a pussycat.” He pointed to a wide-open spot behind a tall African American girl wearing a backless fuchsia leotard. The girl grinned at Cain and waved her arm to the spot behind her.
“Hey,” she said to Anna.
Anna nodded curtly to the girl and then turned back to Cain. “Thanks.” She took the spot at the barre and turned away from him.
Cain went back to his spot wondering why he’d bothered, just as Tatiana, the ballet mistress, entered the room.