You read it here first! Our FREE READ for October is from PHS Senior Editor and Author, Robyn Rychards, who brings us an exclusive scene from her coming release,
Dancing With the Best Man.
My soon-to-be-released contemporary romance features a dance celebrity superstar, Alejandro Rivera, who grew up on the streets of Puerto Rico and a heroine, Jade Nichols, who doesn't like her personal space being invaded. It makes for some interesting dance lessons!
Here's a sneak peek from the first chapter where Alejandro and Jade are trapped in a broken elevator on their way to dinner with the bride- and groom-to-be.
And now without further ado, the exclusive extract from Robyn's book,
Dancing With the Best Man.
Alejandro Rivera swore violently to himself, then silently cursed the elevator, and the woman he was with. The last thing he needed right now was an audience. He drew deep within himself, tapping into every ounce of dance training he had to stop himself from banging his head on the door repeatedly. He wasn’t five years old. He could do this.
Get a grip. Find a distraction.
When she spoke, providing the distraction he was looking for, he turned around to face her. “It appears the elevator isn’t taking a momentary pause. We’re stuck.”
He nodded, and for the first time since he entered the elevator, actually looked at his companion. She felt delicioso pressed up against him for those few moments when she stumbled into him. In fact, he’d be hard pressed to remember the last time holding a woman felt so good. Therefore, her appearance came as a shock. He didn’t go for blondes. He didn’t go for tall and skinny. Dark, glamorous and curvy caught his attention every time. So what was it about her that made it difficult to look away? Certainly not the black dress that made him want to shudder. It looked like a sack hanging from her shoulders, and if he hadn’t recently felt her up close and personal, he’d think she had no curves at all. And her hair… Pulled so tight against her scalp it looked painful. Maybe it was the concern shining from her beautiful green eyes.
She cleared her throat. “Um, are you okay?”
Concern for his well-being was mirrored in her tone of voice. It made him wonder what his expression looked like. He bit back a sigh. Most likely it was his desperate attempt to stifle the panic. Had he prayed out loud? He needed to pull himself together. He didn’t want to scare the poor woman. Being trapped in an elevator was definitely doing a number on him. He was not okay, but come hell or high water he would pretend he was. If only he could get enough air. Hell, it was becoming an effort to breathe. He nodded, but had to swallow to ease his dry throat before he could speak. He smiled, both for her benefit and his.
“You mean, other than the fact we’re stuck in an elevator that isn’t moving?”
She let out a small laugh. “Yeah. Other than that. You had a weird look on your face, and your color doesn’t look too good. Maybe it’s just the bad lighting in here. For a minute there I thought you were going to pass out. Or throw up. Which would not be a good thing. Being stuck in an elevator is bad enough. The last thing we need is the smell of vomit.”.
She bit her lip, and looked at her feet. Maybe she’d recognized him and was feeling a little shy, or maybe embarrassed by what she’d just said? Regardless, he found it rather endearing.
“Oh hell, no. How humiliating would that be?” And how dangerously close he’d been to doing one or the other of those things. He chuckled so she would think he was joking and she laughed along with him. He liked the sound of it. It sent a little tingle through him which he enjoyed more than was probably good for him, though right now, it was the lesser of two evils.
“So… Do you think we should call someone, or wait a bit to see if it starts moving again?”
He checked his pants pockets, and the breast pocket on his suit jacket before he remembered he’d misplaced his phone. “Might as well get people working on it as soon as we can. If it starts moving while we’re calling, all the better. I don’t have my phone with me. Do you have one?”
She fumbled around in her purse for a moment before pulling it out triumphantly. His stomach sank when the look on her face turned to disappointment, but his lips twitched when she mutter a foul word. It seemed so at odds with her uptight, prim-and-proper appearance.
“You’d think I’d have learned by now to charge my phone before the battery runs out.”
He shrugged. “At least you have it with you, unlike me. I have no clue where mine is.”
“Well, it’s good to know I’m not the only one on the planet who doesn’t treat their phone like an appendage.”
She looked at him and let out another one of those laughs, and he had the same reaction as before. Which he completely forgot about when he looked in her eyes. They sparkled with laughter. Actually sparkled, and were the clearest, most beautiful jade green he’d ever seen. He couldn’t begin to count the number of women's eyes he’d looked into in his life and never seen a pair the color of hers. It was an effort to make himself look at something else. Not that there was much of a choice right now. Which brought him right back to how confined they were. He tugged at his silk tie, and unbuttoned the top button of his linen dress shirt.
“Good thing the elevator has an emergency phone then. We should use it.”
“Indeed we should. Do you mind doing it? I think a plea from a woman might make them work a little quicker. You could even tell them you’re stuck in here with a crazy man who’s going to lose it if he doesn’t get out soon.”
Her brows pulled together and her eyes flew to his face. “So you were on the verge of passing out or getting sick. Are you claustrophobic?”
Damn. He meant it to come across as a joke, but it looked like she wasn’t going to fall for it. “No comment. Just pick up the phone and make that call, would you?”
“Alright, already. Geez. Could you at least move out of my way so I can do it?”
She went from pressing herself into the corner to scooting along the wall, and he narrowed his eyes at her as he shifted from in front of the doors to the side of the elevator opposite the control panel. So he wasn’t the only one here with issues. If he had to guess, based on the way she’d pulled out of his arms so quickly and how she was keeping her distance from him now, she didn’t like people getting too close. Or maybe she was just afraid of him. Of being trapped with a man she didn’t know. It could even be she was merely nervous because of who he was.
“You don’t need to be afraid of me, chica. I’m not going to freak out on you, but I do rather feel like I’m suffocating, so the sooner we get out of here, the better.”
He suppressed a desire to start pacing, the need to move so he didn’t have to think, and leaned against the side wall of the elevator. His ears rang so loud he couldn’t hear anything else, which affected his ability to think clearly. He needed air. Why wasn’t there any air in here? His heart rate quickened and his breathing became labored. He closed his eyes and mentally began choreographing a new dance routine for his class of gifted students. It was something he meant to work on soon anyway because he needed something for an up-coming fundraiser. A much more productive thing to think about than praying.
It worked pretty well, too—until he heard the woman say the name, Lexi Nichols.
No! His eyes flew open and he took a closer look at her. His jaw clenched. The family resemblance was undeniable. This had to be Lexi’s sister, Jade. Maid of honor in his best friend’s wedding. It was bad enough a stranger knew the secret he kept from everyone, but now that secret was known by someone in his orbit. All she had to do was mention his claustrophobia to Lexi, and he’d feel uncomfortable every time he was around them.
Was Lexi’s sister the kind of person who would sell this story to the tabloids?
The man’s voice on the other end of the phone was reassuring, which calmed Jade somewhat. Since they might be stuck for a while, she asked him to let her sister know what was happening. She suppressed a growl of frustration as she hung up, and moved back to her corner of the elevator, her eyes on the lighted number over the doors, willing it to change as an indication the elevator was working again.
““How long will it take to get us out of here?”
She jumped at the sound of his voice. In her frustration she momentarily forgot he was there. She looked over at him leaning against the side wall opposite her, and his compelling eyes snared her gaze. They were a beautiful, golden topaz, a remarkable contrast to his dark hair and bronzed skin. He reminded her of a sleek black cat with golden eyes. No… A black panther. All leashed energy, and rippling strength. Watching him on television hadn’t prepared her for the reality of looking into those eyes, and she was unreasonably irritated by the thrill his softly accented voice gave her again. Or maybe she was irritated because she was so over being stuck in an elevator everything bothered her.
“They couldn’t really tell me how long. Just got a standard, ‘As soon as we can.’ We may end up having to wait for the fire department to get us out, if it they can’t figure out what’s gone wrong.” She took a calming breath through her nose. “Are you going to be okay?”
His eyes darted away, then back to her. He sighed. “Yes. I’m fine.”
She found that hard to believe, but took his word for it. Maybe it was her turn to start praying. Praying he didn’t go completely bonkers before they got the elevator working again.
Deciding she might as well get comfortable, she slithered to the floor to sit cross-legged with her elbows on her knees, and her chin in her hands. Maybe she should try and zone out like he’d done. Her companion may be a celebrity, but that didn’t mean she really knew him, or trusted him. She was trapped with him and he could pull anything. Might even feel he had the right to do whatever he wanted with her because he was a celebrity. Men with power set her teeth on edge. I hope you rot in hell, Gene Murray.
Her heart picked up its pace and she grabbed her locket, ran her thumb over its bumpy, filigreed surface, pressing it down so hard it left an imprint on her skin. She could feel herself spiraling down, and hoped it would work its usual magic, ground her and keep her in the now. Goosebumps raised on her skin, and the feel of that man’s hands touching her everywhere rose from the past and became the present. She closed her eyes.
Stay away from me. You have no power over me anymore. I’m strong. I got away from you, and I got Lexi away from you.
She opened her eyes, opened the locket, and focused on the picture of her and Lexi inside. The specter from her past vanished, the present returned, and along with it, the calm she sought.
However, she didn’t notice her companion had moved, making the panther analogy more apt. She was startled out of her skin when he suddenly crouched down in front of her, invading her personal space. Granted, her personal space area did take in a wider scope than the average person’s. Then her eyes met a pair of fiery topaz ones and she forgot everything. Those eyes gave her a once-over, lingering way too long on her legs—she really should’ve worn stockings—before returning to her face. It took everything she had not to squirm.
“Why don’t we figure a way out of here ourselves instead of waiting on someone else?”
Dancing With the Best Man releases soon. For more details about Robyn’s work, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.
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