• • • The Million Dollar Question • • •
The man with the money
Evan Lawford is the last person in the world ballerina Olivia Madison wants to ask for financial support—the humiliation of their last encounter has haunted her for years! He might be the one who got away, but for the sake of her art she’ll plaster on a smile—and a killer dress—and play nice…
Except their chemistry is so insane that soon they’re bypassing nice and going straight to all night long! The trouble is, resisting Olivia’s charms has never been Evan’s strong point, and when a girl’s this intriguing there’s a fine line between a minor relapse…and a full-on addiction…
Read an Excerpt
After watching that little bit of rehearsals, Evan suddenly had an interest in ballet and peppered her with questions.
“Have you ever been dropped?” Evan had a keen interest in the lift he’d seen.
“Yes. But not ever from that particular lift and never by Theo.”
“So you trust him.”
“With my life.” She laughed. “I’ve known Theo since we were really young. He was my partner when we took Silver at Nationals. We’ve done thousands of lifts together.”
“But you have been dropped before.”
“Of course. It’s not fun, but it does happen. I even ended up with a mild concussion once.” She took one last sip of her drink and started cleaning up the debris of their meal.
Evan wasn’t quite letting it go, though. “You say that like it’s nothing.”
“It was an accident. Like I said, it happens. Sometimes it’s something I did, sometimes it’s something he did, but there’s no sense assigning blame. You learn from it and go on.”
“And if you get hurt?”
“You’re much less likely to make that mistake again, that’s for sure. But it’s his job to do his best to catch me before I hit the floor. Partners who goof around and make it more likely someone’s going to fall will soon find themselves without partners at all.”
“Are there men you won’t dance with?”
She nodded. “But most of the time, I just do what I’m supposed to do and trust my partner to do his part.” She stood. “You ready?”
Evan stood, too, and led her toward the door. “But to let some guy hold you upside down with one hand? That’s a lot of trust.”
“It goes both ways, you know. If I mess up, he could get hurt. I could mess up his back or his shoulders or kick him in the head. Or he could get hurt trying to keep me from getting hurt from something that was my own fault.” It was full dark outside now, cool, but not cold, and the neighborhood’s night life was warming up. “We have to trust each other, or else we’ll both end up hurt.”
“How very Zen of you,” Evan scoffed, as he fell into step beside her, adjusting his pace to hers.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.”
“Trust has to be earned,” he said seriously, causing her to do a double take at the emotion in his voice. Before she could answer though, he continued. “It takes time. You just show up and trust that this guy is not going to drop you on your head.”
“That’s not how it works.”
“Of course not. It’s like sex.”
It was a common joke in the studio, and she said it without really thinking how Evan might interpret it. When he stumbled, then looked at her with wide eyes, she regretted saying it. But when he reached for her elbow and pulled her out of the flow of foot traffic next to a Picasso-inspired mural to ask, “Sex?” she lost the regret. This might be fun.
She couldn’t quite name the look on his face – horrified interest? Shocked interest? – but it was enough to spur her on. “Just like you shouldn’t jump into bed with someone you just met, you don’t introduce yourself to a new partner and then do the most complicated lift in the program.” She tried to put the right amount of earnestness into her words. “It would be all awkward, you know, feet and hands in all the wrong places, and getting frustrated because it’s not feeling right and it’s not any good for either one of you. And what’s the point of having sex if you’re not going to enjoy it? Sex is great, but good sex is better, and great sex takes an investment. That kind of great sex requires a little trust in your partner.”
Evan cleared his throat and Olivia felt wicked.
“So you start slow and simple, feeling each other out.” She ran a hand lightly over his chest. “You look for quirks that you’ll need to adapt to and learn how his body moves.” She ran her hands up his arms and squeezed his biceps gently. Wow. “You have to find your partner’s strengths, learn how his hands feel, and how you’ll fit together… That’s the foreplay. And you can’t rush that, can you?” Evan shifted uncomfortably as she moved her hands up and over his shoulders, but he shook his head. She leaned in, lowering her voice, moving slowly around his body, trailing her fingers. “You’ve got to get in sync with your partner first, and then… then you can trust him to do what needs to be done. Then you’re free to go at it hard, full out, over and over, until you’re sweaty and exhausted, but satisfied with what you accomplished. And that feels amazing.”
Evan’s breath had gotten shallow as she spoke. More surprisingly, so had hers. She dropped her hand as Evan swallowed hard and gave himself a small shake. “You are evil, Olivia Madison.”
“Whatever do you mean?” she protested with as much eyelash-fluttering innocence as she could muster.
When Evan lifted his eyes to hers, she saw heat there. It fanned embers she’d been trying to smother, and they flared with an intensity that rocked her back on her heels. Regretting she’d let bravado lead her into the deep end, she stepped back to let some air between them. The option may have been put out there, but she wasn’t ready to decide whether to exercise that option or not.