(The Company #1)
Publication date: May 6th 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The world of professional ballet is built on illusion. The illusion of perfection. The illusion of effortless beauty. The illusion of eternal love.
But backstage, few members of the Union Ballet Company suffer from such illusions.
Anna Glaser has dreamed of nothing but dancing professionally her entire life. And when she’s finally offered a position with Union, she takes it, giving little more than a passing thought to what she might have to give up in exchange. But Sebastian Kaplan, the director who gave her the chance, won’t forget so easily.
When Anna meets Cain, who has been dubbed by the local media as Union’s most eligible bachelor, she realizes that making a deal with the devil might mean that Heaven — in the form of a gorgeous dark-haired man — is forever out of her reach.
Dancers at Union know that something that glitters and shines under the stage lights can still be vicious and evil when the lights go down.
Adagio is the first episode in the series The Company – an engaging drama-filled ride through the darker parts of the ballet and the lives of those who live to dance.
*This book contains explicit content and is suitable for readers over 17
“Hey.” She felt nervous, almost giddy. As a rule, she didn’t get involved with…anyone. But she couldn’t pretend not to be attracted to Cain. He’d been sweet to her, and he was undeniably handsome. And with two shots and a beer flowing in her blood, it was much harder to ignore the way her body seemed to want to respond to the playful dark eyes or the muscles that stood out on his forearm as he gripped his glass. “Hey,” she said again, feeling silly.
“Getting settled?” Cain’s voice was low. Intimate. He leaned into her neck as he spoke so she could hear him over the music. “Getting to know everyone?”
“Not really,” Anna admitted. “I’ve met a few people, but I think I’ll be the new girl for a while.”
“Enjoy it while it lasts. Everyone’s so blasé about everything most of the time,” he said. “It’s rare that they get all riled up about anything, and you’re a good enough dancer to have folks riled up.”
“I’m not exactly a threat. I’m in the corps.” Anna said it, but her ego growled in protest. Part of getting to where she was had involved believing that she was meant to be there. That she was better than most other dancers. But having thoughts like this, coupled with the self-doubt she felt on a daily basis, made Anna painfully aware that she walked a jagged line in terms of self-image.
“Maybe, but…” Cain looked uncertain for a minute. “It’s pretty clear that Sebastian has a…special interest in you. And sometimes the rules bend where his favorites are concerned.” As he said the words, Cain looked like he thought Anna might be angry.
She wasn’t angry, but Anna wanted to tell him that it wasn’t like that. But she knew it was, even if she didn’t want it to be. She’d made a deal with the devil, almost accidentally, and chances were good that he’d be coming to collect pretty soon. And that the rest of the company would find out about it. The dread that had taken up residence in Anna’s gut stirred, making her cringe.
“It’s okay, Anna.” Cain put a warm hand on her wrist. A tingle went through her at his touch and she couldn’t help staring at the strong tanned fingers touching her skin. “Everyone does what they have to do. This isn’t an easy world to navigate.”
He was trying to make her feel better, she knew, but something about Cain’s words made her feel even cheaper for the way she’d arrived at her position. She hadn’t had sex with Sebastian, but the audition had been laced with innuendo. Sebastian’s hands had been all over her in the pretense of guiding her positioning. No one had touched her the way he had in years. She stayed away from sexual situations in general. Anna looked down, then took a deep breath and chanced a look back into Cain’s eyes, expecting to see his regard for her lessen in the face of what he might think she’d done. But the dark eyes were still glowing, the dimples remained. She took a deep breath. “I didn’t…I mean, we didn’t…” Why did she want Cain to know that she hadn’t had sex with Sebastian? Why should it matter what he thought?
Cain smiled and dismissed her stumbling words. “What does your boyfriend think of your position in the company?”
Anna’s head snapped back up. “Boyfriend?” she asked. What was he talking about?
“The guy I saw the other day. With the tattoos? The tow truck?”
“Jimmy?” Anna laughed. “No, that’s my brother.”
She watched Cain as she sipped her beer. He seemed to relax as she explained.
“Your brother.” Cain’s voice was softer, thoughtful.
“He’s got an auto shop and my car died the other day. He was fixing it for me. He kind of takes care of me.” Anna felt like telling Cain more, but she never told anyone more. She took a sip of her drink instead of confiding anything to the handsome man in front of her who already knew too much about her.
“Oh, sure. That makes sense.” Cain looked like he was processing this information, and Anna wondered what his fascination with her brother could be.
“Cain!” Hal’s voice came from behind the bar. “A hand over here, man?”
“Gotta go,” Cain put a hand on Anna’s shoulder as he turned back toward the bar.
She shivered at his touch and watched him move back toward the bar, his tight butt perfectly filling out the dark jeans he wore.
“That could be trouble.” Carla leaned into Anna’s shoulder, watching Cain go. “You should know that I fully support it.”
“No trouble.” Anna shook her head, embarrassed to be caught watching Cain’s ass. “Not if I stay the hell away from him.”
“Your call,” Carla said, swaying to the beat of the increasingly loud music.
Delancey Stewart writes contemporary romance.
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer. But she has always been a writer first.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home outside Washington D.C.