August 26, 2014
Forever Trade Paperback
James offers Karina not only the truth but a place at his side... onstage. He wants Karina to star in his final musical production and enter his life and his world fully and completely. As the two work together, they rekindle the trust and love they'd lost. But James's world is full of deceit. When he is blackmailed by an unscrupulous music industry executive, James must give in to unreasonable demands or risk exposure of his and Karina's secret sex life.
Will Karina and James's love be strong enough to withstand the many obstacles being thrown their way?
“I’m all ears.”
“I don’t want to only tell you about my life, Karina. I want you to join it. Be a part of it. That means being a part of what’s happening in Las Vegas.”
“What do you mean by ‘be a part of it’?”
“Answer me a question first. What’s happening with your university now?”
“I have to speak to the dean. Best case scenario, they accept my thesis as is, rubber stamp me with a PhD, and tell me to get the hell out. Worst case scenario, they make me start over with a new advisor, writing a new thesis. Honestly, if that’s what they want . . . I don’t know if it’ll be worth jumping through those hoops. If other opportunities are beckoning me, I don’t have a lot of incentive to go back. Other than pride and not wanting to have wasted five years of my life.”
Not to mention the student loan money.
“I see. Well, I am hoping you might be able to defer whatever might occur there for another semester so you can join me in the performance.”
“As a dancer.”
I shook my head instantly. “I can’t measure up to a troupe of professionals. I’ll look ridiculous.”
“I assure you you’re wrong about that. Well, if the performance were tomorrow, maybe. But we have a few months, Karina, and I’ll be expecting you to work with a trainer every day. I need to get back in shape myself.” He stretched one arm toward the far window and unfurled his hand elegantly, probably thinking about dance exercises. “I haven’t danced or sung since the night we met.”
“Have you missed it?”
“I have, a little. I don’t miss the grind, though. I don’t miss having to keep up the facade all the time. I never realized how exhausting it was until I stopped.” He leaned over to kiss me on the cheek. “I’m an incredibly lucky bastard.”
“Yes, because if I had let my guard down for anyone but you, it would have ended in a ball of flames.”
“It nearly did anyway.”
“But it didn’t, because of you. Because of the wonderfulness of you. You’re special, Karina.” He offered me the bottle again and I took another sip. “How much longer do you think you’ll be in Ohio?”
“I’m not sure. My aunt Tera called today to announce she’s showing up tomorrow to stay for two weeks. If that’s true, I won’t have to stay.” I did have to get back to the city. To deal with my landlord and the university and who knew what else.
James was looking at me thoughtfully.
“What? What is it?”
He smiled. “I’m just noticing how many strong, independent women you seem to have in your life.”
“Well, I don’t know if I’d count my mother as strong . . . though it seems like she picked up a backbone in the hospital!”
“She raised you and your siblings on her own. I’d say she can probably lay claim to independence if she wants.”
“True. And her opinions are never weak. Those are always quite strong.” I glanced in the direction of the house. “I guess I should be getting back.”
“Well, if you think you’ll be staying more than a few days, I’ll contract a dance trainer for you here, to start getting ready for the performances.” He folded one of my hands into his. “That is, if you agree to my proposal. You still haven’t said yes.”
Of course he would notice that. “I think it’s questionable I’m good enough to get on stage with you. Maybe you ought to have someone besides yourself look at me. I don’t think you’re exactly an impartial judge.”
“And you’re far more talented than you think. How about this? We’ll hold an audition for principal dancer. I won’t tell the judges who you are. We’ll let them give their opinions. The final decision will still be up to me, of course, but you can get an honest evaluation of where you stand in relation to others. If they think you look ridiculous, they’ll say so without hesitation.”
I slipped my shoes on. “All right. When?”
“Let’s say in a month. That’ll give you time to prepare.”
“Okay. I mean, yes. That sounds like a plan.” I slipped my arms around his neck and kissed him. “Now, are you and Stefan planning to sit out here all night?”
“I defer to Stefan on our security plans. If there is any hint of trouble, though, promise me, Karina, that you’ll contact us immediately.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Good. Then you should probably sneak back into the house.”
I kissed him on the forehead and grinned. “You know, I never did this when I was a teenager.”
“Sneak out of the house after my mother was asleep to have sex in a guy’s car.” I kissed him on the mouth then. “Something tells me it was worth the wait.”