Stars, Love and Pirouettes

By: Alicia Street & Roy Street

Dance ‘n’ Luv Series Book Three

Chapter One

Jenna Richardson wouldn’t deny she had obsessive tendencies that made her a perfectionist right down to the most minute details.

Like flipping the bird at Chang Mulligan.

Which was why she kept him in her sites as she wandered through the glitzy post-performance reception, waiting for the moment when he glanced at her across the room. Better yet, when both he and his latest female conquest turned her way.

Aha. Her chance. A quick flex of the elbow. The traditional inverted fist, minus the middle finger, an angry digit pointing skyward. Defiant and reeking with attitude. Delivered of course with the proper “up yours” glare.

As soon as she executed her move, Jenna did a nifty one-eighty and disappeared into a sea of Valentino, Fendi and Ralph Lauren gowns. She kept a smile plastered on her face while struggling to banish images of Chang, Mr. Bigtime Broadway-to-Ballet Choreographer, with his arm around Kimberly.

How could I be so stupid to fall for him?

Duh. Maybe because he’d singled her out for a major solo in his latest dance and lured her into believing he really cared for her.

They’d spent every minute together for the last three months. She’d even left her favorite New York Jets sleep jersey in his apartment. But no way was she going there to retrieve it. Not after the last visit when the doorman let her in and she saw Chang and Kimberly coming out, arm in arm, wearing those just-had-sex grins.

Allyson, her roommate and fellow dancer, waved to her from one of the round, burgundy-clothed tables scattered throughout the hotel ballroom. Jenna pretended not to notice and kept on walking, grateful for the soft rose lighting that shadowed her face. It was humiliating enough that everyone in the ballet company knew Chang had dumped her. The last thing she needed was a pity party.

Unless it was from her big brother Parker. He’d been the shoulder she’d cried on since she was a kid. She wished she could see him now. He was the only one who knew she wasn’t the big sophisticated New Yorker that everybody else back home thought she was. Even her sister Casey teased her about the hotshots she dated. But the truth was, at twenty-four, Jenna still had no idea how to navigate the romance waters and always seemed to get in over her head.

Heck, when the ballet company took her on at nineteen, she’d been a total noob. Never even had a boyfriend. Who had time for boys when she’d been spending every moment she could for the last ten years in dance studios? Practicing plies, tendues, pirouettes, petit allegro. Striving for perfect form, striving for a dream.

And maybe some dancers never tired of it, but at this point Jenna desperately needed a change. She was dying to get out of here. Dying to change her whole life.

Or to at least start figuring out what her life was supposed to be about.

“Jenna Richardson?”

OMG. It was Sean Risk. Tonight’s fundraiser performance had been for a select audience of high-end patrons, which usually included a certain number of movie stars, business moguls and New York City celebs. After five years with the company, Jenna had learned to temper her star-struck reaction to them. Not so easy to do for Sean Risk. One of TV’s sexiest hunks with eight-pack abs and dark almond eyes set in a face that would make any woman sigh.

He put out his hand, his corded forearms visible beneath the rolled-up sleeves of a pinstriped shirt that fit snugly, showing off his manly, tapered torso. “I’m Sean.”

“Oh, please,” she said, with a laugh and shaking his warm, strong hand. “I know who you are. I never miss an episode of Sunrise Lane. You’re amazing as Justin Grant.”

With a quick nod of appreciation, he said, “You’re pretty amazing yourself. I was blown away when I watched you dance that solo.”

Chang’s piece, naturally. “Thank you.”

“Talk about physically demanding. Bet you worked your buns off for that.”

A corner of her mouth tweaked. “In more ways than you know.”

His eyebrows lifted in question, but Jenna was not about to elaborate.

A waiter breezed by floating a tray of glasses filled with champagne. Sean snatched two and held one out to her. Jenna’s strict lean-and-mean diet usually kept her from indulging in any kind of liquor, but tonight she was sick of dieting. She’d already had three glasses, but she accepted the fourth.

“You looked great in that revealing costume,” Sean said, one finger brushing her bare shoulder.

Uh-oh. Not another one. Why did she have to go and wear her tight purple strapless dress that was way too short?

The answer appeared out the corner of her eye. Chang and Kimberly. Laughing with Alec Baldwin. Jenna let out a louder than necessary laugh, leaned in toward Sean with a teasing grin and said at full volume, “I’d like to see you naked, too.”

Heads turned. Including the pair of her intended targets.

Sean grinned at her in a way that gave her a case of jelly knee. He put his arm around Jenna and said, “So what are we waiting for?”

She let him walk her out, giggling all the way. But inside, her mind raced. How was she going to get out of this? No way did she intend to end up easy pickings for this big name actor who, like most celebrities, was no doubt used to having whatever women he chose at will. Not this girl.