It’s true, Wes is well-endowed.
But everything else is a huge misunderstanding…
Wes Evans, son of Broadway royalty, just wants to achieve something without riding his family’s coattails. Too bad the whole world is talking about his sex life after the notorious Bad Bachelors app dubs him “The Anaconda”. But when he sees a talented ballet dancer, he knows she is exactly what he needs to make his show a success.
Remi Drysdale only had one thought when she fled Australia for New York—never mix business with pleasure again. Ever. Working with Wes is the perfect chance to reclaim her career. Remi promises herself not to tangle with the guy who holds her career in his hands…no matter how enticing his reviews are on the Bad Bachelors app.
He leaned back in his chair, legs spread slightly apart. The pose was unabashedly male, and Remi shifted her gaze away from him, turning back to face the empty rows of seats representing the audience. The last thing she needed was the “Anaconda” staring back at her while she tried to nail these steps.
“Three, two, one.” She counted herself in and rose up into relevé.
Her toes protested, but she gritted her teeth. She couldn’t let Wes see she was struggling. Not when he’d placed so much faith in her.
She stepped up onto the chair, her floaty, chiffon skirt swirling around her thighs. Swish, swish, kick. Her foot sailed over his lap, missing him easily and she tried not to be distracted by the blue eyes trained intently on her. Swish, swish, kick. She turned, stepping into an arabesque, facing him, her back leg extended away from the chairs. Her ankle wobbled, the chair uneven enough that if she didn’t rise up in exactly the right spot, she couldn’t get a flat surface to balance on.
She wobbled again and fell forward, her hand coming down on Wes’s shoulder.
“Whoa.” He grabbed her easily, steadying her so she could bring her other foot down to the chair.
Humiliation burned in her cheeks. The other dancers seemed so much more at ease, so much more professional. They weren’t scared by the strangeness of the moves or the challenge of working with these props.
“I wanted to practice alone tonight,” she bit out. She was annoyed at herself for feeling so far behind, rather than at him for turning up unannounced. After all, he had every right to be there. “I’ll get it, I promise.”
“I know you will.” He stood, his hands still on her.
Her chest rose and fell, the deep breaths threatening more emotion that she desperately tamped down. Wes moved in front of her, his other hand coming up to smooth over her hip. He settled it on the other side of the waist.
“I’m going to hold you,” he said. “Go back into arabesque.”
Swallowing, she rose onto pointe and stretched into the position. Her back leg extended behind her, pulling up to create a perfect, elongated shape. Her arms floated in front, one slightly higher than the other as she looked out over her fingertips, concentrating on the crack in the beige wall on the other side of the studio.
She held the position, feeling safe with his hands holding her steady. It’d been so long since she’d had a partner to give her a safety net. To make sure she didn’t fall.
Remi didn’t dare look down, fearing that staring into Wes’s eyes might bring the most painful memories rushing back. She’d fallen in love once before in this very predicament—frightened of a new challenge, but with a strong, charming man holding her steady.
His touch burned through the fabric, sending sparks showering over her. The frayed edges of her nerves left her open, susceptible. They made her an easy target, like a rabbit caught in the glare of headlights. Ready to be flattened. Her breath hitched in the back of her throat, her heart slamming against her rib cage.
This wasn’t the effects of a memory.
It was the very real chemistry she’d walked away from the night they’d met at the bar. The kind of chemistry that was often imitated, rarely experienced. She knew choreographed chemistry, orchestrated chemistry. But this…this would burn her alive if she let it.
“Did you prove your point?” Her voice wobbled. Traitorous thing.
“What do you think my point was?” he asked.
Gone was the easy, humorous crinkles that normally bracketed his blue eyes. Gone was the cheeky smirk that lifted his lips, the one that always made her tummy flutter. Instead, he stared at her intently. Studying. Assessing. Like he could see a hell of a lot more than she wanted him to.
“To show me I can conquer my fears and all that. Was it meant to be a teachable moment?” She hated herself for trying to tarnish the flickering connection between them by being a sarcastic bitch. But Remi didn’t do vulnerable. She didn’t do open. Not anymore.
“I’m here to help you,” he said, frustration giving his tone a sharp edge. “Call it a ‘teachable moment’ if you like. Call it whatever the hell you want. But the reason I’m here is because I want this show to be a resounding success, and in order for that to happen, I need to make sure you slay whatever demon is lurking in your head.”
Yeah, he saw way too much.
“No demons,” she lied. “Just a fear of props.”
“Bullshit. We both know there’s more to it than that.”
He was still touching her, and she was still letting him. His strong hands made her waist look fragile. Made her look fragile.
You don’t want to be bloody fragile. You want to be a strong, badass ballerina who doesn’t need a man to save her.
But she was failing miserably.
“Help me down?” she asked, forcing a smile. She needed to break this spell. ASAP.
“Only if you stop feeding me bullshit,” he replied. “I know you probably come from a place where keeping your mouth shut is the only way to get ahead. I’ve been there too. But I can’t help you if you’re acting like I’m the enemy.”
“What if you can’t help me at all?” she whispered.
He tightened his hands around her and helped her down from the chair, the change in angle casting shadows across his face. Remi wasn’t short by any means, but Wes towered over her. He leaned forward, his dark hair flopping across his forehead. Without thinking, she reached up and brushed it back.
“I will keep pushing, Remi. I will poke and shove and I will make you angry enough to get out of your own head.” He pinned her with his stare. “I won’t let this show fail.”
Disappointment stabbed at her chest. Of course it was all about the show—she was doing the same stupid thing that she’d done before. Misinterpreting signs. Reading too much into things. Hearing what she wanted to hear.
Wasn’t that what Alex had said to her? If you thought I loved you, it was because you wanted to think that. Not because I meant it.
“I won’t let you fail.” Wes’s voice had turned rough. Gritty.
Don’t fall for it. Don’t fall for him.
About the Author
Stefanie London is the USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Stefanie now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband. She loves to read, collect lipsticks, watch zombie movies and drink coffee. Her bestselling book, Pretend It’s Love, was a 2016 Romantic Book of the Year finalist with the Romance Writers of Australia. You can visit her at www.stefanie-london.com