Today I am so pleased to welcome Jessie G to Joyfully Jay. Jessie has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, His Premier (which I reviewed here). She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Jessie a big welcome!
The place was completely barren, the floors covered in dust, and it was everything he could have hoped for. Each step across the hardwood echoed around him and as he made his way to the center of the main room, he looked back to see the trail he’d left behind. Those were his steps on the floor, a symbol of the journey he’d taken to get to this point, and he could no longer wait.
He dropped his backpack against the wall, stuffed his half-finished mocha in the side pocket, and dug out his tap shoes. Ballet was beautiful, ethereal, and his first love, but sometimes you just needed to hear your steps. The earbuds hung silent from his neck as he rose and scuffed forward one time, swinging his right foot and dragging his heel before firmly planting it on the floor. The sound was loud, bouncing back at him, and he watched the kicked up dust dance in a slender sunbeam. Perfect.
Arnaud shuffled forward, finding his rhythm as the dust swirled around him. The strands of some unknown song played in his head as his movements began to take shape. Step, spank, dig, Bombershay left, then right, step, spank, dig. Oh yeah, he had it now. The imaginary music picked up tempo and his feet began to fly. Step, shuffle step, toe cross back, Maxie Ford side to side, swing.
Amid leaps and shuffles, flaps and digs, trenches and riffs, his vision for the studio began to take shape in his mind. Mirror-lined walls, miles of red oak barre, and the right flooring were just the beginning. He’d have the place painted a subtle chiffon with just the barest tint of yellow that would brighten the space without overwhelming. Large posters of famous dancers—not him—would be framed and hung as inspiration for future generations. Arnaud wanted the laughter of little ones and the focus of aspiring professionals. He wanted couples looking to add a little spice to their relationship and seniors who refused to slow down.
He needed ramps, widened doorways, restrooms up to ADA codes, and to feel the adrenaline rush of watching the impossible become possible over and over again. It wasn’t about adulations, standing ovations, or rave reviews anymore—the stage no longer fulfilled him in the same way. Watching others discover the joy of dance, seeing them realize their dreams no matter their age or ability, would fulfill him completely.
Well, almost. It was a great opening number, but Arnaud knew the choreography wouldn’t be complete unless Colin was at his side. This could be something they could collaborate on together, something they could both take joy in for different reasons. Yes, he could see Colin here with his construction crew, creating a space that would be both accessible and welcoming to all. It was almost fate that his former and future lover was one of the top contractors in Miami. Even his father, a lifetime construction worker, had grudgingly agreed that Colin and his partner had built an unrivaled reputation in the last three years.
The irony wasn’t lost on him. Charles Sinclair had amassed a fortune tearing down the old to make way for the new, just as his father had done before him. He didn’t give a rat’s ass about preserving history and Arnaud wondered what he thought about his son’s renovation and remodeling work. Had Colin done it purposely to thumb his nose at the old man? No, he wasn’t the vindictive sort. Either way, Arnaud couldn’t understand how Colin ever thought he could follow in Charles’ footsteps when his heart was in restorations.
The stars had definitely aligned for him there too. When Arnaud first started looking for the right space, he assumed it would be in a well-traveled area, like a strip mall. So when the real estate agent sent him pictures for a fully detached, slightly crumbling, Mission-style building that had been zoned for commercial use, he’d initially rejected it. Yet, he kept reopening the pictures and the more he looked, the more he liked what he saw. The location was good, and wasn’t it convenient that he knew the right person to make it beautiful again?
Not that Colin would see any of this as convenient or fated. No, he was more likely to be horrified when he realized who his potential new client was. The deception of using his new corporation’s name instead of his own had been necessary. Since the night at the bar two weeks earlier, Colin had been difficult at best. He refused to answer his phone or return voicemails, and Arnaud was convinced he only answered texts to avoid being hunted down.
None of that had come as any great shock. With alcohol muscles firmly in place, Arnaud knew he’d pushed too hard too fast. Michel had let the cat out of the bag, so he didn’t see any reason to deny it. Could he have been gentler? Possibly, but not probably. He might be graceful on his feet, but he more resembled a bull in a china shop when he wanted something. And he wanted Colin. Badly.
Arnaud came to the center of the room, the pitter patter as he heel-toed gaining speed until his arms and legs were swinging like a windmill. He let the movement grow until he was taking flight, hurling himself in wide sweeping turns, the sound of his taps more of a whoosh then a scuff. Expanding sunlight had turned all the dust he’d disturbed into glitter and he whirled through it, faster and faster, with the imaginary song playing in his head and the vision of their future behind his eyes.
Instinct said he was nearing center stage and he started narrowing his stance, bringing his legs and arms in tight so that his windmills became power turns. The scuffs got louder, urging him toward the grand finale and at the last second, he bent his knees, spring-boarded off the floor, and hurled his body up and to the right in a full three-sixty. There was a single second when he was completely upside down that he forced his eyes open, not wanting to miss the gravity-defying moment of seeing the world from a new perspective. It was over as quickly as it began, but it never failed to leave an impression.
He planted his landing, taps sounding like thunder, and the swell of happiness couldn’t be contained. Arms wide, head back, Arnaud laughed until he hurt and when the high receded, he opened his eyes to see that he wasn’t alone.
Born into wealth and privilege, Colin Sinclair was raised on the knowledge that money could buy anything and everyone had a price. Trouble was no trouble at all, not when the money was there to sweep it under the rug. But those lessons, learned at the knee of his father, were going to be challenged in a way that would change Colin forever.
In middle class suburbia, Arnaud Dechene learned the value of hard work, focus, and dedication to a dream. He was well on his way to achieving it, the role of Premier, when he catches Colin’s eye. Rich snobs didn’t usually do it for him, but there was something about Colin that made him impossible to resist.
Despite being opposites in every way, falling into a relationship was surprisingly—and deceptively—easy, but Arnaud never lost sight of his dream and Colin had trouble accepting that he was second place to anything. When a stupid argument leads to a reckless act, the repercussions leave Arnaud fighting for his life and Colin paying with his own.
With a little meddling from an aging schemer and intentions that are more well-meaning than realistic, their paths will cross again. However, Colin and Arnaud aren’t the same men who loved with abandon. They are older and wiser, with a history that might be too big to overcome.
Fans of the series know revenge is a double-edged sword, forgiveness doesn’t always come easy, and forgetting is damn near impossible. But love…well, that may just conquer all.
Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: to be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With three series in the works and a full schedule of releases planned for the next two years, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.
I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics, and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters, and series filled with families—biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.
Jessie has brought along two chances to win prizes on her tour!
Anyone who signs up for Jessie’s monthly “Those In The Know Newsletter”—featuring exclusive scenes, series and new release information, and mailing-list-only giveaways— between 10/3 and 12/1 will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or ARe Gift Card. Sign up today! http://eepurl.com/bhuja1
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