by Lesa Howard
Release Date: 03/01/14
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.
Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine. Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be.
But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.
After pacing a while, I went to the edge of the stage to sit down, hang my legs over the side, and look out on the pencil-straight rows of burgundy theater seats.
Several minutes passed when I heard, “Christine—I’m over here.”
I whipped my head to the left and my mouth fell open. Erik was standing on the stage for me to see, dressed in black warm-ups and arrayed in an elaborate costume mask that concealed his face.
With effortless grace he approached me, every step revealing his nimble dancer’s body. When he stopped he extended his open hand to me and I took it, allowing him pull me to my feet with a strong arm.
Mere inches from me, he waved a hand in front of the mask. “I know this is strange. But it was the only thing I could think of. And it didn’t seem right for me to be behind the curtain and you out here crying all by yourself.”
Still surprised to see him on stage, I stared open-mouthed at the mask. Full-faced, it was white with angular, almond shaped eyes. The upper half was stippled gold, with raised filigree swirling across the forehead and down the sides of each cheek. The lips were of a softer, more buttery, shade of gold. The face-piece connected to a length of black knit that was swathed in an Arabian style across the top of the mask, draped under his chin and wrapped back up to be pinned high on the other side. It was stunning.
“Are you afraid?” he asked.
I closed my mouth and shook my head.
He was still holding my hand in his, and lifting it between us, he placed his other on top so that he held my hand warmly between his, and asked, “Then will you let me dance with you?”
I’m not the typical author. I didn’t always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I’d just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I’d written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.
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