Without releasing her hand, he blurted, “Are you having a good time?” He almost smacked his head. What a stupid question.
Christie’s mouth quirked then grew serious again. “Actually. I am.” Her eyes met his, their gazes locked as tightly as their hands.
“I’m glad,” he heard himself say from some disembodied place that did not come from the land of reality and logic. “Happy you came.” He pressed her hand, exhilaration shooting through him when she squeezed back.
“Me, too. It reminds me of my dancing years. I wish Tommy could have been here.”
“Trust me. He’s sorrier than all of us combined. Poor guy.” He debated asking her the question that had been in the back of his mind. “Did your brother watch you dance?”
Christie’s lids lowered for a moment. In the silence, he gave himself a swift, mental kick. He wanted to know more about her, but not cause her pain. And her pale, clammy palm proved he’d done just that. “You don’t have to answer.”
When she reopened her eyes, her lashes were wet and spiky, but her voice was steady. “Before he got too sick, he always made these insane signs to make me laugh. Like ‘Christie the Great’ or ‘Christie is the Best Sistie.’ He did it to help me get over my stage fright, but the other girls made fun of it so I begged him to stop.”
He gathered her other, trembling hand.
“Now.” Her voice dropped to a notch above a whisper. “I’d give anything to have one of those signs.”
His heart expanded, wishing he could take away her pain. He’d gotten used to heartbreak. “You must have loved him very much.”
“Not as much as he deserved,” she said beneath her breath, more to herself, it seemed, than to him. “Excuse me.” When she scooted off to the ladies’ room, he berated himself. She’d done him a huge favor in joining him tonight—more than he’d guessed now that he knew about her brother. How brave of her to come to the recital for Becca, and him, when dance held such powerful memories.
He grabbed her shawl and purse and waited by the door into the auditorium. After a couple of minutes, she joined him, her cheeks damp but no longer ashen. When the crowd clapped inside the auditorium, they opened the door, tiptoed down the aisle and found their seats.
“I’m sorry Jacqueline didn’t come,” Christie breathed in his ear, sending shivers of awareness down his spine.
He looked into her earnest face and found himself unable to lie. “I’d rather have you here.”
Christie bit her lower lip then studied her lap. “I’m glad, too,” she surprised him by saying. Her shimmering eyes lifted to his.
His tight chest eased at her soft expression. They settled back in their seats and counted down the remaining routines, the silence between them as promising as the dancers who flitted gracefully across the stage.
Since Karen Rock’s grandmother passed her shopping bagfuls of Harlequin Presents as a teen, it’s been her dream to add her voice to the Romance genre. Now an author of Harlequin’s latest contemporary line, Heartwarming, Karen is thrilled to pen wholesome, tender, deeply romantic stories that all can relate to. Her first novel, WISH ME TOMORROW, is out in September 2013 and her next, HIS HOMETOWN GIRL, is out in spring 2013. Additionally, Karen is a young adult contemporary romance co-author with fellow Harlequin author, Joanne Rock for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series that debuted July 2013 with Spencer Hill Press.
- Karen Rock’s WISH ME TOMOROW
- Robyn Carr’s THE WANDERER
- JoJo Moyes’ ME BEFORE YOU
- JoJo Moyes’ THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND
- JK Rock’s CAMP BOYFRIEND
- Bella Andre’s I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
- Pamela Tracy’s KATIE’S RESCUE
- Tara Randal’s ORANGE BLOSSOM BRIDE
- Syndi Powell’s THE RELUCTANT BACHELOR