Great news! Hidden Swan is now available on Amazon!
Joel Anderson was still on cloud nine the day following when he met Winnie. The guys at football practice teased him about switching teams and joining the fine arts department so he could be her dance partner.
Little did they know how close to the mark they’d hit. He was planning to meet her at her studio after practice and take her out to dinner. He didn’t care. They could tease him all they wanted. He’d get the final laugh by hanging out with a gorgeous brunette for the evening.
Winnie was tall and elegant with legs that stretched on for miles, almond eyes brimming with mystery and intrigue. Olive skin tone that hinted of Mediterranean or Italian or Middle Eastern origin. Whatever it was about her, he wanted to peel back the onion layers and find out more.
This afternoon he needed to focus on upcoming games. The University of Michigan had appeared in the Rose Bowl twenty times, second only to University of Southern California. Joel and the boys intended to make it twenty-one. They were undefeated this season and rumored to be a shoe-in.
But first they had to get through Big Ten championships and that required kicking Ohio State right back to Columbus. Normally their toughest competition, Ohio State had a few key injuries and a tough year. Michigan should pull off a win, but not necessarily an easy win.
The week before Thanksgiving they had a non-conference game against Eastern Michigan that would be another throw away. Nonetheless, they treated every practice as if this week’s game was the most important.
Joel and the guys gave it all they had. As he stole the ball from an offensive running back, Joel couldn’t help smile about how Winnie had said if she was the ball he’d have her halfway to the endzone by now. As he spiked the ball in victory that day in practice, he thought, that one’s for you, babe.
Shane was the only guy on the team who had overheard that conversation and he razzed him on the way to the locker room.
“How’d that ball feel?” Shane nudged Joel’s shoulder. “Almost as heavy as your date last night? What was her name? Winifred?”
“Winnie, short for Edwina, which I think is an elegant name.” Joel sighed. “And I think the ball was heavier. That girl was light as a feather.”
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board,” Shane teased. “Sounds like a party game that’s ends with those long legs wrapped around you.”
“I was a perfect gentleman,” Joel said. “I deposited her safely on the trainer’s table, typed my cell phone number into her contacts list, and sent myself a text asking myself out to dinner.”
“How’d she react to that?” Shane asked with a congratulatory nod.
“She laughed and told me she gets out of practice this evening at seven, I’m picking her up in a little while.”
“Be careful with this woman, Joel,” Shane warned. “She’s out of your league.”
“Only if I let her be,” Joel said with confidence. “She doesn’t intimidate me in the least. She likes football, flirts with me shamelessly, and let me bench press her the night we met. Imagine what she’ll want to do after a few weeks of dating.”
“I’m telling you, she’s too much woman for you.” Shane was probably right but Joel was too egotistical to admit that. As they headed into separate showers, Shane called over his shoulder. “Hey, if she’s got a roommate or something, hook a brother up.”
“I’ll see what I can do, man.”
Joel forgot his promise on the walk from the stadium to the fine arts building, and by the time he snuck into the back of her practice room, carefully staying out of Winnie’s line of sight, he forgot his own name.
She was mesmerizing. Joel knew very little about ballet but had a sudden desire to learn more. He didn’t know the names of any of the moves, but watched as Winnie leapt into the air, spun on the tips of her toes and moved to the beat of a haunting piano arrangement of something Christmas-y and passionate.
He remembered the conversation from yesterday about her being flexible and she definitely was. He could imagine all kinds of ways to put that flexibility to good use.
When the music finally wound down to slower, controlled movements, Joel thought the dance was coming to an end. He was wrong. Whoever had created this piece of music suddenly pounded out the last few notes in a dramatic ending that was almost orgasmic. He could imagine the auditorium on their feet immediately following the conclusion of the dance and Edwina LaFleur stepping to the front of the stage, taking a bow while adoring fans threw roses at her feet.
Joel was breathless. Whoever this girl was, she was talented beyond Joel’s imagination. Shane was right. She was out of his league.
Did you miss the song? I've imbedded her performance piece below.
Great news! Hidden Swan is now available on Amazon!
Great news! Hidden Swan is now available on Amazon!
“You’re favoring your knee again,” Madame Jocie called over the majestic piano music pounding through the speakers in the otherwise empty practice room.
“It’s just been a long day,” Winnie called back, annoyed that her ballet instructor had interrupted her flow. “I just need some ice.” The music stopped abruptly but Winnie continued spinning on pointe, finishing her series of pirouettes without missing a beat.
Winnie didn’t need the music playing through the speakers in order to hear Jarrod Radnich’s arrangement of Carol of the Bells in her head. She only wished she could dance across the stage as rapidly and passionately as his fingers danced across the keys of his piano.
She ended her series of turns, landing in fourth arabesque and shifted her spot in the mirror to meet the pointed glare of her ballet mistress who stood a few feet away.
“Your back leg is where you get your power for those pirouettes.” Madame Jocie’s purposely calm words were more terrifying than her shouting at a class full of freshman ballerinas with weak ankles. “You’re this close.” She held up her fingers as if pinching a grain of sand.
“I know.” Winnie’s eyes lowered to where a dusting of chalk collected in a divot created by someone’s overzealous tap shoe.
“Your performance is in less than three weeks.” Madame Jocie’s reminder encouraged Winnie to lift her chin with confidence. “Talent scouts will be in the auditorium. This is your chance, Edwina. Don’t screw this up.”
“I won’t let you down, Madame. I promise.” Winnie’s confidence soared and she knew her words to be true.
“This isn’t about me. These are your dreams. I’m a washed-up old ballet mistress teaching college level dance rather than donning a tutu at the New York City Ballet.”
“At one of the finest universities in the world,” Winnie pointed out. Teaching dance at the University of Michigan was hardly something to sniff at. The theatre and drama department at U of M was world-renowned. They didn’t hire second-rate instructors.
“I want you to call it a day and head over to the training room and get that knee checked out.”
“Yes, Madame.” There was no way Winnie was going to argue. Her knee was throbbing just enough make her cautious. She turned to head over to gather her belongings and sit down to remove her toe shoes.
“When was the last time you ate?”
Winnie stopped walking and avoided Madame Jocie’s penetrating gaze. “I was going to head over to get a protein smoothie on my way to the trainer.”
“I promise,” Winnie whispered.
“Lots of berries, kale, and avocado, and see if they’ve got some olive oil they can throw in there.”
Winnie shuddered and stuck out her tongue. “Yuck. I don’t think they have olive oil at the smoothie shop, but I’ll ask.” She hoped her ballet mistress didn’t hear the lie Winnie was trying to slip past.
“You know, I’m kind of hungry myself.” Madame Jocie followed Winnie to the door and untied her dance shoes also, reaching for her street shoes. Guess she didn’t believe the lie. “Let’s go get some smoothies together.”
“That sounds… lovely.”
With her parents’ wealth, Winnie didn’t exactly need anyone buying her dinner, but she wasn’t going to argue or Madame Jocie would become even more suspicious.
Winnie would drink as much of that smoothie as her body could handle and throw the rest away. She wasn’t going to risk puking it back up on the long walk to the training room. She might be struggling, but she wasn’t stupid. Nutrition needed to stay inside the body once it was there. Period. Getting it in there was the hard part.
She finished untying her toe shoes, pulled on some long, warm socks over her tights, slipped on the most comfortable pair of soft leather boots ever created by the finest cobblers her parents could afford, and wrapped herself in layers of sweaters and a parka. Michigan in November was not the kind of place to walk across campus in the chill of twilight. Especially for someone with so little fat on her bones. Madame Jocie was right. She needed to add some oil into that smoothie.
They mostly walked in silence, huddled against the wind and chill in the air. The smoothie shop was only a few hundred feet from the entrance of the performing arts building but it was far enough that her knee hurt even more from walking in the cold.
The smoothie shop was relatively packed with college kids and the main topic of conversation was the football playoffs. Michigan was rumored to be in the running for the Rose Bowl this year. That was pretty big time. Even Winnie was impressed and eavesdropped on the two guys in front of them in line. Something about a defensive tackle who got past the linemen and pummeled the quarterback. She tried not to roll her eyes. She also tried not to gag at the sheer volume of food they ordered.
At last, the moment arrived when they noticed her. There was always the moment. Guys tended to do a double take when they looked at her. Winnie knew she was beautiful. Tall, slim and elegant. And guys were predictable. Like their hormones controlled their jaw that dropped, and their eyes that couldn’t help traveling down and then up her body. And then their gaze would lock with hers and she’d smirk and raise her eyebrows and they’d come out of their testosterone-induced hypnosis. It was kind of adorable.
Football player number one and football player number two stepped aside with a gesture of inviting her to step up to the counter and order her food. Football player number two was kind of cute. He exuded confidence like he knew he was hot and sexy. And, dang it, he was. Sandy brown hair with a hint of a curl, a five o’clock shadow, broad shoulders and muscular but not too stocky.
Winnie glanced over at him several times while Madame Jocie ordered exactly what kind of smoothie she wanted Winnie to drink. Every time she glanced his way, football player number two was still smiling that cocky little smile that insinuated he’d welcome another cheerleader into his life. Too bad for him, Winnie wasn’t a cheerleader. She was a prima ballerina. Likely to leave college with a one-way ticket to New York City.
Madame Jocie handed her the plastic order number and pointed for her to go stand over there and wait while she paid. Right beside football player number two.
Winne pulled a page from the guys’ playbook and allowed her eyes to trail down and then up his body in a very provocative way that had him flustered to the point where his jaw involuntarily dropped again. Adorable and predictable. She stood beside him close enough that she could have held his hand if she’d been so bold, which she wasn’t.
Her ballet mistress and mentor didn’t notice the primal tension that rolled between her student and football player number two, but his buddy obviously did.
Football player number one nudged his friend’s shoulder, smirked, cleared his throat, and finally reached around football player number two and stuck out his hand. “I’m Shane. This tongue-tie coward is Joel. He totally thinks you're hot and wants to ask you out but isn’t brave enough so I’m going to have to ask you out instead.”
“I don’t think so, dude.” Joel stepped in front of Shane, blocking his advance and intercepted her handshake.
“Ooh, played like a defensive cornerback,” Winnie said with bravado. “Impressive.”
“A woman who knows her football,” Joel said. “Now that’s impressive.”
Winnie leaned closer to Joel and stage whispered, “If I were the ball, you’d have me halfway to the endzone by now.”
Joel let out a tiny whimper that told Winnie everything she needed to know about him. Typical guy who probably thought she researched the game of football on Google while standing in line to get her smoothie in order to impress him. The thought wouldn’t occur to him that she had brothers and a father who were season ticket holders with box seats at The Big House.
“Edwina,” Madame Jocie hissed at her. “That was completely unladylike.”
“My apologies, Madame,” Winnie said with a playful lilt. “I promise to refrain from flirting with any other guys for the remainder of my college career.”
The guys laughed at her teasing and were distracted as a guy behind the counter called them over for their meals. The same guy called Winnie and Madame Jocie over for their smoothies, which had gotten done at the same time.
Winnie winced as she turned away from the counter. “Ooh, I think I’m going to take an Uber over to the training room.”
“We were heading that way also,” Joel said, grabbing a stack of napkins and adding them to the large bag of takeout boxes filled with more food than she’d be able to eat in a week. “What are you in for? Twisted ankle?”
“Throbbing knee pain,” Winnie said. “You?”
“Student, actually.” Joel puffed out his chest. “Sports medicine.”
“I’m Winnie, by the way. Probably should formally introduce myself to the guy I’ve been shamelessly flirting with the past five minutes.”
“Nice to meet you, Winnie. What’s your major?” Typical pickup line.
“Classical ballet.” She lifted her chin.
“Ooh…” He leaned closer to whisper near her ear. “Flexible?” It wasn’t really a question. More like an acknowledged assumption.
“Very,” she whispered back.
Joel pulled away slightly. “I’d very much like to take you on a date sometime.”
“How about our first date be that you give me a lift over to the training room so I don’t have to call for an Uber?”
“Your wish is my command.” Joel swooped Winnie up into his arms like she was a feather. He probably bench pressed more than she weighed. She laughed and clung to her smoothie with both hands. “Shane you carry my bag of food and I’ll carry the invalid.”
As Joel started walking toward the door, Madame Josie called out from back at the counter, “Make sure she drinks every drop of that smoothie!”
Winnie pursed her lips around her straw and made a show of taking a long drink while batting her eyelashes up at Joel.
He chuckled as Shane held open the door for them. The walk to the training center was much more fun than she’d have predicted twenty minutes ago. Dating a football player could be fun. She took another drink of her smoothie and settled in for the ride across campus in the arms of football player number two.
I think a couple of my Super Fans will know who this book is dedicated to... the problem is, I have no idea what this book will be named. Any suggestions?
P.S. it takes Jarrod Radnich almost a full minute to get to the good stuff, but listen from the beginning to get a feel for Winnie's performance number wherein she will be approached by talent scouts from the New York City Ballet.
Great news! Hidden Swan is now available on Amazon!
Greetings My Favorite Readers!
Today I have a dilemma. Usually, I know exactly which book to write/post next. Right this second there are too many books and not enough time to get them all written. I love them all, but I want to write what YOU want to read.
So, I’ll tell you which books I have in the works and you vote which book you want me to finish (start) writing next. If I’m able, I’ll try to start posting that book tomorrow.
I’m gathering votes from multiple sources: here on the blog post comments, emails, and my Facebook group. I will seriously try to take all your votes into consideration and go with the majority. But sometimes I have to follow my muse. And sometimes I have a weird dream at 3:00 in the morning and then three weeks later wake up to find that I wrote a book.
Speaking of books, here are the current options:
Finish writing Mending Fences (sequel to The Farmer’s Daughter)
About 1/3 written
Caleb, Paul, and Sarah go three separate ways trying to pick up the pieces after Ashley’s dramatic betrayal at the end of The Farmer’s Daughter. Caleb heads to Germany in search of the angel who introduced him to the gospel when he was in his early teens hoping to rekindle an old flame. Paul is called to serve as a missionary and unexpectedly happens upon the missing piece of a complicated puzzle. Sarah fumbles through college as an older student only to discover that embracing her natural talent leads to the love of her life.
Finish writing Phantom of the Chapel
About 80% complete
Phil Chapel is a military veteran who was burned severely when his patrol ran over a roadside bomb. His face is unrecognizable from the handsome man he used to be. He feels ugly, frustrated, judged, lost, has PTSD, trust issues, the works.
This story is a combination Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast type of story.
Christine has a beautiful singing voice and speaking voice and her voice is what originally draws Phil to her. She doesn’t see his face until well into the story and he barely sees hers, definitely not up close. They are truly falling in love with each other for who they are on the inside and not outward appearances.
Phil hides in the periphery of life, leaving her notes on the music stand in the chapel where Christine is the music leader each Sunday and sending messages through his roommate. For that reason, Christine and her roommate start jokingly calling Phil the Phantom of the Chapel. Little do they know that P.C. is actually his initials, but it fits.
Finish writing The Overlook
About 1/3 written
Stephanie’s marriage to Jared was supposed to last forever. After a honeymoon filled with laughter and romance, a tragic accident leaves Stephanie to pull her life back together as a young widow.
Their lake house in northern Michigan becomes a prison she needs to escape. After wandering through the woods, Stephanie happens upon a deck overlooking the picturesque and peaceful Au Sable River. She’s drawn to its beauty and the freedom from her troubles if she would take one… long… fall off the overlook.
After a handsome, young park ranger pulls Stephanie down off the ledge, both literally and figuratively, she comes to realize how much she has to lose.
Matt never dreamed how his world would change when he rescued Stephanie. His solitary life patrolling the forest is turned upside down in an instant, and he comes to question everything he thought to be true. Matt never knew how much he needed Stephanie until she needed him first.
Cinderella Meets Einstein
Possibly in the All’s Fair in Love and Sports Series but not sure if this story fits the pattern of all the others. It’s kind of a football player meets cheerleader type of story except I’ve got a lot of football player meets cheerleader stories already. There’s a cool twist to the story but I can’t tell you what that is yet.
As I Have Loved You
A famous motivational speaker, her right-hand woman-slash-personal assistant-slash-best friend, and her business manager-slash-boyfriend.
None of them could do their job without the other two. What happens when one of them is stricken with a life-threatening illness?
Can the love they feel survive this devastating loss? Can they honor a dying request to pick up the pieces and move on?
Before He Was a Billionaire
Darren Berkley is determined to get married before he becomes a billionaire. But with his net worth creeping ever closer, he dates woman after woman hoping he’ll find his future wife.
Chelsea Sparks has given up finding a husband. As a single mom, she waits tables and tends bar by night and volunteers at the local women’s aid service by day. Most men she meets are either creeps or drunks. Late each night, she counsels her friend, Darren.
Darren brings the women he dates to Chelsea’s restaurant and they evaluate them afterward. While discussing the pros and cons of each prospect, Chelsea wonders why she can’t find a man like Darren, and Darren wonders why he can’t meet a woman as caring and understanding as Chelsea.
When Darren learns of a funding crisis at the women’s aid service, Chelsea comes up with a plan to solve his problem, inadvertently helping every needy woman for miles around.
But can she help him find a wife before he becomes a billionaire?
Outline written – leaning toward this as my next project
Joel’s a college football player majoring in sports medicine. Winnie’s majoring in performing arts and specializing in ballet. After a minor knee injury sends her to the sports medicine department, a serendipitous moment lands Winnie in the arms of the handsome wide receiver. He calls her a delicate little bird not realizing she is teetering on the edge of anorexia. A whirlwind romance filled with family holidays, baggy sweaters, and a trip to the Rose Bowl hides what should have been obvious to Joel. His promise to love and cherish through sickness and health is tried and tested when he realizes the extent of Winnie’s illness. Can they pull through with a little help from their two best friends and modern medical treatment? Or will till death do us part come sooner than expected?
Book Club Discussion Questions: Which book should I write next and why?
Great news! Honarary Prince is now available as part of the Royal Family Saga Volume II and Volume III
Great news! Honorary Prince is now available as part of the Royal Family Saga Volume I on Amazon!