Mad About the Boy by Suzan Battah (Excerpt/Giveaway)

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Excerpt:

Chris zipped through the late afternoon traffic, relaxed but in control as he maneuvered past a slow driver. They arrived at the dance studio in record time.
“I’ve been learning to dance for nearly a year. An ex-girlfriend of mine recommended I learn. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you another time.” He took her hand as they walked up the stairs together, a spark zapped between them, the loud pumping of music filtering down the winding stairs.
“It should be fun.” Julia entered the studio after Chris opened the door for her. “I love the tango. It’s a favorite dance of mine.”
Chris spoke in a confidingly low tone, “Rosie is very passionate about the tango. She is getting impatient, ready to push me off the second floor. You’ll have to tell me because I’m certain she’s swearing at me in Spanish.”
Rosetta was the middle-aged Argentinean woman Julia had seen him with the other day, and the owner of the dance studio. She got excited when she recognized Julia’s Latino heritage.
Rosie gestured to Chris. “He can move, but he can’t dance. I am so frustrated. I can see his passion, but it is not there in his dancing,” Rosie confessed in Spanish. “Maybe you can help with that.”
Julia shook her head in wonder. Talk about getting toknow someone. Now she was expected to incite Chris’ passion to dance. Rosie was looking at her with such hope.
He stood back, his arm loosely wrapped around Julia’s shoulder, an amused look on his face. Rosie continued to wave her arms about, slapping Chris on the arm when she caught on to his underlying humor.
“No wonder Carmella sent you to dance lessons. Now you are not even releasing the passion. We already discussed this, Christophe!” Rosie punched him in the arm when he just rolled his eyes at her.
“I’m trying! Come on, give a man a break.” Chris jumped back reflexively when Rosie went to hit him again.
“What am I meant to do with you?” Rosie grumbled, glaring at him and folding her arms across her large chest.
“Releasing the passion?” Julia grinned, raising a brow at him skeptically.
Chris coughed, trying in vain to stop Rosetta’s explanation. But he ended up hanging his head with a look of devastation on his face.
Rosetta smirked and explained, “For Christophe, dancing is a way to control and release his passion. He is too feisty and dramatically over-sexed sometimes.”
Julia’s eyes widened, surprised by the intimate confession, her face heating up. He’s dancing to release and control his passion!
“Well, it’s…it’s…not… what are you saying this for, Rosie?” Chris muttered annoyed, for the first time since Julia had met him, he faltered, his face darkened with embarrassment. He was mortified, could not even look at her.
Julia took pity. She understood what Rosie meant. She gave Chris an empathetic look, believing Rosie would move onto a different subject seeing how uncomfortable she was making him. Julia was wrong.
“Carmella, his ex-girlfriend, sent him straight to me. Dancing is a great way to release all that tension, the passion built up in you. The improvement has only worked slightly, huh, Christophe?” Rosetta winked and elbowed him in the belly. “You need something more than this old woman to release that pent up…”
“Rosie.” He frowned giving her a warning look. “I’m not that bad.”
Julia grinned. Chris looked down at her with an uneasy smile, the tension ebbing away.
“Yes, well that is debatable. Dancing has improved you greatly, but if you’re going to dance, you need to release it more. Only a woman can help with that.” Rosie turned away to clap for some change of music.
Chris murmured in a low, seductive tone, “Rosie, you said that I’m a hopeless dancer because I need the inspiration of a fiery woman. I have my inspiration, now teach me to dance. You’re the only one who can!”
Rosetta started giggling and blushed red. In that moment, Julia knew one thing about Chris: he made sure everyone around him felt special.
“He’s so cheeky.” Rosie poked him in the belly, fanning her face. “See, too over-sexed.”
Julia felt like fanning herself, also.
But before the dance lesson could start, Chris’ cell phone buzzed. “Excuse me. I won’t be long.” He took the phone call outside on the balcony, sliding the glass door shut behind him.
Rosetta took Julia’s hand, leading her to the middle
of the dance floor. Speaking in her own language, she confided the issue with Chris’ learning. “You see that. We are talking about passion, and what does he do! He walks off and hides with his cell phone. What are we to do with him?”
Julia shrugged. “He looks like he’s a good dancer being a typically immaculate perfectionist.”
Rosetta shrugged. “Oh, he is very good, very good indeed at learning steps. Yet he does not bring forth the fire and passion in the dance. I wish for him to feel the dance, be drawn into the dance. It won’t work otherwise.”
Julia inclined her head. “You mean he really is dancing to control his passion?”
Rosie laughed a deep, husky sound. “Of course he is! Even if he denies it, it is the truth. Apart from making love, what better way to release passion than to dance?”
Curious, Julia tried not to seem so nosey when she asked, “So his ex-girlfriend thought Chris needed to release pent-up passion. He seems so controlled all the time, knowing exactly what he wants.”
Rosetta scoffed. “He may appear to be, but it’s not all what it seems to be. I’ve known Christophe for a year. Anyway, dancing helps him relax as well. He enjoys much dance.”
Julia was amazed by the discovery of Chris’ weakness. She was intrigued.
“Argentine tango comes from the belly and the heart,” Rosie continued. “It burns within and needs more than just the steps to become a dance. Explain to him, in English. He will like that coming from a lover.”
“Oh, we’re not lovers.” Julia was quick to point that
out, not wanting rumors to get started. “We’ve only just met.”
“Really?” Rosie looked her over, unbelieving. “Well, you will be lovers, maybe soon. There is passion between you and him. His eyes burn fire when he looks at you, my sweet.” She squeezed Julia’s arm. “Have you danced the Argentine tango before?”
Julia shook her head. “I used to dance about a year ago at another studio. Also in my teens I was a regular at dance classes.”
“What dances?” Rosetta led her toward the dance floor.
“Ballroom and Latin dances.”
The door clicked loudly open as Chris came back into the studio. He stopped at the door, switching his phone off and slipping it into his back pocket. Then his gaze was on Julia, an open question in his eyes. Rosetta gave her a wicked smile and nudge to her elbow, saying low in accented English, “You can see he burns for you. He is the fire and you are the candle. You will melt when he lights you.”
She noticed every determined, purposeful movement of his body, and the quick smile as he looked over at Rosetta. Julia couldn’t respond. Her breath caught in her throat, her skin tingling to be touched. She felt his presence the moment he came to stand beside her.
“Would you like me to translate what you said?” Julia asked. She couldn’t even look at him, or she’d blush from what she was thinking. “About dancing.”
“Yes! Explain for me.” Rosetta pulled Chris’ elbow so that he was positioned in front of Julia.
Still blushing, Julie mumbled, “Rosie thinks you lack passion in your dance. Your steps are good, but
that does not make a dance a dance, or a man a dancer. Feel the music, here and here.” The words emboldened her, and she came closer, placing her left hand on his abdomen and right hand on his heart. She heard him suck in a breath at her touch, and she felt her own power. “Let the music lead you, and your passion lead your partner.”
Rosetta clapped her hands in delight at Julia’s interpreted instructions for Chris. Then she headed over to the stereo to set some music up. “Now Julia has confessed she has learnt ballroom and Latin dances before, so I don’t think it should take too long to get her into the rhythm again. Give me half an hour with Julia, so she is ready for you, and that way, when you dance with each other, it will be just magic.”
After working vigorously with Julia, Rosie cut their lesson short. Julia’s natural ability to dance and follow a partner was clear, so Rosetta called Chris over to take the lead. Then she smiled and bowed herself away, encouraging them to come together.
Julia watched him approach, careful not to give away the yearning desire to be wrapped in his arms. The music started with the soft whistle of a violin. Chris stepped into her personal space and the temperature rose between them. His eyes burned into her. Without missing a beat, he took her hand in his, firm and strong. His right arm slid beneath her elbow to rest his hand on her back, in the middle of her shoulder blades, where he could lead her movements by pressing his hand in gentle guidance.
The deep sounds of a piano and bass joined the violin. Then, while her heartbeat thrummed in rhythm to the music, the accordion’s haunting pitch joined in.
She could feel the power in his body, and the intensity in his look was all that was needed to reel her into his mesmerizing spell.
With slow movements, he guided her across the floor in perfect time and deliberate precision. The tempo of the music changed, becoming more dramatic. His leg came out to stop her foot and she made a sharp flick of her leg, moving to the side around him.
She could hear Rosetta’s delighted squeal faintly in the background. But Julia’s attention was focused on Chris, allowing the music to take her to a new level. She could feel his breath on her face, sending shivers down her spine. They pressed closer still, leaning into each other as they moved around the floor, oblivious to the sudden audience of students watching them. They might only be using basic movements, but it was the connection between them that showed such a passionate dance.
The music peaked, exploding with striking sound around them. He lifted her off her feet for a moment and spun her around and then dipped her low, his hand gripping her bent thigh. When his cheek pressed to hers, she dared a caress by running her fingers over his neck and shoulder.
When the music ended, she felt breathless. If he would just look at her, she told herself, looking up at him, if he would turn ever so slightly, she could kiss him, just a quick kiss. He straightened, bringing her back up.
They were both surprised by the noisy whistles, stomps, and applause erupting throughout the studio. Rosetta was looking on proudly, but she approached them now, beaming and holding out her hands wide.
She embraced Julia, kissing her on both cheeks with a loud smack. “You have made the man a dancer. The passion released! He just needed you. Oh, the excitement! This is only your first dance. Let’s keep going and teach you some more.”
Chris started laughing. But an hour later, they were both exhausted and exhilarated from the experience of dancing together. Julia found Chris to be one of the best dance partners she’d ever had. He might have only a year of dance experience under his belt, but he was a natural. She had always needed a strong partner, one who could lead. Chris had the confidence and stamina to keep her very happy on the dance floor.
As they were finishing, a group of young girls and guys were making a racket coming up the internal stairs. Rosetta silenced them with a lot of shushing while she tried to keep focused on the couple in their last practice. As the music slowed and came to a halt, Rosetta started applauding very loudly. She jumped from her seat to come over and clap Chris on the back, giving Julia an excited squeeze of her hand.
“You have improved so much, Chris. I am very impressed, and I think it has a lot to do with this beautiful woman. She will have to come with you to your lessons, huh. No arguments.”
Julia had enjoyed every minute of the dance lesson, especially as her connection with Chris grew stronger. She had never felt so alive.
When they left the studio, on a complete high, Julia couldn’t stop smiling. Her stomach fluttered as he reached for her hand, pulling her in close to his body.
“I’m starving,” he whispered. “Are you hungry?” As he opened the car door for her, she said, “How
about something take away?” “What about a Sub sandwich?” He suggested with
enthusiasm. “Sure.”
They stopped at a local Subway for a couple of foot- long subs. Chris then drove her to the pier where they sat on a bench overlooking the water. He dug into his jam-packed sub, chewing loudly. Julia grinned at the way he ate hungrily, but she was a bit more reserved in her enthusiasm.
With one arm around the back of the bench, Chris gave her his full attention. They talked about where they grew up. Though they came from different lifestyles, they found they had many things in common.
“My father thinks I’m being risky with the Augustine Hotels,” he confessed suddenly. “Do you think I’m risking the reputation of the Augustine with the changes? Will I lose our clients?”
Julia’s mouth dropped. She was a little shocked. “No, definitely not. Renovations always breathe new life into places. I’m sure he just wants you to be careful. Taking over such an elaborate enterprise isn’t easy.”
“My father has been ill for over a year now. He passed everything over to me. I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Chris said with a faraway look. “Sometimes I get sick and tired of trying to prove myself. Everyone wants to see me fail.”
Julia rubbed his arm. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I was top of my classes in renovation. I’ve got insider information on the best designs. The Augustine was brilliant before, really elegant. And once I’m done, the Augustine will shine like a massive diamond. It will still be the classiest place to stay at in all of Florida.
Everyone will be checking in. And I mean everyone.” The tension in his body eased. She knew he had been splattered across the tabloids for his business decisions, and admittedly some had been not so good. Several well-respected business professionals had berated his choices publicly. He was obviously struggling with the
idea of changing the image. “What are your thoughts on not completely shutting
down the whole hotel to finish the renovation?” He asked.
“Well, to be honest, it’s risky. We have to be on schedule at every point. The entrance will be done in record time. But we’re not painting every room. I have to be honest, anyone staying during the time we renovate may not like it. We have to ensure constant safety. Don’t worry, I won’t let you down,” she declared with absolute confidence.
Chris finished his sandwich first. Then they just sat there, gazing out at the ocean, comfortable in each other’s company. The view out onto the water was magnificent as the sun burned orange going down over the horizon.
“I love watching the sun go down,” he said, glancing her way. “I hate for our date to end.”
“I had a real good time, thank you.” She wiped her hands on a napkin, satisfied with how their second date was turning out.
Chris’ eyes darkened and his smile turned sensual. “I’m glad you had a good time. At least you enjoyed the food.” He gestured to her mouth, his eyes focused on her lips. “You have a bit of sauce on your lip. Let me get that for you.”
Her heart beat wildly as he slowly came closer.
Before she could even wipe it away, he moved within an inch of her lips. His eyes sent a thrill of desire through her veins.
When his hand came around her neck, the tips of his fingers caressing her nape, she sighed. He moved in, watching her reaction as the tip of his tongue and lips met the corner of her mouth, sucking the offending sauce clean.
She felt the sensation through her whole body, closing her eyes. She gripped his thigh, sighing with complete pleasure, feeling the moment as if he had kissed her very lips.
She licked where he had kissed, the taste of him there, the fluttering in her belly burning deep.
“Mmmm.” He played with the tips of her fingers, a hint of a smile on his lips.
“That was a cheesy line,” she whispered, wishing he would kiss her for real.
“It worked, didn’t it?” He chuckled.
His arms came around her to pull her closer, so their bodies pressed together. She watched him, his gaze lowered to her lips before glancing back at her. There was a sensual heat yearning within the depths of his eyes.
He didn’t have to say anything. She knew his desire was real. The temperature went up a notch with delicious heat. All it took was her hand rubbing his thigh, the slight tilt of her head to encourage him to lean in for a proper kiss.
At first she pressed softly, savoring the taste of him. Then as his mouth opened, the tip of her tongue stroked his. The sound of his groan caught between her lips. She deepened the kiss as their desire took over, driving
out all rational thoughts. He pulled away, looking down at her beneath
lowered lashes. She could see he was fighting for control. “Again,” she demanded.
His lips met hers in a soft duel. He managed to maneuver her onto his lap, his arms coming around her in a close embrace. As he slowed the kiss and broke away, his finger came up to touch her lips. “Julia, my Julia. When do I get to spend some more time with you?”
Surprised at his ability to make her forget reality, she made a most terrible blunder when she opened her mouth and blurted out, “Well, maybe we shouldn’t be so hasty. We’re both really busy and now I’ve got the Augustine contract, we can’t muck around.”
His smile disappeared, his jaw tensed as he stared back at her. Julia hoped he couldn’t feel her heart pumping beneath her ribs as she moved off his lap.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to visit Suzan Battah’s Website http://www.suzanbattah.com Follow her on Twitter @suzanbattah Join her on http://www.facebook.com/suzan.battah Please leave a review of Mad About the Boy, and once again thank you for reading!

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