Kickstart Dance Studio owner Tatiana Anderson is excited about her squad’s upcoming competition at the Afro Caribbean Carnivale. Practicing day and night has her team in tip-top shape, and she’s confident they will take home the win. That is, until she discovers the rival dance studio across the street is who they’ll be facing off against.
And not only will they compete for the victory, but getting to know the leader, Messiah West, has Tatiana wondering if they’re battling for something a little more. Determined to ward off any sentiments of desire, Tatiana’s guard remains elevated. But Messiah’s perseverance is just as strong in his ambition to break down her walls.
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Hey reading family! The countdown is on. My newest standalone, Move Your Body, will be available THIS Thursday, 3/26!
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Keep reading and then make sure you pre-order. But before you do, check out this teaser.
He was sure she hadn’t heard the bell chime when he walked through her studio doors. It was most likely because of the upbeat Caribbean music that vibrated through surround sound speakers.
Standing at the entrance, off to the side that kept him hidden from the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, Messiah West watched Tatiana Anderson as her hips rotated, round and round, back dipping as her hands swayed with her motion. He instinctively began to move as his torso mimicked a few of her gyrating drifts while his gaze remained glued to her steps.
Messiah hadn’t meant to spy on Tatiana. His reasoning for being there was innocent, or so he told himself. In actuality, Messiah was looking for an excuse to present himself a bit more appropriately—because their initial meeting didn’t go as well as it was planned in his head.
A year ago, Messiah had been forced to break a lease on a studio with a landlord who he found was unceremoniously using the business for money laundering. And by unceremoniously, the feds had shown up at Messiah’s dance hall, questioning Messiah about his dealing with his now-ex-landlord.
The problems stemming from that situation had been odious, but the first thing on Messiah’s to-do list was to get as far away from his scamming landlord as fast as possible.
His only problem with that was trying to find a place suitable for his needs, and that wasn’t easy. As an A-list celebrity choreographer, Messiah needed not only a large floor plan, but his new location would require a friendly, yet secure neighborhood where his clients would have the pleasure to come and go without being bombarded by fans or paparazzi.
It had taken him six dreadful months when a friend of a friend introduced him to a building manager who was looking to sell his state-of-the-art dance facility. One look at the place and Messiah was sold.
But then another problem reared its ugly—or not-so-ugly—head. That problem came in the name of Tatiana Anderson. When Messiah first laid eyes on her beauty, unpleasantry was far from his mind. That was until he crossed the street to speak.
He would never forget that day.
The Chicago wind had been a soft flurry of ruffling as Messiah crossed the road. Tatiana watched him stroll forward, and Messiah wondered what the thought process was behind the way her eyes roamed from his dark brown eyes, past his bearded mouth and thick neck, to the stretch of his T-shirt over the hills of his shoulders to his washboard abdomen.
A grin arched at the corners of his mouth. Just as he jumped the curb and held out a hand, her pleasant semi-oval face, full lips, ebony nose, and cat-like eyes turned into a steely scowl. She folded her arms and leaned into a curvaceous hip that had been covered in skinny denim jeans.
Messiah’s grin dropped just a little, and with his greeting unaccepted, his hand lingered in the air.
Her eyes roamed over him again, then flipped over his shoulder to his building name that was strewn across the top of the door across the street.
“Move Your Body?” she questioned.
Messiah dropped his hand and took a glance over his shoulder before bringing his gaze back to her pecan skin and sharp cinnamon glare.
“Yes. I’m your new neighbor. I wanted to introduce myself since my dance studio is right across the way from yours.”
“That much I can see. But what kind of name is Move Your Body, anyway?”
Messiah’s hesitation was fleeting. “I thought it was fitting, considering my line of work.”
“Ah, yes, cute.”
She dropped her arms and reached for the entry to her door, dismissing him without so much as another word.
“I’m sorry, did I do something wrong here?” he asked.
Tatiana turned back around, studying him for a moment before she responded.
“Oh, I don’t know. I find it interesting that you found the only other dance studio in this area and moved yourself right across from it. But hey, it’s your choice, right?”
That’s when it hit Messiah, and a smile grew back across his face.
“Oh come on, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition,” he teased.
Tatiana swung the door open and entered her studio, the door slowly closing on a gust of hesitant wind.
“I was just kidding,” he said after her back, knowing she couldn’t hear him any longer.
The door shut that day on his promise to establish a better connection with Tatiana when the opportunity presented itself. But that day seemed to come and go as Tatiana made sure to get in or out without running into him. At least it felt that way to Messiah. But after noticing her leave the building alone for the last few nights, he thought it best to close early in the hopes that she would spare him the chance to assert himself again.
Watching Tatiana now Messiah knew was a dangerous thing. The last scenario he wanted was for her to believe he was a Peeping Tom. But unfortunately, he couldn’t take his gaze off of her routine, or the sway in her hips, and the passion with which she danced.
When the song faded on her final sway and dip, Messiah brought his hands together in applause, causing Tatiana to gasp and spin around so fast she almost became dizzy.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Messiah said, noticing how she covered her heart, eyes wide.
“You didn’t think sneaking up on a girl would startle her?”
“I didn’t sneak up, I—”
“Can I help you with something, Move Your Body?”
Messiah cracked a grin. She was determined to tease him about his studio name.
“Messiah.” He approached her slowly. “West.” He offered her a hand, and her eyes dropped to his open palm, consideration of accepting his greeting roaming through her eyes.
“That’s a nice name. What, you come here to save me, Messiah?” She cracked a smile at her joke, and Messiah’s gaze dimmed. His stare moved through Tatiana in a way she wished it wouldn’t.
“That depends,” his deep baritone murmured. “Do you need rescuing, Tatiana?”
A tinge of incandescent heat sprinted through Tatiana, but she kept her feet planted, determined not to let the desire that moved through her be made known. Her eyes traveled over his fresh low haircut, groomed facial hair, brown piercing soulful eyes, thick nose, and spreading full lips.
“How do you know my name?”
Messiah held on to a sexy smirk.
“Unfortunately, I had to research you since you refused to speak to me. I, unlike you, find pleasure in being well-informed on who my neighbors are. Can’t be moving across the way from a serial killer, you know.”
Tatiana pursed her lips, and her lids lowered to that glare he’d witnessed the first day they met.
“Thank you, by the way,” Messiah said quickly, wanting to stay on her good side before she had a mind to kick him out.
Her glare loosened, and her brows arched. “For what?”
“The compliment. You said I had a nice name. Tatiana is a beautiful name as well.”
He watched her breath quicken as she inhaled, indignantly attempting to hide her undeniable attraction to him. A gleam sailed through her cinnamon-brown eyes, and she turned her head, taking a look at her space as if she hadn’t seen it before—avoiding his eye contact.
“Your moves are professional. Are you the teacher here?”
The drum of his voice pulled her attention back to him.
“I am. I teach Monday through Friday.”
“So do I. Are your classes open to the public?”
“On Wednesdays. Any other day, you’ll need an appointment. Why, are you in need of a course?”
The rumbling undertone of his laugh made her belly flop.
“What’s so funny?”
His laugh faded into a singular grin. “I think I have it covered.”
“Is that so?”
He lifted a hand and rubbed his chin, making her eyes travel to his goatee.
“I think so.”
“Yeah, but there’s always room for improvement.” Her lashes fluttered. “You don’t think?” She stepped to him, getting into his personal space. “Oh, wait. You’re Messiah ‘Mr. Perfect’ West, Teacher of Hollywood and the like.” She nodded in her tease. “I get it now. You couldn’t possibly learn anything new.”
Messiah inhaled her fragrance. The smell of lavender and rose was brimming from her, even in her sweaty state at the end of her day. A hot balm of heat coursed through his veins, and he became entirely aware of her femininity.
The curve in her feline eyes, the vibrancy of cinnamon that glistened from her irises, the bridge of her ebony nose, the perfect circumference of her face…her upturned lashes fluttered right along with his heartbeat, and God help him if he wasn’t in trouble. His gaze ventured down her mocha neck; full, perky breasts; a flat yet wholesome waist that sprouted into full, rotund hips.
“You know what. On second thought, I could use a class or two,” his deep voice murmured.
Tatiana’s brows rose, and she smirked. “Let me check my schedule, and I’ll get back to you.”
“But…” He tugged his bottom lip with a nibble as he eyed the fullness of her mouth. “Today’s Wednesday, so…can’t you take me now?”
They stared at each other hotly, and Tatiana found herself stuck in a dilemma that she herself had created.