|Название||The Price Of His Redemption|
|Автор произведения||Carol Marinelli|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
‘We were seriously limping along by then.’ She thought back to that time—the constant knot in her stomach at the juggling of too many balls. It had been a relief when the relationship ball had finally fallen and she could fully immerse herself in dance. ‘Apparently I was too focused on my career.’
‘Instead of him?’ Daniil checked, and Libby nodded. ‘That’s his issue.’
‘Perhaps,’ she sighed. ‘I keep telling myself that.’
‘Then, it’s time to start believing it.’
The waiter came and Libby ordered the French onion soup as her main and Daniil asked for two steaks and a green salad.
When they were alone she looked back at him. ‘Two?’
‘I have a big appetite,’ he said, and then admitted that he was curious about her order. ‘I’m surprised that you didn’t ask for them to leave off the cheese and bread. Isn’t that what most ballet dancers do?’
‘Ha.’ Libby gave a wry smile. ‘Unfortunately the only time I’m not hungry is when I’m anxious or stressed. The moment I’m happy I’m constantly starving. How did you know I was a dancer?’
‘You were trying very hard to keep your legs parallel and not walk like a duck when you came into my office.’
Oh. Her thighs were definitely parallel now—in fact, they were squeezed tightly together just from the delicious brush of his knees.
‘Professional?’ Daniil asked.
‘Ex.’ For the first time he saw that happy smile waver. ‘Well, I guess I shall be again soon but in a different way—I’m looking at two rentals tomorrow so that I can start my own dance school. You know the saying, those that can’t, teach.’
‘That doesn’t sound like something you would say to somebody else,’ Daniil observed.
‘No,’ Libby admitted.
‘So why do you say it about yourself?’
‘I’m guess I’m not where I’d hoped to be.’
For the first time conversation faltered.
Libby took a large slug of champagne before speaking. ‘My biggest part never happened...’ She saw his small frown. ‘I was understudy once. You know when they say, “Break a leg”? Well, I meant it. But, of course, she didn’t.’
‘You never meant it.’
‘No,’ she admitted. ‘I’d have loved her to get at least one migraine, though.’
Daniil smiled and now so did she.
‘Look, I’ve accepted that the small roles I get aren’t going to lead to anything bigger. I love ballet, seriously I do, but it’s not everything. It’s almost everything but if you want to go far then that’s what it has to be. I’ve also had a couple of injuries that I haven’t come back from...’
‘You never want to see my feet,’ she said.
‘Oh, but I do.’
Said feet’s toes were curling at another press of his knee, so much so she was almost tempted to flick off her shoe and place it in his lap.
‘Anyway, the last fracture I had demanded rest and you just can’t. You have to push through but I realised that I can’t keep doing it any more. I know I’m not going to go far, at least not anywhere that’s going to pay more than my rent, so I’ve been studying to teach. I’m actually excited about it now. I’ve had my depression.’
‘You thought that your life was over?’
‘Oh, yes,’ she readily agreed, because for months she had not been able to imagine leaving her dream behind, but now, well, she was happy with what she’d achieved and excited for all that was to come.
There was an ache there—that she would never be a part of a big production again, never audition—but she avoided touching it for now.
‘And so tomorrow you look at places to open your own dance school?’
‘Good luck, then.’ He raised his glass and they chinked them.
The soup was sublime, the crust perfect, and she poked a hole to get to the lovely brown broth beneath.
‘Tell me about the places you are looking at tomorrow,’ he said.
‘Well, there’s one not very far from where you work and it has the rent to prove it. Then there’s one in the East End, which I can afford and it already has mirrors...’
‘So it was once a dance studio?’
‘Why did it close down?’
Her spoon paused midway to her mouth. ‘Don’t spoil my appetite.’
‘No, these are the questions that you need to ask. Trust me, I know these things.’
She gave him a tight smile. ‘I don’t think teeny-tiny dance studios are your area of expertise...’
‘Business is business.’
‘Perhaps, but it’s very personal to me.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with being personal,’ he said. His knees did not dust hers now, they were there touching hers and pressing in a little and, yes, they were officially flirting, and if he could be nosey then so could she. ‘How did you get your scar?’
He gave a tiny shake of his head as a response.
No evasiveness, no excuses, just a tiny shake of his head that told her not to go there.
It intrigued her, though.
The scar was jagged and raised and, given his billions, Libby wondered why he didn’t get it tidied up.
His teeth were beautifully capped—well, she assumed that they were because no genes were that good—and clearly, from everything else she could see, from his immaculate hair to his exquisitely cut suit, Daniil took care of his appearance.
Apart from that scar.
They chatted, or rather she did. He was extraordinarily good at getting information out of her. Where she lived, where she’d gone to school, where she’d danced.
And as he went to top up her glass and only a trickle came out, she realised most of the conversation had been about her.
‘I’ll get more,’ he said, about to call for a waiter, but Libby stopped him.
‘Not for me—I’d pass out.’
He saw the wrestling in those lovely blue eyes. Libby knew their time was up, yet she simply couldn’t walk away.
The menus came again and she looked through her choices, tempted to order the chocolate soufflé, just to prolong the inevitable end.
‘Crême brulée,’ Libby settled for instead. ‘You?’
It was eight twenty-seven when her dessert was served and it was already over.
‘Nice?’ Daniil asked.
‘Very.’ Libby nodded, yet she could more than sense his distraction. He glanced out to the street and once more she saw him check the time.