I am starting a new feature on my blog for upcoming releases that I am excited to read and want to make sure are on your radar! This week I'm featuring DEATH DANCER by Tara Lain.
A tattooed dancer and a by-the-book detective dance with death in the ego-fueled halls of ballet.
Bad boy of ballet Valentin ‘Val’ Aalto stands poised on the verge of huge success—except for one big obstacle. Influential lead dancer Harry Hardesty hates Val and cheats him out of the lead in Romeo and Juliet.
When Hardesty winds up dead, Val looks like a prime suspect—and gets thrown under the detailed and methodical inspection of the handsome NY detective with the stick up his butt, Andrew Preston. At first, Preston believes Hardesty may be the victim of the chilling Dancer Killer who’s struck three victims, but evidence stacks up against Val.
Still, Andrew can’t seem to keep his hands off his suspect and when the Dancer Killer starts stalking Val, Andrew is forced to choose between his dedication to a job he loves and his growing passion for his beautiful dancer. Together Val and Andrew discover that chaos can be beautiful, one should choose desserts wisely, and love can even trump death in the rehearsal halls of ballet.
I asked Tara a few questions about her upcoming release, and am so excited to also share an excerpt with you!
DEATH DANCER EXCERPT
His eyes opened wide. Dark. Why am I awake? He shivered. No so-called uncles trying to slip in beside him or boys sneaking in to drop ice in his bed.
A sound, between a scratch and a squeak, sent the feel of that long-remembered ice down his back. Don’t move yet.
Squrunch. Woosh, Squrucnch.
Where? The door? Too close. The window then?
Shit, the branch Andrew had freaked over. Val’s heart slammed so hard it had to make a sound. The sheets over him actually shook.
He snaked out a hand and grabbed his cell phone. He pulled it under the covers. Speed dial, baby.
One ring. Two. Three— “Preston.” Thanks for police reflexes.
He put his head under the covers and whispered, “Andrew. It’s me.”
“I know. Why are you whispering? What’s wrong?”
“Someone’s trying to break in, I think.”
“Shit. Jump out of bed. Yell into the phone. Make it clear you’re talking to the police. Turn on all the lights. Now. Go.”
Val threw back the covers, grabbed for the bedside light and flipped it on, half expecting to see some killer standing in his room, but nobody. “Police. Get here now! Someone’s breaking into my apartment. Hurry. Please!” He raced around the apartment, turning on every light.
Andrew’s voice, panting. “What do you see?”
“Nothing. No one’s here.”
“Look out the window, but stand back in case he has a gun.”
“No, it’s okay. Don’t do it.”
“Hell.” He sidled to the window, pulled back the blinds and looked out. A sliver of light from his apartment shone into the darkness outside, although darkness was relative and his street pretty much never got more than dim. Staring between the buildings, he might have caught a glimpse of movement below, but it could have been a cat or a shadow. “I don’t see anything.”
A siren cut through the general noise of traffic that created the background of Val’s world. Nothing unusual about sirens, but this one got closer. Andrew was still breathing hard. Was he running? Val looked again. “I hear the black and whites.”
“Yeah. Just pulled up in front of your building, I think. They’ll buzz. Don’t let them in until I tell you.” The tinny squawk of a police radio sounded in the background. Andrew seemed to be talking. He came back on the cell. “Have they buzzed?”
The buzzer sounded.
“Yeah. Just now.”
“Okay. Let them in. I’ll be there in a second.”
Val started to the door where the buzzer was, stopped and laughed.
“I forgot I’m bare-assed. I’d better grab my jeans fast. See you in a second.” Still chuckling, he hit the buzzer, grabbed his pants from the floor and was zipping them as the police knocked on his door. New stair speed records. He opened.
The young female cop’s eyes widened just a little. “Valentin Aalto?”
“I understand you had an attempted break-in?” Two male cops in uniform stood behind her.
“I think so, but I’m not sure. Come in while I grab a shirt.”
Her half smile said ‘not on my account’, but she didn’t voice it. “Tell me what happened, sir.”
He pulled a long-sleeved T-shirt over his head. “I was asleep. I’m a light sleeper. I woke up and heard a strange sound, like a scrunching and a squeaking. I might not have thought anything about it since I’d double-locked the door, but An— Detective Preston inspected this apartment and suggested the limbs on the tree outside should be cut since they hang near the apartment windows. I got worried and called him.”
“Why didn’t you dial nine-one-one?”
Val speared her with his eyes. “I’m a dancer with the NYBT. Detective Preston is investigating the murders of dancers. He was my first thought. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course not.” She turned to the male officers. “Check the tree and the area around it. The apartment window from the outside also, although we may have to come back with a ladder. I’ll look at it from in here.”
“No, thank you, Officer. I will.”
Oh, man, was Andrew a sight to make a scared dancer’s heart go pitty-pat.