|An Excerpt From: CARNAL MOVES
Copyright © KOKO BROWN, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.
“Macy, ma cher!” Both of them turned toward the sound of a familiar Creole-tinged drawl. Madame Vellier was gorgeous. Macy tasted a tinge of jealousy as her dance instructor set aside a plastic service ladle, then scurried over to them. Poured into a black leotard and matching ankle-length skirt, she was rumored to be almost seventy. But she didn’t look a day over fifty with her olive skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom and auburn tresses only slightly streaked with gray.
“I’m so glad you decided to attend one of my monthly socials,” she purred, enveloping Macy into her customary hug of welcome and a kiss on each cheek. She repeated her greeting with Denise. “I see my nagging finally worked or you really must be interested in entering the Gumbo & Mambo Ballroom Invitational. You and Gideon will be perfect for the Bronze I category in the open dance. ”
“About that, Madame Vellier—”
“Don’t you worry your head none, ma cher. Gideon isn’t as far along as you are, but he’s a quick study. So much so, I think at times he uses a little black magic to keep up.” Madame Vellier chuckled, threading her arm with hers. “Of course, we only have seven months to prepare. But with a little coaching, a few hours of practice a week, you two can pull it off.”
While Madame Vellier steered them through the crowd, she chatted animatedly about the upcoming competition. Macy barely heard a word of it. Routinely hard on herself, she was so busy beating herself up for going along with Denise’s matchmaking-madness she didn’t notice when they stopped.
“I need to introduce you to Gideon. As usual he’s hemmed in by some poor creature trying to relive her youth.”
Standing head and shoulders over anyone in a five-block radius, Gideon Scratch was better suited to a World Wrestling Federation ring than the dance floor. Poured into a pair of black leather pants and a matching black t-shirt, he didn’t possess the model good-looks found in magazines or on romance covers. He was too bulky, his nose was slightly off-center and his upper arms were covered with elaborate tattoos.
“Mon Dieu! You don’t have to do this!” Denise hissed. “If I had known the cutie with a bootie was going to be Dr. Doom I would have left well enough alone.”
No, he would never land the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly. His imperfect features and inhuman size probably scared little children. But when he danced with a smiling senior citizen, he was divine. A contradiction to his large, muscular frame, his booted feet were unbelievably light and graceful. And his rocking hip movements could give Elvis a run for his money.
“It’s really amazing how far he’s come,” Madame Vellier remarked. “The first week his feet were heavier than two cannonballs.” She snapped her fingers. “Now he’s a two-hundred-pound, six-foot-four version of Gene Kelly.”
Macy nodded in agreement, even though she didn’t quite see eye to eye with Madame Vellier. Gideon couldn’t be pigeonholed. There wasn’t another man on the dance floor like him with his unnatural size and brawn, yet effortless grace. His every step, pivot and chasse hijacked Macy’s oxygen, reducing her to panting.
“Gene Kelly?” Denise snorted. “More like Sasquatch. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch this. I’m going to go round up Anton. Hopefully some toothless Betty hasn’t hemmed him up in some corner already.”
After Denise left, Madame Vellier turned to Macy. “Do you hold the same opinion as your friend? If so, I will not match you with Gideon. He keeps to himself, doesn’t talk much, but there is a vulnerability about him. I do not want to see his feelings hurt.”
“No!” Macy balked at her instructor’s assumption. “I’ve been an admirer of his for quite some time…of his dancing, I mean.” She’d almost given herself away!
“Since that’s settled, in between numbers we’re going to have to move fast.” With a nod of her head, Madame Vellier pointed out a group of elderly women standing nearby. “Sadie and the rest of the chicken coop have claimed Gideon as theirs, sometimes tying him up for the entire evening. Poor dear. It happens every single time he comes to one of my socials, but he still shows up. Bless his soul.”
As if hearing their conversation, Gideon turned his head in their direction. The driving rhythm of the Cha Cha Cha and Madame Vellier’s nonstop chatter faded into the periphery of Macy’s consciousness like late night TV static. Everything ceased to exist except for a six foot plus agile behemoth with a pair of dazzling golden brown eyes. When they fell on Madame Vellier, recognition flashed in their golden depths, while a friendly smile transformed the harsh slash of his mouth, softening his brutish features.
Madame Vellier might not be the usual competition, but the other woman’s ability to draw Gideon’s attention elicited a streak of envy so wide she could barely see reason. When Madame Vellier lifted a graceful arm and waved, she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from leaving the woman with only a stub.
Macy frowned. What in the heck had come over her? As the third of four girls, she lived by the mantra share and share alike. She’d never had a problem with it.
She didn’t want to share Gideon with anyone, not even with someone forty-six years her senior and harmless like Madame Vellier.
The thought of having Gideon all to herself turned her into one giant hormone. That made her feel like menopause was knocking five years too early as an inexplicable heat burned the back of her neck, pebbled her forehead. She even started to step from side to side in time with the music, her palms running up and down her thighs. Great. I’m acting like those white-collar junkies I interviewed for my front page expose “Scoring from the Medicine Cabinet”!
Macy’s thoughts suddenly careened off track. She’d become the object of her malaise’s attention. Too bad her body remained on course by responding to his come hither smile and slight nod of acknowledgement with a pair of hardened nipples and slickness between her thighs.
She shifted her stance to squelch the evidence. Not working! She tried looking away from the crux of her dilemma. Still not working! Some inexplicable pull was preventing her from breaking eye contact.
To compound matters, the center of her quandary didn’t like her attentions. His eyebrows flat lined and his mouth tipped into a frown. Knowing that disapproving look all too well, since her ex practically trademarked it, Macy’s blood ran cold.
She didn’t blame him. Who would find her extra pounds attractive, even if hers placed her in the lower end of the obesity column? He was so repulsed he even closed his eyes to block out her heavy cleavage and rounded hips.
As if released from some kind of spell, Macy turned to her instructor. “Could you excuse me, Madame Vellier? I…ugh…I need to use the ladies room.”
“But I was just about to introduce you to—” Macy didn’t stick around to hear the rest, instead she hightailed it to the nearest exit.
Like most traditional dance studios, the bathrooms were located inside the dressing rooms. Making a beeline down the hall, Macy barged inside. She skirted around a line to the toilets and took refuge on a rose-colored sofa in the lounge.
“Fine job acting like the fearless Times-Picayune reporter your readers believe you to be. One mishap and you’re hid—”
“Hiding in the bathroom, young lady?” Macy eyes widened. She hadn’t seen anyone when she came in, especially not the octogenarian sitting at the other end of the couch. Her eyes watery with age and wispy sprigs of white hair covering her pate, the woman resembled a giant-size Yoda without all the green skin.
“Yes and talking to myself to boot,” Macy muttered. “Maybe I should be committed.”
The woman waved a fragile hand in the air as if talking to oneself was the most ordinary thing in the world. “Don’t worry your head none. We all do it. Unfortunately it gets worse with age. If you don’t mind me asking, why is a pretty thing like you holed up in here? If it makes you more comfortable, the names Gertrude Smite, my friends call me Gertie.”
“I’m Macy, ma’am. Macy Beaumont. Nice to meet you.” Gertrude smiled. Slightly taken aback, Macy marveled at how white the woman’s teeth were, considering she looked older than the tree of life. “I wasn’t actually hiding. It was more like running.”
“From something or someone?”
Macy turned toward her. “Not exactly.” The old woman suddenly squeezed her eyes shut and appeared to be in the throes of a heart attack. “Gertie, are you okay?”
Worried for her companion, she stood up to go get help. But Gertie’s eyes popped open, as if awakening from a deep sleep, her golden brown gaze both heavy-lidded and listless.
“I’m fine, child. Just a little spell. Happens all the time. Now why don’t you sit on down and tell old Gertie your troubles.” The old woman patted the cushion. Meant to be a reassuring gesture, Macy wasn’t comforted.
“Are you sure? I can go get Dr. LaCroix?” Macy remembered seeing the young, emergency-room doctor standing on the edges of the dance floor, ready to jump in if anyone needed his assistance.
Gertie shook her head. “I’m fine, young lady. I don’t need the young doctor and neither do you. Now sit down.”
Macy seesawed between finding the doctor and being polite. “I’ll sit down if you promise me you won’t keel over again.”
The old woman chuckled. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Not exactly what I was hoping to hear, but I guess it’ll do.” With a heavy sigh, Macy plopped back down. “I wasn’t hiding, I was running from something. Me. My best friend duped me into coming tonight. On top of that, she arranged for me to become dance partners with this guy I have a mega crush on. At times I can be quite fanciful, but when he looked at me like my name should be Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Great Adventure, I lost it. I had a panic attack and ran in here.”
Gertie’s unusually large hands worked the worn pommel of her cane. “Why didn’t you stick around and give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just as disturbed by your reaction.”
“I didn’t think of that,” Macy mumbled, realizing she hadn’t been the proverbial smiling contessa herself. More like a gasping fish out of water. Macy sat back with a groan. “I guess I’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill.”
“You haven’t reached the summit of Mount Everest, but it’s close. I think you could rectify things by going out there and facing your demons.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“It is easy. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and you’re half way there.”
Macy ruminated over the old woman’s wisdom. No matter how much she turned it over in her head, Gertie was right. She’d jumped the gun too soon by prejudging her partner. So what if he wasn’t attracted to her, there were plenty of other fish in the Mississippi.
Resolved, Macy stood up. “Wish me luck, Ms. Gertie.”
The old sage chuckled, her eyes wrinkling in a half-a-dozen folds. “I don’t think you’ll need wishes or luck. I have a feeling this one is destiny.”
If Macy hadn’t been born and raised in New Orleans, she would’ve thought the old woman slightly off her rocker. Since she was weaned on superstition, teethed on mysticism and baptized in spiritualism, she didn’t bat an eye when they exchanged cordial goodbyes.
“Madame Vellier, I’m terribly sorry for my rudeness,” Macy rehearsed, squeezing past an even longer line to the toilets. And as she pushed on the bathroom door, “You know when a girl has to go a girl has to—”
“Do you know it’s rude to stare and run?” The oxygen rushed out of Macy’s lungs as Gideon Scratch pushed away from the wall to stand over her. If the hall wasn’t narrow enough, his presence alone shrank it to the size of an airplane bathroom.
“I-I wasn’t running,” she stuttered. Uneasy, Macy took a step back.
“You’re running now.” An unnatural light entered his eyes as he bridged the distance between them. Even though her silver dance heels elevated her average height a good three inches, Macy still had to strain her head back.
Not quite used to a man his size, she almost took a step back, but her pride alone squelched the urge. “No, I’m not,” she replied, squaring her shoulders.
A small smile played along his lips. Macy’s stomach pitched.
“Since you’re not running, then this is the perfect opportunity to convince you to become my partner for the Gumbo & Mambo Ballroom Invitational.”
Macy massacred the groan on the tip of her tongue as images of the kind of partnering she was interested in frolicked through her mind. One with her legs thrown over the back of the couch with him crouching over her looked too complicated to be pleasurable.
Ashamed of her x-rated thoughts, Macy looked down at her feet. “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” she murmured.