Twenty-one hours later, Molly wondered what the hell she was doing as she climbed the stairs to the dance studio in cute workout clothes. She tried to keep up with Nell, who moved with a purpose as if she were on her way to see the maharishi with water jugs balanced on a pole over her shoulders.
This guy better be worth it.
The pulse of the sensual salsa beat filled the halls from the open double doors as they entered the large dance studio. Several different couples moved in synchronization to the exotic rhythm.
The instructor stopped the music and turned around. “No, no, no, listen up. I have a dream.”
Well, damn. Nell hadn’t exaggerated. His colorful, rich accent made Antonio Banderas sound like Pee-Wee Herman. His parents were either very good-looking people, or the man had been sculpted by angels.
Nell nudged Molly. “I have a dream too. It involves his ass out of those black pants, and right where I can squeeze it,” she whispered.
Molly stifled a laugh, tapped Nell’s arm with the back of her hand, and mouthed, Stop it
Nell looked pleased.
Jorge motioned around. “Everyone, change partners. Right now.” The dancers looked around at one another awkwardly. “It wasn’t an invitation, people. Switch. I’ll count to ten, and if I see anyone with a partner of the same race, no lessons for a week. You look like couples out of The Lawrence Welk Show
. You keep this up, and I’ll have Tyrone tap-dance with a handkerchief and scat in a second. Let’s go. Vámonos, vámonos.
” The couples moved around until they were all of mixed ethnicity and size.
“Excellent,” Jorge said.
He paced by them and shot Nell a charged look. Nell ducked her head. Molly smiled. He definitely wanted Nell.
Jorge focused on his dance group as he walked through them. “Now, like Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. My dream is to see beautiful cultures come together. I want to see Donny Osmond doing the wild salsa with Beyoncé. I want to see Jay-Z dance the cha-cha with Melissa McCarthy.¿Los entiendes?
” A few chuckles scattered around the room, accompanied by nods. “Maravilloso.
” He hit a button on the MP3 player in the corner, and the music restarted. “Now dance.”
As soon as the music began, Jorge slunk toward Molly and Nell. His sinewy muscles and tight glutes emitted rampant sexual energy. Nell’s attraction to him from beside her permeated the air with desire.
“Your names?” he asked, and it came out Jour names?
“Molly Ivers, and this is Nell Fischer,” she replied to save Nell from stammering.
“I am Jorge,” he announced with flare.
“Jorge…?” Molly waited for a last name. He stood there with blatant masculinity as he sized them up. He walked slowly around them, a hunter circling his prey.
Nell leaned toward Molly. “It’s simply Jorge, like Madonna. One word. Just Jorge.” She purred with a rolled “r.” “Hey, Molls, you don’t think he’s gay, do you?”
Molly watched uncertainly as Jorge pulled a jerky movement with his butt to the music. He swiveled his hips around with his hands in the air and halted with his pelvis raised. She cleared her throat. “Um, if he’s not, he’s one hell
of a secure guy. Either way, you have my blessing.”
They watched Jorge dance flawlessly around the floor with one of the female dancers, and Molly knew Nell would nail him.
Jorge introduced Molly and Nell to the class, and Molly did her best to keep up as she danced, amused. Nell flirted, but she had a good head on her shoulders and didn’t choose men lightly, so this must be about more than the sex.
Molly laughed as they made their way to the parking lot after class. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you this far gone over someone.”
“Girl, I’m not that far gone. I’m…intrigued.”
“What about you, anyway? How are you doing since the breakup?”
Molly shrugged as they made their way to Nell’s car. “It’s fine. I feel better as a single person. I’m used to Sean and his texts about random, stupid things or general complaints about Obama. It’s nice not to be bombarded with them, truth be told. Come with me out to the club tonight?”
Nell looked at her skeptically as they got in and she started the car. “Should I put out an announcement? Listen to this, world! Hear ye, hear ye! Miss Molly Ivers, study woman extraordinaire, who would rather waste away in the library with book boyfriends and cheap crackers and spray-on cheese than go on a weekend road trip to Washington, has asked to go to the club tonight!
Girl, who are you, and what have you done with my best friend?”
Molly shrugged. “I need to let loose, okay? Graduation’s around the corner, I’m free of Sean, and I just finished my thesis defense. I’d say I’ve earned a little break.”
“And I’d say damn skippy,” Nell said as she backed out of the stall.
* * * *
They made their way into the club a few minutes later. A mix of some popular songs played, and the bass thumped.
Molly stepped out onto the dance floor and gyrated to the beat in the throng of people, happy to get lost in the music for a little while. She’d earned it, for crying out loud. She moved along to the track and enjoyed the freedom. Then everything changed. She spotted the last person she’d expect to see there, Professor Sullivan, with his girlfriend. But she wasn’t just his girlfriend; she was one of those
girlfriends—the hot, slender blonde siren in the red dress. The sexy woman had the sinewy moves of a leopard. She tilted her head to the side as she laughed up at him, and he seemed enchanted with her. Great.
Nell danced with a cute guy a few feet away from her, oblivious to her dilemma. Molly walked to the edge of the dance floor and paused behind a thin stair rail that led to the upstairs bar. She stayed concealed as she watched them dance. Nicholas Sullivan exemplified what her sexual fantasies—the ones Evan didn’t star in—were made of, intelligent, British, gorgeous, and the kind of man who would serve her omelets in bed, take her to the ballet, and marry her. But men that well-off didn’t go for intelligent women like her. They wanted supermodels and hot-as-hell trophy wives to showcase around.
“You’re Molly, right?” A low female voice spoke in her ear.
Molly turned around. A pretty Asian woman stood there in a sleek black suit. She looked nice but seemed out of place for a night at the club. More professional-looking. Molly blinked. “Yes, I’m Molly. Can I help you?”
“No, but perhaps I can help you.” The woman held a clean, professional business card in front of her face. Molly read:
His website and contact information were listed at the bottom.
Molly snorted. “What makes you think I need a life coach?”
The woman held up a hand. “Let me explain. Jean-Luc doesn’t take random clientele. He’s had his eye on you for quite some time, Molly. Ever since he saw you speak at the Feminism Awareness Conference a year ago. He’s offering his services to you completely free of charge because he’s been impressed with your dedication to your education.” The woman tapped the edge of the card and pointed it at Molly. “If you have the desire to improve your public persona, or if you feel undervalued in the slightest, he can help change how people perceive you. He doesn’t offer his services free to anyone, Miss Ivers. Call him, and see for yourself.”
Molly regarded the card as she might a dangerous poison before tentatively reaching out and taking it. What is this? Really? A life coach?
The woman stared over Molly’s shoulder, and she turned to see Professor Sullivan and his gorgeous girlfriend had moved a little closer to the stairs.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” The woman gestured to Professor Sullivan’s girlfriend, who threw her golden locks back as she laughed. “She’s got it all, the looks, the manners, him. He won’t give you the time of day, will he? Jean-Luc can help. He’s made miracles happen to women just like you, who truly deserve it.”
Molly scoffed and turned to her. “Listen, lady. I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t know me. What are you, his assistant?”
The woman smiled. “Not exactly. Call me a sort of scout. He specifically sent me to find you.”
Molly carefully weighed the woman’s words. A life coach? She held on to the card long after the woman disappeared. The irony was, she had her act together a lot better than most twenty-four-year-old women her age. The idea of being recruited to change her appearance to snag a man seemed not only hilarious, but sad. To be fair, the woman did say it pertained more to helping her improve her public appearance and to prepare for Paris. Still… She watched as the buxom blonde across the room draped her arms around Nicholas’s shoulders. The blonde pressed her breasts against his chest as they swayed to the club mix. His hand traveled to her ass, and Molly saw red. She put the card in her purse.
* * * *
For kicks and giggles, she opted to check out Jean-Luc’s website the next morning, which appeared quite professional and legit, with more than two hundred testimonials on how he’d changed people’s lives for the better.
Nell came up behind her and looked at the website over her shoulder. “I sliced some peaches. I’m itching to make cobbler tonight. There’s a bowl of extra slices on the kitchen counter, if you want any. ‘Jean-Luc’?” Nell read.
Molly laughed while she told her what had happened last night, though at the moment, she wasn’t sure it was a joke. She sighed and left the computer to go make scrambled eggs. Nell followed her to the kitchen.
“So, should I call you ‘Number One’ now?”
She could never keep a straight face with Nell. Molly speared a peach slice with a fork and nibbled the end of it. Sweetness filled her mouth. “‘Make it so.’ No, nerd. He seems pretty cool. I mean, if I check it out, this may turn out to be a positive change. At the least, he’ll get me in shape for Paris. His bio says he’s from Giverny, and he’s a retired civil-rights attorney. His website says he decided to change his objective when he retired to improving people’s lives, which is why he’s a life coach. Pretty impressive.”
“So, you’re going through with it?”
“Going through with what?” They both looked into the living room, where a bemused Evan stood half-naked and barefoot in a pair of black pajama bottoms. Molly licked nectar off the peach on the end of her fork to save it from dropping to the floor. Evan’s jaw tightened, and his eyes gleamed as he zeroed in on her. He cleared his throat and lifted an empty half gallon of milk. “Sorry, you left the door cracked open. I came to borrow milk.”
“Jesus, Evan! Knock next time, or at least text. I’m in my panties!” Nell smacked him on the arm and tugged down her nightshirt as she ran past him into her bedroom.
“Sorry,” he said, but he seemed distracted as he strode toward Molly, eyes glued to her lips. She sucked the rest of her peach slice into her mouth and wiped at a little of the nectar at the corner of her lips. Her cheeks blazed at the hungry longing in his eyes. She turned away to open the fridge to get the milk. It wasn’t uncommon for them to borrow food from one another, and he always watched out for them. He had a comforting, protective nature she’d gotten used to.
She grew painfully aware of her night shorts, which had a tendency to ride up her butt and cut off at midthigh, and her thin white tank top. Could he see her nipples? And jeez, Louise, why did they have to harden every time he came near her?
She pushed hair out of her face and began to pour the milk into his empty half gallon. “Help yourself to the fruit in the bowl there. Nell had leftovers. How much milk do you want?”
“Enough for a bowl of cereal, please. I’ll get some at the store later.” She’d only heard his voice drop as low and husky during sex. She stopped after she poured enough milk, then gave him extra.
Evan reached over her to open a nearby drawer. He took out a fork. He inserted it into the flesh of a peach slice and brought it to his lips.
“Forbidden fruit, hmm?”
He teased the fruit around his lips with a wicked smirk. He winked at her and sank his teeth into half the peach as he watched her, licking it. Her mouth went dry. Oh, he knew what he was doing. He chewed, licked his bottom lip, and held out the fork.
Roxanne D. Howard