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Seaside Dances

Dream big. Dance often. Love completely.

Zachary Hunter is no stranger to rejection. After multiple failed efforts to get his novel published in New York, he’s counting on a trip home to turn his luck around.

Jasmine Blackwell has big dreams. She hopes her internship as a dance instructor in Kittle Falls will be the stepping stone she needs to achieve her lifelong goals.

After a chance meeting, neither Zachary nor Jasmine can deny their attraction. They fear their aspirations are too big to let a relationship tie them down. Can they have both love and the careers of their dreams?

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Excerpt

Zachary promptly washed the blood off his hands and then splashed cold water all over his face. He stared at his reflection, almost startled at what he saw. It hadn’t been so long ago that his features showed his once carefree spirit. Now he had a permanent frown, several days’ worth of stubble, and dark bands under his eyes. Even his brown eyes seemed darker.

Zachary shook out his hands, trying to work out some of the pain. It had been a stupid idea to workout with his brother.

Brayden was a cardiologist, and as a result, was in perfect shape since heart health was always on his mind. Zachary, on the other hand, hadn’t so much as looked at a gym in the last year. Probably longer. He sat at a desk writing all day, ignoring his muscles.

Now his body ached from head to toe. But, at the same time, his muscles felt good just from a little use. Maybe he would take up Brayden’s offer to workout together a few times a week. He’d planned on backing out after this trial session. But it could be just what Zachary needed.

He grabbed a stack of paper towels for cleaning his mess, and went out into the hallway. As soon as he did, he ran right into someone.

“I’m sorry,” Zachary said. “I wasn’t looking.”

“No, it was my fault.” A pretty girl with brownish-red hair turned around and smiled at him.

He quickly hid his bruised hands behind his back. “Not at all.”

Her bright eyes shone as her mouth continued to curve upward, and she held his gaze. “I wasn’t paying attention. I’m heading to class.”

“Ballet?” Zachary asked, noting her leotard. The style reminded him of the one Sophia, his late sister, had worn when she took dance lessons.

She nodded, pulling her long hair into a bun behind her head, securing it with a bright yellow band. “I’m teaching ballet to a bunch of silly girls.”

A little girl in a tutu ran in between them, giggling.

“And that’s one of them. Hey, Emma—slow down!”

“I will, Miss Jasmine!” the girl called. She spun around and crashed into another little girl in a tutu. Both girls fell to the floor and burst into tears as they landed.

Jasmine shook her head, sighing. “I’d better get going. Sorry again for crashing into you.” She ran after the kids.

“It was my fault,” Zachary called, but he doubted she’d heard him.

He watched Jasmine as she helped up the crying girls and got them laughing in a matter of moments.

She dusted one off and spoke animatedly, keeping them in giggles.

Zachary admired her optimism. He’d once been like that. There was a time he would have wanted to have a girlfriend like her. But with his current state of mind, he would probably suck all her happiness away. Not that he even had time or the energy for another relationship. Especially after the way things had ended with Monica.

***
Jasmine Blackwell put the broom away after sweeping the dance floor. Even though she didn’t allow food in her classroom, crumbs always found their way onto her floor. She glanced over the room to make sure it was pristine for the next class. Everything seemed better than it had when she had come in. Not even a stray hair remained on the floor.

She walked over to the window to get her dance bag and her purse, but stopped when she saw who sat outside.

On a bench rested the same guy who had bumped into her earlier in the hall. He was reading a tablet, but his face scrunched up like he didn’t enjoy it. It was time to leave so she could punch her time card, but she wanted to keep watching him. There was something dark and mysterious about him.

Jasmine had hardly been able to look away from him after they had bumped into each other. He was gorgeous, despite being all sweaty. Maybe the sweat made him even more attractive, but either way, he was far better looking than anyone she’d seen in a long time. Even just sitting on the bench, unhappy, he was handsome.

Part of her wanted to go out there and strike up a conversation, but she had to get going. She was supposed to meet her roommate for dinner before hitting the nightly concert on the beach.

If she chose to chat up the hot guy, though, Kate would surely understand.

“Still here?” came a voice from behind.

Jasmine turned around, cheeks heating up. “I, uh, yeah. Just grabbing my stuff.”

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