This week's teaser is from Pumpkins and Proms, book 2 of the Grimm Academy series (it can be read as a standalone!)
Copyright 2020 Laura Greenwood
To our dismay, the dancing instructor takes it upon himself to pair us up rather than letting us sort it out ourselves. I could tell him it's a bad idea, but I'm sure he'll discover that on his own in time.
"Cinderella, this is Florian," he introduces us.
I recognise the boy he's brought with him as the captain of the wrestling team. I'm not sure why they have a captain when they never compete against anyone. Florian sticks out his hand instantly.
I raise an eyebrow, that's unusual, but at least he wants to be polite.
"Most people call me Ella," I supply as I take his hand in mine and give it a soft shake.
"Ella," he repeats in his surprisingly smooth voice.
The instructor doesn't waste another moment and walks off to deal with the next couple. This is such a waste of time. He should just tell us to pair up and then start.
Florian and I stand in awkward silence. I'm not normally the clueless type when it comes to meeting new people, but something about him sets me on edge. Perhaps it's the rumours that go around about the wrestling team. I've heard they look down on anything that doesn't involve them being shirtless and fighting one another.
With that in mind, I eye up my new dance partner. His chest is rather broad, with huge rippling shoulder muscles. In fact, his shirt is stretching across them so hard, I won't be surprised if it rips at some point.
"Like what you see?" he jokes.
A blush rushes to my cheeks, and not for the first time, I find myself grateful that my skin is dark enough to cover it.
"I'm sorry, that was inappropriate of me," I mutter. This isn't right. I know better than to look at people like that. It's not how I've been brought up.
"I'll only forgive you if I can return the favour." He winks at me.
I didn't think anyone did that.
I open my mouth to respond, even though I'm not even sure what I'm going to say. Saying no is impossible without putting myself in an awkward position. And yet I don't want him doing what I just did.
Luckily, I'm saved from answering by the instructor clapping for attention and then starting the dance. I roll my eyes at the choice. An easy waltz we've all been able to do for years. One of my first ever teachers taught me this one.
Florian bows to me, then takes my hands and leads me into the flow of the dance.
To my surprise, he's better than I expect. It seems he knows the steps of the dance too. Not what I expect from a wrestler, but perhaps that's unfair of me.
"Have you been at Grimm long?" he asks. "I haven't seen you around much."
I snort, unable to help myself. "About two years."
"Oh." He glances away, but only for a moment. The dance doesn't allow for his attention to be elsewhere for long. "Sorry, I..."
"Forgot to check before you tried to flirt?"
"Will you accept an apology?"
"Of course. That's the ladylike thing to do," I respond.
He spins me out as the dance needs him to, and I follow the movements, my dress flaring as I do. I love that part of dancing, and have worn a dress that makes it easier to make a statement with it.
Florian pulls me back into his arms, an amused look on his face.
"Perhaps we can call it even on the look you gave me before we started," he suggests.
Despite myself, I laugh. "Deal."
"But I can't promise I won't put my foot in it again."
"That doesn't seem likely. Your footwork is divine," I point out.
"Oh, I have twelve female cousins who all love to dance. They've been making me practice with them since we were all children."
I raise an eyebrow. "You grew up with them?"
He nods. "Father likes to keep close to his brother, though I suspect he's hoping to inherit the throne because of the twelve-daughters-thing."
"Women can inherit," I point out, filing away the rest of that information.
"Oh, I know. And my oldest cousin will make a fine Queen when the time comes. But Father hasn't caught on yet, sadly."
He spins me again, which is good. It gives me time to think about what he's saying.
"Why are you telling me all of this?" I ask, once we're back in hold.
He steps forward as I step back, the two of us moving perfectly in sync.
"I don't actually know," he admits. "Sometimes, it's easier to talk to a stranger than to people you've known for a long time. It bothers me that Father wants to undermine the family we've lived with our whole lives, but I don't feel as if I can do anything about it."
He spins me again. I'm glad these moments in the steps are allowing me time to think.
"Is there something you can do to help your cousins?"
He shrugs, an impressive feat considering we're dancing. "When the time comes, perhaps, but not right now." He sighs.
We dance the rest of the steps in silence. I let the music flow over me. Even if this is a song I've known the steps to for my entire life, I enjoy it. Part of the point of dances is the company anyway. We're supposed to know the steps this well so we can do other things like talk and flirt. Though I hope we'll move on to more challenging dances soon. The whole point of being in a class like this is that we learn more.
The music ends, and Florian steps back. He bows deeply to me as I dip into a curtsy. We don't get into trouble if we don't observe this kind of practice, but it's always a good way to go.
A fantasy fairy tale academy series (non-bully) following different fairy tale characters as they try and avoid becoming a part of their own story. Each book can be read on its own. Part of the Grimm World.