Dance For Me: Excerpt, Interview, & Giveaway!

Dance For Me (Fenbrook Academy #1) by Helena Newbury: Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries...or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.
Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.
As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses...but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

This New Adult Romance is recommended for readers 17+

File Size: 380 KB
Print Length: 261 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1490402713
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Foster & Black New Adult (June 25, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled

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About the author: I’m a New Adult Romance author who loves writing about what happens when love and dreams collide with the real world. I wrote my first novel, Dance for Me, in daily chunks in a very busy, very noisy coffee shop, which meant I had to order a black Americano every hour, on the hour, to keep my seat and wound up wired on caffeine most days. Unlike my characters, I can’t dance.

Interview with Helena Newbury: 

SRNA: Where did you come up with the idea for DANCE FOR ME?

HN: I've been lucky enough to spend some time hanging out with dancers, and when you share in their backstage conversations, it becomes clear that they have very interesting and slightly crazy lives. They’re often juggling rehearsals, auditions, performances, classes and a second (and sometimes third) job – and of course they have love lives to complicate things :)
I also know some musicians and a few actors, and one thing that’s always struck me is how different the three groups are. I thought that if there was a place where all three mixed, that might make for some interesting relationships, which is how Fenbrook Academy was born.

SRNA: Is this your first book?

HN: Yes. It’s the first in a series, all set in the same performing arts academy in New York. The second one is underway and is about musicians. Each book will be a self-contained romance about one couple, but supporting characters will recur.

SRNA: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

HN: I’m going to be totally honest with you and hope this doesn't come across as weird…I only knew when I tried to stop. I got very into my day job for a while and stopped writing altogether. I’d heard those clichés before about "You’re a writer if you HAVE to write," but I’d never realized how important it was to me until I couldn't do it. After a couple of years without writing, I finally made some big changes, got writing again and was much, much happier. I felt like half my brain had been switched off for those intervening years.

SRNA: Do you plot everything out before you begin, or do you just have a rough idea and just go with the flow?

HN: I’m one of those people who painstakingly plot everything out and don’t start writing until I’m happy with it. I inevitably deviate from the plan, but I still like to have one.

SRNA: Do you have a playlist for DANCE FOR ME?

HN: I find it really difficult to listen to music while I’m writing. I end up listening and not writing. But I did listen to a lot of classical music to get me in the mood for the dancing scenes.

SRNA: What made you decide to self-publish?

HN: Control. I like being very involved in the whole process – the downside is a massive learning curve.

SRNA: Who are some of your favorite authors?

HN: I’m a big fan of Joya Ryan and Nadia Simonenko, but I also enjoy Denise Grover Swank. Outside of NA, I read a mixture of romance and thrillers.

SRNA: Any advice for wanna be authors?

HN: Write. Seriously, actually finishing your book/story and writing another and another will put you far ahead of 90% of people. Don’t be afraid to show your material to other people.

Exclusive! Complete Chapter of Dance For Me!

What’s happened so far...
Natasha had her big audition ruined by the mysterious but gorgeous Darrell, who then approached her outside and asked her to dance for him. She was too nervous and inwardly fragile to accept at the time, and walked off, believing she’d never see him again. Now, she can’t stop thinking about him.


In high school, endless dance rehearsals kept me way too busy for a boyfriend.

Freshman year at Fenbrook—my first week, in fact—I hooked up with a sophomore actor. He was playing the lead in some crazy post-apocalyptic version of Hamlet and that made him a superstar to wide-eyed little me. Three dates and we were rolling around on the bed in his apartment. Four dates and I was no longer a virgin. Fifth date and I found out about the violin player he was seeing behind my back.

Sophomore year, Clarissa set me up with Vincent (Vincent, not Vince), a brooding cellist who was practically her twin—his lustrous blond hair was even longer than hers. We went on a string of dates, and had sex a couple of times at my place. Things eventually fizzled out, though. I think he sensed I was hiding something from him, and it felt like he had secrets of his own. We split amicably, and I still saw him around the academy.

That was the sum total of my relationships, and it was pathetic. I hadn't been with a guy—in either sense of the word—in a year.

That, I told myself, was the only reason I dreamed of Darrell.

I didn't normally remember my dreams, and when I did, they were some abstract crap about flying—never about sex. This one, though, was all about sex. Full, Technicolor sex with sound effects and the feel of his skin under my palms. I remembered the touch of him against my thighs very clearly. In the dream, the skin there was flawless and smooth.

I woke in a tangle of sheets, feeling exhausted yet unsatisfied. This wasn't good—Darrell had already been filling my every waking thought, and now he was in my dreams, too?

I needed a second opinion. I needed to know if I should do something—pursue this, somehow—or be sensible and leave it well alone. I told Clarissa that I’d tell her all the gory details of the audition if we could go to Harper’s for breakfast coffee and she agreed.

Harper’s was one of two local places with a workforce almost entirely made up of Fenbrook students. The other place was Flicker, the bar I worked at. Harper’s was a deli and a café, serving up half-decent coffee (depending who was brewing it), maple pecan twists that I pigged out on when I could afford them and huge sandwiches that formed the basis of most academy lunches.

We hooked up with Jasmine, too. Jasmine, an actress, had been part of our little group since freshman year. She had auburn hair down to her waist, huge pale green eyes and generous curves that stopped traffic when she wore anything low cut.

Clarissa bought us all coffee. Normally that made me uncomfortable—I made a big deal of making sure we always alternated, even though she had way more money than me. For once, though, I was happy to be pampered.

Clarissa brought over three steaming mugs. “So? Spill.”

I went quiet.

“That bad?” Jasmine asked.

I stared at the little cracks in the tabletop and told them about the guy who burst in. I left out the part about him being hot, and the part where I’d danced imagining his hands all over me.

“Idiot,” Jasmine said, as soon as I’d finished. “Probably just wanted to get a look at girls in Lycra.”

“He probably has a thing for dancers,” Clarissa told me. “I went out with one guy who wanted me to wear the whole thing: tights, leotard, shoes—every time we went to bed.”

“Did you do it?” Jasmine was fascinated.

“Only for a couple of weeks. Then he wanted me to stand en pointe while he”—she exchanged a look with Jasmine—“Uh, yeah. So I got out.”

Jasmine was doing her doe-eyed I’m shocked but loving it face. Seriously, that girl was going to be massive when she hit Hollywood. As usual, I sat there silently, not sure how to join in. Whenever the subject of sex came up, I sort of shut down. It wasn't that I didn't like sex, just that I couldn't imagine anyone wanting me.

Well…maybe one person.

“He asked me to dance for him,” I mused. Then realized with a shock that I’d said it out loud.

“He what?” asked Clarissa, too loudly. Heads turned.

“Eww! Like, in his bedroom?” Jasmine wanted to know.

“Or maybe a lap dance. He probably wanted a lap dance,” said Clarissa.

I bit my lip. I’d had the same thought when he suggested it. Well, maybe my mind hadn't gone straight to lap dance, but the idea had sounded weird. And yet…something about the way he’d said it had sounded so honest, so straightforward. I had a feeling that if a lap dance was what he’d wanted, he would have damn well asked for one and, worryingly, that thought didn't horrify me as much as it should have done. “He said he wanted a muse,” I told them.

“A muse? Who is he, Van Gogh?” Clarissa asked.

“An engineer.”

“What’s his name?” Clarissa pulled out her laptop.

“Darrell,” I said doubtfully. “Darrell Carner.”

Clarissa’s fingers skittered across the keyboard. She took a sip of her coffee as she waited for the results to come back and then froze, staring at the screen. I could see her eyes darting back and forth as she read. “This Darrell Carner?” she asked disbelievingly, and spun the laptop to face me.

It was him. He was in jeans and a shirt again, shaking hands with some guy in a suit, his floppy black hair soft and perfect. Something went through me when I looked at him, a crackling wash of energy that started in my face and soaked straight down, hitting the gas pedal on my heart and finishing in my groin. When I dragged my eyes away from the photo, I saw it was a news story.

Jasmine crowded in. “Ohmygod he’s hot!”

Clarissa read the first line to us, one perfect eyebrow raised. “Darrell Carner today signed his third deal with Sabre Technologies, licensing his latest design for an estimated twenty-six million dollars.” She looked at me. “You left out that part.”

“I didn't know.” I was trying to fit rich together with the guy I’d talked to outside the audition, but the two refused to stick. “He didn't seem—”

“Did he offer to pay you?” asked Jasmine.

I had to think about it. “Well, yes, but—”

“Well then what the hell are you waiting for?” Jasmine was staring at me incredulously. “He’s super-gorgeous, you should do it.”

“Wait, wait…” I held my hand up. “A second ago he was a creep and probably wanted a lap dance. Now just because he’s rich and”—I flushed—“and hot, he’s suddenly okay? What if he’s a rich, hot creep?”

“I don’t think you can be rich, hot and a creep,” Jasmine told me, then turned to Clarissa. “Can you?”

Clarissa shook her head happily. “No, if he’s rich and hot then he’s just kinky. Adventurous.” She saw my expression and sighed. “I’m kidding! Of course you should be careful. I’ll drive you there and check you’re okay. We’ll do the phone call thing and everything.”

Jasmine bounced up and down in her chair. “Ooh, ooh, we can have a duress code, in case he’s got you tied up in a tutu.”

I looked at both of them in turn. “I don’t have a choice about this, do I?”

Clarissa shook her head. “This is easily the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in about a year, and the thought of you possibly hooking up with some uber-bachelor…? No. You don’t have a choice.”

“Who says I even like him?”

Jasmine smirked. “We saw your face when you looked at his photo. Don’t ever play poker.”

Clarissa suddenly grinned as she remembered something. “Is this who you were—”

I kicked her under the table, my face turning red. I really didn't want to talk about the couch incident.

Jasmine leaned forward. “What? What did she do?”

Clarissa glanced at Jasmine, holding the secret over me like an axe. “Answer!”

I sighed and nodded and Clarissa squealed with delight. “You have to call him, right now. Before he finds some other dancer.”

I hadn't considered that. Of course, he’d probably already found someone else. The idea made me suddenly angry—jealous, almost, which was crazy. “I can’t. I don’t have his number.”

“He’s famous,” Clarissa told me. “We can find it.”

“Facebook him,” Jasmine suggested. She lived her life on Facebook, when she wasn't watching cop shows and 24 reruns.

I took out my phone, mostly because I was curious to see if there were other pictures of him on his Facebook profile. But something stopped me before I could enter his name in the search box.
I had a new friend request. From him.


I hit ‘accept’, because I didn't know what else to do (and I knew Clarissa would kill me if I didn't). My heart was thumping so hard everyone around me must have been able to hear it.

In less than ten seconds, I got a message from him.


I tried to come up with something witty, or clever, or flirty.

Hi,” I typed back at last.

There was a pause, as if he was choosing his words very carefully. Then, “I’d really love to see you dance again.”

Why me? Why not any of the other dancers at the audition? Or…a horrible thought went through my head. Was he talking to all of us? For all I knew, he’d propositioned every one of them as they came out the door.

You couldn't find anyone else?” I typed.

I haven’t asked anyone else.”

Clarissa and Jasmine demanded an update. I was sitting pushed back from the table, so they couldn't see my phone’s screen. “He hasn't got a muse yet,” I told them. They both gasped and made do it, do it gestures.

Before I could type anything, though, another message arrived.

Dance for me, Natasha.”

I can’t explain why, but seeing him use my name sent a thrill through me, rising and soaring in my chest. And there was something else, too. I remembered his voice, and now I imagined it saying my name. Growling it, almost. The thought of him doing that, of his hot whisper against my neck, sent a dark heat twisting down between my thighs.

“He just asked me,” I told Clarissa and Jasmine.

“Check it’s not a lap dance, before you do it,” Clarissa said.

“Or check it is a lap dance, and do it anyway,” Jasmine offered. Behind those big, innocent eyes lay a truly filthy mind.

What would I have to do?” I typed.

Just dance. Here at my house.”

What sort of dancing?”

Ballet. Why, what did you have in mind?

I flushed. “It’s ballet,” I told the others.

Just checking,” I typed.

“Check it’s not nude,” Clarissa told me.

I was taking a sip of coffee and spluttered it halfway across the table. “What?!”

“Just in case. He is paying you to dance at his house.” She looked like she was half serious.

You don’t mean nude or anything, do you?” I typed back. And immediately regretted it.

No. Why, would you like to dance nude?” It was impossible to judge his mood from the messages…so how come I just knew he was smirking?

“It’s not nude,” I told the other two tightly.

“Ask how much,” Jasmine told me.

How much?” I typed.

How much would you like?” he replied.

Jasmine and Clarissa had moved around behind me now. I knew it was useless to try to stop them reading. They were right—this was the most exciting thing to happen to me all year.

“Say, like, $500 an hour,” said Clarissa.

“I can’t say that! That’s nuts!”

“Opening bid,” she told me.

$500 per hour,” I typed, hesitating before I finally hit the button to send.

Almost immediately: “Fine. Is that a yes?”

The world seemed to narrow down to a tunnel, everything but the screen of my phone fading out. I barely heard Clarissa and Jasmine gasp. And yet I didn't feel like things were sliding out of control, somehow. This complete stranger, with his crazy demand for a muse, felt solid. In fact, it felt like the only truly solid thing around me, besides the exercise bike and the sweet escape nestling inside the cigarette case.

What was this, really? On one level, it seemed legit—he didn't seem like some creep who really wanted a lap dance. But he was rich—seriously rich. Why had he pursued me, when he could have called any casting agency and found a dancer for a fraction of that price?
I remembered the way he’d looked at me, when he’d burst in. The way his eyes kept going to me, even when the others were dancing. Could he really be interested in me? My stomach lurched. Had I put on that good a show, convinced him that I was normal? Could I keep it up, and dance for him without him ever knowing the real me?
And was it just dancing he wanted, or was there the possibility of something more? The idea of getting close to someone, of risking them finding out the truth, should have terrified me. With him, the fear was being countered by raw desire at least as strong, and I didn't know which one was going to win.

I stared at the screen for a long moment. What was the alternative—carry on as I was? A year ago, I’d been cutting maybe once a week. Now I was up to once a day, and the exercise bike in the evenings. How long before that wasn't enough, and I broke down in class?
I had to take a chance.

I typed “Yes,” and then let out a long breath I didn't realize I’d been holding.

Almost immediately, he came back with “Could you dance for me today?"

What have I done? “Could you drive me—this afternoon?” I asked Clarissa without looking at her.

Her eyes were locked on the screen too. “I’ll drive you anywhere you want. I have to meet this guy,” she told me.

3pm?” I typed back.

See you then,” he replied, and sent an address. Somehow, in the space of ten minutes, I’d become his muse.

Now what?

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