Daria: I never fall for cocky, overbearing guys, but when he steps out of the shower and surprises me, I can"t help but admire him. Everything about him is intoxicating, addicting"and dangerous. All reasons why I should stay as far away as possible. So why am I so drawn to him"
Brooks: I"m with a different girl every night and have one simple rule: don’t let anyone get close. Ever. It keeps life simple and allows me to focus on what"s important " the family business. So why is this ballerina still on my mind" It’s affecting work and right now, with everything at stake, that’s a problem I can’t afford.
As son of an Irish mob boss, Brooks Downing is utterly dedicated to the family business, but after meeting the beautiful young Russian ballerina, Daria Gorev, his focus is drawn away from obligation and instead turns to a physical attraction that grow stronger with each passing day. As their relationship gets tense, danger emerges, and they realize it’s not just their love that’s on the line. Innocent lives hang in the balance too.Books in Series:Downing Family Series by Cassie WildBooks by Author:Cassie Wild Books
"I can"t do it, not even for you, Isabel. It will kill me."
My voice had shattered into a thousand, heartbroken pieces as I"d begged her to understand. Isabel, the only friend I"d made in America since I left Russia a little over two years ago to study at the ballet academy in New York.
"Daria, my beautiful Russian doll. I won"t let anything happen to you. I promise. I can"t get married without you at my side. I"ve already picked out your bridesmaid dress. I"ll fly you down here first class. Please, Daria. I need someone here besides my family."
My family. I"d let that phrase linger in my mind, imagining all the things I"d never had but longed for: Family. Security. Safety. Finally, against every ounce of better judgment, I"d murmured a timid " okay.
Isabel"s silken tones rang in my ears as I buckled myself into my roomy seat on the enormous jet that would fly me to Miami for the wedding, terrified all over again. My only friend in the entire world had finally broken down my reserve.
How could I refuse her after all she"d done for me"
And on her day of days, her wedding"
Isabel said she understood my fears. Of flying in the cramped space of an airplane. Claustrophobia they call it. But here, trapped in that cage, I could feel the panic rising, overwhelming me. How can she help me now"
I was all but suffocating. I couldn"t breathe. The thought of hanging above the clouds at the mercy of physics and a pilot I don"t even know. All I could imagine was disaster.
And if I made it through the flight without passing out, without my heart actually stopping with the weight of my fear, how would I cope with my other terror" The dread that had me running for the safety of my room at the very suggestion of meeting strangers. It was why Isabel was the only friend I had.
How silly it all sounded to my own ears. Grow up I wanted to tell myself. As a dancer I"d performed the most difficult roles " Giselle, Swan Lake " without the mere flutter of nerves. Yet the idea of having to make small talk with a man I didn"t know, with women who"ve been friends since kindergarten, who have all those secret codes " the crafty looks, the knowing smiles, the casual gestures that signal they are the chosen ones " make me want to flee and hide. And worse.
Those social events drove me even deeper into my isolation, cause me to seek out the safety of my art. The dance. Where I can express myself in movement and grace. Where I am in control of my body, my world. On stage, dancing to music, commanding an audience, that is where I feel my power.
The attendants bustled up and down the aisles, lights flashed and sounds pinged as the sign to fasten our seatbelt blinked above my head. The procedures to follow in case of an emergency began, which only deepened my anxiety. Imagining having to exit the plane during a crash heightened my terror. Then I heard the engines begin to roar and I felt myself pushed back against my seat as the plane took off.
I looked out the window and watched as the earth began to fall away. I was doing everything I could to keep calm.
Adrenalin shot through me as the clang of the landing gear beneath me ground into place, solidifying for me that we were indeed suspended in space.
Fearing my heart would stop beating, I closed my eyes, just begging the powers that be to please make the anxiety go away.
Then I felt a hand on my arm, startling me so that I jerked forward in my seat. I turned to my left and found myself looking into the kindest eyes I believe I"ve ever seen, followed by a voice as soothing as balm.
"Deep breaths. One after the other, dear," she said. This sweet grandmother answering my prayer. An elegant grandmother, to be sure, but a woman in her later years, nonetheless.
This angel, whoever she was, just stroked my arm and said, "Don"t worry. I used to be a stew. You"d be surprised at the number of people who suffer from fear of flying."
"Stew"" I said. "Isn"t that something you eat""
She broke out laughing, a musical sound that she must try to bottle and sell at a premium for its calming effect.
"Oh, dear. I"m dating myself," she said with an adorable sheepish grin. "That was before you were even born. Back when flight attendants were called stewardesses. All of us were twenty-somethings of a certain height and weight and God help you if you gained an ounce or tried to change into flats during a transcontinental flight." And then she added with a knowing arch of her brow, "And men need not apply."