Mariah Stewart Moon Dance

ISBN 13: 9780671026240

Moon Dance

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9780671026240: Moon Dance

The bestselling suspense author shows her softer side in this endearing love story of two searching hearts. . . .

Georgia Enright has dedicated her life to dance. But at age twenty-six, her hopes of becoming a lead dancer are dashed. So she ventures to Pumpkin Hill, an old farm owned by her newly found half sister, Laura Bishop, to contemplate her future. There, discovering an affinity for country life -- and a barn just perfect for giving dance lessons -- Georgia enjoys an oasis of peace . . . until Matthew Bishop arrives.

An abandoned child taken in by the same parents who adopted Laura, Matt has plans of his own for that barn -- plans that include a veterinary clinic, not a ballet studio! The only thing the rugged doctor resents more than Laura's interest in her birth family is his having to share the premises with one of them. Yet he can't deny there's something about Georgia that has brightened his world -- and if he's not careful, she just may dance into his heart.

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About the Author:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
Georgia nimbly leaned over to tie first her left, then her right running shoe before standing and stretching from side to side to limber up. Though in top athletic form after nine years of dancing professionally, she still performed an exacting ritual before setting out on her daily run. Side-to-side stretches forward lunges, jumping jacks, leg lifts. Twenty of each. Her warm-up completed, she left her sixth-floor condo, locked the door securely behind her, tucked the key into the pocket of her dark green hooded sweatshirt, and set off for the ground floor. On foot.
Taking the stairs only prolonged her prerun warmup, she rationalized. It was good exercise, good for her heart, good for her lungs. Why ride when you can walk? And besides, elevators made her claustrophobic.
Georgia skipped through the lobby, but once outside the imposing front door of the building she had called home for the past five years, she broke into a measured trot and took to the pavement. At the corner, she turned onto Pratt Street and set a pace that would carry her to her destination within her allotted twenty minutes. Despite the day's valiant attempt to cultivate a sunny disposition, a late winter chill hung about Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Filling her lungs with air heavy with the faint, tangy scent of the sea, Georgia jogged briskly past lingering piles of dirty snow that huddled in the shaded areas around the Convention Center. Off to her far right beckoned Harborplace -- two glass-enclosed shopping malls that provided tourists and residents alike a shopping fix on a grand scale -- and the first of the piers that jutted smartly into the harbor. A little farther ahead would be the World Trade Center, and beyond, on Pier Three, the National Aquarium, field-trip mecca for elementary schools up and down the East Coast.
At the corner of Gay and Pratt, Georgia stopped for traffic, then crossed the street and proceeded straight up Gay as she began her cool-down pace, slowing slightly until she reached the small restaurant with the faded red-and-green awning. Several small, round tables for two had been set up out front with plaid tablecloths and some healthy optimism that the day would, in fact, warm up.
It was still early enough that the last of the breakfast crowd remained inside. Georgia pushed open the curtained door and stepped inside to the warmth of clean brick walls and the smell of fresh bread. She winked at the young man who stood chatting with a customer at the cash register as she strolled to the back of the restaurant.
"Ah, there she is," a male voice called out from behind immaculate stainless-steel counters. "Maria, didn't I tell you that Georgia would be here before nine this morning?"
"Why, yes, you did," the young waitress nodded. "Maybe you really are psychic, Lee."
"Well, there have been times we've suspected he might be, but not this time," Georgia laughed, "since I called him at eight to let him know I'd be stopping by -- "
"Fake." Maria flashed dark eyes good-naturedly at the tall man with the clipped, graying beard and the mildly amused expression.
"Spoilsport," he stage-whispered to Georgia, who laughed again. "So, what can I get you?"
"Water is fine," Georgia told him, "and I can get it."
"Help yourself." Lee Banyon gestured toward the refrigerator. "I have one last omelet to fix, then we can sit down and chat. Can I make something for you? I have some lovely ham," he added, a tease in his voice, knowing full well that Georgia was what she termed, semivegetarian -- eggs, dairy, on rare occasions perhaps fish, but never meat.
"I'll think about an omelet." She lifted a glass from the counter and filled it with chilled spring water. "And you know what you can do with your ham."
Lee laughed and juggled three dark green peppers before lining them up along the counter.
Leaning back against the cool steel, Georgia watched as Lee effortlessly chopped one of the peppers and several mushrooms and slid them into a pan, all the while moving with the grace of a dancer, which he had been until his self-imposed retirement eighteen months earlier. The death of Lee's longtimecompanion, David, had brought home the fragility of life, and Lee had quit his position as the principal male with the Inner Harbor Dance Troupe and had taken over running the restaurant David had opened six years earlier.
Tall, lanky, dark-haired, and handsome, Lee Banyon had been Georgia's best and closest friend from her earliest days with the troupe. Georgia's support and compassion during David's illness had won her a place in Lee's heart for all time. There was no question that Lee would walk through fire for her, would slay her dragons, if need be. Right now, Lee judged from the look in her eyes, a dragon lurked somewhere nearby, and as soon as he finished this last order, he would make it his business to find out where.
"Ready for a nibble, Georgey-girl?" he called to her. "You can't jog and dance and who knows what else without the proper fuel."
"Actually, I've been dreaming about one of your veggie concoctions for days. You know," she grinned, "the one with the broccoli, zucchini, onions, roasted red peppers..."
"You're on." He poked in the refrigerator for the last of the zucchini he had shredded earlier that morning and set about making breakfast for his friend.
"So, Miss Georgia," he said as he garnished the plate with thin slices of orange and wedges of cantaloupe, "what's on your mind this morning?"
"What makes you think that anything -- "
He held up one hand to stop her.
"Please, we've known each other far too well for much too long to start playing games now. I can see it in your face, cara." He guided her through the kitchen door into the now-emptied dining room and to a table near the window, pulled a chair out for her with one hand, and placed her plate before her with the other.
"Ummm." She bit into a piece of broccoli and sighed. "Heaven. No one makes a veggie omelet like you do, Lee."
"Right. It's my secret combination of herbs and spices," Lee said dryly as he sniffed at a pot of coffee. Convinced of its freshness, he poured two cups and brought them to the table. "Don't try to change the subject. Tell Uncle Lee what's bothering you."
"Did you know that Mallory Edwards is in the hospital?" she asked.
"Yes, I had heard."
"I went to visit her a few days ago." She was avoiding eye contact and he knew it.
"I don't recall that you and Mallory were friends." A frown creased his brow. "Now that I think about it, I don't recall that Mallory had any friends at all within the troupe."
"We're really not, and I don't think she does."
"Then why the act of mercy?"
"I felt sorry for her, Lee. I was there when she collapsed. It was a terrible thing to see. One minute she was dancing, the next minute she sank to the floor like a marionette whose strings had all been cut at exactly the same time." Georgia shivered at the memory of it.
"Surely you've seen people faint before."
"I have, but this was different. This was..." -- she struggled for a word, then shook her head and repeated -- "different. Everyone saw her fall, and no one helped her. Ivan stood over her yelling at her to get up...."
"Ah, yes, Ivan would be the very soul of compassion," Lee, who had known the temperamental artistic director for years, murmured sarcastically.
"Finally one of the girls checked her pulse, and had a real hard time finding one. At first Ivan didn't want to call an ambulance, he kept insisting that she just wanted attention, that she would get up on her own. Of course, she did not, so we called nine-one-one."
"Over Ivan's objections, I would suspect."
Georgia scowled. "He didn't want paramedics coming into the studio, can you believe that? He actually wanted us to carry her into the lobby."
"I've always said that Ivan was a prince among men."
"Here's the scary part." Georgia sighed and put her fork down quietly. "Everyone knows that Mallory collapsed from malnutrition. We all know that she suffers from eating disorders. I'm not certain which one, but we all know there's something seriously wrong. She is a very ill young woman. In the hospital, she was hooked up to skatey-illion tubes and IVs, and yet she was talking about coming back in six weeks and taking over her old spot."
"And she probably will." Lee shrugged. "Surely you know that she's not the only member of your troupe who thinks she's found an easy means of weight control?"
"Easy?" Georgia's eyes widened, recalling Mallory's hollow cheekbones, pencil-thin fingers, large eyes set in a gaunt face. "If that's the easy way, I'd sure as hell hate to see the hard way."
"Well, I do not have to tell you, of all people, how unreasonable Ivan can be where his dancers' weights are concerned."
Georgia met his eyes across the table, but did not answer. She herself had been the victim of Ivan's tyrannical rages when she had weighed in a pound or two above the director's limits. For each of his dancers, Ivan kept a notebook in which he recorded their weights on a daily basis. Those whose weight fluctuated by a pound or two might be ridiculed in front of the other dancers, but those whose weight gain might exceed that would be subjected to humiliation of the cruelest form. Ivan could indeed be terrible.
"No," she told him. "I know that a lot of the dancers do dreadful things to themselves to keep their weight down. Not just in our company, but in just about every one that I know of."
"Eating disorders are as old as the dance, Georgia. Consider yourself fortunate that you never were afflicted."
"I do. But Lee, there's more." She averted her eyes again.
"Isn't there always?" Lee sighed and gestured for her to continue.
"Yesterday Ivan announced his choice to fill Mallory's spot. He made a big deal out of it in front of everyone."
"Let me guess." Lee narrowed his eyes and pretended to think. "His choice was...Georgia Enright."
"How did you know that?"
"Ivan is a petty, wicked little man and is as transparent as a beam of light. Somehow he must have found out that you had visited Mallory in the hospital. Ivan being Ivan, he will want to punish Mallory for disrupting his routine. How best to punish her? By replacing her with the only person who has shown her any kindness."
"I didn't realize that you knew him that well," she said softly.
"I have known Ivan for more years than I like to recall. We were in the same company in Boston, and then again in Houston. It was only coincidence that we both ended up in Baltimore together. Oh, yes, we go back a very long way. But that's old news." He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. "Did he give the other dancers the opportunity to challenge you for the role?"
"You do know him well, don't you?" She nodded glumly.
"He's done this before -- set several dancers against each other. Offer one a part, then ask if any of the others would like a chance to win the role away. Divide and conquer, so to speak. It's a means of maintaining control, you know. And it never fails to create a little drama, a little tension. Ivan, as we know, thrives on both."
"Well, so far, only one dancer has asked to audition. Sharyn Heffern. She was new last year. She's a wonderful dancer, Lee. She deserves the role much more than I do."
"What is the role, by the way?" he asked.
"Giselle."
Lee rolled his eyes to the heavens. "A very important ballet. A challenging one. And definitely not a role for novices. What in glory's name could the man be thinking? Giselle is demanding, it's difficult. It's dramatic ballet at its best, and it's -- " He paused. "Did you accept Ivan's offer?"
"I didn't accept or not accept. I was stunned. I couldn't respond. And he did his usual, you know, drop the bombshell, then turn heel and leave the room."
"Well, how do you feel about it?"
"I feel like...like I'm being used. It's just like you said. Like he's trying to hurt Mallory. And at the same time, he's humiliating me. He knows I don't deserve the position, he knows I'm not good enough. Sharyn can dance circles around me."
"I wouldn't be surprised if he had suggested to Sharyn that she audition -- it would be just his style. So, what are you going to do?"
"I don't know." Her voice dropped to a whisper and she looked into her friend's eyes, hoping for guidance. Georgia knew no one who could better understand her predicament. "On the one hand, it's the chance I always dreamed of. On the other, I know I will make a complete fool out of myself because I know that I don't deserve the role."
"And of course, to decline, you would have to publicly admit that you don't feel you're good enough, which will give Ivan sufficient cause never to offer you another shot at moving out of the corps."
"Which I probably would not ever get anyway." Georgia's shoulders sank a little farther. "If I accept, my limitations will be glaringly evident. It's a loselose situation for me. He's set me up, Lee. He knows that there's no way I could ever best Sharyn. She's young -- eighteen -- but she is exceptional. She's the one who deserves the big break."
She frowned, then added, "And there's one other thing that's bothering me on a somewhat different level."
He gestured for her to go on.
"If I accept this offer, I will knowingly be assisting him in hurting Mallory."
"Of course. That would be Ivan's intent." Lee rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Quite a dilemma for you, Georgey-girl."
"What would you do if you were in this situation, Lee?"
"Me?" He nodded thoughtfully, tapping his fingers lightly on the polished wood tabletop. "Well, actually, I was in a similar situation once."
"And?" She waited for him to continue.
"And I think that whatever I say will influence your choice, and I do not want that responsibility, Georgia. Whatever you decide to do, this is your call, cara." He paused and watched her face, suspecting that, for Georgia, this was both a moral as well as a career decision. "Maybe it would help if you took a look at your goals at this stage of your career."
With a slightly rounded fingernail, she traced the delicate embossed motif on the white paper napkin that lay on the table. "You know that all I ever wanted to do was to dance. From the time I was a little girl, I never dreamed of doing anything else."
Her eyes drifted toward the front window and the clouds that were gathering in a lazy gray sky.
"It never mattered to me that I had to work hard at it. I even loved that part. Working toward the goal was very important to me. I was very proud of myself when I met that goal, Lee. But I always knew that I would have to work harder than some of the other girls, and my dream of becoming a prima ballerina died when I was twenty-three. It took me a long time to accept that some dancers are just gifted -- that if you don't have that gift, you will be limited in how far you can rise as a dancer." She smiled a lopsided smile. "I have known for several years that I did not have the gift, Lee."
"You are a lovely dancer, Georgia," he told her honestly, wishing that he could, in all good conscience, assure her that she could one day be a star. But caring much too much for her to lie about something so important, he simply took her hands between his and gave them a squeeze.
"But I will never rise to that next level, and we both know it."
"So, then. This is leading somewhere...."
"I think I need to decide where I want to go from here. If I want to stay in dance, or move on."
"That's pretty drastic, Georgia."
"I'm twenty-six years old, Lee. I have no education to speak of. I started dancing professionally when I was sixteen. I had a tutor for my junior and senior years in high school and have a GED. I never gave a second's thought t...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reissue. Language: English . Brand New Book. The bestselling suspense author shows her softer side in this endearing love story of two searching hearts. . . . Georgia Enright has dedicated her life to dance. But at age twenty-six, her hopes of becoming a lead dancer are dashed. So she ventures to Pumpkin Hill, an old farm owned by her newly found half sister, Laura Bishop, to contemplate her future. There, discovering an affinity for country life -- and a barn just perfect for giving dance lessons -- Georgia enjoys an oasis of peace . . . until Matthew Bishop arrives. An abandoned child taken in by the same parents who adopted Laura, Matt has plans of his own for that barn -- plans that include a veterinary clinic, not a ballet studio! The only thing the rugged doctor resents more than Laura s interest in her birth family is his having to share the premises with one of them. Yet he can t deny there s something about Georgia that has brightened his world -- and if he s not careful, she just may dance into his heart. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780671026240

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