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Authors: Annabel Joseph

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Fever Dream

BOOK: Fever Dream
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Fever Dream

Fever Dream

Copyright 2013 by Annabel Joseph

Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.

http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, shared, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This work contains acts of sado-masochism, anal play, BDSM punishment and discipline, and other sexual practices.

This work and its contents are for the sole purpose of fantasy and enjoyment. Please exercise caution in entering into or attempting to imitate any extreme BDSM relationships or activities.

Fever Dream
by
Annabel Joseph
 

 

 

For Maryara

 

 

Muitos abraços (many hugs)
Chapter One: Disgusting
 

Fernando Rubio vaulted up the steps of the grand white town house, his stormy Brazilian temper in full effect. He drew back a fist and banged it on his friends’ front door.

“Liam. Ashleigh!
Ash-lee!
I know you’re in there. Open up.”

The door swung wide and a slight, elderly man peered out. “Mr. Rubio. What a pleasure to see you.”

He pushed past Mem and stalked into the house. “Where are they?”

“They are downstairs. They undoubtedly”—Mem slipped around the front of him—“undoubtedly wish for privacy at the moment.”

Rubio waved a hand, heading for the Wilders’ BDSM-equipped basement. “Whatever they’re doing, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”

“If you would be so kind as to wait in the living room—”

Ruby ignored Mem’s polite but pointed protests and continued through the luxurious home to the lower floor. He stopped halfway down the stairs, scanning the play room until he located the naked couple.
Oh, God.
“That’s disgusting!”

At his barked exclamation, Liam turned to search for him with a frown. “Do you mind? Very bad timing, my friend.”

“You are both disgusting.”

The tall, long-haired man wrapped his arms more tightly around his petite partner. “Why, disgusting? I’m kissing my wife.”

“Exactly. You have this entire den of depravity, sex toys and BDSM furniture,” he said, waving a hand around the dimly-lit basement, “and you are standing there kissing her.”

“Not only that—we just made love,” Liam said. “Tender, sappy, emotional, gaze-into-each-other’s-eyes kind of love.”

“With lots and lots of whispered endearments,” Ashleigh added.

“Ugh.” Ruby spun and started back the way he’d come. “I’ll wait upstairs. You’re both...” He searched his mind for an adequate insult. “You’re both completely disgusting.” He wagged a finger at Ashleigh. “And you! I am furious with you.”

He turned his back on her apologetic expression and took the stairs two at a time. There was nothing she could say to excuse her behavior, nothing he wanted to listen to, anyway.

Mem greeted him back in the living room. “Would you care for some refreshment, Mr. Rubio? Coffee? Tea?” He took in Ruby’s dour expression. “Something stronger?”

“I don’t want anything,” he snapped, “except to unsee what I just saw.” Oh, and for Ashleigh to not leave City Ballet. He wanted that more than anything.

He collapsed onto one of the living room’s deep leather sofas and put his head in his hands. He and Ash had been partners for four years now, achieving new heights of artistry with each ballet. How could she leave him now, after all they’d created together? After all the work they’d done?

A few moments later Ashleigh appeared from below, clad in Liam’s black tee. At least he assumed it was Liam’s since it hung to her knees. She hugged the shirt around her waist and crossed to sit next to Rubio on the couch.

“Well?” he said. “I’m waiting for your explanation. Why are you leaving?”

“I’m not leaving. I mean, I’m not leaving London.” She leaned forward, rubbing her knees. “I’m just taking a break from dancing.”

He felt unreasonable anger at her offhand tone. “A break? No. You’re quitting the company. That’s what Yves told me after class. Why didn’t you warn me? You didn’t tell me nothing until today. Then, boom.”

She lowered her head, her black locks falling across her cheeks. “I was afraid to tell you, so I let Yves do it.”

“Well, I almost punched him in the face. That would have been your fault. And how do you think he feels?” Yves Thibault was City Ballet’s director-in-chief, and he’d seemed almost as upset as Rubio by the news.

She touched his hand on the cushion between them and then wrapped her fingers around his. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to tell you. I don’t know what to say to you, even now.”

He felt choking emotion. Cold betrayal and loss. Ashleigh was his favorite ballet partner of all time. They danced everything together, in perfect, comfortable harmony. “Why?” he asked. “What did I do?”

“It’s not you.”

“I know I’m rude sometimes. I know I always touch your tits and pretend it was an accident. I know, it’s bad. I won’t do it anymore, I swear.”

“It’s not that,” she said, squeezing his hand tighter. “I’ve loved working with you. These past few years have been a dream, both personally and professionally.” Her pale blue-gray eyes communicated the same pain he felt, the pain that had devastated him when Yves broke the news an hour ago.

“Why then?” he whispered. “Why?”

She let go of his hand and picked at the hem of Liam’s shirt. “I’m tired, okay? Ballet has always been easy for you because you’re a natural, a phenomenon. It’s a struggle for me. I want to... I want to try something different.”

Liam joined them with two beers. He sat on the arm of the couch beside his wife, passing one of the bottles to his friend. “You realize you’re being a total pussy about this, right? A pathetic crybaby pussy?”

“Stop it,” Ashleigh said, reaching over to her husband. “It’s hard for dancers to lose a partner. Over time you develop this really transcendent bond, almost like brother and sister.”

Or husband and wife.
Rubio had pined for Ashleigh years ago, when she was dating Liam. Sometimes he still did, even though his friends were happily married and completely devoted to each other. Ashleigh turned back to him, pleading with him to understand. “You taught me so much about ballet and artistry, so much about performance. I feel horrible leaving you, but...Liam and I are having a baby. I’m three months pregnant. I won’t be able to dance next season because of that.”

Rubio’s eyes went wide. A
baby
? “Is this a joke?” he sputtered. “Your belly is completely flat.”

“I’m not showing yet, but believe me, I’m pregnant. Remember how I kept throwing up on the summer tour?”

Ruby put his hands to his head. “
Jesus Cristo
. Why you need a baby? I need a partner! What about that?”

“Watch your tone with my wife,” Liam said.

Ruby turned to jab a finger at him. “This is your fault.”

“Everything is everyone else’s fault, huh?” said Liam. “Maybe it’s your fault. You introduced us, if you’ll remember.”

“Yes, but I didn’t imagine all this kissing and getting married and making love and...and babies.”

Liam shrugged. “That’s what grown-ups do.”

Ashleigh turned to Ruby, edging Liam out of the conversation. “Look, there are a lot of talented dancers you can partner with at the company. I’m sure Yves will let you dance with whoever you want.”

“Except you,” he groused. “I can’t dance with you.”

“A few months from now I’ll be big as a whale. Right? You won’t want to dance with me.”

Ruby couldn’t stop the half-smile. “Don’t try to be cute. Don’t be funny. I’m angry at you.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. Rubio waited for her to start laughing, to tell him this was all a joke. She didn’t look pregnant. She didn’t feel pregnant, but Ashleigh, his favorite partner, his soul-mate partner, was pregnant and he didn’t know what he was going to do.

“Maybe I’ll quit too,” he grumbled against her neck. “Maybe I’ll stop dancing. Maybe now it’s time.”

She pulled away from him in horror. “No, you can’t. Don’t even say that.”

“Pussy,” Liam muttered from behind her.

“You have years left to dance,” she said, truly alarmed. “You’re only thirty years old.”

“You’re only twenty-eight!”

“It’s different with men and women. You’re stronger than me and...” She put her hands over her belly. “I really want to have this baby right now. It’s time for me to do this. I feel it in my heart.”

“Stop begging him to understand, hon,” said Liam. “It’s Rubio, remember? He’s obnoxious and self-centered. He’ll never understand the impulse to start a family, but eventually he’ll get over it. Won’t you?” Liam shot him a dire look.

Ashleigh dropped her head onto Rubio’s shoulder. “I just feel like...this is the time. I should have told you,” she said, lifting her eyes to meet his gaze. “I should have warned you we were making these plans but I didn’t want you to be angry.”

“Well, I’m angry.”

“But Ruby—”

“I gave you so much. So whatever. Maybe I forgive you someday, but not now. No.”

At those words, tears filled her eyes. She jumped to her feet and fled the room.

Liam sighed, sliding down onto the couch. “Very nice. Making a pregnant woman cry. I hope you’re proud of yourself.”

“What did I say?”

“God, you’re an idiot.” Liam snatched away his beer. “I would make you go apologize, but that would probably upset her more. Plus the pregnancy hormones are making her erratic and she might kick you in the neck.” He bent forward and fixed Ruby with his potent amber stare. “But seriously. If you’re going to keep coming over here, if you’re going to attend the play parties on Saturdays, you’re going to have to cut her some slack. She’s pregnant and it can’t be undone.”

Ruby eyed his friend, noting the subtle tension in his voice. “You and her planned this pregnancy? Or it just happened?”

Liam rubbed his forehead. “It was kind of planned. It kind of just happened. She wants a couple kids, and...” He covered his eyes and kneaded his palms into his eye sockets. “I’m going to be okay with that.”

“You’re going to be, or you are?” Liam’s silence was deafening. Ruby sighed and took back his beer. “Ashleigh is a good girl, you know. She won’t be like your mother.”

“My mother had postpartum depression. Any woman can get it. Ashleigh too.”

“But if she does, you’ll be there to help. It won’t be the same.”

“I know.” That was all he said.
I know.
He stood and started toward the stairs. “I better go see if she’s okay.” He turned back to Ruby and gave a regretful half-shrug. “Look, I’m sorry you’re losing your partner. I don’t mean to be a bastard to you, but I’m on Team Ashleigh. I have to be. I’m asking you friend to friend, and I really hope you hear me: Let her go.”

“I will,” he sighed. “I don’t have a choice, do I? But who the hell am I supposed to dance with now?”

“It doesn’t matter who. You’re the best dancer in the
world
, Ruby. Pick someone. Don’t be a pussy, for fuck’s sake.”

With those words, his friend went up the wide marble staircase to comfort his wife.

Chapter Two: Horrible
 

Petra squeezed her hands in her lap, a mess of nerves in the back of a black sedan. She was just in from New York, where drivers sat on the other side of the car, and cars drove on the other side of the road. She didn’t often regret her single status, only at times like these when she would have liked someone friendly sitting beside her telling her everything would be okay.

And everything would be okay. This dinner wasn’t an audition. Petra Hewitt had reached the point in her career where she didn’t have to audition. She was the world’s premier ballerina and she could pick and choose where she wanted to dance. Companies courted her, theater directors begged her for appearances. Last week, out of the blue, she’d been offered a position at London City Ballet, an offer that included an impressive salary, a furnished luxury “flat,” and a driver to take her to and from the theater. But those perks weren’t the main draw...

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