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Authors: Marianna Roberg

Love's Dance

BOOK: Love's Dance
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Love’s Dance

 

 

 

Marianna Roberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2012 Marianna Roberg. All rights reserved.

ISBN 978-1480129153

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the real Emily,

the little devil on my shoulder.

 

And to my grandmother, Nadine,

who passed away shortly before

completion of this work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Notes

 

There are a lot of people I need to thank for this one. Unfortunately, I originally wrote this story back in 2003 and I can’t remember all the names of those who started this insanely long journey with me.

 

I’d like to thank the LOTR Fanfic Fellowship, the Parker Posse, and all the other writing groups I’ve been a member of over the years. Without you guys kicking my butt, this would never have been finished.

 

And my family, of course, for at least tolerating, if not exactly understanding, my laughing over the antics of the voices in my head in the middle of the night.

 

To learn more about Lupus, and to help its sufferers and their families, please visit

www.thelupussite.com

 

Chapter One

 

 

Auckland, New Zealand

 

A flight from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand, is only supposed to take three hours and fifteen minutes. It seemed, to twenty-one-year-old Jaina McGregor, to take a lot longer than that in actual practice. Especially when her flight got in to Auckland International Airport at half past three in the morning. It was early March, and hot as Hades.

As she stumbled off the plane with her carry-on slung over her shoulder and her backpack hanging from a limp arm, she thought longingly of her parents' home in Los Angeles, which would have been a lot cooler.

She'd pulled her medium brown hair back in loose braid, but as usual, a good deal of it had managed to escape. With a heartfelt sigh, she shoved it out of her face and straightened, green eyes scanning the terminal.

It had not been a very good month, February included, and this Flight from Hell--including a screaming baby in the row behind her--had been the cap to it. Hopefully, things would improve.

Jaina took it as a good sign when she spotted her brother, surprisingly alert despite the hour, sitting on one of the blue plastic chairs that all airports seemed to have. She wondered vaguely where those came from. Someone must have been making a fortune in airport furniture.

Jason looked up, a lock of long, curly, dark brown hair falling into his brown eyes. He smiled wearily and stood up. Jaina shuffled over to him and collapsed into his outstretched arms.

"Bad flight?" he asked teasingly.

"I'd rather face a horde of orcs than repeat that," she muttered. "How are you, Jase?"

"Good. Still enormously surprised that you've left Sydney and skipped the ditch."

She drew back, one eyebrow raised. "'Skipped the ditch'?"

He laughed self-consciously. "Slang term for travelling between Australia and New Zealand."

"Well, I know
that
. What I'm wigged by is that
you
are picking up slang."

"Jay, I've lived here six years!"

"Yeah, but you're just
now
picking it up?" She grinned. "You always were slow."

"Hey!" He swiped at her, mussing her hair. "Come on, let's get your stuff and get out of here, huh?"

Jaina nodded. "Sounds good."

They walked together towards the baggage claim. Jaina had only been in the airport once, five months before on her way to Sydney and a film shoot that had wrapped up in early February, three days before her life had fallen apart.

"So what did the SOB do?" Jason asked as they stood by the baggage claim and scanned for her luggage.

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, come on, Jaya. You know what I mean. Last I heard you were all set to marry this guy, what's his name, Jake-"

"Jack."

"Jack, and next thing I know, I'm getting a call from you asking if I'll sponsor you to move to Auckland. What'd he do to you?"

Jaina's green eyes avoided his, though she glanced at him. If he hadn't known her so well, he'd have thought she was looking at him when she answered. "What makes you think something happened?"

His voice was quiet as he said, "You're not wearing your engagement ring."

Jaina sighed. "Fine, yes, something happened. I called the whole thing off. And there wasn't a reason to stay in Sydney."

Jason just stared at her.

Jaina motioned to the rotating contraption in front of them. "There's my stuff."

They got her bags and headed for the car. Jaina carried her precious makeup kit with her in her carry-on, not trusting it to the baggage handlers. It had been her livelihood for months. She was not going to lose it now.

Jason waited until they'd reached the car to inquire further. "What did he do?"

Jaina looked out the window at the night traffic. "He cheated on me. I caught him literally in the act."

Her older brother winced. "Ouch. You want me to skin him for you?"

She smiled. "No, it's okay. I think my phone call to his mother did enough damage."

"You called his
mother
?!"

Jaina nodded, smirking. "She wasn't at all happy. I mean, to find out her son's gay..."

Jason sputtered. "Gay?!"

"And using me as a cover," she continued. "Yeah, she wasn't happy."

He shook his head, bewildered. "I'm so sorry, Jay."

"Well, I was an idiot, and I realize now I didn't really love him. But still. Thing I regret most is giving the ring back." She giggled suddenly. "Actually, I, uh, threw it at him."

"Did you hit him with it?"

"Yeah."

"You always have been able to throw better than you catch." Jason cast a quick grin at his little sister.

The conversation turned from her romance woes to small talk, catching up on everything that had happened since they'd last spoke. Before Jaina knew it, they'd pulled up in front of a two-story house in suburban Auckland. Trees stood in front of the house, which was a pale gold brick with russet trim.

"Wow," she said. "Nice place."

"You've seen pictures."

"Pictures are never the same. Things are always better in real life," she said softly.

"Come on in. You can meet the kids in the morning."

At the thought of her niece and nephew, Jaina smiled.

She took a deep breath, and opened the car door. It was time to start her new life.

 

♥♥♥

 

Jaina woke with a start at three minutes to eight in the morning, when two high, joyous voices went past outside her room, shrieking and giggling.

She sat bolt upright, trying to remember where she was. She was in a light yellow room, with a large, single window hung with white curtains. She was lying in a full bed covered in a yellow check spread scattered with embroidered pink roses. Not her taste, but definitely that of her sister-in-law.

At the sound of her brother's voice in the hallway, she remembered. She was in Auckland, and she'd left Jack behind.

"Shh! You guys need to be quiet!" Jason could be heard telling his children.

"But Mummy's already up!"

"Aunt Jaina isn't," Jason replied.

The door beside them opened and Jaina stuck a disheveled head out. "Yes, she is. Now, anyway."

Two very short people stood in front of Jason, both with bright red hair and large brown eyes. Said brown eyes were huge in their little faces as they craned their necks up at her. The girl, Clarissa, squeaked and ducked behind her father.

Christian, her twin brother, just stared at her.

"It's okay, guys, it's me, Jaya," Jaina said with a laugh, crouching to put herself on an eye-level with her four-year-old nephew. "You talk to me on the phone all the time."

Clarissa peaked out from behind her father's leg. "Jaya?"

"Yeah. I know you haven't met me before."

Jason picked up the little girl. "Come on, munchkin. Let's go have breakfast."

"I'll be down in a minute," Jaina said. "I'm just going to take a quick shower and get dressed."

"Okay. C'mon, Chris. Mum's making your favorite."

The little boy finally looked away from his aunt. "Fruit Loops?"

Jason laughed. "You don't make Fruit Loops, silly. But if that's what you want, I guess you can have that."

With a smile, Jaina watched them descend the stairs.

 

♥♥♥

 

Fifteen minutes later, hair still damp but towel-dried, Jaina skipped down the stairs, wearing a white peasant blouse embroidered with green designs, the bell sleeves trimmed in dark green ribbon, and hip-hugging, flared blue jeans and white tennis shoes. Her waist-length hair hung in a ponytail down her back.

When she walked into the dining room, the twins were busy throwing Fruit Loops at each other. Jason was doing his best to keep the mess to a minimum.

He looked up when she came in. "Hey. Teniel's in the kitchen."

Jaina nodded and sailed on through to said room, finding her sister-in-law leaning on one of the counters, sipping something pinkish yellow from a tall glass and flipping through a magazine. Wavy red hair reached her shoulder blades, held in a silver clip. She was taller than Jaina by a few inches, her lithe form wrapped in a blue-and-grey print dress of some light, summery material. Her feet were bare.

"Uh, hey," Jaina said, a little hesitantly.

Teniel looked up. One would have expected her eyes to be a brown like those of her children, or a blue, but they were a startling light grey, rimmed with auburn lashes. Those eyes widened in surprised delight at seeing Jaina. She squealed and threw her arms around the younger woman.

"It's so good to see you! You're somehow taller than I remember."

"I'm still only five-two," Jaina laughed. "You look just the same, though."

Teniel grinned, pulling back. "You mean I haven't changed in nearly six years?"

"Nope. Same hairstyle and everything."

The taller woman spun towards the stove. "You must be starving. Here, I've made some French toast for you, and shredded potatoes."

"Thanks," Jaina said, accepting the plate. "Clarissa's scared of me."

"She's scared of everyone," Teniel said affectionately. "Christian is just the opposite."

"Takes after Emily, huh?" Jaina laughed.

Teniel's smile was wry. "Looks that way."

After a moment, Teniel studied Jaina. "Jason goes in to work at nine, and the twins go to a babysitter a little after that. If you want, I can give you a tour of Auckland."

BOOK: Love's Dance
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