Taming Natasha Page 49

“No. No logic or excuses. We’re past that. Tell me if you believe me.”

She looked into his eyes and saw what she already knew. “Yes, I believe you.”

“Then tell me what you feel. I need to know.”

He had a right to know, she thought, though she could all but taste the panic on her tongue. “I love you. And I’m afraid.”

He brought her hand to his lips to press a kiss firmly against her fingers. “Why?”

“Because I was in love before, and nothing, nothing could have ended as badly.”

There was that shadow again, he thought impatiently. The shadow from her past that he could neither fight nor conquer because it was nameless.

“Neither of us have come into this without a few bruises, Natasha. But we have a chance to make something new, something important.”

She knew he was right, felt he was right, yet still held back. “I wish I were so sure. Spence, there are things you don’t know about me.”

“That you were a dancer.”

She shifted then, to gather the sheets to her breast and sit up. “Yes. Once.”

“Why haven’t you mentioned it?”

“Because it was over.”

He drew the hair away from her face. “Why did you stop?”

“I had a choice to make.” The ache came back, but briefly. She turned to him and smiled. “I was not so good. Oh, I was adequate, and perhaps in time I would have been good enough to have been a principal dancer. Perhaps… It was something I wanted very badly once. But wanting something doesn’t always make it happen.”

“Will you tell me about it?”

It was a beginning, one she knew she had to make. “It’s not very exciting.” She lifted her hands, then let them fall on to the sheet. “I started late, after we came here. Through the church my parents met Martina Latovia. Many years ago she was an important Soviet dancer who defected. She became friends with my mother and offered to give me classes. It was good for me, the dance. I didn’t speak English well, so it was hard to make friends. Everything was so different here, you see.”

“Yes, I can imagine.”

“I was nearly eight by that time. It becomes difficult to teach the body, the joints, to move as they weren’t meant to move. But I worked very hard. Madame was kind and encouraging. My parents were so proud.” She laughed a little, but warmly. “Papa was sure I would be the next Pavlova. The first time I danced en pointe, Mama cried. Dance is obsession and pain and joy. It’s a different world, Spence. I can’t explain. You have to know it, be a part of it.”

“You don’t have to explain.”

She looked over at him. “No, not to you,” she murmured. “Because of the music. I joined the corps de ballet when I was almost sixteen. It was wonderful. Perhaps I didn’t know there were other worlds, but I was happy.”

“What happened?”

“There was another dancer.” She shut her eyes. It was important to take this slowly, carefully. “You’ve heard of him, I imagine. Anthony Marshall.”

“Yes.” Spence had an immediate picture of a tall, blond man with a slender build and incredible grace. “I’ve seen him dance many times.”

“He was magnificent. Is,” she corrected. “Though it’s been years since I’ve seen him dance. We became involved. I was young. Too young. And it was a very big mistake.”

Now the shadow had a name. “You loved him.”

“Oh yes. In a naive and idealistic kind of way. The only way a girl can love at seventeen. More, I thought he loved me. He told me he did, in words, in actions. He was very charming, romantic…and I wanted to believe him. He promised me marriage, a future, a partnership in dance, all the things I wanted to hear. He broke all those promises, and my heart.”

“So now you don’t want to hear promises from me.”

“You’re not Anthony,” she murmured, then lifted a hand to his cheek. Her eyes were dark and beautiful, her voice only more exotic as emotions crowded. “Believe me, I know that. And I don’t compare, not now. I’m not the same woman who built dreams on a few careless words.”

“What I’ve said to you hasn’t been careless.”

“No.” She leaned closer to rest her cheek against his. “Over the past months I’ve come to see that, and to understand that what I feel for you is different from anything I’ve felt before.” There was more she wanted to tell him, but the words clogged her throat. “Please, let that be enough for now.”

“For now. It won’t be enough forever.”

She turned her mouth to his. “Just for now.”

How could it be? Natasha asked herself. How could it be that when she was just beginning to trust herself, to trust her heart, that this should happen? How could she face it again?

It was like a play run backward and started again, when her life had changed so drastically and completely. She sat back on her bed, no longer concerned about dressing for work, about starting a normal day. How could things be normal now? How could she expect them to be normal ever again?

She held the little vial in her hand. She had followed the instructions exactly. Just a precaution, she had told herself. But she’d known in her heart. Since the visit to her parents two weeks before she’d known. And had avoided facing the reality.

It was not the flu that made her queasy in the mornings. It was not overwork or stress that caused her to be so tired, or that brought on the occasional dizzy spells. The simple test that she’d bought over the counter in the drugstore had told her what she’d already known and feared.

She was carrying a child. Once again she was carrying a child. The rush of joy and wonder was totally eclipsed by the bone-deep fear that froze her.

How could it be? She was no longer a foolish girl and had taken precautions. Romance aside, she had been practical enough, responsible enough to visit her doctor and begin taking those tiny little pills, when she had realized where her relationship with Spence was bound to go. Yet she was pregnant. There was no denying it.

How could she tell him? Covering her face with her hands, Natasha rocked back and forth to give herself some small comfort. How could she go through all of it again, when that time years before was still so painfully etched on her memory?

She had known Anthony no longer loved her, if he had ever. But when she’d learned she was carrying his child, she had been thrilled. And so certain that he would share her delight. When she’d gone to him, almost bubbling over, glowing with the joy of it, his cruelty had all but cut her in two.

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