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Chapter One


“Strip.”

Haylee looked up from studying the studio’s polished hardwood floor, to the wall of mirrors in front of her. Two hard masculine faces reflected over her slumped shoulders. Frustration carved deep lines around their eyes. She avoided looking at her own reflection, knowing she’d find the same lines on her own visage. The lines had been there for two weeks, ever since she began working with Carmine Romero, Broadway’s premier choreographer – now her dance instructor. Why had she ever thought she could do this? She could act. She could sing, but dance? No. That had never been one of her talents.

“What?”

“Take your clothes off.” Chase Nolton, her leading man, and Carmine’s partner in these torture sessions grinned. “That’s what the word usually means.”

“I know what it means. I just don’t understand why or how it applies in this instance.”

Carmine came to stand between her and the mirror. He was older than Haylee by a few years, not enough to matter, but his expertise as a choreographer was renowned. He rarely took on individual students, especially ones with zero dance experience. She was lucky to be working with him, and she knew it. “Look, Haylee. We’ve been at this for two weeks. You still move like a Barbie doll.”

Haylee bristled at the insult. “I’m not a dancer.”

“I get that, but Madeline is, and that’s who you have to be on stage. The opening number takes place in the strip club where she’s working to pay the bills. She’s broke and desperate, and she thinks she has nothing left to offer but her body.”

“But she never takes all her clothes off,” Haylee pointed out.

“No, she doesn’t, but she’s stripped bare, none-the-less. So that’s where we’re going to begin, by stripping you bare. From now on, you’ll dance nude.” Haylee shook her head. “Think about it. Madeline has nothing left but her body. No money. No career. No pride. She’s willing to do anything for that one last chance to be a star, including give her body to a man she hardly knows if he’ll give her a part. She’s a dancer. She understands her body, how it moves, how it feels, how to make it do what she wants. You have to be Madeline. You have to learn these things about your body in order to portray her. I think this is the only way we’re going to get to that point, by removing everything you’re hiding behind.”

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