Can he love her—no matter what?
Finally on her own again after her son leaves for college, small-town science teacher Alyssa Norton is ready to leap back into life and romance. Fellow teacher Ben O’Reilly is finally ready to move on from the death of his wife five years before. It should be a perfect match, but …
Alyssa’s finger won’t stop twitching. It could be nothing, or it could be worse—perhaps Parkinson’s, the same disease that caused Michael J. Fox to leave the career he loved. Will Ben be strong enough to find out what they have together, or will he leave her standing alone on the dance floor?
Set in small town Montana, Keep Dancing is a sweet romance about the strength of two very human people as they redefine what it means to have a life worth living and a love worth keeping. Fans of clean and wholesome romances with mid-life characters will enjoy this novella.
Read an Excerpt
“Did you get the email from Jennifer?” a loud male voice asked from the edge of Zoe Norton’s classroom.
The presence of the history teacher filled the doorway. At almost six feet, Ben O’Reilly dwarfed most of the kids in school … and her five-foot-two height.
“Got it, didn’t read it.” The vice principal had assigned her to another committee, no doubt. So much for her plans for her free time now that her son had gone to college.
“We’ve been assigned to help the kids create their winter formal,” he said.
“A dance?” Ugh. Her mother had been a competitive dancer with closets full of gowns.
Zoe hadn’t been able to make it through her own bridal dance.
And her damn pinky twitched. She stuffed her hand in her pocket.
“C’mon. It’ll be fun,” he said, doing a mock jitterbug step.
“We’re going to have to rope in someone else as well. This is not in my wheelhouse.”
“Then it’s time you learn,” he said.
“We don’t actually have to dance,” she said. “Just make sure nothing untoward happens.”
“Untoward?” His forehead wrinkled in a mock frown. “Do people actually say ‘untoward’?”
“Of course they do.” She chuckled. “Well, I do.”
“Sure you aren’t an English teacher masquerading as a science nerd?” The grin was back.
“‘Untoward’ and ‘quite’ in the same conversation,” he said. “Amazing abilities.” He did another dance step. “But can you dance?”
“I don’t have to dance,” she said. “All I have to do is corral kids. And that, Mr. O’Reilly, I do well.”
“I’m quite sure of that. It will be more fun if we show them some steps, though.” He held his arms out in a waltz position and spun around.
He was a freewheeling teacher, willing to do anything to keep the kids’ attention. His exuberance sent an itch up her spine.
“No dancing,” she said firmly.
“Okay. I can only hope you change your mind.”
“I don’t know how.”
“There’s classes to help you learn to dance,” he said. “In fact, there’s one starting up at the Firehouse in a few weeks. I was planning on enrolling. You should, too.”
“I’ll think about it,” she said, although she’d do no such thing. For the first time in decades, she had her life all to herself. Time for peace and quiet, not rock and roll.
“Suit yourself,” he said, although his smile dimmed a little. “Anyway, we need to get started soon. The fall is always a mess—holidays, football, first quarter …”
“Mid-terms …” she added.
“Well, I guess I don’t have a choice,” she said. “How do we get started?”
He walked over to where she stood. “It’s a dance,” he said, “not a death sentence.
These kids are nervous enough with all those hormones and ‘will she or won’t he dance with me?’ Have you ever been to one of these?”
“Not really.” She’d avoided these assignments like the plague, finding some other way to do her mandatory extracurricular activities. Her chess teams and science fair projects were legendary.
“Well, it will be an experience.”
“How do we start?” she repeated.
“May I?” He held out his hands.
He grasped them and pulled her into a classic dance position.
At his touch, the air seemed to depart her lungs. It had been a long time since she’d had a reaction like this to a man.
“Like this,” he said. “You always start like this. And then?” He shuffled a few steps. “You just dance.”
A ball bounced in the hallway.
She pulled away.
“The kids!” she hissed.
With a smile, he raised his hands in surrender and took a few steps back. “Sorry. Got carried away.” He leaned against the nearest wall. “I have some ideas on kids who would be good committee members. The dance is the second week of December.”
“We should set up a schedule, then,” she said, striding back to her desk. That damn pinky was twitching again. She stuffed her hand, along with her concern, in her pocket.
“I’ll leave that to you. Once you decide on the first committee meeting, I’ll help you round up the kids.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She stared at the computer, willing him to leave.
She looked up at his tone.
“Consider the dance lessons, Ms. Norton. The event will be a lot more fun if you do.” He studied her. “You look like you could use a little more fun in your life.”
He took a good chunk of the air in the room with him when he left.
End of Excerpt
“Wonderfully sweet, thoughtful and intelligent romance. … For a short story, there is a lot of depth to this romance as life never stops and continues to put challenges in the characters’ way.!” ~ Mary Jo Toth