Quincy walked into the dance studio a few minutes before Kennedy’s class ended. He slipped past the mothers waiting in the lobby and headed down the hall, following the sound of music to Roni’s classroom.
Roni stood at the head of the class, gorgeous in a skintight white bodysuit that disappeared beneath the waist of her sheer black skirt and leggings. He’d noticed she didn’t wear glasses when she taught, giving him a side view of her high cheekbones, slender nose, and gorgeous mouth. Kennedy was in the front row, dressed in all pink, her dark hair pinned up in ponytails, and she was giving Roni her full attention. Love stacked up inside Quincy for the sister-turned-niece, whom he’d fought to keep alive in crack houses and on the streets before their mother had overdosed.
“Right hand out to your side. Left hand out to your side,” Roni said, doing the motions as the girls copied her movements. “Cross your arms over your chest, hands up by your shoulders, and sway your upper body, leading with your shoulders.”
She moved with such fluidity and grace, Quincy was mesmerized.
“Let’s try it together now,” Roni said, repeating the movements slowly and patiently, her eyes moving over the girls, a compassionate gaze coming to rest on an adorable redhead leaning against the back wall, her hands tucked behind her. “Okay, ladies, let’s try that three more times on your own.”
As the girls practiced, Roni went to the redhead in the back of the room and crouched beside her as she spoke. The little girl shook her head, frowning. Roni touched her hand, still talking quietly. The girl nodded. Roni pushed to her feet, taking the child’s hand and speaking loudly to the class. “Good job, ladies. Okay, let’s—” Her eyes found Quincy, and she stumbled over her words.
A slow smile crept across his lips, loving her reaction, which was the same every time he picked up Kennedy. He winked as she struggled to regain control. She was so damn cute, smiling nervously for him, then tearing her eyes away with such force, he wondered why she bothered when it would be so much easier to give in to their chemistry.
Roni walked the redhead to the group, then hurried to the front of the class and said, “Excellent class, ladies. Give yourselves a big hand.” The girls cheered and clapped, although the redhead didn’t join in. Roni stole a glance at Quincy.
“Don’t forget to get your things from your cubbies,” Roni said, inciting a flurry of activity.
“Uncle Quincy!” Kennedy ran over, her ponytails swinging.
Quincy hoisted her into his arms, and she threw her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek. After all he and the kids had been through, being loved by them was one of his greatest blessings. He was lucky to have many greatest blessings in his life, and he’d never take a single one for granted again.
“Hey, jelly bean,” he said, snuggling her. “Mommy got held up at work, so I’m giving you a ride home.”
“Yay!” Kennedy cheered.
As parents filtered into the room to pick up their kids, Roni watched over the children like a mother hen, sneaking peeks at Quincy.
“Did you see me dancing? Awen’t I good?” Kennedy asked.
“You’re the best. Why don’t you get your stuff while I talk with Miss Roni?”
She clung to him like a monkey and said, “I want to come with you.”
He couldn’t exactly charm Roni the way he’d hoped to with a little one in his arms. Time to get creative. He carried her across the room to Roni, who was saying goodbye to one of the other kids. The second she was done, Kennedy said, “Miss Woni, my uncle wants to talk to you!”
A nervous smile played at Roni’s full, kissable lips as she set her hazel eyes on him, causing a squirrelly feeling in his chest, and said, “What can I do for you, Uncle Quincy?”
“Let me take you out tomorrow night.” Come on, baby, just say yes.
Her eyes darted to Kennedy. “I’m sorry, but I have to work.”
She lowered her eyes for only a second before they flicked up to his, as though it was hard to look away, and she said, “I have class.”
Time to bring out the big guns. He looked at Kennedy and said, “Jelly bean, help me out here. I want to have a playdate with Miss Roni, and she doesn’t want to play with me.”
Roni’s cheeks flamed. But her widening smile told him to pull out all the stops.
“Uncle Quincy has the best playdates!” Kennedy exclaimed. “He plays for hours. We play dolls and dwess-up. Sometimes we play football, but he has to play on his knees because he’s so big. We play house and we dance, and he even lets me put wibbons in his hair.”
Roni laughed, and he’d give just about anything to hear more of that sweet sound.
“Ribbons?” she asked.
Oh man, maybe Kennedy isn’t helping after all.
Kennedy nodded. “Yes, and if you’re good, he’ll take you to Penny’s ice cweam shop. He loves ice cweam. He always says he can eat it all night long. Right, Uncle Quincy?”
He cocked a grin. Best wing girl ever. “That’s right, kiddo. All night long.”
Roni’s eyes flew open wider, and she snapped her mouth shut.
“You should have a playdate with him, Miss Woni!” Kennedy said excitedly, and wriggled out of Quincy’s arms. “I’m gonna get my stuff!”
“You’re so bad,” Roni whispered, looking around them and laughing softly.
“That used to be true in the not-so-great sense. But I assure you, now I only use my bad side to be very, very good.” He stepped closer, the temperature between them spiking. Roni was tall, five six or seven, he guessed, the perfect height to take her face between his hands and kiss her. She smelled enticingly feminine, but he kept his hands to himself and said, “What’s a guy got to do to get a date with you?”
“I don’t really date, Quincy.” She said his name breathily, as if it lingered on her tongue.
“Neither do I,” he said honestly, and glanced at Kennedy, putting her shoes on by the cubbies. All the other kids were gone. “Maybe it’s time we start. What time do you get off tomorrow?”
“I have a late meeting for an upcoming production.”
“What about Wednesday?”
“Sorry. I’m here until eight. I like you a lot, but…”
“No buts, Roni. You can’t hide behind your phone forever.”
“Yes, I can,” she said with a shimmer of playfulness. “I don’t get flustered when we text. It’s easier when”—she waved at his body—“all this isn’t standing right in front of me.”
“Then maybe I need to up my texting game.”
“No!” she said quickly, laughing.
“Laughing is a good start.” He closed the small gap between them, and her chest brushed against him, desire rising in her eyes. Her breathing hitched, but she didn’t look away. Another good sign. He ran his fingers down her arm, and goose bumps rose beneath his touch. She made a sexy, needy sound, awakening the monster behind his zipper. “One date, Veronica, and I promise to keep my hands to myself.” He leaned in and said, “Unless you ask me not to.”
She opened her mouth to respond, and he cut her off. “Do you really want to make up another excuse? Because your eyes tell me that you feel the incredible, inescapable energy between us just as strongly as I do.”
“Mm-hm.” She pressed her lips together, holding his gaze for a beat before whispering, “I feel it, too.”
“That’s all I need to know.”
Kennedy ran over and grabbed Quincy’s hand. “Can we go now?”
“Of course, sweetheart.” Quincy winked at Roni and said, “Ticktock, beautiful. See you soon.”
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