Enjoy The Dance

October 6, 2016

enjoythedance-digital_finalv3_highresRELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016

Format: Novel • Genre: Contemporary • Length: 80,000 words

Publisher: Heidi Cullinan

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9961203-6-4

Print ISBN: 978-0-9961203-7-1

Characters: Spenser Harris, Tomás Jimenez, Ed Maurer, Laurie Parker, Duon Graves

Short Summary: Set against the backdrop of the marriage equality and immigration struggles of 2012, kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris and dance instructor Tomás Jimenez fall in love while helping a troubled youth, but the public spotlight their effort draws threatens their relationship, their careers, and their families.

FULL BLURB:

Dance with your heart, and love will follow.

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

Retailers: Amazon • Kobo • iTunes • Barnes & Noble • All Romance Ebooks  • Smashwords • Scribd

Audio: Coming late October/early November

One cool October day, after a dispiriting seven hours of teaching privileged kindergarten children, Spenser Harris returned to his apartment to discover a teenage boy—battered, bruised, and coiled into a ball—in front of his door.

Spenser had learned to expect any number of unexpected happenings in his neighborhood, but nothing like this. His apartment building was old, but not run-down. It wasn’t quaint enough to attract hipsters but not so low-rent it drew a bad element. People of all cultures lived there, and in the evenings a walk to the laundry room was a world tour of food smells. The family across from Spenser was Mexican by heritage, and the older couple who lived at the end of the hall was Ukrainian. A large percentage of the second and third floors were occupied by Somali immigrants, some who had been in Minnesota for a decade or longer, some who had arrived recently. The family who lived above him was in the latter category, and they argued loudly in a language Spenser didn’t understand. The neighborhood had its off-color aspects, yes, but nothing to worry about. A drunk had taken up the habit of sleeping in the vestibule last winter when he couldn’t make it all the way home, but he’d simply snored and sometimes vomited. Loud music from cars on the street was a common complaint. But it had never been unsafe, not for the residents or the people living around it.

It hadn’t brought him a young man clutching a half-full black garbage bag, bleeding and trembling in the dim, flickering light of the hall.

A boy. He’s only a boy.

He was Black, and so at first Spenser assumed he was from a family upstairs, but a closer inspection revealed Spenser hadn’t seen anyone like him in the building before. He was dressed like a thrift-store music video, whereas Spenser’s new-to-Minnesota Somali neighbors and their friends favored conservative clothes. Spenser couldn’t begin to guess who the boy was or why he was here. But when his eyes accustomed to the dim light and saw the extent of the bruises on the young man’s face and hands, the blood from his cuts dripping onto the floor, all thoughts of where he’d come from ceased.

Crouching, Spenser stayed several feet away, not wanting to frighten him. “Hey there. Can I help you?”

Hi guys! Thanks for having me here today at Day Before You Came. I thought I’d give you a taste of something my Patrons get regularly, a letter from one of my characters. Last month their letters were from characters from Enjoy the Dance, and today I’m sharing one of them with you. Hope you enjoy it!

 

*

 

Hey there! I’m Tomás. It’s great to meet you. I’m here to tell you a bit about me before you read my story in Enjoy the Dance.

 

I’m twenty-six years old. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota, have since I was a kid. I was born in Arizona, which I don’t remember really at all, except for a few moments supported by photos, and after a brief stint in northern Iowa we moved here to St. Paul. I live in an apartment building in East Midway, same place I’ve lived since we moved here. Live with my parents, Renata and José, and sometimes, to my frustration, my nieces and nephews, Sabrina, Jasmin, and Ashton. And sometimes my sister Alisa, though when that happens all we do is fight.

 

I have, I hate to tell you, three jobs. I’m a shift supervisor at Starbucks, and on the weekends sometimes I do overnight janitorial at a nursing home. But the job I love is the one I have weeknights and some Saturdays: dance instructor at the Parker Dance Studio in Dayton’s Bluff.

 

You know my boss there: Laurie Parker. I love him, seriously. He’s a hero to me, and the whole neighborhood. Did you know instead of buying a house in a nice neighborhood, or opening another studio in a posh suburb, Ed and Laurie bought the building next door to the Dayton’s Bluff studio and are renovating it to expand? Because they want to do more for our neighborhood, they said. Even though our studio doesn’t bring in much money and half the students are funded by scholarships, and half of the rest have reduced tuition. But that’s Ed and Laurie. That’s who they are.

 

I teach mostly modern dance, but I take ballet from Laurie, and as you’ll find out in the novel, I’ve started taking something a little new.

 

Like Spenser, I’m a little surprised I’m the hero of a love story, because I have no idea when in the hell I’m going to have time to date somebody. I barely have time to eat and sleep. I’d never make it without my parents, who make me dinner and keep it warm in the oven, wash all my uniforms and get me new clothes at the thrift store, and keep my junker car running. I know it’s not cool to live with your parents, but my parents are my everything. They don’t give a fig about me being gay. They want me to find a nice boy to settle down with, yeah, but they don’t even push me there because they know the score. Right now things in our family are tense. Seriously, crazy tense. My sister…well, she’s not the best mother. We have the kids a lot. And my parents…

 

I can’t get into that. It’s not a secret I share. But let’s put it this way: every night I come home and the apartment is dark, until I see the saint candle burning on the kitchen counter, I’m almost sick because I’m afraid my parents have been taken from me. I’ve been afraid of that my whole life, but right now…right now I’m afraid of that all day long.

 

And now I’m afraid for Duon. I don’t have any more space in my life to carry other people, but Duon is my favorite student, and I’m not letting him down either. I’ll find a way to help him too. Starting with making sure this Spenser guy is legit, that he isn’t some sanctimonious white idiot come in here to fuck shit up.

 

I mean, he’s cute as hell. But ass doesn’t get a pass with me. Family is all I have, and I’m not letting it go, not for anybody.

 

Not for anybody.

 

Anyway. We’ll see how this goes. You will too, very soon.

 

Catch you guys later.

 

  • Tomás

 

 

*

Dance with your heart, and love will follow.

 

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

 

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

 

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

 

*

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

 

 

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