Friday, June 12, 2020

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An Excerpt from Fast Beat by Wren Valentino

Natasha Marchant always knew when Cassidy needed her the most. So when she showed up unexpectedly in the hospital waiting room and insisted they go share a pizza and a pitcher of beer, Cassidy was grateful but not surprised.
            Thirty minutes later they were sitting across from each other in wooden chairs at a table in the front window of their favorite all-night pizza place. There were only a few other customers, including a young couple who kept giggling at each other.
            “Thank you for this,” Cassidy said, reaching for a second slice. “It’s been a really long day.”
            Natasha nodded. “You need nutrition and some sleep.”
            “You’re right. But, then again, you usually are.”
            “You’re only one person, Cassidy. I know you think you can do it all and we both know you can, but don’t overdo it. How many jobs do you have now?”
            “What choice do I have? I’m saving every penny I make so I can buy my own dance studio. I even found the building I want. It used to be an art gallery.”
            “Slow down,” Natasha cautioned.
            Cassidy reached for her plastic cup of beer. “You know that’s not my style. It never has been.”
            Natasha leaned forward. “I’m worried about you.”
            “Don’t worry about me. Worry about Tony.”
            “It’s awful what happened to him. It makes me so angry. Any news?”
            Cassidy checked her phone. “No. I’m hoping Teresa texts me soon with an update.”
            “How’s she holding up?”
            “Not good. You know how close she and Tony are. All they have is each other.”
            Natasha shot her a look. “Teresa has a husband and a million children. She’s hardly living the lonely life like me.”
            “Yeah, but I imagine the bond is different between a brother and a sister.”
            “She can have my sister if she wants one.”
            Cassidy smiled for the first time that day. Tension eased somewhat around her shoulders. “That’s very generous of you.”
            “I’ve been trying to give my sister away since she was five and chopped my hair off with her Hello Kitty scissors. No takers yet.”
            Cassidy’s grin turned into laughter. “Gloria’s not that bad.”
            “Sure, if you aren’t related to her.”
            “It feels good to laugh,” said Cassidy. “Thank you.”
            Her attention shifted to the window beside them. Thoughts drifted far away from the pizza place, staring beyond the orange and green PIZZA BY THE SLICE neon sign and to the city sidewalk. She watched strangers – some alone and some together – heading in different directions, living separate lives. Disconnected. That’s exactly how Cassidy felt now.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “You know how much this competition means to me. I’ve come so close, especially the last three years. I really thought Tony and I had a shot to win this year finally. I mean, our routine is amazing. We’ve put so much work into it.”
            “I’m so sorry this happened,” Natasha said. “There might not be any other choice. You might have to sit the year out.”
            Cassidy glanced down, defeated. “Yeah, that was Teresa’s recommendation, too.”
            “But I know there’s no chance of that happening.” Natasha helped herself to another slice of pizza, covering it with a quick shake of parmesan followed by a heavy coating of hot red pepper flakes.
            Cassidy looked up. “You know me, I don’t give in.”
            “And you never take no for an answer,” said Natasha. “Yeah, I get it. That’s who you are. It’s who you’ve always been. If there’s a way to still compete, you’ll find it.”
            A thought erupted that invigorated and inspired her suddenly. “I know what I need to do,” Cassidy explained. “I need to find a new partner. And fast.”
            “Who? We both know Tony is the best dancer in this city. Hell, maybe even the entire state. There’s no guy who isn’t already in a dance crew who can come close to being the dancer Tony is.”
            “You’re right, but if he is out there, I have to find him,” Cassidy said. “Like now.”

Fast Beat
Wren Valentino

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Blue Dasher Press

Date of Publication: May 29, 2020


Word Count: 15,000

Cover Artist: James at

Book Description:

After her long-time dance partner Tony is injured, Cassidy Downs has only a matter of weeks to find a new partner to remain eligible to compete in the All City Dance Off.

When she discovers Giovanni, a talented and classically trained member of a dance conservatory, Cassidy convinces him to become her new partner despite his reluctance to do so.

As the competition nears, neither Cassidy nor Giovanni can deny the strong attraction building between them.

About the Author:

Wren Valentino is an author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. He writes in multiple genres, primarily contemporary romance with an international setting. Wren graduated magna cum laude from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and English. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He is a member of Gothic Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. He loves film noir, white chocolate, classic cartoons, koalas, Julie London records, Nancy Drew, the Peanuts gang, Disney villains, all things Tiki, Italy, and everything written by Jane Austen.

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