The Gritty Truth (The Whiskeys Dark Knights at Peaceful Harbor #7) - Melissa Foster

Chapter One

THE RHYTHM OF Beyoncé’s “Halo” flowed through dance instructor Veronica “Roni” Wescott as she spun and leaped across the room at On Your Toes dance studio. The sight of Quincy Gritt’s name on a text message had sent her body into an exhilarating flurry of desire, and she’d needed to try to get a grip before eight adorable little girls bounced into the studio for their class. Roni was acutely aware of her jerky movements, and pushed herself harder, striving for the perfection she knew she could never again achieve in the same way she knew there was not enough music on the planet to obliterate thoughts of the blue-eyed Charlie Hunnam lookalike. But she had to try. Drawing upon the tricks she’d learned when she was younger and navigating the derelict-ridden streets of her neighborhood, she forced herself to focus on the goal, not the noise in her head. She gave herself over to the music, allowing it to pull her through the contemporary dance she loved, pushing away the ache of shattered dreams and muffling thoughts of the man whose friendship and flirtatious texts kept her up at night. When the final crescendo rang out, she slid to the floor on her side, lowering her cheek to the smooth wood, and closed her eyes.

“Bravo!”

Roni’s eyes flew open when she heard the voice of her best friend and fellow dance instructor, Angela Keiser. They’d been friends since third grade, when they’d met in a dance class at that very studio.

“Girl, you are killing it,” Angela said as she strolled into the room in her white dance skirt and a midriff-baring top. Her long blond hair was braided and coiled into a bun at the top of her head, like a modern-day Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie. Half of their best-friends necklace twinkled around her neck, as always.

“Thanks. Is your class over?” Roni pushed to her feet and grabbed a towel to blot her face.

“Yup. I’m heading out in a few minutes, but I have to say this, and I know you’re sick of hearing it. You really need to dance in the Winter Showcase, and no, Elisa did not put me up to convincing you.”

Elisa Abbot owned the studio, and Roni had taken dance lessons from her since she was five years old, until a few years ago. Three times a year Elisa held productions, or showcases, in which students and teachers performed for the community. Elisa had been all over Roni about dancing in the Winter Showcase, which was taking place at the end of January. When Roni was growing up, she had danced her heart out for those events, and danced solo more often than not. But thanks to a freak car accident, her days of rising to the top of any production were gone.

“Pfft. No, thank you,” Roni said as her phone chimed like a traitorous secret teller, reminding her that she had a text from Quincy waiting to be read.

“You’re way too good a dancer to hide away in here.” Angela eyed Roni’s phone on the table and said, “And too damn hot to keep hiding from Quincy.”

“I’m not hiding from anything or anyone.” Roni pushed past her and snagged her phone.

“No?” Angela crossed her arms with a challenging expression and said, “So that lingering text is not from Loverboy?”

“I told you to stop calling him that.” Thankfully, Angela didn’t call him that when he occasionally came to pick up his niece, Kennedy, from Roni’s dance class, which Kennedy had started attending in September.

Angela knew her so well. She had been the one to drag Roni to the charity bachelor auction at Whiskey Bro’s bar five months ago, and she had won the date with Quincy specifically for Roni, despite Roni having begged her not to. Though now Roni wasn’t altogether sorry her bestie had done it.

“And I told you to stop being ridiculous and go out with the guy,” Angela insisted. “You guys text all the time anyway.”

“No, we don’t. We text sometimes, and we don’t talk about anything deep. He flirts and asks how my day was. We talk about dance and his job at the bookstore, our favorite foods, and shows we’re bingeing, and sometimes we send funny pictures to each other. I don’t know anything real about him.”

She’d been thinking about that a lot lately, curious about who he really was and why he was okay keeping their conversations light and flirty, when most guys would have pushed harder,