Indian Summer is my first published novel. An historical romantic suspense, Indian Summer is set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739. Gabriella Deza is the youngest daughter of Spanish Governor, Ferdinand Deza. Headstrong and intrepid, Gabriella has just turned 15, the coming of age of a young Spanish woman. Manuel Enriques, her father’s aide de camp, has declared his love for her. He also asks if he may escort her to her birthday party. Overwhelmed by his declaration, Gabriella realizes she has feelings for him, too. In this excerpt, they are at her birthday party and he has just invited her to dance.
My knees melted as he held out his hand to me.
“This is my dance, I believe, Señorita Deza.”
Manuel locked eyes with the next candidate for treading on my toes, who cowered under his look. Nodding rapidly, the little rabbit of a man retreated to the corner behind Clara and seemed to take her as his shield of defense.
I graced him with my sincere smile and said, “I promise the next dance is yours, señor.”
He bobbed his head rapidly again, retreating even further. Manuel spoke from the corner of his mouth as we walked to the dance floor. “I don’t think you will have to honor that promise, my sweet.”
Chortling, I replied with a coquettish toss of my hair. “Why, Señor Enriques, do you intend to intimidate every man here?”
He chuckled secretively as he turned me in a circle under his arm. “If need be, my dear. If need be. I shall have you to myself.” He put special emphasis on “shall” as he spun me again and the music began.
Quiet at first, I listened with only half my attention. Suddenly, the orchestra erupted in a wave of the most exciting music I had ever heard! The guitars hammered loudly, the percussion began a beat I was familiar with. The music echoed the pounding of my heart. Manuel chuckled, seeing the surprised look upon my face.
“Do you like my choice? It’s a special request I gave them. A dance just for us!” He spun me again, three times in succession.
“I don’t know this dance!” I gasped. “I don’t know the steps!”
“Listen to the music, Bella. You know this. You feel it in your blood! Would I ever embarrass you? Follow my lead and you will be free!”
The music continued slowly, just a hint of notes on a single guitar. Manuel led me in a few gentle steps, ending in a deep dip. The tempo changed, accelerating into a fast, syncopated rhythm. He swept me into the most amazing dance! The music crashed into me in wave after wave of excitement. The power of it washed over us, setting my heart pounding in my chest with a beat at the same time unnatural, but as much a part of me as breathing.
We spun, stepped, dipped, clapped, stomped and when we got to the end I realized I had just danced my first Flamenco. I had seen this dance many times. The country folk in Spain danced this at their celebrations. The music and tradition had followed us to this new land, where they danced it at festivals.
Manuel led me off the dance floor, both of us a little breathless and perspiring. It was then I noticed no one else had joined us in the dance. I looked up at him with a question on my lips. He shrugged casually. “I asked for a dance alone with you. The gentlemen politely complied.”
I narrowed my eyes, feigning a glare. “How much did you threaten them?” I was teasing and he knew it.
He held his fingers about an inch apart. “Perhaps, this much?”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes