Dream Spinner (Dream Team #3) by Kristen Ashley




PROLOGUE


Right at Him


HATTIE

It happened on the opening night of the Revue.

I knew it when I finished my dance.

And I looked for him.

They were there, all the guys (and Evie) to cheer us on.

To support us.

But when my dance was done, I didn’t look to my friend Evie.

I didn’t look to Lottie’s man (and my friend) Mo.

I didn’t look to Evie’s guy (and also my friend) Mag.

I further didn’t look to Ryn’s fella (and yes, my friend too) Boone.

Or Auggie, who should be Pepper’s, but he was not.

I looked right at him.

Right at him.

At Axl.

And he was looking at me.

Of course, I’d just been dancing.

But it was more.

Because I’d picked that song.

And it became even more when my eyes went right to his.

I saw how his face changed when I did this, and I didn’t know him all that well, but I still read it.

I knew exactly what it meant, the way he was looking at me, and the fact, after I’d finished dancing to that song, I’d looked right at him.

And what it meant was …

I was in trouble.





CHAPTER ONE


Ivan the Terrible


HATTIE

It went well.”

“Tens of thousands of dollars on teachers, leotards, pointe shoes, payin’ for gas to drive you to class, recitals, competitions, and you’re sittin’ here tryin’ to convince me all that was worth it seein’ as you got the big promotion from being a stripper to being a burlesque dancer.”

“It’s not burlesque exactly. They’re calling it a Revue.”

“It’s a fuckin’ titty bar.”

I sat opposite my father and decided it was a good time to start keeping my mouth shut.

Dad did not make that same decision.

“You can try to dress it up however you want, Hattie, but you’re a glorified whore,” he went on. “Though, just sayin’, a whore’s more honest. Least she doesn’t take a man’s cash while she’s givin’ him nothin’ but a tease.”

I wish I could say Dad was in a rare mood tonight.

But he wasn’t.

It was just that it was more foul than normal.

A lot more.

“I think maybe I should go now,” I said quietly.

Dad shook his head. “You never could hack listening to reason. Or honesty. Or truth. I can see you’re too fat to be in New York or London, Paris or Moscow, but for fuck’s sake, not even the Colorado Ballet?” Again with the head shaking. “Instead, you’re onstage at Smithie’s strip club.”

Yes, whenever he got into calling me fat, it was time to go.

I got up and started clearing his dinner dishes.

“I can do that,” he snapped.

He couldn’t.

He could barely walk.

Mismanaged diabetes.

The mismanaged part being, when I was fed up with his abuse, I’d quit coming to give him his insulin, take his blood sugar, make sure he ate, and doctor his booze by watering it down so his drinking didn’t put his body out of whack.

None of which he did for himself.

Three trips to the hospital, and the subsequent medical bills, which meant selling his old house (something I saw to), downsizing (something I also saw to), and putting up with his complaints he had about having to move (something I listened to, though the move part, I saw to), meant I kept coming back.

Mom didn’t get it.

She’d washed her hands of him years ago. Even before she did it legally with the divorce.

But I simply could not do nothing and let my father die.

And I knew this would happen if I did not manage his health and his life.

I took his dishes to the kitchen, rinsed them, put them in the dishwasher, tidied and headed back to the living room to remove the TV tray from in front of Dad.

Then I was going to get my purse and go.

“Hattie, it’s just—” he started in a much less ugly tone as I was folding up the tray.

“Don’t,” I whispered.

All these years, he thought he could dig in and dig in and dig in because … whatever.

He didn’t like his job?

He didn’t like his marriage?

He didn’t like his health?

He didn’t like his life?

So he took that out on his daughter?

And then he has a think about what he’d said, or what he’d done, and realizes he’d been a jerk, so he decides he can say he’s sorry and that will wipe away all that came before, like it didn’t happen.