Tomás heard movement on the other side of the door, the sounds of shuffling feet and Spenser’s voice. It was a good voice. Soothing. It smoothed some of Tomás’s ruffled edges, waking up the part of him that missed flirting with a man. When Spenser opened the door to smile at Tomás, neat and pressed and polite, the flutter of awareness became a low hum. The guy was cute. And he rescued kids. There were definitely worse qualities in a man.
Tomás wished he had a hat so he could take it off and hold it in his hands. “Hi. I’m sorry if I’m interrupting anything, but I wanted to check in on Duon. And apologize to you.”
Spenser blinked in surprise before standing aside. “Come on in. Duon’s in the shower. But you don’t have anything to apologize for.” He closed the door behind Tomás. “Can I get you something to drink? Water? Coffee? Tea?”
His first instinct was to say no thanks, but he thought better of it, deciding it would be a good way to distract the guy while he got his confession out. “Sure. Tea is fine. Something decaffeinated, please.”
The ritual of making tea was good cover as Tomás got himself together. “I’m sorry for last night, for being upset about you having to report Duon to DHS. I’m glad you’re helping Duon. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take him in myself. I’d like to help in other ways, if I can.”
Spenser glanced up at him, pausing with one red and one yellow mug in his hands. “It’s all right. If it helps, I was nervous about having to make the call. You helped so much, bringing in Vicky. I don’t think I would have been allowed to keep him without her.”
It was so hard not to plow forward with all his questions, to decide which ones to dole out first. “Is he here for a while then, or is this temporary?”
Spenser went back to fussing, and Tomás couldn’t help noticing Spenser was cute when he fussed. “There’s going to be a hearing in a few weeks and an investigation into his situation at home. If the grandmother truly does intend to surrender custody, it won’t be much of a hearing, more of a formality. We’ll see then if he stays here or not. That gives both of us time to make sure this works out.” He bit his lip, a brief worrying. “I keep forgetting to put a note on Craigslist for a bed.”
“A bed for Duon? I can help you with that.” Tomás indicated his apartment with a nod. “My dad can find somebody who has an extra. Does it have to be new?”
“Clean will do. I think I’m going to get him an air mattress in the meantime.”
“I can get you one of those too. Do you need it tonight?” When Spenser raised his eyebrows at him, Tomás averted his gaze. “Sorry. I want to help is all.”
The kettle whistled, and Spenser poured the water into their mugs. He passed the yellow one to Tomás. “He’ll be out of the shower soon. He’s been in there for fifteen minutes, but the hot water will run out any second.”
This was Tomás’s cue to get out any questions he didn’t want Duon to hear. He rushed through the ones in his head, trying to triage. “Is he okay? Does he need anything?”
“Clothes. He had a few with him, but they were mostly a random swipe of things from his bedroom floor, and half of it was dance attire, from what I can gather. He’s wearing sweats of mine for now, which fit, sort of, but aren’t appropriate for school. The social worker said she’d get me some funds to go shopping, but I know better than to count on that. I would have taken him today, but he wasn’t in a mental place where leaving the house was a good idea.”
“My mom can help. She loves thrifting. She’ll bring him home a whole new wardrobe for twenty bucks.”
Spenser gestured to the table, taking his tea to it as he sat. “You live with your parents, yes? But sometimes there are children there too?”
Tomás tossed up a million filters as he formulated his reply. “Yes. My nieces and nephew. We babysit a lot while my sister is…at work.”
Spenser cradled his mug in his hands. “Your mother was by earlier. Brought us all kinds of food. I told her thank you, but please thank her again for me. Duon ate everything she gave us like it was his last meal on Earth. I pretended I wasn’t hungry so he could eat as much as he wanted.”
“I’ll tell her. She’ll bring more. She loves cooking for people. Loves taking care of people.”
“It sounds as if she passed that trait on to her son.”
The smile Spenser gave got Tomás in the gut. The whisper inside him wanting to ask the guy out was louder than ever, but it felt wrong to flirt when the focus was supposed to be on Duon. “Can you get me his sizes? I know what kinds of clothes he wears and can tell my mom.”
“That would be great. I’ll give her some money.”
“It’s our treat. Please.”
Spenser clearly wanted to argue, but the bathroom door opened then, and Duon came into the kitchen. He wore a T-shirt and sweatpants that had to be Spenser’s—tight, neat, and pastel grey. He seemed thinner, more petite in his borrowed clothes. His face looked like meat still, his arms full of bruises. His cheek had stitches on it, and it was going to leave a scar.
Duon lingered in the doorway to the kitchen, making himself smaller against the frame. “Yo, Jimenez. Whazzup?”
Tomás fished a grin out of his gut. “I hear you put away my mom’s tortillas like a champ.”
Duon’s face brightened. “Yeah, they were the bomb. Good thing you work so hard, man, or you’d be fat, eating her food every day.”
Time to get to why he came, before he lost his nerve. “I’m sorry I wasn’t home when you got here. I’m glad Spenser was able to help.”
Duon shrugged. “It don’t matter.”
The response cut, though Tomás knew Duon didn’t mean it that way. The phrase was his standard comeback when he was disappointed, his way of erasing heartache. It don’t matter. Tomás hadn’t ever had it directed at him before, and he hated it. But he couldn’t explain himself further, so he was stuck with it. And anyway, Duon didn’t need his bullshit right now. “We miss you at class. I hope we see you there again soon.”
Spenser had withdrawn, letting them chat, but he leaned forward now. “I think the plan is he’s going to relax for the rest of this week. We both return to school Monday. Can you get me his schedule for dance?”
Tomás brightened. “Absolutely. I can give him rides home too. I teach every weeknight.”
Duon rolled his eyes, but he didn’t say anything. Tomás thought maybe he was mad, but he didn’t know how to press the issue. When the silence went on a little too long, Duon pushed off from the frame and disappeared into the living room. A few seconds later, a door shut.
Spenser put his hand on Tomás’s, closing his fingers gently. “Don’t take it personally. He needs a lot of space right now.”
Tomás couldn’t help but take it personally. “I would have given him a home if I could have. But our family situation is…complicated.”
“I don’t think he’s angry about that. I think he’s afraid, more than anything. I’m glad you mentioned dance class. I’m going to make sure he goes, even if he’s reluctant about it.”
Spenser went quiet. There were stories there, Tomás could tell. He’d assumed this was a quiet kid from the suburbs bent on saving the world, but he wasn’t so sure now. Something else was going on, something Spenser wasn’t ready to share and Tomás didn’t have a right to ask about.
He saw, too, that Spenser had the same whisper of attraction he did. But he had a wall up as well, apparently deciding it was best to tuck his feelings quietly away. Probably because of Duon.
The realization left Tomás sad. And tired. But he didn’t dwell on it, simply buried it as he did so many things he wanted in life, so he could focus on the things he had to do instead.
Released: October 11th 2016
Series: Dancing #2
Published by Self Published
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.
Why I Wrote Enjoy the Dance
When I revisited Dance With Me to release the second edition, I was stunned to see how much the world had changed in the three years since it was first published. Particularly in regards to marriage equality, the story I wrote had become a historical, a novel written for another time. I wanted to explore what it had been like for the characters to live through that crazy transition, to show how much would have changed for the characters in novel in the space between then and now. I also wanted to answer a question readers asked me a lot over the years: “What happened to Duon?”
History of the Dancing Series
Dance With Me for years was a standalone title. First published with Loose Id in 2011, it was re-released as a self-published title in fall of 2015. I’d originally intended to follow it up with a short story a few months later, but that short story became this novel, Enjoy the Dance.
Future Plans for the Series
There will be at least one more novel in the Dancing series, likely released in late 2017 or early 2018. Burn the Floor will be Duon’s story.
Several other books/series I’ve written tie in directly or tangentially into this story.
- Marcus, Ed and Laurie’s lawyer friend who helps Tomás and his family, finds his own HEA in Let It Snow, book one of the Minnesota Christmas series.
- Arthur and Paul, Marcus’s friends from Logan who show up at the Duluth car wrapping, find their true loves in Sleigh Ride and Winter Wonderland, books two and three of the Minnesota Christmas series.
- Ed and Laurie appear in Lonely Hearts, book three of the Love Lessons series.
Reading Order & Buy Links
Enjoy the Dance Prize Pack:
– Enjoy the Dance paperback
– Dance with Me paperback
– No House To Call My Home paperback
– MIKA The Origin of Love CD
– a box of Lady Grey tea
– a bottle of Tajìn seasoning
- Meet our new reviewer team + Blogiversary Giveaway! - May 5, 2021
- Excerpt + Giveaway: On the Wings of War by Hailey Turner - September 3, 2020
- And The Winners Are… - September 2, 2020