After nearly two years following a devastating breakup, Clarissa becomes a borderline recluse who avoids romantic stimulation at all costs. Determined to prove that she’s recovered, she attends the annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Gala in San Francisco; alone. She’s exhilarated by the 19th-century costumes and enchanted by the perfected waltzes and sexy rumbas. Unbothered by the seductive drug-induced romance that surrounds her, Clarissa claims her healing victory. A familiar scent then overpowers her senses and threatens her recovery. Clarissa soon comes face to face with her ex-boyfriend, her soulmate, the man she only refers to as the beautiful one, and he has a message for her. As midnight approaches, will Clarissa choose to protect the solitary life she’s created for herself, or take another chance at love?
He stepped towards me, offering no bow as an invitation to dance and no opportunity for me to reply in kind. I could not move as his right arm made its way around my waist. His devious half-smile grew, revealing the shallow dimple on his left cheek. I looked up at the ceiling, and each of my eyes released a solitary tear, my soul’s protest, absorbed by the fabric of my masquerade mask. The deejay cued up a waltz. The beautiful one gently pulled me away from my emotional support column. Notes of marijuana and sweetened Jäger rode out on the breath of his lingering New York accent as he placed his lips near my ear and said, “Please, just one dance.”
The warmth of his breath sent chills down my neck, and deep from within, my soul let out a scream. Was it from the thrill and excitement of him being so close? Or was it my recaptured strength and firm resolve leaving my body? The heat radiating from him and the yearning in his voice kept me frozen while his left hand slid down my gloved arm and took up my hand.
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