Claire Ross has never been good enough. Not for the girls in the elite group of dancers in her class and certainly not for the approval of her ballet teacher, Mr. Robins. She definitely doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror. Simply put, she doesn’t love herself, so how could she possibly love someone else?
After twelve years of friendship, Sebastian Reyes’ adoring gaze holds more. They soon find themselves unable to control their feelings for one another.
When tragedy strikes, Claire finds herself in a very unlikely and unfavorable position. Regardless of the weight of the emotion, she must make difficult decisions that impact the rest of her life.
Will Claire see that her true love has been right in front of her? Happily ever after isn’t just for fairy tales. To get hers, all she has to do is trust, open her heart and fall.
Closing my eyes, I remember that time in Sebastian's studio when he was teaching me how to partner and he moved my body to the side, then kissed the side of my neck. I push
up on my toes and fouette, then do chaînés across the room watching myself in the mirror, smiling. Avery is at a party getting drunk, and I’m in a room all by myself getting high en pointe. Repeating the moves , I do this from corner to corner, my speed and intensity increasing. But just as I'm getting into my groove, reaching my peak, the song ends. Throwing my arms in the air as I come out of the turn, I sigh.
“That was a fun six minutes.”
“Could have been longer. It’s the twenty-first century.” A low, sexy voice comes from the door. My heart jumps from my chest to my feet and back to my chest. I’ve only heard it once, but I immediately recognize it. It’s Liam Scott’s voice.
“Yeah. So? And what the heck? Have you been watching me? That’s creepy.”
“The twenty-first century.”
He completely ignores my questions, closing the distance between us, pointing
to the CD player. “There’s a repeat button right here,” he says, pressing it. “And then six minutes of fun turns into an infinite number. Well, as many as your pretty legs can stand.”
He licks his lips and smiles.
“And yes, I nearly got dizzy, but I can’t help but watch you.”
He pulls the elastic from my hair. “You should do what you just did with your hair down, by the way.”
“Uh! Ballerinas don’t wear their hair down.”
He chuckles. “Says who?”
I huff. “Says anyone who knows ballet.”
“Well, I’ll admit I’ve never given a fuck about ballet until I saw you doing it, so I’m no expert. But I saw you watching yourself in the mirror. Try it again with your hair down.”
Who does he think he is? My cheeks redden, and I swallow as I snatch the elastic back and start to redo my hair in the top knot he undid.
He smirks. “You’re really good, Grace, but you already know that. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. So, please don’t stop on my account. Even if you refuse to take my advice about
Pressing the repeat button, I cross my arms. “It’s Claire. And I don’t do repeat buttons, either, but thanks.”
He gives me this weird smile while furrowing his brows. It’s really cute, and it’s hard for me not to smile back.
“I know. I remember your name, Claire, but what I wanna know is what did the poor repeat button do to offend you?"
“You just let me jab my tongue down your fuckin’ throat. Now answer the question.”
“You can’t answer it or you can’t trust me?”
Maybe both. I wish he’d let me fix my shirt. “It’s complicated.”
“No, it’s not.”
He’s stubborn too. A match made in heaven. Great. “I trust you or I wouldn’t be here.”
“Progress. Good. I trust you or you wouldn’t be here, either. I want to do more than just play your music, Claire. I’ve wanted to do more than that from the moment I saw you, and I’ve never wanted that with any girl at that school before. So, do I wanna play with the ice? Fuck yeah. You have no idea the things I wanna do to you and your pretty little dancer body.” He smirks. “Am I allowed to say that? Use pretty in other contexts where you’re concerned? Or is the word pretty a hard limit in its entirety?” My arms cross over my chest because never have I felt so exposed, so vulnerable, yet so sexy and wanted. “Quit tryin’ to cover yourself up, dammit. You’re beautiful. Don’t you believe that?”
I shake my head. “Pretty in other contexts is fine, just not pretty girl.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
It was my hope to avoid it. “What question?” He’s already figured out I’m a terrible liar, so I’m sure this won’t go over very well.
He cocks his head and takes a step closer, which I didn’t know was possible. “I don’t really get off on whips and chains, riding crops, that kind of stuff. I’m not into hardcore BDSM. I just dabble from time to time when the mood or the need hits me.” I’m pretty sure my eyes are about to detach from my head. What. The. Hell. Have. I. Gotten. Myself. Into? “But I do love to spank. Don’t play games.”
When I was five years old I wanted to be a ballerina, so my mom signed me up for dance. Over the next ten years, I explored all three styles: tap, jazz, and ballet. Tap ended up being my favorite, and I studied it for ten years, ballet for four, and jazz for one.
The years I took ballet, I was told to grow my bangs out, to wear my hair in a bun because that’s what ballerinas do. When I ate my snacks from the convenience store because that’s what my single mom bought me after school on her way to drop me off at the studio, I was ridiculed and told if I lost just a few pounds, I’d be the perfect size for a ballerina. I was in elementary school. Looking back at those pictures, I wasn’t fat. Not even close. After my entire class was promoted to pointe and I wasn’t, I quit ballet.
While this story is fiction, there is a lot of me in Claire, but it only takes a few minutes to read the trending headlines to see that this happens to a widespread audience every day. I think there is a lot of every girl in Claire.
Do you like every part of yourself when you look in the mirror? Or did someone, society, make you feel if you lost just a little bit more weight or changed a small part of who you were, you’d be better in their eyes? And then after so long you found you didn’t like the person you saw through your own eyes, didn’t even recognize her?
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.
When I started this book, that’s not the message I’d hoped to spread or share, but that’s what it ended up being. Like all of my other books, Claire’s story was cathartic for me because it helped me release a part of my past I didn’t realize I’d been hanging onto so tightly. As much as I loved dance, those years in the studio damaged me. But on the contrary, each day in the studio, each mean girl, each hurtful comment, they took an oyster and produced a pearl. A one-of-a-kind, oddly shaped, uniquely colored, and beautiful pearl.
Every day since writing Heartfall I’ve tried so hard to look in the mirror and find something I like about myself or to ignore something I’d ordinarily criticize, and I challenge you to do the same.
We’re all beautiful and strong women. This is Claire’s story on finding her beauty and strength. Along the way, she’s blessed to find incredible love too. I hope you enjoy it.
J.B. McGee was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina. She is the m other of two beautiful children and a stay at home mom/entrepreneur. She finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2006. During her time studying children's literature, a professor had encouraged her to become a writer.
In 2011, it was discovered that both of her children, she, and her husba nd have Mitochondrial Disease, a disease that has no cure or treatments. Being a writer allows J.B. to remain close to her family, work on raising awareness for this disease, and to lose herself in the stories that she creates fo r her readers.
J.B. McGee and her family now reside in Buford, Georgia. She is an Amazon To p 100 bestselling author of her debut series, the 'THIS' Series.