“Do you like to dance?” Joss asked her.
It had been so long since she’d done any dancing, but she used to love it. “I do. You?”
He gave her a pained look, then smiled again. “I do, but I’m not any good. In fact, Delana would say I’ve got two left feet. She tried showing me how years ago, but I’m not coordinated enough to make it happen.”
“You can’t possibly be that bad.”
Joss’s eyebrows rose. “You don’t think so? I may have broken one of her toes once.”
“Really?” She couldn’t fathom Joss not being good at something.
He threw his head back and laughed. “No, I didn’t do that, but I’m no good at it, that much is true.”
Joss captured her hand and brought her fingers to his lips. “If you’re brave enough to risk your toes, I’d love to dance with you.”
Her heart skipped a beat. The music faded with the end of the song and then started up again with a new one. “I’d like that.”
He stood, still holding her hand, then helped her to her feet. When they got to the makeshift dancefloor, he wrapped his arms around her and held her gaze. “If this gets to be too much for you, you’ll let me know?” he asked.
“I will,” she whispered, and he pulled her closer. Her breasts pressed lightly against his hard chest, and her rounded belly snugged against his flat one. She might have felt self-conscious except for the contented sigh he let out as he held her.
“This is nice,” he told her as he began moving.
More than nice. It was right. Violet rested her head against his shoulder and let the music flow through her. Sure enough, they’d only taken a dozen steps before Joss’s foot nudged up against her toes. He didn’t step on them, but his foot was nowhere near where it should have been.
Violet tried hard. She did, but she couldn’t help the little giggle that broke free.
They managed to make it about halfway through the song when Khet came waltzing by with Delana in his arms. Delana gave her a solemn look, mouthing “watch your toes” as she spun past.
That was it. The little giggle from before came back, quickly turning into a full-fledged laugh. Joss looked at her, a quizzical expression on his face, which only made her laugh harder. Then, in one ill-timed spin, his foot came down on top of hers. It was only a moment, and he had barely put any weight on it, but the look of sheer terror on his face had her howling.
“I’m so sorry. I told you I couldn’t dance. Are you alright?”
The more he apologized, the harder she laughed. People were staring, but she couldn’t help it. By the time she got herself under control, her cheeks hurt, and others around them were grinning.
Joss, on the other hand, stood there, looking at her. He wasn’t smiling, but he wasn’t frowning, either. Had she offended him? She nibbled on her bottom lip, trying to figure out what to say while keeping her giggles at bay.
He took the step needed to close the distance between them again and wrapped his arms loosely around her shoulders, maintaining eye contact. “Are you okay?” he asked. His chest rose and fell faster than it had before, and the warmth in his eyes grew hotter. His gaze flicked to her lips, and for an instant, she thought he might lean in and kiss her.
Her heart pounded. If there was any doubt left in her mind about her mate, his reaction to stepping so lightly on her toes sent those flying out the window. He wouldn’t hurt her.
She took a steadying breath. “I’m fine,” she whispered, then stepped on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his.
Burden is exclusive to our Christmas anthology, Bundle of Joy.