Dance Over Me cover image

Once upon a time, I used to dance around in my bedroom.

Okay, I was in elementary school. And I had a four-poster-canopy bed with yellow (why?? I hate yellow!) bedding crammed into my small room in our trailer house. And since we lived up in the mountains at the time, about the only music I could get on the radio was the classical station.

But just imagine a girl with romantic daydreams spinning oh-so-gracefully around the limited floorspace as if she was ballerina. Or lyrical dancer.

Except, no matter how often I danced or pretended, it wasn’t enough. I knew I was missing something. (Perhaps it was actual talent. Or a dance partner. Sigh. But I can still remember wishing for more…something.)

Fast forward many years and I was writing a story about a dancer. She’d need to have some sort of warm-up routine, right? And suddenly I knew exactly what she’d do!

She’d just dance. Her and the music and God as she poured her heart into her talented steps.

And so was born one of my favorite scenes from Dance Over Me, where Dani (Danielle) worships in a unique way that then bonds her to the hero Alex.

I’ve included much of the scene below.

What about you? How do you worship when you’re all alone? Ever tried your hand at dancing? Ever felt that same longing that there weren’t enough steps, notes, or words to express your heart?

From Dance Over Me, chapter 10

The rich tones of a cello floated through the practice room from her iPod, tugging at Dani’s heart. In a partnership between music and movement, she responded to the familiar melody by stretching her arms toward the heavens and lifting one leg in an arabesque pose.

Additional string instruments added their voices and stirred the depths of emotions buried deep within. Joy. Hope. Longing. The music pulsed through Dani’s veins and found expression in movement. In the passion of her spontaneous dance, she found a connection to her own heartbeat. Warmth spread outward, down her arms to her fingertips, until they tingled in response to the music. She longed to pour out her heart until every muscle was in tune. Twirling and spinning, graceful and light, her body became an extension of the music.

And yet she needed more. Frustration surged through her. There weren’t enough steps.

Out of the corners of her eyes, she saw Alex slip behind the piano. A sudden feeling of vulnerability washed the strength from her limbs, and she stumbled to a halt. What would he think?

She didn’t have to wait long before he turned off her music and ran his fingers over the piano keys. Seconds later, he began to play the same familiar song with a few added embellishments.

Obviously the man played more than the trumpet—and was exceptional at both.

“Keep dancing.” Alex nodded in her direction before lifting his face to the ceiling and closing his eyes as if in worship. His music echoed off the walls.

Sudden tears welled in Dani’s eyes at the glimpse of his heart. A sense of holiness filled her and she danced again, this time with tears running down her face.

Alex shifted the song from the hymn to an upbeat chorus, and her feet responded to the shifting mood as reverence transformed into celebration and a smile replaced her tears.

Alex grinned and shifted again to a jazzy rendition. Dani raised her eyebrows and improvised a soft-shoe routine to fit the new rhythm.

The piano fell silent. “That’s one thing I like about you.”

Dani stopped dancing and walked toward the piano. “Only one thing?”

He winked. “For starters. You do this for the sake of dance and not for the pursuit of fame.”

“I love dancing, but I’ve never had the fame part. That might turn my head.”

“No.” Alex shook his head. “Not you. Anyone can go through the motions. But as Grandma always says, the great ones show their heart.”

“Then you’re one of the great ones.”

“Me?” Alex’s forehead wrinkled beneath his tousled hair.

“Yes, you.” Dani unzipped her bag and dug out a Band-Aid from an inside pocket. “Your heart shows in your music. Which, by the way—it’s sneaky not to tell me you played the piano too.”

“You never asked. But back to what I was saying, you reminded me that this is more than a business; it’s an opportunity to express our joy in God’s gifts. I mean, I could see your heart through your dancing. That’s a beautiful and special gift.”

“Dancing is the gift.” Dani felt heat rising in her face and distracted herself by pulling over a chair. “The gift to me.”

She tugged off her shoe and poked at the developing blister.

“So, you think God gave you dancing?”

“I know it.” Painful memories of her life before meeting Olivia flashed across her mind. “My life hasn’t been the same since my first dance class. It’s like I can’t not dance. Almost as if, when I dance, I feel God smile.” Dani struggled to find a way to express it.

“That’s a good feeling.” Alex shifted on the piano bench in order to fully face her.

“In the Bible, David danced before the Lord with all his might. Sometimes I turn on the music and just dance. A moment without words, pouring my heart out. Like this morning.”

Alex nodded, and Dani continued. “Other times, it’s as if God is my silent dance partner in the Romance of the Ages. Christ and His bride. I’m held in His arms as we waltz across the floor.” Dani stopped herself and blushed again. Why was she sharing such intimate thoughts? “Sounds silly, huh?”

“Not at all.” Alex’s eyes studied hers. “I feel like that sometimes when I play. As if I can’t play loud enough or long enough or find the right notes.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Like a writer who says there aren’t enough words.”

Dani’s heart pounded with her earlier frustration. “Maybe that’s why it’ll take eternity to express our worship.”

“Exactly.” Alex’s gaze warmed. “You understand. Something else I like about you.”

The intensity of the moment grew until Dani felt as if she were being pulled toward Alex—a man she could easily fall in love with.

Her sense of belonging grew, but she was afraid to hope because it had never lasted. Being vulnerable scared her. Could she risk exposing her heart to more pain? If only Alex wasn’t related to her bosses, then she wouldn’t have to worry so much about what others thought.

Backlist Bonus: Dance Over Me
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