Tumbling by Julia Talbot

Tumbling by Julia Talbot

Tumbling
Cirque Caprice, Book 2
by Julia Talbot

Changeling Press

eBook ISBN: 06990-02251

Lindsey knows it’s a mistake to hook up with Alan and Jules, Cirque Caprice’s resident pair of playboys, but all the signs say it’s time to live dangerously.

When a vision of the future sends Lindsey running, fearing for their safety, Alan and Jules have to figure out how to get her back. Will this be the toughest act the two acrobats have ever had to put on?

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Chapter One

“Give me a tumble, love?” Jules popped up in front of Lindsey, his stage paint a little garish in the light of day. He and his show partner, Alan, had just finished running through the first dress rehearsal of their new season’s show for Victor, and it was a show-stopper. Sexy, sexy, sexy. They were talented acrobats, and they were incorporating more tumbling into the act, which was really dynamic. Not that Lindsey would tell either one of them that. Caprice performers could be such shitheads.
“No thanks.” Lindsey always turned Jules down. Just like she always turned Alan down when he propositioned her. She had heard from more than one source that the two were having wild monkey sex in their shared trailer, and just one of them would be too much for her fairly staid self.
“Aw, come on, love. Read my palm. Something. Anything.” He waggled his eyebrows, and Lindsey made gagging noises.
“I don’t know where your palm has been. It’s probably hairy.” She held up a hand when he would have opened his mouth, forestalling any more silliness. “I have to get to an appointment with the lighting guy. Go have some food with Alan. He’s waiting for you.”
“Yeah?” That eyebrow went up and down. “You could join us after.”
“Tempting, but some of us work more than an hour a day. I have a lot to do.”
Jules pressed a hand to his chest, looking as sad as someone wearing a grease-painted smile could. “You wound me. You change your mind, duck, you know where to find us.”
“Me and everyone else.” She softened the words with a wink, and headed off to meet with Lance. She didn’t want to say no every time, but she figured it was the smartest thing to do.
Lots of the performers at Cirque Caprice slept around with each other. They were mostly safe, and it rarely caused problems among the cast. Everyone knew that kind of stuff was casual, it blew off steam, and they never had to deal with the “gypsies, tramps and thieves” mentality of the mundane world that way. It was just the accepted and acceptable way of the circus.
Too bad Lindsey wanted something more permanent. She’d had two whole boyfriends before she’d become a performer/admin at Caprice, and neither one of them had been any kind of grand romance. They’d been steady, though, and loyal, and that was more what she was looking for than daring and dashing and gone the next day. She needed someone to love, not two someones to tear it up with after the show.
She pushed her crazy red curls behind her ear, sighing a little. She had to meet with Lance about the lighting for her show, which was moving to a new ring, and then go see Zelda about her costume. Then she had to see Bobbie Ann about payroll, which had hit a snag with the new guy from Bulgaria or wherever. Sometimes even a psychic had trouble with taxes. Somehow she just couldn’t read the new IRS guy when it came to Eastern Europe.
The day flew by, the costume fitting the most painful part. She was a solid girl, and those little insets of flesh-colored fabric made her feel like a bulgy mess. Oh, she wasn’t. She worked out, but damn, the competition from the little contortionists and fliers and such was harsh. Speaking of which, it was time to meet with Bela, the acrobat who acted as her trainer these days.
She hit her trailer for her gym shoes, and ran to the training facility which was set up in one of the smaller tents. Three of the Chinese pole-benders were there, doing some kind of Pilates, and the tarot girl, Amy, was lifting weights with Villem who did the strongman shtick. He had an amazing kinetic talent, but he still had to look the part of a weightlifter. He had a great mustache too.
Bela wasn’t there waiting on her, though. Alan the tumbler was. She thought for sure he’d be off snogging with Jules.
Lindsey raised a brow. “Where’s Bela?”
“Pulled a groin in practice, sweet.” Alan didn’t have the Aussie accent like Jules, but he had the same irreverent attitude. They were opposites in looks, though, with Alan being smaller, darker, with brown hair and dark brown eyes, compared to Jules with his shaggy blond hair and bright blue eyes. The contrast was as striking in person as it was onstage.
“Oh, man. That sucks. He’ll be all right, huh?” She liked Bela a lot. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy with a wicked sense of humor and the ability to mimic their boss, Victor, like crazy.
“By showtime in two days? Sure? Doing squats with you? Not a chance.” He leered a little. “Looks like you’re stuck with me, sweet.”
Great. Bela was huge and gruff and somehow non-sexual. Having Alan touch her for an hour to make sure she was in the right place with each exercise was going to be torture. Erotic torture. “Did Jules put you up to this? He was harassing me earlier.”
Alan’s eyes widened. “No, sweet. Bela asked. He wants someone he trusts and Villem is busy.”
“Okay.” She sighed, then smiled. “Been a long day.”
“You work too hard. You ready to go?”
“I am.”
By the time she finished squatting, lunging and jumping rope, she was a sweaty mess, and Alan was urging her on with cues both vocal and physical. She cooled down, intending to go have a cold shower to get her body to shut up because Alan was hot, but before she could thank Alan and leave, he grabbed her to give her a shoulder rub.
“Nice squat presses today, sweet. You’re up to fifteen pounds.”
“Bela says I’m bulking up.” She always worried about that. She was five-nine and wore a size ten or twelve, depending on the day. She could toss most of the little girls at Caprice around like sacks of flour.
“Bela’s full of shit.” Alan sank his fingers into her sore muscles, really working them, and she moaned and leaned into his touch. “You’re a healthy girl. I like that.”
“Thanks.” She found herself with her back against his chest, his arms looped loosely around her waist, his left hand on her belly. It felt so good that even though she knew she shouldn’t, she let him hold her. Somehow his touch soothed something inside her that was restless and edgy and unhappy.
“Come to supper with me and Jules tonight, sweet.” He murmured the words against her ear, making her shiver.
Lindsey’s nipples drew up and warmth pooled in her belly, right beneath his hand. “I don’t know, Alan. You two are pretty intense.”
“Well, maybe it’s time you broke out of the safe thing and did something intense.”
Bobbie Ann, Caprice’s head administrator, was always telling her the same thing. So was every other fortune teller they had. Maybe it was time. Oh, what the hell. Somehow Jules and Alan going after her in the same day had to be a sign. “What time?”
“Yes!” Alan stepped back, but not before kissing her temple. “Give us until seven. We’ll be waiting.”
“At your trailer, right?” That gave her time to shower and change and try not to talk herself out of it.
“Right. No worries, sweet. This will be fun. Jules can cook.”
She sure hoped so. Alan and Jules were bound to be entertaining, if nothing else. She felt very reckless. Hungry too.
“See you then.” She nodded, grabbing her towel and water bottle and escaping.
Man, she hoped this wasn’t just a huge mistake. If it was, she was going to have a tough time convincing herself it was worth losing a couple of good friends.

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