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Concerto: Part 5

 

As promised, here is part 5 of Concerto, in which our pianist’s efforts become a bit more dangerous, and our writer is forced into a dark place. Enjoy! And please remember, this is a WIP, so be gentle.

 

If you’v missed the rest of the story, follow the link.

 

 

 

 

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in the Storm

 

As I refilled the kettle, the music began again, and even in the pouring rain, I couldn’t resist its pull. In an instant, I was out the door. In another instant, I was drenched to the skin, a condition I didn’t notice as I strained to hear the music against the wind. I only became aware of my waterlogged state when I slipped inside the French doors without so much as a knock and stood savoring the music as I dripped on the wood floor. My pianist gave only a quirk of what might have been a smile and kept on playing. While he said nothing, somehow I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the music was an invitation especially for me.

 

Without saying a word, he looked me up and down and then nodded to the overstuffed chair next to the sofa. A towel and a navy silk robe lay draped over the back. While the clothing I wore was not nearly as revealing as what I’d been in last night, it was soaked and heavy from the rain. His gaze caught mine and held only for a second before he returned his full attention to the piano, but something in that look, something in the undulating, intimate suggestiveness of the melody he now played made me giddy and a little reckless.

 

I didn’t seek out a private place to change, and he didn’t offer. I couldn’t imagine he would ever experience me more stripped bare than he had last night. So I undressed. It didn’t take long. I hadn’t bothered with underwear that morning in my rush to check if the occupant of the cottage at the end of the stable yard was stirring. He didn’t look up from his efforts while I toweled myself dry, and yet I felt as though he watched me, studied me, caressed me vicariously, with every phrase, every note of his music. I could almost imagine his fingers moving over me as they did the keys, and I found myself lingering in my task as though it were him I touched and fondled and toweled. When I was finished, I reluctantly slipped into the robe that was far too big for me, his storm and ozone scent pressed deep into its folds. I felt a flood of relief at the realization that the robe must surely be his and not that of another woman. It startled me, such possessiveness of a man I’d not known until last night, of a man who, even still, I only knew through his music, and yet I felt I knew him intimately in ways I’d never known another. I tied the sash around my waist and looked up to find him studying me.

 

Yet still, he didn’t speak. He only nodded his approval, and I knelt to crawl once again beneath the piano, where I found a tartan throw and a pillow waiting for me. I settled in a soft swish of silk and wool as the melody encircled me in a tight-fitting embrace. If I had expected that musical caress to be a gentle one, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was barely settled before the music crescendoed, changed key three times in rapid succession and became the wild ride of a leaf tossed about on the storm. The edge of the arpeggios sliced me like a scalpel, the blunt chords tore at me like a rusty knife, and I knew immediately this would not be a clean cut. And then, when I was sliced, torn and battered open wide enough, the music migrated and became the still wilder, far more devastating, storm raging in me. For almost a year now the dead calm of my life had been the threat of sameness never ending, oppressive and hopeless. That empty monochrome day-in-day-out had been there so long I’d barely noticed until now, until the calm vanished with the key change. As the force of the chords broke over me, I realized as I ached and raged, that I was not the leaf tossed on the storm, I wasthe storm, and there was no protecting me from myself.

 

The music became discordant and disconnected, an overwhelming pounding in my head, in my body. It matched my angry cries and snarls and rants, which I only became aware of when they ceased and the rawness in my throat reminded me that my voice had been the piano’s accompaniment.

 

I don’t know how long it went on, this tempest inside me, but outside, darkness had fallen when I calmed, when the music calmed. Strange that through all my raging and mourning, the pianist had made no effort to stop me, nor to comfort me. He had only accompanied me, mirroring my emotions on the keyboard. When I came back to myself, the music no longer raged. But I felt the melody of it like a thread in my belly pulling me, coaxing, me, inviting me to a different kind of participation in the ritual being created on the keyboard.

 

It was an effort to crawl from beneath the piano. I scrabbled up to my knees and then climbed my feet, legs trembling,
shoulders tight. This time I found the man’s gaze focused completely on me, even as he played. I stood for what felt like an age under his scrutiny, almost as though he were inspecting me for storm damage. There was no sympathy, which was just as well, I wanted none, but there was satisfaction, as though for a job well done. Then with an abruptness that startled me, he shoved back the bench. At first I feared he’d stop playing, a thing I realized I wasn’t yet ready for. But he continued to play with his left hand, beckoning to me with the right. He invited me, not onto the bench next to him, but onto his lap.

 

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

 

Sometimes a story takes a little while to unfold, and sometimes the path I thought something would take when I began
it isn’t the one that the story insists I go down. That’s when the fun begins. From that point, I honestly don’t know where the characters will take me with the tale they have to tell. With part 3 of Concerto, I’ve reached that point. That’s why this episode is a little longer. This was the episode that dragged me in, and I needed to ride it out to its full conclusion. And now I’m getting excited about this little ditty. I hope you are too. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve missed the earlier instalments, catch up here:

 

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

 

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3 Concerto: Too Much to Bear Alone

 

A writer expresses herself through words. They’re the tools she uses, not just to tell a story, but to make people feel, really feel, the life blood that flows through her tale, the very heart beat of each character, each setting, each layer of meaning. I’ve always thought that those results were better achieved with words than with any other artistic methods. Words are concrete in ways that visual arts and aural arts can never be, but I was wrong. That night as the storm outside snarled and rampaged around us, the music this strange man created became the pounding of my heart, the racing of my blood. It became my death and resurrection, my creation and destruction. It became the ache of every secret longing, every burning desire I’d ever had, all of it laid bare at his feet. And it truly was at his feet because I couldn’t stay on the sofa. It was too far away from the center of what he created, too far away from the tapestry he wove and too far away, it felt, from my own soul. In desperation to be nearer, I had, at some point, crawled beneath the piano, where I lay writhing and drowning in the wild sea of music, and wanting nothing more than to never surface again.

 

Then when he held me totally bound by his magic, when his music had somehow uncovered the very building blocks of my own story, he broke me apart. Bone and sinew, blood and tears — he broke me apart. Molecule by molecule, he tore me down until I floated away from myself, all boundaries dissolved, no sense remaining of where I left off and the music began. My essence spread thinner and thinner until I joined with each note, rode each phrase out into the night and let the storm blow over me.

 

And when I was gone, nothing remaining of me that he hadn’t played, that he hadn’t destroyed and recreated and destroyed again, he gathered me back to myself. It was in that gathering, just before the music stopped, that I became aware of the tears on my cheeks. Then, when silence filled the room as though it were itself a part of the music, accompanied by the storm that now seemed far away, he slid off the bench under the piano next to me and drew me to his body, cool against my fevered skin, his bare chest pressed tightly to my back. In my scramble to get to him, to his music, the tartan had fallen away. He reached for it and pulled it over us, then encircled me completely in the solid muscle of his arms. His breath came in heavy gulps, as though he had been running. Mine came in convulsive sobs. He didn’t speak. I couldn’t have spoken if I’d wanted to, and I found that I didn’t. It was only when my own shudders eased a little that I noticed he too was trembling. I hadn’t thought how the music he created might affect him. I had only assumed that he controlled it, created it, made it do his will. It had angered me, at first, that with the world of sound he created, he could so completely manipulate me. But then it didn’t matter any more. Nothing mattered but that he kept playing. I hadn’t known. I hadn’t understood that perhaps, he was as much in the thrall of his music as I was. Perhaps the power of what he created around us was not entirely of his own making.

 

The storm must have eased again at some point. At some point I must have slept the exhausted sleep that catharsis brings. I vaguely remember him lifting me into his arms, followed by the chill of the night air on my face. In protest, I remember burying my face in the heat of his chest, listening to the steady thud, thud of his heart, a different kind of music, as he carried me back to my cottage and eased me down into my bed. He pulled the duvet up around me, and I reached up and touched his stubbled cheek. “Is it always like this?” I managed, my words slurring with the threat of sleep.

 

He caught my hand and pulled it to his lips. His eyes darkened as though the storm from outside had come into them, and the succession of emotions that crossed his face were too fast for me to decipher. “Sometimes …” The muscled of his throat rose and fell and, with an effort, he cleared his throat. When he spoke, the words were tight and strained. “Sometimes it’s just too much to bear alone.” Then he tucked my hand under the duvet against my chest. I wanted to ask him to stay, I wanted to hold him close, to ask him all about his music, himself, the two of which I was certain were very closely entwined with a story of their own to tell. I wanted to hold on to the moment just a little longer, but as he turned to go, I was already riding too close to the edge of sleep. The last thing I noticed before I lost consciousness completely was his bare feet treading silently over the wood floor.

 

When I awoke to the subdued morning light of mist and drizzle, the whole night had a dreamlike quality to it, and as it all came rushing back to me, I stumbled from the bed and looked out the window. The cottage at the end of the stable yard was silent and dark, barely visible in the mist. If the man played all night, he surly must sleep late into the day. Every artist has their own best time to create. I was an early morning person, usually falling into bed just after ten and rising at six. Though lately I hadn’t been sleeping well, and the nights had been an endless desert of self-doubt and struggle to hold back the encroaching panic of a life I feared I’d wasted, of success I dreaded and yet was terrified of losing. For the first morning in a long time, I felt refreshed. I would tell him that when I saw him later today, and I would make a point to see him. I didn’t even know his name, and yet I couldn’t remember ever sharing such intimacy with anyone.

 

I quickly dressed in my heavy tracksuit and fuzzy slippers against the chill and fumbled with the radiators, remembering vaguely that the landlady had explained to me how to work the ancient storage heaters. In the kitchen, I
plugged in the kettle, happy to see the electricity was back, then I built a fire in the hearth to warm the lounge where I would work … or not work, as the case might well be. Once the fire was crackling merrily in the grate and in the kitchen I could hear the kettle starting to bubble, I stood, wiping my hands on my trousers. It was then that I noticed my laptop
sitting open on the desk near the window.

 

For a long moment, I stood staring at it. I didn’t remember opening it. I didn’t even remember unpacking it. With a clap of thunder, that made me jump, the rain began in earnest again. A gust of wind rattled the window as though it were keen on getting my attention, and I moved to the computer. The kettle clicked off with a loud pop and lightning flashed as I bent over and scrolled to the top of a word doc simply called “concerto.” The first sentence of what was clearly a multi-page document read: I started awake from disturbing dreams that I couldn’t quite remember.

 

Our Love is Here to Stay: Launch & Giveaway from Madison Michael

 

 

 

Madison has some fabulous giveaways for this tour. Remember you may visit the other tour stops to increase your chances of winning. You may find those locations here.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #1: Includes Books: Outlander, Time Traveler’s Wife and Beyond the Highland Mist and DVDs: Somewhere in Time, The Lake House, the eBook Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #2: One of the books above and 1 of the DVDs plus the eBook for Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #3: One of the books above or one DVD plus the eBooks Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

 

 

 

Can Love Transcend Time?

 

 

 

 

Thirty-year old Matthew Herrington is weary of solo nights in strange cities. He is ready for a change. And that is exactly what he gets when he steps into Swing Night at The Green Mill and is instantly immersed in the sights and sounds of another era. Intrigued by the club’s authenticity, Matthew is enchanted when he meets Patty, a mixture of sexy and sweet who steals his heart.

 

Patty Dennison has never met a man like Matthew in all her twenty-one years. A sophisticated man, he stands out from the usual Swing Night crowd. He is self-assured, smart, charming, and handsome as hell, even if he is a lousy dancer. Once he takes her in his arms, Patty is more than willing to give him a few dance lessons along with her heart.

 

Repeated missed dates and unanswered phone calls strain the relationship and frustrate the pair. But unraveling their mystery exposes an impossible scenario, one that will torment their sanity and test their love.

 

How can they make their fairytale last? Can love transcend time?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon | All other formats

 

 

 

Our Love is Here to Stay Excerpt:

A waitress came to take it off his hands. “Another?” she queried and he nodded agreement, placing a crumpled dollar on her tray. “Too much,” she told him shaking her head no. Matthew was surprised by her response but the tray was covered with loose change so he removed his bill and left the equivalent in quarters. Everything was so inexpensive but the server still needed to make a decent living.

She gave him a grateful smile and turned to move to her next customer, carefully balancing her tray above the heads of the young people around her. In the process, she nudged Matthew slightly causing him to lose his footing and fall gently against another body. Turning to apologize he found himself staring into the clearest, lightest blue eyes he had ever seen. He couldn’t look away.

“Sorry,” he mumbled when he finally regained his composure.

“That’s okay,” she replied with a quick, bright smile. She was lovely, in a wholesome girl next door way. She had her blond hair pulled into a ponytail that curled like a hair product ad, clear-skinned cheeks that were pink with warmth and perhaps exertion, and a curvy body displayed under a bright red sweater and a flared plaid skirt.

Matthew felt his mouth go dry and his palms get sweaty. She did something to him, this fresh faced woman that he found incredibly sexy. Her red lipstick was a slash of bright color mimicking the red of the sweater. Until this moment, bright red lipstick screamed “tough broad, stay away” to Matthew but on this girl it whispered “come hither.”

“Matthew,” he squeaked out, extending his hand to shake hers. Thinking twice about it, he retracted his arm, running his palm against his pants swiftly, and hopefully surreptitiously, before he extended his hand again.

“Patty,” she responded, placing her soft fingers in his large palm. She shook like a girl. After all the bone-breaking handshakes Matthew had endured across the globe, this limp, fingers-only shake surprised him. She looked athletic, not tough but toned, and not sickly pale like most Chicagoans in winter. The handshake didn’t match the image and normally would have bothered him. Nothing about Patty bothered him. Everything about her bothered him.

 

 

 

 

 

About Madison:

 

 

 

Madison Michael traded 28 years in Fortune 500 tech and management positions for a chance to spend her days with sassy heroines, sexy, rich heroes and nothing but happy endings. Growing up the daughter of a librarian, she learned to love books, especially classics and romances, and spent winters cuddled under blankets losing herself in books.

 

Madison is the author of three novels in the Beguiling Bachelor series, as well as several short stories. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

 

After living in the northeast, southeast and the west, Maddy returned to her Midwest roots. She lives in Evanston, IL with two feline editorial assistants and great views of Chicago’s famous skyline.

 

 

Contact Madison Here:

Website | Madison’s Blog | Maddy’s Romance Madness | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

SHE IS: A fundraiser for Women’s Aid to Promote a Positive, Direct and Inspiring Female Voice

Fuschia Ayling She Is charity benefit poster 1 524602_584897678205656_292324699_n SHE IS: A fundraiser for WOMEN’S AID to promote a positive, direct and inspiring female voice.

She Is is a collaborative exhibition bringing together a group of passionate and creative students from Kingston University and Camberwell College of Arts. The exhibition delves into femininity, looking at topics such as sexuality, therapy, expression and experience, explored through a range of mediums and approaches.

The exhibition will be suitably held on International Women’s Day and will be fundraising for Women’s Aid. As well as exciting visual art the event will also include workshops and spoken word and musical performances.  Involved are lecturer and artist Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith who will be offering a performance “crash explosion” workshop during the daytime. Also appearing will be “Sophia Blackwell” – a self-identified performance poet, cabaret vamp, burlesque wannabe, feminist lesbian warrior princess and Italian pasta-momma and “Volker Renato”- a stand up poet. There will also be an acoustic set by “FRANKENSTAANEE”.

 

 

Fuschia Ayling She Is charity benefit poster 2 307469_584897738205650_1002370270_n

 

 

FREE ADMISSION. Open from 10.00am-9.30pm 8th March and 10.00am-6.00pm 9th March.

For information call: 07773105964

Electric House, 296 Willesden Lane, London, NW2 5HZ.

Contact:

diana@meanwhilespace.com  for information on the venue.

Senior lecturer and artist, Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith, will be collaborating by offering a performance crash explosion workshop during the daytime.

We have spoken word and performances by Sophia Blackwell, a performance poet, cabaret vamp, burlesque wannabe, feminist lesbian warrior princess and Italian pasta-momma. Volker Renato, a stand up poet.

Promoting us will be the Belle Jar Magazine, Sh! Women’s Erotica Emporium, Erotic Author Kd Grace, East End Cabaret, Sue Williams and Everyday Feminism.

Join in with this exceptional event and help in the fight against violence and the exploitation of women across the globe as well as being part of a stand for peace, unity and positivity amongst us all. 

 

Rose Caraway and The Music Assist

I’m very excited to welcome the fabulous and multi-talented Sexy Librarian, Rose Caraway, to A Hopeful Romantic today to talk about something that affects all of our lives — music. Welcome Rose!

Hey everybody! Thank you to KD Grace for having me on! This is fabulous! I have been completely swamped with work for the past couple of months and when KD asked me to write for her blog, I found myself scratching my head and even asked my computer screen what I should write about? Well, it finally dawned on me as I lay on my couch planning out my week.

Music. Everyone listens to it some way or another. Everyone.

Music is powerful. It influences fashion, friendships, pop culture, entire genres, it’s very often the dividing line between social groups we Rose CrarawaySexy Librarian 300x300identify ourselves with. Can you imagine a world without music? From the time we are in the womb until after we die music touches us.

The simplest catchy/annoying jingle can make you buy something or completely repel you. Music has the power to make you tap your foot, snap your fingers, even lift your spirits so much that you get off your rump and dance. A song can be stuck inside your head for an entire day. It can make you cry. To me, music is more powerful than images, than stories. It doesn’t need words to express emotion, just a few well chosen, timely notes. And it is at its greatest influence over me in movies. When you watch a movie it can make the sappiest story more tearful, the scariest horror flick even more blood curdling, it makes action more exciting, thrillers more suspenseful. There is nothing like music. Let’s not forget that it makes housework less mundane. Anybody play music in the background while reading?

Every time we ever laughed or cried during our favorite classic television shows like MASH, The Twilight Zone and Law & Order essentially becomes encapsulated by a single song. The song becomes the show, right? The movie, Jaws wouldn’t be the same without the slow, fear building theme song by John Williams. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Friday the 13th, and Harry Potter (obviously the list is endless), wouldn’t be the same without their wonderful and identifying music. No matter how good an actor is, good music will always make the movie better.

Jason Statham’s, Crank for example was absolutely ridiculous! I loved it. I mean what kind of story line uses the necessity to have sex as a means to survive? Ahem, me! Because it is totally fun! Statham is by no means a brilliant actor; however, it was the music that sold me on the absurdity of this actor having to sex up his adrenaline so that he wouldn’t die, again. In my four part series, Succubus and in Outland 1313 I totally use survival-sex to its fullest! Music can give even the most bizarre story line breath or if it’s very, very lucky; an identity.

Rose CarawayKMQ cover 600x600(1)The Kiss Me Quick’s and The Sexy Librarian Podcasts are my efforts to breathe even more life into my erotic stories, to give them a live heartbeat if you will. I have called upon many musical talents over and over again on my shows and the fans love it. There was a niche needing to be filled in podcasting and the KMQ and SL podcasts are successfully doing just that. It is so exciting to watch them both grow. Every episode gets even better than the last and for me to express my joy in this blog post is impossible. But I owe such a huge part of this success to all the generous musical talent out there. There are so many yet to be discovered artists creating masterpieces and when I stumble upon them, you better believe I snatch them up, quick!

I have been lucky enough to find many musical talents and my hat goes off to each and every one of them. And any opportunity I get to promote them is an honor. To name a handful, here is a list of some of my most favorite finds.

Grapes (Jeff Kendall, who has been featured in most of the KMQ & SL podcasts), Jahzzar, Flex Vector, Chris Zabriskie, Lockerbie, DoKashitero and Good Old Neon. I want to give an extra special tribute to Jan Morgenstern for the musical score for Outland 1313. Of course there are many, many more that can be named but that would take quite a while. So if you are interested in finding a particular artist, just go to my website, thekissmequicks.com and you will see every artist and song title listed for each episode. I encourage any and all to check out these wonderful artists. They put so much of themselves into their art and deserve your listen or you can even send them a small donation or a little love, tell them how good they are. It helps more than you know.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I do, here is a sample. Think of it as an interpretation of how I read and write. I have found that I write with audio in mind.

May I present, Outland 1313 Part One. (Headphones recommended)

 

 
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