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Concerto Chapter 7

It’s time for Part 7 of my online serial, Concerto. Some of you may remember a few years ago I blogged about a wonderful trip Mr. Grace and I made into the Scottish Highlands and onto the Isle of Skye with my sister. The remote place we stayed at while we were on Skye was an inspiration, the place was as mysterious as it was wild – itself a work in progress being built from the ruins of the stables of a long-gone manor house. This story is inspired by that place and by my love for classical piano, or piano music of any type for that matter.

 

I’m not sure how long the story will be, but I’m happy to share the first two instalments with you lovelies. Be sure to check in for further instalments as they unfold. Remember it is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. I hope you enjoy.

 

If you’ve missed any of the previous instalments of Concerto, just follow the links below.

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7 Unsettled

I couldn’t have imagined how intimately connected his music had rendered us until we made love. Nor had I any idea how truly ravenous we both were for a connection, even if it were nothing more than a touch from something outside ourselves. Though I had thought isolation and solitude was exactly what I needed to get my head in the right place, I realized, as he took me again on the Aubusson carpet by the piano, that isolation was, instead, my problem. It was contact I needed, it was interaction, passion, something to make my pulse race rather than make me feel more deadened inside. And making my pulse race was exactly what my pianist excelled at, as he poured himself into me again. When we finished shuddering out our release, he gently rolled me on my stomach and kissed and caressed the rug burns across my stinging bottom and hips.

 

Like a large cat, he licked and nuzzled the red marks, kissing and cupping and gently palming me open to make sure he hadn’t missed any of my wounds. By that time I was well on my way to a new set of rug burns on my knees and elbows, as I writhed and moaned and lifted my bum closer to his face … not unlike a cat in my own efforts. Without missing a lick, he reached, with a long powerful arm, to pull a couple of pillows from the sofa, which he then arranged under my belly, raising my hips so that his hands were free to touch and tweak and open each fold, each wet swell of me, now in far more need than my rug-burnt arse. In the meantime, he tongued, and suckled and licked until my mind was nothing but a heated haze of pleasure. I forgot my own name. I forgot my very existence except for how it related to his touch, his mouth, his fingertips finding in me my need as easily as he found a melody on the keyboard.

He was ready for me again, in no time, positioning himself with care for my tender bottom. I was far less concerned about my butt than I was about getting him back inside me. The ache and the urge that came from lingering so close to the boundary between soaring bliss and heart-stopping, free falling orgasm had bloomed to near desperation. His teasing thrust and withdraw, thrust and withdraw had me white knuckling the edge of the carpet, and mewling like a hungry kitten as he mantled me. He fisted my hair around strong fingers, holding me immobile while he wriggled a free hand down to thumb and stroke my nipples. And when they had gone pebble hard to his touch, he slid his hand over my belly and between my thighs to where my clit mirrored that hardness in pleasure very near pain.

 

“Please … Please, just do it,” I begged in a breathless voice. “Just finish it!”

 

“Oh my dear,” there was a growl of a laugh at the back of his throat. He brushed my ear with parted lips and nipped my earlobe. “I can’t finish it. It’s only just beginning.” Then he pushed up in me so hard that I screamed, at least I think I screamed. Agony or ecstasy, I didn’t know which, and it didn’t matter. One thrust, two, then three and the world exploded in shards of red and gold and bruised dark purple behind my closed eyes. He circled my waist tightly with both arms and roared out his conquest, opening the deepest parts of my emptiness to flood them with excruciating, delicious release and still more hunger, so very much hunger. And then I was plummeting, endlessly plummeting into the trough of the wave, as without breaking the connection, he rolled onto his side and pulled me into a spoon position. “Just the beginning,” he gasped. “Just the beginning.” Those were the last words I heard as I lost consciousness.

 

I awoke to the banging of the open French doors, in danger of shattering their windows in the wind. I was naked and bundled on the sofa in several of the tartan throws. I shoved to my feet and pulled one of them around me toga style as I stumbled to the patio to wrestle the doors shut, losing the tartan in my struggle. When at last I’d managed the doors, I was drenched and shivering. The fire in the hearth had burned to embers, and the cottage was deathly silent, in spite of the storm that still raged outside. The ticking of an ancient clock on the mantle was disturbingly loud, and I realized I’d never heard the sound of silence in this room. This space had always been awash in music or the emotions it elicited, or in the sounds of sex. Silence felt strangely out of place.

 

“Hello?” I called into the quiet, painfully aware once again, that I didn’t even know the pianist’s name. What had seemed irrelevant in the thrall of the music, and in the heat of our passion, seemed essential now.

 

The towel from last night still lay where I’d thrown it across the back of the chair. I dried myself with it, then gently cleaned the remains of our lovemaking from between my trembling thighs, the enthusiasm of our passion having made me sore in places that had not been exercised for a long while. My sweats were spread across two ladder-back chairs in front of the hearth. I slipped quickly in them, noting that they were still warm from the last of the fire. Then I tiptoed barefoot down the hall. The bathroom was tiled in jade green. The antique claw foot tub made me think perhaps this cottage was the landlady’s nod to a honeymoon suite before the money ran out. The room was empty and silent except for the drip, drip of the Fawcett in the sink.

 

The door to the master suite stood open showcasing a room much larger than the one in my own cottage. The large four-poster bed, which only added to the feel of a honeymoon suite, had not been slept in. A lushly upholstered chez lounge stood in one corner by the window looking out onto the sea – or would have been, if the mist hadn’t obscured the view. It was carelessly strewn with the clothing the pianist had been wearing.

Outside there was just enough light in the still-raging storm to confirm that dawn was breaking grey and thick. “Hello?” I called again, to no response. I discovered the kitchen dusty and unfinished. There were paint cans and throws strewn on the floor. A single burner camp stove sat on a makeshift table of plywood across two saw-horses. There was an enamel coffee pot and a hodgepodge of plastic plates and cups and cutlery. The unfinished pantry was stuffed with power tools and carpentry supplies.

 

I made another slow pass through the cottage wondering if I’d miss something, but feeling more and more unsettled with each step. I squinted out each window scanning the horizon as best I could in the storm, but there was no one. The place was silent. I was alone, and pianist was nowhere to be seen.

 

Concert Part 6

It’s time for episode 6 of Concerto, in which more than the music is passionate. If you’ve missed any of the other
episodes of Concerto, just follow the links. Enjoy!

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

 

 

 

 

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

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.

 

There was an awkward moment in which I fought the robe and the sash and the movement of his foot on the damper pedal to find purchase on his lap. All the while his right hand, settled low on my hip, urged me, guided me, teased me into a position that completely obscured his view, and yet he continued to play. When I was settled, his breath hot against my neck, He scooted the bench forward until the edge of the keyboard pressed against my belly. It was an awkward position, an embarrassing position, or would have been if it wasn’t also a completely intriguing position. I sat with my legs spayed either side of his so that he could reach the pedals. While certainly the music benefitted from his efforts, I couldn’t keep from wondering if his liberal foot work might also be for my benefit, or possibly even his own, because it quickly became evident that he was hard. The robe had ridden up until my bottom was bare against his trousers, and the sash had come loose in our scrambling for position.

While he continued to play, he took it in turns, one hand and then the other, cupping and caressing his way inside the front of the robe before sliding it off my shoulders. I didn’t have to wriggle much to be free of it. Then with his left hand low on my belly, he pulled me back tightly against him, and began to kiss and nibble my neck. My gasps and moans in response to mouth at my shoulder, my nape, my earlobe created a passionate duet to what his fingers were doing on the keyboard, the keyboard which he played blindly never missing a beat, never missing a note.

I raised my right arm up around his neck, then onto his head, curling fingers into his thick dark hair and dragging him down until my mouth could catch the corner of his lips. A flick of my tongue, a nibble of my front teeth, and I felt him surge beneath me, felt the sharp catch and release of his breath humid across my chin. Then he did the strangest thing. He reached for my hands – first one and then the other — and placed each gently over the top of his own. All the while he continued to play. As I tensed, he whispered. “Relax. Just let me do the work. Like a dance. Let me lead. Feel the music, feel it down deep.” As if for emphasis, his leg shifted for a press of pedal in just such a way to bring me closer to his erection.

“Oh. Oh!” My voice came out a harsh squawk, and I got it. I truly got it. As he guided me and we played together, the melody my hands mirrored against his went straight to my heart, then moved down deep below my belly until I felt the vibration of each chord, each arpeggio between my thighs where my body pressed up against his.

Somewhere in the shifting and settling and pressing of notes, we had both joined the melody with urgent, needy animal sounds that the notes didn’t quite cover. The movement of his foot on the pedals was accompanied by an insistent rocking of his hips beneath me and by my own baring down.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that someone with the dexterity to play like he did should be able to manage with his left hand to reach beneath me and wriggle just enough to free himself. While one hand worked its magic on the keys, the other worked another kind of magic, opening me, strumming me, playing me— though little effort was needed. I was well ready for him, when he lifted me just enough to ease into position, then with a soft grunt, he guided
me down onto him. My scent rose to fill the room as he returned fingers, shining and wet from me, to the keys and continued to play, keeping time to the rise and fall, thrust and withdraw of the music with his body inside mine.

Tension built and stretched and tightened around us until every move, every effort was a breathless brittle striving,
until feral growls and groans battled the hammering of strings echoing in wood. Until at last his hands collapsed on the keys with a discordant ringing crash. He stood and grabbed me tightly around the waist, forcing me bodily forward over the keyboard, my hands scrabbling their own discordant efforts to brace myself against the demanding assault of his body, which I returned with an my of own assault. The hard muscles of his thighs forced me up on my toes, and I cried out as my first orgasm hit. He bit my shoulder and pulled out against my protests. Then in an awkward scramble for position, he shifted me to face him, my bottom coming down uncomfortably hard on the keyboard before he cupped me and lifted me. And when the angle was just right, shoved back into me, deep and hard.

“You understand. You feel it. I can tell you do.” This time when he sent me clawing and growling over the edge, he came with. And when he had emptied himself with bruising impact, he gasped against my ear. “Remember it. Remember how it felt. Remember everything.”

 

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.

 

Interview with a Demon: Part 2

 

 

 

While I am not a journalist, my role as scribe (with a small s) for Magda Gardener and her consortium sometimes involves the odd interview, and this one may be the oddest one I’ve done so far. While it’s uncomfortable enough working for Magda, it’s even more uncomfortable when I am shanghaied into doing an interview with a demon, which she has neither authorised nor knows anything about. I doubt she’ll be happy about it when she finds out, and she will find out. Come to think about it, I’m not overly happy about it. It’s not that easy to do an interview when you’re shaking in fear. Let the good times roll!

 

 

 

Part 2: In which I Meet the Guardian

Read Part 1 Here

 

It took me a little while to realize I was dreaming. It took me a little while longer to realize that my dream was, for lack of a better word, a lucid dream. It was no dungeon, no jail I entered. It was, instead, a topiary maze. It was night, and yet the ambient light made it easy enough for me to discern my path. There was no question of which direction I should go. I just wound my way through, not really in too much of a hurry to meet what I knew awaited me beyond. The nebulous space in which Susan imprisoned the Guardian was unassailable, though there were no bars, no high walls, no razor wire. In fact the space that contained the demon was of his own shaping. Due to his partnership of convenience with Reese Chambers during their desperate battle with Cyrus in the deserted subway tunnels of New York, he was rather fond of Reese, who is not only Alonso Darlington’s lover, but a brilliant landscaper and gardener. That being the case, the Guardian had turned his space into a garden, which became more and more elaborate as he was given more and more freedom to interact with Susan and those around her.

 

“Off you go then,” I heard Talia’s voice from far away. “Happy demon hunting, KD.”

 

“I am not fond of that woman. I find her most unpleasant.”

 

I cleared the maze into a night garden drenched in moonlight. In fact the garden, I recognized as the one Reese had created for Alonso at his Lakeland manor house. In front of me just where the edge of the fell plummeted into a deep valley with a beck, a man dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, reminiscent of Reese’s clothing choices, paced back and forth. He neither stopped pacing, nor did he look at me. His laugh was soft and rich, self-deprecating, which I had not expected. “Of course the little succubus and I did get off on the wrong foot, and at the moment neither of us is inclined to make amends. Though I suppose I should be grateful to her for her help in settling me into such an accommodating prison as my dear Susan. And of course in bringing you to me, KD. Please, sit.”

 

Behind me the same winged back chair Talia had been sitting in appeared. When I sat, I realized I was empty-handed.

 

As though he anticipated my reaction, he said, “you are in my dream, my dear, KD. You have no need of pen and paper or Dictaphone. I promise, when you wake up, you will remember everything I need you to know.”

 

Another chair appeared next to mine, and the Guardian seated himself at such an angle that I could only make out his profile, and that not well. He kept his head turned as though he observed something at the opposite end of the beck. “I ask that you do not attempt to look at me directly. It will be … disturbing for you.”

My pulse jumped, and I could manage little more than to nod my understanding. Apparently that was enough. It seemed like ages that we sat there in what might have passed for companionable silence, but the truth was, I had no idea what to say or how to start an interview with a millennia-old demon. Of course I had rehearsed questions, written an outline, but that all vanished from my head now that I was in his presence. I needn’t have worried. He took the struggle out of my hands and began it for me.

 

“I have always chosen the ones I take. It’s never a random act. I choose them carefully and with a great deal of planning and forethought. You see I have plenty of time, and the anticipation is a delight unto itself.” It made my skin tingle and my stomach clench, his use of the present tense, as if he were not in a prison at all, as if he were free to do as he chose. He didn’t ask me if I understood what he meant by taking. I understood all right and didn’t think I was quite up to a less euphemistic description. There was a sense of him shifting in the chair, more than likely to put me at ease rather than because he had any need of it. Then he continued. “Of course I occasionally act impulsively and take when I haven’t intended – a moment of weakness, of answering a craving, of catering to an urge. I have needs, after all, just as everyone does, and sometimes my baser instincts take control.”

 

When I made no response, he added, “you must understand, when I speak of instincts or biological need, it’s only in an effort to help you comprehend my story. In truth, I have neither. My insight into what drives human nature comes only from the experiences of those I’ve chosen through the ages. It’s only through my taking of them that I’m able to share my story with you in any way your mind can grasp.”

 

“I see.” I spoke from a dry throat.

 

“Of course you don’t see,” he responded without censure or ridicule. If anything he sounded rather sad. “You can’t possibly see, but I am compelled to try and convey myself to you, an impossible task for both of us, and yet here we are.”

 

“Indeed,” I managed. “Here we are.”

 

“As I was saying, most of the time, I choose very carefully, the way I chose you.”

 

If I’d had a pen, I’d have dropped it. I remembered only too well what had happened to Annie Rivers when he had chosen her, and what he attempted to do to Susan and Michael. I don’t know if I gasped, or maybe made some other sound of distress. I do know that there is nothing comfortable about being chosen by a demon, and I was on the brink of calling Talia to get me out of the dream.

 

Then that velvety chuckle washed over me. “Relax, my darling little scribe. I’m only joking. Though I’m told,” he added as an afterthought, “that I need to work on my sense of humor.”

 

I’m sure my resulting laugh sounded a little hysterical, though well-laced with genuine relief. Then I found my voice. Whether he understood humor or not, in spite of the poor joke, he had managed to set me at ease. At least a little bit. “You’ll have to forgive me for being so jumpy. I’ve never interviewed a demon before, and especially not without Magda Gardener’s permission.”

 

“Magda Gardener, yes.” He paused as though lost in his thoughts and then said slowly. “Perhaps our clandestine
meeting is my joke on Magda Gardener. Perhaps I wish to see if she thinks I need to work on my sense of humor.”

 

This time I genuinely laughed. “I’m not sure whether I’d pay good money to see her response or pay to be in another country when she finds out.”

 

“Oh, I’m betting you won’t be able to escape her reaction even if you want to darling KD.” I could almost hear the smile in his voice. Then he shifted in his chair with a contented sigh, and the way my skin prickled and the fine hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention, I knew he was now facing me. “Shall we get on with it then, in anticipation of hastening our dear Magda Gardener’s response.”

 

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.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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