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Interview with a Demon 9th Instalment

R&R is over, and I have been properly lectured by Magda Gardener on my flight
home from the States. I’m relieved that she knows about my interview with the Guardian, but she made it very clear she didn’t approve. That being said, in spite of Magda’s warnings, a few days later I returned to the penthouse for my next meeting with the Guardian for instalment 9 of the interview. Listing for previous instalments are at the bottom of this post.

 

Chapter 9  Anticipating

It was almost a month before I was invited to return to the Guardian’s dream prison. In those first days, I slept most of the time, and when I did wake up, I was ravenous. I ate and slept again. On the evening of the third day I woke, ate and showered, and boarded the plane for some much needed R&R with family. I thought I was prepared for whatever would happen next, when Magda Gardener showed up on my flight home to informed that not only did she know about my interview with the Guardian, but she was not best pleased.

 

For the next few days, I waited, expecting that any time I would get called back to New York to continue the interview. But when the call had not come by the third day, I found myself unable to settle, unable to relax, vacillating between hoping Magda had forbidden further meetings with the Guardian and longing desperately to see him again, to hear the rest of his story. On the fourth day, not only did I get the call, but one of the Consortium’s private jets had been sent for me. It seemed that after her stern talk to me, Magda had decided best expedite the whole interview under her watchful eye. I didn’t know how I felt about that, but I was more than a little bit anxious to get back to the Guardian.

 

I arrived in New York with more of a sense of excitement and anticipation than I would like to admit. That in itself frightened me. I told Magda Gardener that I had made a commitment and I would see it through to the end, but in my heart of hearts, I feared my desire to continue the interview had little to do with my commitment at this point.

 

At the flat in New York City, Talia met me at the door and invited me back to the big bed. This time it was Reese who sat in the wing backed chair, rising to kiss me on both cheeks. Then he held me at arms length and inspected me as though he were checking for physical wounds. “I’m all right,” I mumbled. “Better now that I’ve rested.” Then I added without waiting, “Magda knows.”

 

Reese didn’t seem surprised. “It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t know him as well as she thinks she does. He won’t hurt you,” Reese said, as he stepped back, still not taking his eyes off me. “But no matter what his intentions are, you’ll never be the same after being with him.”

 

“Thanks for that, Reese,” Talia grumbled. “You didn’t do too bad out of the deal. Besides that no one is forcing her to do this interview. She’s not so stupid as to think a demon is ever safe, and if she is, well she deserves what she gets.”

 

She motioned me toward the bed, but I balked. “Do you love him?” I asked Reese.

 

He took another step back, almost as though I had hit him, and rested a hand on the back of the chair. “I … think of him differently now.” Then he settled back in the chair, but avoided my gaze.

 

As I lay down to the bed, Talia crawled in next to me and pulled me close to her. This time she wore silk pajamas. “He’s a monster, K D,’ she whispered next to my ear. “It takes more than most people are up for to love a monster, whatever the hell that even means.” Her words were brittle, lacking in the usual humor that usually surrounded the succubus.

 

I wanted to argue that Reese was a monster too now and so was she, that they all were, but I fell asleep before I could say anything.

 

I awoke on my back in the grass looking up at the stars. The Guardian sat next to me looking out over the fells. “You appear much more rested now, K D,” he said without looking at me.

 

“I am, thank you.” I eased myself into a seated position, fighting a slight sense of disorientation. He let me get my bearings before he spoke again then he simply said. “I overheard the conversation. So our dear Magda Gardener knows of our meetings.”

 

I nodded. I’d begun to understand he didn’t need to see or hear me, and sometimes I didn’t really need to respond at all. That happened more often than it was comfortable to think about.

 

“Well, I’m delighted that our situation merited a plane flight and a motherly lecture. You should consider yourself among the blest.” I wondered if I was only imagining the strange blend of humor and bitterness in his voice. I was certainly not missing the hint of triumph when he added, “and you came back anyway. I am honored.”

 

There was another moment of silence and then he spoke without preamble as though I hadn’t been gone for nearly a month.

 

“She wrote my escape, Susan did. Of course I deceived her into thinking that she and Annie, in their drunken celebration after she had seen Chapel House, were only making up tales inspired by the place, and I was nothing more than the imaginary lover hiding in the dark. I was simply an idea for a story Susan would write later, put aside among her notes and documents to be opened and resurrected when she had time and when the inspiration struck her.” His laugh was forced. “You see to what levels I was willing to stoop to be free, and I would say that it was nothing, that I would have done so much more. That would not be a lie, I promise you. But you must understand I had never encountered a real Scribe before, in fact I did not believe that such a creature even existed in these secular sterile times.

 

“That she could simply write my freedom into existence was joy beyond joy for me. But that she had such power made her all the more desirable, for no matter how much I lusted for Annie, no matter how much I wanted her, she had no power other than her beauty, and beauty is a fleeting thing. A story well told, however, is immortal.

 

“In the night, she rose up from her bed, while Annie slept the sleep of the comfortably inebriated. She found the key to Chapel House and she drove there by herself. I knew that she would come. I knew that nothing short of death would keep her from me and, K D, I was then, as I ever am, insatiable. My freedom would never be enough, I would possess not only Susan, but I would take Annie as well.

 

“And there is more, another part of this story that makes me believe, in spite of all that has happened, that my experiences, all of our experiences, have led us to this point in our journey for a reason. That it was meant to be.” He chuckled softly. “How very human it sounds to say such a silly thing. But you will understand when I tell you. You will know why I believe such a thing to be true. You see, while Annie spoke of her plans for the renovation of Chapel House there in the crypt, she mentioned the builder who she would hire on for the project, Michael Weller. Oh yes, I knew full well who Michael Weller was, and my greed, my hunger, could barely be contained as I waited for my release.

 

“You see, I would have it all. Susan would make it so. I would have my freedom, I would have Annie, and then I would have Susan and Michael, and I would make them my own and keep them close to me for the rest of time.

 

“Dear K D, in the whole of my existence I cannot recall a moment when I was more beside myself with excitement, with anticipation of what would soon come to fruition because of my lovely little Scribe. I waited in the dark, a creature of infinite patience impatient as I had never known impatience. I waited with anticipation for my first proper taste of freedom, for my first proper taste of Susan.

 

Links to Previous instalments of the interview

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

 

Interview with a Demon: Part 5

I’m happy to announce that I did not freeze to death, no thanks to the situation in which I found myself in the last instalment of my interview with the Guardian. The truth is, as this strange interview unfolded, as I spent more time with the Guardian, I can’t tell you that I felt safer with him. I’m not even sure I could tell you that I knew him better or that I understood him better. But between him, Susan Innes, and the rest of the gang, by the time I was shivering in the Guardian’s prison, I realised I was most definitely a captive audience.

 

If you’ve missed any of the interview so far, please follow the links below this instalment. 

 

Interview with a Demon Part 5: The Confusing Semantics of Humanity

 

“Susan, I am sorry,” the Guardian said.

“I don’t care that you’re sorry. Annie’s story is not yours to tell,” she replied, and then she yelled into the frigid air, “Goddamn it, Talia, I said pull K D out.”

By the time it became clear Talia had no intention of obliging, I was pretty sure I was developing frostbite.

“Susan, you must stop this.” In spite of the raging wind, I could hear the Guardian as though he spoke right into my head. “Clearly the succubus is not listening, and our little scribe should not suffer for your anger. I won’t proceed if it upsets you so, only consider what you’re doing.”

Those were the last words I heard before I woke up in the big bed with a jerk, and the bones in my neck popped as though I had been falling. Talia was sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder. In spite of the blizzard I’d just come out of, I was drenched in sweat and desperately thirsty.

Susan was pacing at the side of the bed like a caged lion and the air around her crackled with the same electricity I’d been feeling when I was pulled from the dream. Before I could reorient myself, she turned on Talia, yanking her off the bed with a hand fisted in the collar of her shirt. “I told you to pull her out!”

I had never feared Susan Innes until now. Though I knew well what she had become, she had never exuded that same threat factor I felt around Alonso Darlington. But in that instant, I was fully aware Darlington had most definitely not cornered the market on being terrifying. Heart racing, I shoved myself up and crab walked to the other side of the mattress, all but falling out on the floor before I caught hold of the bedpost. That I suddenly found myself fearing for the safety of a succubus said something about just how scary an angry Scribe turned vampire, turned prison for a demon could be. Susan paid no attention to me, as her other hand settled around the woman’s throat. “If you can’t keep her safe, what good are you?”

Talia went deadly still. If anything her calm was as frightening as Susan’s rage. “Take your hands of me, girl, or shall I show you why I could hold a demon in thrall while you were whimpering and dying in Alonso’s arms?

And then I did fall off the bed. I’m not proud of it. I would have run and not stopped until I was back at JFK and safely on the next plane home. But my legs wouldn’t stop shaking enough to support me.

The two jumped apart, and the tension was suddenly broken. Susan, once more herself, came to my aid, but the last thing I wanted was her help, and I found my legs worked just fine when properly motivated. The look on her face, as I shrugged away from her touch was wounded and pained, and I didn’t much care at the moment. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. Then she spoke to Talia with a voice still laced in the ice of the blizzard she’d caused. “What the hell took you so long to pull her out?”

“I didn’t pull her out,” the Succubus said. “I wouldn’t have pulled her out. Not just because you had a tantrum. “Your prisoner cast her out. Seems he was a lot more concerned for her than he was for your wounded pride. Though really, Susan, I never figured you for a coward.”

“I don’t give a damn what you figured me for, Talia, and what’s between me and the Guardian is none of your business.”

To this, Talia only laughed. “None of my business, is it? You brought this whole shit show to my door, to my home, and Alonso’s — you and Michael and good old Magda fucking Gardener. You made it my business, all of our business.” She sat back in the chair and folded her arms across her chest. “I didn’t volunteer for transportation duty,” she said nodding to me. “You dragged me back in, lest we forget. I don’t like your damn demon and he sure as hell doesn’t like me. Still you asked me to get KD to him for the interview. That, I did.” She stood and slipped into her shoes next to the bed. “Now, I’m out of here. If the demon’s your prisoner, then he’s your prisoner, but if he’s something else, then maybe you’d both better agree on what that is before you drag other people into your mess. You’re the one who promised him his voice for this interview. Maybe you should have made it clear to him that what you really want is for him to parrot your voice.”

Suddenly the bedroom door burst open and Michael blew in, nearly shoving Talia off her feet. With his focus so clearly on Susan, it was as though he hadn’t even noticed the succubus. He filled the room with his presence in the way only an angel could. His blond hair was wind blown, and crisp clean mountain air was the wild scent he exuded in spite of the carbon and heat smell of the city. He wore faded jeans and a plain black tee shirt along with an old pair of Conversehigh tops. He completely ignored the rest of us and went straight to Susan, scooping her into his arms. “He said you needed me. I came as soon as I could.”

“The demon?” Talia asked. “The demon sent for you?”

Michael only nodded as Susan all but collapsed against his chest. Whatever he whispered into her ear as he smoothed her hair and stroked her back, was too quiet for the rest of us to hear. But the shudder that ran up her spine and the sob that followed was impossible to miss. For a long moment, they stood freeze framed against the backdrop of the open door, clinging to each other desperately, Michael speaking softly in her ear.

At last she pulled away, took a deep breath, then turned to face us, still clinging tightly to Michael’s hand. “Don’t go, Talia. I’m sorry, but I need you to send her back in if you would please. And if you would, K D.”

The succubus studied her silently for a minute, then looked up at Michael, who gave her a reassuring nod, to which she only shrugged and turned back to me. “Shall we,” she said with the twitch of a dry smile, as she nodded to the bed. After two very large glasses of water, I settled beneath the duvet once more, and within minutes, I was again in the Guardian’s fell-side prison staring at his back, while he stood on the edge of the cliff looking down into the beck. It was still high summer, not a snowflake remained, and the owl still trilled somewhere nearby.

I was too disoriented and exasperated by this point to be cautious. “What just happened?” I blurted out.

For a moment he didn’t answer, and then he sighed. “I reminded Susan that what I did to Annie was not her fault.” Once again the wingback chair appeared and I all but fell into it, as he began to pace back and forth along the cliff top. “You see she blames herself. That is the real root of the problem — not that I was about to tell you my version of the events that unfolded at Chapel House, but that she believes those events could only occur because she released me from my prison.”

“Well?” I could certainly understand why she thought that.

All at once I felt the giddy sensation of falling, and then of soaring above the beck in an embrace that was most definitely not human. Then a cool wind swept over me and the Guardian’s presence surrounded me as though he were guiding me down onto the warm grass, as though he mantled me with the body I knew he didn’t have. And then he was moving inside of me. I don’t mean sex. I mean something deeper, as though it were no longer Susan’s heart he existed beneath, but it was my own. In the odd mix of terror and arousal, of losing myself in something I was sure I could never come back from, I was more than a little bit shocked to discover that arousal was winning the battle. Then just as quickly as he had approached me, he backed off, and I was once again seated and watching as he settled into the chair next to me.

He waited for a moment, waited until I could gather enough presence of mind to focus on his words and not what I had just experienced. Then he said quietly, “you see, she believes that she had a choice in the matter.”

“Jesus.” I chafed at the goose bumps on my arms and shifted in my chair trying not to think of how willing I would have been to let him do to me whatever he wanted. If he had forced the issue, I wondered if I would have made any attempt at all to call out to Talia for help.

“You would not have,” he answered my question for me, and I felt his reply like a punch in the gut.

“Please don’t do that again.” My words came out breathless and shaky with way less authority than I would have liked. “Don’t read my thoughts.” There were too many suppositions and fantasies I myself had had about him for me to want him wandering around inside my grey matter.

“Oh I didn’t have to read your thoughts, K D. I read only your body. And your face. I would never betray Susan’s trust by going where I’m not welcome.” Then his voice softened like velvet brushing against my ear. “But I would have been welcome, wouldn’t I?” He didn’t give me long to squirm with the truth of the matter we both knew only too well, but continued — this time at a more polite distance. “You see how the semantics of humanity confuse me at times.” He raised a hand as though he could wipe away that disturbing thought. “My point is, that while Susan’s first visit to my crypt prison was a complete coincidence, once I realized who she was, what she was, she had no more choice in the matter of giving up Annie to me, than if it had been her fondest wish to do so. In fact by the time she left my crypt, she was completely convinced that to free me was the deepest desire of her heart. And of this fact, K D, she was not even aware. You see, I gave her no choice. And I daresay you would view my actions somewhat more sympathetically had it been you Magda Gardener had held imprisoned in stone for so very, very long.”

 

 

Interview with a Demon – the interview so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

 

 

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.

 

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

 

Happy Holiday Easter for those of you who celebrate. Happy April Fools Day for those of you who like a good joke, and happy damp spring weekend for everyone else.

Today, as promised, I’m sharing the second instalment of my new WIP, Concerto — which may, as the story evolves end up being called Sonata. Beautiful music and those who create it and mysterious isolated places have always intrigued me. Both have inspired this story. I hope you enjoy the second instalment. Once again, I remind you to be gentle with the author. It is, after all, a work in progress.

 

The music stopped with a brutal glissando, and the only sound that broke the breathless silence following was a cold baritone voice. “You’re trespassing.”

I would have answered but the fall had stunned me and knocked the air out of my lungs, which was more distressing than the wet cold stone of the patio, but less so than the chill in the pianist’s voice.

“What in hell do you mean coming outside in this weather half naked?” He was up from the piano and kneeling to throw a blanket around me before I could catch enough breath to respond. What I did manage was another undignified yelp as he lifted me into his arms as though I weighed nothing, turned on bare feet and carried me in to the lounge where he plopped me unceremoniously onto a sofa covered in richly woven tartan throws. “You’ll catch your death, and it would serve you right spying on me, trying to seduce me dressed like that. Who sent you?”

“Are you serious?” I forced my way upright on the couch shoving the blanket aside, not wanting to be flat on my back and vulnerable to meet my accuser. “No one sent me. I woke up and heard your music. It was a bit of a surprise since the landlady told me there was no one here but me.”

“So, my playing disturbed your sleep, did it?”

“No. It’s just I woke up, and the storm had passed. I heard music and …”

“And?” He studied me with a raised brow. His dark hair was mussed and slightly damp, as though he too might have just come in from the out of doors.

“I wondered where it was coming from, that’s all.”

 

 

“Well now you know.” He nodded me toward the open French doors.

But in the few minutes we’d been talking, the rain had started again and a gusting wind flung the lace curtains about as though they were nothing more than wisps of fog.

“Fine, you don’t have to be so rude.” I shoved off the couch with as much dignity as I could manage and stormed toward the patio. “You might have considered that flinging your doors open in the wee hours of the morning and playing music like that, someone would want to listen.” I braced myself for the slog back to my cottage as another gust of wind flung a cold spray in my face.

“Wait.” He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back, then with some effort against the growing gale, slammed the doors. “You can’t go out in that.”

For a long moment, he studied me where I now stood shivering, freshly chilled and wet. At last he gave a hard put upon sigh and, before I knew what was happening, he stripped out of his shirt and handed it to me. “You’re … not decent.” The muscles along his high cheekbones tensed at his words. “And you’re wet and cold.” He gave a quick nod to the front of my nightshirt. I hadn’t noticed until now that the fall and the rain had rendered it transparent. “Besides, you’re a distraction. I can’t play with you … like that.” He turned his back, and I found myself blushing furiously as I stripped and slid into his white shirt, still warm with the heat of his body. He was not a small man, and the shirt fell to my knees. It smelled of the night chill and the lightning heat of the storm, though I suspected the disturbingly arousing scent was more his own than that of the storm.

When I finished fumbling with the buttons, he once again stood facing me, holding one of the throws. He wrapped the tartan around me, moving close enough that I could feel the heat radiating off his stripped torso, and I was struck again by his size. I don’t know why I had thought a pianist must be a tall, thin wraith of a man, who lived on the music and little else. He was robust and well muscled, with a peppering of scars low across his belly.

I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was the fact that the whole incident seemed like a dream that I half expected to wake up from at any minute, one of those that I would long to go back to once it vanished in the daylight. “And you don’t think this will distract me from the music?” I rested my palm against his chest, and he drew a tight breath between his teeth, trapped my hand with his own, then lifted it away, with more of an effort than the act should have demanded.

“Trust me,” he said holding my gaze with milk chocolate eyes, “when I play, you won’t be distracted by anything.” He curled a finger under my chin and lifted my face until my heart accelerated and my mouth watered at full lips slightly parted, so close to mine. Those lips curled in a smile and he pulled away. “That is what you came for, isn’t it? To listen.”

And just like that he turned like a man with a purpose and seated himself once again at the piano, nodding me to back to the sofa.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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