Hey, two days until Darkening is available for pre-order. So, here’s today’s little taster…

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Not a smutty bit today, folks, more in the way of suggestive. Nipples tomorrow, promise….

Stepping slightly farther back, away from the table, I stand facing my audience with the door open behind me. I place the violin under my chin, resting my face against it like a favourite pillow, and draw in one long breath. I let it out slowly, and again. My feet are planted firmly, about a foot apart. I am centred, grounded. In my element. Now, at least, this I am good at.

 

Leaning into the violin and closing my eyes, I start one of my favourite melodies, not really written for violin—but I think it works beautifully and I love it. The opening, evocative strains of Ravel’s ‘Boléro’ fill the room. I don’t need to look up, or hear his sharp intake of breath as he recognises the piece, to know that Mr Darke is stunned. He didn’t expect this from me. I am glowing inside because I know, at last, I have him.

 

I hear a slight noise behind me and open my eyes to see Mr Darke leaning slightly to see around me. Placing his index finger vertically across his mouth, he signals for quiet, then beckons with his hand. A little shadow slips around and past me.

 

A small girl—impossibly pretty, with long, straight dark hair—runs across the room and climbs onto his knee, and puts her little arms around his neck. She looks sleepy and is wearing a long, pale pink nightie. Her feet are bare. He hugs her, whispers something in her ear that makes her smile, and he kisses her hair. Then they both turn back to me, silent, watching, listening intently as I continue to play.

 

Completely in my element, absolutely in control of my audience, the music, the instrument, I sway gently as I slowly, surely develop the piece. I build the melody, pouring my own energy into it, louder, faster, ever more compelling as my bow flies back and forth across the resin-heavy horsehair strings. Unerring, every note perfect, I feel the familiar pull of the evocative music and lose myself in it, completely alert but at the same time only dimly aware of my surroundings, my audience. I coax the music towards its crashing crescendo. I am so exhilarated, so pumped up I feel sure I can fly in that moment, but as the final note dies away I am also aware of feeling drained, as if my last dregs of energy were poured into that piece.

 

No one moves. No one speaks. In the silence that follows, I straighten and stand before them, violin in my left hand and bow in my right, both now pointed down at the floor. Raising my eyes, I meet Mr Darke’s gaze.

 

His face is still, expressionless, but his beautiful dark brown eyes are warm, admiring, the passion of the piece not lost on him. I feel a clenching low down in my belly, glad that I have somehow affected him, touched him. We stare across the kitchen at each other for long moments before he finally comes to his feet, holding the little girl in his arms.

 

“Bravo, Miss Byrne,” he says softly, bowing his head to me. “That was superb.”

 

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