Two days until the release of Prelude ! Don’t forget, I have two giveaways going: one for a beautiful “Prelude” t-shirt (they came yesterday and boy oh boy do they look great!) and a second giveaway for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate (you can use this towards any DSP website purchase). I’ll draw winners for both giveaways after midnight on Sunday, May 5th. And if enough folks enter, I may throw in another swag goodie for a third winner.
Enter either giveaway contest by commenting here, on my Goodreads blog, or on the Blue Notes Facebook page, until midnight on May 5th. The winners for the t-shirt drawing and the gift certificate drawings will be announced on release day. Look for new giveaways starting on release day!
Now that I got all that out of the way, I’ve got a brand-new excerpt from Prelude to share. Just scroll down and check it out! And if you enjoy it, stop by Dreamspinner Press’s website and preorder your copy here. Hope you enjoy it! -Shira
Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.
When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.
David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.
David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.
NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.
Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673 Want to read an excerpt? Click on the link and scroll down to the link marked “Expand” on the right-hand side.
Setup: Alex Bishop and David Somers meet when Alex fills in for an ailing soloist with the Chicago Symphony. Alex asks David out on a date and they agree that Alex will meet David at his Orchestra Hall office on Saturday and they’ll go have lunch.
ALEX leaned against the doorframe of David’s Orchestra Hall office, leather jacket unzipped, a knitted scarf hanging loosely around his neck. “Am I interrupting?”
“Not at all.” David looked up at Alex, then back down at the papers spread out in front of him. “Please, come in.” He’d just about given up on his work, anyhow. He’d gotten nowhere, mostly because he’d been nervous.
Why had he agreed to see Alex at all? He was baffled that he’d given in so easily when Alex had pressed him about lunch. No. That’s not fair. He just didn’t give up as easily as you thought he might.
Alex settled into one of the chairs in front of David’s desk. “Work a lot of weekends?”
“A few.” David signed a piece of paper and set it aside. “But I’m finished for the day.” He inhaled slowly, doing his best not to reveal his unease. He’d been thinking about Alex since the concert. Dreaming about him.
“Great,” Alex said as he popped up from the chair.
The sudden move nearly made David jump. Where does the man get so much energy? He covered his reaction by standing up and pulling his jacket and scarf from off the coat-tree. Somehow, it didn’t surprise David that Alex was out the door before he’d managed to wrap the scarf around his neck. Rather than irritating, he found Alex’s enthusiasm quite charming.
“Where to?” he asked as he caught up with Alex, who was holding the elevator doors open.
“Is tapas still okay with you?”
“Perfectly all right.”
They made their way down Michigan Avenue. The wind was biting, but it didn’t deter a group of women from running toward them, laughing and chattering away as they blocked Alex’s path. “Are you Alex Bishop?” one of them asked. Her compatriots had pushed her to the front of the group, and her cheeks were bright pink. David suspected it had little to do with the cold weather.
“That’s me.” Alex offered them a warm smile. This was followed by a round of giggles before one of the women dug what appeared to be a map of downtown Chicago out of her purse and shoved it at Alex.
“Can I have your autograph?” she asked. “Please?” She fished out a pen and handed it to him without waiting for his response.
“Sure. Who would you like me to make it out to?”
David noticed that Alex didn’t hesitate as he pulled off his gloves and exposed his fingers to the frigid air. David’s hands felt cold in his cashmere-lined gloves, and yet Alex, a man who made his living with his hands, didn’t seem to mind.
“Teri,” the young woman said with a shy smile.
“Teri,” Alex repeated. “With a y?”
“No, one r and an i.” She nodded as Alex met her eyes before writing on the map.
One by one, he signed autographs for each of the young women, and with each signature, David admired Alex’s comfortable demeanor. With every woman he took the time to ask questions, listen to her answers, and respond. When they left, they were clearly enthralled. Not that David was ever approached by a fan on a Chicago street—he was more than content with his anonymity—but he could not imagine handling such a situation as gracefully.
“Occupational hazard,” Alex said as they walked the three more blocks to the restaurant uninterrupted. “Sorry about that.” This time, Alex’s smile was for David. David wanted to believe it was warmer, more genuine. Not that he’d ever been a great judge of emotion.
“Not at all,” David replied, relieved that with his scarf wrapped about his chin, Alex could not see him swallow hard. What was it about this man that left him feeling so awkward? Certainly he’d met men like Alex before. And yet, as they ducked into the restaurant, David knew he was lying to himself. He had never met anyone like Alex Bishop in his life.
The restaurant was yet another surprise. David had heard of it— trendy and nearly impossible to get a reservation at, even for someone with David’s connections. The small table at the back was intimate and out of view of most of the patrons. Given Alex’s reception as they walked the scant blocks from Michigan Avenue, David could understand why.
“I’m really sorry about all of that,” Alex said after the waitress brought them their drinks and took their orders. He appeared genuinely contrite.
“No need to apologize. Your public truly does seem to adore you.”
There was a blush on Alex’s cheeks, and David thought he looked supremely uncomfortable with the compliment. “I know you probably won’t believe it,” Alex said after he’d taken a sip of his beer, “but I hate the attention.”
David considered Alex’s statement. Normally he wouldn’t have believed a word of it, not coming from someone who was so obviously at ease in the limelight. But there was something genuine about Alex. Unpretentious. How had he missed it before? You missed it because you assumed he’s something he’s not. He wondered what else about Alex he’d overlooked.
For the first time that day, David noticed Alex’s shirt was unbuttoned to reveal more of the tantalizing ink on his chest. David had always found tattoos base and unappealing. But Alex’s fascinated him, much like the plumage of some exotic bird. David was the bird with the dull feathers, watching, transfixed, wanting to touch the tattoos. Wanting to touch Alex….
To his great consternation, David realized he’d been staring. He lifted his drink to cover his slip. Alex, perhaps noticing David’s gaze, brushed the open skin at his neck with his fingers.
“So I hear you know my former teacher, Roger Nelson.”
David relaxed a bit with the familiar territory. “Roger’s an old friend. He and John Fuchs contacted me about moving to Chicago and applying for the music director position when John decided to retire.”
“I remember John mentioning it. Said you were living in Milan. ‘Hiding out’, I think he called it.”
“Indeed.” David realized he was smiling at the memory. “He and Roger showed up at the villa, bags in hand, and refused to leave until I had submitted my letter of interest to the symphony association.”
“Sounds like it worked,” Alex replied with a chuckle.
“Not immediately. Roger and John spent several weeks creating mayhem for the staff. Nearly drank half of the wine cellar in the process.” David smiled once more and leaned back slightly in his chair. “My housekeeper threatened to quit if they didn’t leave. Told me she wasn’t cut out for cleaning up after ‘rowdy Americans’.”
“Have you ever seen John and Roger after a few bottles of wine?” Alex shook his head. “Let’s just say that they can be a bit boisterous and leave it at that.”
“Are you kidding? Now that you’ve piqued my curiosity?” Alex leaned forward with one elbow on the table, his chin in his hand. “Do tell.”
David laughed outright this time. “The last game of truth or dare they played—mind you, I had gone to bed long before this, but Gianetta told me about it the next morning—John ran across the formal gardens in just his underwear.”
“Could have been worse,” Alex pointed out.
“Have you heard from them lately?”
David nodded. “A few months ago, when I was traveling to South America. They’ve bought a lovely house together in Costa Rica. I spent several nights there. Seems John’s finally decided it’s time to settle down.”
“I’m glad to hear it. I’d always wondered about them.”
“John’s always been prone to wanderlust,” David said as the waitress arrived with a slew of small dishes and set them out on the table. “As Roger explains it, it took nearly two decades for them to admit they had feelings for each other, and another decade for them to act on those feelings.”
“I guess some things are just worth the wait.” Alex’s gaze settled on David, and David schooled his expression to hide his discomfort.