I have officially had one of the coolest blog weeks! Not only have I had everything from board books to things I hope my mom does not know I read and everything in between, but I have had some amazing guests. I want to take a moment to thank Christina Cole for stopping by as my special guest and for having an awesome giveaway!
Music Hath Charms
Music and writing have always been inextricably linked in my life. It’s not surprising that many of the characters I create share my love of music.
George Mather, from Happily Ever After, my recent historical romance from Sweet Cravings Publishing, understands the power of music. He’s a broken man. Although he promised his late wife that he would never marry again, he can’t control his desires for pretty Anne Hopkins, his daughter’s care-taker. Caught up in guilt, he finds himself struggling with emotions and tumultuous desires. Only music will soothe his soul.
In this excerpt from Happily Ever After, Anne finds him in the music room.
From: Happily Ever After
As Anne turned from the stairwell, she saw at once that the door of the conservatory stood ajar. Hesitant to enter uninvited, she poked her head through the doorway and cast a wary glance into the room. Sheets of music lay scattered across the hardwood floor, blown about by the wind gusting through the open window.
George stood before an empty music stand, a violin tucked beneath his rigid, square jaw. He obviously played by heart with no need for musical notation.
He looked like a madman. His hair was disheveled, his features contorted, and he bowed the strings of his instrument with fury. A wild, haunting melody filled the air, holding Anne spellbound.
Unaware of her presence, George played on, drawing frantic notes from the violin as though possessed by the Devil himself. Anne expected smoke and flames to burst forth and consume him.
The music swirled around her and touched her in ways she could not comprehend. Its unrestrained passion took hold of her, lifted her, and flung her about. It carried her through time, back to terrifying moments of childhood, to painful memories of her father, his drunkenness, her mother's bruised and battered limbs. In some inexplicable way, it exorcised her demons, releasing her from the shackles of the past, before finally leaving her weak and shaken.
She sobbed and turned to leave. The music rose to a final cacophonous screech, then stopped abruptly.
“I know my playing is wretched,” George said, his voice loud and harsh in the sudden, shocking silence. “But I never meant to make you cry.”
Anne whirled about to face him. “You knew I was here?”
He nodded. Clasping the violin by the narrow neck, he held it at his side. “I'm not sure how I knew. Somehow I felt your presence.”
“I didn't mean to disturb you.”
“It's all right.”
“Oh, but, I'm not crying because of your playing.” She bit her lower lip, fumbling for the right words. “Well, yes, it is because of your playing, but not in the way you think.”
His dark eyebrows arched. “Do you often burst into tears at the sound of music?”
“I love music,” Anne replied, evading his question. She dabbed at her eyes. “I don't often have a chance to hear it performed.”
“I wouldn't call my efforts much of a performance.” Still holding the violin at his side, George stepped to a table where a dark leather case lay open. With great care, he placed the instrument inside.
“Your playing is exquisite. I was quite moved.” Unable to bear the anguish in his somber brown eyes, she glanced away. “Let me help you pick up your music.” Quickly, she scurried through the room, gathering the fallen pages. “It must be wonderful to have such talent.” Anne felt compelled to say something. “Music can be very comforting, don’t you think?”
“Sometimes playing brings me comfort. At other times, it's painful.”
“Really? Why?” Anne rose and held the sheet music out to him, but he seemed not to notice. She placed it on the table, next to a stack of letters tied with a faded red ribbon. Her heart lurched at the sight of the letters. She suspected they held memories of George's life with Margaret.
“I've only recently begun practicing again.” George stepped to the table and picked up the letters. He tucked them into the leather case where they nestled securely against the worn velvet lining. “I gave it up, you see, after…” His broad shoulders shook as he spit out the words. “After Margaret died.” Staring down at the violin, he glided his fingers slowly across the delicate strings. “I courted her with this violin.”
Anne wished she'd stayed at the caretaker's cottage instead of coming here and intruding upon George's grief. Beneath his gentle façade lived a wounded soul, a man hurting, writhing with pain. His wounds weren't visible, but they were real, and raw. The fact that they remained unseen made healing all the more difficult.
“I'm sorry. Perhaps I should go now,” she suggested, turning once more toward the door.
“Actually, it's a wonder Margaret consented to marry me. She hated my playing.”
Anne paused at the doorway. “Did she?” She looked back and saw a slightly bemused smile on George's face.
“She once compared the sound of my violin playing to the howl of an old cat whose tail got caught under a rocker.”
“She didn't!” Anne spun about on her heels. “How dare she say such an awful thing! How could she—” The blood drained from her face as she realized what she'd just said and done. No man wanted to hear criticism of the woman he loved. “Oh, dear. I'm afraid I'm running off at the mouth again. I'm so sorry.”
George had loved Margaret, heart and soul, and her misguided opinions of his musical abilities could never diminish his affections. Even now, his love for her lived on.
That's how love is.
How many times had her mother told her that plain and simple truth? Love meant forever, even if forever brought pain and anguish, sorrow and sadness.
When she looked back at George, the smile was gone, replaced by his usual serious demeanor. He closed the violin case and fastened the leather straps that held it shut.
~ ~ ~ ~
Indeed, as playwright William Congreve once wrote, “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.”
I’m glad I’m able to share my love of music with the characters who inhabit my stories and with the readers who come to know them.
~ ~ ~ ~
Would you like a chance to win a copy of Happily Ever After? To enter my giveaway, leave a comment below. Give the name of one classical composer whose works you’ve enjoyed. Contest will close at 9:00 AM Monday morning, January 28. Time zone: Central Standard.
For more excerpts, visit my blog: Time for Love.