Midnight Sonata [Midnight Trilogy, Book One]
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by Dee Tenorio
Description: Midnight Trilogy He thought his heart was broken? until her music healed his soul. CEO Skylar Remington's heart is broken. Literally. The discovery of a potentially fatal condition has run him to ground. Avoiding the press and family concern, he goes into hiding to prepare for surgery in suburban California, where he meets a precocious young boy and his mother, a woman whose music and life make him wish his heart was whole. Widow Evie Parker has heart problems of her own. Her 11-year-old son is in desperate need of a father figure, her mother-in-law is after her to remarry and her unwise heart races every time she sees the new neighbor. But the past she thought left behind is reaching out to find her, threatening the peace she's worked so hard to create. Will falling in love with the man next-door mean finally having her happily ever after?or will he show her the true meaning of heartbreak?
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2006
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [378 KB]
Reading time: 241-337 min.
Skylar Remington lay back on his bed, with nothing to listen to except the heavy thud of his own heartbeat. While there was something reassuring in each successive beat, waiting for a skip--a sudden stop--probably wasn't what his doctor had in mind when he'd ordered rest and relaxation. This little house had seemed like such a good idea, once Sky wrapped his head around his friend's medical demands. It was perfect. Exactly what he'd need to get away from family pressure and public scrutiny. A temporary home a few blocks from the hospital; charming, quiet neighborhood; space for his carpentry tools... The house was perfect. He hadn't counted on being bored out of his skull.
Worse, he hadn't expected to feel caged in it.
He'd gotten up at five, out of habit, and taken his shower as usual. Chase would club him for taking it so hot, but Sky wasn't taking a cold shower for anyone, not even the good doctor. Afterwards, dry and dressed, he realized he didn't have the slightest idea what to do. His tools hadn't arrived, his appointment with Chase wasn't for hours yet and what clothes he'd brought with him had been unpacked the night before to the unexpected strains of piano drifting from the house next door.
At first, Sky thought he might be imagining it, but since his musical ability was marginal at best, he knew he didn't have the talent to come up with something so intricate. He stood in front of his closet, holding onto a hanger, forgetting all about his task as the soft melody began to form. Eventually, he stopped pretending to continue his chore.
Whoever played added layers to their music at they went. Chords resonated, pangs of sadness stippling through it while the occasional sweet note of hope snuck in. Hope might not be a commodity he owned much of these days--too many losses, too many memories, kept him from grasping where they fit into the composition--but he still remembered the feel of it. Against his will, he thought of Marissa; dancing...smiling...teasing. Days when his father was still alive, still the strong head of his family. Back even to when his brother had been his best friend, his confidant. All of them, days long, long gone.
When the music ended, Sky returned to his chore, but his mind stayed in the past all though the night and right through to the morning. Probably the correct place for him to be since he still had to call Raven. Much as he disliked admitting Chase was right, Sky knew his brother needed to know what was going on. He picked up his cell phone from the bedside table, well aware this was going to be a trial. They hadn't had a single conversation in the last five years that didn't end in an argument or months of silence. No matter what he would have liked, he didn't harbor any hopes for true concern.
He didn't get any either.
"Would you like to explain to me why Mother is running herself ragged trying to control RMI?" Raven's cool tone did little to hide his anger as he answered, obviously having looked at the caller ID. How fitting that Raven's first concern was the proper running of Remington Medical Industries; couldn't have the cash cow running dry, could they?
Sky sighed. He supposed the fact that Raven answered at all was progress. "Hello to you, too."
"You didn't think you should at least call me if you were going to ditch the company? Perhaps consider I might have been interested?"
"I'm calling you now."
Raven's silence, at least, Sky understood. They hadn't changed so much he didn't know when his brother wasn't trying hard to rein in his temper.
"I didn't have a choice about RMI. I'm...out of commission."
"Oh?" There was no missing the bitter twist to that word. "Superman tumble into some Kryptonite?"
"No, I--" Dammit, he wanted to be able to explain this, but he still couldn't handle admitting it. Especially not to Raven.
Sky sighed again, tromping through the bedroom and down the stairs. The house looked small from the outside and plain, which worked for him. It had never suffered the tasteful talons of an interior decorator--that much was clear from the knotty brown carpet--but it was roomy and his lack of furniture made it great for pacing from one unused area to the next. His ever efficient secretary had made all the arrangements, ensuring the most basic of living requirements be installed prior to his arrival; appliances, dishes, someplace to sleep, utilities and someone to deliver food on a weekly basis. Perhaps she'd considered his pacing habit and that explained the absence of anything to put in his way. Either way, it came in handy when speaking to his brother. Or not speaking, as the case may be.
"Just cough it up, Sky. I'm a busy man."
Sure he was. Busy chasing women and lounging around on his ass while his trust fund fluttered away on the breeze. Sky squeezed the bridge of his nose, pushing away the familiar aggravation. Did Chase really think talking to Raven was good for his dubious blood pressure? He couldn't imagine anyone who got it higher in a shorter amount of time.
"Sky." The slow drawl was meant to be mocking. "Do you mind if I put my assistant on the phone so she can take shorthand when you're able to stutter the words out?"
"I'm--" Dying was the word wanting out through his lips, the fear he couldn't seem to stop thinking about. "--going in for surgery."
Raven scoffed. "You don't do surgery."
Tell me about it. "Chase seems to disagree."
"Chase is a cardiologist."
"What's going on, Sky?" Finally, seriousness. But then, heart failure had that particular effect on Remingtons.
"I have an arterial blockage of some sort."
Any question now would require answers he didn't want to give. Hell, answers he didn't even have. "It's being taken care of."
Raven took a few moments to digest the information. And all it implied. "That doesn't solve Mother's problems."
"She knows she can call me."
"Funny how neither of you was very interested in calling me." Not petulant, of course. Raven wasn't capable of it, but his forced amusement wasn't as effective as usual. The near-concern remained.
"Yes, well, calling you isn't usually how we solve our problems." Sky pushed past the swinging door into the kitchen. This room made the rest of the house look garish. Multiple wall cabinets painted a stinging white and a single deep sink of brushed aluminum. A mug, a plate and a fork sat in the dish rack, evidence of his exciting adventures in retirement.
"Of course you don't. You angst over them until they're ten times bigger than they had to be. Then you make someone else take care of them. But our mother is not remotely equipped to handle a company the size of RMI and you damn well know it."
Sky held the phone to his ear, beginning to seethe. He stared out the window at the too-close house next door. For some reason he had yet to discover, only four feet separated the two homes, which meant he had a great view through the aligned windows. It was a view he made use of rather than barking off an instruction to where his brother could shove his opinions.
Across the way, staring down to what must be a counter, was a woman. He could see the whole of her face with her thick brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her hand absently rubbed at her nape. She wasn't glamorous and he'd certainly seen more remarkable features, but something about her managed to distract him from the anger welling up.
He studied her while Raven continued ranting, unable to stop himself despite the possibility she might be look up at any moment. After all, it wasn't as if this were privacy glass. She'd see him as clearly as he saw her and it probably wouldn't be a smile on her face if she did.
Her small pointed chin rose up a notch. He could see stubbornness in her firm jaw. Full, rosy lips pressed together as if she were trying to keep thoughts from being voiced.
She looked delicate, but that jutted chin belied any true fragility. A long fingered, slim hand smoothed a loose tendril of hair behind her ear. Graceful. Sleek. The hand of an artist. Was she the one who'd been playing the night before? He felt an unexpected kick of interest in his belly.
He couldn't see a trace of the loneliness on her face that he'd sensed in the music, but he did notice the perfect cream to her skin. She looked fresh, as if she were warm to the touch, soothing and wholesome. Though not a man given to over-inquisitiveness, he found himself wondering what the scent of her would be. Not the cloying perfumes of women in his usual circles. She would smell fresh and pure. Maybe linen and sunshine? Roses? Something gentle.
There wasn't a ring on her all-important left hand. Sky felt an unlikely elation at that fact. He was still looking for clues about her when they both heard a doorbell; her with relief, him with a jump. She turned away from the window and left the kitchen, never having looked his way even once.