Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #paranormal, romance, ménage, shifter
Can Melody convince her best friend’s uncles that she is enough woman for the both of them?
When Melody Madison, new first violin, first chair of the New Haven Philharmonic gets strange threatening letters from a deranged fan, she has nowhere to turn. With her family gone, she has only her best friend, Carmen and Carmen’s uncles to turn to. Can the men help her in her time of need and will she be able to keep her hands to herself so they can protect her?
When Mitch and Wyatt Baldwin meet their niece’s college roommate for the first time, they are shocked to realize that she is their much-anticipated mate. After years of waiting and searching, they find it difficult to believe she has been so close, but yet so far for the last several years. When they find she is being stalked by a fanatical admirer, they take her security into their hands. After all, it is their right and their privilege to protect what is theirs.
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A Melody in Paradise
Copyright © 2012 Tianna Xander
Cover art by Martine Jardin
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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A Melody in Paradise
To musicians everywhere: May you light up the world with your music.
Melody Madison stood behind her chair and closed her eyes. She could
the music that hundreds of musicians played on this stage. She swayed back and forth as she heard Beethoven’s 9th symphony played a hundred different ways, by a thousand different people.
Opening her eyes, she looked out over the seating and wondered how well someone could see her seat from the upper balconies—from anywhere really.
The scent of the antique wood, wax and rosin in the concert hall seemed to permeate everything. The glossy wood music stands looked as old as the building, possibly older. She looked out over the empty seats and wondered if the maroon velvet was as soft as it looked. When the new owners remodeled the place, they obviously spared no expense, as well as kept the ambiance of an old-time concert hall.
Gilt trimmed upper balconies sported heavy-looking, deep burgundy velvet curtains and plush sofas and chairs. Gold tasseled lamps stood in every corner and the brass handrails shone bright in the glow of the overhead lights.
She sighed as she turned and stared down at the coveted seat before her. She’d worked long and hard over the years to get this seat. She sat down and looked out over where the audience would sit listening to the symphony play that very night and wondered if
would be there.
She didn’t really know who
was, other than he seemed obsessed with her for some reason. She fisted her hands on her knees and thinned her lips. It didn’t matter that someone had sent her a threatening letter, Melody had worked too hard to get where she was to back down now.
A noise startled her and she looked up. “Oh, hi, Andrew.” She breathed a relieved sigh. “You scared me.”
Andrew set his cello down and called across the chairs that separated them,” I didn’t mean to scare you.” He made a face, his blond good looks twisting into a frown. “Though I should have known you’d be jumpy. You’ve been on edge for the last several weeks.”
“You would be too if someone wrote you strange letters that made it sound as though they would rather see you dead than in first chair.”
He gave her a lopsided grin that she should have found it easy to fall in love with. “I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening as long as Michael is still with the symphony.”
Michael Harmon was the most brilliant cellist she had ever heard. She’d often heard the same said about herself and her violin, but she tried not to let it go to her head. Michael, on the other hand, let it fill his fat head with dreams of grandeur. The man was certain he would play Carnegie. Somehow, Melody didn’t see it happening.
He looked at the cello first chair and shrugged. “It’s not like I want it anyway. So how’s the chair?”
Andrew laughed. “You are the only person I can think of who wouldn’t know what I meant.” He waved his arm, indicating the first violin first chair position in which she sat. “How’s the
“Oh!” She grinned, her face heating. “It’s just a chair. It’s the position that I like.” She should. It had taken her ten years of hard work to get here. Her orchestra teachers all called her a child prodigy. She wasn’t anything of the sort. She had to work very hard to get where she was. A prodigy was just good, no matter what.
Melody had known when she was a child that this was what she wanted to do. She wanted to play the violin. The first moment when she heard her first Mozart string concerto when she was younger, she knew music was her life. Inheriting her grandfather’s Stradivarius was just the icing on an already large cake.
Standing, Melody spun in a circle and inhaled the wonderful scent of the stage and its surrounding equipment. “Can’t you just hear us playing Ode to Joy or Requiem with the audience listening rapt?” She looked down at her violin still in its case and sighed. “You know I shouldn’t even have that.” Bending, she reached for her violin and picked it up, cradling it to her chest. “It should be in a museum. If I had any sense, I would have donated it long ago, but…” It was a part of her, something that would always remind her of her grandfather. She would sit and listen to him play for hours. He, too, had been a concert violinist, though he’d given up his dream of playing in a symphony to raise a family.
Don’t look back, Melly. Grab onto your dream and hold it tight. Don’t let anyone change your course but you.
Her grandfather’s words echoed in her mind as she caressed the smooth wood of her violin.
Other musicians had instruments that were old, sometimes hundreds of years old and they were still in service, but none of them had a
Stradivarius. At best, they were well-made German, sometimes even Italian instruments that had lasted throughout the years.
Time and use gave each violin a tone, a sound of its own. Hers was so old, so well used, that it had a tone so deep and rich it was difficult to tune. But when it was in tune it sounded heavenly. Her fingers followed the curve of the scroll as she contemplated giving her precious violin to a museum, then shook her head. Perhaps when she died, but she would never part with it so long as she could still play.
Carefully, she set the instrument on her chair and picked up her case. She couldn’t leave it where it sat. Someone in the balconies could see it. Generally, the musicians carried their instruments to their seats without their cases, but not Melody. The Stradivarius was too rare to chance falling with it not in its case. Occasionally, she would leave the stage with it, if she was in a hurry to leave, but she tried not to carry it far without the security of its case. Even inside the protection of its case, it could get damaged, but it was less likely.
The others arrived while she set her case down, a few of them smirking at her
habits. Melody sighed. She didn’t care. None of them had an instrument worth half of what her violin was worth. If their instruments were so rare, they would take extra precautions as well. She was sure of it.
The curtains closed, signaling the entry of the audience in a few minutes and Melody hurried back to her seat. She didn’t want anyone deciding to try out her chair and sit on her precious violin. That was why she always arrived early. She didn’t want any mistakes. She couldn’t afford any mistakes. Her instrument was a part of her. It had been a part of her since only two years after she began to play. Melody had been eleven years old then. She would rather have had her grandfather alive to continue to teach her what he knew. Instead, she had music teacher after music teacher until she had outgrown each of their areas of expertise and, at her request, her parents shipped her off to Juilliard.
“Are you ready to be the center of attention tonight?” Carmen Satriano moved to sit next to her with a grin. “Better you than me, I say.” She leaned over. “First chair is too much pressure.” She patted the side of her seat with her free hand. “Second chair is just fine with me.”
“You know,” Melody began, then licked her lips, “my grandfather always used to tell me that it doesn’t matter where you sit as long as you play with your heart. As long as you play each piece knowing that you have played your best and put everything you have into it. It’s the best you can do.”
That was all Melody ever
wanted. She wanted the world to know she’d done her best, played her best. The only way she felt she could do that was from first chair. Somehow, anything less than that seemed…unsatisfactory.
“You do know that I didn’t want first chair because of some strange convoluted sense that I would be famous, don’t you?”
Carmen patted her hand. “I know that, honey. I’m just not sure the rest of the world knows it.” She leaned closer. “I think I’m the only one here that knows the real you.”
Her friend was probably right. They had met their first year in Juilliard and become fast friends. Carmen always spoke of how she was lucky to have gotten the scholarship and how her adopted uncles sent her off after her parents’ deaths.
The other woman stilled for a moment. She closed her eyes and smiled. “My uncles are here.”
“You’d better stop that before someone hears you and thinks you’re even stranger than they already do.” She didn’t know how Carmen did it, but she had a sixth sense about certain things and her uncles were at the top of a very long list.
“Pffft! Who cares?” she said with a shrug. “Any one of them would die to get a good look at my uncles.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “You know they’re both Special Ops trained and have bodies to die for. If they weren’t my uncles…” she left off with a sigh.
“They aren’t really your uncles. You’re adopted. Heck, Carmen, they’re just friends and aren’t even related to each other. What would be wrong with it?”
“Yech!” Carmen shuddered. “Wash your mouth out with soap! It doesn’t matter that we aren’t really related. We still
related here.” She slapped her hand to her chest. “I may be able to appreciate their good looks, but I could never sleep with either of them. It’s disgusting.”
Melody had seen photos of Carmen’s uncles. She could sleep with either one of them no problem. In fact, the two men in Carmen’s life had been two unknowing subjects of her innermost fantasies for the last several years. She put a hand to her middle when her stomach did that weird little flip when she thought of the two men.
She had never seen Carmen’s uncles in person, but thinking of them never failed to make her go weak in the knees or her womb clench with need. Hell, she wondered what Carmen would think if she found out that Melody hadn’t just been admiring her uncles’ pictures all these years, but lusting after them both.
“Here comes mister full-of-himself.”
Melody turned to see the conductor moving toward the podium, a stern look on his face. She sighed. After a month of practicing with this man harping at them about what he expected from them all, she didn’t expect anything less than his usual arrogant ways.
“I am here, so now you will listen to me,” Carmen did her best to imitate Johannes Nacht’s German accent.
Johannes moved to the podium. True to form, he looked impeccable in his black tux complete with tails. He tapped his baton on the edge of the stand to attract their attention, not that any eye was on anything else. Johannes would have had a tantrum. The man was a brilliant conductor, but he needed lessons in humility.
“Attention! Attention!” He managed to yell at them without raising his voice enough for the audience to hear.
talent,” Carmen whispered. “How does one manage to yell and whisper at the same time?”
“I know what you all must think of me and that is irrelevant.” Waving his hand in a dismissive gesture, Johannes raised his right brow and looked over their seats. “This is the first night of many for which we have rehearsed. This is the night that
will shine because of all of our hard work.” He paused as he appeared to soften a bit. “Like the rest of you I am here for the music. We are not the stars here.” He shook his head and waggled his finger at them. “The composer of each piece is the star. We are here because of them. Do not ever forget that.” He raised his arms as the curtain began to open. He smiled at them all. “Now make me proud to call myself your friend.”