My fingers stuck to the keyboard as I attempted to write the first line for the fifty-seventh time. Residue from an ill-conceived Cheeto binge stained my skin and left a trail where I paced back and forth.
Tessa, my ever-supportive agent, demanded a new chapter before the month's end. Yet no matter how hard I stared at the blank screen, the plot for my next novel wouldn’t come.
I sighed. The first two flowed out on their own and didn’t need any coaxing. Chugging tea had done nothing but cause frequent trips to the bathroom and I was beginning to lose hope.
I checked the time and swore. On top of putting me to work, Tessa secured tickets to the largest end of the year event.
Dozens of L.A’s most notable names planned on attending Daniel Kane’s comeback concert. Tessa thought it would inspire me.
I thought it was an excuse to get away from the cursed screen from hell.
I peeled myself away from the desk and rinsed away my stress for the night. Tessa showed up moments after I got out of the shower.
A dress bag hung on her fingers, “Love the wet head look,” She whistled.
I leaned on the door frame and rolled my eyes, “Enjoy it while it lasts,”
She followed me into my bedroom.
“At least I didn’t have to drag you away from your laptop this time,” The good old days. “How much did you get done?”
Tessa reached for my laptop but I intercepted. “It’s pretty rough,”
She narrowed her eyes, “You have nothing, don’t you?”
I opened my mouth and a strained noise came out, “I-” My shoulders slumped, “Got nothing.”
“That might change tonight,”
I narrowed my eyes, “Why?” Tessa’s suspicious expression set me on edge.
“No reason,” She shrugged and then tossed the dress bag on my messy bed. “Time to shine,”
She unzipped the bag and revealed a skin-tight gown. Pale blue crystals adorned the tan fabric. The crystals drew the eye to the most distinct features on a woman’s body.
I sucked in a breath, “That looks,” I struggled to find the right word, “revealing.”
Tessa brushed a blonde curl from her face, “Sometimes you gotta look the part,”
“Fair,” I stared at the dazzling gown laying in front of me. After publishing three erotic novels a certain image followed an author.
Tessa grinned, “Great, the car will be here in an hour,” She backed towards the door, “I’ll find a snack,”
I rolled my eyes and started the long process of getting ready.
After a year in the public eye, I still hated the bright lights shining on me from every angle. When the car door opened the flashing lights blinded me.
I hand appeared from the outside of the car to guide me. I placed my trust in it and entered the world of glamour. With Tessa on my heels, I walked down the cleared path. Cameras flashed in hopes of catching the city’s most elite.
I was not one of them.
The gown stuck to me like a second skin and only released it’s grip at my hips. The crystals adorning my chest glistened underneath the night sky.
Heat rushed to my cheeks as I walked through the crowd of photographers. I waved and tried not to show how inept I was at handling publicity.
Before I could trip or fall face first, two men guarding the double doors opened my passage to safety. The doors shut off the flashing lights as they closed behind me and I marveled at my surroundings.
My heels clicked on the marble titles with each assured step. I stared up and watched the dark ceiling twinkle with lights.
Tessa whistled, “This guy must be a big deal,”
I nodded and peeled my eyes away from the faux night sky above me. Handsome men dressed in all black ushered Tessa and me into the auditorium.
The gleaming lights continued down the vast room and over the stage. The main event would take place in front of a stunning galaxy of stars. I followed the ushers to our seats and gazed at the scenery.
Daniel Kane would grace the stage soon after our arrival. I shifted in my seat at the thought. His musical renditions and creations captivated everyone who listened.
Until the accident.
He stopped touring and some people claimed he stopped playing altogether. I grinned in anticipation.
Tessa offered me our ritualistic mint and grinned, “Happy Birthday, Blair.”
I laughed, “Thanks,”
The man sitting on the other side of me muttered the same remark. I faced him.
He gave me a warm smile, “I heard your friend say it’s your birthday. What a wonderful way to spend it.” A tamed beard framed his rather round face. A pair of glasses rested on the bridge of his nose and the woman beside him shared his kindness.
I thanked them both.
“What’s your name,” The woman wore diamonds around her neck, “If you don’t mind me asking,”
Soft wrinkles appeared on her face with every smile.
“Blair James,” I responded as if it had been my name my whole life.
She held out her hand, “Miranda Light,” I took her hand, “This is my husband Howard,”
My eyes widened. The Howard Light?
“It’s wonderful to meet you,” Her dark eyes gleamed, “I loved your books,”
“Thank you,” I searched for the right response, “I loved writing them.” I cringed at my inability to take part in small talk.
Miranda didn’t seem to mind. “I can’t wait to see what your next novel is about,”
I couldn’t either.
“That’s a surprise,” Tessa chuckled behind me but Miranda didn’t seem to notice.
“Well, I’d love to talk to you more after the concert,”
Howard, who had been waiting as we talked over him, spoke up. “We have the party after, darling,”
Miranda nodded and thanked him for reminding her. “Would you like to join us?”
I opened my mouth to respond as Tessa coughed. I knew what answer she wanted me to give.
“May I bring a friend?”
“Of course,” Miranda grinned, “Can I take that as a yes?”
The lights dropped as I agreed to attend the after-party. I hadn’t adjusted to life in the limelight but with Tessa pushing me to attend more social events I had no choice.
I turned toward the stage and clapped with the crowd as the musicians walked onto the stage single file. The massive ensemble sat in a crescent and in the center stood Daniel Kane.
His dark hair shined underneath the stage lights and the joyful look in his eye traveled across the room. The enchanting expression on his face brought me to the edge of my seat.
Then the music started.
Daniel lifted his violin and a string of haunting notes flowed into the world. The prodigious musician led the accompanying orchestra with certainty in every motion.
The violin sang the loudest among the various instruments on stage. His confidence mesmerized me.
When the first movement ended, the crowd stood to their feet and cheered for the return of the musician. He bowed and continued the performance with a twinkle in his eye.
After two more memorable movements, the orchestra left and the curtain dropped.
“Is it what you hoped for?” Tessa asked with a grin stretching her pink cheeks.
“So much better,” I sat back in awe. The performance sent shivers through my body.
Tessa giggled, “The goosebumps are telling,”
I rubbed my arms in hopes of banishing the pesky things. The curtain rose as we laughed.
The man of the evening stood in the middle of the starry stage with only a piano accompanying him. He bowed and walked to the sleek grand piano.
I sucked in a breath as his fingers hit the keys.
Golden light shined from the center of the backdrop. The sonata resonated through the crowded room and enchanted me to my core. The notes appeared to pour from his existence and reach out to the sky.
The light grew as the stunning performance continued. I watched in admiration.
Daniel Kane came back from the dead.
And I couldn't even write a third novel.