Music Notes & You

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Lili is a brilliant pianist, but when her overbearing grandmother finds out that she has dropped-out of Juilliard, she takes over her life. To make matters worse, the dreamy and charming Oliver Carlyle, the boy that taught her how to play the piano and broke her heart 5 years ago, also comes back into her life to try to convince Lili to continue playing. The two clash, but Lili finds that she has trouble resisting Oliver. Can Lili come to terms with the reasons why she left Juilliard, maneuver around her meddlesome family, and fight her rapidly growing feelings for Oliver?

Romance / Humor
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Lili found the dark blue dress that she liked to wear whenever her family was in town. It was the last “nice” thing she had to wear hanging in her closet. Amidst the upcycled t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, cheap dresses and a few acceptable blouses, and a pair of dungarees, Lili had that one blue dress that cost more than her paychecks. She remembered when her uncles gave her that dress as a gift, and how much she loved it. Now it sat in the back of Lili’s closet. Lili knew she had to buy something else, something soon before they ever suspected anything.

Her uncles Leo and Ivan were in New York City. It was her birthday, and Lili took the day off to put some kind of effort into her appearance: She tried to straighten out her loose, honey curls, and even-out the gentle sunburn she’d gotten from standing in front of the hot ovens at the bakery. Lili sat in front of her mirror, having been somewhat successful, trying to think what else she needed to do to.

Suddenly, she heard her roommate pounding on her door—“Lils! Your phone is exploding!”

Lili rose and immediately opened her door. Carly was a few inches shorter than her, sharp blue glasses with a pair of lips always primed to say something snarky: “You left it in the bathroom.”

“I’m sure you messaged every single one of them back,” Lili sighed as she opened her phone.

“Yeah, I sent them all your nudes.”


But Carly wasn’t leaving, and she stared intently at Lili. Lili knew she couldn’t avoid her, and finally met her gaze after she had scanned her messages—all from her uncles.

“Have you told them?” Carly arched an eyebrow.

Lili just groaned and turned away into her bedroom. She tried to shut the door behind her.

“Hey, it’s not like it’s my life,” Carly pushed the door open and followed Lili in, “and it’s not that I want to lose the most perfect roommate in all of New York.”

Lili scoffed and shot her a look.

But. I know you don’t make enough at the bakery to live here.”

“And if I told them,” Lili turned to face Carly, “you would lose the most perfect roommate in all of New York.”

Carly pressed her lips into a conceding smile.

Fine. Then I want you to tell them, because it’s only going to get worse the more this drags on.”

“It’s not been that long,” Lili rolled her eyes.

“A whole year, Lil’?”

Lili was once again sitting in front of her mirror, trying to decide if she should try straightening out her curls more. She watched Carly’s glasses flash in the light. Carly had always been more mom than roommate. Sometimes it annoyed Lili, but now it just made the task of going to see her uncles even more difficult. She could already see their happy faces melt into confusion at the thought of telling them the truth.

“You have to tell them you dropped out.” Carly wandered over to Lili's bed and laid on her side, propping up her head in her hand.

Lili turned around to face Carly and sang: “You dropped out of MIT!”

“Yeah, but I’m not lying to anyone, got a job developing an app, and! I can afford to live here without my grandmother’s allowance.”

Lili blushed deeply. She hated when Carly brought up her grandmother’s money. She just hated talking about her grandmother, period.

“Do I have to tell them on my birthday?” Lili made a sad, pitiful face in the mirror, hoping that Carly would say no.

Carly looked at Lili’s reflection. She sighed and laid on her back.

“I guess not.”

It was late August, but it was mild outside as Lili strolled to the bar where they all agreed to meet. The sun set beyond the skyscrapers and buildings, and twilight had turned the sky violet with streaks of pink and yellow. Lili admired the view and welcomed the cool breeze that wound its way through the streets. Warm, juicy aromas of garlic, cooked meat, and spices sprung into the air as she walked down a street lined with restaurants and bars. The melody of laughter and chatting was all around her, and Lili felt her spirits lift since she had last spoken to Carly. And as she drew nearer to the Blue Mermaid where she and her uncles agreed to meet, she already spotted her uncle Leo’s handsome and striking profile in the window. He and his husband, Ivan, were playing pool inside, and they just about to take a sip of their beers when they saw Lili open the door. She could see the delight in their faces, and her heart leapt. Leo was like a bear and only had to take a few long steps before he wrapped Lili up in his arms and spun her around. She and Leo both had the same laughing, dark eyes that illuminated their faces, but Leo always had a hint of mischief in his. “Happy Birthday, flower-bud!”

Ivan was just behind Leo. He took both of Lili’s hands and squeezed them warmly, then kissed her on both cheeks and whispered, “Happy Birthday, dearest!”

Ivan couldn’t look more different than Leo; he was leaner, a little shorter, with cool grey eyes, and sharp, feline features.

“Feel any different from 21?” Ivan gave her a once-over, his gaze flickering slightly when he noticed the dress she was wearing.

Lili swallowed and tilted her chin up, not knowing how to interpret Ivan's expression. “Not really. Twenty-two probably won’t be that much different…”

“Just a slow death march to 30?” Leo grinned his award-winning grin that Lili loved.

But Ivan batted at him gently: “I would kill to be 30 again!”

“Because he’s almost 50!” Leo whispered out of the side of his mouth to Lili. Lili stifled a laugh as Ivan gave him an exasperated look and sighed, still holding onto Lili’s hands—“You really have to remind her—all of us?”

“Botox will save you, Ivy!” Leo danced the tips of his fingers against Ivan’s Leo’s triceps, then whispered again “… like it has for the last 10 years.”

Ivan finally dropped Lili’s hands—“Okay, are we going to keep talking about the worst subject in the world or are we going to actually get drinks?”

Leo chuckled and signaled for the bartender as Lili swung her arm around Ivan’s shoulders telling him how lovely he always looked: Ivan was always a little sensitive about his feelings. Ivan seemed a little better after they had gotten a round of drinks. Once they handed Lili her usual gin and tonic, they wandered to one of the booths in the back. Lili could hear Stevie Nick’s steady, mellow voice sing Dreams over the bar stereo. The bar was warmly lit, and both her uncles looked younger and in love in the light as she sat across from them. Lili twisted her drink on the table, slowly. She waited for the questions they were about to throw at her; about school, classes, friends-- all of which had ceased to exist. Not that she wasn’t ready, but Lili was thankful that the warm light would hide any hint of her cheeks growing red from lying.

“Have you heard from your grandmother?” Leo took a sip of his beer and glanced up at Lili as he put it down.

Lili blinked at him a couple of times. It wasn't about school. Ivan was also cupping his drink in both his hands as he watched Lili.

Lili looked from one to the other—“Is she okay?”

“She’s fine!” Leo managed a smile.

“In good health when we left her,” Ivan added, nodding at his husband.

There was a collective silence that Lili knew was their attempt to hold their tongue—grandmother Hawthorne was not popular with anyone. As much as everyone wanted to tack-on “unfortunately” to the fact that she was still alive and in good health was, nevertheless, going a step too far.

Lili looked at them and shrugged – “I haven’t heard from her… what’s wrong?”

Leo’s eyebrows furrowed, “Nothing! Nothing’s wrong at all…”

Ivan and Leo took a breath and gazed at Lili. Then something had caught Leo’s eye. It was something that appeared over Lili’s head, near the entrance of the bar.

Lili followed his gaze, twisted around, and poked her head from the booth and searched for the entrance.

At the very end of the bar, she saw a tall, imperious-looking woman. She could’ve easily emerged from the Upper West Side. And it wouldn’t have been completely unusual to have found her in this bar. While she looked middle-aged, she was all sharp angles, impeccable nails, and folded in soft, dark linen that made her look more like an apparition than a person. Her icy gray hair had been chopped into a bob that grazed the apples of her cheeks that were still full and pink, but they didn’t lend her a youthful look as they only added to the sharpness and severity of her features.

All breath had escaped Lili as she watched the woman march toward them as though she were on a catwalk.

“Hi, grandmother,” Lili’s voice quaked.

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