Killing Me Softly Cover2Reclusive record producer, Alexia Deningham, guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon Flagherty, and his band, it is only on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behavior.

Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

EXCERPT:

Lexi was coming to the finale of a larger work she’d been writing for years; something that had unintentionally turned into an orchestral piece telling the story of her life. She’d begun the opus the summer before her life had crashed around her. Listening to the opening movement, she heard happiness and hope. A tear tumbled from her eye as she mourned the loss. She would give anything to feel that kind of wonder at the world again.

The music made her smile now at the ambitious use of strings and boasting drums, a perfect representation of that girl on the verge of womanhood, the part of her she’d lost not long after she’d written it. But she wouldn’t change a thing. Wouldn’t deny herself memories of a better time; memories of a better self.

The music changed. Dark and despairing, the second movement lacked the full orchestral power of the first. Piano, cello and bass cello, with the occasional hint of some haunting refrain from the clarinet, harked back to the innocence now lost. The bass and piano dropped out, leaving the clarinet and cello, a duet for her parents, signifying the joy of their life, their love for each other and their daughters. A piano solo brought the movement to an end; Lexi’s mourning of their deaths, with no comfort to be found.

A clash of angry guitar and drums brought in the third movement; the agony of having to institutionalise Cat. A clarinet entered; a lost, flighty sound picked up in echoing refrain by other woodwind instruments, the flute flying in relief above, her sister finding refuge in a world other than this one.

The music changed once more, a reflection of her struggles as she made her way in the industry she had a passion for. Disappointments and times of despair mingled with the joys of working at what she so loved. The fourth movement was full of a maturity that had been lacking in the earlier ones; an onset of hope in buying the rundown estate and bringing Cat home. Yet sadness still prevailed. She hadn’t noticed that sadness in this movement before, reflected in the voice of the piano – her voice – undermining the happy tone.

Lexi frowned as the piece came to an end. Where had that sadness come from? She had everything she’d always wanted, so what was wrong with her? She shook her head. Nothing was wrong except sleep deprivation. She’d rearrange the last section later to echo how she felt. Happy. She was supposed to be happy.

Why wasn’t she happy?

Shaking off the annoying thought, she stood up and walked to the desk beside the piano, the tune she wanted in her head; the melody line clear and full. She took up a pencil and paper and began to write. Her hand flew along the lines. Before long, pages of musical notation took form. She stopped, hands trembling. Her fingers tingled to touch the black and white keys beside her, to hear the music not just feel it inside her.

Placing the sheet music on the piano, she took a seat and began to play.

As she played she found a lead refrain creeping in from the last movement. Haunting and solemn, speaking of something missing, something lost. She frowned, tried to change the music, but it wouldn’t budge. This thing deep inside her was coming out unbidden, undermining the happiness. Frustrated, she banged her hands down on the keys.

‘That was bloody marvellous. Why’d you stop?’

Lexi jumped, her hand flying up to stifle a scream. Eyes wide, she turned. Daemon leaned casually against the doorframe, hands in his pockets, black hair ruffled, his jaw darkened by stubble. He pushed away from the doorframe and sauntered into the room towards her.

‘I didn’t mean to frighten you.’

Lexi grasped her hands in her lap to stop them from shaking and endeavoured to sound natural. ‘No, it’s okay. You just startled me. I didn’t hear you come in.’

The amusement on his face was disarming. ‘You wouldn’t have noticed if the ceiling fell around you.’ He sat beside her at the piano and ran his hands along the keys. ‘I know that feeling myself.’

She coughed, edged away from him. ‘I didn’t expect anyone to be up this late.’

‘No-one else is. Just me.’

His eyes were vibrant blue in the semi-dark room. She could feel his gaze like a touch as it skimmed over her face, came back to her eyes, remained there. How could it feel as if he were drinking her in? She cleared her throat, shifted, tore her gaze away. ‘I like to come down here at this time of the night. I like the quiet. I can work without being disturbed.’

He laughed at her gentle barb, the sound sliding up and down her spine. She stood up abruptly. ‘How come you’re up at this hour?’ She sounded defiant, almost annoyed, but she couldn’t help it. He’d thrown her with his presence.

‘Same as you. I often work at this time of night. Can’t sleep, so I might as well do something productive. If I stay in bed I get angry with myself and start to worry about all sorts of things.’

He looked up at her with those searching eyes. Crossing her arms, she stepped back, chin rising. But before she could think of something to say, he turned to the piano, his long fingers picking out a tune.

No, not a tune – the basic melody of what she’d just written!

He turned to the music in front of him and began to play in earnest. The music soared around her, filling up the small studio with the resounding tones of the piano.

She wanted him to stop. Listening to him play her music created an intimacy she wasn’t ready for. She was reminded of that old song, ‘Killing me Softly’. He played her deepest thoughts and feelings, everything laid bare. She should stop him. He already looked at her with a gaze that pierced too deep. And yet, she couldn’t stop him. Under his fingers, her music sang to her in a way it never had before. The feelings of loss and loneliness were there, but they didn’t overwhelm. Within the refrain, she also heard a resilience and strength she’d never acknowledged. The music said, ‘keep going, show no fear’.

That was what she’d done. That was who she was. His interpretation brought out that strength.

The final notes tumbled to an end, vibrating with a deep resonance from within the polished mahogany piano case.

As she drew in a deep, shuddering breath, trying not to feel the music within her chest, around her heart, Daemon turned to her.

‘That was beautiful. What do you call it?’

Lexi pulled the sheets off the stand, thrusting them into the music folder she kept on a shelf beside the piano. The sheets rustled as her hands fumbled with the folder. She bit her lip. ‘Nothing. I might not even keep it.’

He stood up and took the folder from her trembling hands, slotting it smoothly on the shelf among the other folders and books of music. ‘You have to. That music is you. You can’t throw all that away.’

‘I’ll do what I want.’

Daemon watched as she edged away from him again. She vibrated with tension, her emotions so close to the edge. One small push and she would snap. He’d noticed it the first time they’d met. She kept herself so tightly constrained, he wondered how she could get through the day without succumbing to exhaustion. Now he knew. She poured everything into her music, and he’d unwittingly encroached on that private space.

‘You know, there’s no need to feel embarrassed. I pour myself into my music, too. The only difference between us is that the public get to hear it, so I’m kind of an open book. But I find that’s cathartic.’

‘Well, bully for you,’ she snapped. ‘I’m not the exhibitionist you are. My music is extremely private and personal. I don’t share with anyone.’

‘Thank you for sharing with me then. I’m flattered.’

‘Don’t be. It wasn’t intentional.’ She turned to walk away but he reached out and grabbed her arm. She visibly flinched. ‘Let go of me.’

He let go, surprised by her reaction. ‘I’m sorry I made you angry. I just wanted you to know how much your music touched me. I knew you were a talented producer, but I had no idea you were such a talented composer.’

She looked up into his eyes, a puzzled frown on her brow. ‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘“Thank you” is the usual response.’

She blushed. ‘Thank you.’

You can buy Killing Me Softly at:

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Destiny Romance

Google Play

 

Leisl Headshot tweetYou can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website: www.leislleighton.com

Facebook

Goodreads

Follow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This