American music mogul Teddy Wilson combines the beauty of opera with the marketability of pop and creates the pop-opera multinational singing group called “Bel Homme.” French for “Beautiful Man,” the four performers he chooses are much more than that. Gabriel Grenier is already a huge celebrity in his native France, but even at the height of his career, he’s bored and lonely and still wants more, so he accepts Teddy’s offer, hoping it will become his redemption. American music teacher Annie Morgan is brought into this venture by her Aunt Harriet, who’s Teddy’s executive assistant. Annie becomes Teddy’s special emissary in this new undertaking—but she’s not prepared for her instant attraction to the charismatic Gabriel. And he’s blindsided by the life-altering effect of Annie’s very first smile. It doesn’t matter, anyway, because Teddy wants nothing personal mucking up this gig, and he forbids the two to get involved. Gabriel has never had to answer to anyone, and he’s not sure he wants to start now. Annie is still mourning her deceased husband’s memory, and she’s not sure of anything. What happens when beautiful music meets predestined love? Seduction always wins.
Cloaked in darkness, Gabriel thought he was dreaming when she floated past him like a sweet phantom: filaments of timorous light. He didn’t make a sound because he didn’t want to lose this, whatever it was. Stopping at the keyboard, she played seven notes that made him smile: Mary Had A Little Lamb. Why, it was Little Bo Peep, he thought, charmed right out of his trance.
His parents had been very progressive people. They’d wanted him to learn many different cultures and languages, so he’d been tutored in English since he’d been quite young. Childhood memories bombarded him as he remembered one of his favorite nannies, an American woman who used to sing this song to him.
Something awakened inside him then. It felt like happiness.
When she moved toward the window, moonlight caught her just so, and Gabriel lusted. He stopped his groan before it hit the air, but his groin had a mind of its own. He hardened, the urge to thrust nearly overpowering as she crawled up onto the pillowed seat. She opened a locket hanging around her neck and sighed. Then she closed it and let it drop back to her chest, wrapped her arms around her knees, and sighed again.
He started at the sound of her voice.
“What lovely music I heard coming from up here tonight—but it made me cry in my sleep. The music was crying, too.”
Dieu, he wondered, was she talking to him?
“A beautiful man whose melodies weep. How can someone like him be lonely? But I felt his pain all the way to my bed, and I wanted to take him inside me and kiss him until it went away.” She covered her face with her hands. “I can’t believe it’s you I’m telling this to.”
Gabriel asked himself again. Who in the world was she talking to?
She knelt and placed her hand on the window. “I was so lucky to be married to you, Stephen, but I need you to help me say my real last goodbye. Do it for me from your side of Heaven. Push me away, because I’m too weak to do it alone. Please let me go.”
Cindy Irish writes Contemporary, Paranormal, and Speculative romance fiction. She’s a member of The Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, as well as the Mid-Michigan and Greater Detroit RWA chapters. Cindy lives in Michigan with her family.