EXCERPT: In The Mood by Lynne ConnollyFriday, July 20, 2012 16:00
The sound of a saxophone drifting from a Chicago blues club sends Matt inside, hoping to sign the player for his recording studio. Instead he finds V. Passion drives them from that moment on, and Matt can’t get enough of her sweet body and generous spirit. But as a former drug addict who spectacularly crashed out of the rock band Murder City Ravens, he has a lot to prove.
V thinks she’s happy with her lot until she receives an offer to join one of the most innovative and exciting bands in the world. Joining Murder City Ravens could sever her from Matt forever. How can she join the band when she’s spending her nights with the man who nearly destroyed it?
Matt and V have decisions to make that might give each their life’s dream, but could split them apart. Which is more important—personal fulfillment or love? Is it possible to have both?
A breath of a note shivered through the air as the club door opened. Matt paused, then stayed to listen. It sounded great. Better than great. Whoever was playing that saxophone knew how to wrench the heart out of the music.
Abruptly changing his plans for the evening, he walked toward the door. Chicago had managed to turn a thriving music area into a tourist trap, but for those who knew where to look, a few of the old style clubs remained. Clubs that attracted tourists but were still all about the music. After all, tourists loved music too.
This type of club didn’t have people queuing behind velvet ropes and VIP areas or tourists turning up in droves. The savvy might pick this place out, because it was small and laid back and looked as if it had been there for some time.
The man at the door looked at him, then blinked and stared, dark eyes widening. “Are you Maxx Syccoraxx?”
He grinned. “People ask me that all the time.” He was used to the question by now. It was better than, “Didn’t you used to be Maxx Syccoraxx?” Yes, that was who he used to be; lead singer with an up-and-coming rock band. No more. Drink and drugs had finished all that for him, burned him out. Now, with his body filled out and hair cropped short, he looked like a different man, but sometimes people still recognized him.
He hadn’t done so badly. He was still here, unlike some of the people he’d met in his wild years. And he had to admit, the band had gone on to greater things without him, mainly due to his replacements and the way they gelled with the other members. Though sometimes he had to grit his teeth before he admitted it. Failure never came easy, but he was in the process of mending his reputation and his fortune. That worked for him.
He strolled into the club. Inside, the place looked pretty normal. A bar ran down one side of the room with stools set in front of it, about half of them occupied, and the other side had small tables with bentwood chairs or simple wooden stools arranged around them.
Every time he entered a place like this, chills of recognition and excitement went up his spine. He just felt it, like coming home. This was where he’d started, in the small, smoky, sometimes seedy clubs and bars, in his case in New York. He never lost that excitement, and if he ever did, he’d start worrying.
He’d arrived in time. The saxophonist was playing an extended riff on Summertime, always one of Matt’s favorites. His mother said she’d sung it to him when he was a baby, and it was true he couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t know that song.
And now another time, another place, another version. A magical version. He let the notes wreathe around him, luring him into listening to more, but he wouldn’t look at the stage until he’d heard more. If the player was male, he still wanted sex with him, just from the seductive music, although his usual preference ran to something softer and rounder. The kind with gentle voices, plump breasts and sweet, shivering bodies.
Shit, he was one sex-starved bastard. He’d been too busy to think about sex recently but that changed abruptly when he’d heard the first notes of the song.
He bought a beer at the bar, then found a seat at one of the small tables at the back. The man who served him glared at him, his gnarled, brown hands showing nicks and scars from old brawls, but he didn’t comment. Matt would bet this guy had made him for sure. Seen a lot of life, that guy.
He’d deliberately kept his attention away from the little stage at the front of the room. He wanted his first aural perceptions unaffected by anything he saw. Now, sitting alone at a small table, he looked up. And lost his breath.
The sax player was tall and slim, with soft bits in all the right places, and she wore a short, sassy dress in an antique gold color, a foil for the blonde hair that flowed down her back and curled around her body. Strands of it clung to her instrument as if they wanted to bind the two together, player and sax.
The notes shuddered through him, through her, as they did through the dozen or so patrons here tonight. An inner voice told Matt to snatch her away, lock her up somewhere he could enjoy her and nobody else could get to her. This was his music, she was playing for him alone.
His professional self rejoiced. Not many people had that ability, to speak so personally to someone else. He’d seen it a few times on the stage, with popular artists who could create a still point around them, shrink a space the size of a sports arena to a small, intimate room. A couple of actors, a ballet dancer, half a dozen musicians, all but one of them famous and wealthy, or on their way to being so. An exception was the woman in this club tonight.
The private part of him didn’t give a fuck. This woman personified all his wet dreams. And she could play the sax too.
Her solo came to a breathy close and the rest of the quartet came in. He’d hoped to hear better than good, but they were just—good. They knew how to play, they could swing, but they didn’t have the extra something that made a band special.
She looked so fucking beautiful. She’d make any audience cream its collective pants.
He wanted her, and he didn’t just mean personally. She confused him, because he didn’t know which he wanted more. As if appearing from a wish or a prayer, she was just what he needed professionally right now. He hadn’t expected the musician he’d been hunting all over the music world for in this place—and hopefully available.
Shit, if anyone else had signed her, he’d still have her. He’d pay anything. The band he was working with right now—his stomach knotted at the thought. They were the reason he’d come out tonight, to get some rest, some respite from a session that was growing far too intense for his comfort.
Forcing all thoughts of his day job out of his mind, he leaned back, picked up his beer and listened to the band.
“Hey, girl. You did good tonight.”
V gave her uncle a sweet smile. “Thanks.”
“You know I’d give you a permanent place in the band if you wanted one.”
She kept her smile firmly in place. “Thanks. But I’m not looking right now.”
“I know that’s what you say, but you think about it, hey?”
After carefully putting down her sax, she leaned forward and kissed his grizzled cheek. The stubble he retained as part of his image was silver now, so much a part of him she couldn’t imagine him without it. “I promise. But this is what I like. Coming in when I’m in the mood.”
Claud shrugged. “Can’t blame a man for trying. Ready to leave, baby girl?”
She sighed. “I guess.” It felt like a let-down to go tamely home and climb into her solitary bed. She’d played well tonight, she knew it, but restlessness consumed her now. It wasn’t enough, wasn’t nearly enough. She wanted more, but she didn’t know for sure what “more” was. Like that song from West Side Story, Something’s Coming, she felt fearful, excited and restless.
She ran her fingers over the stops on her sax, enjoying the feel of the smooth pads.
“Funny it’s you who turned out to have the musical talent.”
She glared at Claud. “Racist, much? Blue-eyed blondes can’t play the blues?” Only then did she see the twinkle in his dark eyes. She gave him a mock punch, careful to keep it light. “Okay, you got me.”
“I told you,” he said softly. “Music has all the colors of the rainbow, and then some.”
In The Mood is available at Ellora’s Cave , Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, and all other good ebook sellers.
Other books in the series (not yet published): Born On the Bayou, Nice ‘n’ Easy, Fascinating Rhythm, Sail To The Moon, Born To Be Wild