ROSALIND Parry pushed the tenancy agreement away and sat back in her
chair. She felt restless, all at odds with herself and checking the
clauses of the agreement suddenly seemed a very tedious way to be spending
her birthday. She picked up the expensive card that stood on her desk and
read the message once more. “To Rosalind, best wishes for a happy
birthday, Anthony.” Not the world’s most romantic message. But then
Anthony was not the world’s most romantic man.
She shook herself. What on earth was she thinking? Indulging in a fit of
self-pity because the man in her life hadn’t rushed in this morning,
kissed her silly and given her a bunch of roses? The thought of Anthony
doing anything so unrestrained raised a truant smile that she quickly
retrieved with a tiny stab of guilt. He would never do anything so
ridiculous. That was one of things she liked most about him. Her father
had been the one for grand gestures, expensive impulses, an excess of
emotion and look where that had led. She replaced the card, very
carefully. That wasn’t for her. She liked everything just the way it was.
Romance was for fools. Anthony might not bring her roses, but she knew he
would always be there when she needed him. That was worth a ton of roses.
She picked up the document and tried to concentrate, but the words danced
around the page and refused to make sense. It wasn’t as if he had
forgotten her birthday, she reminded herself and glanced again at the card
that had been waiting for her this morning. Knowing he would be out of the
office most of the day, he had taken the trouble to leave his card on her
desk last night so that she would find it first thing this morning. The
sort of thoughtful gesture that she appreciated. And they were going to a
concert this evening. She sighed a little. If she was brutally honest with
herself, it was the thought of the concert that was depressing her. She
enjoyed classical music, not quite with Anthony’s earnestness it was true,
but tonight it was Shostakovich. She would try to enjoy it for his sake,
but it wouldn’t be easy.
At least the choice of restaurant had been left to her. He’d pulled a face
when she had suggested the new French restaurant in the town centre and
she had almost lost her nerve at his puzzled, ‘Are you quite sure?’ But
then he had shrugged and smiled a little and said that she should be
indulged since it was her birthday.
And she was almost certain that tonight he would suggest they set a date
for the wedding.
A sudden quietness in the office dragged her thoughts back to her
immediate surroundings. She abandoned her attempt to concentrate on the
document in front of her as she realised there was someone standing at her
desk. Someone dressed in a pair of well-worn denims that at her eye level
stretched tightly across a pair of arrogant hips. For a moment her
gaze was fixed there then, the faintest flush warming her cheeks, she
forced herself to look up. Slowly.
His black t-shirt clung to a sculptured chest and broad shoulders. Above
the tanned column of his neck she encountered a dangerously square jaw and
a mouth that she’d once seen on a Greek statue. Eons later, she found
herself looking into a pair of eyes so blue that they might have been
plucked from the summer sky.
‘Yes?’ she asked, hoarsely, cleared her throat and tried again. ‘Can I
He smiled slowly, strong white teeth sparkling against that sensuous
mouth. It was only then, as he lifted the instrument to his lips, that she
saw the saxophone in his hand. She gasped as the first notes of music
whispered into the waiting silence of the office. She had heard the simple
tune a thousand times, sung at numberless birthday parties, but never
played like this.
Strong fingers teased the keys, tormenting the mellow sound that spiralled
upwards, soaring dangerously higher and higher until Rose caught her
breath on a top note held endlessly, balancing on the razor-edge of
destruction. When she thought the sound must shatter and destroy them all,
the musician, the instrument, the stunned listeners, it slid back into the
depths along a slow, beautiful scale that subsided into a note so blue
that she could have cried. The tune had been taken apart by a master and
put back together again, then left for lesser mortals to make of it what
While she sat, weak to the bone, he leaned across her desk and removed the
dark-rimmed spectacles from her nose and dropped them on the desk,
regarding her with the slightest frown. For a moment nothing happened.
Then, without warning he captured the back of her head in one strong hand
and bent to kiss her. His mouth moved over hers as sweet as his music,
heart-breaking as the blues and she loved every minute of it.
She jumped at the sound of her name and their lips parted. For a moment
the stranger continued to hold her, his face inches from her own. ‘Happy
birthday, Rosie Parry,’ he murmured.
Like it? Buy it!
From the book
FLIRTATION by Liz
Classic Romance 2012