Piano technician Brennan Connelly lives to control details: the tension on a piano string or the compression of hammer felt. But he’s never faced demands like those heaped on him by Kristy Kwong, the diva who’s haunted his dreams for two decades. Kristy’s got her own secrets—the debilitating stage fright that’s kept her from performing publicly for years to start—and this concert is the last chance to save her career. But can he locate her lost passion without losing his precious control?
Previously released in the He’s Come Undone anthology.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How long is it? 27K.
- How can I get it? I wrote the story for the He’s Come Undone anthology, which was delisted on November 23, 2020. At present, I don’t have any plans to republish “Appassionata,” but never say never. I do have it formatted, and so if you’re absolutely dying to read it, send me an email and I’ll get a copy to you.
- What’s the heat level? Hot but not erotic.
- Do you play piano? Yes but not like Kristy does. (Obviously, very few people in the world play like she does.) I’m a shaky intermediate player, nothing fancy. I do love classical music, and when I was younger, I wanted to be an opera singer. If you’re curious about the music in the novella, I put together a playlist on Spotify. And, Easter egg alert, I lent Brennan my piano. ; )
- Are there any content warnings? On-page sex and alcohol use; profanity; on-page anxiety, depression, and stage fright.
- I’d like to review the book. Awesome! I hope you love it, but if you don’t, I support your right to review it honestly however and wherever you want. Reviews are for readers not writers. While bad reviews are unpleasant, I’ll live and won’t harass you about it. Promise.
“What about this?” Kristy walked to piano #3 and played the section of the second Brahms rhapsody where the melody fragmented. The logic of the piece dissolved into chords that wouldn’t line up, never resolved. It was a moody stew of notes. Romantic, yes, but arching toward Modernism.
She needed to play it faster, and she wasn’t quite wringing the emotion out of it like she wanted, but her playing was tolerable. That was a relief.
“Do you see—” she began, but the rest of the sentence wouldn’t come.
Brennan had followed her and was leaning over the piano’s harp, one ear cocked to hear what she was trying to say to him. She was suddenly, intensely aware of his aftershave. Of a faint scar along the index finger resting on the music shelf. Of the bones of his wrist peeking from beneath his sleeve cuff.
Sure, one moment of sheer terror pinged through her—he’s listening to you—but she grabbed at the bodily details of him to blot it out. He needed to hear. He needed to hear. He was an Aeolian harp, and she was going to set him humming.
She started to play again, shoving all her focus into him and into the music. A descending chromatic scale, and the freckle below his left ear. A voice shift from one hand to the other, and the way he inhaled sharply when he heard something notable. A sweeping crescendo, and the way he rubbed his fingertips together.
His body swayed—no, not swayed, shivered with the music. Caught in it like a leaf in an autumn breeze. If Brahms spoke to him, then there was something unsatisfied lurking underneath that man’s windowpane shirt.
Why, Brennan Connelly, what a revelation.
She sounded the last chord feeling giddy and, okay, smug too. That had been at least as good as yesterday. She hadn’t played that physically close to another human being in years, since before her breakdown. She’d refused to play for her agent, and she’d kept the symphony director across the studio when they’d selected pieces a few months prior.
Moreover, she hadn’t noticed someone, really noticed the color and texture of him, in…years. At least since she’d stopped performing. The knowledge pealed through her.
Oh. She was supposed to be talking to Brennan and not ogling him.
“The sound isn’t perfect because this piano’s not voiced correctly. I mean correctly for me.” She didn’t want to insult him, at least not when she’d only just decided there was a sensual creature lurking under those suspenders. “I need it to be able to do that but better.”
Because his nearness still had her flushed, she didn’t hear the skepticism in his answer.
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