Whispered Music by Rachel Van Dyken

Monday, October 01, 2012

Special sneak peak - Whispered Music (London Fairy Tales)
The true story of how Beauty tamed the savage Beast

I can no longer write music. For every time my hand stretches across the parchment to give life to the note, my mind thinks of her, and when my mind replays her image, all I see is blood. My compositions are my blood oath, to avenge her one way or another. To push forward when all I want to do is relinquish music’s hold upon me.—The Diary of Dominique Maksylov

Isabelle awoke exhausted the morning after her first music lessons. The feel of Dominique’s hands across her stomach, and her neck, made her body tingle with awareness. His touch did things to her, funny things, that she never knew possible. For how was a woman to feel this, this feeling when the man touching her was so harsh?

Perhaps she would never figure out her own fickle emotions. She hastened through her morning toilette and went down to the dining room to break her fast.

Hurrying down the marble staircase, she didn’t notice that the room, usually empty when she ate in the morning, held not just Dominique but Hunter as well.“So the princess is awake?” Hunter looked up from his plate. “We were beginning to worry about you.”

Isabelle lifted an eyebrow. “We?”

“Yes.” Hunter wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Well, to be quite honest, I knew you were just fine, most likely exhausted from beating off the swine and his snoring through the night. But, I am glad you are here.” He chuckled when Dominique rolled his eyes. “It seems Dominique has discovered close to twenty ways you could have injured yourself this morning, all of them most likely a figment of his own imaginings. But alas, I see you are in one piece.”Isabelle snapped her attention to Dominique. With his face clean-shaven it was apparent that he was fighting not to blush, as his neck turned a light pink color.

“See, old friend? I told you it was impossible for someone to fall from her bed and break her neck, or take a tumble down the stairs, or for a bird to jump through the window and peck her to death. Truly, does your own imagination never frighten you?”

Still, Dominique said nothing. Peculiar. It wasn’t often that he didn’t yell back at his friend when provoked, or at least growl.

Isabelle walked closer to where he sat and leaned in toward his face. Perhaps he was foxed? At her inspection Dominique leaned back, which of course just made her lean forward even more until she was only a few inches away from his face, her eyes squinted.

“Saints alive, I think she’s inspecting me,” Dominique said cheekily.

Hunter’s laughter brought Isabelle back to the present. Embarrassed, she jerked back and went to the sideboard to obtain some toast.

“Are you ill, my lord?” she asked, her back turned to both of the men.“Ill?” Dominique repeated. “No, I believe I’m quite healthy.”

“Foxed.” she guessed.

“I do not drink in the mornings.”“Perhaps you are in good humor because Miss Ward snuck some herbs into your morning coffee?

”Suddenly Dominique’s hands were on her shoulders, and she nearly dropped her plate. She stood, rigid, as he whispered in her ear, his voice sounding like music. “Or, perhaps I’m overjoyed at seeing you first thing this morning.”

“Impossible,” she breathed. Never had he taken his breakfast with her. His only demand had been dinner. If anything, he had been avoiding her for the past week. But everything changed last night. She felt it, felt the way his touch sent a shiver down her spine. It seemed he was actually trying to be agreeable.

“I have a surprise for you.” She felt him step away. His abrupt subject change was welcome. Grabbing an extra piece of toast, she reached for the jam and went to join the men at the table.“You’re leaving?” She added some jam to her toast and waited for him to bark at her for saying such a hurtful thing.

“If I left, you would be coming with me,” he answered, his words short as if he was trying to keep himself from yelling.

With a sigh, she looked up and into his blue eyes, eyes that were a whirl of so many emotions. Perhaps he was trying to be a good husband. Maybe, he wanted things to be different between them. Music, it seemed had united them in some odd way, though she couldn’t imagine how, considering he was so agitated with her lack of talent.

“What is it?” Taking a bite of her toast, she waited.Hunter folded his hands and leaned in toward Isabelle. “You mean the actual surprise, not the fact that Dominique is doing such a wonderful job of keeping his temper in check? I take full credit by the way. You may thank me how you see fit.” He winked and stared blatantly at her lips.

The air in the room stilled. Isabelle stole a glance at Dominique, who against all odds still appeared to be calm. Suspicious, Isabelle promised herself that she would sniff his tea to see if there was any sort of calming herb mixed in.

“Finish your breakfast. Take your time.” Dominique rose from his seat. “I will await you in the stables."

Isabelle nodded at his retreating form then glanced back at Hunter, who merely shrugged and winked at Miss Ward who had just entered the room.

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