No one wants to play second fiddle in love.
Veronica “Ronnie” Lukas has one dream: playing violin with the New York Philharmonic. She’ll do whatever she can to hide her dyslexia and inability to read music, because nothing, not even sexy and talented Scott Grossman, will stand in her way.
Since he first tucked a violin under his chin, Scott’s tics caused by Tourette’s Syndrome quieted. His talent has thrust him into the harsh spotlight, becoming a reluctant poster child for living with Tourette’s.
When Scott wins first chair of a small regional orchestra, Ronnie begrudgingly accepts second. She wants to hate the humble man who is disarmingly open about his disability. Instead, she falls for his heavenly music—and toe-curling kisses. Scott is smitten with the brilliant woman who doesn’t treat him with kid gloves, although he wishes she didn’t hide her dyslexia from the world.
There’s only one spot open in the New York Philharmonic, but Scott and Ronnie find it’s not the competition but their differing views that come to a crescendo—secrets versus truth, spotlight versus shadows. Finding their rhythm is tough when they’re each marching to their own beat.
The haunting and beautiful music wafts to my ear, sending my daydreams to a wildflower meadow, warmed by a spring sun. And then my mind drifts to ways to murder the violinist playing. Because whoever is performing Bach’s Sonata Number 3 in C Major from behind the closed door plays the complicated piece better than I can.
And my audition is next.
I pull out the repertoire list sent by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra three weeks ago. The first round gave no options, and yesterday I played the Scherzo from Schumann’s Second perfectly, and wasn’t too surprised when they asked me to come back for round two today.
I scan the list as quickly as I can, running my finger from side to side to make sure I’m tracking the correct lines. Scrambling to choose a new piece from the options they provide is not how I wanted to prepare for this moment. No way am I going to follow that version with the same piece. Because even though I rule that sonata, the harmonics emanating from the room came straight from heaven.
Crap, it’s good.
I decide page one of Strauss’s Don Juan will do. I know it by heart. I have to know all the music by heart so the notes on the page don’t swim before my eyes and muddle my brain circuitry. Plus, it will showcase my ability to play first violin.
They’re looking for two musicians, and I’m aiming high. Like always.
“Your turn should be in just a few moments.” The personnel manager smiles in what is probably meant as a warm, friendly gesture. Except her lips are stretched across her teeth like she’s shooting down a roller coaster instead of sitting at a folding table. She holds out a check. “Here’s your deposit back, Veronica.”
“Thanks. Call me Ronnie.” I turn to take the money I sent in to reserve my spot in the audition. They keep all the money of the no-shows, the merely curious, and the too-chicken-to-try.
I open my bag to put the Bach and my best chance away. Pages of music spill out to the floor as the auditioning musician finishes the last few measures of the happy and deceptively simple-sounding music. I crouch and gather them together. The last thing I need anyone to see is my color-coded sheet music that keeps my dyslexic brain from skipping a line, or more often, repeating a line a dozen times before it occurs to me that that I might have played that bit before.
I’ve practiced Don Juan often enough and it will be a good bold contrast to the piece just played. It doesn’t matter if Marcia wasted my time. I’ve got this.
I need this spot. The Delaware Symphony Orchestra might not be the New York Philharmonic, but it will be a huge step toward that goal. I need more performance experience, and venues bigger than college campuses and community events. If I’m ever going to earn a living playing the violin, this is one of my best chances. One of my best chances to prove my parents wrong. Getting this spot would be a great accomplishment, but watching my parents’ faces as I prove that I didn’t need to finish my certificate in computer science to earn a living would be almost as good.
And the jerk who played Bach better than I could isn’t going to swipe this chance away. I’ll salvage this. Pressure only makes me perform better.
About Kate Forest
Author Kate Forest has worked in a psychiatric hospital, as a dating coach, and spent a disastrous summer selling above-ground swimming pools. But it was her over twenty-year career as a social worker that compelled her to write love stories with characters you don't typically get to read about. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two kids, and a fierce corgi.