Act 3 of Master of the Opera is here this week! And we have a new excerpt for you, too.
But first – did you know that Act 1: Passionate Overture is now free from all sites?? Yes, FREE.
The first taste is always free, right? Just call me the Candyman. 😀
For Master of the Opera, Act 3: Phantom Serenade, releasing Thursday, February 6.
In the third enticing installment of Jeffe Kennedy’s enthralling Master of the Opera, a woman finds herself torn between two powerful lovers—and one reckless passion that leaves her aching for more…
After a harrowing night trapped in the tunnels beneath the Sante Fe Opera House, intern Christy Davis finds comfort in the arms of Roman Sanclaro, the opera’s wealthy and gorgeous benefactor. But even as Roman tries to impress her with his lavish lifestyle—and seduce her with his charms—Christy cannot stop obsessing over her other, clandestine lover. Hidden in the labyrinths below, a mysterious masked man has become the master of her desires: a sensual but commanding partner who pushes Christy to the very brink of erotic pleasure…and beyond. No other man can compare. But somewhere, watching from the shadows, a fiercely jealous rival threatens to destroy the erotic secret they share.
Haunted by doubts, deception, and danger, Christy must choose between the warnings in her mind, the feelings in her heart…and the wild, forbidden yearnings that set her body on fire.
Phantom Serenade Excerpt
Hally unlocked the door at the top of the rickety pine staircase and pushed it open. “Don’t mind the mess. You’re not allergic to cats, are you?”
“No, I—” Christy was still petting the brown one that greeted them at the door when two gray kitties came bouncing around the corner, ready to play, followed by an older black cat, mrowing for food. “You have four cats?”
“Six.” Hally tossed her bag on the counter, took Christy’s, and set it there too. “I figure if I add one a year, with natural attrition, by the time I’m 40, I can officially qualify as a crazy cat lady.”
“I think you’re already there.”
“A girl can dream. Want anything?”
“I’m good.” Afternoon light shone in the windows on the south side. The apartment seemed to be mainly one large room taking up the southeast corner of the building. Hally rattled around in the kitchenette, tucked in a nook beside the front door. A futon on the floor draped in filmy scarves that hung from the ceiling took up the other windowless corner. Books tumbled from several piles near the bed and an e-reader lay on her pillow, looking small, neat, and precious, like a prayer book. The rest of the space was devoted to painting.
Finished canvases hung on the walls and were stacked against the walls five and seven deep. From all of them, faces looked out at her, gazes veiled or bold, rarely straight on, but sidelong or looking through a cracked-open doorway or dappled by leaf shadow. Some of the paintings showed bodies, clothed, naked, and veiled, but the eyes were always what stood out, dark or bright, all burning with inner fire.
“Welcome to my chamber of horrors.” Hally stood next to her, sipping a Coke. “You can tell me you hate them—I won’t be hurt.”
“They’re amazing.” Christy searched for more and better words. Then shrugged. “Why aren’t you famous yet?”
Hally clapped her hands, squealed in joy—putting a total lie to the won’t-be-hurt bit—and kissed her on the cheek. “Goddess bless you! Now take your clothes off. You’re my next stepping stone to fame and fortune.”
“What?” Christy’s stomach clenched and she wrapped her arms protectively around it.
“Don’t tell me you’re shy.” Hally pulled out a partially finished canvas and set it on an easel by the east window. The background had been painted in from the edges, swirling with shadows and suggested shapes. In contrast, a lighter area in the middle waited, vacant and expectant, for a figure to be added. The person—presumably her—would recline on a fainting couch. From what Hally had already roughed in, the chaise looked very similar to the one in the Master’s den.
Christy found herself next to Hally, reaching out to touch the painting. “It should be green.”
From the corner of her eye, she caught Hally’s start and her assessing look. “How did you know I planned that?”
“Why did you pick me to model in this painting?”
“I had a vision.” Hally said it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. “I woke up this morning with it in my head and I had to paint it. When you called, I’d been plotting how to get you to pose for it—I figured it was meant.”
“You don’t have a couch like this.”
“I figured you could lie on my futon. Close enough.”
“I’m not posing nude.”
“But it has to be!” Hally insisted, none of her usual mellow self in evidence. “You’re naked, stretched out with your arms over your head, gazing out. Please? I have cookies.”
“No. Not nude.”
“Not even for chocolate-chip cookies.”
“You said you owed me.” Hally narrowed her hazel eyes in mock threat. “Don’t cross the goddess blessed.”
A chill shivered across Christy’s skin and she met Hally’s gaze. The other girl’s face had gone white, with a greenish cast beneath. Christy swallowed the dryness in her throat. “Well, that was dramatic.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“I do.” Christy glanced uneasily out of the closed windows. “Still, you shouldn’t say such things.”
Hally sighed. “I know. Now I’ll have to light a bunch of candles and do penance.”
“How do you do penance?”
“It’s personal—I’ll give up something I don’t want to. It’s between me and the universe.” Hally shrugged her acquiescence and started to pack up the paints again. “Probably not being able to finish this painting will be enough pain.”
Christy chewed on her lip, tugged between conflicting emotions. The sense of being drawn along by fate both unsettled and excited her. In the painting’s background lurked the shadows of furniture that could be the Master’s. And one dark form could be his cloaked figure. Would the painting give her some sort of answer?
“I’ll pose.” She blurted it out before she could change her mind. “But naked from the waist up only. I’ll drape scarves over the rest and you can use your artistic license or what have you.”
Instead of her earlier excited squeals, Hally studied her with grave concern. “What changed your mind?”
Christy lifted a shoulder and let it drop, tried a smile that came out wobbly. “I want to see how it comes out.”
“All of it.” She reached out again, this time toward the shadowy form in the dimness. The suggestion of him faded, became mere brushstrokes. “Remember how I said it was a long story, what happened last night?”
“I was here.”