Page 50 of The Shy Bride

“Will it ever be enough? The success you’ve achieved?”

“Funny, Zee asked the same thing recently.” The bantering humor had dissolved from his voice to be replaced by something that almost sounded like melancholy.


“What did you tell him?”

“That he was just like me.”

“Which is not an answer at all.”

“I do not know.”

She knew Neo did not mean he didn’t know what he had said, but rather that he did not know if his success would ever be enough.

“I’m sorry.”

“Now, you sound like you mean it.”

“You should be happy with what you have done with your life, proud of yourself, but you’re still striving to prove something to yourself.”

“It is not something I think about.”

“Maybe you should.”

“Perhaps, but right now, I am too busy thinking how I am going to schedule enough time to have both you and my lesson next week.”

“Focus on clearing your schedule for the weekend. That comes first.” And he’d probably get enough of her he wouldn’t feel the need to do more than study piano the following Tuesday.

Neo called the next morning to remind her to turn off her alarm system before stepping outside. He called again after lunch to ask how her current composition was going. She told him if she got it done, she would play it for him over the weekend.

She wasn’t at all surprised when the phone that never rang did for the third time as she started making preparations for a solitary meal.

“Hello, Neo.”

“How did you know it was me?”

“No one else calls me, except my manager and people from my CD label. None of them ever calls after five p.m. I guess they don’t keep your kind of hours.”

“Speaking of work hours, my teleconference call for this evening got rescheduled. Would you like a dinner guest?”

“Hasn’t your housekeeper already prepared your dinner?”

“Whatever Dora made will keep.”

“Wouldn’t you rather eat out?” she asked and then wanted to smack herself for the defeatist behavior. He was already aware of her shortcomings; she didn’t need to outline them in stark relief.

“I would rather share this time with you.”

Oh, darn. Could he get any more perfect? That feeling of love she was so sure couldn’t be real so soon only got stronger. “Then by all means, come over.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”

“I’ll see you then.”

He was as good as his word, ringing the bell exactly twenty-nine minutes later.

“It smells good,” he said appreciatively as he followed her into the kitchen.

“It’s just pasta and chicken.” She picked up the serving dish and headed to the dining room, but didn’t stop at the table. “It’s such a nice night; I thought we could eat on the back patio. There are no shatterproof clear barriers, but I think we’ll survive one night.”

He chuckled. “Don’t let my bodyguards hear you say that.”

“Heaven forefend.”

“Just so.”

“So, tell me about the project in Dubai,” she said as they took turns serving each other.

She put pasta on his plate while he served her vegetables. It was all very smooth and domestic, as if they’d been sharing meals like this for years.

He told her about Dubai, enthralling her with his vision for the complex he and his investors were building. “It sounds amazing.”

“That’s the hope.”

“You’re a real visionary, aren’t you?”

“You have to see what can be, not what is, if you want to reach the top.” He made it sound like no big thing, but in fact, it was.

“You don’t limit yourself by what others are doing.” And she really, really liked that about him.

“Zephyr and I made a name for ourselves thinking outside the box, pulling together projects no one else would have considered.”

“That’s how I see music, as too dynamic to fit inside some preconceived set of parameters.” Sometimes, that garnered her praise and others, harsh criticism.

“No doubt that is why I enjoy your music so much.”

Now that was so worth any number of comments from petty critics. “Thank you.”

“I don’t imagine your father encouraged you to stray from playing the classics.”

“No.” He hadn’t encouraged the composing, either. He believed it diluted her focus. If only he had understood; after a while, making the music was all that kept her going.

“So, how did you get into New Age composition?”

“I heard a George Winston CD when I was a young teen, I was hooked. His music had a lot in common with the classical composers, but he took it a new direction and I knew that was something I wanted to do.” And no matter how many fights it had caused between her and her dad, she had refused to give that creativity up.

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