Cover & Excerpt
by Jeffe Kennedy
An aria for lost souls.
Obey his command… Feel his power… Follow him forever…
Fresh out of college, Christine Davis is thrilled to begin a summer internship at the prestigious Santa Fe Opera House. But on her first day, she discovers that her dream job has a dark side.
Beneath the theater, ghostly music echoes through a sprawling maze of passageways.
At first, Christy thinks she’s hearing things. But when a tall masked man steps out of the shadows—and into her arms—she knows he’s not a phantom of her imagination.
What she can’t deny is that he is the master of her desire. But when her predecessor—a missing intern—is found dead, Christy wonders if she’s playing with fire…
Genre: Contemporary RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon BAM B&N & more retailers coming soon
Content/Theme(s): BDSM, Suspense, Dominance/submission
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Kensingon/Lyrical Press
Excerpt, Individual Acts & More
“Have you seen much of Santa Fe yet?”
“No—I’ve barely just arrived. I’m surprised you even knew I was here.”
He winked. “Your dad told my dad—I’m to look after you.”
“I’m not twelve anymore,” she replied with a bit of irritation. Which immediately melted when Roman’s grin shaded to sexy and he swept her with an appraising look.
“No. You’ve definitely grown up. Let me at least take you to dinner tonight. We have more five-star restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S, you know.”
“I didn’t know.” Roman Sanclaro was flirting with her. Her adolescent self would never forgive her if she didn’t go. “Yes—I’d love to.”
“Excellent. At least we can appease the fathers. Shall I pick you up around eight, then?”
“Perfect. I’m at the El Rey on Cerillos until I find a place.”
Roman raised an eyebrow at Charlie. “Nothing but the best for our new staff?”
Charlie shook his head. “Not much of a budget for apprentices.”
“Surely your dad can spring for better than that place? I’m surprised he’d let you stay there.”
She maintained the easy smile on her face. She’d kept the car because that was practical, but the rest she was determined to do on her own. Daddy’s girl. One only needed to hear that so many times in a lifetime. “It’s nice. Clean. I like it. Eight o’clock, then?”
“I’m looking forward to it. And I’ll get out of the way now.” But he hesitated.
“Did you need something else, Mr. Sanclaro?” Charlie had his thumbs tucked in his belt loops, all courtesy for the son of the opera’s patron.
Roman glanced at her. Back at Charlie. “My father is wondering if there is further word about ... our little problem?”
“No. The police have no leads. Tara’s family is pushing to have the lower levels searched again, but Detective Sanchez thinks she took off. Official stance is no evidence of foul play, there’s nothing more they can do.”
Roman cleared his throat and Charlie raised his eyebrows. “I’m sure Ms. Davis is
perfectly well aware of what became of her predecessor.”
“I don’t want you to worry.” Roman turned to her, his brown eyes warm. “All the fuss will die down. Tara was a bit flighty. Probably thought she fell in love and took off for Acapulco, eh, Charlie?”
Charlie nodded in slow agreement, a line between his bushy gray brows. He seemed about to say something but stopped himself. It hadn’t occurred to Christy to be concerned. Her father had made it sound as if Tara, the previous apprentice, had simply run off, much as Roman described.
“Is there reason to be concerned?”
“Would Carlton Davis send his daughter here if there was?” Roman waved his hands as if encompassing the greater world, then sobered, giving her a very serious look. “Besides, I’ll protect you. From the theater ghost.”
Christy laughed and Charlie shook his head. Every theater had some kind of ghost or legend. It was as necessary as lighting and curtains.
“They say,” Roman’s voice dropped an octave and he flicked his eyes dramatically at the floor, “that he lurks below, scarred, deformed even. At night, after the audiences have left and the stage crew is cleaning, they can hear him sobbing, calling out the name of his love, who had drowned in the underground lake. “Christine,” he keened the name. “Christeeen.”
The hair stood up on the back of her neck, a shiver passing over her.
“Was that her name?” she whispered.
Roman grinned at her. “Gotcha.”
“Oh!” Christy clutched the notebook to her chest, hating that she’d been so gullible. She tried to smile.
“New girl initiation—don’t be mad.”
“I’m not,” she assured him. Silly. He’d always been able to sucker her into his jokes. Apparently she hadn’t grown up that much.
“I’ll see you tonight.” With a jaunty wink and a wave, Roman left. “Sorry about that.” She Turned to Charlie, hoping she hadn’t seemed unprofessional. “I really had no idea he’d stop by.”
He shrugged. “We’re pretty low key around here. And I’m not going to argue about anything that keeps the Sanclaros happy.”
Christy took the map and the inventory book and gave herself the tour. Right after Roman left, the phone had rung and Charlie had rolled his eyes, shrugged his helplessness, and waved her on her way. Her dad always said managing a theater was 95 percent soothing ruffled feathers and it seemed that was what Charlie did.
The enormous freight elevator looked like standard institutional issue. She stabbed at the cracked down arrow and waited. The gears cranked more ominously than Charlie’s laptop, accompanied by the screech of a tormented belt. When the doors shuddered open—the floor of the elevator a good hand’s length above the one she stood on—revealing the garage-like interior, which smelled as if feral cats had pissed inside, she decided to save using it for transporting heavy stuff. And only when there would be a lot of people around to hear her if she got trapped in it.
Instead, she found the central spiral staircase and descended into the dimly lit lower levels, deciding to start at the bottom and work her way back up. The hollow clanking of her heels echoed through the silent rooms. In another week the space would teem with people and noise. Bursting with energy and excitement.
She couldn’t wait.
Until then, silence and peace reigned, which was why she took advantage of the time. Tomorrow she’d be back in jeans and tennies—and geez, maybe a sweater—ready to dig into the deep and dusty layers. Today was for orienting, despite the ultimately unnecessary interview outfit, which now felt way too skimpy in the chilly bowels of the opera house.
She flicked on another set of lights, the fluorescents taking a moment to catch, then flickering on with an insectile buzz. Beyond it, she caught another sound, a whisper of movement. A draft of colder air brushed past her, making the small hairs on her arms stand up and her scalp prickle.
Mice or rats, most likely. Or pack rats, in this area. The woman who ran the hotel had warned her about the pack rats.
Still, for a moment, she thought she’d heard music.
An echo, perhaps. The expectation of the space, the perfect acoustics. She fancied that the building absorbed all the music and played it back to itself when everyone was gone, the timbers saturated with it.
Soon, real music would crash through—out of tune, cadence, and context. The same phrases repeated in cacophonous opposition to someone else’s practice run. Chaos and tumult.
There it was again. A whisper of song. A honeyed tenor.
Curious, compelled, she followed it down the corridor, passing the various storage rooms, holding their eclectic treasures in darkness. The hallway ended abruptly in a dead end, a good thirty feet past the last lightbulb. Christy consulted her map in the dim light. If this was the right level, the hall should keep going to another set of storage rooms.
She retraced her steps, frowning at the map, then at the end of the hall again. The featureless wall hadn’t changed. Had the door been covered over or sealed? She set the map and inventory notebook down and walked back to the end of the hall, ran her hands over it. Not drywall, but solid plaster, cool and damp to the touch. If it had been closed off, it didn’t seem to be recent.
Her fingertips caught on a small flaw in the smooth surface and she bent to see it better in the shadowy green light. A circle cut into the plaster, with what appeared to be a set of links dangling from it, like a collar and chain. It was crossed by a whip, the braided design painstakingly worked in.
She gasped, then swallowed it, glad no one had heard her.
She glanced around, uncannily convinced that someone watched, listened. Unable to help herself, she traced the emblem with her nail, wondering what it meant and why it was here. And why something about it thrilled her, sent her blood percolating with intrigue and a desire to know more. Along with a strange familiarity.
A breath of cold air swept across the back of her neck again, and she stood abruptly, spinning on her heels and putting her back to the wall.
No one was there.
And yet ... that tenor voice, golden and sweet, sang somewhere far in the distance, too distant for her to make out the melody, but the notes strummed across her stimulated nerves, soothing and arousing. She wanted to find it, to hear it better.
The song ended in a soft laugh. And then a whisper.
Purchase link(s): Amazon BAM B&N & more retailers coming soon
Master of the Opera is also available in serial form separated into acts. Click on the covers below to learn more about each individual act.
Other titles by Jeffe Kennedy:
of the Tala
of the Rose
of the Hawk
Jeffe Kennedy Facebook page
Jeffe Kennedy Goodreads author page
Jeffe Kennedy Amazon author page
More Jeffe Kennedy on Cover Reveals
Be on the lookout for Jeffe Kennedy's future release(s): Dark Secrets coming late September 2015
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