Today’s offering comes from Simple Gifts, the prequel to “Complicated Gifts” in Love’s Reprise (links and blurbs below). Carene Moraghan and Leila Feran, childhood bunkmates from yearly summer music camp, have remained best friends even as their paths diverged–Carene to teach junior high orchestra in a small town, Leila to head the prestigious, world-renowned Philharmonic Symphony as concertmaster and principal first violinist. They keep in touch with letters, phone calls, and visits…at least until workaholic Leila cripples her wrist with her long hours of practice and performance. Confined to a splint and unable to work or even perform basic daily tasks, she moves in with Carene during her recovery period.
Never one to shirk from duty, Carene cares for Leila and enforces her one house rule: No divas allowed. None of the posturing that comes along with being a famous musician. No spoiled tantrums when she can’t get her own way. It takes more than one spanking to convince Leila that Carene means business, but finally Leila submits. In a symbolic gesture of her submission, Leila brings her beloved Stradivarius violin to Carene and asks her to prepare the instrument for use.
“Do it for me.”
No one except luthiers had touched Leila’s instrument before. The flamed reddish-brown glaze, the delicate wood, and the craftsmanship that had cost more than Carene’s down payment for her house were all Leila’s sacred territory. Wordlessly, Carene picked up the violin, careful not to soil the priceless finish with the oil from her fingers, and hooked the soft rubber gripper feet of the shoulder rest to the body of the violin. She tilted the shoulder pad. Next she set the violin back in its open case and took out Leila’s favorite bow, twisted the screw at the end to tighten the hair, and held the cake of dark green-black rosin in her hand. She unfastened the protective cloth around the rosin and slid cake up and down the fine white horsehair. She laid the prepared bow next to the violin, her eyes never having left Leila’s face.
Music. Without the love of her life, how can Leila learn to live again?
Professional violinist Leila Feran is accustomed to fame as the youngest and first female concertmaster of the Philharmonic Symphony. Driven to achieve ever-increasing heights, she injures her wrist so badly that she may no longer be able to play. While she recovers, she moves in with her childhood best friend, a pianist and beloved orchestra teacher in a small town.
Carene welcomes Leila with open arms and only one condition: no divas allowed. And if Leila can’t follow the house rules, she might find herself over Carene’s knee…or worse. In between arguments over physical therapy and house rules, Carene’s zero-tolerance policy regarding divas results in some old-fashioned discipline that changes into something more.
Will Leila and Carene’s new feelings for each other blossom into something wonderful? Or will Leila lose not just a friend, but her potential soul mate?
“Complicated Gifts” (short story sequel to Simple Gifts)
In this short story follow-up to Simple Gifts, Leila has recovered from surgery but faces a new dilemma: Go home to her symphony or stay with her love, Carene? She assumes Carene will jump at the chance to move to the big city, but Carene is surrounded by the small-town community that has nurtured her since her college graduation. Tempers fly and feelings get hurt on both sides until they each face their worst fears.
Does love mean getting your own way? Or does love mean making sacrifices for another? Carene and Leila must choose.