A disappointed ballerina, a brooding composer, and a few days in Paris that may change their lives forever…
Is it the sparkle of lamplight on a rain-drenched Parisian street? The thrill of a clandestine clinch in a foreign hotel? Maybe it’s the universal urge to go back and relive that one crucial moment–to try again, knowing what you didn’t know back then.
Whatever it is, it’s ridiculously hot. Just like it was that first time, so many years ago. Only this time, Lily and Aidan aren’t sure they’re willing to walk away from each other when the night is over.
Excerpt from Intermezzo
Copyright © Delphine Dryden, 2013. All rights reserved
Things were grim, that first evening in Paris. The company members sat around the handful of cafés near the hotel, telling somber anecdotes and looking shell-shocked.
David Russo, the ballet’s director, had gone from the airport to the hospital and back again. Because Lily was the dance captain—and David knew she would deal with the information responsibly—she got the phone updates. David relayed it all to Lily to relay on to the company—the reports he had filled out on poor Dmitri’s behalf, the preliminary findings about the cause of death. The phone calls made to family back in the States. Arrangements to fly the body back home.
“And one more thing, but you have to keep this one between us for now."
“Okay, shoot." She sipped at the wine in front of her, barely tasting the decent cabernet.
“I think I may be able to get a backup conductor."
“Really? Who and how?"
David sighed. “Promise you’ll keep it quiet until I know for sure. He hasn’t agreed to do it yet, and he didn’t sound very happy about it, but Aidan Byrne is in Paris right now. A complete coincidence. If anybody could step in and conduct this without much rehearsal, it would obviously be him."
Aidan Byrne. The dynamic, world-famous composer of the music that had inspired the ballet they were performing. He was a brilliant man, a star in his own musical circles, but not one known for his even and magnanimous temper.
He was nobody Lily had ever expected to see again.
“I guess he would have a stake in seeing that this tour wasn’t cancelled," Lily kept a neutral tone while her stomach performed an unpleasant pirouette. “It’s the European premier for the music, right? Even if it’s only us."
“That may be part of the problem," David admitted. Lily could almost see him over the phone, tugging on his shaggy beard as he muddled over the issue at hand. “Byrne has never really been a big fan of this production. The ballet was great publicity for him, and in theory he’s a fan of collaboration. But I gather he sort of regretted giving permission for it after he saw the opening in San Francisco two years ago."
The first troupe to perform the new ballet had been plagued by everything from injuries and personnel issues to set production difficulties caused by a seasonal lumber shortage. The premier had been so disastrous that the show ran only a few performances before shutting down. Lily’s company had essentially staged a new premiere, to great critical success, but Aidan Byrne had never seen their production of “his" ballet.
“David, this doesn’t sound all that promising, if he’s that hostile to the whole project." Had she sounded too hopeful for a second there?
“I know, I know, but I’ve known Aidan since college. I think he might do it if I can appeal to his better nature. It’s not like we’re the same company that screwed it up when he saw it before. Besides, this is such a weird situation. Who could resist being part of a story like this one’s going to be?"
Lily was skeptical but kept it to herself, along with her private reasons for half hoping David’s appeal failed.
Later, when David called back with the news that Aidan Byrne had agreed to cut his sabbatical short and join them as emergency guest conductor until another replacement could be found, she was glad she had kept her mouth shut.
Lily had learned the hard way not to do one-night stands, but at least she’d been spared the lesson about the embarrassing morning after. Now, it seemed, her seven- year reprieve from that lesson was coming to an end.