RUSH (City Lights_ New York City Book 3)(2)By: Emma Scott
Relief sweeps through me like the adrenaline once did, and I open my eyes. But my eyes are already open. I’m no longer in the black deep but I’m just as blinded. Blind.
Chapter One, Then
He was gentle as ever. I wanted to tell him to let go, that it was okay. After eight times—yes, I kept count—it had long since stopped hurting. I told myself he was being considerate. Considerate yet enthusiastic. Maybe a little too enthusiastic. Once again, it was over before I’d gotten warmed up; he collapsed on top of me after a few minutes. But his tired, satisfied smile when he raised his head from the crook of my shoulder warmed my heart, even if my body was left wanting.
I was new to the whole ‘having sex’ thing, but I liked it. Quite a bit, if I were being honest. Granted, I hadn’t achieved the Big O yet, but I was twenty-one and yet still a rookie. I figured I’d get there with practice. And I was more than willing to put the time in with my handsome new boyfriend. My first boyfriend. My first love. My first everything.
I reached for Keith again but he rolled onto his back and kissed my hand. “I’ve got class,” he said. “And you, my darling, have an audition tonight. The most important of your life.”
“So far,” I said, with a grin. “After I graduate, I’m going for the Phil. Or maybe Boston.” And make my big brother proud.
I kept that last part about my brother to myself. Most New York people, I’d come to find out, didn’t understand the closeness two kids growing up in Montana shared. Or maybe we just happened to be closer than most siblings. Tall and strong where I was short and shy, Chris watched out for me in school. My adolescent years weren’t a torture because I spent them in his protective shadow, and everyone loved him. No one more than me.
I thought of what Chris had told me the day I left. “First Juilliard, then the Phil!” I’d laughed and hugged my big brother. He didn’t realize both the school and the New York Philharmonic shared the same space in Lincoln Center, but I knew what he meant. He, like everyone else around me, believed my success to be a foregone conclusion. I was a natural. A prodigy. A virtuoso, they said. And to Chris, I was also his annoying little sister who was about to leave Montana and strike out for the big, bad world.
And now I was in my senior year at Juilliard, ready to add another notch on my resume—the Spring Strings—before graduating.
A thought dimmed my smile. I turned to Keith. “If I kill it tonight, won’t they think I got in because of us?”
Keith pulled on his jeans, his back to me, his blond hair glinting in the shaft of light spilling in from the tiny dorm room window. “Probably,” he said. He turned and leaned over the bed, kissing me softly before pulling away and smiling that winsome grin that still, after a month, had the ability to make my heart flutter in my chest like a caged bird. “So you’d better prove them wrong.”
* * *
My audition was at 6:00 p.m. At twenty minutes to, I walked up Broadway in my best clothes—a black A-line skirt, white blouse, black jacket. My violin case banged lightly against my thigh and my short, sensible heels tapped the pavement. My suit was a little heavy for the weather, but a light breeze took the edge off the day’s lingering heat. A stunning spring day if ever there was one. But New York City could have been caught in a hurricane and I would have felt invincible that night.
A printed sign was taped to the glass doors of the Alice Tully Hall. Spring Strings auditions here. The falling night and the lights of the city were caught and reflected around that sign, around the whole of the modern glass lobby. I caught my own reflection in the glow.
I’d bundled my thick brown hair into a neat bun, wisps falling to frame my face, revealing my broad smile. I’d won a spot on the Juilliard Orchestra last fall and now I was going to win the coveted violin seat on the Spring Strings Quartet. I knew this, not because I was filled with arrogance or ego. Since coming to Juilliard almost three years ago, the music that lived in my heart was thriving and blooming in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I didn’t just play the notes of the compositions before me, I created perfect harmonies out of skill and infused them with love. Love for the music. Love for life.