A French Song in New YorkBy: Anna Adams
This book is dedicated to Gilbert,
For your love and support
FORMER STUDENTS WHO become teachers both fear and fantasize about their fateful first day of school.
Their apprehension stems from the prospect of facing a new version of themselves, complete with their flaws and qualities.
It was so with Maude Laurent, a famous twenty-one-year-old singer with beautiful chocolate brown skin, who would soon embark on the incredible journey of becoming a mentor.
She had returned to New York after a successful world tour and felt that performing for crowds was less daunting than the prospect of teaching vocal lessons to a single Grace Heaton the next day.
Only practice could calm Maude’s back-to-school jitters.
That was why she tested her professorial skills in the safe quarters of Soulville Records.
The cozy Creation Room she worked in had seen her humble beginnings as a singer.
Only a few years had gone by since Maude had arrived from France, poor and orphaned, singing classical music and French songs. The room was still her haven now that she had a thriving career, a family, friends and, that day, an unwilling beta student.
Her boyfriend, Matt, far from being an unruly student, had quite a number of faults.
One of them, he was proud to say, consisted in never missing an opportunity to interrupt Maude’s lesson by stealing a kiss.
“This is the opposite of an appropriate student-teacher relationship.” Maude extricated herself from Matt’s embrace and kept him at arm’s length.
“Good thing I’m not really your student.” With puckered lips, he pulled Maude closer to him. She smiled, acknowledging that this fact was indeed a cause for relief.
“Hold still. I need practice. Grace will be ruthless if I show the slightest hesitation.”
“Why do you want to give this girl classes again? Oh, right!” Matt slapped the top of his head. “You’re a masochist.”
“She needs to have someone on her side,” Maude insisted. “She’s spent the last two years at Children’s Haven, after being abandoned by her family.”
“What happened to her parents?”
“I never had the guts to ask.” Maude bit the inside of her mouth, tense. “Imagine if she asked me out of the blue, ‘Hey, what happened to your parents?’ I probably wouldn’t tell her. Talking about death usually puts a cramp in any conversation.”
Matt wrapped his arms around Maude. As she placed her head on his shoulder, she whispered, “One of them must have given her that beautiful voice. With the right training, she’ll get cast as Lilac in my musical. I can feel it.”
“It’s your musical now, huh?” Matt pinched her right cheek. “Someone’s getting a little cocky.”
“Violet’s Voice is Mr. Soderline’s musical,” Maude rectified. “But he chose me as the lead. It’s a little bit of my musical, too. Especially since Julia Tanand is no longer a part of it and several of my songs are in the libretto.”
Nothing made Maude prouder than the reminder that she’d rid herself of a staunch rival with little effort on her part.
Due to pure happenstance, she had discovered the singer who proclaimed she was French and a pianistic prodigy did not know how to distinguish a do from a fa on a keyboard.
Under Alan Lewis’ manipulative tutelage, Julia had sought to overshadow Maude’s career. Now that Maude knew the singer’s secret, and had graciously promised that she would not reveal it, Julia would no longer be a problem.
“Imagine me playing a French girl moving to New York to become a singer. That’s already my real-life story!” Maude squealed. “I’m so excited to start rehearsals soon.”
Raising her arms in the air with an exaggerated sigh, she flapped her arms like wings, before racing to the broad French windows. She gazed at Manhattan with a renewed sense of healthy ambition. Classical, pop, and now Broadway. The city had so much to offer to those who dared to dream.
“Any particular reason why you’re looking forward to these rehearsals?” Matt asked as he came up to the window and stood next to her.
He stood still, but it was his crisp tone that indicated to Maude that something was amiss.
“I wrote part of the songs and the story’s inspiring. Why else would I look forward to ...?”
Matt blinked twice, turned away from her, and emitted a long, heavy whistle.
Maude followed him. “You heard?”
“Did I hear Thomas Bradfield got a part in the musical?” Matt put his hands in his pockets and lifted his shoulders. “I’d have to be buried under a rock to avoid hearing about it. I was kind of wondering when you’d tell me about it.”
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