Read an Excerpt from Listen to Your Heart!
Posted on November 11th, 2016

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“Three weeks!” Lynsey screeches in my ear as I make my way into the school. “How can the bride leave town for three weeks? Why is she doing this to us? Why?”

I reach the music room and peek inside the window to find Ms. Carol directing the percussion section. I don’t see my nephew anywhere as I step inside.

“Lynsey, calm down,” I whisper into my cell. “Pull up the calendar for the account and see what’s on the schedule this month.”

She mutters a curse under her breath while I find an empty seat.

“Okay, it doesn’t look like any of the deadlines are bride-specific,” she says. “There’s a fitting for the groomsmen, invitations need to be mailed, and the program is being finalized with the printer.”

“Good. See? You and the groom should be able to handle all of that.”

Lynsey snorts. “The groom? You mean the guy who’s been MIA since the guest list was finalized? You haven’t met him, Skye, but trust me. He couldn’t be less interested in all this.”

“Well, he’s about to become interested, whether he likes it or not. Want me to—”

My mouth snaps closed when I finally spot my nephew. Sitting next to him is a man wearing a leather jacket with a Def Leppard T-shirt peeking through. He’s holding a guitar and showing Eli how to make a chord.

“Skye? Hello?”

“I’ll call you back.”

“But—”

I end the call without even saying goodbye.

My heart starts to pound as I watch the guy interact with Eli and the rest of the kids. He’s soft-spoken and patient, and when the kids strum their guitars in perfect unison, his face morphs into the most toe-curling smile I’ve ever seen on a man. Suddenly, he lifts his head and his eyes find mine.

“Wow,” I whisper.

“Handsome, isn’t he?”

I jump and turn to find Ms. Carol sitting next to me.

“Yeah . . . I mean, who?”

My face feels like it’s on fire.

She laughs. “Please don’t be embarrassed. Look around. Even the married women are having trouble keeping their eyes off my nephew.”

I glance at the women. She’s totally right. Every girl in the room has her eyes fixed on the guy in the guitar section.

“That’s your nephew? The one who’s taking your place?”

“That’s Caleb,” she says, pride lacing her voice. “I know he doesn’t exactly dress like a teacher, but he’s so talented and the kids love him.”

She’s right. He doesn’t look like a teacher at all. He looks like a rock star, with his grungy clothes and his jet-black hair that’s just long enough to curl around the nape of his neck.

I can’t help but smile as Eli talks excitedly to his new music teacher, and I’m thankful the uncertainty and anxiety he was feeling yesterday seem to have disappeared. My heart melts as I watch Caleb place my nephew’s fingers on the fret board in some twisted fashion that looks really uncomfortable. But Eli just grins and strums his guitar, and the sound that escapes is almost as breathtaking as the excitement that shines on both their faces.

My phone suddenly vibrates in my hand. I halfheartedly glance down at the screen.

Possible meth bust. Might be late.

With a sigh, I toss my phone into my bag. It’s not like I mind taking care of Eli when Nick has to work late. I love it, actually. But lately, it seems that the station is keeping my brother from his son, and I can’t help but worry. I get that Nick has to work, but Eli needs his dad to do more than tuck him in at night. It’s a constant battle, but I’ll keep fighting, because my nephew needs someone fighting for him.

As class comes to an end, Ms. Carol gathers everyone around to officially introduce Caleb to the parents. Originally from California, Caleb is a graduate of Belmont and teaches high school music. He seems embarrassed as his aunt praises his music degrees and natural talent, but his smile remains on his face throughout her introduction. Caleb’s gaze sweeps the room as if he’s searching for someone, and my breath hitches in my throat when he settles on me.
We both jump when Ms. Carol asks Caleb if he’d like to say a few words. He clears his throat and smiles at the group, telling the parents how happy he is to be working with their kids. When class is finally dismissed, the mothers rush toward the new music teacher, shaking his hand and offering their business cards, just in case he ever needs to reach them. Equally disgusted and impressed with their blatant flirting—and far too shy to participate myself—I find Eli and all but shove him toward the door. He tugs on my hand.

“Aunt Skye, wait . . . I want you to meet Caleb.”

“Could I meet him later? He seems really busy, Eli.”

My nephew shakes his head and pulls me toward the mommy mob. I’m being ridiculous, I know. An hour ago, I was a happy, career-driven woman who didn’t need a man to make her life complete. Now I’m nervous and sweaty and acting like a girl with a high school crush.

Guess it doesn’t matter how old you are. Pretty boys make you stupid.

I sneakily rub my clammy palms on my slacks just as the seas part, and suddenly, I find myself staring into the deep blue eyes of the new music teacher.

Pretty boys are even prettier up close.

And we’re just staring at each other.

My totally oblivious nephew grows impatient with all the staring and starts making the introductions.

“This is my Aunt Skye.”

He offers me his hand. “Hey, Aunt Skye. I’m Caleb.”

“It’s nice to meet you.”

“Pleasure’s all mine.”

“Eli’s really excited that you’ll be taking Ms. Carol’s place for a while. I mean, he loves her, obviously, but we all understand that she needs this time away, and it’s good to know that he’s in good hands and we just really appreciate . . . everything.”

I’m babbling, but he’s nice enough to stand there and smile at me while I do.

And he’s still holding my hand.

“Do you like music?” Caleb asks.

“She’s obsessed with it,” Eli replies, and I’m suddenly reminded that there’s a ten year old standing between us. Caleb must realize it at the same time, because he loudly clears his throat and let’s go of my hand.

“Well, Eli is an excellent guitarist. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

“Thanks. We’re really proud of him.”

“You should be.”

Eli beams as Caleb pats him on the shoulder.

We stand awkwardly staring at each other for a few more minutes until Eli’s growling stomach breaks the spell. We all laugh.

“I should feed him. It was nice meeting you, Caleb.”

“Burger Palace?” Eli pleads.

Caleb chuckles. “They do have the best burgers.”

“You should come with us!”

Caleb’s eyes dart to mine.

“Umm . . .” Not that I have a problem spending more time with Caleb. I’m just not sure a trip to Burger Palace is his idea of a good time.

“I’d love to, if it’s okay with your Aunt Skye.”

Eli looks up at me with wide, hopeful eyes.

“Is it okay with my Aunt Skye?”

I laugh. “Sure, it’s okay.”

Caleb’s answering smile makes my body tremble in a way that it hasn’t trembled in . . . ever.

I’m in trouble.
 
Don't forget! There's still time to grab Listen to Your Heart for just .99¢ until it goes to regular price on release day. It's available on all online retailers! It's also available in paperback. I will sign and ship those next week! All buy links can be found here!
 


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