Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, my new weekly series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress. This week I thought I’d share a tiny taste of the short story my newsletter subscribers receive when they sign up.
Hungarian Rhapsody won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Chapter Short Story Award back in 2009 and was published in Woman’s Day the same year. It’s not a rural-set romance, but it is romantic. The setting is snowy Budapest, a city I’ve been fortunate to visit and admired greatly for its beauty. Which reminds me, I bought a fantastic hat while there. Must dig it out!
If you’d like to read the entire story, simply sign up to my newsletter by clicking the Newsletter tab in the menu, the image at the bottom of this post, or filling in the slider when it appears on your screen. Once you’ve confirmed your subscription you’ll be take to the Hungarian Rhapsody page.
Her fingers fluttered across the keyboard the way a hummingbird laps nectar, pausing only long enough to draw a honey-filled note before moving on. He closed his eyes and let the music warm his cold-numbed mind, aching for Australia, not wanting to leave Budapest. For 13 nights now he’d watched her. The next night would be his last.
And the only chance to tell her the words he’d memorised.
Every evening she’d arrive at his hotel in a swaddle of winter woollens with snowflakes scattered in her long chestnut hair. And every evening he’d be enchanted by the way the cold turned her skin porcelain, the way the freckles on her nose looked like tiny flakes of cinnamon. How her eyes sparkled like sapphires.
As she settled at the piano, he’d play at reading a report, a book – anything to prevent him from looking like yet another lonely businessman, like the hungry eyed men lining the bar.
Occasionally, one would draw up his courage and approach her, but Molnár, the lounge manager, shielded his star from guests’ advances with saccharine-coated determination. Deftly, he’d step in and steer them away, discreetly slipping a card into their hand while whispering where clean girls could be found at a reasonable price. They’d redden, protest they only wanted to talk, but Molnár would smile knowingly until their denials evaporated into humiliated silence.
So he’d remain at his table and watch and listen and dream until, at 10 o’clock, she’d softly close the piano lid. Then, re-layered in her woollens, she’d cast a brief, Mona Lisa smile into his corner before disappearing into the freezing night.
And each evening, he’d tuck his papers under his arm, and stroll nonchalantly out onto the street after her.