I'm thrilled to announce that Dark Chocolate and Raspberries is releasing today with Silver Publishing! I'm so excited. This has been a journey of heart felt love and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. I'm posting the blurb as well as an excerpt from the book. This is a sweet love story filled with angst and drama.
Wishing you Love and Butterflies,
18-year-old Dylan's talent for music almost equals his diva mentality. A spoiled rich kid, Dylan enjoys pushing people around. Or does he? When Taj is charged with taking Dylan under his wing, he discovers the shy boy behind the diva mask.
But Dylan walks in on Taj kissing Ben, their budding feelings may not be able to withstand the blow. Stunned, Dylan runs from the room. Taj gives chase, trying to catch him to tell him the kiss he saw was the result of a game played in the dorm called 'Raspberries'. Will their love blossom into kisses, drown in drunken chocolates, or erupt in raucous raspberries in Dark Chocolate and Raspberries?
"Who are we here to see?" Taj Davis looked skeptically out the window while his boss, Dr Hondo Browne, parked the car outside the gymnasium of Saint Mary's High School. "You haven't mentioned any names." Taj pushed his chestnut-brown bangs back out of his eyes, annoyed at being kept in the dark. His work-study position while attending Trinity University was student assistant to Dr Browne, the head of the music department. Over the last two years, Taj had often accompanied him on recruiting trips to interview prospective candidates for the music program during the summer, but this time he'd been given no information about the candidate.
"I recently recruited St Mary High School's senior soloist, Dylan Michaels. They're having their final concert of the season tonight. I brought you to listen to him." Dr Browne smiled at Taj. "He's going to be a bit of a handful, but I want you to see him perform. His potential is astounding." Dr. Browne got out of the car and Taj joined him, his tall, athletic frame towering over the--as he put it, height impaired--director.
"He must be something else if you're dragging me here, and even dressing for the occasion. You never wear suits. I think the last time might've been during the spring concert tour, and then it was only a sports coat." Taj rolled his eyes as they walked across the parking lot towards a gym, their breath freezing before their eyes in the frosty winter air. "It would've been nice to let me know so I could pick up some Tylenol. Two hours of off-key high school music--really, it's not fair to subject your helpless assistant to this kind of torture."
Dr Browne chortled. "Oh, they're not that bad. Just the opposite, in fact."
Taj looked around and smiled, seeing the gym converted into a concert hall for the occasion. Climbing their way up the bleachers, they took seats in front of the temporary stage. Stage lighting hung from the ceiling. Dressed in holiday finery, parents, grandparents, and other family members filled rows of chairs that backed away from the front of the stage until they met up with the rows of bleachers. A buzz of happy conversation and laughter filled the auditorium while everyone waited for the lights to flash to signal the beginning of the concert. Students filed in, taking seats at the sides in reserved seating. They appeared to be seated by grade level; Dr Browne had said St Mary's was a private school which taught middle through high school, about a hundred students across six grades.
"I want your unbiased opinion of him, so I haven't said much. I think he'd be great and if we can get him to... well, you'll see for yourself." Dr Browne chuckled, shaking his head a bit.
"Okay," Taj glancing at the program he'd been handed at the door by a couple of girls dressed in tuxedos. They'd flirted with Taj and he'd given them a patient smile, passing through the door with Dr Browne. They'd timed their arrival well; they didn't have long to wait for the concert to begin.
First on the program were the middle-school students, who were just beginning to learn their instruments. Taj smiled and listened patiently through the occasional wrong note and missed beat. The students reveled in the heartfelt applause of their loved ones at the end. Proud parents could be seen grinning and pointing towards the stage; the sight gave Taj a twinge of envy. The flashes of their cameras and video recorders held high made Taj think of his high school days and his first concerts. His father had never attended his concerts, and actually had yet to hear him sing. His father considered music frivolous.
Towards the end of the concert, the lights went down, and Dr Browne nudged Taj's arm. "He'll be next."
The lights slowly rose to reveal an angel bathed in golden light from above, wearing a white choir robe with a soloist's golden braid running from one shoulder to the other, his long blond curls framing his soft features and flowing down his back. He stood, head lowered, eyes closed as if in prayer, then slowly raised his head and began to sing. His voice rang out clear and strong over the audience.
At first, Taj barely noticed the choir, dressed in their dark gold robes, standing in the background. The soloist captivated his complete attention. The choir sang out with strong, well-balanced voices for a group with such a wide range of ages and experience. They were working hard, giving the music their all, but Dylan Michaels' talent excelled beyond their abilities.
Taj sat forward on the edge of his seat, entranced by the soloist, whose voice and pitch were pure perfection. The tones of "Ave Maria" filled the air. Michaels took control of the song and mesmerized those listening, leaving the choir behind.
A little of the magic faded when Taj realized that he paid no attention to the choir struggling to keep up with him. Michaels made no effort to sing with them; he gave no support, nor assisted them in any way. If they fell behind he sang on, forcing them to pick up the pace. Michaels obviously cared little for those he shared the stage with, although Taj couldn't tell if he did it maliciously or negligently. Still, the music flowed, strikingly beautiful to all who heard, Michaels' disregard for the choir only obvious to one trained in music.
Exhaling in a rush, Taj didn't realize he'd held his breath until the end of the rendition. Michaels' gift gave Taj goosebumps as the music filled the auditorium, but his attitude could be trouble if he couldn't learn to work with others.
The audience applauded and the lights went up, throwing more light onto the choir. They began the bass notes of "Carol of the Bells" and Michaels' piercing soprano, in tones pure and true as produced by the bells themselves, resounded through the room. When the final notes faded away, the audience again responded with abundant applause and cheers. The lights went down, ending the concert, and the performers dispersed as the regular lights came up.
Taj and Dr Browne made their way through the milling crowd, from the gymnasium to the parking lot. Taj said nothing, his thoughts focused on the soloist who'd captured his imagination. The haughty attitude Michaels exuded would be trouble if he couldn't be taught control and how to work with others, regardless of his talent.
"Well, what do you think?" Dr Browne looked to Taj as he turned the key in the ignition. The cold winter night made them pause to wait for the car to warm up and the heater to kick in, enough time for Taj to gather his thoughts.
Dr Browne believed in him and would take his opinion seriously. Still, Taj worked to form his opinion on Michaels' merits, not his attraction to the soloist. "He's good. Really good. He has phenomenal talent, and he knows it. He has a voice to make the angels jealous, but he has no competition here, and absolutely no regard for the talent of others. He doesn't seem to realize he should be helping them, working with them. Instead, he's fighting his backup and trying to out-sing them, when they're struggling just to keep up." Taj hesitated. "He's a diva of the worst kind. If he hasn't been taught manners before now, I don't know if we can do much with him."
"He'll be a challenge." Dr Browne eased the car out of the parking spot into the crawling traffic streaming from the parking lot.
"You said you already recruited him--meaning you want me to get him into shape, right?"
Dr Browne laughed a bit and nodded. "Well, yes, but I'm not expecting miracles. Do your best to mentor him, be a friend. Maybe no one has bothered to try and show him another way. You know, his family didn't attend the concert. They apparently don't care about his musical talent and have very little time for him."
"You're kidding, right? With talent like his--I'd have thought his family would be fawning all over him."
"Nope. In fact, when I approached them, they were too busy to see me and pushed me off on their butler, who acts as the boy's guardian, more or less. He introduced me to--in his words, 'Mr Dylan'." Dr Brown shook his head. "The boy would've refused to see me if the butler hadn't told him I came from Trinity University. I believe he must have seen our men's group sing, and you were the soloist. He recognized your name and agreed to sing for us--if he could work with you."
"Me? Wow, I can't for the life of me figure out where he'd have heard us perform unless he came to a concert. I mean, I do a bit of solo work with the choir and octets, but I can't remember ever meeting him before." Taj stared out the window into the night, a vision of the beautiful, angelic young man filling his imagination. "I'll do my best to teach him. Can't be all that bad."
"No, it'll be worse." Dr Browne merged with the flow of traffic on the highway, headed back to the university and out of the suburbs