Tara has made a promise.
A promise to wait six months for Riley to come home from his tour of duty, so they can be together.
But as secrets and lies are uncovered, it leads Tara to question their commitment, and she is finding it difficult to keep that promise.
The distance between them is growing, and only one person can fill the void, Tara’s best friend Cole.
As Cole tries to support Tara, he is struggling with demons of his own, that threaten to tear him away from the life he has built for himself.
After devastating news is received, who will be there to pick up the pieces?
We spent another day walking around the city, taking in the Sacre-Cour Basilica, and Cathedral de Notre Dame, before finishing at the Opera Garnier Palace, or Paris Opera House, as it’s commonly called.
The Opera House was a magnificent sight, its sweeping staircases just as majestic as they were in my imagination. Cole spoke to one of the security guards before ushering me hastily into a roped-off area.
“What did you say to the guard to get us in?” I whispered excitedly. There were people walking past, and we quickly ducked around a corner so we couldn’t be seen.
“I told him my parents are patrons of the arts here in Paris. They have a permanent reservation for the box up there.” He pointed to a small box close to the stage that would seat possibly six people. “Would you like to see the view from up there?”
He led me up a back staircase, and across a foyer before we ducked under another rope, and through a heavy red velvet curtain.
The box had eight chairs in two rows of four, all red velvet to match the curtain that enclosed it. I went and sat in one of the seats in the front row, and leaned over the balcony. From up high, I could see the entire theatre, and all of the stage except for the very back corner.
“This is unbelievable,” I exclaimed. “Do you come to see operas, ballets, and concerts often when you’re in Paris?”
He shook his head as he sat beside me. “Not really. I’m usually here by myself, and I tend to spend my time in bars.”
“If I could come here whenever I wanted,” I fantasied, “I’d spend every night here, watching anything that was playing.”
One day I would come here to see a grand opera, but not this visit, we just didn’t have time.
He looked at me sheepishly. “You know what I’m like. I have different priorities when I’m here on my own.”
Hmm, I think we’ll leave it at that. Obviously there weren’t enough girls in Melbourne; he had to come to Paris to get laid, too.
“I wonder,” Cole muttered under his breath.
“What do you wonder?” I asked, curiously.
He stuck his head over the balcony edge again. There was only one couple walking through the theatre, and they looked like they were about to leave.
“Come with me.”
He grabbed my hand and led me back out through the red velvet curtain, along another passage and down another flight of stairs. For someone who didn’t spend much time here, he sure seemed to know where he was going.
“Wait there,” he instructed, before sticking his head around another corner.
I waited excitedly. Where were we going?
I couldn’t wait any longer. I tippy-toed up behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder.
He all but jumped out of his skin and spun around, clutching his chest.
I slapped my hand over my mouth, trying to muffle the laugh that was about to burst through. He looked at my face and started laughing, before biting his lip to shut himself up.
He was like a mischievous little boy, and he was thoroughly gorgeous with that cheeky grin and those shining emerald eyes.
Without thinking, I took his chin in my right hand and kissed him square on the lips. “You are adorable,” I told him, still laughing.
He stopped smiling, his eyes sweeping over my face, from my eyes down to my lips, then back up again. “So are you,” he replied hoarsely. “So are you.”
I bit my bottom lip, suddenly very aware that that was the first time we had ever kissed on the lips. It may have just been a quick innocent peck, but I could still taste him, still feel the warmth of his full soft lips, radiating through me.
He watched my mouth, the corner of his twitching into an almost-smile. He stuck his head back around the corner one more time, then led me out through the wings and onto the stage.
“Okay, Miss O’Connell, if you had only one chance to perform on this magnificent stage, what would you do?”
The possibilities ran through my head. The size of the stage made me want to dance some unrehearsed ballet, leaping and twirling around like a little kid. But I had the wrong shoes on, and the plaster on my wrist was cumbersome. I would probably pirouette and knock myself out.
Maybe sing? But what would I sing in the Opera Garnier Palace? Only one thing I could sing really, something from Phantom of the Opera. After all, this was the very theatre that the legend was built around.
“I would sing, Mr Michaels. Maybe, ‘Think of Me’, one of the arias from Phantom of the Opera.”
He swept his hand towards the front of the stage as if telling me to stand in the centre.
I laughed. “I can’t just start singing. We’ll be thrown out.”
“This could be your one and only chance to ever perform here, Tara. Live a little.” He nodded his head towards centre stage again. “Go on, off you go.”
I walked to centre stage, and looked over my shoulder at him for encouragement. By the time the security guards came I would be at least halfway through the aria.
I cleared my throat, and looked at him one more time. He moved to side of stage and leant up against the wall behind the thick curtain with his hands behind his back.
I pictured the scene in the movie where Christine sings for the first time. It was one of my favourite scenes, and every time I watched the DVD I skipped back to it, over and over again. I closed my eyes and I was there, as Christine was.
I started singing to the empty theatre. It didn’t matter if I was terrible. There was no one there but Cole and me, and it was a once in a lifetime experience.
As I was singing, a few tourists walked through. Some stood and listened, others actually took a seat. I don’t know what they made of it, some strange girl standing in the middle of the stage by herself, singing her lungs out. But when the aria was over they applauded, and I took a flying leap into Cole’s waiting arms.
Songbird, book 1
Every relationship changes you, some for the better, others can shatter your confidence and almost destroy you.
For the musically talented, twenty-four year old Tara O’Connell, her relationship with Stephen almost broke her, until Tara found the strength to leave.
Now she is on the road to discovering that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and follow your heart.
As Tara’s self-belief grows, she meets two men she is instantly drawn to who will change her life forever.
Corporal Riley Hammond is a soldier in the Australian Military Special Forces. With his smiling sapphire blue eyes, Tara falls for him instantly. He is thoughtful and caring, and gives her the support and love she needs.
While Cole Michaels is the overconfident singer in a popular local band. His charisma, emerald green eyes, tattoos and piercing, have girls falling at his feet. But while Cole pushes
Tara’s buttons, he also pushes her to reach for the stars.
Both men couldn’t be more polar opposites, but both offer Tara different qualities that she needs to fulfill her destiny.
As Tara continues her journey, she will discover fate can offer you more than one path. Her fate is in her own hands, and the choices she makes, will shape her life forever.
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While Lisa Edward has called Melbourne Australia home for her entire life, she has lived and worked in England, and travelled through most parts of Europe and the United States. She loves nothing more than spending time with her husband and beautiful daughter, or curling up into the early hours of the morning with a great novel. By day, Lisa works in the analytical IT field, so relishes the opportunity to foster her creative side through writing. Her deep appreciation for literature was nurtured from a young age, being taught to respect books and get lost in their stories. She enjoys reading honest and realistic novels that are relatable, thought provoking and leave a lasting impression. She can’t write without music playing, using the emotions from different songs to invoke that of her characters. Lisa takes inspiration from her own life experiences, the people around her and those she has met in her travels.