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Sonata (North Security #3)
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Who is Samantha Brooks without her violin? Fear lives in the silent spaces. Love does, too. There’s a battle being waged in her heart, and Liam North is determined to win. He’ll use every weapon in his arsenal. His body. His heart. Except the spotlight puts her in the crosshairs of dangerous men.
Samantha fights to compose her own ending, even as the final notes rise to a heartbreaking crescendo.
SONATA is the third and final book in the explosive trilogy with Samantha Brooks and Liam North. It should be read after OVERTURE and CONCERTO.
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“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The scent of ripe orange mixes with brine. Pungent fresh flowers sharpen the calming pile of handmade lavender soap. Farmers and fishermen fill the stalls as the dawn’s light turns from pale to yellow. I stroll through the market, my canvas bag heavy with peaches.
In one stall a man works rope into braids through his gnarled fingers. Rugs and baskets line the stall. Shells form designs through the hemp. A row of sand dollars and starfish line the wood countertop. I pick up a large conch shell and put it to my ear. Ocean sounds shimmer from the space. It’s the only music I’ve had since we came here to hide. It feels like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound—not nearly enough to staunch the bleeding.
“Ten euros,” the man says in a heavy accent.
It’s more than a good price. It’s low. If we were a few miles south, with the touristy hotels and casinos, it would go for five times that much. I set the shell back down on the scarred wood. It’s not the price that stops me, but the possession. I can keep it in the flat, but then what? Should I cart it around in my suitcase if we move once again? I’ve been reduced to a nomadic existence, the same as my childhood.
“You came back,” the woman at the baker’s stall says in French. I’m learning bits and pieces. Enough to stumble my way through a purchase, almost definitely paying more than I should.
On the other hand, living among people who speak a foreign language makes me appreciate the words we say with our bodies, our hands, our eyes. The urgency of desperation, the casual cruelty of indifference. Every glance tells a story. The baker’s, with her knowing eyes, speaks of a port in the storm. Rest here, where you’re not in danger, even if you’re not among friends.
“How long are you here?” she asks.
My mind works through the words. Mastery in music is supposed to make learning languages easy, but that’s never been true for me. Language has too many secrets. It’s more about obscuring than sharing. With music there’s no place to hide, assuming you even wanted to. That’s the magic of it. It’s also the dark side. People reveal more than they know.
“A few weeks,” I say, reciting my story in broken French. A small grimace. “As long as I can before my dad cuts off my credit card. I don’t want to tell him about flunking Organic Biology.”
She nods, full of conspiratorial approval. The town outside Nantes is too small to blend in. So we don’t bother trying. Instead I fulfill the stereotype of the American girl from a wealthy family, following her dreams for a foolhardy summer before I return to settle down to a life of eco-SUVs and tennis shorts. My terrible French suits the role perfectly.
Baguettes and loaves pile on top of each other in an elegant sprawl. A tin cake stand features a few pastries. It feels decadent to even admire them. Strawberry and basil scones. Chocolate chili pepper tart. My stomach tightens into a knot. I point to a plain baguette. It will go with plain eggs and plain yogurt. It suits the plain walls of our rented flat.
“Deux,” I say, pulling euros from my pocket.
She makes change efficiently, and I grasp the crust with my bare hands, stacking them in my canvas bag. I wave my thanks and lick the crumbs from my fingertips. There’s no wax paper or rolls of plastic bags like in a regular grocery store. Everything here is drenched in sunshine. It might be the eighteenth century, the lanes only wide enough for a horse and buggy, the cobblestones uneven beneath my sandals. A market has been here every Sunday for centuries. Only the stand at the end, with its secondhand iPhones and bootleg Fortnite CDs, proves we’re still in modern times.
I break from the crowd, turning towards home. A shadow follows mine.
It’s only there for a heartbeat. I might have imagined it. Then the sun outlines my head and shoulders as if I’m truly alone. I’m not. My pulse beats a warning drum. I pull the bag close to me and speed up, keeping my head down. Three steps. Four. Five.
Around a corner. I break into a run, the bag slamming against my hip, the peaches bruised beneath the canvas. I take a different way home every time I visit the market. Terrible lessons. They keep me alive.
This way pulls me through a narrow alley with clotheslines hanging faded sheets. My flying leg knock against a box that starts to emit the mew of kittens and the hiss of their mama. It’s almost enough to make me stop. They probably know better how to survive in this world than I do.