Lost Melody: A Novelby Lori Copeland, Virginia Smith
The beautiful piano sitting in the corner of Jill King’s apartment begs to be played. For over a year, it has sat untouched, ever since a terrible accident shattered Jill’s ambition of becoming a concert pianist. The ragged scar on her left hand is a cruel and constant reminder of the death of her dream. But another dream is about to come to life—an unexpected, horrifying dream that will present Jill with a responsibility she never wanted. And choices she never wanted to make. Hundreds of lives depend on Jill’s willingness to warn her small, oceanside town in Nova Scotia of a nameless, looming disaster. But doing so could cost Jill her reputation, jeopardize the political career of the man she loves, and ruin their plans for a future together. The fate of an entire community hangs in the balance as Jill wrestles with the cost of heeding one still, small voice.
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Lost MelodyA Novel
By Lori Copeland Virginia Smith
ZondervanCopyright © 2011 Copeland Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDecember 8
Jill paused on the sidewalk just outside her hotel. Taxi or subway? A taxi would get her to Seventh Avenue early, with plenty of time to sign in and get her bearings before the workshop began. It would probably cost a ton, though. Everything in New York cost five times more than she'd budgeted for this trip. Besides, her legs itched for a walk. She needed to work off some of the excited energy that had kept her up most of the night.
Carnegie Hall, here I come!
She fastened the top button of her coat beneath her chin and smiled at the hotel doorman. "No, thank you. They told me at the front desk there's a subway station nearby."
The man pointed a gloved hand down the street. "Just around that corner. Can't miss it."
Jill hitched the leather strap of her music portfolio higher on her shoulder and took off at a brisk pace over concrete wet with melted snow. Clouds the color of the fat pigeons she'd seen strutting through Central Park yesterday threatened to gift the city with more snow before the morning ended. Of course she'd run out of her room without her hat. She shot an I-dare-you-to-snow-on-my-parade grin toward the sky.
Steam rose in thick ribbons from gutters to pollute her airspace with unpleasant underground odors, which she ignored. Yellow flashed in the corner of her eye and a taxicab sped past, spraying the sidewalk with dirty slush. A few heavy drops hit her left pant leg. She gasped and slid to a stop to examine the damage. Not bad, thank goodness. When she got to the Institute she'd run a wet paper towel over the black fabric, and they'd be good as new.
A completely un-Jill-like giggle tickled in her throat. Nothing could dampen her spirits today.
When she rounded the building on the corner, she spied the subway entrance halfway down the block. A handful of people, all of them bundled against the frigid weather, descended the concrete stairs. A couple of fat snowflakes floated in the air before her eyes and landed on her coat sleeve, instantly sucked into nonexistence by thirsty wool. Jill increased her pace, eager to get below ground before the snow began in earnest.
Down below, she purchased a MetroCard from an automated ticket machine and approached the cage-like turnstile behind a tall man in an overcoat. When she attempted to insert the card into the slot, the portfolio slid off her shoulder with a jerk and her fingers fumbled. The card slipped out of her grasp, danced like a jitterbug contestant on a phantom gust of air, and landed on the dirty floor inside the turnstile.
Jill gasped. "My card!"
The tall man turned and appraised her predicament in a second. "Allow me."
He retrieved the card and handed it across the thick metal bar with the courtly flourish of a gentleman returning a lady's handkerchief. Kind, dark eyes caught Jill's and sparked with . . . something. She found herself smiling, drawn by his charming, old-fashioned courtesy.
"Thank you." She took the card and inserted it into the slot. Who said New Yorkers weren't friendly? The turnstile rotated, allowing her entry. "For a second I thought I might have to crawl under."
He dipped his head in a hint of a bow. "My pleasure to come to the aid of a beautiful woman."
Heat threatened to rise into her cheeks at the compliment. His words were perfectly articulated, and spoken with the faint accent of one who had long ago adopted English as his primary language. Jill looked closer at him as they walked together down a set of stairs toward the subway platform. He was at least twenty years her senior, maybe twenty-five. Roughly the age Daddy would have been if he'd lived. His round face was graced with a deeply clefted chin, and silver-streaked dark hair swooped away from a part on the side of his head. He wore a blindingly white scarf twisted with an elegant flair at his throat. His hands — she always noticed hands — were slender and long-fingered, covered with soft, fawn-colored leather.
The roar of an approaching train echoed up the stairwell.
"You are catching the W line?" he asked.
"Yes, that's right."
"As am I." He quickened his pace. "I believe our train is arriving."
Jill glanced at the sign above her head and verified that the train was the one that would take her to Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. She hurried to catch up, and arrived at the man's side as the train pulled to a stop. The compartment was nearly full of commuters. The doors opened, and only a few people exited. The rest compressed themselves to make room for those entering. Every seat was taken, so Jill filed as far inside as space allowed and grasped the overhead bar to brace for the forward motion, facing the stranger. The doors closed, and they began to move.
"I'm so glad we didn't miss this train. I don't want to be late today." She snapped her mouth shut. What was the matter with her, babbling like an idiot? She must be more nervous than she realized.
Well, if she was, then who could blame her? Today was probably the most important step she'd ever taken in her career. To study with masters — no, with legends of modern classical music — was a dream come true. This weeklong workshop would culminate in an evening that she'd dreamed of since she was seven years old and first placed her fingers on the silky keys of a piano. She would play Carnegie Hall.
Okay, just a recital, not a real performance. But it was an important step, and one day she would headline one of the famous Carnegie Hall concerts herself.
"You have an important meeting, yes?" He nodded toward the portfolio hanging from her shoulder.
"Sort of. I'm attending a music workshop this week."
A delighted smile lit his features. Even, white teeth appeared between the generous lips. "You are a pianist."
Jill's mouth dropped open. "How did you know?"
"I suspected the moment I saw you." He straightened to his full height, his chin tilted upward. "You carry yourself like an artiste."
She experienced a flash of pleasure. Back home, she was once accused of putting on airs, of walking down the street with her nose in the air as though she thought she was better than the other residents of Seaside Cove. Sort of like this man was doing right now.
His posture returned to normal, and his smile became conspiratorial. "Besides, I recognize the brand of your portfolio and surmised that it contains sheet music."
His laughter filled the compartment, and she joined in. Heads turned to glance at them, then people returned to their private contemplations of books or newspapers, or their study of the graffiti-covered concrete tunnel walls rushing by outside the windows. The train swayed, and a dark-haired child standing in front of her clutched his mother's hand. Jill tightened her grip on the overhead bar.
"What composer do you favor? Beethoven, perhaps, or Mozart? No, wait." A slender gloved finger rose to rest on his lips as he studied her. "Liszt. Definitely Liszt."
Delighted at the accuracy of his guess, Jill once again exclaimed, "How could you know that?"
Piercing dark eyes sparked with shared passion. "I see the love of the mystical in your eyes. Liszt's spiritual nature, his ever-searching musicality, would appeal to someone like you."
Jill's smile warmed with a sudden kinship. He was a musician too. Of course he was.
"My name's Jill." She released the bar to extend her hand.
He captured her fingers, pressed them with his. "Robert."
The screech of steel reached her ears in the split-second before she pitched forward. Something hit her hard from behind. She crashed into Robert, who tumbled backward. The cry of tortured metal drowned out the passengers' startled shrieks. Glass shattered. Bodies sprawled. The dark-haired boy bounced off of the ceiling, his arms and legs flailing. But the ceiling was where the wall should be. Then with a terrific crash, it wasn't there at all.
* * *
Jill woke minutes or hours later, she didn't know which. An agonizing pain in her left hip reduced her breath to tiny gulps. A tearful, high-pitched keen from close by filled her ears. For a moment she could hear nothing else, then other sounds gradually filtered through. A man's sobs. A woman's voice whispering the Lord's Prayer. Water trickling not far from her head.
She opened her eyes. A dim spot of light shone in the distance. Around her, darkness shrouded everything. Something lay across her chest, the weight crushing her, pinning her down. She tried to push it off.
Mistake. The movement sent shafts of agony slamming through her body. Stars danced in her vision, and she gasped in a hissing breath that expelled with a near-scream.
"Jill? You are alive." A voice near her head whispered something in another language, something incomprehensible. "Do you hear me?"
Something familiar about that voice. She tried to clear her head, to focus through the pain. Where was she? Who owned that voice? Memory returned in a rush, like a tide crashing onto the rocky shore back home. New York. The subway. The man who knew she loved to play Liszt.
"Robert." Her voice sounded raspy, faint. The weight across her body robbed her of breath. "There's something ... on me.
Can't breathe. Can't see."
"On me too." A gentle pressure squeezed her right hand. Robert's fingers still grasped hers. "We are trapped together. Are you badly injured?"
"I ... don't know." The pain in her left hip was so severe she couldn't focus on anything else at first. Gradually another throbbing ache seeped through to her consciousness.
A sob caught in her throat. "My left hand. I — I think it's injured."
No, God, please. Not my hand.
Robert understood immediately. "For a musician, music is breath. Life. An intimate form of worship non-musicians will never understand. Do not despair. God will not take that from you." His grip on Jill's fingers tightened.
She returned the pressure. "Are you okay, Robert? Are you injured?"
A pause. "Don't be concerned for me."
Something in his voice alarmed her. His hand squeezed hers once more, then loosened. The sound of shallow breathing near her ear was faint, nearly drowned out by the cries that filled the air all around them.
From far away, a man's voice echoed through the subway tunnel. "Hold on! Help is on the way." The thump of heavy boots on concrete. A beam of light flashed in the distance. Rescuers.
She ignored the pain and drew as deep a breath as the crushing weight on her chest allowed. "Help." Her voice sounded pitifully small. She tried again. "We're trapped. Help us. Please."
The effort sent pain exploding through her skull. Darkness closed in, and Jill knew no more.
Chapter TwoThursday, November 24 Almost One Year Later
A ribbon of steam wisped upward and lingered for a final shadowy dance before the air cooled it into oblivion. Jill closed her eyes against the onslaught of an unwelcome memory.
Steam rising from gutters along the city street. A yellow taxicab speeding by.
At the sound of her grandmother's voice, the image dissolved. Jill fumbled in the box for a teabag and dropped it into her mug. She hadn't heard Nana come up the stairs, and the door that separated Jill's top floor apartment from the main house stood open, as it almost always did. One of the hazards of living with a relative — especially a nosey one — was a total lack of privacy.
"I'm fine." She pasted on a perky smile and didn't quite meet Nana's gaze.
"You're not fine. You haven't been since the accident." Shrewd eyes, heavily shaded with bright blue eye shadow, narrowed. "Do you want me to get your pain medicine?"
The kettle's insistent scream filled the cozy kitchen.
Grinding metal, screeching steel ...
Jill snatched it off the burner. "I'll be okay. Really." She poured steaming water into her mug and held up the kettle in Nana's direction. "There's plenty left. Do you have time for a cup before you go?"
"No, I must be running along." She wrapped a Chinese silk scarf around her neck, her way of hiding evidence of the passing years. No growing old gracefully for Ruth Parkins. At seventy-nine she still dyed her hair the defiant, flaming red of her youth, ordered her underwear from the Victoria's Secret catalog, and declared to anyone who would listen that Father Time wouldn't take her out without a fight. "What time is your date tonight?"
"Greg will be here at seven. He made reservations for dinner in the city at eight."
"Oh, I'll be home long before seven." She extracted a pair of gloves from her coat pocket and pulled them on. "Are you sure you don't want to come with me? It will give you something to do, someplace to go."
Jill ignored the ill-concealed note of concern in the question and focused her attention on the mechanics of opening the sugar bowl, scooping out a spoonful, sprinkling it into the steaming tea. For a fleeting moment she considered accompanying Nana to her church knitting group. It would provide a distraction. But the minute Nana's cohorts laid eyes on her they'd rope her into volunteering for something. Probably put her in charge of organizing the music for the Christmas party. Jill's throat tightened. No. Not happening.
"Don't worry about me. I plan to go see Mom later this afternoon."
"That's good, dear. Take that poinsettia in my living room, would you? She would have loved that." Nana referred to Mom in the past tense, as though the thin, gaunt woman who awoke each morning in a skilled nursing center was gone. The stroke had taken her motor and speech skills, but inside her mother's haunted eyes Jill still saw the occasional flash of recognition.
"Well, I'm off. I'll see you tonight." Nana disappeared, leaving the scent of Estée Lauder Clean Linen in her wake.
Jill tracked her grandmother's progress by the sound of her footsteps down the narrow wooden stairs. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen ... Her spoon kept time as she stirred her tea. The front door closed with a bang, and a heavy silence rose up the stairwell toward her. Like fog rolling in from the ocean, creeping toward the rocky finger of land where the lighthouse stood tall and brave, its light a visible warning that saved lives.
No warning. Women screaming. Bodies flying.
Jill's hand trembled so violently that hot water sloshed over the mug's edge, burning her fingers. She set the cup down and flapped her hand to cool the stinging pain. No brave lighthouse here. Just a mistake, an accident. A survivor who should have died with the others.
The nagging ache in her hip reminded her she had not walked away from the accident without injury. Six weeks in the hospital, even longer recuperation at home. Two surgeries on her left hand, and still the shattered cartilage on the thumb and forefinger had not healed properly. She would never dominate the keyboard as she once had, would never again play with the liquid grace of a gifted pianist.
She wiped the mug with a towel and carried it into the other room. The dark Christmas tree looked lonely with no ornaments and no packages beneath it. Nana had insisted on putting it up after they finished decorating the big one downstairs. Said it would put Jill in the holiday spirit. So far, it hadn't worked.
The tree downstairs had at least a dozen brightly wrapped packages beneath the bottom branches, all of them addressed to Jill in Nana's spidery script. Guilt stabbed at her. She should do some shopping before she visited Mom this afternoon. Make an effort to get into the Christmas spirit. Nana had hinted that she was nearly out of the peach-scented bath oil she liked, and Greg needed a new wool scarf and gloves. The guilt evaporated, replaced with lethargy that hung like heavy weights from her limbs. Join all those people that crowded the shopping malls this time of year? Not yet. Maybe tomorrow, or next week. She still had time before Christmas.
She opened the curtains in the big picture window in an effort to coax some light from the cloud-covered sky into the room, and stood for a moment looking out over the small town that had been her home as long as she could remember. Narrow streets. Rows of tightly clustered buildings. Wooden plank docks lined with moored boats that pitched with the motion of the dark water. In the distance, the lighthouse stood sentinel over the rocky shoreline. A ship's horn blasted, a huge tanker. She sipped tea and followed its progress as it sliced through the narrow channel on its way to Halifax Harbor a few miles away. On the docks below, people paused to watch the ship's passage. A few waved at the crew standing on the deck.
Excerpted from Lost Melody by Lori Copeland Virginia Smith Copyright © 2011 by Copeland Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Lori Copeland is a bestselling author whose books includde Now and Always, Simple Gifts, Unwrapping Christmas, and Monday Morning Faith, which was a finalist for the 2007 Christy Awards. Lori was inducted into the Springfield Writers Hall of Fame in 2000 and lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband and family.
Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen Christian novels. Her books have been named finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year Award, and ACFW's Carol Award. When she isn't writing or speaking, Ginny and her husband, Ted, enjoy exploring the extremes of nature. They live in Salt Lake City, UT.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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A little slow at first, but the story does get better as you read the book. I did like the book but it wasn't as good as many other Lori Copeland books.
I wanted a book to read on my break..something light but encouraging and interesting. I am glad i read the reviews and gave this book a go. I would reccomend..especially if you need a break from it all and just want to relax and read..but end up smiling!
When Ginny emailed me and asked if I would be an influencer for her book I jumped at the opportunity. I have found her books to be enjoyable, whether they are a ¿love¿ story or a mystery her stories are well written and engaging. I haven¿t read anything by Lori Copeland, but had seen many positive reviews on her books. I got what I expected and more. It was very easy for me to relate with Jill King. Her dreams crashed in a subway accident in the previous year. She loves Greg Bradford and wants to support him as he runs for political office. As she deals with the past and begins moving forward in her relationship with Greg and in her life, she experiences a terrifying dream. She isn¿t sure whether she is going crazy but knows she has to tell people of her beloved town of the pending danger. The authors do a great job giving you the back story while moving you forward at a good pace. The interactions between characters is very believable and rings of what life would be like for Jill after facing the lost of her dream life to have it replaced by a recurring nightmare. This book caused me to pause and take a look at how I would react if I were Jill or if someone close to me were Jill. Especially in the United States we tend to be very cynical and closed minded to things we don¿t understand and are quick to label someone as a ¿nut job.¿ This is a wonderful story of love and commitment and in stepping out of one¿s comfort zone to take a risk. At the end of the book the authors give you a website you can go and read the original ending to the story. I would encourage you to do that only after you read the published ending. I read the alternate ending last night and I¿m still not sure how I would have reacted if they ended the story with that ending. As mentioned earlier I did receive this copy from the author, however, I¿m under no obligation to give anything but my opinion.
Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith did a great job penning Lost Melody. They did a great job of combining drama, humor and suspense. I especially love the 'Real Romance' between Jill and Greg. You see and feel all the doubts and fears that Greg has about Jill and her dream and he chooses to love her through it all anyway. I received the book in the mail on a Friday Afternoon, by Saturday morning I finished it. And when I say Saturday morning, I mean, the wee hours of the morning. There was no putting it down for me! This book will keep you guessing. It's not predictable, it's a book that will make you wonder if everything is going to turn out ok at the end. I hope to see more Copeland/Smith books in the future!
Jill King's shining career as a concert pianist died a painful death when a subway crash severely injured her left hand. As she lay in the wreckage next to a mysterious, dying stranger, he promised her that God would not take away her dream. But He did. Jill's trying to survive, making every attempt to bury her bitterness and move on. And she's making progress, until a terrifying dream changes her life and makes her doubt her own sanity. When she finally accepts the dream as a warning of overwhelming disaster, it's becomes her responsibility to warn the town. In doing so, she runs the risk of destroying her relationship with the man she loves¿along with his political career. Lost Melody is a beautiful, haunting tale of lost dreams and wounded spirits¿and of blind obedience to God's voice, despite a heartful of scars, damaged faith, and high-impact risk. Copeland and Smith deliver a gripping storyline that forces the reader to find out what happens on the next page. The next day. The next dream. A beautifully written, unforgettable tale.
In Manhattan, Jill King rides the train to Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute to attend a workshop culminating with her playing in the great hall. Jill and friendly Robert chat and as they shake hands, the train crashes. She is pinned down by something but by her side also trapped is Robert. One year later, Jill suffers from headaches and is haunted by her piano sitting unused in her apartment as the horrific train accident ended her dream of becoming a concert pianist; the scar on her left hand is proof that she will never play like she once did. She also wonders about Robert who vanished once help arrived. She hides in Seaside Cove, Nova Scotia while her nana and her boyfriend Greg Bradford worry about her and her mom struggles with recovering from a stroke. However, Jill suffers from a nightmare that has her panicking over an inferno destroying her town. She sounds the alarm at a cost to Greg's political ambitions and their relationship while the townsfolk assume she lost more than her musical ability. Lost Melody is a strong character driven whimsical inspirational tale starring a flawed individual who suffers from PTSD. Jill is terrific as she holds the story line together while receiving the pity stares of the neighbors she wants to save from the disaster she dreams is coming. Using the disaster of the Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbor in 1917 as a base, Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith provide a heavenly tale of a woman who learns about pride being a deadly sin as there are plenty of stanzas to play perhaps not in Carnegie hall, but in Seaside Cove if one chooses life. Harriet Klausner
"Is everything okay?" She yells from outside.