(Excerpt from second story, Reunion Night)

Reaching the piano, Olivia stopped and stroked its sleek side. He had played for her, such sensuous music that the memory alone made her skin flush. He had started seducing her then, she realized, even before they spoke.

A current of air disturbed the stillness. She held her breath, senses straining to detect any clue that he might be there.

The piano’s first soft notes made her jump. Heart pounding, she moved to where she could see the keys rising and falling under invisible hands. She recognized this tune; Beethoven’s Fűr Elise. As his music rolled through the house, everything began to change. Candle flames grew brighter, illuminating floors that now gleamed as though freshly waxed. Drop cloths vanished like mist, and the furniture beneath them was whole. As stains disappeared from the walls, the smells of age and neglect dissolved, leaving only the sweetness of flowers. She’d known he would give her this gift when he arrived, but had forgotten the wonder of it.

Olivia moved to lean against the piano so she could feel the vibrations of its strings. Her lover played so beautifully. Not only with skill, but with a depth of emotion that made her entire being ache. Closing her eyes, she let the music wash over her. When the last chord softened into silence, she smiled. “You truly are a master.”

His sharp, indrawn breath startled her.

“What did you call me?” he asked.

“A master.” Her smile faltered. “Did I say something wrong?”

Silence. She began to fear he’d gone, but then a floorboard creaked, and he pulled her into his arms, kissing her so hard that it hurt. Her head swam by the time he drew back. I’ll have to call him that again, she thought, as warm lips nuzzled their way to her ear.

“Welcome back, lady whore. I wasn’t sure you’d return.”