Conquest excerpt

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Conquest Series Book 1

Available at MLR Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more


A life filled with music, or a life filled with love…

As the vocally gifted lead singer of his band, Conquest, Jesse Alexander refuses to let anything hold him back from achieving his dream of becoming one of the greatest performers to ever hit a stage.

Evan Arden was thought of as a musical genius when at the height of his career, he vanished from the spotlight.  Together, their relationship is just as intense as their music careers, but with the pressures of success and fame pushing down on them, Jesse must decide what’s more important to him, his life of music, or his life with Evan.



Jesse walked further into the room, turning in a circle to fully take it in.  Electric guitars of numerous styles and brands hung on one wall with bass guitars and acoustics.  Of the electric, Jesse guessed there had to be over thirty.  Against one wall, dark walnut shelves displayed several violins and violas with two cellos and a full-sized harp sitting close by.  On the other side of the room, shelves and wooden tables held still more instruments, though many of these were exotic, some of which Jesse didn’t even know existed until that moment.  He moved across the room to them, his fingers all but twitching to touch.


Evan could see on Jesse’s face how he battled for control to not finger the instruments.  “Go ahead.  You can touch them.  From the moment it’s created, an instrument’s only wish is to be held by a loving and skilled hand.”


Jesse gently laid his fingers on a zither near its strings and caressed the wood.  “It’s true, isn’t it?  Sometimes I think they’re almost living, the way each one has a unique voice.  Kenny thinks I’m nuts.  He says, a Strat is a Strat.  But to me, every instrument has a subtle pitch difference that makes it its own, and when it gets held in the hands of someone who respects and understands it, the sound of that instrument becomes as individual as the soul of the person playing it.”  He looked over his shoulder at Evan and smiled.  “You probably think I’m mental, too, for thinking like that, don’t you?”


“No, not at all,” Evan said softly, in awe at the serene beauty that came over Jesse’s face when he was surrounded by instruments.


Jesse stopped before the violins, admiring each one.  “They’re so beautiful.  I’ve always wanted to learn to play, but I haven’t had the chance.”


Evan headed over to him.  “I could teach you.  I’ve seen all the instruments you can play.  Picking up one more would be easy for you.”


Jesse turned a hopeful smile on him.  “You would do that?”


“I would love to.”


Evan pulled down a violin case from the top shelf and set it on one of the lower ones.  He opened it, revealing a violin inside with a rich brownish-gold finish.  Though it lay silent, as the light in the room washed over it, Jesse swore he could hear the echoes of the countless songs the instrument had known, and all the emotions its voice had evoked from its listeners, joy, sadness, hope, seemed to have become as much a part of it as its neck, body, or stain.


Evan lifted the instrument from its case with the tenderness of a father lifting his child from its crib.  He set it against his left shoulder to check the tuning, placing a soft white cloth where his chin would go since the model didn’t have a chinrest, and when the final adjustments were made, he said, “It’s been a while since I’ve played, so don’t laugh at me if I screw up.”


Jesse shook his head and sat down on the stool for the harp.  “Never.”


Evan raised the bow and closed his eyes, calling the song he wanted to play to his mind.  The music flowed through his mental ear, telling him the notes he needed.  He settled the bow on the strings and played the first gentle notes of Pachelbel’s Canon in D major.


Jesse’s lips parted, the pure, divine sound of the violin stealing his breath to add to its essence.  Like a heavenly being residing in the mortal realm, Evan wove the notes together with expert fingers and created a blanket of music that wrapped around them both.  Though the piece normally called for more violins, Evan’s rendition and skill made it so the other instruments weren’t missed.  Enraptured, Jesse stared at him, at his lips that looked so soft, at his fingers of such deft skill, and in that moment, the newly awoken part of himself became fully alert, and he knew then it was his very soul that Evan had roused.  It responded to Evan, called to him, and there’d be no silence within himself until Evan was his.

Copyright 2009 by S.J. Frost and MLR Press