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In Carrie Drazen’s diamond-studded world, beauty is everything: a blessing, a commodity, and a curse. Her beauty got her past the velvet ropes and into New York’s high society, but it ripped her away from the man she loved and chained her to an unbearable life.

Then, in a single night, a song played by a mysterious and secretive musician carries her back to a past ripe with possibilities, when love could open any door.

Who is this anonymous performer?
How can a man she’s never met tell the story of a boy she loved with such precision?

She needs to know. But sometimes masks exist for a reason, and this unveiling could scar them both.


C.D. Reiss


Carrie Drazen’s long awaited love story is out this week, and I have an excerpt for you. This is a standalone novel, set in the same world as the Submission (Jonathan Drazen’s story), Corruption (Theresa Drazen’s story), Forbidden (Fiona Drazen’s story), and Sins (Margie Drazen’s story) series.

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A car screeched behind us right before a man’s voice called, “Hey! Miss! Red Hair! Beautiful!”

I turned around when he called me beautiful because that was when I figured out I was Miss and Red Hair, not because that was what I answered to. Andrea turned with me.

“Hello again, Mr. Stravinsky,” she purred.

The man chasing us down was around our age, maybe twenty or twenty-one, in worn jeans and boots. USC hoodie. One hand clutched a violin with the bow pressed against the neck, the other held the case. A heavy bag slung over his shoulder bounced on his hip as he ran toward us. We’d seen him in the parking lot across Jefferson, busking outside the University Village food court. He looked as if he’d grabbed his stuff in a hurry.

“We’re going to be late,” I said, even though I had no intention of moving until I found out what he wanted. Professor Richards had his TA lock the doors one minute after the start of class, and I didn’t want Andrea to miss Cognitive because of me.

“We have a minute,” she said.

When he got to us, he was so out of breath he bent over, gasping.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“You… you left this… in the…” He held out the hand with the case. A hundred-dollar bill was folded between two fingers. “The wrong bill.” He put down the case and held out the hundred.

When I’d given him the money, I didn’t notice him. The music shut out everything else. Without it, I could see him. His eyes were warm mahogany, and the waves of his dark, unkempt, shoulder-length hair were tinged with the sun.

“No,” I said. “It’s the right one.”

His face twitched for a moment, as if he had to hide surprise, then he smiled. One of his front teeth had a tiny triangle of a chip and the hairline scar on his square chin got a little lighter. Imperfections, sure, but they only made him look more perfect.

“It’s too much,” he said. The wind changed direction, blowing his hair into his face. He shifted his head enough to move it to the side, exposing the lines of his tanned neck and the sharp shadows under his jaw.

Funny how I didn’t notice how handsome he was while he was playing.

“I’ve never heard anyone play like that,” I said.

“Like what?” His hand dropped a few inches.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Andrea look at her watch. There wasn’t enough time to describe his music.

“Like they were about to levitate.”

He laughed, and it was almost as melodic as what he drew from his violin. “Really”—he held out the money again—“it’s my pleasure. A dollar would have been enough.”

“Keep it,” I said.

Andrea cleared her throat.

I shifted my bag on my shoulder and turned away. “I have to get to class.”

“I’m going to throw it away if you don’t take it.”

“Like hell.” Andrea snapped it from him. “I’ll stick it in her bag when she’s not looking.”

“Thank you.” He picked up his violin case.

“If you busk again, I’m putting another hundred and I’m going to run away so fast you won’t catch me.”

“I’ll catch you, don’t you worry about that.”

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