Spotlight: The Melody in Our Hearts by Roberta Capizzi

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synopsis

Doctor Valerie Fogarty studied hard to become a competent surgeon, but losing a patient during an operation made her throw everything out the window and now she can’t set foot into an operating room anymore. Until her best friend Ryan is brought into the ER on a stretcher, fighting for his life after a terrible car accident and she’s the only one who can save him. Meeting him as a teenager in their hometown in Ireland was the turning point in her life and she knows she will never be able to live without him. Will her determination and skills be enough to save Ryan’s life?

Jazz Star Ryan Wyler grew up in Dublin, with a dream of becoming a professional pianist and continuing the legacy of his musical hero, Frank Sinatra. When opportunity knocks and he’s offered the chance to pursue a real music career, he’s happy to accept it, unaware that what he’s actually accepting is a package deal he will have no control over. But when success keeps him away from Valerie, his best friend since adolescence, Ryan will have to question his choices.

A story about the value of true friendship, the power of dreams, and the unpredictability of love.

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Ryan had just picked up his coat when his phone started ringing. He smiled when he saw ‘Val’ flash on the display.

“Hey, you’re awake! I thought I’d have to break down your door to wake you up.”

Valerie giggled, although it didn’t sound as happy as it normally did. Maybe it was just because she’d slept all day and after her double shift and was still a little groggy.

“I got a phone call from the hospital. I have to work tonight.” she said in a sad tone. Ryan snorted. “The doctor on duty had an emergency at home and called to say he wouldn’t be able to go to work. I was on call, so they asked me to fill in for him. I’m sorry, Ryan.”

“Couldn’t you say you had a prior engagement or something? Call in sick, maybe?”

“Ryan, you know I can’t do that. I told you I’d be on call tonight.”

“But I haven’t seen you in over two months and I was really looking forward to telling you everything about the tour.”

“I know; I really wanted to spend some time with you too.”

Ryan let out a sigh and slumped down on his bed. Why couldn’t she have a normal nine-to-five office job that wouldn’t interfere with their dinner plans?

“Right, okay. I’ll cancel the reservation at the restaurant and have a microwave dinner all by myself.” Ryan said in a huff. Valerie chuckled. “I hope you feel guilty for ditching me like this, Doc.”

“I do. I feel awful but I’ll make it up to you, buddy.”

They said goodbye and after he hung up, he let out an annoyed sigh. He opened the freezer and took out microwave cheese macaroni, stared at the plastic box and put it back in; eating on his couch by himself sounded quite depressing right now.

He put on his coat and decided to surprise his girlfriend; he’d been looking forward to spending the evening chatting with Valerie after being away on tour for over two months, but since she wasn’t available, his girlfriend would do.

He stopped with his hand on the door handle when he realized the thought that had just crossed his mind. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t his girlfriend come first and his best friend immediately after? He shrugged. Jennifer had spent time with him during the tour; they’d met in Paris and she’d gone to London with him, too. It was only fair that Valerie would be his priority now.

While he was in the car, he thought about stopping at the hospital before going home to bring Valerie a cup of White Mocha and a muffin; he was sure it’d cheer her up and, if she wasn’t busy, maybe they’d manage to chat for a while. He’d missed her so much and he’d found himself wishing more than once that she could tour with him.

A weird sense of guilt hit him as soon as the thought formed. He had a girlfriend and he was supposed to wish she was the one following him on tour, not his best friend. But then again, what he felt for Valerie was totally innocent and different from what he felt for Jennifer; with Valerie he could be himself, the real Ryan from Dublin and he could talk about anything with her without ever being afraid of speaking his mind. When he was with Jennifer he was Ryan Wyler, the jazz star from Boston; it was all about his career and his name. He couldn’t deny that he and Jennifer had some great fun time together, but he’d started to doubt there was much more to their relationship outside the bed.

It was lame but if he had to be honest with himself, he’d stuck with her because her job took her away as often as his did, so he had a lot of free time to spend with Valerie. Jennifer had never really liked the idea of his best friend being a woman, but she’d never forbid him from seeing her; he wasn’t sure another girlfriend would’ve been so open-minded. Besides, he didn’t really need a girlfriend he could talk to; he had Valerie for that, so it was fine with him if all Jennifer wanted was some fun between the sheets. He was still young and not ready to settle down anyway.

He parked the car close to Jennifer’s apartment and ran in the rain toward the front door of the building. An elderly couple was walking out and held the door open for him, so he didn’t need to buzz. As he stood in front of her door, waiting for her to open up, he wondered whether he should’ve called first. He usually did, but this time he’d decided to surprise her. He ended up being the surprised one when she opened the door in a silk dressing gown, her face flushed and her hair disheveled.

“Ryan? I thought you said you’d be out with your friend tonight?” she asked in a surprised tone. Okay, that wasn’t exactly the kind of welcome he’d expected. He shifted his weight to his right foot and tucked his hands in the pockets of his coat.

“She had to work so I thought we could go out somewhere, have dinner together.”

Had her face just turned pale or was he imagining things? She fidgeted with the belt of her dressing gown, one he was sure he’d never seen before, and he wondered if that was a subtle way of telling him she wanted to stay at home. Not that he would mind, especially since it was pouring outside. He took a step forward and put his hands on her waist.

“Unless you have other plans that don’t include going out.”

She stiffened at his touch and he wondered what was going on. She’d never been the one to shy away from his touch; it was actually she who always started it all. He moved in to kiss her neck and froze when he smelled cologne on her skin.

Cologne?

He pulled back and stared questioningly at her; she didn’t meet his eyes and he suddenly understood the reason why she was so flushed and disheveled.

“Are you alone?” he asked straight out, knowing that beating around the bush would be useless. He’d suspected something in the past but this time he was damn sure she was hiding something.

“Ryan, listen. I can… I can explain.”

“You can explain why your skin smells like cologne? Go ahead, I’m all ears.”

He took another step forward but she didn’t move aside to let him in, so he was standing only inches away from her. Somehow this annoyed him even further.

“You said you wouldn’t be around tonight so I… um… I had a meeting. For work. The cologne… it must have lingered when we kissed goodbye. On the cheeks, of course.”

Ryan arched an eyebrow. “Seriously, Jen; do you think I’m that stupid?” She swallowed hard and looked at her hands, still fidgeting with her belt. “Is he still here? Where is he? Your bedroom, maybe?”

He pushed her aside and stepped into the apartment. She grabbed his arm to stop him but he pushed her away, taking big strides toward her bedroom. When he yanked the door open, he froze when he saw her manager, her fifty-year-old manager, flinch in her bed. What a cliché.

Jennifer reached him and tugged on his arm, making him turn around to look at her.

“Ryan, please. Let me explain.”

“How long has this been going on?” he asked through gritted teeth. “Have you been sleeping with that man and with me?”

“It’s not like that. It’s…”

“Not like that? Try and find a good excuse now to explain why your manager is naked in your bed and you’re wearing nothing underneath that dressing gown.”

He felt sick to his stomach at the thought of having shared her with that disgusting old pervert. This was the very last straw. He’d turned a blind eye before, he’d forgiven her and believed her stupid excuses but this was it.

“Actually, don’t even bother. Go back to your buddy; we’re through.”

He spun and walked back toward the front door; she stopped him again, her perfectly manicured nails digging into the skin of his arm.

“I’m done with your lies. It’s over. You’re officially free to sleep with whomever you want; I don’t care.”

He yanked his arm free and ran down the flight of stairs, knowing she wouldn’t follow him. God, he’d been so stupid he wanted to kick himself. How had he ever let it get this far.

By the time he got back into his car his hair was soaked but he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was see Valerie. He knew she was the only one who’d manage to put his mind at ease. Kevin was in New York for a seminar and he didn’t want to talk about it over the phone. Valerie would help him make sense of this once and for all.

He should’ve known all Jennifer had ever wanted was to be seen with America’s jazz star, just so her chances of being seen by a TV producer would improve and maybe she’d manage to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. That was what their relationship had always been about; he’d even come to suspect their chance meeting at that party in Las Vegas hadn’t been by chance at all. He wouldn’t be surprised to find out his manager was behind it; he’d always done his best to make sure Ryan was constantly on the front cover of magazines.

The rain had started falling harder and it was now coming down in sheets; even with the windscreen wipers of his BMW at full speed he could barely make out the road. He stopped at a red traffic light and smacked his hand hard on the steering wheel, cursing himself for being such a fool. Why should it bother him so much, though? After all, he’d never really loved Jennifer; he found her attractive but that was all there was. He’d never considered spending the rest of his life with her, so he should be happy it was over now. It was knowing she’d cheated on him that stung, though.

The light changed to green and he pressed down on the accelerator, feeling the need of seeing Valerie grow more intense. He was sure there was a Starbucks somewhere around here so he looked around trying to spot it. He needed a strong coffee now and he was sure Valerie would love a cup of White Mocha while he told her what an idiot he’d been. He squinted through the rain, cursing because he couldn’t see a thing. Where the hell was the damn coffee shop?

He turned his eyes back to the road and saw the road work signs a second too late. He swerved swiftly and pushed hard on the brake, trying to avoid the hurdles and bring the car back on the track. The wheels lost grip on the wet asphalt and when the left one hit a pothole, he lost control and the car started spinning until it stopped, crashing against a wall.

His last thought before the world went black was of Valerie.

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meettheauthor

An avid reader since her childhood years and being an only child, Roberta always enjoyed the company of her fictional friends from the children’s books she loved reading, while she dreamed of writing her own stories one day.
It was when she discovered novels by authors Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy in her teenage years that she realized it was time she put down in words the stories she had kept well hidden in her mind until then.
What started as a hobby, soon turned into a real passion and a way of life, until she could no longer keep the stories to herself, and decided to get over her fears and share them with the world.
Roberta lives in Italy, but her dream is to move out of her country and live either in a thatched cottage in the Irish countryside or in a country house with a swing on the back porch, somewhere in the United States, where she would love to spend her days writing novels as a full-time job, and maybe one day even get as far as writing a screenplay for a movie.

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