Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini Read Free Book Online

Book: Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Chiaverini
beautifully.”
    â€œYes, that piano has never sounded better.” The nun gave a little start and glanced to the back of the church, where the couple sat utterly still, either watching them or lost in thought, Lucas could not tell. “Or rather, it’s
rarely
sounded better.”
    The younger woman dropped her bag on the front pew with a solid thunk and joined him at the piano. “Please tell me you’re Sister Joanne’s replacement.”
    â€œWho?”
    â€œSister Joanne. She was our accompanist for years, but ever since she retired last month, I’ve been on my own at choir practice. I can play, but not as well as she does.” The young woman regarded him with such candid admiration that he was more than a little flattered. “And definitely not anywhere near as well as you.”
    â€œThank you.” He rose and stepped away from the piano, and the sense that he was making a terrible mistake did not prevent him from adding, “But I’m not an accompanist.”
    Her smile faded. “You mean you weren’t responding to the notice in the church bulletin?”
    â€œSorry, I wasn’t.” He realized then that he actually was sorry. “I’m here on a research assignment. I’m not a member of this parish.”
    â€œThat’s not a requirement for the job,” the nun piped up.
    Just then, a side door opened and a dark-haired boy of about ten strolled in, followed by a girl of around nine with a younger boy, their ginger hair so alike in color and curl that they had to be brother and sister.
    â€œHow well do you sight read?” inquired the nun as more children filed in and took their places in the choir seats.
    Lucas hesitated, reluctant to deceive the nun or to diminish himself in the eyes of the pretty choir director. “I’m not bad,” he admitted, and before he knew it he was seated at the piano again,running through scales as the children warmed up, and accompanying them as they sang a few pieces of sacred music suitable for Holy Week. He had expected the children to be all over the staff with their pitch, but they were actually quite good, and Sophia proved to be an energetic and effective teacher, drawing the best out of each young singer.
    He forgot about his research project and his dinner date until a few minutes before six, when parents began drifting into the church to pick up their children. Rehearsal ended promptly on the hour, and as the young singers closed their binders, thanked Miss Sophia, and darted off to join their parents, Lucas hastily rose and closed the lid to the keyboard. If he hurried, he could still meet Brynn for supper. He would have to defer his tour of St. Margaret’s to another day.
    Sophia approached him as he slung the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder. “Well?” she asked, her expression tentative but hopeful. “What did you think?”
    â€œThat was actually a lot of fun,” he admitted.
    â€œThe job’s yours if you want it. We rehearse on Tuesdays and Fridays from four thirty until six, and we sing at the nine o’clock Mass every Sunday morning, and at the afternoon vigil Mass the first Saturday of the month. We also have a few concerts throughout the year for holidays—Christmas, Easter, the usual.”
    He knew he was too busy and ought to refuse, but Sophia’s smile was fading, telling him he had hesitated too long. “Sure, why not?” he heard himself say. He couldn’t bear to turn her down and watch her smile disappear entirely. “I’ll see you Tuesday.”
    â€œSee you Tuesday,” she echoed, and for a moment he stood there grinning back before he remembered with a jolt that he was expected elsewhere.
    He hurried to the law library, composing apologies and inventing excuses for his tardiness. Fortunately, he needed none of them. When he found Brynn at her usual table—laptop open,books spread around, long,

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