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Tangled Chords (New Song Series Book 3)

Tangled Chords (New Song Series Book 3)

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What's past is past! Xavier Bell, the poor ugly duckling, has emerged into a rich handsome swan. He is tired of the fast-paced life that his hugely successful business afforded him and is looking to return to and settle down in his native Jamaica when he has a chance encounter with his old crush, hotel heiress, Farrah Knight. Farrah is about to marry Jason Cavendish, the man her father chose for her. Can Xavier forget how she had cruelly rejected him when he was poor and not looking so fine and pursued the yearning his heart had for her?
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Chapter One

Farrah Knight alighted from her Mercedes Sports Coupe and grabbed the bouquet of red roses from the passenger seat, along with her iPad. She took the opportunity to check out her reflection in the rearview mirror because she had hurriedly left her house and had not given herself the usual pampering for which she prided herself.
Her red tint lip gloss was still perfect and none of it was caught on her teeth. Her white Gucci pantsuit still fit her as snugly and as perfectly as it did when she bought it. She was not usually this obsessive with her appearance, but recently she realized that the unhappier she felt, the more she wanted to project a completely different picture on the outside.
She looked at the entrance to the maternity ward and then down at her five-inch heels. She was not used to walking long distances in heels, nor was she fond of hospitals; she couldn't even recall the last time she stepped near one. She took in a deep breath and held the roses in front of her and advanced to the entrance of the building reluctantly, as if she was going to be sacrificed.
Her engagement party was two short weeks away, moved up because of her father's impatient insistence, and now she had to pressure Ruby and Cynth to get what they thought would be two months’ worth of planning done in two weeks.
Her wedding date was also to be moved up at her father's insistence. It was July, and she was supposed to have the party at the end of the month and then get married in the first week of August. She didn't have the backbone or the heart to protest her father's high-handed meddling in her affairs—so here she was at the hospital to do business.
She felt a twinge of guilt for coming to the hospital like this since Ruby had given birth the night before, but when she called this morning, Ruby told her that they could have a planning session today at midday. She entered the hospital and gave the nurse at the front Ruby's name.
"Oh, you are here to see little Amber Scott," the nurse smiled. "She is in the nursery room."
"Amber Scott?" Farrah almost asked aloud, and then it clicked that Ruby had named her daughter Amber.
"No, not the baby," she said to the smiling nurse. "I am here to see the mother."
The nurse nodded, her manic smile still plastered on her face while she answered the ringing telephone.
She covered the phone's receiver. "It is down the hallway, to the right," she mouthed to Farrah.
Farrah looked at her doubtfully. Don't they have room numbers in the place? Her Jimmy Choo shoes were not made for walking to faraway places based on vague directions. She glanced down the long corridor doubtfully and lifted her roses from the reception desk and headed gingerly down the corridor.
She turned right and was greeted by a wall of glass. Beyond the glass were a number of bassinets with cooing babies.
Perfect, just perfect, she thought, drifting closer to the glass. Now she had to walk back to the reception desk and inquire about Ruby's room.
She was about to stalk off when she saw a tall guy in an expensive tan leather jacket with his hands in his pockets, his gaze firmly fixed on the baby room.
How sweet, she thought and then she watched as he angled his head to the side. He looked vaguely familiar—familiar enough for her to stop and take the four steps back to the window to look at him properly.
Once more she glanced into the nursery, but he looked around and caught her checking him out when she swung around to look at him again. She couldn't pretend casual interest anymore.
He was in oversized shades and had the pinkest chiseled lips, with a thin mustache. She swallowed. Lip fuzz, pink lips, and oodles of sex appeal. He was hot. Even without seeing the rest of his face, she was intrigued.
"Hey," she said to him nervously. What was wrong with her?
He smiled. His smile started slowly and then got wider and wider as he turned toward her fully. He had straight white teeth; she caught herself looking at them and then at her reflection in his glasses.
"Hey." His voice was slightly husky.
"So you are a new dad, huh?" Farrah asked, gesturing to the nursery. She anxiously waited for him to answer. She hoped that he wasn't a new dad; that would mean that his wife or girlfriend would be somewhere in the building. The thought of him being taken made her oddly downcast.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I am a new uncle…Baby number four." He pointed to the fourth baby in the bassinet. "That's her."
"She's cute," Farrah said, relieved. She couldn't care less about looking at the baby. They all looked the same anyway. Babies, in general, were not her cup of tea but she looked closer at the baby he indicated to and read the nametag on the bassinet in order to give him a polite response. It read Amber Scott.
"You know Ruby Scott?" she asked, half-wishing that he would take off his glasses so that she could see his face properly. He intrigued her.
"Yeees," he said, dragging out the yes slowly as if she was slow-witted.
If she had an extra foot, she would kick herself. The man just said he was an uncle. Obviously, he would know Ruby. He was probably her brother. They had the same complexion and tight curly hair.
"Er, do I know you from somewhere?" Farrah asked. The tug of familiarity to this guy was strong—not only familiarity but also a weird attraction. She couldn't recall, in all her twenty-seven years, being this attracted to any guy, not even Jason Cavendish, her fiancé. It was almost instant, this connection. That was the only reason she was lingering around a nursery talking to this stranger, though he seemed familiar.
"Yes," he said after a telling pause. "You know me pretty well."
Farrah squinted up at him. "Where do I know you from? Was it Lawrence Tate's yacht party? Were you one of the investors?"
He shook his head and grinned.
"Corrine Dailey's soiree that she held for the governor general and the government ministers?"
"No," he said, chuckling.
She snapped her fingers. "Were you at that modeling gig that my charity did with the firemen? I know," she chuckled, "you are Mr. January!"
She looked at him intently. He had the same caramel colored skin and a handsome profile. Except that at the time she had not been even remotely attracted to Mr. January. Realizing that she had no business chatting up this man, she decided to get on her way.
He slowly took off his shades and his glossy chestnut brown eyes seared into hers. Her first thought was that he shouldn't hide his eyes with dark glasses. They were beautiful.
"Seriously, Farrah!" he said, angling his head to the side. "I might develop a complex from this lack of recognition on your part. Don't tell me you have broken so many hearts that you have lost count?"
And then it hit Farrah; he was familiar because he resembled Xavier Bell, her childhood friend, and confidant, except that Xavier was never this hunky, or handsome, or infinitely desirable.
Her brain had a hard task trying to reconcile the handsome specimen in front of her with the skinny nerdy guy that wore thick horn-rimmed glasses and had bad skin, who would play tea with her and listen to her various adolescent problems.
"Xavier!" Farrah squealed. "I can't believe it!" She searched his face, looking for something familiar.
This version of Xavier resembled his brother Carson more than ever. He had the thick level brows and chiseled cheekbones; he obviously worked out. He was leanly muscular and wore sophistication as comfortably as he wore his jacket.
Xavier grinned. She looked at his lips and then hurriedly looked up at his eyes. Her fingers felt nervy and trembling. She almost dropped the roses she was holding.
"How are you, Farrah? You look well. You haven't changed much."
"I am fine." Farrah shook her head. "I really can't believe it. You fixed your eyes."
"Yes, I did." Xavier smiled, "I got myself a makeover. Thanks in part to you."
Farrah grimaced. "I always wanted to apologize about that last time. I was pretty rotten to you, and I never got the chance to tell you that I was sorry."
Xavier nodded. "Extremely rotten, but it's okay. What's past is past."
He looked at her engagement ring, a big diamond rock that was sparkling under the lights. "I hear that you are getting married."
Farrah nodded mutely. Her exuberance died just as it started. Of all the people in the world, she couldn't lie to Xavier and pretend that she was happy. He was always able to see through her, except for that one time that she was thoroughly ashamed of now.
He moved away from the glass, giving the baby one last look. "I wish you all the best, Farrah, and hope that you are happy."
Wait, that’s it? Farrah almost screamed. Can't you see how unhappy I am about this engagement? Talk to me, convince me to confide in you like I used to. Help me get through this. But then she remembered how badly she had treated Xavier the last time they spoke. How she had mocked him and scorned him and told him to leave her alone. How she had told him to find a girl in his class, someone who could put up with his handicap. She had been deliberately harsh and hateful to Xavier and had done it in front of her snickering, snotty friends. They had laughed at him, and he had looked as if he wanted to cry.
She could see his expression in her mind's eye now, and once more she felt the burden of that day weighing her down. It was as if she had kicked a puppy in the head.
Almost immediately, she felt dreadful about what she had done to him. For days afterward, she worried if she had crushed his spirit. She had always regretted that she did not get a chance to apologize to Xavier.
She cleared her throat and wondered if inviting him to her engagement party would seem like an apology. She also wondered if it would resurrect the friendship that they once had. If he accepted her apology it would show her that he had put the past behind him and had moved on with his life.
He moved away from her dismissively, and Farrah wondered if he still hated her.
"Xavier, would you like to come to my engagement party? It is in two weeks. I was just here to run over the guest list with Ruby."
Xavier turned back, looked at her, and shrugged. "Okay, sure. I am staying at Carson's for the time being. You can send my invite there."
Suddenly she missed the Xavier of yesteryear, the one who used to treat her like someone precious, who would make time to listen to whatever was going on in her life. She had felt his absence when he left Jamaica, and now she realized just how unsettled she had been without him.
He raised his eyebrows as she drank him in. He did not say a word, he just stood there and looked at her with his hands thrust in his pockets.
Farrah sighed. That was it. He wasn't going to ask her about her impending marriage or how she got on through the years. He didn't seem as if he wanted to prolong their chat at all. She could see a look of impatience on his face as if he didn't want to be near her.
She wanted to ask him what he was doing now, where he was living, and if he had gotten the chance to sell his computer ideas. Was he happy? Did he have a wife or children?
Her eyes strayed to his left hand. He wasn't wearing a wedding band. She felt a rush of relief, and she wondered why she would feel that way, but she reminded herself that Xavier had always unsettled her even before he had grown into this handsome specimen.
Xavier was always the person to mess with her peace of mind, and now, as she watched him walk away after a casual goodbye, she wondered why she felt so bereft. She hadn't seen the guy in nine years. She had an engagement party to plan, an impatient father to please, but most of all she had to work up some enthusiasm for marrying Jason Cavendish.


Xavier drove to Carson's house; he had been staying there since he sold his condominium in Northern California and returned to Jamaica three weeks ago. He had done what he had set out to do nine years earlier when he left Jamaica armed with only an idea and the belief that he could make a huge success of it. He had made a ridiculous amount of money out of it, but he realized that he wasn't the cutthroat business type. He was the guy who was comfortable in the back room designing a new piece of computer hardware or coding software that would make life easier. He was also the type of guy who had a fascination with photography, and he could afford to indulge that hobby now. He let himself into the house and sat in one of the settees. No one was home. Alice was at her hairdressing parlor, and Carson and Mia were at the garage. It was the perfect time to call his real estate broker. He wanted to move out of Carson and Alice's place, even though he enjoyed hanging out with them. He wanted his own place, preferably somewhere close to the city, but it had to have enough of a country feel for him to explore nature in his own backyard and it had to have a splendid view.
He picked up the phone, and his mind strayed to thoughts of Farrah. He had been fighting thoughts of her ever since he saw her today.
As soon as he walked around the corner to the nursery, he sensed that it was her, even before he turned around and confirmed it. His senses had been that in tune to her even after all these years, but he refused to examine why he felt anything for Farrah Knight.
He had pretended a coolness that he was far from feeling, though he had calmly gone along with her guessing game. He had found it very flattering that she did not recognize him at first.
She had been gorgeous in white. She still had the kind of beauty that had men stopping in the streets to stare, and the slim, well-honed physique that could carry off any fashion.
He had told her that what was past was past when she gave her breathy apology, but the truth was she had shaped him into who he was now. She was responsible for his extreme caution with the opposite sex. She was the one who had made him determined to get his crossed eyes, crooked teeth, and acne problem fixed.
He had always thought that he had been doused with a series of unfortunate problems all at once when he was younger. No girl wanted to look at him twice all through his adolescent years.
No wonder he had taken so much solace in having Farrah as a friend, though she was seven years his junior. She was his only female friend when growing up; most women his age gave him a polite berth when they saw him. Even though he was in a band as a teenager, performed quite a bit, and had garnered a few teenage groupies, he had always been the member without any females crowding around him, vying for attention. One girl had asked him, with incredulity in her voice, how he had gotten in the band as if the only criterion was good looks.
He had taken the comments by that girl in stride because they were mild compared to others he had gotten. He got it that he was the nerd guy with the eye, teeth and skin problems who preferred working with computers to conversing with people, especially when they looked at him with pity, thinking that he was somehow abnormal.
To be honest, Farrah had not pitied him or looked down on him when she was growing up. She had problems of her own and he was a convenient sounding board for her. She had Daddy problems and was constantly fighting for attention from her ambitious family members, who were too busy garnering vast wealth to give her any attention.
Both her parents ran successful businesses. She was born at a time when her mother had thought she was done having children and her father—well, he didn't care much for girls. They couldn't help him run his corporation.
Xavier had been quite audacious in telling Farrah of his feelings. He even had the gall to offer—at her birthday party, no less—that they run away together. He now found it ridiculous how brave he had been then.
His mother had been a domestic helper to the Knights for years. He was really out of his league in propositioning a pampered, semi-neglected rich girl to run away with him.
He had loved her with all his heart. In a twisted way, he had been waiting for her to grow up. He worked at his dead-end purchasing clerk job, which he hated, hoping that she would see that he was more than a friend. Hoping that she would see him for the man he was, beneath the acne and crossed eyes.
She had literally laughed in his face when he offered himself to her. That last scornful laugh was his wake-up call. He left Jamaica determined to be worthy of her, but through the years the sharp, determined edge had slowly deteriorated until he no longer thought of her with that desperate longing.
He had repressed his fantasies of showing up one day and presenting himself to her as an improved option. He had moved on. He had almost married a fellow tech lover, Bobbie-Ann, six years ago; strangely enough, she had more than a passing resemblance to Farrah. Luckily, Bobbie-Ann had called off the wedding. Being the more sensible of the two, she had realized that just having a love for technology and running a business together was no foundation for a lasting marriage.
They got on even better after that decision and were now close friends.
He sighed; he might never feel for anyone else the way he had felt about Farrah. That kind of intensity was only endemic to the young and foolish and try as he might, he couldn't duplicate it in any of his adult relationships. He couldn't do it for Bobbie-Ann, though he had tried hard. Who knew that love couldn't be conjured up in the kind of intensity you wanted at the drop of a hat?
He also knew that thinking about Farrah now was fruitless. She was getting married to Jason Cavendish, a guy from a family that was just as powerful as Farrah's. She was probably deliriously happy planning her wedding now. He was glad that he had not been around to witness her fall in love with Jason, or any other man, for that matter. He would have been madly jealous, or even driven to insanity.
Seeing her with that sparkling diamond on her finger gave him a weird, uncomfortable feeling, but he didn't want to put a name to that feeling. He wouldn't call it jealousy, or even sadness… He would show up at her engagement party because she had invited him and convince himself that he was happy for her.
He dialed the real estate broker's number, and a chirpy voice answered.
"Mr. Bell! I was just about to call you. I have three properties for you to view today. Do you have the time?"
"Yes," Xavier said. He looked around the house. He had nothing but time, and he was anxious to see what the agent planned to show him.