Easily pleased, Micah enjoys a career in non-profit work and gets through his days one lame joke at a time. Then his friend Lou introduces him to her musical family and the Knights pull Micah into their world of resilience and sorrow. Soon, Micah understands that in the face of grief, optimism isn't always enough.
Lei was once revered for his tremendous talent. But one day the music died, and the scars under his leather bracelets are a reminder of what he lost. These days, he's nothing but a phantom. Shut away from the world, Lei tunes instruments in the Knights' music store.
Then charismatic Micah enters his life, charming his family and slowly coaxing his way into Lei's heart with steadfast devotion. With Micah at his side, it may yet be possible for Lei to reclaim the spotlight he'd thought permanently abandoned.
I was about to get up and announce my departure, when Lei walked back into the room. I couldn't help eyeing him over for the hundredth time in the last hour. He was dressed in those same blue jeans I'd first seen him in, but tonight he wore a dark red T-shirt that made his brown eyes pop. He had many leather bracelets around his wrists, a few silver rings, but I couldn't see any tattoos. When he leaned over the coffee table right by me, he didn't make eye contact. Only picked up his cup of tea and looked into it. "Empty," he said, to himself.
Suddenly, I wanted to boil some water, crush tea leaves, and fix him the best cup of tea he ever had. I desperately wanted to talk with him a little, before I left. "I think maybe there's hot water in that boiler there," I said.
"Thank you, but no, I'm good. I'm gonna get going, anyway." He waved at his mother.
She immediately rose and walked to him. "You're leaving already?"
Lei nodded and they exchanged a few soft words I didn't catch. He went around the room, kissed his sister, and shook his brother's hand. When he'd reached his father, Al gazed up at him with such a sorrowful expression, it confused me. Then Louie stood and hugged Lei. I got out of my seat. "I'm gonna get going as well," I said, spontaneously. I realized I wanted to leave with Lei.
After I'd thanked them profusely for the amazing night, and we'd hugged or shook hands, I finally stepped out. August was drawing to its end, but it was a beautiful warm summer night.
Lei was right behind me. We climbed down the porch stairs, and at the street, I saw his car, a black Jetta, was parked right behind mine. What could I say, if anything? Then it came to me. "Hey, can I ask you something?"
He'd opened his car door, but paused to look at me.
I took a few steps closer, so that we stood eye to eye. Well, more like eye to chin. He was at least six inches taller than me. "I just—well, okay, don't take this the wrong way or anything -- but I'm curious about your guys' names. I mean, Lou, Louie, and Lei. Is there, like, a story there?" I gave him my most charming smile.
And he actually smiled back. A real smile. Teeth and everything. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. "My sister didn't explain already?"
"Oh." Lei was serious again. "We're named after composers."
I didn't know much about music, but it seemed I'd never heard of composers named Lei or Lou.
"They're diminutives," he said, in that subdued voice I was beginning to enjoy. "Louie's short for Ludwig. For Ludwig Beethoven. My sister, well, they named her after Wolfgang Mozart, but shortened it to Wolfe, which quickly became Lou."
Loup. That was Wolfe in French. Lorraine was part French. That explained it.
"I was named after Wagner."
I searched his heartbreaking face. "I'm not sure I understand."
"Richard Wilhelm Wagner. You know him?"
"The, uh -- hmm. Not sure."
"Yeah, him." Lei smiled a little. "It doesn't matter. My name's Wilhelm." He held my eyes with his. "And they call me Lei."
I drew in a short breath. "That's cool," I said, lamely. It wasn't cool. It was fascinating.
He climbed in his car and gave me a kind and charming look. "Micah's a nice name, by the way. It suits you well." He shut his door before I could reply and I heard the engine rev.
I stood in the street, flushed and enraptured. Wilhelm Knight. Man, who was this guy?