Blood Flesh Bone Trilogoy(10)

By: Juliet Vane


“Forget it. I don’t want that kind of help.” Her cheeks blotchy with anger, Kirsten grabbed her tray, pushed herself back from the table, and left.

I winced and said to everyone, “I’ll be right back.”

“No, let her go,” Tyler said.

Mariella and Karl both nodded.

“She gets angry fast,” Karl explained, “but she’ll mellow out on her own.”

I stared out the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, but she was long gone.





Chapter Six





Theories


I slept like the dead on Monday night, but before I got in bed, I’d made sure my door was firmly locked.

The world outside my window was bathed in moonlight, which gave the lake an eerie glow. I gazed at the silver-blue landscape, the swaying pine trees. Beautiful, yet forbidding at the same time.

When I slept, I dreamed of vials of blood, floating in the lake water.

I shuffled into the next morning’s session after breakfast. A portion of our visiting faculty played as a string quartet. As I listened to the chamber music, the phrases, melodies, and counter-melodies washed over me.

Death and the Maiden, by Franz Schubert. He’d composed it after an illness, when he’d realized that he would die. The second movement, for which the quartet had been named, always gave me chills. It was inspired by some old poem, and the theme was about how scary death was, and also how comforting. Funny—I’d only witnessed the sad and angry parts. No fear, no comfort.

I had to escape thoughts of Chloe’s death, so instead I thought about what this room would have looked like in the 1950s, the last time Rosebud functioned as a school. Surely the little stage wouldn’t have been here. The room would have been full of teenage girls, not a small group of college students.

It would have been deathly quiet during classes, I imagined.

I wondered immediately where the thought had come from—because really, any classroom is bound to have some conversation, right? Even if it’s just the teacher’s voice, lecturing about the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

But in my imagination, the students were silent, watchful. Heads bent over books, the teacher unspeaking at the front of the room, his mouth a grim line.

Someone nudged my knee, and I sat up with a start. Tyler half-turned in his seat in front of me. “Hey, you okay?” he whispered.

“Yeah.” I couldn’t help my smile.

“The cellist rocks.” He nodded to the low platform.

“Don’t cellists always rock?” I asked. My face immediately heated. What was I doing, flirting with this guy?

But instead of turning to face the front, he grinned, then quickly scooted back to sit in one of the empty chairs next to me. Natalie Frost, who sat near the door, glowered at him.

“We can’t talk,” I muttered from the side of my mouth.

“Not interested in talking,” he whispered. “Give me your hand.”

I gave him my hand, and he began massaging it. I could have moaned loudly right there, but I stopped myself. A massage for a pianist was like...I couldn’t even think of a word. My brain had turned to mush. It felt so amazingly good after the hours of practice I’d put in yesterday. My hands were sore. If I’d been more serious about piano, I would have been practicing for hours every day leading up to Rosebud, but I hadn’t been serious. I’d goofed off, and it had nearly kept me from following this dream.

Now, though, a hot guy was showing me mercy, giving me an incredible gift.

I was in way over my head.

No, no more thinking. I just had to enjoy this, enjoy Tyler’s calloused fingertips working the muscle and bone of my hands. He set down my right hand and grabbed my left. I melted into my chair as his skillful fingers worked that hand as well.

The music stopped, started again. Stopped again, as one of the faculty stood up to explain that something in the phrasing wasn’t working for any of them. They droned on, discussing it together, troubleshooting, explaining what other steps they could be taking as a group.

Finally, they stopped talking and resumed the piece. They were right—now it flowed effortlessly. I couldn’t detect any hesitance in it.

Tyler stopped massaging, but he didn’t let me go. I looked over at him, but he stared straight ahead with those bright green eyes of his, a small smile on his face. He absentmindedly rubbed his thumb over the top of my hand. It felt nice—great, even—but what was I doing? I couldn’t afford to get sidetracked. I had goals. I had to fit in here, work on becoming the best pianist I could be. Fooling around with another musician had no place in my plans.