Blood Flesh Bone Trilogoy(9)

By: Juliet Vane

Kirsten wheeled away. “See you, Mariella,” she said.

She didn’t say goodbye to me.

Chapter Five

Threats and Missteps

The days at Rosebud were structured with faculty masterclasses or group lessons in the mornings. In the afternoons, each student had an individual lesson and the rest of the afternoon was for down time.

The first day passed in a haze. Before lunch, we attended a small concert put on by the summer’s permanent faculty, including Harrison. I sat by myself, already worried that I was getting too involved with the other students. I couldn’t afford to be pulled into drama of any kind.

Kirsten sat at the end of one row, next to Mariella, Karl, and Tyler. I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of her before. Of course she wanted to find the necklace, and of course I should help her do it. I didn’t have many of Chloe’s things, but I’d brought a couple of her books and an elephant figurine with me, wanting to keep her spirit close, at least in my mind. If something happened to one of her things, I’d be devastated.

After the concert, Kirsten wheeled out of the room before I could catch up with her. I headed upstairs to do some reading for my English summer school class, then I headed to one of the rooms downstairs. I had to walk by several portraits of people wearing clothing from decades past, and I wondered which one was supposed to be the headmaster from the creepy story.

With each key I pressed, I felt even more like an imposter. What was I doing at this elite school? Karl played two instruments, and several of the other students were looking forward to careers as soloists or members of world-famous orchestras. I didn’t even know what I wanted; I was here for Chloe.

After two hours of uninspired practice at the piano, I left the room, walking past those portraits to get to the dining room. I filled up a tray with hot food from the buffet-style set-up. When I turned around, I saw Kirsten, Mariella, Tyler, and Karl all sitting at a table. Tyler waved me over, a smile on his face. I couldn’t help but smile back as I hurried over.

“Hey, everyone.” I nodded at Karl—instead of individual lessons today, we’d attended a piano masterclass after lunch. Harrison had performed Liszt’s Un Sospiro, then attacked isolated passages, slowing them down and inviting us to critique form and interpretation.

There was a seat next to Tyler, so I took it. His hand grazed my upper back as he helped push in my chair. Shivers of hot and cold blossomed through my body. I hoped I wasn’t blushing, but I must have been, if Mariella’s smirk was anything to go by.

Just as I speared a piece of asparagus, Kirsten said, “Lissa, have you thought more about asking around about my necklace? Mariella’s going to help.”

“Sorry about hesitating before,” I said. “Yes, I’ll help, so just tell me what to—”

“Sorry,” a female voice said from behind me, “but I couldn’t help overhearing.”

I turned halfway around so I could see the speaker, Natalie Frost. She continued, “I don’t think you should get involved in the prank. I’ve already notified local police and if they’re able, they’ll take reports. And if I must, I will search everyone’s rooms.”

“You can’t do that,” Karl said. “My father’s a lawyer, and I’m pretty sure the search would be illegal.”

“I won’t be prosecuting anyone,” Natalie said. “Although the culprit would likely be dismissed from Rosebud.”

Everyone, I was sure, had worked hard and paid a lot of money to be a part of the festival. Risking it for a dumb prank was beyond idiotic. So why would anyone do it?

“At any rate,” Natalie said, “I want all of you to do what you came here for—focus on your music. Never lose sight of that. These petty dramas will sort themselves out. Just practice, play, and focus.”

She whisked away on her heels. I turned to face Kirsten. “She might be right, you know.”

“You know more than anyone else how important that necklace is to me,” Kirsten said. “You won’t even talk to the other pianists?”

“Sure, I’ll talk to them,” I said. “I just don’t know that it’s going to help.”