Lunch with Emma and Dad on Saturday noon was quiet. None of us talked more than a few words, and when we got to the main course, I realized it was because of me. Again, something I’d done displeased them.
Being the dutiful daughter that I was, I folded my arms and look at my father. “Spill it.”
He gave me a warning look I ignored. “Spill what?”
“You’re mad at me. Why?” I didn’t actually care. I was just curious.
Emma gave me an incredulous look, like I was the clueless one. “Avery has been meaning to get closer to Holden,” she said out of the blue, “and you just stole him away from her.”
Now I got it. “What makes you think I stole him?” I asked, although technically I didn’t really steal him. Avery was more than welcome to share him with me. Not my fault she hadn’t made a move first. Also not my fault Wayne wanted to have sex with me.
“Don’t act dumb, Blair,” Dad said, drawing my eyes back to him. “You had sex with the guy. And we all saw how he looked at you.”
“You want the juicy details, that what it is about,” I summed it up, glared at them both. “We rekindled the hook up of two years ago and now we’re having constant sex. Happy?”
Emma visibly turned green and Dad reddened with fuming anger. “Avery called dibs on him!” Emma said, looking at me as though she didn’t know me. And she really didn’t. “You shouldn’t have let him any closer!”
“I don’t give a shit about Avery,” I told her with utmost sincerity, “she’s your friend, not mine. If she wanted him, she should’ve made him notice her.” Or something. I was really the last person to give advises like that.
“Holden is not for you,” my father said, hands curling into fists, eye flashing with barely contained anger. “He’s too good to stoop as low as dating you. Cut it off with him now.”
I looked at him with an arched eyebrow. “We’re not dating. We’re fucking. There’s a difference. And, you can’t tell me what to do.” I gave him my meaningful evil smile that made his body shake with rage. “I’ll fuck whoever I want, date whoever I want, and neither you, Emma, or the rest of the world has any say in it. Because when I did listen to you, you know how it ended.” I rose from my seat. “I think that’s enough for now. I don’t think I can act as civilized as you prefer me acting right now. Thanks for the meal.”
Leaving the restaurant, I returned home, not once looking back. Short spikes of anger pulsed in my head, making me want to break something.
Sometimes I couldn’t believe my family. They were such a bunch of assholes, it was a wonder they still had friends and relationships. If I were in Scarlet’s place, about to marry a man who’d abandoned his daughter in all the ways that counted, I would’ve run the hell out of there as fast as I could. But no one was as sensible as I was. Also, I would never let any relationship I’d have to reach this level of commitment.
Like kids, marriage was not in the cards for me.
When I arrived home, I rummaged through my sheet music library and found the piece I wanted to play. Putting on the sheet stand, I slid into the piano chair and began playing. It was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, a simple piece with a lot of emotion behind it.
I might be humanely broken, but when I played the piano, I transformed. I didn’t feel cold and distant when playing the piano. I didn’t feel empty and hollow inside. Of course, I didn’t reach oblivion when I played, but I did manage to gather some peace from it. Maybe even contentment. When I played pieced like Moonlight Sonata, I found myself pouring emotions into the keys, into the way I pressed and lifted my foot on and off the pedal.
Wayne had been partially right; I was fundamentally different. But when it came to music, to playing the piano like this, it was another form of coming life for me. Not as passionate or hot as foreplay and sex, but gentle, heavy, and no less intense.
Just when I pressed the last note of the piece, there was a knock on the door. Sliding off the chair, I walked to the door and opened it. Wayne stood there with a somber expression, his eyes an intense silver. When those silver eyes met mine, my heart skipped a beat for an unfathomable reason.
Then I realized. “You were standing here, waiting for me to finish the piece.”
He didn’t reply as he moved past me into the apartment. Sighing, I closed the door and turned to see him shoving a hand through his messy hair. He wore casual clothes today, with simple jeans and black jersey. He looked good like that, his biceps on display and his broad shoulders seeming even broader. But then he took out a pack of cigarettes and draw one. He turned to me. “Join me?”
I led him to the small balcony near the living room and took a cigarette when he offered me one. He lit mine, then his, and we inhaled together. I hadn’t smoked since high-school, but I didn’t forget the mechanism. It also tasted like shit. “Why Marlboro Lite?”
He shrugged non-responsively.
We smoked in silence until both of us threw the stubs down to the quiet street. Then, before I could ask what he was doing here, he grabbed me around my waist and kissed me. It was a short, furious kiss and when it was over, I was left a little breathless. “Wanna play together?” he asked then, and I blinked at him in surprise.
Then I understood. “Play the piano together? I had no idea you played.”
His hand, seemingly subconsciously, flew to my face, cupping it, his thumb caressing my cheek. “Come on,” he said lowly, “I want to improvise with you.”
I studied his eyes. They were more intense than before, seeming to probe right into my very soul. He was in a mood, that was for sure, and I had no idea why he thought I could relieve this mood for him. I was not the kind of woman who could put someone at east, that was for sure.
Whatever was going on with him, I let it slide and took him to the piano room. He grabbed an additional chair so he was sitting on the left side of the keyboard and I took the right. His fingers, I saw when he placed his hands on the keys, were long and enviable. Mine were short, and I managed to make them agile and flexible only because I’d trained like crazy when I was young. He could probably surpass octaves with ease. And that made me scowl a little.
Not knowing what he expected of me, I decided to just improvise as he wanted me to. I began playing some melody in A minor, and for my surprise, he joined me. I realized what he wanted me to do when he began playing what sounded more like the accompaniment then the main lead, and I began focusing only on the melody. As I played the melody and he harmonized it much more skillfully than I’d thought he could, I decided to shoot up the toughness level a notch.
Grinning inwardly, I made an unexpected transposition, taking the improvisation from A minor to a sudden, disconnected D sharp minor. I wanted him to miss a beat or be taken aback by my sudden change, but for my annoyance, he kept up with me, changing his accompaniment to fit me almost like a glove.
Scowling now, I tried to trap him once more by quickening the improvisation’s pace and turning it suddenly happy and dance-ish, from the slow, content vibe I’d given it at the beginning. Yet Wayne wasn’t fooled, and he kept up with me so smoothly, it was like he’d heard this improvisation before and knew exactly how to fit himself in.
Truly annoyed, I decided to do another transposition to F major and turn the melody into a much more virtuous one than it was before. I started letting my fingers slide up and down, Rachmaninoff style, and I could see that Wayne was still keeping up, even though this time it seemed like he was trying more. It wasn’t satisfactory, but it was better than him doing it so easily.
Finally, we hit the last, final chord together, and I was almost shocked that we’d pressed it exactly at the same time. Like he’d anticipated the chord already and knew how much I would wait before hitting it with all of my might.
Once our hands were off the keyboard, I whipped my head toward him. “Are you a mind reader?”
“No,” he gave me a lazy grin. “I just never mentioned to you that I’m an award-winning pianist.”
“Fuck you,” I said, irked, “so what? You’re both a director and a pianist? Bullshit.”
“Piano is my hobby,” he said, “directing is my job. There’s a difference here.”
Of course there was. “I’m not stupid, Holden. So don’t talk to me like my brain is made of gummy bears.”
His face darkened, eye turning an intense shade of dark gray, with a ring of silvery fire around the pupils. “I’ve never thought you to be stupid, Blair. So stop assuming shit and jump into conclusions.”
“I don’t like you,” I said right to his face, my eyes not wavering from his, “you’re being an arrogant, condescending asshat. Piano is my thing. You don’t get to come and steal my only talent away from me.”
“Possessive little thing, aren’t you?” he said mockingly, leaning forward. I fought the urge to cringe. “Piano is not individually yours. It’s mine, too. Pianists from all over the world own it as well. You can’t call dibs on it.”
Something ugly burned inside my chest at his words and I found myself glowering at him like I’d never before glowered. “Piano is mine,” I said in a low, dangerous voice I barely recognized about myself. Heat overflowed my skin, but it was different than arousal. This heat was coming straight from my chest. “It is my hobby, my thing. You don’t get to take it away from me. It’s mine!” I was yelling. “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine!”
I had no idea why, but I started hitting him. Like seriously throwing punched at him. My hands never made a contact with his body, however, because he caught my wrists in his hands almost effortlessly, which infuriated me. Suddenly I realized what was going on. I was furious, enraged like I’d never been before.
As though dealing with a rabid animal, Wayne rose and dragged me after him, out of the piano room. I seethed and tried to scratch him but in vain. He was stronger than me, his hold absolute. Fuck.
He pushed me onto my bed when we reached my bedroom and before I could scamper away, he pinned my hands to the sheets, put his body between my legs, and looked at me with flat eyes. “I’m going to fuck you know,” he said, “and you’re going to let me.”
I spat at him. My spit reached his cheek. Then I thrashed in his hold, but he didn’t let me go.
“I’m going to go with a hunch here, but I think it’s been a long time since you’ve been truly angry,” he said, looking down at me, “and you don’t know how to deal with it, how to let yourself express it to the fullest. You have an outlet, though. Channel it to sex. Believe me,” he suddenly grinned, “angry sex is the best.”
I spat at him again but this time he evaded my spit. Then he was kissing me, and I was kissing him back, and my hands were suddenly free as his wrapped around my body, pressing me close, and I put mine through his hair, scratching his scalp. Clothes came off almost immediately, and then he was on his back, me straddling his shaft, and he let me do the fucking, to blow of the steam.
As I rode him, I scratched his chest. As I exerted all my anger, I let him simply be there for me to hurt. I found myself slapping him during the time I rode him, but he didn’t even react. He also didn’t react when I bit his lower lip so hard I created a bruise, making him bleed.
He just let me put everything I had into this intercourse. And while this time oblivion came in a short, furious flash, it was still worth it.
Once we both came, I lay next to him, barely breathing, and stared at the ceiling, amazed by myself. The last time I’d been somewhat angry was two years ago. But it wasn’t like this anger. It hadn’t been like this.
I looked at Wayne, then, and saw him watching me back. “Welcome back, Cleo,” he said, smiling suddenly, and put his lips on my forehead, giving me a soft, somewhat comforting kiss.