The Emotions Game

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Chapter Thirteen~Sforzando: Incapable vs. Prodigy

To have your heart stuck in the past but your mind to the future can make the present a difficult choice.

Pushing past other contestants Ella kept a lookout for Nate. This was one of the times that her height wasn’t helping, she could barely see over all the other contestants leading to her jumping up and down trying to catch a glimpse of where Nate might be. It was a surprise Ella hadn’t yet fallen with the edges of the dress so low to the ground and so close to others’ feet.

“Come on Nate where’d you go?” Ella mumbled to herself still trying to keep her dress off the ground with her only free hand.

A warm hand pulsed on Ella’s open shoulders.

She didn’t even look before speaking, “Nate we’re up soon come on.”

“Sorry to disappoint Miss. Claire but I’m not Nathan.” A low voice spoke

The older man moved his hand off Ella’s shoulder and toward Ella as if to shake hands. Due to the fact she still needed to find Nate and the slight bit of curiosity she had to who this man was she took his hand in hers and shook it.

“Ella Claire as you apparently know, and who are you exactly? You seem familiar.” Ella politely spoke

The older man tipped his head forward slightly seeming to acknowledge her before answering her question. “I’d rather you didn’t go on stage with Nathan today, it would be for the best.”

Ella’s good hand gave a short twitch in anger. Who did this man think he was to tell her what to do! He wasn’t her father after all.

“Sorry sir but I have made a promise to do the duet with Nate, and we really don’t have much time till our part. If you’ll please excuse me.” Ella didn’t even glance back to the man before restarting her search for Nate. It didn’t take long until she heard, “Ella Claire and Nathan King are up next with their duet piece of ‘River Flows in You’ originally made by pianist Yiruma.”

“Great,” Ella mumbled to herself, she hadn’t even found Nate and she would now have to on stage alone. Grabbing a fistful of her thin intricate dress Ella quickly walked to the stage trying to avoid any clothing mishaps.

She could hear the audience outside clapping slowly. They were probably unimpressed that the next group hadn’t even bothered to show up. Once Ella arrived at the side entrance to the stage she gave herself a once over to make sure she looked alright and slowly tried to walk on to the stage.

Looking at the two brand new white pianos that had been set up right across from each other Ella saw Nate looking over to her from his piano smiling at her. Unconsciously Ella gave a slight smile back while gracefully sitting opposite to him at her piano.

Nate started the slow soft beginning of the song leading for Ella to join in. It was an easy enough song but Ella wasn’t really used to playing a piece with only one hand not to mention that Ella could feel Nate’s eyes on her.

Towards the fast paced end, Ella could feel another set of eyes burning into her skin. Ella felt goosebump rise over her skin and her good hand slipped playing one key off. Only a real piano player would notice her slight screw up.

Ella subconsciously played the final note of the song worry that someone might have noticed her slip up. The roar of applause brought her out of her nervous state making her face the audience.

Looking through the now enormous crowd of people Ella saw the man from earlier, he was right in the front. In his eyes Ella could tell he knew, she messed up.

Slowly walking to the front of the stage Ella hand-in-hand with Nate took a small bow. They both walked with hands clasped together until they reach the end of the stage realizing they were still holding on to each other.

“Nathan, shall you introduce me to your dear partner?”

Ella knew that voice, it was the older man from earlier. Turning to politely greet him she was stopped by Nate.

“Yes, of course, you haven’t met yet. Ella this is Mason Lykes, my father.” Nate spoke gesturing to the man Ella could barely comprehend as Nate’s father.

“Sir.” Ella politely greeted holding her hand out for him to shake. It seemed to her that he was going to play the naive card and pretend to have not met her earlier.

“Miss Ella Claire, your beauty is impeccable.” To Ella it sounded as if he had left the sentence incomplete, to her it sounded as if he was saying although your beauty is impeccable I’ve now seen that you playing isn’t.

“Nate boy why don’t you leave me and Ella to chat,” Mason said without even glancing in Nate’s direction. Ella could tell it was more of an order than a suggestion. Ella peeked in Nate direction to see him looking back and forth between Ella and his father trying to decide if he should- “now Nathan,” Nate slightly nodded to his father before rushing off.

You coward, Ella thought to herself watching Nate’s disappearing form.

“Miss. Claire your performance was, eye-opening.”

Ella wondered if the was a compliment or an insult.

“Thank you, Mr. Lykes.”

“I need to get you alone to truly talk about a most important matter, I believe you know that Nathan is leaving. I have decided to take him right after this Winterfest thing is over, he shall be going to a more prestigious school in France. It would be the best choice, don’t you agree? After all, I know Nathan and I think you know as well as I do he would never leave if something was holding him back.”

“Don’t you mean someone, Mr. Lykes?” Ella sniped back

Without missing a beat, “Yes I do Miss. Claire.”

Running her hand through her hair Ella sighed. She knew that this wasn’t the best school, even she had hopes of transferring to a better arts school sooner or later, and if Nate had the opportunity he should take the chance. Ella had been let down before by important people in her life and she wasn’t about to drag down Nate with her.

“Now please understand I only wish the best for Nathan and this certainly isn’t it, I had only originally used this as another example of lower music school to Nathan I had never meant for him to stay as long as he has.”

Lower music schools? Now that made Ella’s eye twitch a little.

“And if I don’t want to push him away?” Ella asked

“I thought you were a smart girl Ella, I thought you understood. You’ve seen Nate play, how he quickly rose to the top in a blink of an eye. I have heard you were once a genius pianist but now, watching you play next to Nathan it was like watching a prodigy and a beginner. You’ve reached the end, don’t ruin yourself and become an incapable player.”

Ella couldn’t lie there was some truth to the matter even after her hand healed it would take time for it to be back with fluid perfect motions again, and even if her hand wasn’t broken it wasn’t hard to see how much better Nate was than her.

Steadily taking a breath Ella answered, “What should I do to help?”

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