Life After Lockup

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CHAPTER 13

Chapter 13

Lillie


I was more confused between Dimitri and Arthur than ever.

It’s been almost a week since our kiss, that I shouldn't have let happen. Dimitri and I didn’t take things any further, it all seems that I would never take things further with either guys. I kept things casual between us after that, I guess I distanced myself, remembering Roxanne calling him.

To be honest I wasn’t sure if things had really ended between her and Dimitri, Roxanne made it quite clear things hadn’t. I decided it would be best to not be romantic with him, it would just complicate things.

I remembered his kiss, it was desperate and fiery, completely searing that set my body on fire. He was rough and demanding, grabbing me like he wanted to consume me whole. I knew it was a bad idea to kiss Dimitri, but I couldn’t help it, the tug inside me pulled towards him, a tug that was growing slowly stronger each day. I willed myself to ignore it.

I sighed.

Arthur on the other hand was completely different, soft and gentle, but yet controlled and firm. He was patient and sweet with me. And when he touched me, his warmth melted me into him.

I shook my head, this wasn’t the time to think about Dimitri or Arthur, tonight was the concert, and I was getting ready for it.

***

I arrived at the opera house. It was a huge building in the middle of town, people streamed through and queued outside, it was one of the biggest classical musical events held right here in Ashfield.

I was jittery all day, Dimitri was the whole day at work, which I was thankful for, the constant violin practice would have probably unhinged him. I jogged up to the entrance showed my entrance card to the usher and headed inside.

The opera house looked like it came out of a Renaissance magazine, it had a grand marble staircase leading up to the auditorium, the hall was filled with paintings and sculptures by great European artists of the 19th century. Looking around made the nerves ball up into knots in my stomach. I felt slightly woozy. I fixed the hem of my black dress and tightened my black pantyhose.

With my violin case in hand, I took the grand stairs, my black heels clicking against the cold marble, I took care not to slip. I walked backstage in a huff and flustered from all the excitement.

I scanned the busy area of the backstage; it was filled with bustling people bumping on the right side of me and more pushing on the right. it was completely frantic of coordinators, musicians and orchestra members getting ready for the big show. Trying to catch a break from the crowd of people, I walked to the main stage and peeked through the heavy red velvet curtains.

I’ve been here two days ago for rehearsals, but seeing it tonight felt so alive. Inside the hall was beautiful to the eye, it was laced with gold and deep red trimmings. The stage was big enough for an orchestra, giving the ultimate acoustic experience. The auditorium where the audience sat, were filling up fast. I scanned to see if Sassi and my mom had arrived yet. I took another glance to see if Dimitri was here. I had left him a ticket for the concert, and I wasn’t sure if he’ll pitch up.

A gentle hand jerked me out of my thoughts. I turned to see Arthur’s hand on my shoulder.

“Hey, there you are,” he said beaming. “We’re looking for you, Kenny wants a quick meeting.”

He looked handsome tonight, dark and mysterious in his black shirt and trousers. He golden hair neatly sleeked back.

He took my hand and led the way through the frantic people, earning him a few good stares from women as we passed by. We walked away from the bustle, to a door that said ‘4-string quartet’ written on a white board.

Once inside the small room, I saw Sophia fixing her makeup at the mirror hanging on the wall and Kenny tuning his violin. We all dressed in black, very chic and elegant. Kenny nodded to me, smiling nervously. I could feel the excitement in the room, it made me feel excited too. I decided to stand with Sophia, we both exchanged encouraging words to each other, calming our nerves. I fixed my hair bun and applied more nude lipstick.

Kenny called for all our attention and gave a few words of how proud he was of the three of us, our work ethic and that we sound amazing as a team.

“Break a leg everyone… not literally of course.” Kenny ended his speech.

Sophia and I gave a giggle.

My phone beeped, I checked it and saw a message from Dimitri.

You’ll do great. You’re going to be amazing, don’t sweat it!

My heart skipped a beat, and I smiled at his words, but a pang in me struck. That means he wasn’t coming to see me perform. My smile quickly vanished, and I felt slightly deflated. Arthur placed his hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear.

“Are you ready Lillie?” He asked.

I looked into his warm eyes, bright with excitement. “As I’ll ever be,” I replied.

“Good, just relax, and play as we practiced,” he continued, a sexy smirk crossing his face.

I blushed and nodded.

We all sat backstage waiting for our turn to play. The orchestra was up first, and we were third in line to play after the violin solo of some Russian dude.

We sat in steel chair seats. I kept on tuning my violin out of nerves and my left knee kept on bouncing. Arthur was next to me, I felt his leg against mine, and his hand slip on my bouncing knee easing it. I melted in his tender touch, it felt warm. It was nice to share this moment with him on stage. It set my heart a light.

The final moment had come, so many months of hard work was about to pay off. It was our turn next. Kenny gave us all a firm nod. We walked out on the massive stage with a sold-out auditorium, a sea of faces staring at us as they lightly applauded our arrival. The four of us took our seats in a semi-circle with our instruments. I quickly glanced to the third row of seats in the audience. I saw Sassi and my mother sitting side by side. My mother smiled at me and Sassi gave two thumbs up. I suppressed a smile, the seat behind them remained empty, where Dimitri was to sit.

We started to play, we played our first piece Allegro by Johannes van Bree, then our second piece by Alexander Borodin and finally our last piece by Beethoven string quartet No. 14. Each piece we played lasted 15 minutes, the notes flowed beautifully as we got lost in the music.

The graceful music resonated throughout the auditorium with a heeding audience. At the end of the last high note, we were met with a loud applause, the four of us stood side by side as we bowed together.

I looked up to see my mother beaming and Sassi clapping like crazy, but my eye caught behind them. There sat Dimitri applauding with the crowd, a soft smile on his face as he looked at me. His eyes connected with mine for a moment, and tears stung my eyes with surprise and delight.

After the show and hugs from Kenny and Sophia, we decided we should let loose and celebrate. I rushed from backstage to meet my mum and Sassi at the entrance. Sassi rushed towards me first, wrapping her arms around me in a tight embrace, my mother came up next.

“Congratulations Lil!” Sassi said grinning, “That was awesome!”

“Congratulations sweetie,” my mum cooed.

I was all smiles and glad for the show to end. I glanced around to see Dimitri standing against a marble pillar, watching me from a short distance. I waved for him to come over where we were standing.

I watched him hesitantly approach, he held something behind his back, a pink gift bag or some sort. I squinted to see properly, but Dimitri concealed it. He walked slowly up, my mom and Sassi was still talking about how great the concert was, but my eyes were fixed on Dimitri. He came up, standing right behind Sassi and my mom, he caught my mom’s eye. She turned and looked at him apprehensively, not knowing who this stranger looking at me was.

I saw Sassi turn next and noticed Dimitri, but immediately turned away and rolled her eyes, looking at me.

I gave her a pointed stare.

“Mom…” grabbing my mom’s attention. “I would like you to meet Dimitri, he’s a friend of mine,” I said smiling at him.

My mother looked at Dimitri and then to me.

“Oh… Hi,” she said to him, with a strained fake voice. Clearly not about to shake his hand. Dimitri politely nodded, both his hands behind his back. She looked at Dimitri’s rough exterior up and down and turned to me. My heart ached for my mother’s cold reception.

Sassi folded her arms, pursing her lips, mouthing “You invited him,” to me. I rolled my eyes and shook her words away.

“So where did you guys meet?” my mom asked me, glancing between Dimitri and I.

I froze for a moment, thinking of something to say.

Sassi gave a haughty smile seizing an opportunity, “Yeah Lil… where DID you guys meet? She said slyly.

I narrowed my eyes at her and elbowed her for good measure. She shrieked.

I was about to say something when Arthur joined us. He wrapped his arm lightly around my waist, I stood motionless, my eyes immediately looked at Dimitri’s heavy gaze on Arthur’s hand around me.

I gulped and felt suddenly hot under the collar.

“Evening all,” Arthur said smoothly.

Sassi smiled. “Aaaawh you must be the mysterious Arthur, Lillie’s being raving about,” she said with a wink.

Arthur smiled coyly.

“You can thank me for your first date you know Arthur… I had a hand in it… Literally.” Sassi continued.

I gave a forced laugh, nudging Sassi again.

My mother’s eyes shone bright. “Arthur nice to meet you. I’m Lillie’s mom, Judy… You played wonderfully up on stage,” she said grinning.

Arthur shook my mother’s hand. “Thank you, but your daughter stole the show,” he said looking at me.

I gave a nervous giggle, looking at Dimitri, his face changing at every second. I felt a pit forming in my stomach.

Arthur glanced at Dimitri, without saying anything. Dimitri looked right back at him. And I felt heat creep up to my face now. Arthur gave a nod giving a tight smile at Dimitri, Dimitri just stared at Arthur expressionless. And I felt like the earth can open and swallow me whole.

Sassi as usual noticed the exchange between the two men, I didn’t even want to know what she was thinking right now. I fanned myself with the concerts programme leaflet, it was way too hot in here.

“Well, we should be going out to celebrate with the others,” I told Arthur, “You all are welcome to come,” I said, looking at everyone.

“Yes please,” Arthur agreed.

He came close and whispered in my ear. “See you later,” he excused himself and went to Kenny and Sophia, not before giving Dimitri one last glance.

Sassi said she couldn’t come, she had something early to do the next morning and my mom said she’s too tired. Dimitri was no longer standing next to me, I scanned around and saw him walk out the door, with his hands in his pockets. I said my goodbyes to Sassi and my mom in a rush trying to catch Dimitri before he left.

I jogged towards him, but he slowed down his pace for me to catch up.

He turned and smiled softly. “You were incredible out there on stage,” he said, admiration in his eyes. His eyes were soft under the moonlight. I felt the urge to hug him and hold him. He seemed down.

“Thank you, and thanks for being here,” I said.

He sighed. “I’ll be anywhere for you Lillie.” My heart dropped. “You should enjoy tonight.”

I nodded.

“You’ll be okay?” I asked.

“I’m always okay,” he said and walked away.

I watched him leave. An ache set in my body, a tug towards him that pulled again. I turned around slowly to leave. I walked past a trash bin and recognized the pink gift bag that Dimitri had held in his hands earlier. I picked it up and looked inside. It was beautiful white flowers, it looked like lilies.

If my heart dropped earlier, it sunk now.

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