Edward loves three things in life: His wife, his family, and his music. When the last of the three is in question, Bella cannot imagine a more superior being to exist. But when the master among pianists appears at their doorstep, Bella can only observe in awe as Edward is tutored by this grandiose, though slightly eccentric vampire. Music has never seemed so complicated before. Yet: Are musical notes really all this man weaves together, or is there something more involved? Something... Romanian?
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12. The Hens
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 2058 Review this Chapter
Nessie entertained herself by twitching her finger.
Her abductor's eyes instantly flew to the movement and narrowed. His body perceptibly tensed up, as if waiting for her to get up and flee. Nessie clamped her lips together, trying not to laugh.
She twitched the finger on her left hand. The eyes pounced on it.
The thumb of her right hand. Another pounce.
Nessie fastened the pace. The stretch between the twitches grew shorter and shorter at the same time as the eyes moved faster and faster, rolling from left to right in a comical manner. Again, Nessie had to stifle her laughter. But it was difficult, and soon a giggle did escape her lips.
The eyes now jumped to her face. A sheepish look took over Nessie's features.
"Sorry," she murmured, still half smiling about the abstract game of ping-pong.
It wasn't that she felt no fear; on the contrary, Nessie was petrified about what would happen to her, and above all by what would happen to her family. But she was young, and young people got bored easily. And since she'd been confined to the dirty couch for quite some time now, even the fear was overpowered by her boredom.
The abductor's eyes stayed glued to her face – or, more specifically, to the mouth that had moved – while the rest of his body stood rigidly before the couch. Nessie wondered whether he was getting fed up as well.
But then something new happened.
The novelty of the event made them both freeze for a long moment before either of them realized that the buzzing object was a phone that was hidden in the abductor's pocket. While a surge of hope flared up in Nessie's chest, the man responded with an instantly wary look and tensed his muscles even more. But the buzzing was so loud and irritating that he couldn't ignore it. Slowly and suspiciously, the illusionist drew the cell phone out of the front pocket of his burgundy coat.
Not even casting his eyes down to check the caller ID, he flipped the phone open and said: "Yes?"
Holding her breath, Nessie watched the man's expression change from wary to surprised.
"Y-yes, sir, I heard you. You aren't serious, though, are you? Y-you…"
Nessie strained her ears, trying to catch what the caller was saying. But the person on the other end of the line spoke too quietly, and the words were mush by the time they reached her ears. All she could make out was that it was a man and that he was not happy.
"But sir! You can't expect me to throw hours of work to waste simply because you feel offended by some…"
A loud wave of word pulp exploded from the tiny speakers of the phone. The abductor was silenced at once. When he spoke again, he used a markedly more respectful tone.
"I… yes, I know, I suppose I understand, sir… B-but I do expect my payment to not be altered by this change of plan, you do see that, right? I did my job perfectly… Yes, yes, thank you. I appreciate it. I'll… uh… see to it. Thank you, yes, goodbye."
The illusionist put down the phone.
Carefully, so as not to upset or anger her captor, Nessie asked: "What is it?"
The hawk's eyes let Nessie go and gestured towards the door.
"You may leave."
The words made no sense to Nessie and she failed to react.
"Go!" The man was shouting as he grabbed one of her arms, dragging her towards the door. He opened it rashly and pushed the astonished girl out.
Before she had the time to turn around, the door swung shut behind her. The angry thud echoed through the forest.
Regaining herself, Nessie quickly detached herself from the door in case the illusionist would change his mind. But she took no more than some twenty steps before she halted, her mind still swirling with confusion.
She gazed out through the trees.
And in all that confusion, fear, and surprise, panic spread across her body.
"…But I don't know where I am!" she said to herself faintly.
Edward smirked at the pianist as he continued to applaud him.
Vladimir and Stefan were obviously confused and did not know what to say or to do, and though they did not understand anything or see why the concerto had been so beautiful, soon joined in on the applauding.
"Bravo, Edward, bravo," Gerasymenko said, and gave him a barely noticeable nod. Edward's smirk widened as he glanced at me with new fervor in his eyes.
"Yes, yes, it was a great performance," Vladimir articulated, obviously annoyed, "but it's time for us to leave, no? This wasting of time is making me jittery."
But despite his words Vladimir stood up gracefully with a self-confident smile on his lips. Edward reacted by jumping to his feet too, as did Alice and I. Only Gerasymenko stayed seated, another annoyed look spreading over his features.
"If you'd excuse me," he said, straightening his back, "I have an important telephone call to make."
The Romanians' mood shifted from assured to chary in an instant. "You will not be making any calls now, Gerasymenko. It's time to go," Stefan quietly threatened him. I was shocked by their mistrust – weren't they supposed to be oblivious to this all?
"It will just take minute, gentlemen," Gerasymenko argued and, ignoring their protests, got up from his seat and stepped outside. Soon his footsteps were lost in the forest noises.
Worried again, I glanced at Alice and Edward, but to my surprise both their faces were lit up. I took a deep breath; whatever the pianist was doing, it had to be a good thing. Renesmee's image filled my head and I suddenly felt faint, like a human who hadn't eaten in days.
Vladimir grumbled and exasperatedly threw his arms in the air. "That idiot will be the death of me, I swear…"
It took a few minutes for the pianist to come back, and during that time we all grew more and more anxious, with the exception of Edward who only seemed to light up more and more. Soon he looked so happy that he could almost hum from pleasure. I, on the other hand, started to worry that the Romanians would notice that something was wrong.
Vladimir, who had been looking out disdainfully into the forest through a spotless window, turned to the pianist with cagey eyes. "I hope that phone call was worth it, Professor, because you have just wasted precious three minutes of our time."
The professor ignored his input and turned to Edward instead. "You have informed your family, I hope," he said, seemingly offhandedly, though I could sense a trace of hidden meaning behind his words. "We will need all the support we can get."
For the first time since I'd met him, the pianist actually sounded sane to my ears. Edward, whose restraint was not as great as the pianist's, though exponentially greater than mine, raised his eyebrows a fraction of an inch. "I will not involve them in this," he answered resolutely.
"For God's sake!" Stefan cried out. "This is a circus. It seems to me, little child, that you are forgetting who is in charge."
Edward just stared at him coolly, that slight complacency still brightening his otherwise hostile features.
"However, we don't have time to waste. You can call them on the way to the airport. They can join us later." Vladimir's mouth twisted into an ominously happy smile. "We will leave for Romania soon!"
The car ride was cold, if not icy – very much like on the way to the professor's. I was relieved to see the awful house disappearing in the distance, but that brief liberation was stifled by the thought of what lay ahead. The car was heading to the airport, and there a plane was scheduled to leave for Romania. The big question was: would we get that far?
Not for the first time during that dire day, I felt miserably left out. Both Edward and Alice remained dead silent, but by their grave and expectant faces I could tell something was happening – something I couldn't hear or see. They had some master plan, that much I could tell. But how was I supposed to help if I had no more of a clue than the Romanians?
I suddenly found myself worrying if I'd have to fly all the way to Romania to find out. I didn't want to, but of course nobody was asking me. Whether Nessie was freed or not, I had no desire to put any additional miles between us. My heart ached enough as it was.
"Edward?" I began in a whisper, but Edward's warning look cut me off. I was sandwiched between Alice and Edward in the backseat and was starting to feel claustrophobic in the packed space of the tiny Smart. Vladimir and Stefan were in the front. The latter was clearly the more mistrusting of the two; he kept glancing over his shoulder every few minutes or so and never seemed to relax, whereas Vladimir's grip on the wheel was untroubled. Alice gestured towards them with her eyes. Her message was clear: Not now, or they'll hear.
Exasperated, I slouched down on my seat. I needed to be filled in or my head would explode, let alone my heart.
"Gerasymenko! Where is he?" Stephan suddenly exclaimed, twirling around in his seat to look out the back window. His face was a mask of disquiet.
"Relax. He's right behind the curve."
And indeed the black car soon did appear at the bend with Gerasymenko looking absolutely unruffled behind the windscreen.
"See? Don't be so panicky, please. You are embarrassing me," Vladimir chided, making a minute gesture towards us. Stefan turned back to the front, but, from what I could tell from his neck muscles, did not calm down.
Another few minutes passed. Another few hundred worries flashed through my mind.
"What – Gerasymenko!" Stefan suddenly called out again after another glance to the back. "Now he's really gone, Vladimir. Stop the car."
Vladimir groaned quietly and was about to respond when he, too, turned his eyes to the side mirror. From the angle I was in I could see his eyes widen and ignite.
The car screeched to a sudden stop.
"What are you waiting for, idiot? Go find him now," he growled and locked the back doors with one press on a button.
Vladislav Gerasymenko was heavily disappointed by the Romanians.
Were their minds too preoccupied to think? It shouldn't have been so easy to slip away from them, not with the knowledge they possessed. They knew Gerasymenko was working together with an illusionist. They knew he had already mistrusted them on several occasions. They had seen him make a phone call. So why couldn't they count one and one together? It was simple mathematics.
Shaking his head, Gerasymenko slammed the door of his sleek, black car shut. He would never stop wondering about people's inanity, he thought, but he was not going to be the one to teach them. The hens could keep clucking in their pen.
It seemed to the eye that the forest in front of him stretched out to no end, but Gerasymenko knew better. No dismal forest could ever rival the thick woodlands of his home town. There were few human memories that had persisted – the pianist was not one for sentimentality – but there were a few that had permanently impressed themselves in his mind. Every one of them took place in the large forest beside his grandparents' house. They had been his muse for several of his master pieces. The thin undergrowth of this forest looked half dead in comparison to the profuse vegetation of his youth home.
The fineness was of advantage now, however. Gerasymenko could soon discern a small hut sitting among dead branches and leaves. As he drew closer, the first sounds reached his ears.
They were the sounds of struggle.
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