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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3. The Irritation
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1627 Review this Chapter
"I would like to discuss the possibility of purchasing a new piano."
The pianist stood before us, looking just as graceful and superior as on the first day we’d met.
My family was seated on the various couches in the living room, listening politely to what the professor had to say. Edward was standing beside my seat, arms crossed and suddenly very interested in the simple pattern of our light parquet.
"Absolutely," Carlisle began, "But I see no need for us all to be here. Edward can purchase what he wants."
Vladislav Gerasymenko smiled and took a seat on the only empty chair in the room, the pride never leaving his poise.
"Ah, but I thought you were a family, no? Families discuss these things as… well, a family."
I couldn't get my eyes to leave the curve of his lips; the pianist's smile was all but comforting.
Carlisle smiled respectfully at the little joke and answered just as civilly as he had before.
"We are no ordinary family, Professor Gerasymenko."
"Indeed, you are not," the professor answered, still not letting his superiority be shattered, "Well, this meeting appears to be entirely useless. Why don’t we give it some point?"
I tried to exchange a subtle look with the rest of the family, but couldn't meet anyone's eye. The awkward ambiance was visible on each of their faces, though – all were either trying their best to look polite, or letting their frustration flow freely, the latter being particularly clear in Rosalie's case. She hovered near the grand piano, obviously not knowing whether to leave or to stay.
"Certainly. Is there anything you would like to discuss, professor?"
"Oh, nothing in particular. Chit-chat will be fine, Doctor," he answered, looking at all the faces in the room. When he reached the corner Alice was sitting in, another of his daunting smiles spread across his face. "Do you play the piano, Mrs. Cullen?"
Alice smiled back, clearly uncomfortable with being the center of Gerasymenko’s attention. "No, I'm not musical at all. But Rosalie plays quite –"
"Do you have any other hobbies, then? Not musical! Alas, I cannot imagine a life without music, but my opinion is a little biased."
Alice laughed humorlessly and glanced at Edward. The latter raised his shoulders in a shrug.
"Well… I don't really have a hobby. I do whatever I feel like doing."
Gerasymenko nodded aloofly and turned his gaze to me.
"And you, Mrs. Cullen? A woman with such a talented husband must be interested in music, as well."
I tried to ignore the gleam in his eyes as I answered.
"Actually, I don't know anything about music. My daughter, on the other hand, is turning out to be just as musical as her father. She started playing the violin a few years back."
The minute the words left my mouth, I regretted involving Nessie in the conversation. Some odd instinct was warning me about the peculiar vampire in our living room – an instinct that told me to grab my husband and daughter and run…
But, in some odd burst of my usually not-so-existent luck, Vladislav Gerasymenko seemed uncaring about the most interesting creature in the room.
"Ah, that is a shame. Your husband does not give you lessons?"
"He’' only waste his time," I responded, smiling the best I could.
The professor never broke his probing gaze. "Fortunately, time is something we all possess, do we not?"
I couldn’t think of anything to say to that, and let the polite smile freeze on my face.
The way he was looking at me made chills run down my spine. Not only was his prying gaze highly distressing, but also the way his eyes flashed whenever I tried to pull mine away from his face.
I was transfixed.
The air grew more and more awkward with each second, and soon I could almost hear everyone cursing Edward in their heads. He did come to the rescue eventually, but was obviously still unsure of what to say to his teacher.
He laid a hand on my shoulder and sat down beside me. "That's one advantage of eternity, I suppose, Sir. But our days contain enough entertainment for now – my wife would certainly not have the concentration to sit down for an hour to learn something new."
I let his comment slide, solely glad that I could finally tear my eyes away from the intimidating vampire.
Vladislav Gerasymenko reluctantly turned back to his pupil and stood up.
"May I be allowed to prove that for myself? Give me one hour alone with your wife, and I promise she will be able to play just as well as your blond sister."
Rosalie stormed out of the room.
"Well…" Edward turned to me questioningly.
I projected all my panic into my features, trying to open my mind so he could read just how little I wanted this. No piano lessons, no hour alone with that man…
"Splendid. Will you meet me next week, Mrs. Isabella? I will need to prepare my lesson."
"I'm not sure I –"
"Mrs. Alice, I would love for you to join us, as well. Perhaps I can get you interested in a new hobby."
Alice and I exchanged a panicked look.
"Professor, we –"
"Ah, already so late?" the professor continued, "Time still is precious for those who have unlimited reserves of it. My new symphony is waiting for me at home. Remember to practice, Edward. And purchase that new piano. This old one is quite useless."
And without another glance back, Vladislav Gerasymenko left the building.
I didn't even bother to wait for him to get out of hearing range.
"Edward! How can you just stand there while Alice and I are desperately trying to decline his offer? It's not like you to maroon your wife and sister when they're in trouble! What is wrong with you?"
Edward knelt down in front of me and took my hand between his. He furrowed his brows pleadingly.
"I know, I know. I'm terribly sorry. I just… couldn't anger him that way. Professor Gerasymenko is very proud when it comes to music, and your seeming indifference aggravated him. He'd never waste a chance to teach someone about the power of music. Refusing him would make him very irritated."
"More irritated than me?" I pulled my hand away and walked to where Alice was sitting.
"We're not going to do this. That man is creepy."
"He's only passionate. I saw into his mind and he… he really only wants to teach you how to play the piano. No strings attached." Edward followed me and spun me around by his two hands on my shoulders. He glanced down at Alice as he pleaded.
"It's just one hour. Please do this – for me. Just one hour, and I'll be forever in your debt."
"I wasn’t home yet, Vladimir. How could I have returned your calls?"
Vladislav Gerasymenko strode across his orderly living room, gazing at his grand piano longingly.
"This obsession is becoming a real nuisance. I'd never have agreed to this task if I had known how little privacy it would leave me. My musical talents are suffering from your endless calls."
"Forget your musical talents! They are of no use to us. You must call when you are told, Vladislav. Don't lose yourself in your music!"
The pianist came to a halt beside his black piano and growled, "Forget my musical talents? Vladimir, my musical talents are the essence of this operation! Thanks to them, I have the two subjects just where I want them to be."
Vladimir's tone changed instantly at the sound of progress. "You have them?"
"Not yet," Gerasymenko admitted, wiping away a single dust particle that had fallen onto the glossy, black surface of his beloved piano, "But I will, soon."
“As soon as necessary. Hurry is pointless.”
The vampire on the other end of the line huffed. "Whatever you say, Vladislav. You'd better know what you are doing. We Romanians have waited long enough."
"A week more will not hurt." Gerasymenko was growing impatient, the unfinished melody in his mind needing release.
"A week more of waiting is a week more time for the Volturi to grow suspicious!" His heavy accent was even more evident as Vladimir raised his voice. "They are very uneasy about the Cullens as it is. Aro knows they are the only existing threat to his royal coven."
"For a reason," the professor replied calmly, "With Isabella and Alice on your side, they do not stand a chance. Jane and Alec will be useless, along with half of the other powers in their guard. Don't fret, Vladimir – I will do my duty as flawlessly as I always have. Now, if you will excuse me… I have a song to finish. Send my greetings to Stefan."
The pianist hung up and flung the receiver on his living room table. He knew that if he wanted any of his well-deserved privacy, he would have to disconnect several cables – but no, the song in his head was burning to be acknowledged.
Vladislav Gerasymenko seated himself on the wooden chair facing the piano keys and began the second part of his masterpiece. The colorful melody removed all signs of irritation as he played, touching all the right keys in all the right places.
One more week, and his music would be heard across the entire world.
One more week, and he would be the master of the arts – not just among vampires, but among humans, too.
Mozart could hand down his crown.
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