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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8. The Text Messages
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The first part of our plan is completed.
Awaiting your orders.
Keep our guests entertained.
We will arrive in 24 h.
Sincerely, V & S
24 h, my friends.
Vladimir read the text message three times in total, and skimmed through it another five times in his head.
Against all his expectations, Vladislav Gerasymenko had indeed finished his job. He had not performed flawlessly, and certainly not without awaking doubts in his employers' heads, but what did that mean now that victory was so near? The hum of horns was all but tangible in the thick air of the plane.
Why could the aircraft not pick up the pace a little?
Stefan, too, seemed restless on the seat beside him. He had been calm throughout the few weeks of waiting, never once doubting their accomplice, but now that the moment was near, there was no stopping the agitation.
But there was a difference in their agitation. While Stefan simply wanted to put all those centuries of waiting behind them, Vladimir worried about the two subjects – prisoners, if you will.
Vladislav was alone with his "guests". And no matter how you twisted and turned the equation, one never quite equaled two.
"We will not get there fast enough," Vladimir finally agonized out loud, "He is alone with them, Stefan. If they choose to escape, they can."
"Without their daughter? Don't be silly, Vladimir," Stefan contradicted, completely at ease. Vladimir never had understood the bonds that tie a family.
"They might find out where we are keeping her, and then they will have no reason to stay."
"Renesmee is miles away."
"Is safe, Vladimir. I believe you have enough proof of that."
Stefan turned away from the whispered conversation and focused on a blond stewardess instead. Her long pony tail swung back and forth as she marched from one side of the plane to the other. Their eyes met for a second.
"I think I'll feed before heading north, Vladimir. Care to join me?"
I could sense that the pianist had nothing more to say.
The way he sat there, utterly pacified, irritated me beyond belief. There was no nervousness in his eyes when our gazes met, no startle when I growled, and not a single impolite word when Edward cursed him. Gerasymenko just sat on his black couch and waited.
Yes, he was obviously waiting for something – but for what? He had told us to wait. Why abduct Renesmee, lure us to his home, explain the whole plot to us, and then just wait?
I hurled the question at him at some point, and his answer was more than unsatisfying:
"Hurry is pointless, my dear Isabella. Worthless, in fact."
I couldn't even call it an answer.
Such vague retorts were all we were receiving from him now that he'd finished his explanation. In response to my question of where he was keeping Renesmee, he had only pronounced how safe her hiding place was. When I asked him what his part was in all this insanity, he had replied with one word – music.
I didn't know what else to ask. Besides, I was seconds away from ripping his throat open, and it would have been unwise to provoke me with another arrogant, one-worded response.
So I clenched my hands into fists and concentrated on not killing him, drowning in emotions that consisted half of hatred, and half of fear.
Neither Alice nor Edward had spoken throughout my whole interrogation. The latter was oddly stationary, and the expression on his face showed that he was concentrating very hard on something.
I had a suspicion of what it could be.
After a few silent hours, he finally spoke.
"How do you do it?"
Gerasymenko looked up from his notepad.
"Please phrase your question more clearly, Edward. I cannot read your mind."
"That's precisely what I'm talking about," Edward answered agitatedly, "Why has your mind revealed none of this? I have seen into it more than once, and on each occasion, I couldn't make out an ounce of this plan. How do you do it?"
This question triggered another reaction in the professor. Instead of answering swiftly in an uninterested tone, he now smiled and put his pen and paper down, looked Edward straight in the eye, and answered, fully and unconcealed.
"It's passion, Edward. The one thing that comes in your way to fame. The one thing that distinguishes me from my students – all brilliant musicians, and all so close to becoming like me, but all so far. I looked the word up in a dictionary once, all because of my natural curiosity. 'An intense sexual love, any strong emotion, or great enthusiasm,' it said." Gerasymenko sighed.
"So ignorant, so ignorant…"
Edward stared at him, obviously unimpressed. The pianist noticed his confused expression, and continued.
"I see you are still clueless. A more detailed explanation is required. Forgive me; I forgot how naïve the youth is in this day and age. So utterly uninformed. Let me enlighten you.
"'Passion' is, in fact, more than an emotion. It is not just mere 'enthusiasm'. Passion is an attitude. A way of thinking.
"And passion is multifaceted. Many other traits are closely associated with it – concentration, endurance, poise… And all this, young Edward, is what keeps my mind clean of unnecessary thoughts."
Edward shifted his stance a little and tilted his head. "So… you choose what to think?"
"No, silly boy, not in the slightest," Gerasymenko retorted, aggravated now, "I do not go through any conscious progress of choosing which thoughts to portray. I do not have to. Much rather, my mind stays focused on the matter at hand. I am not distracted by sounds, objects, or other people the way you are, Edward. When I choose to play music, I will do so without fault. When I choose to answer a question, I concentrate on the one issue alone, and not on the abstract details around the subject. It is a gift I have always had."
"And Nessie?" I asked. Somehow, Gerasymenko seemed to know that I wasn't talking about my real daughter, but about her illusion.
"Another vampire with another power, my dear Isabella. Illusionists are exceedingly interesting creatures. I've always wondered what it is like to live in a reality that does not exist."
"And this… illusionist is with my daughter, correct?"
I fervently hoped that illusions didn't involve any pain.
"And where is this illusionist?"
Edward's vain attempt to force Gerasymenko to reveal Renesmee's hiding place brought us back to the spiral of futile questions.
"At a safe place, young Edward, a safe place…"
Vladimir's mobile phone was turned on before the plane even landed.
"Brother!" Stefan hissed at him, "The rules still apply –"
"Quiet, Stefan. The plane will not come down because of one little mobile."
He ardently browsed through his text messages until he found the one he was looking for:
24 h, my friends.
The "no hurry" part greatly goaded him, but he ignored it and chose the option "Reply".
And Vladimir thanked humanity for inventing such a useful device as he entered his message, remembering well the past days when such instant communication was impossible. The keys made a grating sound whenever he pressed them, but he let that detail slide.
Five seconds, and his message was complete. Another thirty, and it would be on its way.
3 h, Vladislav.
Prepare for our meeting.
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