Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 94)

“Thank you,” Earnest said. “We’re so glad that you came.” He spoke with feeling, and I realized that he thought I was brave.

I also realized that Royal and Eleanor were nowhere to be seen, and while I was relieved, I was also kind of disappointed. It would have been nice to get that out of the way with Jessamine here, making me feel calm.

I noticed Carine gazing meaningfully at Edythe with a pretty intense expression. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Edythe nod just slightly.

I felt like I was eavesdropping, so I looked away. My eyes wandered over to the beautiful piano on the platform. I suddenly remembered a childhood fantasy that, when I was older and somehow a millionaire, I was going to buy a grand piano for my mother. She wasn’t really good—she only played for herself on our secondhand upright—but I loved to watch her play. She was happy, absorbed—she seemed like a new, mysterious person to me then. She’d put me in lessons, of course, but like most kids, I whined until she let me quit.

Earnest noticed my stare.

“Do you play?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Not at all. But it’s really beautiful. Is it yours?”

“No,” he laughed. “Didn’t Edythe tell you she was musical?”

“Uh, she hasn’t mentioned it. But I guess I should have known, right?”

Earnest raised his eyebrows, confused.

“Is there anything she’s not good at?” I asked rhetorically.

Jessamine barked out a laugh, Archie rolled his eyes, and Earnest gave Edythe a very fatherly look, which was impressive considering how young he seemed.

“I hope you haven’t been showing off,” he said. “It’s rude.”

“Oh, just a little bit.” Edythe laughed—the sound was infectious, and everyone smiled, including me. Earnest smiled the widest, though, and he and Edythe shared a brief look.

“Edythe, you should play for him,” Earnest said.

“You just said showing off was rude.”

“Make an exception.” He smiled at me. “I’m being selfish. She doesn’t play enough, and I love to hear her.”

“I’d like to hear you play,” I told her.

She gave Earnest a long, exasperated look, then turned the same look on me. When that was done, she dropped my hand and walked up to sit on the bench. She patted the spot next to her and then looked back at me.

“Oh,” I mumbled, and went to join her.

As soon as I sat down, her fingers started flowing across the keys, filling the room with a piece so complex and full it was impossible to believe only one person was playing. My mouth fell open in shock, and I heard chuckling behind me.

Edythe looked at me casually while the music surged around us without a break. “Do you like it?”

I got it immediately. Of course. “You wrote this.”

She nodded. “It’s Earnest’s favorite.”

I sighed.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m just… feeling a little insignificant.”

She thought about that for a minute, and then the music changed slowly into something softer… something familiar. It was the lullaby she’d hummed to me, only a thousand times more intricate.

“I thought of this one,” she said quietly, “while I watched you sleeping. It’s your song.”

The song turned even softer and sweeter. I couldn’t speak.

Then her voice was normal again. “They like you quite a bit, you know. Earnest especially.”

I glanced behind me, and the big room was empty.

“Where did they go?”

“Giving us some privacy. Subtle, aren’t they?”

I laughed, then frowned. “It’s nice that they like me. I like them. But Royal and Eleanor…”

Her expression tightened. “Don’t worry about Royal. He’s always the last to come around.”

“Eleanor?”

She laughed sharply. “El thinks I’m a lunatic, it’s true, but she doesn’t have a problem with you. She’s off trying to reason with Royal now.”

“What did I do?” I had to ask. “I mean, I’ve never even spoken to—”

“You didn’t do anything, Beau, honestly. Royal struggles the most with what we are. It’s hard for him to have someone on the outside know the truth. And he’s a little jealous.”

“Hah!”

She shrugged. “You’re human. He wishes he were, too.”

That brought me up short. “Oh.”

I listened to the music, my music. It kept changing and evolving, but the heart of it stayed the same. I wasn’t sure how she did it. She didn’t seem to be paying much attention to her hands.

“That thing Jessamine does feels really… not strange, I guess. It was kind of incredible.”

She laughed. “Words don’t fully do it justice, do they?”

“Not really. But… does she like me? She seemed…”

“That was my fault. I told you she was the most recent to try our way of life. I warned her to keep her distance.”

“Oh.”

“Indeed.”

I worked hard not to shudder.

“Carine and Earnest think you’re wonderful,” she told me.

“Huh. I really didn’t do anything very exciting. Shook a few hands.”

“They’re happy to see me happy. Earnest probably wouldn’t care if you had a third eye and webbed feet. All this time he’s been worrying about me, afraid I was too young when Carine changed me, that there was something missing from my essential makeup. He’s so relieved. Every time I touch you, he practically bursts into applause.”

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