English class was awkward after that. Mr. Tucker, as I reverted to calling him, steadily avoided eye contact with me and never called on me to answer a question. Olivia kept sending both him and me dirty looks, so I assume he said something to her. Hopefully along the lines of you’re a bitch.
Paul remained the same as he always was— no, let me correct that, he turned into super coach.
“Play it again.”
My jaw nearly dropped. “What?”
He stared down at me, daring me to argue with him. “Play that part again. If you don’t perfect it, you won’t be able to perfect the next part.”
“But I’ve played it ten times!”
“And you still don’t have it right.”
I glowered at him. “You play it then!”
A hint of a smirk appeared on his face. “I would, but I wouldn’t want to discourage you from playing this piece.”
“Does it matter?” I complained, letting my head fall against the glistening white piano keys. A few errant keys sounded.
“Do you want to win?”
“I’d like to,” I admitted.
Paul tapped the piano. “Then play.”
And so it went. The competition was in a few short weeks. If I wanted to impress the judges with Canon in C, I’d have to work hard. During piano class and at school, Paul drilled me endlessly. At one point I think I was sleep-playing the piano. Or at least sleep talking the measures. While Paul obviously really wanted me to win, I thought there were other motives to his Piano Training Camp of Hell. One being he didn’t want Olivia to win, and two, because he considered himself my coach, and if I failed, he failed.
Even though he was already a famous pianist. World wide.
During the second week of December, I finally managed to play through the whole peace— slowly— without messing up. The smile Paul gave me made everything worth it. Pure, unadulterated happiness and pride. I found myself blushing, having to look away. See, the past few weeks also brought about a change in myself.
Maybe it was due to the fact Paul suddenly seeming more manly after punching Mr. Tucker.
Maybe because I just hadn’t noticed Paul before.
Maybe it was because of that strange, not totally unpleasant, feeling I got whenever I spotted the slowly fading bruises on his knuckles. Playing piano was Paul’s entire life. Yet here he was, ruining them for me. Because of me. The weird feeling was coming over me again and I forced myself to remove my gaze from his nimble fingers. Now wasn’t the time to sort out my feelings for my guardian— oh God, I’d forgotten. My guardian. How wrong was that? No worse than him being my semi-teacher at the same time. Why was my life so messed up?
“Should we go out for lunch?” Paul thought absentmindedly. “Haven’t gone grocery shopping.”
Date, was the word my mind shot to first. Scowling, I banished the thought. “Sure, just not the diner. Elliot’s working and—” My words were interrupted by the doorbell sounding. “Expecting someone?”
Paul’s brows furrowed. “No…”
Together, we exited the piano room, heading for the front door. Paul peeked out the window cut out near the top, pulling back with a surprised blink. After ushering me out of the way, he pulled open the door, and revealed my parents… and a familiar blonde.
|Victoria Justice||as Allie Heywood|
|Matt Lanter||as Paul Russet|
|Chad Michael Murray||as Kyle Tucker|
|Asher Book||as Parker Russet|
|Ariana Grande||as Aspen May|
|Dianna Agron||as Olivia White|
|Darren Criss||as Oliver Pratt|
|Adam Gregory||as Elliot Allen|