Chapter 7

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Chapter 7  

Maude turned around and gasped as she recognized the boy from the subway, leaning against the doorframe.  

Matt's eyes danced with silent amusement at her astonishment. Maude looked haughtily away, angry with herself for letting him see her reaction. 

"What happened to your jacket, man?" Mr. Lewis asked surveying his stained trench coat. "Oh, let me guess. You drove another one of your girlfriends crazy, right," he joked, exhibiting his large, white, flossed teeth with his wide ridiculous grin and nudging Matt with his elbow as if they were the best of friends. 

"Yeah," answered Matt smoothly, looking directly at Maude. "This one was a real fury. You should've seen her yell at me like a mad woman. I'm sure you could've heard her all the way to France." 

Maude almost snorted with contempt but remained silent. 

"Ah, knowing you, I'm pretty sure she had a good reason," James Baldwin said, raising his eyebrows. 

Maude smiled, thanking him silently. 

"Maude," he called out. "Come meet Matt. He's the songwriter I've been talking to you about. He's French just like you, but he's been living in New York for such a long time, I wonder if he hasn't lost all of his refined European manners. If he ever had any." 

Maude barely hid her surprise. He was French! Which meant he had understood every single word she had angrily uttered in the subway and had laughed at her! 

Cold rage swept afresh over the young girl as she greeted Matt, meeting his amused stare with a dark glare. 

Matt faltered under her stare, more used to girls batting their eyelashes than using their eyes to throw daggers at him. 

James Baldwin, who always had his senses alert music-wise but never seemed to perceive the subtleties of human behavior, talked animatedly of the projects he had in mind. 

When he was done, he said, "Why don't we all go have breakfast together?" 

"I'm sorry, Mr. Baldwin, but I have to go to class," Maude reminded him. 

"Oh, right. School. Right, you do that. Vic would kill me if you arrived late on your first day. Franklin High has a zero tolerance policy on tardiness," he explained, following the rest of the crowd out towards the elevator. 

Maude stayed behind, and, thinking she was alone, looked fondly at the Yamaha piano. She hadn't played on many pianos in her life, but each one she had touched was different. This one had light keys that almost felt like water under her hands. 

"It's a beautiful instrument isn't it?" Matt observed at the other end of the room. 

Maude turned around. She was surprised to see that he was still here and uneasily wondered how long he had stood there, watching her without her noticing. 

"A piano is like a friend to me," she explained slowly, carefully choosing her words. "We are in sync. It never betrays me or makes fun of me. I cannot say the same about human beings." 

She went to grab her coat and headed for the door. 

Matt felt half-amused half-bewildered by Maude. As a renowned artist, he was used to having people bend over backwards to please him. People like Mr. Lewis had surrounded him ever since he had signed with Glitter Records. Even now that he had taken a break from his singing career to focus on songwriting, the halo surrounding his previous records still followed him around and opened every door even before he knocked. Not that he was complaining. 

However, Maude was definitely something else, and Matt had felt it instantly although he couldn't quite figure out how to act around a girl like her. 

"Look," Matt said, blocking the exit route. "We were both stupid this morning. It's Monday morning. Monday mornings in New York are always crazy. A little like you. You are an incredibly talented musician. I hope you realize I don't say that often. Why don't we just put this behind us and be friends?"  

He stretched out his hand, waiting for Maude to shake it. Maude looked into his eyes and noticed how disturbingly gray they were and started to stretch out her hand. Then, she remembered how those same gray eyes had shone that morning when he had laughed at her while she was angrily berating him in a language he perfectly understood, not even bothering to help her. He was just another famous, pampered, obnoxious celebrity used to having his own way. And he still hadn't apologized! Saying that "Mondays in New York are always crazy, a little like you" certainly wasn't close to an apology! He was no better than her former classmates who took pleasure in making fun of her. Well, she wasn't in Carvin any longer, and she refused to perpetuate a tradition of being someone's personal laughingstock.  

Maude swiftly dropped her hand, lifted her head a little higher and with a frosty glare, said, "We will work together since we have to. But there is no way you and I can ever be friends." 

And with that, she proudly swept past Matt and headed towards the elevator.

                                                        **************************

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