Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights
Rosalie Hale. She was infuriating and stunning and talented and undeniably amazing and most importantly, annoyingly impossible to ignore. He caught himself thinking over their meeting in the little practice room that afternoon. Her complaint that he had singled her out, made an example of her in front of everyone, put a grin on his face. She had reproached him, confronted him, expressed her displeasure with how he’d treated her and in return, she’d gained his respect. She had taken his chastising in practice that day with complete grace, and he wasn’t lying when he’d said he was testing her. None of that really mattered though. Not anymore. What counted was what happened after she put him in his place. During the Dvořák.
His fingers danced over a quick scale to limber them before they found the first notes. Holding the baton all day gave his hand entirely the wrong arch, and he wanted to be limber for her. He wanted to challenge her, to give her his best and see if she could match it. He and Rosalie hadn’t been able to work in any extra practices yet and he was eager to be alone with her, to really hearher. He watched her bring the pad of her ring finger to her pale pink lips and tap her instrument twice, very quickly, very softly, before positioning her hand on the fingerboard of the cello. She looked up at him, indicating she was ready. Curious ritual, he thought. But he was a firm believer in ritual, in routine, so he didn’t question it.
With a slight nod from him, they began together; soon they gave themselves over to the music, playing off each other, even improvising a little. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as she played, and her absorption in the piece and her perfect execution transported him to another place, a place of brilliant light and the ethereal beauty of creation. And then, he felt it, the thing he lived for, the sensation he woke in search of every day. The world fell away. All he knew was this the haunting melody full of longing and apprehension, and Rose was there, creating it with him. Her bow pushed him forward with every arc, the notes of his piano the perfect accompaniment to her fingers dancing over the fingerboard with absolute, expressive freedom. A blissful moment of musical joy enveloped him, and he’d never been able to feel this when playing alone. He chanced a glance at Rosalie. She looked like she might have been experiencing the same thing.
So now she not only had his respect, but also the singular ability to render his soul completely helpless to music’s beauty.
It was after eight that night when they ended their session and he was still in a euphoric haze. He and Jack walked her out of the hall and made sure she found a cab to take her home. Unthinking, his hand moved to her elbow as she stepped off the curb onto the street. He’d have never considered touching her before, but their shared experience had torn down a barrier between them. It all felt completely natural to him as he helped her put her cello in the back seat of the musty cab, then leaned in and whispered close to her ear, “Goodnight, Rose.”
Her breath caught as their eyes met. She was surrounded in a cloud of cashmere, laundry soap and something sweet and creamy she couldn’t quite place. “Goodnight, Edward,” she answered. She hadn’t minded his innocent touch or him calling her Rose. Especially the way he said it, like a stolen moment that was gone before either of them knew it.
He pulled himself away from her and shut the door. The cab drove off, and he shoved his tingling, fisted fingers deep into the woolen pockets of his coat and headed home. Jack trotted along obediently beside him.
His mind raced. She was infuriating with her questions and insistence that he answer them. Vexing with the smirks and the bull-headedness she could barely conceal most of the time. Awe-inspiring as she became one with her cello, her soft curves molding perfectly to its solid frame. Absolutely breathtaking when her head was thrown back in abandon to the tempo that surrounded her, her eyes closed to better feel the music. The way she looked as he watched her play, in that moment she looked to him like the fusion of human beauty and mankind’s remarkable creativity molded into one lovely vision. He’d only had one other experience remotely close.
As a child, his mother had taken him to Seattle to see the symphony. They were doing a tribute to Chopin, and he was only seven years old, but already proficient at the piano and his mother enjoyed encouraging her son’s ability. Unbeknownst to his mother, she had ignited a dream to live and breathe music every day. Since the moment he’d walked out of the Seattle Symphony that early spring night holding his mother’s hand, his future became fixed. He sought out that feeling, that exhilaration, the breathlessness that comes when you hear something so beautiful you know it must have been touched by the hand of God.
He threw himself into his study of music. He labored over his piano so intensely his mother began to worry his fingers might blister, preventing him from doing his school work. He searched for the feeling like a would-be addict who’d just had his first hit. He learned every instrument he could. He begged his mother to get him a violin and he quickly became a virtuoso. Then a guitar, which he easily mastered, and even a flute, with which of course he had no trouble. She drew the line emphatically at a drum set.
Bella had encouraged him when they were young, finding his intense passion fascinating and maybe hoping he’d direct some of it toward her. As time wore on, he only grew more restless in his search, and she became bored, resenting the time and effort he wasn’t spending on her. She couldn’t identify with his obsession. She’d never had that experience, never felt that alive, and couldn’t understand his need to find it again. They went to college and he kept searching, studying music on a scholarship to Mannes College of Music in New York. He composed his own pieces in a vain effort to capture that feeling of discovery, freedom, exhilaration and wonderment simultaneously again. Yet he still hadn’t found it.
Until that night.
Rosalie Hale held the key to it all. She was the key, her cello the metronome for his soul, shifting his perception of existence from the simple rhythm of his monotonous, daily routine to the complex, irrational meter of what living life could feel like. He knew then he had been asleep, had drifted away from experiencing life as a willing and engaged participant. Would he feel it again, the next time they practiced together? He had to find out. Tomorrow. Immediately after rehearsal, if she was available. An electric zing flashed through him when he thought about what she had done. He didn’t understand the logic behind it; it wasn’t something he could explain scientifically. He wasn’t even sure if anyone else had ever felt anything like it; he’d never told anyone aside from Bella about it. His joy in finding what he’d been searching for his whole life was thrilling, but what surprised him was the fact that he’d found it in another person. He’d been looking in the wrong place; he needed to look beyond the music. And of all people, why Rosalie Hale? It was obvious to everyone that they detested each other.
He looked up from the filthy grey sidewalk and noticed a little girl smiling sleepily at him as she passed, her head resting against her father’s strong shoulder, clinging to him and the promise of sleep to come. Her dark hair reminded him of Leah from Rosalie’s class, and he smiled at the memory of her sauciness. He’d been pleasantly surprised to find Rosalie teaching music to children. He’d have assumed she didn’t have the patience for teaching. Obviously, he’d been wrong about her again. He’d judged her unfairly and felt guilty for it. With each new thing he discovered about Rosalie, the more intrigued he found himself. And now, after what had happened that evening, he had to get to know her better. There was no ignoring Rosalie, from this point on.
The next day when they went into the practice room together, Rosalie set up her cello and music stand right beside the piano, facing Edward. He frowned, wondering how he’d hide his rapturous expressions (which, he knew, must look ridiculous) from her.
“I’d just like to be able to see you better, so that I don’t miss any instructions you might give me,” she explained. He couldn’t fault her logic, even though he thought he’d have little need to correct her technique. Yet, he said nothing to dissuade her for being closer to him. Over the next week, they practiced almost every day together in the same manner. On the days she wasn’t teaching, they stayed well after rehearsals were over. Retreating to their little practice room, Rosalie did what only she seemed to be able to do: make Edward yearn and ache and feel. Her playing captured his musician’s heart, and try as he might, he wasn’t able to ignore the other affects she was beginning to have on him.
It wasn’t discussed. Each was keenly aware that Edward’s career position and Rosalie’s seat in his orchestra did not allow to the more they both so desperately wanted. It simply was not appropriate. Even still, when they were near one another, they moved differently than they had before. No longer did he test her limits, but instead praised her loudly and guided her quietly, seeing the obvious strides forward she took when encouraged. Shy smiles were given on the sly upon entering the crowded practice hall, sideways glances that lingered longer than they should when Rosalie sat in the soloist’s chair next to Edward’s podium. Edward worried constantly someone noticed their looks that lingered or the small smiles that refused to be stifled. Of course he was worrying needlessly, as he so often did. The truth was, no one really had a chance to notice anything between them. Their interactions were almost always in the private and safe confines of their little practice room. It was Edward’s guilt about his conflict between what was right and what he wanted made him feel exposed, as if everyone might see the truth in his heart.
When they were alone, they were slightly less inhibited. Slightly. Uncomfortable and forced conversations morphed into discussions of pieces which transitioned into discussions of common friends. There were brief touches: a hand placed on the small of her back to guide her into the room, a quick lean into his shoulder in response. Nothing that could ever be construed as something more, lest wandering eyes happened upon them. Rather than moving apart, they were slowly shifting closer together, day by day. Jack chaperoned; his watchful eye reminded them that they were never truly alone.
Dvořák’s piece was practiced relentlessly and each time was more expressive, more devoted, more passionate. When he could see her getting frustrated, he’d slide into a different song. Sometimes she would join in, playing by ear if she didn’t know the piece. Other times she would lean back in her chair, lifting her face to the light, closing her eyes and just listening as he poured his soul into the black and white keys. When she listened to him play, she was reminded of herself. Through his music, she was brought in her mind to practices alone in her apartment where she’d lose track of time and space around her, the feeling one in the same.
The music bound them; the passion drove them.
Although he didn’t realize it, Edward hadn’t thought of Bella in over a week. He’d been too consumed with Dvořák and the future to dwell on his past. He ordered Mr. Holland’s Opus on Netflix and watched it with Jack and his mom on the phone. He tried a chai latte and didn’t hate it. In fact, it wasn’t until the third sip that he wondered exactly what the hell he was doing, sitting in a ghastly corporate coffee bar with micro suede chairs and Pachelbel’s Canon playing over the speakers. He finally admitted to himself that he did indeed want to know more about her. Much, much more. Like if she’d ever gone to camp as a kid or which side of the bed she likes, because he liked the left. He always needed the left. He briefly contemplated the implications of what he would do if she also preferred the left.
Then he remembered why this line of thought was dangerous and why he had to stop himself from dreaming about it, no matter how amazing the dreams might be. He was in a position of authority over her, and it would be despicable of him to suggest anything more than a professional, platonic relationship. He was her boss, and it was absolutely out of the question. Suddenly the chai tasted terrible, the Pachelbel seemed overplayed, and he remembered why one side of his bed would remain cold.
Scheduling constraints meant that it took a few weeks for Edward to return to Rosalie’s music class. But he had made a promise to the children, and to Rosalie; one he intended to keep. He knew it was important to them and furthermore, he knew it was important to her. Rosalie shifted the class schedule, having their last class on a Tuesday rather than Thursday, since it was the week of Thanksgiving.
Arriving before the start of the class for his visit, he watched with interest as Rosalie greeted each child and caregiver with a smile that she was unable to keep at bay, several hugs, and even a few kisses. Edward realized that she was truly in her element, teaching children the love of music, and that they, in turn, loved her for it. Perhaps she was their Tribute to Chopin, the light bulb going off in their minds that would be a driving force for a lifetime love of making music. If Edward could assist in guiding these children toward that realization, even just one of them, he’d gladly show up for every class, if she allowed it.
The class made a big production of stretching and wiggling while Rosalie led them through their standard beginning song. Edward joined in the stretching routine, feeling a bit awkward and self-conscious as he felt the children’s eyes upon him. He realized that they could smell fear, so he began to move about, exaggerating his movements. The children giggled at his behavior as Rosalie watched him, a bemused look dancing across her face. She was used to seeing his stoic side, but somehow, over the past few weeks, there had been a shift. Edward realized that it would have never happened at his first visit, his past self would have been shocked by his current self’s behavior. Spending time with Rosalie had taught him many things, including never going into anything with preconceived notions. While he wasn’t all together comfortable with the children, he was trying his best. It did not go unnoticed by Rosalie.
After they sang their greeting song, Rosalie stood and beckoned Edward. “Since this is our last class, we are going to let all of you be in charge today. I can tell by the giggles that you’ve all noticed Mister Edward is back!” The giggles swelled again at her comment while Edward waved, ducking his head. “Just like he promised,” she said, a bit quieter. He raised his head at her comment and caught her eyes, and very uncharacteristically, she blushed. “He’s been playing piano for a very long time, he started when he was just a bit older than you are now.”
“WOW! So he’s been playing for SEVENTY ELEVEN years?”
“Seventy eleven? How old do they think I am?” He muttered to Rosalie as she placed a hand on his shoulder, guiding him to the piano with the children trailing behind. The touch was a conscious maneuver on her part, to help him relax a bit. She could see his level of comfort rising and falling, like the tide.
“Don’t take offense. The other day Emily asked if I was going to die because I wasn’t married yet. These kids have no concept of time or age.” Edward shrugged at this comment taking Rosalie’s word for it, as he had no idea what children had an understanding of, at least as far as that was concerned. All he knew was he didn’t want to see Rosalie die anytime soon.
He turned to look at the sea of expectant faces. “What do you want to hear?” This, he was certain he could handle. He wasn’t sure exactly what the children would offer up in the way of suggestions but he had quite the repertoire, so he wasn’t too concerned.
It was Sam who piped up. “I want to hear Hey Diddle Diddle.”
“Hey Diddle Diddle?” Edward repeated back to him. His eyes slide to Rosalie’s and she sat down beside him before reaching in front of him, unlocking and lifting the lid from the keyboard. Really? Hey Diddle Diddle? His eyes crinkled with his silent question.
“The kids want what the kids want, Mister Edward,” she answered, playing with Dickinson’s quote.
Shrugging, he started to play a jazzy version of the song. The question “And what do you want?” bounced around his mind, desperately wanting to fly from his lips. He knew that there was nothing that could come from her answer that would work to his advantage. If he was reading her vibes correctly, she wanted him as much as he wanted her. Yet, he knew that neither of them was in the position to say or do anything that could jeopardize their carefully crafted working relationship.
The risk was too great for something that couldn’t be. He held his words at bay where they were safe, in his mind, not allowing them to escape.
Vanilla and sunshine surrounded him as she stood, grabbing hands with the children and dancing. They swung their arms and pounded their feet on the ground as Edward pounded his fingers on the keys, putting his feelings of being bottled emotionally into the non-complex song. The only thing that was repetitive about Hey Diddle Diddle were the words, as Edward switched to different styles of music after each verse. His fingers itched to switch to something other than Hey Diddle Diddle, but he was happy to change the tempo and tone with every verse. He could feel the conflicting emotions rise up and then release with each interaction: soothing lullaby, jaunty ragtime, heartbroken dirge, soulful jazz. He was unable to vocalize how beautiful he thought she was in that moment, spinning on her toes, her hair fanning around her shoulders. He let the music speak the words he couldn’t say, the emotions he couldn’t express.
He found respite in the most unlikely of places: Leah.
Leah’s small hand pulled gently at the sleeve he’d folded up nearly to his elbow. Bringing Hey Diddle Diddle to an end with an over-exaggerated glissando flourish, he turned to the children and asked if there was anything else they’d like to hear. Once she’d gotten his attention, Leah had run from him, wrapped her arms around the body of Rosalie’s cello and was attempting to carry it across the room. His eyes flew to Rosalie, shocked at the gall of this child and slightly scared for her well-being, seeing how she was handling the precious instrument. He was even more shocked by Rosalie’s reaction. She wrapped her arm around Leah, helping her carry the cello to a chair. Then Rosalie sat, placing both the little girl and the cello between her legs. Holding Leah’s hand, she bowed the instrument, while placing her own fingers on the neck.
Leah turned her head so that she could look at Miss Rosalie’s eyes, her little hand wove through Rosalie’s hair. “You’re so pretty, Miss Rosalie.” Rosalie smiled at the child and Edward’s heart wished he had the same opportunity. “Do you know the bird song? The one about the ugly duckling? It has a cello in it, Mommy told me so.” Mystified, Rosalie looked to Leah’s mom, Sue, for clarification.
“I believe it’s called The Swan,” Sue explained. “She has a video with classical music and it’s on there.”
Both Rosalie and Edward’s faces showed that they did, indeed, know The Swan. Edward spoke. “Ah yes, Camille Saint-Saëns. This is from The Carnival of the Animals. Le cygne.” Resting the cello on the floor, Rosalie stood, taking Leah in her arms with her to the closet. The scarves the class often used as props were pulled out and Leah handed them to both children and adults as Rosalie encouraging them to pretend as though they were the swans that Saint-Saëns wrote the music in honor of. Edward continued to talk to the children, “This song usually has two pianos and one cello but since we don’t have two pianos here, I’ll do my best to play both parts.” The children all nodded as though they understood exactly what he was saying.
At one time, the song would have inspired visions of chocolate, dark features and alabaster skin for Edward; a homage to its namesake. It was a slow song and he was able to pour the emotion he still needed to express into the notes. As his hands rolled over the chords he gently played in tandem with Rosalie. Vanilla lingered on her skin and she inexplicably drew his eyes, his mind, his soul to her. Edward knew that from now on, when he heard or played The Swan, he would be reminded of this moment: afternoon sunshine filtering through double-paned windows, children’s laughter and sheer scarves, and her. He’d think of how her passion made him a better man and how he wished he could share the sentiment with her.