The Mozart duo was a fresh breeze, sunlight dancing over Orchid Bay beyond a flickering screen of palm fronds and hibiscus. I finished a trill and lowered the flute. Catching my breath, I watched the hands at the piano, long supple fingers conjuring life from the black and white keys.
For a moment, they were Caviness’s hands, spiders dancing discord to a lash of dissonance. I shook my head and raised my instrument for the final passage, flute and piano weaving a sparkling web that slowly dissolved into silence.
Adrienne dropped her hands into her lap and turned on the piano bench, smiling. “I knew we’d play well together.” Her alto carried a hint of a schooled British accent, spiced with the island lilt.
“I’ll never be near your league. But now I can tell my friends when you’re out there packing the concert halls, I actually played with Adrienne MacIntyre.”
A throaty laugh. “You have the music in you, Susan. You just need to practice more.”
“I’m sure there are better flutists on the island. Why did you want to play with me?”
She ran a finger over the keyboard. “Music. It’s my way to know things.” She rose with a sweep of pale-coral skirt, stepping close to touch my hand and look down into my eyes. Her smooth face went eerily blank for a moment.
She stepped back. “Leon’s wrong about you.” A frown creased her forehead. “Why?”
I started putting away the flute. “I’m not crazy about him.”
“Everyone has blind spots. Sometimes our powers make us too proud. He told me that.”
I swung around. “What kind of powers is Leon playing with, Adrienne?”
“It’s no game.” A smile ghosted. “Why don’t you welcome your own powers, open up to see where they could take you?”
I blinked. “Have you ever read Faustus?”
“Of course. Leon thought I should study German, as well as French, but I don’t like it. Those ugly gutturals.” Her brow furrowed again. “And the story is so naive, really, all that nonsense about Lucifer and damnation. Goethe didn’t have a clue what spiritual powers are really about.”
“Heavy on the black and white?” My lips twitched. “But there’s a truth to it. Maybe there are forces we shouldn’t mess with. We’ll get sucked in . . . .” Caviness’s dark music still thrummed in my bones. “There have to be limits. Some things are wrong.”
“Of course. But how can we know the right paths if we won’t see? If we blind ourselves in fear of our true natures?”
“He’s my teacher.” A fluid gesture toward the piano. “I could never play the way I do if Leon hadn’t taught me to explore different ways. He’s shown me how to go beneath the surface of the music, root it deep in the rhythms, draw on my power. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s frightening. It takes courage to accept the truth. If you want his words,” her voice deepened, eerily capturing Caviness’s cadences, “‘Harmony and resolution are only illusions. Music—life—is the violent dance of oppositions striving for unity but never unified.’”
Her face glowed. “I’ll never be a true musician if I always follow the safe path.”
I touched her arm. “Stick to it, Adrienne. Just . . . keep your eyes open.”
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