Chords that Bind Ch. 13


"Clara, can you help me find my keys? I can't find them anywhere."

His wife looked up. "Are they in your jacket pocket? You leave them there sometimes."

"No. No, I've checked there. Do you know where else they could be?"

Abraham didn't usually loose track of his keys. He was well-organized in that department. Clara set down her knife on the cutting board and went to help her husband. "When did you last see them?"

Abe led them out of earshot and handed Clara the paper. "Actually, I just wanted you to see this. Look."

"Oh!" Clara was happy to see James' performances were going well, but then she saw why Abe had led her away from Cecilia. "Oh. Well, that's—"

"Unexpected. Right?"

"I'd say. Wow. Well, she is stunning," Clara conceded, handing the newsprint back to Abe. "As long as he's happy. . .?"

"What happens if Cecilia finds out?"

"Do we have to tell her?" Clara didn't like that prospect. This was awkward.

"I suppose not."

"I guess that's why he hasn't called?"

"Well, he needed to shake things up too. I just didn't expect that, or her."

"It happens all the time in the dance world." Clara offered. "And at least she's not likely to leave him for his being an artist."

Abe shrugged. That much was true. "I don't know. I don't know her well, but she doesn't strike me as . . . his . . . type."

"No. But, who's to say? James is quite a catch. And people can surprise you."

"I'd be lying if I said this didn't worry me."

"I seem to recall being told not to meddle in others' personal lives," Clara teased.

Abe spanked her ass. "You're right. I guess we'll just be happy for them?"

"I think that's all we can do for now." Clara said simply. "I've got to finish chopping those vegetables if we're going to eat before midnight."

Abe kissed Clara on the forehead. "Off you go then." He sent her off with another quick swat to the bum.


"Beautifully done Clara. I think you'll get a leading role in Streetcar for certain." Clara smiled and gracefully accepted the compliment.

"Thank you Sebastian. So many other girls have worked so hard as well. And I'm only a soloist. I hope we made it a difficult decision at least."

Today was the last company class before the artistic directors made final decisions about casting. A Streetcar Named Desire was going to be a major premiere for the company, and the directors had taken unusual measures in opening lead auditions up to soloists. Clara thought they were looking for the most viable understudies. She didn't try to get too ahead of herself, but Sebastian's compliment was welcome in any case. You couldn't underestimate the opinion of the principals; they often had the choreographer's ear in casting matters, especially when it came to pairing dancers off.

Clara went to towel off and start rolling out her muscles. Sebastian followed her. "And how has Cecilia been? I haven't seen her lately." That was true. Clara had done her best to keep Cecilia away from Sebastian. It was healthy for her to be with the other girls, but she didn't know what to do about Sebastian's interest in Cecilia.

"She's been doing other things I expect." Clara had interfered enough.

"Has she said anything about me?" he queried.

No. leave me out of this. "You'd have to ask her I'm afraid."

"I would. But I seem to have lost her contact."

Because she didn't give it to you... "Oh? Really? Well, next time you see her I suppose..."

Just then Gabrielle came over.

"Did you say you needed Cecilia's contact Sebastian? I have her mobile."

Clara tried to hold her groan in. Gabrielle was only trying to be helpful, she knew, but this was not helping.

"Gabrielle, I know Cecilia really... values her privacy... maybe check with her before you give her number out?"

Gabrielle considered for a moment. "Yes. Of course." Clara breathed a sigh of relief. Then Gabrielle continued, "Why don't you catch her after our yoga class and ask her yourself?"

Clara wanted to shake Gabrielle. If Sebastian kept this up, Clara was going to end up with another sore bottom that had nothing to do with dancing or cross training. She set this terrible chain of events in motion before she knew what the collateral damage could be. Now that she knew, she wanted to go back in time. She never should have tried to set Sebastian and Cecilia up. But it was too late. She had to maintain Abe's policy of noninterference.

"Gracias, Gabriella. I think I'll do that."

Clara could only hold a fixed smile and hope that Cecilia would rebuff him.


A few days later, Clara's prayers were soundly denied. She saw Sebastian outside the yoga studio before everyone else. She tried to linger back. Dawdling with her yoga mat and asking the front desk about upcoming workshops didn't buy her enough time. Sebastian was fervent in his desire to see Cecilia again, and Clara could do nothing to stop him.

Mackenzie and Sophie spotted Sebastian and stopped to chat. "Perfect. Just brilliant!" Clara thought to herself. "I've really done it now."

Sure enough, as soon as Clara and Cecilia exited the studio, Sebastian extricated himself from the corps and zeroed in on Cecilia.

"Como estas, Cecilia?"

The greeting jolted Cecilia. "Buen. Y tu?"

"Perfecto ahora. It's been too long querrida."

"What do you mean?"

For a moment, Clara hoped Cecilia would just move along and forget him. Her hopes were dashed when Sebastian donned his signature winning smile and said,

"Hermosa, I asked you to share dinner with me. Tell me you won't break my heart and refuse me now."

Cecilia and the rest of the girls were taken with Sebastian's earnest pleading. Some of the ballerinas glanced at each other. Speculation tinged with a hint of jealousy spiced surreptitious murmurs. It was so romantic: Sebastian's forthright invitation and rather public confession were from a bygone era. Cecilia was so lucky to be the object of his attention.

With all the eyes around her, Cecilia didn't know what to do. She looked to Clara for a moment. She was passive. She looked to Gabrielle, Alicia, and Sophie who seemed to be encouraging her silently with microscopic nods and raised eyebrows. She looked to Sebastian's comely features, athletic build, and welcoming body language.

"Okay then. Yes. We're still on." The girls around her broke into more obvious whispers and some giggled.

"Perfecto. Next Friday? Tell me you are free."

Cecilia nodded. "I am." More hushed conversations.

"Cecilia, you don't know how happy you've made me! I'll pick you up at 6 on Friday?" He didn't wait for Cecilia to respond. He handed Cecilia his smart phone, already with a new contact window open. "I'll call you later." He sounded somewhat rushed, as if he had to be off somewhere soon. Cecilia typed her number into his phone quickly, feeling a little shaky. When she handed it back to him he checked his phone and started tapping away.

"There. I texted you. You have my number now." He ignored the small audience and moved closer to her. "Text me," he said in a lower voice. With that, he kissed her on the temple chastely, and turned to walk away. Far from being in a hurry though he set off at a leisurely pace, hands in his pockets, beaming at passersby.

The girls around Cecilia started buzzing as soon as Sebastian was out of earshot.

"What are you going to wear?"

"How long has this been going on?"

"Why didn't you say anything?!"

Cecilia blushed deeply, not used to being the center of attention, and not sure whom to answer first.

"Well, I suppose at the opening night of Alice..."

Clara swallowed and said nothing. This was entirely her doing.


James walked into the empty concert hall. His footfalls echoed strangely in the acoustically tuned room; he could feel the solitude. He'd been surrounded by people since he and Tasha traveled through Russia. He wasn't used to the constant socializing, preferring to keep to himself. It was better here in Tokyo, if only just. Mae pulled a few strings and got someone to let him in the concert hall. It was late, nearly 10 pm, but he was jet lagged and wanted to practice in peace.

He hadn't been properly alone since meeting up with Tasha in Berlin. He was either with her, or with other musicians, or at some event or other. His agent kept calling with different business opportunities. Deutsche Grammophon was interested in a live recording . . . It was all good news, but it didn't sit well with James. It felt fraudulent because Tasha's little encore precipitated all this attention, cheap even. James sat at the piano and closed his eyes.

The Bosendorfer had a heavy action, and James could dig into the instrument. He started with the Pathetique, flying through the first movement, as if exorcising unacknowledged fury.

At the start of the second movement, he breathed deeply. Unbidden, Cecilia wandered into his mind. He missed sneaking glances her way. He wondered if she was happier with him gone. He wondered if he'd be able to keep his promise and play this piece for her. James had kept thoughts of Cecilia to a minimum since he started seeing Tasha. Now that she was there, he couldn't shake her. He remembered that quiet dinner alone with Cecilia sharing a bottle of wine and some Indian take-out. That night had been so simple.

James' mind wandered so far away from the piece that when he returned his focus to the task at hand, he couldn't remember which part he was playing. He was glad he was alone so no one could hear his mistakes. He was so thoroughly distracted that he discarded the pretense of practicing and played the things that were weighing on his heart.

It was easier to acknowledge his feelings this way. He heard variations on sadness and regret, scales of confusion, and chords that kept his mind firmly enraptured with Cecilia's potential. He played wandering notes again but in the relative minor, with foreboding. He tried to stave off this desire. He switched gears and thought about Natasha instead, but all feeling and creativity left him then. She didn't like overly expressive playing and despite her musical vocabulary and training, she couldn't improvise. He took a breath and began Bach's Goldberg Variations instead.

About halfway through James gave up. He couldn't concentrate properly. He felt boxed in. He wasn't yet half-done with the tour, but it was taxing him greatly. Tasha also demanded his energy and attention. He needed a break from this stuffy world where everyone seemed to be watching him.

As he had that thought, Natasha strolled in. It wasn't until he was in her presence that James realized he was avoiding her. He needed a chance to re-center and focus.

Natasha was all distraction. She was dressed for the evening in an airy black blouse and a clingy floor-length burgundy skirt. The thigh-high slit did away with any pretensions at modesty, and showed off her Jimmy Choo's to great affect.

"Mae said I would find you here." She sat down next to him on the piano bench.

"I figured I'd let you get the rest if you could. I'm wide awake." James covered the keys.

"Well, I'm awake now. I thought we could get a late dinner together."

"I ate with Mae before she helped me get in here to practice. I'm not very hungry at the moment."

Natasha swiveled around on the bench, facing James directly with her elbows leaning on the covered keys. She gave the smallest pout. "But I am. Come on, James. Have a drink with me while I eat?"

James considered for a moment. Natasha presented another option. "Or we could go back to the hotel . . . work up an appetite and order room service . . ."

After that first night in Berlin, they regularly enjoyed room service and mind-blowing sex. Tasha surprised him with her sexual appetite. She started to tug at the buttons on his collar, looking him straight in the eye. He was bemused at the challenge her blue eyes offered. She smiled at him, somewhat defiantly. After opening his collar, she reached for his neck. James leaned back. He wanted to see her work for it.

He knew men fell at Tasha's feet. In Russia especially, she was in her element. She had no shortage of admirers, and she hadn't been shy or embarrassed when they flirted with her. James took it in stride, and then realized what a statement Tasha had been making with her public displays of affection.

Now that they were away from all that though, James felt on edge. Tasha leaned forward and kissed him possessively, her hand tracing the planes of his chest reaching to finish removing his shirt. James had no intention of removing his clothes on the stage of the concert hall. Instead, he took her wrist in one hand and guided it behind her back. She paused at this change. He took this chance to start pulling the pins out of her tightly coiled bun.

Tasha felt off balance on the bench and tried to pull her arm back around, but James' grip was firm. "James, my hair!"

"Shhh. I like it down." He enjoyed her when she was uncertain. All the haughtiness dissolved. There were more pins in her hair than he thought. He nibbled her jaw line and tossed the offending pins away. "There." He said when her blonde locks tumbled around her face and shoulders. "Gorgeous. Stay like that."

Natasha pouted. With her free hand she clung to James' shoulder. He finally felt excitement. This wasn't just on Natasha's terms anymore. He lifted her up and sat her down on his lap. She could feel his hardness beneath her. James took advantage of the slit in her skirt, and ran his hand up her thigh. Without much coaxing, she straddled him.

James squeezed her round ass, and pushed her long skirt until it was practically around her waist. Then he kissed her, adding a bite to her lower lip, just to hear her slight gasp.

Her long legs folded in and she was kneeling over James' hips. Nothing about the position was submissive though. She started to fiddle with the buttons of her blouse, bracing one arm on the piano behind James' back. He wasn't ready to let her turn the tables just yet. Instinctually, James twined his hand in her hair. He tugged back, exposing Tasha's entire throat. With his free hand he traced the lines of her neck with the backs of his fingers. She shuddered, and exhaled showing off her ample breasts with each breath.

Tasha was not used to dalliances like this. She wasn't sure how she felt about the tug on her hair, but his fingers on her throat were sensual, and she couldn't believe how hot she felt. James' fingers started at her pulse and continued to trace a path lower. She was ready for him to discard her blouse, but instead he let go of her hair, wrapped an arm around the small of her back, and snuck his hand beneath her skirt. She was wearing a lacy thong, which James moved out of the way. He was rewarded when he heard her breath catch. He smiled devilishly when he felt her wetness.

With two fingers he teased at her entrance. The teasing wasn't enough, and James felt Tasha press harder into his hand seeking further stimulation. He loved making a woman weak at the knees. Tasha required a different touch. This was far from the power exchange he was accustomed to, but it was the most he'd indulged in his dark side in months. James found Tasha's clit and rolled it softly at first, increasing in pressure and speed.

Tasha was having trouble thinking and balancing. James' fingers were driving her wild. She was afraid she would fall over, but the risk and exposure made this encounter exciting. Tasha spread her legs further, seeking greater stimulation. She wanted him to stop teasing her. She could feel his erection and wanted him inside her. Happy to have her hands free, she reached for James' belt buckle. He groaned but "tsked" her.

Natasha couldn't understand why James was behaving so strangely. She was used to setting the pace and having her way. James slowed his movement on her pussy. "Not here." He said with some authority. Usually, men couldn't wait for her to ride them. She moaned loudly as he renewed his digital manipulation of her pussy. His fingers were inside her and his thumb put exquisite pressure on her clit. James kissed her possessively and while her body was ready to succumb entirely, part of her resented James' high-handedness.

She felt so good; she was so close. James pulled away from the kiss and whispered in her ear, his voice low and husky, "Let's go back to the suite and finish this."

Tasha couldn't believe he was proposing a change of venue now. She was so close. His hand left her, and Tasha whimpered. She tossed her hair back and took it as a challenge. Her dark blue eyes met James' light blue ones, and she reached to finish what James' started. He chuckled softly. Without uttering another word, he was scooping Natasha up and off his lap.

"James! What are you doing?"

"Come on. You wanted to do room service tonight."


James was already walking off the stage towards the service exit of the venue, smiling.

"Yes. Come on little girl!" he teased.

That was taking it too far. "Don't call me that, James!"

James paused at the sharpness in her voice and turned around. She wasn't following him. He briskly walked back to her. Outrage written on every inch of her demeanor. He decided to change tactics.

James leaned in to kiss her. She was stiff and didn't return it. His voice was softer now, seductive and placating. "I want you, but not here." Without waiting for her response, James swept her off her feet and carried her with him.

Once outside and on the street he kissed her, and set her down. Tasha returned his kiss this time, flustered, but momentarily appeased by the romantic gestures.

Their hotel was just down the busy neon-lit street from where the concert hall. After a quick jaunt up the busy street, James and Natasha were ensconced in the quiet of the hotel lobby, then the elevator, then their shared room.

James noticed a change come over Natasha. She was eyeing James darkly. She started unbuttoning her blouse, and let it fall from her shoulders. In just her bra and long skirt she advanced towards James and pushed him onto the bed. She kissed and bit his neck as she removed his shirt. She was going to finish what they started.

James savored the budding triumph of subtly topping Natasha. He breathed deeply and let it go reluctantly. That was clearly as far as she was going to let him take it this time. He leaned back as she unbuttoned the rest of his shirt. He imagined her as she was moments before, not submissive perhaps, but trusting, and willing to follow his lead, even for just a few moments. Why couldn't it be more like that?

When his shirt was off, she kissed her way down his chest. In no time at all she was unbuckling his belt, and pulling at his pants and briefs. Her mouth slipped over the head of his cock, and James closed his eyes surrendering to her ministrations. By closing his eyes he could imagine that she actually wanted to be on her knees for him. Her tongue and lips suckled him expertly and James let out a groan. He would have let her continue all the way to his completion.

Natasha had different plans though. She stopped, and grinned wickedly up at James. Now he knew how she'd felt when he's stopped to suggest a change of venue. Tasha unhooked her bra and let it drop to the floor, freeing her breasts and cupping their generous weight in her hands. She crawled over James' reclined form and straddled him again, putting all her effort into driving him wild. She moaned sensually and licked her lips. She grabbed his hard length and started jerking him off. She bit his left nipple and was rewarded with a surprised exhalation of: "Fuck. Tasha."

James tried to enjoy her playfulness, and easily rolled her over onto her back. He didn't wait any longer. He peeled away the skirt and her thong, feeling her wetness. Quickly, he entered her, and Tasha moaned her approval, finally getting what she'd wanted all along. "Yes, James. Fuck me. Harder!"

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