Harmony

byLillaBerndt©

I want to profusely thank BGMISFUN for all of the fantastic help with editing this story. Any errors are completely my own.

*

"He's a self-centered, egotistical, unattainable perfection-seeking, elitist, entitled, self-righteous asshole, that's what he is," Ava nearly shouted through the phone at her best friend Phoebe, who was trying to calm Ava down.

"Well, assuming I am none of those things, can you please stop shouting at me?" Phoebe replied.

Ava took a breath. "Sorry, Phoebs. He is just without a doubt the most frustrating person I've ever had the misfortune of working with."

"If he's so frustrating, why do you keep working with him?"

"Because possibly the most irritating thing about him is he's actually good. Really, extraordinarily good. Our voices sound amazing together, and he makes me a better singer. I just wish he could do that without turning me into a psychotic ball of homicidal rage."

Ava flopped onto the couch and looked forlornly out of her apartment window. She had moved to the big city about a year ago to try and make a career for herself as a singer. She never really dreamed of fame, as she hated to perform. But she did love to sing, and she could see herself becoming successful as a studio musician. She would get to work with amazing producers and musicians and not ever have to actually go on stage. The thought of performing in front of large groups of people made her sick to her stomach.

The apartment had been a gift from God, it seemed. It was her aunt's, and she had recently decided to move to Europe to be with her new beau. She had agreed to rent it to Ava for an extremely reasonable price, given its location and size. It also came fully furnished, and Ava's aunt had expensive tastes. It was a beautiful place with a great view, something which Ava had come to appreciate as a method for calming down. The windows were floor to ceiling overlooking the river, and Ava loved sitting in front of them at twilight, watching the city come to life. It had also given her the occasional view of couples in the twin building. She was sure these people thought that at this many stories up there was little to no chance of being seen, but Ava had been privy to more than a few live sex scenes.

She tried to order her thoughts as she looked out on the city skyline, reflected in the river many stories below. But every time she landed back on the reason she was so worked up, and she started to feel the rage bubble up again. She felt her jaw clench, and tried to take a few calming breaths.

"Why aren't you saying anything?" Ava asked.

"No reason," she responded quickly. Ava knew that wasn't true.

"Spit it out, Phoebs."

"Well," she started slowly, "It just seems like you may be overcompensating."

"Like, I really like him, but I'm just putting up this 'hating him' façade to fool others or myself, and one day we're going to be in the middle of a heated argument and we'll suddenly end up kissing passionately before he takes me right there on the piano?"

"Something like that."

Ava rolled her eyes. "You watch too many movies, my friend."

The next day, Ava was back in her voice coach's studio. They were waiting, as usual, for Liam. Liam was the cause of the rant yesterday, as he had been on many other days. Her voice coach, Jolene, had suggested that they team up and they had been practicing together for about six months. Vocally, it was a match made in heaven. Liam's rich baritone perfectly complemented Ava's mezzo soprano voice, and they had many a passerby stop in just to listen to them rehearse. In terms of personality, however, Ava couldn't think of anyone who was a bigger waste of space.

Ava had come from a working class background. Her parents weren't poor, but they weren't raking it in, either. Her father worked as a general manager at a restaurant and her mother was an elementary school teacher. She had three brothers, all older than she was. It meant that she was definitely the apple of her father's eye, and he and her mother had made every effort to encourage her singing. Ava knew there had been sacrifices so that she could remain in lessons, and she appreciated it more then she was able to ever put into words. She was smart and had worked hard and eventually earned a scholarship to a prestigious university to study voice. While she was there, she had met her fair share of kids who had never had to worry about money. They were the ones with the nice cars, who partied every weekend because they could afford to retake a class they had been too drunk or hung-over to attend. Ava had taken a lot of teasing from those kids. Her focus had always been her schoolwork and her voice. She couldn't afford to waste her time here; she had a scholarship to maintain. She got a job bartending at a local hangout to give herself some spending money, and had to spend every weekend being degraded by the same people who would ask her for her help studying once they realized how far behind they were. She had been so relieved to graduate that she had almost cried.

But graduate she did, near the top of her class. A couple of weeks later, the opportunity came up to move here, and she had some connections from university who had put her in contact with her current voice coach. She had been lucky Jolene had decided to take her on, as she ran one of the most sought after voice studios in the city. Nothing made her feel more comfortable than singing. It was where she could relax and let go of everything. At least, until Liam entered the picture.

Liam represented everything she was glad to have escaped when she graduated. His family was very wealthy, so Liam had grown up having been given everything he ever wanted. He was the stereotypical rich kid, the one who walked with the swagger of someone who had everything but didn't have to earn it. He was consistently late for rehearsals, he rarely practiced, and he wore a very annoying smirk on his face most of the time. He also loved to mock Ava for her roots, taking every opportunity to jab at her background.

Ava just returned every volley with as much venom as she could muster. She wanted to appear disinterested, like nothing he said bothered her, but he just got under her skin so quickly. He knew it too.

Finally he walked in, 15 minutes after practice was supposed to start.

"Everybody miss me?"

Ava rolled her eyes. "Like that's possible."

"Oh, come on, Berry. I know you secretly love me. Your little romantic heart is just waiting for a bad boy like me to sweep you off your feet."

"You know, I may have underestimated just how delusional you are."

"Your words hurt, Berry. On the inside."

He had started calling her "Berry" during their first lesson together, supposedly after her strawberry blonde hair. If it was anyone else, she might have actually found it a little endearing. From Liam, she wanted to slap him every time he said it.

"If you only had a heart."

"If you only had a brain."

"I think we both know the reason we can't ever get along is precisely because I have a brain. I'm not your type. You like 'em short, dark and stupid."

"How did you know who I did last night? Are you following me?"

"Chalk it up to my impressive powers of deduction, or your limited options for sexual partners. Take your pick."

"I think we both know I've never really lacked in the partner department, Berry."

"Only because they don't know you like I do, Princess."

Jolene finally stepped in, clearing her throat. "I think enough time had been wasted for today. Let's get on with it."

After the lesson, Ava stayed behind to chat a bit with Jolene. Of course, the conversation soon turned to Liam.

"You know, you're going to have to come up with some kind of coping strategy to deal with him."

"I do have a strategy. Utter contempt and loathing."

Jolene sighed. "Look, I know he's not your cup of tea," Ava gave an unladylike snort. "But I've been meaning to talk to you about something. There's a concert coming up in about three months. It's a big one, Ava. It's for a huge non-profit, so there will be lots of publicity, celebrity endorsements, that sort of thing. They've asked me to contribute, and I recommended you and Liam."

Ava was speechless for a moment. "But, I..."

"I know you hate performing in public. But this is going to be a great way to get yourself out there. You can't work even as a studio musician if you have no connections. You and Liam are my best students, and your voices together are magic."

Ava took a deep breath. She knew Jolene was right. She knew that even as a studio musician, there would still have to be occasional live performances.

"Yeah, okay. I'm in. What do you need from me?"

Jolene looked slightly abashed. "Well, this is why I mentioned a coping strategy. You're going to have to spend a lot more time with him. You're going to be performing four songs, all of which need to be learned and rehearsed ad nauseam. I'll be working with you daily, except weekends."

Ava gawked at her. "Daily?! I have to put up with that entitled jackass daily?"

"Just for a few months. Then you'll be so busy with your super-hot career that you probably won't even have time for me."

Ava looked over her glasses at Jolene. "Please. Like that will ever happen. Have you talked to Liam about this?"

"A couple of days ago during his private lesson. He seemed pretty excited about it."

"Of course he did." Ava rolled her eyes. "Like he would pass up the opportunity to present himself as God's gift to the world."

Jolene reached out and put her hand on Ava's shoulder. "Seriously. You're going to need to change your mind about him, at least a little bit. If you don't, you're going to be too stressed out to perform, and he shouldn't have that much control of your mind."

Ava gave Jolene a hug. "Thanks, Jo. I appreciate the advice."

When she left the classroom, Liam was waiting for her. "So, I hear we're going to be spending a lot of time together."

"So I'm told."

He fell in step beside her as she walked. He was several inches taller than she was, something she didn't find often given that she was just shy of six feet herself. The other really frustrating thing about Liam was that he was ridiculously good looking. When she had first met him, she had been a little dumbstruck. He had dark brown, almost black hair, which was always meticulously styled. It was slick but not immovable, very 1940's old school glamour. His eyes were a shocking shade of blue. Dark hair with light eyes had always been a preference of Ava's, so when he walked into that first rehearsal she had blinked a few times and tried her hardest not to stare at him. Then he had opened his mouth and any attraction had vanished almost instantly.

"It's okay. You don't have to say it. I know you're actually really happy to have an excuse to see me every day."

"Yeah, I'm super excited on the inside. Oddly enough, it feels very similar to nausea."

"Strange, that's not the usual effect I have on women."

"You'd be surprised. Whether it's sooner or later, I'm pretty sure they all eventually feel this way."

"I doubt it. You know, Berry, you are a bit of an enigma to me."

"Because I didn't let you into my pants 15 minutes after meeting you?"

"I'm insulted. It takes me no longer then 10 minutes, tops. Oh my God, is this your car?"

They had reached what was indeed Ava's car. It was a 1995 Toyota Corolla. Ava was instantly defensive.

"Yes, because this is what people who have to work for a living drive. If you think it's such an eyesore, feel free to use your daddy's money to buy me a new one."

"I think I'll save that money to spend on a girl who puts out. Have a good night, Berry. See you tomorrow."

With a wink and a kiss, he turned and sauntered away. Ava glared at his retreating back for a moment, then got in her car and slammed the door. She took a few deep breaths to calm down. She had to figure out a way to keep Liam from getting to her like this, or the next few months were going to be hell. After she had cleared her head, she started the car. She did have to get to work; a bartending gig that paid pretty well when you counted the tips drunken guys would give to busty girls. A little flirting, a little batting of the eyelashes, and presto! A nice $50 tip.

It did gnaw at her that she was using her body to make money in a way, but she had decided a long time ago that a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. She actually liked the job. The girls she worked with behind the bar were great, and her boss, David, was really easy to get along with. He was also a total hottie. The one thing Ava had discovered since she moved to the city was an impressive sex drive. She had been a bit of a wallflower in university, not that she would have had the time to socialize if she had wanted to. Now that she was completely on her own, she had discovered that she really liked sex.

One of the reasons she had been a bit reserved was because of her body. Now she discovered that it was in no way a hindrance to her sex life. She was what most would consider "plus-size," but she was fit and healthy. She ate well and worked out almost daily. She had grown to love her body, even if it wasn't what would fit into the mould of traditionally beautiful. It was strong, and she discovered that it was confidence that attracted men to her, not wearing a size 2.

She and David had good chemistry, and she knew he was interested in her. He would keep her late after work so they were the only two people left to close up the bar. She didn't really mind. He was fun to be around and was never pushy about wanting to be with her. One night, she got a bit carried away, and she and David had a rather hot and heavy makeout session in the bar. It hadn't progressed past that, and she had apologized the next day, saying it was better for them to remain friends. She didn't want to jeopardize the job, or their friendship. Still, she spent a fair amount of time at work fantasizing about having David turn her around and fuck her at his desk. The problem with so many of Ava's fantasies was that, while within the realm of possibility, she was way too practical to act on them. She knew in her head that having sex with her boss was a massive mistake, so she made sure that she was more careful from that point on.

The next few weeks were difficult for Ava. Between work, the gym, and daily practices with Liam and Jolene, she was getting pretty run down. Because of this, her temperament had gone from its usual snarky but still fun to downright bitchy. In turn, her verbal sparring with Liam had taken a pretty nasty turn. Jolene had actually worked with them separately a few times, because nothing was getting accomplished during their practice times. Finally during a session, it all came to a head.

"What the hell is your problem?" she yelled at Liam when Jolene stepped out of the room to take a call.

"What do you think? You are my problem. It's insulting to have to lower myself to even working with you." Liam yelled back, taking a step closer to Ava.

"Oh, poor little rich boy. Having to sully himself by rubbing up against the unwashed masses. That must be rough." Ava sneered. Not one to back down, she stepped toward Liam.

"You're a hack. Just some little no-talent who was able to sleep her way into a university voice program."

Ava grit her teeth. "Better than buying my way in with Daddy's money. You've never had to earn a thing in your lazy, useless life." They were practically face to face at this point.

"Bitch."

"Asshole."

And then, just like Phoebe had said, Liam kissed her. He brought his lips to hers with force enough to hurt, roughly using his tongue to probe into her mouth. Before she could think about it, she had wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close. He reached around, grabbed her ass and pulled her as close to him as possible. From there, she could feel his cock start to get hard and strain against his jeans.

Suddenly she came to her senses and pushed Liam away. He looked startled, as though he was also surprised at what had just happened. They stood there for moment, each of them breathing heavily. Just then Jolene walked back in.

"Oh, no blood. Excellent." She walked over to the piano and sat down.

Ava was trying to get her thoughts together. What had just happened? Why had Liam kissed her? Even worse, why had she responded? She hated Liam. She really did, and yet, that had been a fantastic kiss. She would never admit to Phoebe that she may have been right, but it was possible that passion was passion.

Ava tried to clear her head. She didn't want to have to tell Jolene what had just happened, and if she was lost in a daze for the rest of the lesson, Jo would definitely notice that something was wrong. It was still an awkward lesson. Liam stared at her for most of it but Ava was determinedly avoiding eye contact. She absolutely did not want to see some kind of self-satisfied smirk on Liam's face, like he had won some kind of battle because she clearly wanted him in some way.

As soon as the lesson ended, Ava practically ran out of the room. She didn't want to talk to anyone. She just wanted to go home, open a bottle of wine (although something stronger wasn't out of the question), and relax. Thank God she had that evening off; she would have been useless at work. As soon as she walked through the door of her apartment, she started in on the wine. She ran herself a bath and lit some candles. As she sat in her tub with her glass, she really mulled the events of the afternoon over. As much as she wanted to put it out of her mind, she found she couldn't. She knew she would have to deal with it somehow, as she was still working daily with Jolene and Liam. She decided the best thing to do was just to talk to Liam directly about it. She would tell him it was a mistake, a momentary lapse in judgment, and they would never be doing it again.

Once she reached that decision, she allowed herself a moment to think about the physicality of the kiss. It had been pretty damn good. She had always favored hard and rough over soft and sweet in terms of a sexual style. Liam also obviously knew what he was doing. When Liam had pulled her close, she could feel everything. She felt the hardness of his abs, the strength of his arms, not to mention his dick. That had felt pretty good, if she were honest with herself. She liked that Liam was aroused by her. She felt sure that this was against his better judgment, the same way it was with her.

She sighed as she got out of the tub. Honestly, it was a shame that she disliked him so much. She was betting he would be a pretty good time in bed. This also could really complicate things at the studio. She was hoping that Liam would behave like an adult about it. She wasn't holding her breath.

Just as she was sitting down in her living room in her robe with a book, the doorbell rang. The building's super had said he might drop by that night to check on a leak that Ava had complained about, so she got up and opened the door. There stood Liam.

"What are you doing here?" asked Ava. She was shocked to see him standing there, to say the least. "How did you get into the building? Someone has to buzz you in."

"I came in with another tenant; I told him I had forgotten my keys in my place and my neighbor had a spare but he wasn't answering." Liam was already looking over her shoulder as he answered. "May I come in?"

Ava stepped aside reluctantly and waved him in. He walked over to the window and looked down, then turned around and gave the apartment what was clearly an appraising look. "This is a nice place you have. Great view."

Ava hadn't moved from the door, nor had she closed it. "Thanks. Now seriously, what are you doing here?"

"Not to sound too condescending, but how do you afford it?"

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byLillaBerndt© 8 comments/ 37322 views/ 31 favorites

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