Page 52 of The Protege

Whatever you want, daddy.

She detaches herself from me and saunters back in the direction of the others, as serene as one of Tchaikovsky’s swans. As if she hasn’t just taken all my beliefs that I’ve held dear for so long, snapped them one by one in front of my eyes and thrown them to the ground.

Chapter Nineteen

Isabeau

Now

I walk away, willing my legs not to shake. I can’t believe the things I’ve just said to Laszlo. It was that…place he put me in. I felt vulnerable and powerful at the same time, like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do, because he was there.

Did you want me then, too, daddy? How had I known? I look sightlessly at a young woman cooking noodles amid clouds of fragrant steam, remembering all the odd little things from the last year that I lived with Laszlo. How he pulled away from me physically, denying me his big, generous hugs and kisses goodnight. How he seemed afraid to look too long at me, or tell me I’d done well. His fleeting expression of pain when I asked him to play Vocalise with me. Then, the tight grip of his hands on my hips the night of my eighteenth birthday. The way he kissed me and said good girl.

My eyes graze stacks of colorful silk and carved wooden elephants. I was so preoccupied with his angry rejection that I never wondered why he seemed so conflicted that night. Why he kissed me so hungrily.

I spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the stalls with my fellow musicians and then we all head back to the hotel to rest and freshen up for that evening’s performance. At the concert hall I’m getting out my cello to begin tuning when I feel my phone buzz in my pocket. It’s an email from Laszlo and the subject is, I lied. I remember.

I frown. He lied? What about? Then I remember our conversation. Did you make yourself come thinking about me? What did you imagine?

I don’t remember.

I open the email with a shaking finger and start to read.

You in that white lace t-shirt you used to wear. Pulling it up and seeing your breasts spring free. Ripping off your underwear. Getting my mouth all over you. Licking your clit and hearing you whimper my name. Spreading your legs open and watching as I penetrated your sweet little cunt and feeling how tight you are. Pulling out and seeing your blood glistening on my cock, and then pushing slowly back in as you clung to me and cried out. Being so, so gentle as I pushed every hard inch of myself into you, taking my time and seeing that you were well fucked your first time. I knew you were a virgin because you never let any man get close to you but me. I don’t think you’re a virgin now and I don’t give a damn, I even prefer it because now I don’t have to hurt you and if some other man had managed to make you happy you wouldn’t be here, would you? Wanting me.

I take a shuddering breath and read his words through again. And again. Laszlo fantasized in lurid detail about taking my virginity. How did we get it so wrong when we both wanted each other so much?

I turn off my phone and start to tune my cello, playing scales but barely knowing what I’m doing. When the time comes I file out onto the stage and sit with the orchestra, dimly aware of the rumble of the audience in the enormous concert hall as I continue to tune up under the lights. Finally Laszlo walks out onto the stage and the audience applauds. He bows to them and takes his place at the front of the orchestra. The baton is held in his fingers just so, and he gives the first downbeat. We play, all the instruments in harmony with each other. I wait for Laszlo to catch my eye and I mouth, slowly and carefully, Please fuck me, maestro.

He swallows and looks away, his eyes darting over the second violins. Then he comes back to me and pins me with such look of naked lust that it makes my knees clench tightly on my cello. He doesn’t stop the precise movements of his hands but he holds my gaze for several bars, his gaze hard and unrelenting.

Of course no other man has managed to make me happy. How could they, when there’s no other man for me. There’s only Laszlo.

As I pack up my cello after the performance I marvel at how outwardly normal I am. I switch my phone on and find a text from Laszlo from just a few minutes ago.

My room at half past twelve

That’s in an hour’s time. My heart races as I type, Yes, sir

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