Jean-Paul Tremblay’s hands itched with the all-too-familiar burn that raged miles beneath the skin. It didn’t help that he was also being tortured by the most ham-fisted rendition of Grieg’s Piano Concerto he had ever heard.
“I’ve heard enough, Leslie.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m not seeing the kind of improvement that shows me you’re serious.”
“Isn’t that a little unfair, Mr. Tremblay? This is only my second — ”
“When I was your age, Leslie, I was practicing every night for three hours to make it into the premiere National Junior Virtuoso academies.”
“And look where that got you.”
Jean-Paul flexed his stiff fingers and massaged his hands. “I’ll refund your mother the remaining tuition by week’s end.”
It wasn’t Lindsey’s fault. Not really. And Jean-Paul knew this. Yes she was twelve. And when Jean-Paul was twelve he was a prodigy competing against musicians twice his age. And as much as he wanted to be angry or disappointed at her for not taking the work more seriously, he also knew how rare it was to have both the talent and the tutelage he had as a child.
What Lindsey didn’t know — couldn’t know — was how much sacrifice it took to reach those heights. Or how devastating it was to lose it all.
The private music lesson industry had always been an inconsistent one, but Jean-Paul had never before alienated his entire stock of pupils. He told himself this was only a dry spell, business would pick up, his reputation as both a world-class pianist and passionate instructor would channel talented new pupils his way.
Two weeks crawled by and the only calls were from music camps or a couple chain-contractors he assumed wanted to cash in on his celebrity. He wasn’t Orson Welles trying to cling to a snuffed-out stardom. He was still in his prime. Even if he couldn’t play as masterfully as he had before, his sharpness hadn’t dulled — he was still a keen musical mind. Just a defeated, frustrated one.
So when Callie walked into his studio without an appointment, he received her with the undeserved enthusiasm one greats the mailman on a dreary afternoon. Callie was older than his typical student, usually twelve to sixteen, but…