Tossing and Turning isn’t her favorite way to spend the night. Away from home, she had been in a hotel for the past six months which never gave her the security she needed to sleep peacefully. Instead of forcing herself to sleep, Alicia slipped out of her hotel room and followed the familiar gentle sound of the piano keys. She tip toed down the hall and turned right until she saw a wooden door propped open about an inch. She poked her head in the dark room slightly to catch a glimpse of the famous Marriot’s Ballroom.
Alicia opened the door carefully and snuck in for her own private concert as she had done every night for six months. The only difference between this night and all the other nights is that tonight the room had never looked so spectacular. The largest ballroom in the hotel was dressed for a special occasion; a wedding, of course.
Although the only light in the room was from the piano lamp, the beauty of the room did not go unseen. The many rows of chairs were split right down the middle by a red-velvet carpet that would be covered with rose petals tomorrow. Large cherry scented candles were waiting to be lit at the wedding ceremony; her wedding ceremony where she would become Mrs. Calhoun. It will be the happiest day of my life, she often thought. Her eyes trailed the room and everything about tomorrow frightened her; but then her eyes landed on him. Nick Calhoun tickling the ivories gave her that warmth that made her feel at home.
Every night for the past six months, she’d be woken up by the same sound but always a different melody. Every night she’d sneak in, close her eyes, and just listen even if it were for only a minute or two. Why did such talent bring her such joy and peace? Well, because she loves him. As her eyes closed, the music played on a loop in her head oblivious to the fact that the music, in reality, had stopped moments ago.
Slowly her eyes opened expecting to see Nick’s back as he played the piano, but was startled to come into reality and see him facing her, away from the piano. He sat there eyes locked with hers as she sat in the far back where he could only see an outline of her figure, but he knew it was her. He always knew it was her. She sat there silent and still shocked because of all the times she snuck in, she’d never been caught. His paled face was unreadable, but his chocolate brown eyes never showed such emotion. He’d never shown such emotion; and yet, his whole story was told through his composure but she never took the time to read into it. He leaned on to his left knee letting his elbow rest on it to hold him up. He wasn’t tired just unbelievably broken. His dark, perfect curls were falling over his eyes as if he’d been pulling at it in frustration. The veins of his neck showed clearly as he held his breath and stared at this beautiful woman. “Isn’t it bad luck to see the room before the big day?” He joked, dryly. His voice was soft but even from their distance; she could hear him loud and clear.
“I believe that’s the bride in her wedding dress and the groom,” Alicia laughed almost but she couldn’t bring it to sound genuine. “You couldn’t sleep?”
“I could say the same about you,” He quickly remarked in defense revealing his anxiety.
She stood up and made her way towards the piano using the light to guide her. “I guess I had cold feet and just couldn’t bring myself to sleep,” She admitted smiling softly “Your turn.”
He looked back at her offering a weak smile as he locked eyes with her familiar hazel ones once again. As every one of her chestnut curls framed her face so perfectly, his heart just couldn’t take it anymore and started pounding irregularly. “Aiden’s snoring always keeps me up at night. Good luck with that for the rest of your life. I already dealt with it for sixteen years before the guy finally moved out.”
She couldn’t help but let out a genuine laugh at his first joke about his best friend marrying his brother. Nick smiled as he saw the nerves in her expression dissolve and transform into joy. He glanced back at the piano for a second, but she caught him. “It’s beautiful, Nick.”
“It isn’t finished,” He groaned in frustration. “I’m supposed to finish it tonight and play the piece for your first dance tomorrow but I just can’t seem to finish it. I’m really sorry!” He looked at her with eyes of sorrow feeling terrible that he couldn’t bring himself to let her go. He let his personal feelings get in the way of the perfect first dance he had promised his brother.
“I think it’ll be perfect – once your done and all I mean,” She clarified, “Your instrumental pieces are always your best work.” She smiled offering him a little encouragement.
“Are you saying that to give me a compliment or are you just nicely telling me that I can’t sing?” He joked as she fell to the empty space beside him and pretended to think about that answer.
“Both,” She remarked playfully, resting her chin on his shoulder. “I wanted to thank you by the way. Through everything in my life, you were my go to guy. If I could I’d have you by my side as my Maid of Honor tomorrow.” She laughed a bit at the thought of him as her Maid of Honor before continuing, “Aiden and I fought about it for weeks but he really wanted you as the Best Man. Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for everything.” She smiled before finally kissing his cheek, innocently.
Alicia was finally able to let go. Although she knew that she’d always love him, she would be marrying Aiden the next morning-Aiden loves her and as much as it scares her, she’s in love with him. She had to let go of that fantasy that Nick would claim his love for her and they’d run off to get married because that wouldn’t be fair to Aiden. She’d always have her memories and a place in her heart for Nick but from the ceremony and until forever, her heart belonged to Aiden. “Goodnight,” She whispered before making her way out. It wasn’t until she left the room, went around the corner, and probably into her room that he was finally able to process what she had said and replied with his own farewells faintly.
He sat at the piano close to tears as his heart ached. But that was what it took for him to be able to do that for her and for him. He would always love Alicia but he had loved his brother more than anything. He knew how much Aiden loved her and how much she loved him. That was why he did it and suffered in silence. He smiled through it all: the ascension down the aisle, the vows, the kiss, and even through the First Dance, where he poured out his heart. Why? Because he loves them.
There’ll be days where he’ll pray for her again. He will be praying for her to sneak into a room while he plays the piano pretending not to notice her. The truth is, however, he always notices her. She wasn’t as quiet as she believed and he wasn’t as oblivious as he seemed. But he loves her and so poured his heart and soul out into the song all for him to play for her one last time. He told her how he felt as he gave her away through every bit of music he had left because she was his muse and he had to let her go.
From Key to Key
And Chord to Chord
He’ll pour his heart out
For the girl he adored