“Magic?” I asked him. “That’s just the stuff of fairy tales and fantasy novels.”
He looked disappointed by my reply. “You could not possibly be here, young lady, if you did not believe somewhere in your heart that magic is as real and alive on this earth as it is in books and stories.”
He was right. I could hardly admit it, but I had never let go of that belief. Besides, it’s easier to write fantasy when you have fewer doubts about magic. I just didn’t talk about that fact much with other people.
I shook a curl of copper hair out of my face and said, “You seem to know a lot about me already, but I have no idea who you you are. Nobody told me that I was inheriting a tenant with the house.”
“Ah, of course, introductions are in order!” he said, giving a low and sweeping bow. I was still trying to figure out whether his mannerisms were authentic or just for dramatic flair. “My name is Jean-Marc Durand. I play the viola for His Majesty… on the days when he does not need my services elsewhere, at least.”
“You work for a king?”
“A tiring way to live, at times,” he replied, as though admitting some sort of secret, “but it gives me a chance to play my music more often than anything else. And what shall I call you, dear lady?”
I stared at him in disbelief before I could answer him. I was too stuck on the idea that the peerage was outdated– along with the rest of him. But he seemed eager to know, so I finally told him, “I’m Leila.”
So he wanted to know my last name as well. I could hardly be mysterious, though, when he’d already told me so much. “Moss,” I added.
“Leila Moss,” he said, repeating my name like a breath of wind, turning it over in his mind. “It is a true pleasure to meet you, Miss Moss.”
I almost chuckled at hearing my name said like that. Thankfully, I managed to not be so rude. “So tell me: do you play solo every night?”
“Not at all, milady,” Jean-Marc replied. “There should be seven of us, but I doubt that you will ever hear all of us playing together.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“That, milady, is because our cellist, the most esteemed Brielle DeChanson, has gone missing.”
Another viola solo for your listening pleasure: