Home > Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(8)

Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(8)
Author: Tammara Webber

I’ve begun reading the course material on GDP, CPI, and inflation, and I’m working on the review questions at the end of chapter 9. If you want to meet to pass on the project requirements, I’m sure I can catch up on the regular coursework on my own.

Jacqueline

I pressed send and felt superior for all of about twenty seconds. In actuality, I’d barely glanced at chapter 9. So far, it looked less like comprehensible supply and demand charts, and more like gibberish with dollar signs and confusing shifts tossed in for fun. As for GDP and CPI, I knew what those acronyms signified… Sort of.

Oh, God. I’d just haughtily dismissed the tutor provided by my professor—the professor who wasn’t obligated to give me a second chance, but had.

When my email dinged again, I swallowed before clicking over to it. A new message from Landon Maxfield was at the top of my inbox.

Jacqueline,

If you prefer to catch up on your own, that’s your prerogative, of course. I’ll gather the information on the project and we can meet, say, Wednesday just after 2:00?

LM

PS What do you tutor?

His reply didn’t seem angry. He was civil. Nice, even. I was so emotional lately that I couldn’t judge anything clearly.

Landon,

I teach private lessons to orchestra students—middle and high school—on the upright bass. I just remembered I agreed to assist in transporting two of my students’ instruments to a program this Wednesday afternoon. (I drive a truck, to accommodate transport of my own instrument, and now I’m constantly inundated with requests to move large musical instruments, sofas, mattresses...)

Are you free any evening? Or Saturday?

JW

I’d been playing the upright bass since I was ten. In fourth grade, one of the orchestra’s two bass players had a pee wee football collision the second weekend of school, resulting in a snapped collarbone. Our orchestra teacher, Mrs. Peabody, had looked out over the vast sea of violin players and pleaded for someone to switch. “Anyone?” she’d squeaked. When no one else volunteered, I raised my hand.

Even the half-sized instrument dwarfed me back then; I’d needed a step-stool to play it, a fact that had provided my orchestra classmates with endless amusement. The ridicule didn’t stop at school.

“Honey, isn’t that an odd choice of instrument for a girl to play?” my mother asked. Still petulant over my rejection of learning piano—her instrument of choice—in favor of the violin, she was immediately unsupportive of my new preference.

“Yes.” I glared at my mother and she rolled her eyes. She’d never lost her disdain of the instrument I came to love to play for the way it grounded and directed the rest of the orchestra. I also loved the disbelief on the faces of fellow contestants at regional competitions, their surety that I wasn’t as good as they were because of my gender—and the way I proved that I was better.

By the time I was fifteen, I’d reached my full five-and-a-half-foot stature and could perform with a three-quarter sized instrument, no height adjustment needed, though it was a close thing.

For the past year, I’d been giving lessons to local students—all of them boys—each of them some version of smug and impertinent until they heard me play.

Jacqueline,

Upright bass? Interesting.

I’m busy in the evenings this week, and most weekends as well. I don’t want you to lose time on this, so I’ll send you the project information later tonight, and we can discuss it over email until we can sync our schedules. Will that work for you?

LM

PS – I’ll keep you in mind if I buy a large appliance or need to move.

Landon,

Thank you, yes—that would be great. (Re: sending the project information, I mean, not your brazen resolution to use me for my truck’s hauling capacity. You’re no better than my friends! They dodge U-Haul rentals and delivery fees, and I get paid in beer.)

JW

Jacqueline,

I’ll send the project specifics when I get home, and we can discuss.

The barter system is just primitive economics at work, you know. (And are you old enough for beer?)

LM

Landon,

Far be it from me to knock an effective use of prehistoric economics. And I suppose friends who pay in beer are better than friends who don’t pay at all. (Re: my age—I don’t believe the job description of Economics Tutor makes you privy to that sort of personal information.)

JW

Jacqueline,

Touché. I’ll just have to trust you not to get me arrested for supplying alcohol to minors.

You’re right—impoverished, auto-lacking college students like myself should respect tried-and-true methods of transport negotiations.

LM

I smiled at his candid admission of being carless, my face falling when I contrasted it with the sense of self-importance Kennedy got from his car. Right before we graduated, his parents gave his two-year-old Mustang to his sixteen-year-old brother, who’d wrecked his Jeep the weekend before. As an early graduation gift, they replaced Kennedy’s Mustang with the brand new BMW—sleek and black, with every available upgrade, including plush leather seats and a stereo system I could hear from a block away.

Dammit. I had to stop linking every single thing that happened to me with Kennedy. Realization dawned then, that he was still my default. Over the past three years, we’d become each other’s habit. And though he’d broken his habit of me when he walked away, I’d not broken my habit of him. I was still tethering him to my present, to my future. The truth was, he now belonged only to my past, and it was time I began to accept it, as much as it hurt to do so.

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