Middle Child Press: Lady of the Bow Ch6 ~ Face to Face

1.18.2014

Lady of the Bow Ch6 ~ Face to Face

Previously ~ "Sí, mi señora"

"Mademoiselle Arquero, welcome to our home," Mrs. Moreno greeted, welcoming her into a small dining room and gesturing for a nearby maid to serve the first round of morning coffees. "I apologize for making you wait. I didn't realize you'd be up so early!"

Merlo Arquero was a tall, medium brown woman with an enigmatic smile. "Señora, it is I who should apologize."

Mrs. Moreno beamed. "Such a mannered young woman. Are you currently attached?"

"No, Señora."

"Engaged, perhaps?"

"No, Señora."

"So there's no man or woman in your life?"

"Only the music, Señora. I studied under Señor Valdez while serving as assistant to Señor Jaramillo himself."

Mrs. Moreno sighed blissfully. "My husband chose correctly. You will be a most valued influence upon our daughter.  How is Señor Jaramillo these days?  He must be a very old man by now."

A dark cloud entered the younger woman's eyes.  "Oh, yes...very old.  He hasn't even been able to play in years.  He doesn't have much longer now, Señora."

Mrs. Moreno nodded sympathetically.  "It will be a great loss the day he goes.  My husband grew up on his music; instead of live musicians at our wedding, he had Señor Jaramillo's recordings play."

The young woman smiled back at her brightly, but the dark cloud in her eyes clearly hovered.  The two women were suddenly interrupted by the presence of a third person; Mrs. Moreno was the first to look up and speak.

"Angélica, come meet your new teacher, Señora Merlo Arquero."

The slender teenager looked down at her mother's guest with a wary gaze; she had the distinct feeling she'd met this woman before somewhere, and yet she knew she'd never seen this woman in her life.  There was something odd about this one; for a woman who appeared so young, she definitely seemed incredibly old.

It's the eyes, Angélica thought to herself.  They've seen too much.

"Buenos dias, Señora," she greeted with a stiff nod.

"Buenos dias, Angélica," Merlo beamed back.  "Please, both of you, call me Merlo.  Señora Arquero is my mother."

Mrs. Moreno gave a chuckle while her daughter mustered only a tight smile, pushing her mind to place where she'd seen Merlo before.

"Angélica, you're in good hands," her mother told her.  "Merlo studied under Valdez and worked under the legendary Aarón Jaramillo himself. You're a shoo-in for the conservatory."

Angélica resisted the urge to wince.  "I'm happy to hear that."

"Shall I see your violin, then?" Merlo asked suddenly.  "I'm sure Señor Moreno bought only the finest instrument for his little prodigy."

This time Angélica did wince.  "Do you mind...if we wait a bit?  I haven't had breakfast yet."

Merlo bowed her head, much lower than expected. "Sí, mi señora."

***

"So it is you."

Lounging against her bedroom wall, Angélica Moreno stubbornly crossed her arms and glared at Merlo, who explored the former's cavernous bedroom with wide, awestruck eyes.

"Mi señora," Merlo gasped, turning and turning again.  "Truly you are a princess.  With all your family's resources, you will be make a brilliant violinist.  Where is that violin of yours anyway?"

Angélica grouchily came forward, pulled her instrument from a haphazard nearby closet, and then tossed it callously upon her bed, much to the ire of her new tutor.

"Angélica!" Merlo rasped, coming swiftly to check on the violin, opening the fine leather case and gently lifting the instrument.  She inhaled deeply of the ancient wood, and the piney scent of rosin.

"You should have more respect," she chastised the girl.  "This...is  work of art.  It's older than this house."

"I do not wish to become a violinist," Angélica grumbled.

"Is it not your wish to make your life better?" Merlo mused, still lovingly fawning over the violin.  "This is the tool with which to make that happen."

Angélica's next words were practically a growl.  "I beg to differ.  I wished to make my life better.  I didn't specify as to how."

That caught the older woman's attention.  Her eyes were suddenly dark, dark as an unfathomable void.  "Is it your not wish to become a great musician?  A legend, like Jaramillo and all who came before him?"

"No," Angélica replied, and there was a note of smugness in her voice.  "It is my wish to take over my father's company when he dies."  She cocked her head to the side.  "Is it not your duty to fulfill my wish?"

Merlo nodded, her face still unreadable.  "It is."

"Then make it happen," Angélica snapped.  "And stop drooling over that damned violin!"

Merlo bowed her head. "Sí, mi señora."