Klara sings at an afternoon salon filled with aristocrats, although she doesn't feel well. She is accompanied by Akos Almassy, a pianist and servant to one of the titled guests. She feels strangely drawn to him.
Whenever there was pain in Klara's life, she ran to Music, let it carry her to a world of calm, grace and balance.
Music could heal any wound, dry any tear. Music was her tender Mother, the only one Klara had ever known.
She filled her lungs, felt the muscular pleasure of response in throat and diaphragm, heard the rich glory of her voice. As Almassy's strong fingers moved upon the black keys, his amber eyes stayed upon her. He was utterly focused on her every move, her every breath.
When the first song was done, Klara curtsied and smiled at the heart-felt applause. On the walls of this elegant reception room, ornamental details flowed up supporting columns and from these, onto the vaulted, painted ceilings, where angels and cherubs flew into clouds. She turned to include Akos in the applause, but she didn't quite dare to look into his eyes now that there was no music between them. Her heart raced, and not entirely from the exertion of song.
Perhaps if I translate this sensation into something recognizable, I can dismiss these queer, disturbing feelings...
Klara was accustomed to the games men played, either because they imagined it politic to feed her vanity, or for the very masculine reason that they had to feed their own. She had learned to flirt lightly, meaning nothing.
After all, who would dare to challenge Maximilian, the man who owned her, the man whose perverse desire had pierced her, a butterfly struggling on the jeweled pin of his passion?
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