Jared was a quiet, shy teenager, and thrived in the quiet. His older brother Anders was the opposite — the leader, the talker, the interesting one who got all the girl’s attention. The attention Jared wished he could get, especially from Krysti. Krysti was perfect, beautiful, outgoing — and completely out of Jared’s league. She had a thing for Anders, but Anders was gone, attending his first year at military academy. Maybe now Jared would work up the courage that would make Krysti notice him.
Or maybe not. Jared gathered his thoughts, scrubbing out the ones of a girl he’d never have the nerve to approach. Even if she did live in this very house, and would be back in just a couple of hours. Jared shook his head. He needed to focus. Mr. And Mrs. Shaw had always been nice to his quiet little family, and he didn’t have any other way to practice the piano lessons he’d been learning before they moved from his childhood home. He’d better take advantage of the time and get back to work.
Jared turned his attention to the black and white keys in front of him. The drizzle outside was fast developing into a steady downpour; it definitely needed a minor key to match. He began to guide his hands over the over the keys, picking out notes and chords by instinct to match the melancholy weather outside.
The rushing wind and rain melded into the musical masterpiece Jared was composing. That is, until floorboard creak broke through his concentration. His hands jerked away from the keys and froze in midair. He was alone in this big house — wasn’t he? He carefully craned his head toward the hallway behind him. At first he saw nothing but an empty hallway. Then his eye caught a reflection I the hall mirror. There was a form huddled at the bottom of the stairs. Large brown eyes gazed back at him through the mirror. The she sneezed.
“Katy?” Krysti’s next-oldest sister rose from the stairs.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” she murmured as she stepped into the room.
“Uh, that’s okay,” Jared answered, embarrassment coloring his face. “I just didn’t know you were here. Your mom said she was taking all the kids with her.” Jared winced as the word “kids” came out of his mouth, the heat increasing on his face. Katy was only a couple of years younger than he and Krysti were; her bright brown eyes still carried a childlike quality, but she probably would not appreciate being called a child. Thankfully she didn’t seem to notice.
“I’ve been home sick all week,” Katy said, “and I was asleep. I guess she decided not to wake me up.” She curled herself into a ball in the corner of the sofa across the room. “But then I heard the music… Please keep playing. It’s really beautiful.”