Hello everyone! Happy Valentine's Day! I just wanted to say hello and give you a quick update. My bet and I have been very busy. Sorry for the delay. Take care everyone! Thank you all for your reviews and thanks to my beta again. You know I love you, girl!

Christine tried her hardest not to cover her ears.

It was just too damn hard.

Even with Melody and Erik in the other room, she could hear Melody screeching at the top of her lungs, but desperate not to disappoint Erik.

Apparently it wasn't enough, there was a glass pane separating Christine, Noah and Joel from Melody and Erik, and through it she could see Erik's patience diminish slowly.

Noah couldn't see how she was messing up time after time, but Joel, Christine and Erik could. Perhaps it was because they had grown up around music, or maybe Erik was right, maybe he was tone deaf.

"Again, child, again," Erik told Melody for what seemed to be the hundredth time.

Joel let his head drop from his hands and onto the desk he was in front of. She thought she could hear him fake sobbing, "Not again."

Christine sighed as she placed her chin in her hand.

Melody only stomped her food whining. "Why do I have to do these stupid scales? They don't help!"

Erik looked irritated but when he spoke, it was utterly calm. "Do not blame the scales for your incompetence."

Christine flinched. That had to hurt.

Melody turned her green-contacted gaze towards Noah, and whined his name. "Help me."

Just as Noah was about to go to the door, Christine stopped him. "He's a perfectionist, Noah, don't worry, she'll get it right."

"Or she'll bloody well die trying," Joel added, then perked up. "No worries, Unc, He knows what he's doing."

Noah sighed and sat back down. "This is a rotten waste of time."

"Well you wanted Melody for the duet," Joel told him as he stood. "Erik won't let her be in it until she at least does her scales. It's either this or no song. I don't think Erik will let her butcher his song."

Christine nodded.

Melody groaned again as Erik told her of her poor voice.

"Well, I'm not perfect!" she squealed with fury.

"No," Erik said, infuriated then he pointed to Christine through the glass. "She is!"

Joel sucked air through his teeth as Christine blushed. "He's not being very blunt about him wanting to sing the song with you, is he?"

"Maybe I can help her," Christine said, making her way to the door loading to the room.

As soon as she went in, Melody's eyes glistened with tears. "Oh, Chrissy!" She sniffled. "Oh, you have to help me!" She pointed an accusing finger towards Erik. "He's mad, he is! I mean, I keep telling him I can't do it! It's impossible for me!"

"Nothing is impossible," Christine said, ignoring her nickname for her. "Come on, I came to help."

Erik seemed to relax considerably. "Whenever you're ready, Christine."

"Okay, now, I see that while you sing your posture doesn't stay the same. I'll help you. Remember to breathe." She nodded to Erik and he began.

"Same scale," Christine told her. "Once you get to the higher notes, open your mouth a little more."

Christine tried to continue to help Melody and although it was improving, she wasn't improving fast enough. With an appointment later in the day, Christine was already late.

Erik had given Melody a break to speak to Noah, but she really knew it was to prevent himself from screaming at her any more.
Erik placed her elbows on the piano, sighing. "And I thought Carlotta was bad." He said as he placed his face in his hands. "She's impossible."

Christine came up behind him as he sat on the piano bench and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "She's not that bad."

"No," Erik admitted. "She's worse."

"Aww," she told him. "Don't be so hard on her." She kissed his cheek. "Just be patient. If it weren't for your patience, where would I be now?"

Erik scoffed. "At least I saw potential in you, unlike her."

Christine sighed. "Look, it's getting late-"

"Yes, I know. Perhaps you would like to go visit him by yourself until I get there?"

Christine nodded. "My thoughts exactly."

"If I get there," Erik corrected.

Christine laughed. "If not, then I'll see you at home."

He kissed her hand and let her go. "I'll try my best to make it."

"I know you will," Christine assured him as she went out.

In the other room, she passed Melody just as she went inside. "Erik is a little scary sometimes," Melody told her.

Christine smiled, she once felt that way about her angel whenever she did something wrong. "Just don't forget what I told you."

Melody nodded. "Thanks, Chrissy."

"Bye, doll," Joel said as he waved his hand to her. As she left the room, she could hear him mumble, "Let the torture begin," just as Erik began to play the introduction for Melody.

The house had changed on the outside. The gardens weren't tended to, the paint was facing from the walls, the windows were dirty, the lawn overgrowing. Christine thought that no one had lived in it for months.

She passed the white fence and followed the paved sidewalk to the dark blue doors. She knocked on the door and waited in apprehension. The house looked daunting, unfriendly, she only hoped the man inside wasn't as foreboding as his home.

The man on the other side didn't look at all familiar. His dark eyes had bags beneath them, his hair and clothes were disheveled. His clothes were hanging off his skeletal frame and he was roughly shaven.

He hadn't taken care of himself at all, not since his son died.

"Hey, Nadir," Christine said warmly. "How are you?"

"Christine," he said in a tired voice. "Wh-what are you doing here?"

"I came to see how you're doing." Christine glanced behind him into the empty house. "Can I come in?"

He blinked, probably not used to the sun then looked back. "It's kind of a mess in here. Maybe-"

Christine stepped up from the stoop. "I've seen worse. I'm sure Erik called you, telling you I would be coming over?"

He smiled weakly. "Of course. Come in, please."

The house was chaos, it seemed as if no one had cleaned it or lived in it in months. There was dust everywhere although nothing was askew.

"Would you like something to drink?"

After Christine nodded, he asked, "What would you like?"

"Tea, please, it seems to be the only thing I can hold down lately." She followed him to the kitchen. "How are you holding up?"

Nadir nodded but said nothing as he set the kettle. He seemed to be fumbling with it so Christine offered to help. "Here, let me help."

"Thank you kindly, child," he said sitting at a chair in his bar next to the stove.

"Ayesha keeping you company?" Christine asked, recognizing the black shadow moving around the living room.

"Oh, yes," Nadir said nodding. "Very loyal, she is."

Christine smiled. "Erik thought she would keep you company."

"Yes, she is."

As Christine made the tea, she continued. "Erik found it harder to take care of her, it was very difficult for him to let her o."

"She was like his child to him," he said softly.

Christine took his hand. "Nadir, I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you. Loosing you wife and child in less than a year, even if you were divorced, it still must hurt-" She finally looked up to see his pained face. She scoffed, disgusted with herself. "I'm sorry, I tend to blabber on sometimes how stupid of me-"

"I still expect to see him come down the stairs in the morning," he began softly. "Or to hear his footsteps around the house or hear his complaining to go to school. He did that often." He sighed and looked at his hands. "I know it's been months but- it's not easy."

"It never is," Christine admitted. "In time, the pain will pass but not the memory. Time heals wounds."

The kettle whistled and Christine gathered cups for them both.

"He wasn't the same as before when I brought him here. He was always sick, but here, he seemed to grow worse." He sighed. "He began loosing his sight in Persia, that's when he met Erik." He laughed a little. "He loved Erik. Sometimes I guess I grew jealous of their relationship. I had thought he might like him more than me."

Christine gave him his tea. "He loved Erik's tricks, did he?"

Nadir nodded. "He never ceased to amaze my boy. He must have asked him to do dozens of tricks every night, but Erik never grew tired of him."

Christine took a sip of her tea.

"I suppose Reza needed Erik as much as Erik needed him."

"What do you mean?" Christine asked, curious.

Nadir smiled sadly. "They both looked forward to their time together. Erik was always patient with him. More than I was, and I was his father! If Reza was disrespectful, Erik would be there to correct him."

After a couple of minutes of silence, Christine asked what had been on her mind since before Reza passed away.

"Nadir, before Reza passed away, he told me something. He mentioned a conversation between yourself and a shah."

Nadir put his teacup down forcefully, making an awful clatter. She thought she had seen fear in his eyes. "Wh-What did he tell you?"

Christine swallowed. "Something about an Angel of Death and a disappearance and how Erik and you took off after that."

Nadir shook his head and laughed nervously. "Reza always made up stories-"

"Please, Nadir," Christine pleaded. "I have to know about Persia. Reza, he was going to tell me about the Angel of Death and the shah and Erik. Erik never brings it up but I know he's hiding something from me. I just know it. He doesn't want me to know but I don't know why." Christine calmed down and took a deep breath, blinking furiously to hold back her tears. "It's just- I feel as if he knows everything about me. Everything. He knows my every weakness, my every flaw. My past. But with Erik. I know almost nothing about him. Everything about his past I have learned from someone else. I would like to hear it from him but he won't say anything. He told me about the last few years but I think he might be lying."

Christine gulped. "I have to know who I'm going to marry. I have to know him. I love him. God, I love him, without a doubt I do. But I need to know who I'm marrying." Christine took a deep breath. "Please, Nadir. I need to know, what happened in Persia?"

Nadir looked at her defeated. It seemed as if his son's death had drained him of his defenses. "It was a very dark time for him- that's all I'll say."

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