We all had our own forms of Sunday worship. Carlisle would usually go to early services—he enjoyed Father Chesterfield's homilies on good days and enjoyed disagreeing with him even more. Esme and I attended more occasionally because we had heard so many stories about the man, though I suspected that she enjoyed them more than myself. I disliked the idea of sitting in a chapel crowded with humans while that foppish man presumed to preach the glories of eternal life. Rosalie and Emmett had bowed respectfully out and Carlisle had not bothered to press the matter.

Sunday afternoons when we were not hunting were usually spent on our own. Esme had found a treasure trove of antique blueprints at a recent auction and had taken to adapting them for her own use. Carlisle was working feverishly on revisions for an article that he planned to submit to the iNew England Journal of Medicine./i Rosalie eschewed Biblical studies and instead paid a regular devotion to both iVogue/i and iRedbook./i Emmett tended to either exercise or attempt to distract Rosalie from iRedbook./i

Today appeared to fall into the latter category. I had just received a new shipment of sheet music in the mail and was planning a pilgrimage to the piano when it started up.

iMy God, that is the third time she's read that article. She can't possibly be that fascinated by brocades. I would enjoy that red one. She looks so seductive in red. If she goes through it a fourth time, I may just have to remind her that I am not concerned with what she wears...

Emmett is so handsome when he pouts. He was positively irresistible when I finished with the last article. I think if I can keep him at bay for another twenty minutes, he may just be irresistible all night.../i

I hummed pointedly under my breath and fought down a bit of annoyance. It did not work terribly well—they were thinking very loudly at each other in the hopes that one of them might abandon all coyness and resort to something that anyone within a mile's radius would suffer.

In order to calm myself, I focused my attention on middle C. My right pinky brushed against the C and the third finger found A-flat an octave above my left pinky. Breathing in calm, I sought out Esme's thoughts and began the middle movement of Beethoven's iPathetique/i Sonata.

Her opening thought was, predictably the equivalent of a sigh.

iIf you were attempting to lure me out of my study, you have accomplished your mission/i she informed me.

iIf you are taking requests, I haven't heard any Brahms in weeks/i Carlisle added.

iI wish he'd quiet down/i Emmett mentally muttered. iSome of us are trying to concentrate./i

iAll right. Three more pages and then I will relieve him./i

She must have finished quickly with the three pages because I had barely started the minor triplets when all hell broke loose upstairs. I ducked my head and tried to lighten the istaccato/i, but I was being drowned out. My left hand even faltered on the chromatic counter-melody.

Some individuals had no tact.

Esme was thinking something along the same lines, though in the affectionate way of someone who had been through such times herself. She was still good enough to come downstairs and keep the bachelor virtuoso company in his unappreciated recital.

iI wish you would play that more often. You have beautiful mastery of it.i

I smiled and made the arpeggios as light as a kiss on the cheek. Instead of sitting back and watching from one of the chairs, she picked up the stack of new acquisitions and began humming along with the recapitulation. I let the melody drop into the ipiano/i dynamic as if she were the iprima donna/i at the opera and I was her humble accompanist. Encouraged by my submissiveness, she clutched the music dramatically to her bosom and increased her volume. Most unexpectedly, she began embellishing with conversational lyrics.

"I...do...hope," she warbled, "they grow out of this phase..."

"Were you then any better?" I sang back.

"Well, I suppose that we weren't," she concluded the phrase.

My right hand danced up the arpeggio to take the melody for one final turn around the room.

"They...could...learn to simply keep it down," I suggested loudly.

"That's not likely," Carlisle intoned from the office. "This is Emmett."

"We'll just have to take it," I agreed, moving smoothly into the coda.

Esme smiled with a slightly rueful shake of her head and glanced at the top piece of music. "Mozart," she observed. "You haven't touched his concertos in a few years."

"This one has a sense of humor," I explained as I finished the final chords. "Would you like to hear it?"

As if in protest of being drowned out, there was a wooden crash from upstairs. From the look of their mental images, we would need to replace the antique headboard with something more solid. Esme blanched and turned.

iThis has to stop. They should show more respect for all of us and even if they are newlyweds, that is no excuse for impropriety. And Emmett owes me hand-carved mahogany... Best not to interfere. They are young, but I will have some words with them both once they have...finished./i

"I think something a little more heavy-handed," Esme said weakly.

I knew just the thing.

"We could ask them to keep it down or move to another venue," I suggested.

"I doubt a hotel would understand the damage they would do," she countered.

"I was thinking more along the lines of their own private love nest," I corrected her. "Surely they want their privacy."

And we wanted our peace.

"Well, perhaps," she conceded as she considered a Debussy piece. "It iis/i nearly Christmas."

The Rachmaninov C# minor Prelude was hardly earth-shattering. I tended to take many liberties with the rhythm and pedaled heavily, but it was satisfyingly labor-intensive. Immortal creature or not, this was a piece that demanded my emotional attention and it became fairly easy to ignore the riot of noise upstairs.

The Prelude had been my last musical effort on my mother's old upright piano before the influenza came and there were times that I missed the monster that had never been perfectly in tune and which had keys that stuck in the damp. I could still remember my mother sitting in rapt attention through the last two pages, entranced by the evidence that I could feel as deeply as she did about the music.

It was one of my favorites and, I hoped, it would serve my purposes well.

The history was not why I had chosen this piece. The musical contrast was. The first page was a tangle of chords and chromatic phrases, but rarely ventured beyond the dynamic of imf/i. The second and third pages were best described as a hurricane that covered most of the keys and charged headlong through an iaccelerando/i until it hit a brick wall of two notes played one octave apart and logic-defying chords...

With the first crashing chord of the final statement, there was another crash upstairs. Followed by another. And another. And a great deal of mental frenzy.

iI thought these beds were stronger than this.

Esme's going to kill me!

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. First the headboard, now the frame...

Esme's going to...This is all Edward's fault! The moment I'm decent, I'm going to rip his throat out! The nerve!

Esme will be pretty mad.

Damn, a perfect Sunday ruined!/i

Something must have reflected in my expression as I paused in mid-phrase. Esme looked torn between laughing outright and charging upstairs to lecture the interrupted lovers. Finally, she patted me affectionately on the shoulder.

"Please be gentle," she requested. "I am rather attached to the furniture in this house."

Obligingly, I halted the Rachmaninoff and unearthed a Chopin waltz from my memory. She kissed my forehead by way of thanks and headed back to her study.

At the very least, I now knew how to keep the young marrieds in line.