Natural Arcs

Janos Zilahy entered the room with a grace and assuredness that oozed
from every pore of his skin. His ageless face, canvassed by the deep
butter glow of tanned skin and framed by dark brown strands of short
hair, exuded a quiet confidence. He immediately commandeered the front
of the classroom as his eyes touched on the six of us in turn. When he
got to me, cellist number four, I felt as if he'd extracted knowledge
about me that I never intended him to have.

"First," he began, his strong Hungarian accent evident even in his first
word, "I want to see your technique. I want to see how you play."

The bow in my hand began to shake slightly. I knew that I wouldn't be in
a master class without talent, but the idea of playing before him still
had me scared. I had three people before me to get over my nervousness.
I tightened my bow with trembling fingers.

Janos nodded slowly, fingers on lips and brow creased in concentration
as the first student, a young man at our university on scholarship from
Norway, began the Dvorak Concerto. I listened intently, trying to lose
my nervousness in the piece. When he'd finished, Janos began pointing
out the flaws in his technique and promised that he'd soon try to
correct them. He moved onto the next person.

My attention drifted toward the piece I was to play for him. I tried to
remember the comments he'd made on each student's technique so that I
wouldn't make the same mistakes myself. My palms began to sweat, making
my worry that the bow would slip. I wiped them discreetly on my jeans.

"Your name?"

I looked up to see Janos' eyes, once again, on me. "Olivia," I replied,
trying to hide the nervousness that was wracking my insides.

His eyes connected with mine as he returned my slight smile. "Please,
begin."

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The sharp aroma of the cello's
ancient wood wrapped itself around me. In an instant, I felt the
hesitation and nervousness seep out of me as the beauty of Tchaikovsky's
Pezzo Capriccioso took over. Every atom in my body devoted itself to
playing the piece. I'd hardly noticed time passing; before I knew it, I
was finished.

I raised my eyes to his and noticed the slight frown he wore. "We have
much to work on," he said with a nod.

My stomach crashed through me to the floor. I laid my bow carefully on
my leg as I tried to hide my face under the pretense of fixing the
unruly curls of my long hair. He moved onto the next student, a
nineteen-year-old girl who showed exceptional promise.

When we'd all finished our chosen pieces, he lectured on general
techniques that he said we'd all need to master in order to progress any
further. He waved his arms flamboyantly as he gestured, his accent
turning his words into poetry. I avoided his direct gaze through the
entire lecture.

An hour passed, and the class was over. I loosened my bow and carefully
but hurriedly placed my cello in its case, trying not to be the last
student out of the classroom. I wouldn't be so lucky.

"Olivia," his voice called.

I turned to look up at him, trying not to blush.

"Don't put your cello away just yet."

My stomach jumped, but I took the cello back out of the case.

"Sit here." He gestured to one of the chairs. I did as he said, placing
my cello in front of me. He stood behind me.

"Play."

I hesitated, but resisted the urge to turn and look at him. The tones
floated around us as I played the same piece I'd played in class.

I felt the air surrounding me warm slightly, the clean scent of a
newly-washed body filling my senses as he leaned in and placed a hand on
my bow arm, his other hand on my left wrist. The gentle pressure of his
fingers as he guided me into the right positions opened the floodgates
to my adrenaline. I could hear his breathing close to my ear, so calm
and even compared with my own.

"Natural arcs," he said quietly and soothingly. I swallowed hard. "The
body moves in natural arcs. You must let yourself be loose."

The bow glided across the strings as I desperately tried not to falter,
tried not to make any mistakes in the piece. His hands barely gripped my
wrist and arm as I continued to play. I let my arms relax, as he'd
suggested, trying to move in the natural arcs he talked about. I soon
lost myself in the piece, in the playing, in the beauty of the sound of
the cello and the feel of his hands on my skin. His own calm and
confidence seemed to pass from his hands into my pores and into me,
replacing my fear and doubt with only the nirvana of playing. When I
finished, I felt like I awoke from a deep sleep.

His hands moved from my wrist and arm to rest on my shoulders as he
straightened behind me. "You have a great talent," he said. "How old are
you?"

"Twenty two," I replied, wishing I had a glass of water to relieve my
dry mouth.

"When I was your age, ten years ago, I was only slightly more progressed
than you," he said, walking to the front of the room to put away his own
instrument. I could feel my cheeks burning as I packed my cello
carefully into its case, the metal buckles snapping quickly and loudly
into place.

"Thank you, Mr. Zilahy," I said.

"That is so formal. Please call me Janos."

He smiled at me, his eyes dark and intent, and I returned it as I left
the classroom for home.


* * *


I found it difficult the next day to pay attention to his words as he
spoke to the six of us again. Instead I let his accent wrap itself
around me in tenuous folds of liquid sound as I focused on his dark and
penetrating eyes.

This time, he discussed repertoire. I heard him mention Haydn's C Major
Concerto and watched as he began the piece. The cello seemed to respond
to him like a cobra to a snake charmer as he lovingly drew the music out
of it with his bow. I sat in awe as his focused talent sang out from him
to fill the room. I had to remember to breathe.

He played various pieces for us that day, making comparisons and
contrasts with each individual work, adding insightful notes about the
composers. The class was over before I was ready for it to end.

I didn't hurry to put away my cello as the other five students filed out
of the classroom. Instead I found myself lingering as Janos put away his
own instrument, noticed how his hands lovingly cradled the curve of the
neck. I saw him walk toward me from the corner of my eye.

"May I see your cello?"

My breath caught in my throat as I raised the instrument up for him to
examine. He stood close, making my skin tingle and my heart race, as he
ran a hand over the neck. "It's beautiful. Very well made," he said, his
voice whispering against my cheek as he leaned even closer to me. I
turned my face to his.

"Have you ever noticed," he began, so quiet that I had to strain to hear
him even though his lips were inches from mine, "that the cello
resembles a woman?" He leaned the cello back against the chair. I felt
his hands press against my waist and move down slowly over my hips.
"Beautiful, full curves…a slender neck…and when you draw your bow across
her strings in just the right way," he said, his accent and his words
intoxicating, "you can make her sing with pleasure."

His lips grazed my cheek, drawing from me a small gasp, and laid tiny
kisses along my skin to my own lips. He kissed me, sucking my lips
gently, his tongue circling around mine. I sank into it completely in
heady delirium.

He drew back, unwilling it seemed, and ran his hands up my arms,
gripping me tightly and pulling me toward him. "Olivia, will you come to
the concert tonight?" He asked.

I had known for weeks that he was giving a concert as well as the master
classes, and it would have taken much to stop me from going. Now, it
would take death. I nodded, afraid to speak for fear of breaking the
ethereal thread between us.

"Meet me backstage before the concert." He kissed me again and turned,
taking his cello case and walking from the room.


* * *


My heels clicked along the polished wooden floor as I made my way
backstage, eyes searching for Janos. The smell of performance drenched
the concert hall -- the dust of the ancient velvet curtains, the layers
of polish on the worn wooden floor. I saw him gathered with a small
group of other musicians; the silk of the blue dress I wore swirled
around my legs as I walked to him.

When he saw me, he broke into a wide smile and opened his arms, seeming
to completely forget the people he was with. "Olivia…" He said as the
dark blue of his eyes roamed over my body. He took my hand and led me
toward a dark corner. The cacophony of sounds -- musicians warming up,
people shouting and talking -- nearly drowned out his voice as he leaned
into me, his hands pulling my hips toward his.

"Do you have any idea what it is I'd like to do with you?" His voice
dripped, his hands sliding up to my breasts. The darkness of the corner
hid his secret touches.

My voice felt weak. "I think I have some idea," I replied, my mind
running over the possibilities.

"The second piece I'm going to play tonight…you will know." He licked
his lips. "It begins slowly, kissing you and teasing you gently as the
bow draws across the strings. But it cannot hold back, and so soon the
tempo increases, sliding over your skin and thrusting into you until it
must release itself, and then it fades slowly as it floats away."

A small moan crept out of my throat as his words seemed to dance over my
skin while his hands pulled me closer to him. He kissed me deeply and
said, "Think of me." With a touch of his finger to my lips, he walked
away.

I found my seat and settled in, my pulse racing, my hands fumbling with
the program. The lights went down.

My concentration on the first piece was nonexistent; I had no idea it
was over until I heard the applause. And then he began the second piece.
I was lost.

His cello sang in ecstasy as he drew the bow over its strings. I
listened as the tendrils of music wrapped themselves around me, imagined
his expert and delicate hands drawing his bow across my own strings. My
skin tingled as I imagined the music as an extension of him, as if the
two hundred audience members didn't exist, and it was only him and I in
the immense expanse of the concert hall.

The tempo picked up, his bow playing faster across the cello's strings
while his eyes squeezed shut in apparent ecstasy. Each note seemed to
nip at my skin and slide in between my legs, making me wet with desire
for the music. I ached for it to go faster, for his hand to draw the bow
more sharply across the strings. I begged inwardly to have his hands
pressing against my neck to elicit just the right notes and tones. My
fingers gripped the silk skirt of my dress tightly in an effort to keep
them from slipping between my thighs to pluck my own strings and bring
my own sonata to its conclusion. And when the music crescendoed to its
end, I breathed deeply and sank into my chair, aching to be alone with
him.

The concert ended and hundreds of people filed for the exits. I made my
way through the bulge of the crowd to stand in the cool November air,
the night enveloping me like a chilled blanket. Then I heard his voice
calling me from the other side of the building, away from the crowd.

I walked quickly to him. He met me halfway and gripped my hands in his.
His breath was quick and sharp. "Do you have your cello with you?" He
said. I nodded. "Good. Come with me."

I retrieved my cello from the car and walked swiftly to meet him at his.
He stood waiting, patiently but eagerly, and ushered me into the front
seat. We left the concert hall, driving in silence. I had no illusions
about where we were going. I was desperate to get there.

The hotel he was staying in was a four star, and his room was spacious,
warm, and inviting. He closed the door behind me and wrapped an arm
around my waist while his hand moved my hair, exposing my neck. He
nibbled my earlobe as his hands found the zipper of my dress, adeptly
sliding it off of me. I turned to face him and put my hands on his face,
hungrily sucking on his lips as I kissed him. I could feel his breath
come in ragged gasps instead of the regular rhythm in which we both
lived, as separate as every other aspect of our lives were. I needed to
play him. In a few moments, I stood naked before him while his hands
explored the skin along my back, hips, and waist.

"Play for me," he whispered.

I smiled and pulled away from him, reaching to take my cello from its
case. I placed the chair from the desk in the emptiest spot in the room
and sat down. The cool wood of the cello tingled against my naked thighs
as I picked up my bow and placed my fingers against the slender neck.
Without thinking of what piece I should chose, I simply began to play.
As the notes poured out of me, slow and sensuous, I felt the low
vibration of the cello's singing against my thighs. I pushed against it
as if it were the hips of a lover. The music filled the corners of the
room. This was no Tchaikovsky or Haydn. This was Olivia.

I felt him move to stand behind me, his hands gently pulling my long
hair from my shoulders to lay straight along my back. His fingers
delicately slid along the tendons in my neck. I played.

He knelt down behind the chair and ran his hands from my shoulders to my
arms, and gently let them fall to my thighs. I played.

His fingers probed the space between my legs, finding the wetness and
warmth and sinking into it. I played.

His hand found my hard nipple and squeezed gently, rolling it between
his fingers as the tempo of the music picked up. I played.

His mouth tasted my shoulders and neck and nipped at the space behind my
collarbones, making me moan in pleasure. I played.

He leaned in to my ear. "Let the music take you," he said. The whisper
of his words as they swam in his liquid voice brought a small whimper
from me as I drew the bow faster across the strings, letting my fingers
find the right notes, the notes that took me as he took me. His fingers
spread the warm wetness from inside me up to my clit, where he pressed
and played, finding my own right notes.

"Let's finish the sonata," he said. He moved in front of me and took the
cello from my hands, leading me to the bed. I laid back as he covered my
body with his. "Natural arcs," he said. "The body moves in natural
arcs." His hands traced the curves of my hips as he slid into me, making
our bodies the metronome to our music. I rocked my hips upward in time
with his, meeting each thrust with my own. The humid slickness of his
skin under my hands felt like the warmth of old wood against me, and I
devoured the vibration of his heaving back as he breathed, harder and
heavier. The tempo grew faster in time with our breathing, until we both
came in a mutual crescendo, in two-part harmony.

Natural arcs. I have mastered the technique.

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