Keziah felt her fingers play the same tune again for about the two-hundredth time this week but this time she felt even more nervous while doing it. This was their last practice. The definite last chance to practice before the ball. She let out a shaky sigh as she sang her part, feeling her nerves build more as she thought that in about twenty-four hours the exact hall they were practicing in was gonna be packed and decorated. About one-hundred and fifty people would be in that exact all. She tried her best not to let her nerves make her voice crack or sound pitchy. Zack started on his part flawlessly and she felt herself calm down a little. She hated to admit it, but she was glad she was singing with Zack now. At least if she messed up, he wouldn’t and it would draw the attention away from her. Also, there was something about his voice that calmed her... as long as she forgot it was him singing.
They ended off perfectly, or so Mrs. Knight thought. "Zack, you still look a little stiff over there," she said.
Keziah looked over at Zack. His one arm was against the piano. He shrugged a little. "I don’t know, ma’am, I just don’t feel very comfortable," he said. It surprised Keziah every time she saw how formal he could be in a lady’s presence. He was a complete gentleman when there were grownups around. It was like he was two completely different people. Keziah dropped her eyes to the piano. She also felt a discomfort with the song. There was something missing.
"And Keziah, I know you’re nervous but you really shouldn’t be. You have a lovely voice and you’re a very talented pianist. You’ve got nothing to be concerned about. Neither of you two do. You both are wonderful and even with the little practice you two have had in these two weeks, you sound amazing. I don’t want you two stressing tomorrow. Get enough rest and don’t strain your voices. Okay?" Mrs. Knight asked. Keziah nodded slowly. She couldn’t speak. Tomorrow was due date and she didn’t feel comfortable with the song yet. She wouldn’t unless she figured out what was missing in it.
There was a knock on the door that Saturday and Keziah felt a groan push up her throat. She almost stumped through the house towards the front door. Her blue summer dress slowly swaying from side to side. She left her hair down today. Her mom and dad had gone to some baby birthday party for a kid that turned two and Karen was invited. What was with these baby parties lately? It’s not like the kid’s gonna remember any of this. They had left Keziah alone knowing she’d be fine with all the security they had on the house and the one maid. They had agreed to let Eric come to keep her company. Problem with that was, Eric had to bring Zack with because 1) She and Zack still had a final practice to do and 2) Eric had to keep Zack out of trouble.
"Doesn’t it bother you that you’re his constant babysitter?" She had asked Eric when he had called her earlier to see if it was okay to bring Zack along.
"Hey, I’m just doing what I was told and helping my cousin out. Blood is thicker than water and all that," he just said.
Keziah unlocked the door and opened it. She almost smiled at Eric but then saw Zack and felt all reason to smile disappear. They were both dressed in dark khaki pants and t-shirts. Eric had a yellow one with a sci-Fi SpongeBob on and Zack a plain black one.
She sighed. "Come on. We might as well get this over and done with," she said and stood away from the door so they could walk in. Zack walked in but Eric stood outside the door. "You’re not coming in?" She asked.
Eric suddenly looked like a saint. "Oh, no," Keziah said.
"I’m sorry, Keez. I promise I’ll be right back. Half an hour tops. I just need to drive my sisters to the mall quickly and then be back here," he said.
Keziah’s jaw dropped. "Half an hour?! No! Take him with you then!" She said.
Eric’s eyes pleaded with her. "I promise, I will make up for this. Anything you want but please just practice for a while. Time will fly by like nothing if you guys keep busy," Eric said. Keziah just looked at him with disbelief. "Eric, I don’t really have enough patience or confidence to deal with Zack! You’re his babysitter, you take him with you," she almost yelled, not caring that Zack was standing right behind her.
There was a honk from outside the house and Eric looked back quickly. "Look, I promise I will make up for this. Just please, Keez," Eric said but was already half way down the front yard and on his way to his car. Keziah tried to stop him but he was already on his way.
"Eric..." Keziah watched him drive away in disbelief then closed the door, careful not to slam it in frustration and turned around to look at Zack.
"Babysitter? Wow," he said seeming a little offended. Keziah just looked down and tried not to glare. Zack looked around then looked at her.
"Nice house," he said.
Keziah mumbled a "thanks" and silently led the way to her room.
The sunlight poured in from her window and lit the room. She walked over to her piano and sat down slowly. "Where do you wanna start?" She asked and looked up at Zack. He walked around her and leaned against her wall next to the piano.
"You seriously want to start immediately? Don’t you ever take a break?" He asked and walked over to her desk.
"What? Have you got your whole life planned out for you?" Zack asked and Keziah looked over her shoulder at him. He was looking at her weekly planner and scanning through it. Keziah rolled her eyes. "Would you just get away from there! That’s none of your business," she said and walked towards him.
Zack turned around and met her gaze. He just looked at her. "Stop being a child. We’ve still got a lot of practice to do if we want to sound good enough to sing at the ball tonight," Keziah said and sat down on her piano stool. She looked at Zack. He crossed his arms over his chest.
Keziah groaned. "Look, I don’t really like getting my time wasted. We need to practice, Zack! The ball’s tonight!" She said. Zack shrugged and walked over to her.
"Fine," he said. Keziah shot him a surprised look.
Wow, that was easy, she thought and placed her fingers on the keys. "Where do you want to start?" She asked again, calmer this time.
He shrugged. "The beginning, I guess," he said.
They went through the song and Keziah did her best to shield her mind from adoring his voice again. It was kind of hard. When they finished she looked at the keys. Something’s missing, she thought.
"What’s wrong?" Zack asked suddenly.
Keziah shook her head. "It’s missing something," she said, still thinking.
"I was thinking the same." She looked up at Zack. We actually agree on something, she wondered. "Do you guys have a drum set?" He asked.
Keziah raised her eyebrows. "Yes, actually. It’s in the den. . . You play?" She asked.
Zack smirked. "And a little guitar," he said. "So, are you gonna show me where the den is?" He asked.
Keziah stood up. "This way," she said and walked out of her room towards the den. The den was at the bottom floor down the hall from the lounge. It was sort of their music room and had a drum set, keyboard, piano, an electric and acoustic guitar with an amp and speakers. There was one small window on the one side of the room and a chair by the drum set and another one by the keyboard and one large, soft, brown couch against the wall.
Zack suddenly smiled when he saw the room and walked sat behind the drum set. Keziah stood by the door and looked at him as he picked up the drumsticks. He pointed one at the piano. Keziah slowly walked over to it and sat down. "Go straight to your part," Zack said and sat ready behind the drum set. Keziah started playing without a word and sang softly. When she got to the end of the last verse Zack started hitting the drums and sang his part. Keziah had to force herself to focus as she felt her heart skip a beat. Keziah felt herself getting into the song for the first time since she heard she was supposed to sing it. By the time the song ended the hair on her arms had risen. She looked over at Zack and for the first time she felt a connection with him. Just one look and they both know what the other person was thinking.