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Aces Series: Lucky's Charm

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One must possess luck to be an Ace of Clubs. Without this focal attribute, a King is not eligible for the title. True to his name, Jace Clover King grew up with such a lucky streak in him. Being a fast learner and a musical prodigy, his life was easy for him as he achieved his goals and everything he thought he needed without difficulty. He could easily snatch it in one take. Not until a newbie in the entertainment industry skyrocketed quicker than Clover’s way up high ---Aster Lachowski. Although he himself is considered a lucky charm for himself, the attention turning from him to Aster made him see Aster as a threat. But what if that threat becomes something intimate, slowly creeping into his whole body? Will this restrain his goals? Or is it all intuition opposing his inner fervor?

LC 00

The sound of every key echoed throughout the enclosed hall as Clover played his fingers along with the black and white tiles of the piano, continuously pressing the correct keys his hands would run into. He stomped his right foot on the pedal as his body swayed. He shut his eyes, feeling the soft and relaxing movement of the scales he was playing. Though the piano produces music that is soothing to the ears, Clover’s hands were frantically running from one end to the other side of the piano keys just to hit the perfect timing.

Clover did not bother flipping the music sheet placed on the music rack, which serves as a holder for the music sheets on top of the piano in front of him. His eyes remained closed as his hands found the right keys to press. He never really needed the music sheet to guide him as he played one of the most intricate and complex classical pieces. His mind, ears, and most importantly, his hands had already memorized each bit of note. It’s as if he let his muscle memory do the job on his behalf.

As Clover reached the bars, entering the climax of the piano piece, he slowed down his hands as if he was ending the music piece midway, cutting it short. The sound became slow and faded out until Clover stopped on the last note of the bar count before the climax proper.

A guy, who looked a few years older than Clover, made an entrance on the stage. He also wore a black suit, just like Clover. But, there’s a slight difference. Clover’s black suit shines once the spotlight hits the fabric and focuses on him, unlike the guy whose suit was made of plain black cloth. It is easy to say that Clover was the star of the show.

The guy stood beside the piano stool. Clover turned his head to the side. He nodded, giving respect to the guy before he left the piano stool. And the guy sat on the piano stool as Clover grabbed the violin resting next to the music rack.

Walking to the center of the stage, Clover faced the crowd, conquered by the dim light. He stopped at the center when he reached the centermost part. And he took three steps forward towards the end of the stage. He stood there proudly and confidently, his body exuding an undeniable strong presence that made everyone turn their heads to him. He quickly looked around the audience as he took one last deep breath. This helped him calm down and get ready for the most exciting part of this performance.

Clover placed the violin over his shoulder and put his jaw in the right place on the chin rest. He delicately held the frog and screw while gently settling the hair of the bow on the violin strings. He softly stomped his left foot three times before the sound of the piano keys reached his ears. It’s as if it was the cue for the guy to play the piano, accompanying him as he plays the violin.

Counting eight beats, composing two bars of the music piece, Clover started to move the bow on the violin strings with perfect timing and precision. The guy played the piano where Clover had stopped, the climax of the music piece. But, the guy wasn’t playing the piece as if he was the main attraction. He simply played the accompaniment version of it. Clover, on the other hand, played the climax of the music piece from one note to the next without missing a single note, thus not messing up the progression of the music.

The climax was hard to play because of its fast-paced beat count and very detailed note sequence. Yet, Clover made it sound like it was as easy as counting one, two, and three. He showed how skilled and talented he is; that he was born for this thing, to do these things, just like his mom, who was very famous in the music industry, where he is also leaving a mark. He proved himself worthy of being the best and top musician in his generation. He would not let his mother's legacy be squandered by his failure to follow in her footsteps, even though his mother did not pressure him to do so. It was his pride that pushed him to be just like his mom before she retired from being a musician and had her eternal peace when he was 14.

He also had to prove to himself that it wasn’t just him being lucky that made him and put him in the position where he is right now. He wanted to prove that it was the result of his endless training and determination to be the best; to be different from his brothers. And his title, being the Ace of Clubs of the King Family, had nothing to do with his achievements. Even though people would easily connect his achievements to his title, because he only needed one shot at everything he did, and in a snap, he immediately got it without breaking a single drop of sweat.

Clover moved his head. He darted his eyes at the uppercase of the opera house, where the VIPs are seated. He was surprised to see his dad, looking at him with no emotion plastered on his face. He could not clearly see his dad’s eyes due to the small amount of light on that spot of the venue. But he could tell that his dad’s eyes were dead serious, just watching him as if he was bored with what he was witnessing. Sitting next to his dad was his eldest brother, Silver.

Suddenly, a feeling of pressure came rushing over him. It overwhelmed Clover so much that he almost missed a note while staring at his dad. Fortunately, he recovered quickly, but the adrenaline was still present in his system. The thought that his dad was watching him gave him even more reason to show off what he really had. It was the very first time his dad came to see him perform live. Clover never expected to see his dad there, although he sent him an invitation just like in the old days. He thought it would be just his brothers, especially since Silver would be the only one to come watch him perform. It has always been Silver who is supportive of him.

There was a quick pause in the music piece. The guy at the piano slowed down, and the orchestra started to play along with the guy, serving as the background and support of Clover’s performance. Clover breathed deeply, waiting for his turn to play the violin again as they reached the next part, the most-awaited part of the concerto. He fixed his eyes in the direction where his dad and Silver were. He even forgot that he was in the middle of a solo concerto, his own concerto.

Clover kept his head held high, his face devoid of any doubts. Although he could feel his knees slightly trembling inside his black pants, Clover seemed to manage his nerves. His confidence did not deteriorate. Instead, it made him more willing to give the best of himself—the result of years of training just to make his dad proud of him. He never heard his dad tell him those words when he was growing up.

Clover closed his eyes, clearing his mind and only focusing on his goal. When he opened his eyes, he saw Silver’s smile, nodding his head. In just a split of a second, Clover heard the cue he had been waiting for. His right hand, holding the bow, moved at a pace no one could imagine a violinist could do. It was fast as the climax of the concerto took place and another music piece that was much more difficult than the previous one reverberated. Clover was the solo performer of the concerto, and he’s the one to play the difficult parts.

His mind was clear and he found himself feeling the music like he was in it, a part of it. He felt like he had been transported to another universe. And there was nothing that he could see. He could simply feel that he was one with the music. He did not hold back. His eyes closed, his hands and his body danced to the rhythm of the music, not even minding what he looked like from the audience's view. It was like he found himself being one with the music, and he loved it. But little did Clover know, he looked very attractive as he performed the last musical piece with so much emotion. He put all of himself, his heart, into that piece. He might be moving like some kind of lunatic, yet it added to his strong stage presence. His white silvery hair becomes messy, pointing in any direction. Sweat formed on his forehead that slowly rolled to his temples and went down to the side of his face.

Clover raised the bow in his right hand as the music ended together with the orchestra. He slowly put down the bow as he rested his hand on his side. The ceiling was the first thing he saw as he opened his eyes, welcoming him back to reality. Clover could only hear the handclaps of the audience, but he took his time staring at the ceiling. He caught his breath, gasping as if he had just joined a marathon and ran for kilometers. When the clapping subsided, Clover slowly moved his head down, facing the audience.

This time, Clover could now see how many people were in the venue watching him. Everything was not new to him. This was not new to his eyes, after all. What’s new was that his dad watched him live for the first time. With the thought popping in his mind, Clover immediately gazed in the direction of the VIPs. He sighed upon seeing his dad’s back, standing and was ready to leave the place. Clover heaved another sigh. He did not know if his dad was satisfied with what he saw from him. He did not see the look in his dad’s eyes right after and during the last part of his performance. Silver was also standing, but the only difference was that Silver was proudly clapping his hands in a very decent manner, just like anyone else in the opera house.

Nodding his head lightly, Clover curved a small smile on his lips to his brother. And he faced the audience when his dad disappeared from his sight. Even though he doesn’t know what’s in his dad’s mind at the moment, Clover still feels confident in himself. He did what he could do. He did his best to prove himself worthy of his dad.

Clover beamed a wide, mesmerizing smile that earned him shrieking voices from the young ones, especially the ones at his age. He smirked, knowing that he had this effect on people. Holding the violin and bow in one hand, Clover brushed his hair up, fixing it from being messy. Still, some strands of his hair fell on his face, covering a portion of his forehead and the sides of his eyes. He took another deep breath. He then bowed his head down.

After a minute of standing under the spotlight, smiling, and lightly bowing his head to the audience who took photos of him, Clover exited the stage. He walked towards the back end of the stage with the violin still in his hands, which he carefully held.

Clover turned his head back to the audience before completely leaving the stage. For a moment, he found himself glued to the spot. His eyebrows furrowed, wrinkles formed on his forehead, as the combination of confusion and shock struck him upon spotting a guy in a formal suit standing at the very end of the seats in one corner. The guy simply stood there near the door as some of the audience walked out the door. His hands were in the side pockets of his pants.

Squinting his eyes to see the guy more clearly, Clover moved his head a bit forward. The guy stretched his lips, grinning, which made Clover frown. The face of the guy seemed familiar to him. Yet, he is not sure where he first saw him or who the guy is. The guy was just familiar with his blurry memory. Clover had so much time thinking and recalling who the guy was, but there was nothing he could remember that made it weird.

Clover tried to move his eyes to the guy’s eyes. And he felt a sudden emotion that seemed to stab him from behind. For some unknown reason, he felt triggered and threatened for just merely meeting the guy’s eyes.

"Clover!" a voice from the backstage called out to him.

Even if Clover didn’t want to end the staring contest he had with the strange random guy from the audience, he had no choice but to face the person calling him. He knew who the person was.

"Silver," Clover replied casually. He took a peek behind Silver, hoping he'd see the man who surprised him while performing.

"He’s not here, Clover. He already left just right after a second your performance ended," Silver said when he noticed Clover was looking for someone.

Clover sighed. Yet he plastered a smile. "I see. Well, what’s new about him? I thought he wouldn’t be coming here just like before. What brought him here?"

Silver shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows? No one knew what was in his mind. You know him, Clover. We know that he had a lot of secrets that nobody knows what those are." Silver raised a bouquet of flowers in his hand from his side. "Anyway, congratulations, brother, on another successful concerto." He handed the flowers to Clover.

Clover wasn’t surprised at all. Silver always does this every single time he finishes a performance. Silver would probably be there, at the backstage, to meet him before leaving the venue. "Thanks," Clover replied, glancing at Silver, waiting for his brother to bid him goodbye.

"Well... I’ll get going now, Clover. I'll see you at your next performance. Again, congratulations, brother." Silver patted Clover by the shoulder before turning his back. He then left the backstage as if there was no one but them in there. He doesn’t mind if other people see them like that.

Shaking his head, Clover hissed. "Lizter!" he called. In just a second, his Jack, and at the same time, his manager, appeared in front of him.

"Yes, Clover?"

Clover handed the bouquet of flowers to Lizter. "You take care of it."

"From Silver again?" Lizter commented, asking.

"Yeah. Who else in the family would give me flowers after my performance?" Clover asked back. He took a few steps back. And he glanced in the direction where he last saw the stranger.

"Well, I saw the Flush with Silver awhile ago during your concerto, Clover. So I thought the Flush gave it to you, but only in the person of Silver," Lizter reasoned out, scratching the back of his head.

Snorting, Clover let out a sarcastic chuckle. "Don’t joke around, Lizter. You know, dad won’t do such a thing. Don’t ever entertain such thoughts ever again," Clover dismissed Lizter.

He focused his attention on searching for the guy he saw minutes ago before Silver called his attention. The guy wasn’t there anymore. In fact, no one was in the seats because the audience had left. Only a few of the members of the orchestra were there on an elevated platform just below the main stage.

Clover moved his head, looking for the guy. He even went back to the end of the stage just to look for the guy. But with no luck, he did not find him inside the opera house. When he realized the guy must have left the place already, Clover walked back to Lizter, who was watching him with puzzled eyes. He went straight to his dressing room, and he placed his violin in the violin case with so much care that not even a scratch would be created. Lizter was following him, taking care of his things. After Clover had safely closed the violin case, zipping and locking it, Clover handed the violin case to Lizter, which his Jack immediately accepted and gave most of his attention to.

If there are things that would make Clover mad, it would be not putting much attention on his musical instruments. For Clover, his musical instruments are the most precious things in the world. Lizter had known it for a long time already. And Lizter doesn’t want that to happen again; to see how Clover got mad for making a small single scratch on his violin he purposely bought it for his practice in the King’s Mansion. Think of it. It was just a small scratch, and Clover had gotten mad already. What more, once Lizter neglected to take care of the violin?

Marching out of the dressing room, Clover did not bother to change his clothes. He was still in his black suit. They used the backdoor of the opera house to avoid the media waiting for Clover at the main entrance to ambush him for a quick interview. That was not Clover’s cup of tea.

"My headphones," Clover uttered, not looking at Lizter. He then opened his right hand, waiting for Lizter to hand him the headphones, which the latter obliged.

Eyes stilled in front of them, Clover wore the headphones and pressed the play button on the right side. And he found himself relaxed, listening to classical instrumental music as they walked towards the exit. No one dared talk with Clover when they saw him wearing the headphones. Just seconds after Clover stepped out of the backdoor, he heard a loud hand-clapping sound, overpowering the music he was listening to. Clover turned his head to the side with a deadly gaze in his eyes. There, he saw the same guy, leaning his back against the wall with a grin on his lips, meeting his eyes with a challenging look.

LC 01

In times when Clover doesn’t have any outside activities and practices, he will only stay in the penthouse already in his name, consuming his time as he procrastinates. Just like now, Cover was lazily lying on his back on the couch. His feet were resting on the small table more or less a meter away from the couch, one foot over the other. He was holding his favorite black headphones with strips of silver on the edges as a design that was on his neck, which he was about to wear and place over his ears. Clover’s eyes focused on the television in front of him. The television was flashing some news of the current events in show business.

Frowning, Clover’s eyebrows met in between, connecting and forming a curved line. His eyes were fixed on the face of a guy that appeared on the television screen as the news shifted to the latest ongoing world violin competition. The guy was very familiar for Clover. Creasing his forehead, Clover tried to recall where he saw the guy until his eyes

Heroes

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