Chapter 1

     "Wow! Thank you, Dr. Black... I can't wait to tell my wife about this!" The officer spoke excitedly after having his picture taken with the former 'King of Pop.'
       "Am I free to go now, Officer Wilkinson?" Michael squinted as he read the policeman's name-tag. "I'm going to be late for the first day of class if I don't get going soon, and I'd really hate to keep my students waiting."
      "Hey man, thanks for letting me take a photo with you, but I do have one question to ask before I let you go."
      "What is it?" Michael sighed.
      "Why'd you quit the music industry?" The officer asked in bewilderment.
      "Listen, when you have the media constantly breathing down your back, stalking you, and watching your every move — it gets tiresome. I needed out."
      Nodding his head in agreement, the officer ripped up the piece of paper he was writing on and replied, "I heard that. And listen... Thanks for everything, sir! Forget about the speeding ticket."
       After the officer let him go, Michael made his way to the 'Peabody Conservatory of Music,' located in Baltimore, Maryland, at John Hopkins University.
       When Michael decided to leave the music industry a few years back, he felt as though he needed a fresh start. He had grown tired of California and took a liking to living on the East coast.
       As he pulled into the university's parking lot, he smiled to himself. While he no longer wanted any parts of the music industry, he looked forward to greeting his new students and introducing them to something he held near and dear to his heart — music.

***
      "Let me see your schedule!" Trinity said, snatching the small card out of Symphony's hand. As her eye's scrolled down the card, she squealed when she saw Professor Black's name. "Oh, my God! You're taking Dr. Gorgeous Music Theory class. Good luck!"
      Staring at her in confusion, Symphony removed the schedule from Trinity's hand.    
       "Dr. Gorgeous? Is that what y'all call him? Isn't that Michael Jackson's class?" she laughed.
      "Yes, girl! It is! But please don't call him Michael Jackson. He doesn't go by that name anymore. He's a fun teacher, but he can be a bit of an ass if he feels you're slacking."
      "Hmm... Interesting. I wonder why he quit his career in music to come and teach here? Shit, of all the places he could have taught, he decides Baltimore?" Symphony shook her head sideways.
       Since graduating high-school 12 years ago, Symphony Wilson found herself at a crossroads in life. She was stuck in a boring but well-paying desk job, and her band was on the verge of breaking up. She knew the importance of having a higher education, but her focus had always been on a career in music.
       Growing up as an only child, she was quite shy, and music was her only friend. When she started befriending fellow musicians on the indie music scene, she slowly started breaking out of her shell. So much that her parents began to worry about her. The once before quiet girl was now a lively and colorful woman that enjoyed living life to it's fullest.
      And though she was genuinely happy with how her life turned out, she still felt unfulfilled. She wanted her band to be on the music charts; she wanted the world to hear her music. But she also had a backup plan. She always told herself that if she hadn't gotten signed to a major recording label by the age of 30, she'd obtain a degree in music and become a music teacher.
      "Hey, Symphony! I gotta go. I'll catch you later, Ok? And don't be late for Dr. Gorgeous class! He's a stickler for being on time!" Trinity yelled as she took off running down the hall.
      "Shit!" Symphony muttered under her breath as she glanced at her watch, realizing she only had five minutes to make it across campus.

***
       "Good morning, everyone," he smiled warmly, greeting his first class of the new semester. "Did everyone have a good summer?"
       "Yes, Mr. Jack--" Someone yelled. But before they could finish, Michael immediately interjected. "Dr. Black. You may address me as Dr. Black," he chided.
       Taking a seat atop his desk, he removed a pair of gold-rimmed eye-glasses from the pocket of his blazer. When Michael first started wearing glasses, he hated them. He would always tease that he looked like Mr. Magoo, a cartoon character from the 1940s.
      As he gently pushed aside a lock of his hair, he proceeded to slide the glasses onto his face, addressing the class as a whole.
       "Before we begin, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Michael Black. I'm aware that some of you may know me by another name, but I no longer answer to it, nor do I answer questions about my former life. If you think you'll have a problem adhering to this, then I highly suggest that you drop this class, or I'll drop it for you," he spoke in a soft but yet deep tone, loud enough so that everyone could hear him.
        Soon after introducing himself, he picked up a clipboard from his desk and began taking attendance. This wasn't something he continued to do as the year progressed, but he liked putting names to faces. After all, this was college and adults he was dealing with. If they expected a passing grade, then they would attend his class.
       As he made his way down the list, his eye's widened when he saw the name 'Symphony.'
       "Well, that's cute," he chuckled to himself.
       Looking around the classroom, he called out her name. "Symphony — Symphony Wilson."
       Heartbeat racing, sweat pouring down her temples, she replied out of breath.
"Present! Present Dr. Black. I'm sorry, I'm late. I'm new here."
       "Please hurry and take a seat, Ms. Wilson. We have a lot to cover today," he spoke flatly, hopping off of his desk to stand.
       As he made his way to the chalkboard, he clasped his hands together, speaking expressively. "Welcome to Music Theory 101! Before we get into the technical stuff, I'd like for each of you to write down on a sheet of paper what music means to you? Tell me how it makes you feel. I want to know how it moves you."
        When Symphony reached into her book-bag for her notebook and pen, a mild panic overcame her. "Damn it! Where's my ink pen," she hissed.
        As Michael walked around the classroom, he peered down at Symphony from behind his glasses, which were now perched on the bridge of his nose.
       "If you should ever find yourself in need, Ms. Wilson, I keep a small jar of writing utensils on my desk. But here — you can use this one for now. Just return it after class," he spoke quietly, placing the pen on her desk.
       Returning to the chalkboard, Michael began to draw a large music scale while swaying side to side. When he started drawing accompanying music notes, his body became an instrument. He seemed to be listening to a beautiful melody that only he could hear.
        Looking up from her paper, Symphony smiled when she saw Michael dancing. As she stared at him in full female appreciation, she became flustered.
      At the mature age of 49, Michael was still sexy, even more so now than his younger years. There was something so regal about him, she thought. He was more refined, more confident, more comfortable in his skin — a rarity amongst most men her age.
       When Michael suddenly turned around, Symphony quickly adverted her eye's downward, feeling embarrassed.
       "God, he caught me staring. First, I'm late for class, unprepared, and now this!" she sighed, closing her eye's shut.
       "OK, five more minute's everyone. After I collect papers, we'll move onto Components of Notes," Michael spoke cheerfully.
       After a few more minutes had passed, he collected everyone's paper and returned to the board. As Michael went over his lesson plans for the day, he asked a few questions while explaining the 'durational value of notes.'
       "So can anyone tell me what this dot signifies? And don't worry. There are no wrong answers. I just want to see what you all know," he spoke candidly while tapping the board with his pointer stick.
       Raising her hand slowly, Symphony waited to speak until Michael invited her to answer.
         "Go on, Ms. Wilson. You may answer the question," he replied gently, his eye's transfixed on hers.
        Symphony breathed deep before speaking. "It's a 'dotted value.' The dot adds half the value to the note itself."
       "Correct, Ms. Wilson. Can you give me an example of a composition that contains dotted-values?"
       "Sure. The one you have written on the board contains four of them. Nocturne in c sharp minor — Tchaikovsky. Correct?"
      "Yes, Correct. And wow! How did you know that?"
       Symphony chuckled. "What can I say? I love me some Tchaikovsky."
       After the class was over, Symphony placed the ink pen Michael had given her back inside the jar. Being that his focus was elsewhere, he hadn't noticed her standing there until she spoke.
        "Thank you," she whispered before leaving his desk.
       "You're welcome, Ms. Wilson," he replied nonchalantly, never lifting his eye's from the paper he was reading.
       When the day finally came to a close, Michael decided to work late as he always did after the first day of lessons. He was always eager to learn what his students thought about music, but it also helped him with planning his lessons. Knowing exactly what each student thought about music or how it made them feel, aided him in how he should educate them in areas they lacked.
 Knock knock... Someone tapped lightly on his classroom door.
       Getting up from his desk, he went to see who it was. Five hours had passed since his last class was dismissed, so he knew it couldn't have been a student at such a late hour.
       Deciding not to open the door without knowing who it was. He chuckled and quoted a line from his favorite poem by famed poet Edgar Allen Poe: 'The Raven.'
 "Tis some visitor, I muttered, tapping at my chamber door — Only this and nothing more."
       "Michael! Open up the goddamn door! Quoth the raven — nevermore," a woman's voice replied loudly, laced in irritation.
         "Calm down. Lenore would never be so hostile," he laughed boisterously as he let her inside.
       "But I'm the Raven. Not Lenore," she smiled, kissing his cheek delicately. "What are you doing here so late?"
      "Just going over some papers... And you?"
       Raven screeched. "I had a rough day! First, my car broke down, I spilled coffee all over my desk, and some eighteen-year-old dared to challenge me on a breathing lesson I had demonstrated in my chorus class."
      "I'm sorry you had such a bad day. If you can hang on for a couple of seconds, we can go back to my place for dinner. I made KFC last night," he joked lightheartedly, pinching her on the cheek.
       "Sorry, Michael, but I have a date tonight. You know — if you ever decide that you want to be in a serious relationship again, you know where to find me. But for now, I guess I'm only good enough for sex."
       Rolling his eyes, he turned his back towards her. "You know it's not like that... I told you. Right now isn't--"
       "Isn't the right time," she completed his sentence for him. "I know, Michael. I know. You think I'm beautiful — Yadadada and that I'm a nice person and all, but you're not ready to be so deeply involved. I got it!"
       Placing her arms around him, she kissed him softly on the neck. "Soooo per usual... If it doesn't work-out with my date tonight — can I still come over?
       Michael smirked. "You already know the answer to that."

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