A/N: This story takes place during some nebulous time during season 2.
It was a truth universally acknowledged that Juliette Barnes had a mean streak a mile wide. What most didn't know, however, that she had a mischievous streak just as big. Sometimes, those two combined to create the most calamitous results.
It was April, and Glenn had convinced Juliette to host and plan a charity event in Nashville this week to help with her public image. Apparently, she didn't do enough charitable things. In truth, he'd only been able to convince her because it was already mostly planned, but the original host had to drop out. Once she saw the guest list, though, she decided planning this thing might be right up her alley. A few quick changes to the format, a few new invites, and she was in business.
Going through the RSVP list Emily compiled, Juliette paused when she saw that a very important RSVP was still missing. She'd tried texting, she'd tried calling. Obviously, this was something that needed to be dealt with in person. Grabbing her keys, she made her way out of her house, and into her sports car. The drive wasn't far, and soon she found herself entering the gate code. She felt a little nervous as she knocked on the door, and she wasn't sure why—her only guess was that her entire plan hinged on this moment.
Rayna Jaymes rolled her eyes the minute she opened the door and saw Juliette Barnes standing on her porch. Nevertheless, she opened the door and let her in.
"What're you doing here?" Rayna asked, closing the door.
"Well," Juliette said, drawing out the word, "I noticed you hadn't responded to my invite for the event tomorrow, and I'm about to start work on the seating chart, so I just wanted to see if you'd be gracing us with your presence?"
"You're working on the seating chart? Don't you have an assistant for that?" Rayna asked, humor in her voice.
Juliette, having wandered into the kitchen, crossed her arms over her chest. "I do. But I'm trying to take a more hands-on approach. This is for charity, after all."
Rayna eyed her skeptically. "Uh huh." She stepped into the kitchen and perched herself on a stool. "And what charity is your little event benefitting, by the way?"
Juliette's face fell, "It's…for…the children. Youth in Asia, or Africa…it's for them."
Rayna laughed, the sound echoing in the kitchen, "Girl, you don't even know what charity event you're hosting. It's for the AFSP." At Juliette's blank look, Rayna shook her head and continued, "It's for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention." Rayna smirked, "'The Children' was a good guess, though."
Juliette rolled her eyes, "Okay, so, I didn't know the particular charity, but you know it's for a good cause."
Rayna pursed her lips, "Why are you so desperate to have me at your event?"
"I am not desperate to have you there. I just think you'd be good for business or donors or whatever. People, for whatever reason, love you." At Rayna's look she continued, "Look. It's a big event, everyone in Nashville is going to be there—the mayor is going to be there, it's a big deal."
Rayna laughed, "Trying to entice me to attend an event by saying my ex-husband will be there? Probably not the best idea."
"Come on, Rayna. It's a good cause." Juliette paused, and inhaled sharply. "Please?" She spoke through gritted teeth; she didn't beg well.
"Oh, now, that's just sad." Rayna sighed, "Fine. I'll come."
Juliette smiled, then, and Rayna couldn't help but feel there was something else behind it. She seemed glad that Rayna had accepted, but not in the typical way.
"Great." She said, smiling still as she walked out the door. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then."
Rayna narrowed her eyes, "Guess so." As she closed the door behind Juliette, she had a feeling in the pit of her stomach that she had somehow just made a very big mistake.
Rayna stood in front of the mirror, smoothing her dress over her torso. She turned to the side, and then to the other side, before standing and facing the mirror full-on. She dug her fingers into the roots of her hair and gave it a little fluff before grabbing her clutch off the bed and heading out the door.
On the ride over, she tried to quell the feeling of dread in her stomach. Her intuition told her something was up, but try as she might, she couldn't figure out what, precisely, it was. She knew, however, that it was always something when it came to Juliette Barnes.
With a sigh, she pulled out her phone and tapped a text message to Luke. She knew he was going to be there tonight, but she didn't know much else about the event or the guest list other than the fact that it contained Luke, her ex-husband, and Juliette Barnes. She chastised herself for not learning more about the event before she agreed. That, she decided, had been her second mistake. The first, of course, was agreeing to go to this event in the first place. She should have just written a damn check and been done with it.
Pulling up at the event, she had a slight moment of regret for not agreeing to go to the event with Luke. She insisted she wasn't ready to take their relationship public, and that was true, but it would have been nice to not have to arrive at this event alone. Her mind wandered as she walked the red carpet, thankful she was only 20 minutes. She uttered phrases like "it's such an important cause, I'm happy to be able to attend and lend my support." She dodged all of the "Rayna! Who are you wearing?" and made it inside. She looked around the room, chandeliers provided the most light for the room, but there was up lighting on the back wall, and dim stage lights emanating from a stage that had the charity's banner, a small spotlight illuminating the logo. Round tables with white tablecloths were filled in front of the stage, and Rayna noticed that most people were already in their seats.
Press people flitted about, snapping pictures where they could. Rayna stepped up to the check-in table.
"Rayna Jaymes." She said, smiling at the woman in her mid-sixties manning the table, a nametag with Jan scrawled on it.
Jan winked at her, "I know, honey." She looked at her list, ran a sharpie across the name, and smiled at Rayna, "You're at table 7, sweetie," She pointed toward the front of the room, right near the stage. "It's right over there."
Rayna smiled again, and nodded her head in thanks before heading the direction Jan had pointed. As she made her way, she saw various industry people, she turned sharply right down a different path through tables when she saw Jeff Fordham sitting at table 9. She stopped a few times to chat with people, making small talk, promising to get together for coffee or lunch or whatever the hell. She was just passing table 6 when she saw Luke Wheeler's cowboy hat, and beyond that a sign in the middle of the table that read '7.'
Her eyes took in the rest of the scene, and she froze. The color drained from her face, and the dread in the pit of her stomach swelled so quickly she brought a hand to her stomach. Now everything made sense. She stood, staring, only one thought was running through her mind: I'm going to kill Juliette Barnes.
For at her table sat Luke Wheeler, Teddy Conrad, Deacon Claybourne, and Liam McGuinnis.