I wish I could say that spending my life on stage had made me get used to it. It certainly would make my life easier. Truth be told though, though I didn't get as nervous as used to, I still got the pre-show jitters. Despite the many years of experience I had, there was always a grain of doubt before every show. How would things go? Would I mess up? Would people call me out on my lies? How many ghosts would bother me while I was trying to reassure people that their beloved so-and-so was happy, in a good place and that he/she missed them terribly?
Yes, ghosts. I'm a necromancer. A supernatural with the talent to see and hear ghosts. Handy for a spiritualist, isn't it? Except for the fact that I didn't use my powers when I did live shows—or rarely anyways. People came to be reassured. Being told that daddy dearest wants them to suffer for throwing them in a home and forgetting about them, was not reassuring. The trouble was telling that to the ghosts. Some, I had discovered, liked to pop in during a show and tell me what they really wanted their loved ones to hear. I ignored them. It was simply easier that way. Not all of them listened of course.
I had about forty-five minutes left before the show. I knew the makeup artist would be here soon. No matter how often I assured Tara I didn't need anyone, that I could do it all myself, she refused. A professional, she claimed, was always better. Of course, I didn't always go with what she wanted. I knew I was already picky about where the shows were held, going to visit them myself before any show was booked. A few bad experiences with haunted places had made me do so. It was too unnerving, especially since both ghosts and humans asked for my attention, each trying to be louder than the next. It was too much stress for one person to handle. I knew it wasn't as much of a problem anymore—after all, Eve could always help me out. But Eve wasn't always available, and I wasn't about to let others books shows and cross my fingers she'd be around to help me out if I needed. So I remained picky, insisting on quite a few things. But when I learned just who would be doing my makeup... well, it made things easier on Tara because I accepted almost right away.
With a shake of my head, I turned away from the mirror, where I had been applying moisturizer to my face, to the only other person in the room. He sat in a corner, reading a newspaper, unbothered by the way I moved in the dressing room, pacing to get rid of my nerves. Jeremy Danvers. My boyfriend of almost two years now... Something I still, at times, struggled to even believe. I had spent four years making a fool of myself, stumbling over my words and acting like a teenage girl whenever I so much as walked in the same room he was in before anything truly began between the two of us. And now we were a couple.
Jeremy was handsome. It was the first thing I had noticed about him. He wasn't handsome in the sense that he looked like a model or anything of the sort. And yet, the first time I had seen him, it was him I noticed first, not Clay, who was usually considered the most handsome of the two. Even as I watched him now, it hit me again. Dark hair, that constantly seemed to fall over his eyes. His eyes were dark, black like his hair-and if you know Jeremy, the only part of him that truly betrayed how he felt. Looking at him now, I couldn't help but smile.
He didn't always come to my shows. If anything, he rarely did. It didn't and doesn't bother me though. It was something I had known from the start would happen. Jeremy isn't exactly busy, but he is important. The Alpha of the werewolf Pack can't just decide to leave whenever he decides he feels like it. We make time for each other though—Council meetings, weekends at Stonehaven, and the occasional visits he gave me when my shows were close enough for him to do so without the whole Pack worrying about his well-being. A show in New York certainly helped that aspect.
As though sensing the way I stared, Jeremy looked up from his paper. "Jaime?" he asked him. His tone was calm and even. There wasn't even a hint that he worried about me at all. I could see it in his eyes, the faintest hint of it. It wasn't quite worry though, but something similar to it. Just concern, I supposed. "Is there... a ghost bothering you?"
I smiled at him and shook my head. "No. Ghost free" I assured him.
Jeremy paused, just looking at me. I knew him well enough to know he wouldn't say anything more. With Jeremy, I was usually the one that had to answer questions—even the ones he didn't ask.
"Really. Just the usual pre-show jitters." And for good measured, I smiled at him. I didn't force it—he always seemed able to tell when I was just trying too hard. He only looked at me a moment longer, before nodding his head slowly. I knew he wouldn't offer to do anything to help. This certainly wasn't something he could help me with after all. Nervousness before a show was good. I had learn that over the years. It kept me on my toes, but also kept a certain touch of reality to it all.
Jeremy was still looking at me, though he still wasn't saying a word. I could still see the faint hint of concern in his eyes, though I knew he wouldn't ask or voice any of them. That wasn't like him. But I truly didn't have any worries other than my usual ones before a show. I frowned then, wondering if it was him who was worried about something. I knew him enough to know that if he did, he certainly wouldn't speak of it. His uncanny ability to tell when trouble brewed didn't seem to be one he liked very much. Although it wasn't really telling as much as sensing, something he always said was far from being exact. Yet he had sensed trouble more than once before, and from what I knew, he had always been right in the past.
Before I could ask though, there was a knock on the door. I hesitated a moment, eyes still on Jeremy. He lifted an eyebrow towards me though, questioning me without asking again. His question this time though, was more related to why I didn't answer the door right away, something I usually did, as opposed to anything else.
"Come in!" I finally called out. I looked at Jeremy a few seconds longer, without turning to face who had knocked. Probably Tara, I figured, coming to inform me of just how long I had and what exactly the crew had found out for me.
"Am I interrupting something?"
The voice was female, though it didn't belong to Tara. It was more playful, easygoing than Tara's. My assistant would be stressed beyond thoughts at this point, as she always was before a show. This person sounded completely at ease. And when I turned towards her, her expression matched her tone exactly. Brown eyes sparkling with mischief. Amused smile on her lips. Long, black hair pulled in a messy bun, her bangs framing her face perfectly. Arms crossed, though not in a way that seemed closed or guarded. She was leaning against the doorframe, looking completely relaxed. She was only about an inch or so taller than me, though far thinner. Too thin even, at least for someone her height.
"Addy!" I greeted her. Perhaps with a little more enthusiasm than needed, but the girl didn't seem to mind. Behind me, I heard Jeremy make a sound quite close to a chuckle. I ignored him though, at least for the time being, moving instead closer to the new arrival.
I had known Adrienne since the day she was born. I had been in the room actually, holding her mother's hand and telling her to push and everything. I was only seventeen at the time—Madeline, Addy's mother, had been only sixteen. It was a complicated story to tell though, and one I didn't like to think about. In all honesty, I didn't like talking about Maddy much at all—not with Addy, not with anyone. Jeremy knew some of the details, and was probably the one who knew the most about them, apart from Adrienne herself.
As soon as I was close enough, I wrapped my arms around Addy, pulling her closer to me in a hug. She quickly returned it, her body relaxing against mine. Just for a second though, not nearly enough to really feel the shift. And then she pulled away, eyes dancing with amusement again.
"No really. If I'm interrupting, I can come back later" she told me again. "I mean, sure, there's only what? Thirty minutes before the show? But if you need a stress reliever..." She trailed off, but I caught the hint. I felt my cheeks burn a bit, but I shook my head. I suppose I did deserve it. I had teased her quite a bit about her last boyfriend, who had never been able to keep his hands to himself. I concentrated instead on Jeremy, turning to face him, wondering—and yes, worrying—how he felt about her comment. His lips twitched, something I had learned to see as a smile.
Jeremy and Adrienne had met in the past, during another show both had attended. How they got along exactly, I wasn't sure. I knew they personalities were opposites, but neither had made any complaints about the other. I didn't expect Jeremy to say anything though. Adrienne was another story, and I took her silence as a good thing. I never dared to ask her though.
"Should I leave?" he finally asked. He glanced, first at me, then at Adrienne. She shook her head.
"Stay. Might as well get someone else's opinion" Adrienne told him. "Although you might be a tad biased." Again, her eyes flashed with amusement.
I rolled my eyes in her direction. Admittedly, not the most mature thing to do. Addy only smiled though, and told me to sit in front of the mirror, so she could get to work.
Adrienne wasn't a makeup artist by profession, though she was very talented. Truth be told, she didn't have a set profession, even though she was in her thirties. She was the sort of person who got bored easily, and tended to skip from one job to the next. For the most part, she tended to keep a foot in anything related to fashion. She had taken classes to be a makeup artist, and she was 'licensed', so to speak. She had taken classes to do some hair dressing. She was a pretty damn good seamstress too. So for the most part, she stuck to helping up and coming designers with whatever they needed. She had done some backstage work for a few Broadway shows. Things of the sort really. Once upon a time, she had even done modelling. From what I knew, it wasn't something she was interested in doing again.
As she worked, we caught up. It had been a few months since we had actually seen each other, and it was nice to be able to speak to her face to face. Jeremy remained mostly silent. I glanced at him a few times, feeling bad. Did he feel rejected? He, of course, showed no sign of being bothered by our talking. He was hard to read sometimes though.
Makeup done, she started on my hair. Again, it was something I usually did by myself. With Adrienne though, I didn't mind if she did, if only because she knew what I liked and what I aimed for. A sexy up-do, but something that wasn't too over the top. Too many hairdressers had tried to get me to change my mind and style. This one worked for me though, and Adrienne was fine with sticking to it. As she piled my hair on top of my head, she kept talking. This time though, the conversation turned back towards the show.
"So there's this woman in the audience" said Adrienne. "Older. Late seventies maybe. She's here with her daughter-in-law. She wants to contact her son-some guy named Christopher. Died a few months ago, in a car accident." I nodded my head, committing it to memory. "She'll be sitting around row fifteen or something. Near the top, because she got her tickets late." Again, I nodded my head.
"Any more?" I asked her.
"Some girl wants to contact her boyfriend. Name's Mark, died a few years ago. Not sure of the reason. Near the bottom—Tara's thinking around B6, but she'll confirm it before you go on."
And so it went on. It was all part of the show really. No, the people Addy spoke of were not actors. They were real people, having all come to see me for reassurance. How could I reassure them without knowing though? So it was al part of the games. The staff was so helpful, guiding you to your seat and being kind enough to ask what made you so nervous. There was that paper you could fill, that one thing that was just for statistic and completely anonymous. The questions were personal? Oh no, please don't worry. No one would know it was from you.
They were all lies. White lies of course-they would never hurt anyone. If anything, those white lies might just be what you needed. In a way, they served a purpose for everyone present. They helped the audience cope with whatever they needed to cope with. They help my staff and I, helping us deliver the best show possible and making sure business kept coming in. It was best for everyone.
"There" announced Addy after a moment. "All done." She stepped away, giving me space to look in the mirror. I saw no need to complain. Still, I turned towards Jeremy. He only looked up and gave me a quizzical look, as though trying to figure out just what he was supposed to say. It was his typical reaction though, which meant I didn't look any different than I did before any other shows. Good ol' Jaime with too much makeup caked on.
"Thanks Addy" I told the dark haired girl. She nodded her head in response. "Is there anything else I should know for the show?"
"Possible reporter, but no one's sure. If I can figure it out before the show, I'll text you. If not..." she trailed off, shrugging. "Just be careful I suppose. The crew might have figured it out already though."
"Perfect. Thank you."
Adrienne nodded her head again. She stayed a minute longer, promising to stay for the show and throwing a promise to catch up later. She left soon enough though, heading to her seat in the audience, promising once more to scout for the reporter. Which meant Jeremy and I were once more left alone.
"Still nervous?" he asked. This time though, he came to his feet as he spoke.
"Hmm... A little. More excitement now" I admitted. I did the same he did, moving to my feet. I also headed towards him. I hesitated only a second before closing the distance between us, wrapping my arms around his waist. I rested my head against his shoulder, closing my eyes a moment. This, I had discovered, worked better to calm my nerves than anything else. I heard him chuckle, though it was more of a rumble in his chest than an actual sound. I felt his arms going around me, pulling me just a little closer. There was nothing more to it really.
"Jaime?" His tone was the same as usual, betraying nothing at all. He wasn't worried-probably just reminding me that I had a show I was supposed to begin soon.
"Just recharging my batteries. Using you as a way to feel calm" I told him. I heard him chuckle again.
"Yes. Shamelessly. Why else would I want you to come backstage before a show?" I tilted my head up that time, and caught him smiling. A crooked smile, one I had come to see as his 'real' smile, even if it was only a quarter of one. It made my heart flutter, like I was still some love struck teenage girl.
My words were partly lies though. I had mixed feelings about having him come to my shows. I liked having him around, and he did make me feel calmer. If anything went wrong, I knew there was always at least one friendly face, one person in the crowd that wouldn't look down on me. At the same time, I found it all awfully embarrassing for him to see me when I worked. It was all so... fake. I didn't want him to see me as being fake. In many ways though, it was like how he felt about his other powers, the ones only he had. He wasn't comfortable with them, but I pushed for him to accept them, and I never looked down on him because of them. He never saw me differently than who I was regardless of what I did to earn money.
Jeremy shook his head after a few seconds of staring. I knew the look well. He was hesitating about something, wanting to do something but holding back, thinking it may not be the correct choice. I didn't push him. I waited, completely silent, head tilted up to look at him. Jeremy sighed though, shaking his head. He pulled away from me, bringing one hand up to push his bangs out of his face.
"Go" he told me. He gave me a quarter of a crooked smile. "I wouldn't want to make you late for your show."
I smiled back at him, but I nodded my head. "Later?"
My only answer was a chuckle as he took hold of my elbow and guided me out of the door.
Author's Note: Thank you very much for the reviews. ^^ I didn't expect any, considering I had only posted a prologue. I'm glad people have seemed to have enjoyed it though.
I hope this chapter was enjoyed as well. Jaime was a little hard to write for, considering there's only one book with her as narrator. If there's been any major mistakes, please don't be afraid to point them out.