Author's Note: This was my very first time writing an AU (Alternate Universe) fic. It was fun but at the same time challenging, since there were honestly a lot of details I had to figure out that I literally kept changing over and over again as I wrote this. I hope you like the outcome.
Disclaimer: Victorious © Dan Schneider
Let me start off by saying that I've never been the kind of guy to be much of a risk taker.
Which was why, when my boss, the editor-in-chief of one of New York's top-selling newspapers, had first asked me to do this story, my initial gut reaction was to tell him, "With all due respect, sir, I think I'll stick to writing pieces about local angry mothers involved in PTA scandals or the occasional story about an inappropriate teacher-student relationship, thank you very much."
Somehow, though, he'd managed to talk me into it before I could even get a word in edgewise.
"Look, Rob, I wouldn't give you this story if I didn't think you could handle it," my boss had said in his thick, scratchy voice, one that came from smoking cigarettes and drinking one too many glasses of scotch on the rocks.
Come to think of it, he'd even had a glass of scotch in his hand at the time. I remember listening to the ice softly clinking against the glass as he lifted the drink to his mouth and downed the rest of his scotch in one heavy gulp.
"Ah," he said in satisfaction, slamming the glass back down onto his desk. "Remind me again, Robbie, how long ya been working for me?"
"About three years, sir," I answered obediently, cracking an uneasy smile at him, because that was the moment when, somehow, I just knew I was going to be writing this story whether I wanted to or not.
My boss leaned back in his leather chair, causing it to make a soft creaking noise. I shivered at the sound. He smiled at me, a wry, powerful smile.
"Listen to me, Rob. There comes a time in every young journalist's life where he's gotta really get out there and write something that no one else has ever dared to write before. Something the younger guys can look up to. Know what I mean?"
"Yes, sir," I said anyway.
My boss leaned forward, the chair creaking again.
"So," he prompted. "Here's what I'm willing to do. You write this story, and I'll give you a nice little Christmas bonus. How's that sound?"
I didn't answer. Now, I may be a coward, I may be a weakling, but if there was one thing I was not, it was a pushover. I wasn't going to be bribed by a measly extra $100 in my paycheck just for—
"The woman you'd have to speak to is Jade West."
And hearing that name, my mind went completely blank. My stomach dropped. I felt my body tense. It was the moment when, suddenly, as if by magic, my interest had finally sparked.
"Jade West?" I repeated, eyebrows raised. "As in, the Broadway actress?"
"The one and only," my boss said, and he smiled again, knowing he had me. He rose from his seat, extending his hairy, bulbous hand out towards me. "Well?"
I stood there for a second, motionless, but in just that brief second, thoughts of Jade West flooded through my mind. I had always wanted to meet her, ever since I'd heard about her. I could just imagine it: her cruel — beautiful — voice, her vindictive — tempting — eyes, her cold — and very, very broken — heart…
Ignoring the twisting feeling in my gut, I slapped my small and much weaker hand against my boss's massive palm and shook it with all the strength I had.
"Oh, great. A reporter."
Those were the first words Jade had said to me. Words filled with nothing but sarcasm. Eye-rolling, face-contorting, biting sarcasm.
I hesitantly entered her lavish dressing room, which smelled of wilting flowers and too much hairspray. Jade was standing in the middle of the room, her hands delicately placed on her hips, wearing a sparkling, dark blue dress and tall black heels. She looked breathtaking, and for a moment, I found myself starstruck.
"Hi, Miss West. It's quite an honor to meet you. You were excellent in the play," I said sincerely, about to smile at her, but I stopped myself when she narrowed her eyes at me, glaring, a kind of glare that could make a guy — in this case, me — wish he were dead.
"Look. Unless you're someone who has the power to nominate me for a Tony award, I honestly don't care about your opinion," she said, practically snarling it, as she angrily threw herself down into a chair, crossing one of her pale slender legs over the other one.
"Um, anyway, not to sound forward, Miss West, but I just have to say, you're even prettier in person," I said instead, which in hindsight was probably even dumber than complimenting her on the play. What can I say, I was never exactly 'smooth' when it came to talking to the ladies.
Still, she smirked at that comment, a full-on sly, red-lip turning, eyelid-dropping smirk. Man, did she look intimidating.
"Why are you here exactly?" she asked, which admittedly threw me for a bit of a loop. It wasn't often that the source suddenly decided to start asking questions before the journalist even had a chance to start the interview. I guess that was my cue to just cut right to the chase then.
"I, uh, came to interview you," I said. "For the paper." I finally allowed myself to smile a little, trying to ease this inexplicable yet very obvious tension in the atmosphere between us. "I'm a journalist, you know."
I mentally kicked myself for saying that last part. Idiot. Get it together, Shapiro.
She smiled again, that same coy, devious smirk. She was clearly amused by me. I was just hoping she wouldn't keep smirking at me like that, otherwise it was definitely going to create a bit of a problem for me in terms of my nervousness.
Abruptly, she stood, walking right past me and over to a coat rack, where she grabbed a long black fur coat and began to hastily slip it over her shoulders.
"Fine. Whatever. I'm going for a walk," she said without turning to me, and although I wasn't too keen when it came to understanding girls' body language or their hidden phrases or anything of that nature, after talking to Jade for just these few short minutes, I was pretty sure that saying something standoffish like that meant that I was supposed to follow her.
So I did.
It was cold in New York City.
I suppose you could say that about the people as well as this November weather. Thank goodness I had my nice warm jacket and wool mittens.
See, I moved to the city at a fairly young age, twenty-two, fresh out of college. Moving here all by myself was arguably the only risky thing I'd ever done in my entire twenty-five years of existence — and, to be honest, as slightly pathetic as it is to admit this, it wasn't even really all that risky, considering I'd already had my job all lined up before I'd even moved here.
Little word of advice, kids: if you want to make it in a business like this, it's all about the people you know. So start your networking now. You'll thank me when you're older.
Now, as for Jade West, I was sure she had a much different story. I'd first heard about her a couple months ago, when a tragic musical called The Temptress first started playing. The story is about a heartless seductress, played by the lovely Jade West, who lures men in with her captivating charm and soulful voice, only to crush them one by one after she's gotten whatever she needs out of them, whether it's money or fame or power.
Eventually, she meets a man who sees right through her conniving ways and into her deeply fragile heart. At first, she's stunned and angered by this, but she soon finds herself becoming more and more vulnerable as she spends more time with him, and eventually, she falls in love with him. The two have a passionate love affair, and she even agrees to marry him…
…when, in an unexpected turn of events, he plays her at her own game, swindling her, taking everything from her and fleeing the country. She's left heartbroken, abandoned, alone, and downright outraged. In the final scene of the final act of the play, she breaks down in tears on the stage, which at that point is centered only by a park bench and a lamp post. The play ends with her singing an emotional song about all the bad people in the world, concluding that perhaps she may be the worst of them all.
I hadn't seen the play until tonight, but I kept reading in the reviews that it was definitely a play worth seeing. And now, especially since I was assigned to write this article, I considered seeing it more as research rather than as my own personal form of entertainment.
But oh, was it spectacular.
"So," Jade said, being the first to finally break the silence between us after nearly fifteen minutes of us walking aimlessly around the city. I wasn't sure where we were heading, and I was too afraid to ask. Although, from what I could gather about Jade, I was pretty sure she wouldn't tell me anyway even if I did ask.
"Uh, yes?" I asked, rather stupidly, as I turned my head to her. I reached up and pushed my thick rimmed glasses up higher onto my nose. She didn't look back at me.
"What kind of questions do you have to ask me for your stupid little article?" she asked, and with each word I could see puffs of her breath as they left her mouth and entered the frigid nighttime air.
"Well," I started, not exactly prepared for this just yet. I was hoping we could've just sat down back in her dressing room to do the interview in a more quiet setting, rather than outside in the chaotic and constantly moving world of the Big Apple. But I suppose beggars couldn't be choosers. "The article would kind of be like a profile about you. You know, dig into your life a little bit, learn more about all of your growing success behind The Temptress and—"
"That's not what you came here to talk to me about," Jade suddenly interrupted me. I was so taken aback by it that I literally stopped right in my tracks, gawking at her, my jaw slack and my eyes wide. I blinked dumbly, just staring at her in some sort of awe. She finally stopped and turned to face me, staring at me, an all-knowing smirk spreading across her lips. She waited a few seconds, studying my face with calculating eyes. "I'm right, aren't I?"
I swallowed, and even with the traffic around us and the sound of the wind blowing in my ears, I felt like she was able to hear that nervous gulp. Her smirk widened as she bent her head down, her long, rippling curls of dark hair falling past her ears onto either side of her face. She started shaking her head, as if laughing to herself, then finally picked it up again, revealing a much more hopeless-looking smile on her face.
I really wish I had realized what I was getting myself into before I agreed to write this story.
But I guess it was too late to back out of it now, huh? It was just crazy to think how, a few minutes ago, I was in Times Square, right in the pulsing heart of New York City, and now, I was being whisked away in a taxi cab with none other than Jade West.
"Um, w-where are we going, exactly?" I asked, unable to stop my voice from quivering. This close proximity with Jade certainly wasn't helping me to calm my nerves. I felt my stomach clench in a tight knot as Jade looked at me. The sticky, fake leather cab seat squeaked beneath Jade's thighs as she crossed her legs again, tightly and comfortably.
I really had to stop staring. It was rude.
"Why don't you save the questions until we get there," she said in a deathly cold voice, and then, perhaps to mock me, she added rather callously, "Mister Journalist."
At that, I brought my lips together, as if silently pinning them closed. Alrighty then. I guess I'd just shut myself up until we got there.
As it turned out, though, getting wherever we had to go took a little bit longer than I was anticipating, thanks to the adversity of day-to-day traffic in Manhattan. Luckily I didn't have the misfortune of getting to experience this mundane yet stressful daily commute because I took the subway to and from work.
From the corner of my eye, I looked at Jade, who was now looking out the window. The profile of her face was highlighted quite nicely against the backdrop of the city. I'm sure she didn't have to take the cold and grimy subway filled with rather…colorful characters, to put it nicely. I once saw a bald man in his bare feet drinking questionably smelling milk from a coconut through a straw.
"Turn left up here," Jade suddenly commanded to the driver, stretching her arm out between us to point the way. I glanced out the front window, trying to figure out which part of the city we were in. From what I could tell, it looked like a real ritzy area, with lots of trees and tall glass apartment buildings. Definitely far off from my quaint little brick apartment in lower east side Manhattan. "Yeah, it's this one."
As the cab came to a halt, I awkwardly thrust my hand into my pants pocket, anxiously fishing for my wallet, but by the time I'd pulled it out, Jade was already handing the driver the cab fare.
"Keep the change," she said stiffly, then added in that same clipped tone, "Come, Robbie."
I froze when she said my name. It was like she was speaking to me as if I were some kind of dog or something, forceful and stern.
Stunned into my own silence, I followed her out obediently.
Her apartment was impressive, though I couldn't really say I was surprised. We were on the top floor of the building and, looking out the window, the view of the city was absolutely amazing. The buildings and cars and neon signs and bright traffic lights all seemed to blur together, constantly moving. There was just something truly astounding about the city at night. To me, it was when everything really came alive.
I turned away from the window and looked around Jade's apartment, admiring the place. It could easily fit an entire family; that's how big it was. Not much furniture, though, which was probably what made it seem so spacious. There was a plasma flat-screen TV hanging on one wall, across from which was a large black leather couch. Adjacent to the living room was the kitchen, with a black refrigerator and burgundy cabinets and a long marble kitchen counter. The entire space was clean and well-kept. It looked like it was hardly ever used.
"Have a seat wherever," Jade commanded as she took off her coat.
Hesitantly, I walked over to the kitchen, pulling out one of the black bar stools from beneath the counter. I sat down and took out my notepad and pen. I flipped open my notepad, looking over the list of questions I had come up with over the several days I was doing my research.
That's not what you came here to talk to me about.
I bit my lip at the sudden invading memory. How'd she even know that? Was she some kind of psychic? Or was I just that easy to read?
"All right," Jade said in an exhaling breath, shattering my thoughts and making me jump slightly. I heard her heels click-clacking as she walked into the kitchen, standing across from where I sat at the counter. She rested her elbows against it, cupping her hands in front of her as she leaned forward a little. "Lay your questions on me. I don't have all night here."
Wow. She really was very audacious. No messing around, just getting right to the point. I supposed that would make my job a whole lot easier.
I swallowed again, looking back down at my long list of questions. I guess it would be better if I started with the more generic and less intrusive questions and worked my way up from there.
"Well," I started, clearing my throat. "You're clearly a very talented actress. What inspires you?"
Her lips turned upward in that same secretive and downright dangerous-looking way, as though she were remembering a deep dark secret. I felt my eyes widen slightly.
"What or who?" she asked.
"Uh, who, I guess," I said, suddenly feeling a bit confused.
The look on her face began to soften into a much more tender and wistful look.
"My fiancé. Beck Oliver," she said without missing a beat. "I'm sure you've heard of him."
Oh, yes, I had heard of Beck Oliver. He was handsome and successful, having starred in countless great films. A person would've had to been living under a rock to not have heard of him.
"So how long had you two been dating before you got engaged?" I asked, though I'll admit that it was really more of a question out of my own genuine curiosity than anything else. Still, I figured it was the best way to lead me into the nitty-gritty of what I'd eventually have to ask her.
"Well, we met in high school," she started, and I listened intently, nodding on occasion as she went on. "We were both really into acting, and we just sort of hit it off from there. Eventually he asked me out, I said yes, and we'd been dating on and off ever since." She paused there, her eyes dropping to the counter, a smile cricking over her lips. For the first time since I'd met her, she looked…shy. Her hard exterior was melting, becoming more vulnerable. With her eyes still looking down, she continued, "I don't know what it was about us exactly, but it's like we were just…bound to each other or something."
"Really? How so?" I asked, again, out of my own curiosity. I watched as Jade started to shake her head, and I could tell that she was beginning to get lost in her own thoughts.
When she looked back up at me, though, all traces of that shy look on her face were completely gone, and instead, she was grinning, darkly. She quirked an eyebrow upward, and I felt my breath hitch in my throat.
"You really want to know?" she asked, and before I could even answer her, she began to tell me a story.
This was a story about two aspiring actors who fell hopelessly in love with one another, binding their hearts together forever, despite all the obstacles that came their way. The girl had fair skin and eyes bluer than the sky, light brown hair that flowed in long waves and a dazzling smile that the boy found absolutely intoxicating.
"You do realize you're the most beautiful girl in the whole entire world, right?" he'd playfully asked her one day, back when their relationship was just starting out.
When he told her that, she'd narrowed her eyes at him and calmly threatened to cut his pretty hair with her favorite pair of scissors if he ever said something as disgustingly mushy like that ever again. He immediately held up his hands in surrender, and it was the last time he'd ever complimented her on her appearance.
As a thanks, she leaned forward, kissing him hard on the lips. She then drew back and said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Just so you know, you're not so bad yourself."
His brown eyes ignited then, coming to life, and he smiled at her, radiantly, showing off perfect teeth. Secretly, she envied his good looks, because his beauty meant that he could've had any girl he wanted, any girl at all, and yet, he'd chosen her. It was always in the back of her mind, and perhaps it was what made her so insecure, knowing that if he really wanted to, he could've dumped her in a second for some hotter, richer, more successful actress.
But he never strayed, not even when he started landing his many, many movie roles, nearly every single one of them in which he played opposite a beautiful actress. At that point, they were in their early twenties, living together in a small house in Los Angeles. She started seeing his name all over, and as a result, it began to make her feel even more envious of him, more resentful.
"Why is it that you're the one constantly landing all these amazing movies roles while I still haven't been offered jackshit?" she'd randomly snapped one day, taking her own frustration with her thus-far unexciting acting career out on him.
He blinked, eyes wide, momentarily stunned. He tried to embrace her, but she shoved him away, heatedly, angrily. He stood there, awkwardly running a hand through his hair, unsure what to say.
"Just…get out of here," she finally said, sounding downright disgusted with him. "I'm sick of seeing your goddamn face everywhere."
He continued staring at her for a moment, completely dumbfounded, but because he didn't want to fight with her, he left.
And he didn't come back for the rest of the night. She'd never bothered to ask him where he stayed that night, because quite frankly, she was too livid to care. The next day, however, she mysteriously received a phone call from a casting director offering her an audition for a pretty big movie role, and immediately she knew who was responsible for it.
"Okay, so I called in a few favors," her boyfriend later admitted, after she'd called him up and demanded he get his ass back home so she could yell at him. "So what? Look, babe, it's just one little audition. It's not like I got you the part or anything. I just helped you with the first step."
"I don't care," she retorted vehemently, crossing her arms over her chest. "Seriously, dude, don't you get it? You doing this is like saying you don't think I'm capable of doing it on my own. Honestly, this is probably the worst thing you could've done."
"I was just trying to help you," he said, his tone suddenly desperate, begging her to understand.
"Yeah, well I don't need you helping me," she spat back in a much more demeaning tone, silently stewing in her own pool of rage. "I don't need anything from you. Okay?"
This time, she was the one to leave. She stayed at her mother's house for just one night, until she decided to swallow her pride — or more like rip it to shreds and dump it all over the floor in a scattered mess — and go on the audition.
And, much to her shock, she'd gotten the part.
She returned home later that day to find him casually sitting on the couch, watching TV, one of his arms stretched out comfortably over the cushions. He turned his head just as she opened the door, and she froze for a split-second when they locked eyes. Slowly, he rose from his spot on the couch and walked up to her, a grin forming across his face. It wasn't a pompous or arrogant smile; he just looked genuinely happy to see her. She found it all too suspicious, though, knowing that he already knew, but she still announced the news anyway.
"Congratulations," he said in a low, sultry voice, one that momentarily took her by surprise, even as he wrapped his arms around her and leaned down and kissed her, long and deeply, on the lips.
She closed her eyes and tilted her chin up, her own gesture of silent surrender, slinking her arms around his back, pulling him in closer.
That was how things always went with them. They were either passionately fighting or passionately making up. There was no in between with them. They had a love that was set on fire, blazing hot, intense, and ultimately, nothing but destructive.
It was almost ironic that that was exactly how they would end.
"A toast," he said late one evening, months later, after she'd wrapped the movie. Their bodies were curled up together on the couch, in front of a warm, burning glow coming from their fireplace.
"To what?" she asked in slight anticipation, a surreptitious grin playing across her lips.
They were each holding up a full glass of champagne, waiting to clink them together. She sat there and eyed him expectantly, her heart inexplicably flitting about inside her chest.
"To your success," he said at last, softly tapping his glass against hers and taking a long sip.
She belatedly took a drink herself, though as she did, she wondered in the back of her mind why he hadn't toasted to their success instead of just hers. She didn't have much time to dwell on it, though, as his mouth, sweet and sticky from the champagne, suddenly found itself against hers. Her eyes fluttered closed as she moaned against his lips, wrapping her free hand around his head, digging her nails into his hair.
Soon, the heat was no longer only coming from the fireplace as they placed their glasses down on the coffee table so they could wrap their arms around one another. Their mouths caressed and teased each other, deeply entwined, coursing with life. She wrapped her legs around his waist and tugged at his hair as he pushed her down into the couch and began kissing every inch of her face and neck.
"Mmm. I love you so much," he murmured into her skin, pressing a kiss to her ear, his voice warm and sensual and filled with promise as he said, suddenly, passionately, "Marry me, Jade West."
And her heart stilled, her senses overwhelming her, her breathing erratic, as she panted out a lustful, breathless, "Yes."
The moment immediately took off, filled with intimate kissing and deep, heavy breathing. She felt so many things in that moment: his warm breath against her neck, his heartbeat pounding hard above her chest, his silky hair as she ran her fingers through the familiar softness.
But, mostly, she felt his entire body, pressing flush against hers, warm and throbbing and filled with nothing but love and desire.
She couldn't piece together all the details of what had happened next. They were just broken memories; shattered little moments in time. She remembered moaning heavily as they rolled off the couch and onto the floor. She remembered the champagne bottle and both glasses knocking off the table, the smell of alcohol seeping into the carpet…
And then, she remembered the heat, the instantaneous, white-hot, unbearable heat. She opened her eyes to see the flames from the fireplace suddenly spreading over the walls. Even now, she could remember feeling the sweltering heat in the room as the fire rapidly grew, smothering and suffocating. She could hear her own strangled scream and feel her eyes widen.
"BECK!" she'd choked, her eyes watering from all the smoke, the blaring beeping sound of the smoke detector going off. The flames were orange and bright, blinding her, growing larger and coming towards her. She'd felt hands wrap around her body, his hands, tugging her to her feet, clenching and pulsing with fear and urgency.
Before she knew it, she was being shoved out of the house, and then she heard a heavy thud. She watched with wide, terrified eyes as the flames roared through their home, brightening the night, crackling in the wind. She screamed out his name, again and again, her voice trembling and strained. She wanted to run back into the house, but the heat was too intense, too hot, to the point where she had to run from it.
She panicked, her heart pounding ferociously in her chest. She couldn't register what was happening as it unfolded before her very eyes, not even when the firetrucks began to show up and the firemen began filing into the house, loaded with gear to put out the fire.
"N-No! NO! NO! FUCKING NO!"
She collapsed to her knees, digging her fingers into the grass, ripping the blades right out of the ground. The cold dirt sank into her nails, and then into her mouth as she brought up her hands, shaking uncontrollably, stifling her screams into her knuckles.
She knew he was gone before they'd even finished putting out the fire.
The days that followed that horrible nightmare were even more fragmented in her mind. She remembered crying, wailing, screaming, thrashing. She grieved, cursing herself, cursing the world, wanting to curl up and die.
Eventually, after weeks and weeks of grieving, she realized that her only chance to overcome all of this hatred and disgust and anguish was to move out of Los Angeles for good, so she abandoned everything she once knew and fled to New York, where she knew his career would've taken off had the cruel twist of fate not taken it all away from him.
She struggled living in the city for months, struggled to find herself, struggled to find a job. She spent one particular frustrating, lonely night writing a draft for a play, a play about a conniving woman who knew how to get men eating out of the palm of her hand, only to get what she had coming to her in the end. It took her many, many failed auditions, along with her own stubborn desire to become successful, for her to finally get where she was today.
And so, for her brutally relentless determination, she had him to thank.
I was crying.
I couldn't control myself. I hadn't even realized just how hard I was crying until Jade walked away for a second only to return with a tissue.
"Here. Blow your nose," she said, and I swallowed the heavy lump inside my throat and accepted the tissue, blowing my nose into it. When I was done, she lifted an eyebrow. "Better?"
"Thanks," I muttered sheepishly, wadding up the tissue and stuffing it into my pocket. I exhaled a shaky breath and sniffled, finally feeling myself calm down. I cracked a small, sad smile at her. "That's a really heartbreaking story."
"You're telling me," Jade said, smirking back at me teasingly, but then her smile suddenly dropped from her face. Her eyes glossed over as she pursed her lips, shaking her head slightly, shrugging to herself. "It's been over a year, but…it still hurts like hell."
"I'm sorry," I said with an ache in my heart, and I truly meant it, with every ounce of my being. I wanted to reach out and touch her hand then, just to give her a small gesture of comfort, but I knew it wouldn't be appropriate, so I resisted the urge.
"I haven't spoken about him in so long," Jade whispered, as though she were thinking aloud. She still had that listless look in her eyes. "I miss him."
"I know," I said, my voice soft and sincere. I had never admired someone as much as I admired her, right in this very moment. She was such a strong, courageous woman. I felt for her. I really did. She managed to overcome an absolutely devastating time in her life and pursue her dreams. Just look where she was now. "You're a very incredible person."
At that, she grinned, for the first time since I met her, not wickedly, but warmly.
"I am, aren't I?" she said, her voice quiet, though she was clearly liking the ego boost, and her smile was so infectious that I couldn't help but smile back. "You know, you're not as lame as I thought you were, Robbie."
"Thanks?" I said warily, and Jade tilted her head down, her hair sweeping across the counter as she shook her head back and forth. Was she laughing at me?
"You'd better write an amazing article about me," she said after she lifted her head again. "I'm serious, dude. I'll be looking for it in the paper."
Well. No pressure there.
"I'll do my best," I assured her.
Behind the Scenes of a Real Life Tragedy:
The Temptress Superstar Tells All
BY ROBBIE SHAPIRO
The critics all agree that Broadway's newest musical, The Temptress, is an absolute must-see. The tragic musical only made its debut in September, yet it's already garnering the fast attention of the public eye. Audiences are calling it a perfect blend between The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked for its insightful, melancholy themes coupled with its beautiful costumes and captivating songs.
Behind the success of this flourishing musical is up-and-coming singer and actress, Jade West, 25, who, nearly a year and a half ago, lost her fiancé, actor Beck Oliver, to a devastating house fire. West, who was living in the Los Angeles home with Oliver at the time, managed to escape the fire unharmed, whereas Oliver unfortunately collapsed in the house before he could make it out in time.
Since then, West overcame her grief and found overwhelming success in writing, directing and starring in The Temptress. She notes that her inspiration to become a Broadway actress comes from her late fiancé's prosperous film career that was tragically cut short.
"It still hurts me to think how much more he could've accomplished in his life had he not passed away," says West. "But I use that as my motivation to continue working as hard as I do. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do the thing I love most, which is to entertain people."
Critics predict The Temptress will take home the next Tony Award for Best Musical, while West is expected to win awards for her acting and writing talents. For now, she is happy that people are responding so well to her musical, and she's looking forward to its future.
"The play is really close to my heart. The story is so much more than a typical bad girl who ultimately gets what she deserves," says West. "It's really more about human character, the belief that good things will happen to good people, just as bad things will happen to those who are nothing but selfish and cruel."
With the overnight success she has gained so far, only time will tell what West will accomplish next in her blossoming singing and acting career. To quote her character from The Temptress: "Just wait and see how far I can go, baby."