Kelly smiled brightly, throwing kisses to the crowd. She accepted a bouquet of bright red roses and waved to adoring fans. The audience roared with cheers of approval and applause. Her dance partner's hand settled against her lower back, and they bowed together. She curtseyed, her body perfect grace in motion, blonde ringlets falling over her shoulders to brush the floor. It was wonderful to be admired for her talent, but today it wasn't as fulfilling as she'd hoped it would be.
Her partner, Chris took her hand and they walked off the stage, waving to the audience until they were out of sight. Her brilliant smile vanished. "I'll be in my dressing room," she told Chris and the others.
She hurried along the corridor, closing the door. With a sigh of relief, Kelly walked across the carpeted floor and seated herself at her vanity. The lights were bright around the mirror. Feeling sad, she trailed fingers over the silver glass. When she was a little girl, she'd always wanted a mirror like this so she could sit in front of it and pretend to be a star.
Sighing, she picked up the facial cleanser and washed off the stage makeup. Her fingers closed over the feathers clipped at the top of her head and released her hair. The ringlets fell heavy against her back. Scrunching her nose, Kelly grabbed the brush and pulled the bristles through the hairspray coated mass until it fell freely in a wavy mass around her face.
She paused at a soft knock at the door. Without taking her gaze from her reflection, she called, "I don't want to be disturbed."
"Not even by your very best friend?" a familiar voice replied.
The brush slipped from Kelly's fingers to clatter against the vanity's wood top. Joy surged through her dark thoughts like a stark beam of light. Kelly ran to the door, flinging it open. "Cassie!" she squealed. The women embraced for a long moment before pulling away to study each other. Kelly's dearest friend was radiant, her chestnut hair flowed like sheets of satin down her back, her skin like porcelain, and her eyes--once a gorgeous hue of violet--were black, but still held a mischievous purple gleam. Despite this, Kelly couldn't help but think of the events nearly a year ago that had led her friend to meet and marry a vampire, as well as becoming one herself. It still
"Kelly, I missed you!"
"I missed you, too." Stepping from the doorway, Kelly motioned with a sweep of her hand for her friend to enter. "Come in, come in, and tell me all about your trip. Did you have a wonderful time?"
Her expression dreamy, Cassie sighed, but appeared to catch herself before filling Kelly in on her extended honeymoon. "I won't tell you one thing until I say how beautiful you looked tonight. You were magical, and you took my breath away. But I must say I am a little jealous for you held Dimitri captivated."
"I find that hard to believe when you were by his side."
Cassie gave an impish wink. "Well, I did remind him I was there with a nudge or two from time to time." She stopped in the middle of the room and gripped Kelly's arms. "You made it! I knew you would. I can't tell you how proud I am. I know your parents are smiling down on you with pride."
Cassie's words touched her heart, and tears burned Kelly's eyes. "Thank you, Cassie, it means a lot to hear you say so." She hugged her friend tight, not wanting to let go, but finally did. Taking her hand, she led Cassie to a couch at the back of the room.
"Now, tell me all about your extended honeymoon. And where is Dimitri?"
Cassie settled on the cushions and waved her hand. "He's backstage, playing. There must be something about really old people and going to the theater. He loves it."
"You haven't told Dimitri you think he's old, have you?" Kelly snickered behind her hand.
"Let's just say I like to tease him every once in a while."
Kelly nudged Cassie, her wide grin easing her reprimand. "Be nice to him." She laughed, then leaned back on the couch, sitting cross-legged. "So tell me everything."
"Everything was wonderful. We visited Dimitri's family home in Greece--he had it rebuilt after the fire--and it was breathtaking. Oh, you should have seen him the moment he walked through the doors. He was like a giddy boy showing me the rooms, telling me stories upon stories, and romping me around his lands. From there we went to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and France..." Cassie's voice faded, sympathy clouding her dark eyes. There was no way to disguise her stricken expression. She felt the emotion deep in her soul. Her heart rate increased, pounding a wild rhythm in her chest, there was no way to hide the stark emotion welling inside.