INT. STUDIO. NIGHT.
Nikki sat very still as the makeup artist worked, running the tip along her closed eyelids.
“There,” the man said, stepping back. “A little blush…”
Nikki felt the makeup brush against her cheek.
“And you’re done.”
Nikki opened her eyes and stared at her reflection in the mirror. She blinked for several seconds and then smiled. “Thank you.”
The man nodded. And excused himself. A woman with a clipboard popped her head into the dressing room.
“You’ll be on in fifteen.”
Nikki waved a hand to indicate she had heard and was left alone again. She stood up and came closer to the mirror. She picked her purse up off a side table and fished her cellphone out. She dialed Clint and waited as he picked up.
“Nikki? What’s up?”
“Well I’m about to go perform, they’ve finished the makeup and…”
“And?” Clint prompted.
“It doesn’t look right. The makeup’s bold, out there. Exactly what I’ve always worn but I’m not dressed for it now.”
“Right, wipe it off.”
“I’m going to be called in fifteen minutes Clint.”
“That’s enough time, redo it yourself.”
“I can’t just do my own makeup.”
“Sure you can. It is your makeup.”
“If you think you can do it better, then do it.”
Nikki hung up and looked again in the mirror. Sighing she pulled a tissue out of her purse and started to wipe.
Twelve minutes later there was knock on the door. Nikki shoved her lipstick back in her purse and shook her hair back over her shoulders.
She opened the door and smiled at the assistant waiting for her on the other side. She was led through a long, white hallway towards two big double doors that swung open into a large, high-ceilinged area. On one side was a row of bleacher style chairs where the audience sat in near darkness. On the other side was the brightly lit set. It was split in half, on the left was the show’s host Martin Bailey sitting in a large plush armchair across from a sofa on which were sitting his two guests for the evening. The right side of the stage was currently dimmed, but Nikki could make out the band in the background and the lone microphone standing in the forefront, waiting for her.
The assistant led Nikki down the gap between the audience and set, being sure to avoid the cameras and boom mics. She was taken round to the right of the stage. A crew member came over and attached a second microphone to her belt that would be turned on when she sat down for the interview, and then handed her a pair of ear pieces. She plugged them in as she stepped up to the microphone.
From the dimness of her half of the stage she watched the host chatting with his guests for a full minute before he turned to the camera and smiling announced,
“Now we have a very special treat for you tonight. We have a Grammy award winner here with us tonight, performing a brand new song. Please welcome, Nikki Steele!”
The applause started, the lights slowly turned on, and from her ear pieces Nikki could hear the band begin to play the first few notes.
She took a deep breath, and felt herself relax. At last she was back on familiar ground. She began to sing.
‘He never spoke to her soul, only to her heart,
Since she’s not a paint by numbers and he can’t connect the dots…’
But she still knows,
It’s her time,
Now’s her time…”
Clint opened a second beer and smiled and watched his TV with a certain sense of satisfaction as Nikki stepped away from the microphone and the clapping and cheers started. He knew the audience was going to clap no matter what, that’s what talk show audiences were supposed to do, but Nikki had definitely done well. She had been composed and confident. He had advised her beforehand to tone things down a little, not go overboard with her gestures and movement; together with her new look, the effect had been more considered and reflective. He hoped it would come across to others as maturity.
He watched as Nikki crossed over towards the host and took a seat on the couch, smiling in acknowledgement as Martin started complimenting the performance.
“That was fantastic! Thank you so much for that performance.” Martin sat back down in his chair and got comfortable. “Now, Nikki I’m so pleased you could be here with us tonight. A great new song.”
“Thank you Martin.”
“We haven’t heard a lot of new work from you recently so this is very exciting. What are you plans for the foreseeable future?”
“Well we’re going to be recording the song as a single very soon. After that I’m still considering options, but I’m really excited.”
“That’s fantastic. Any plans for another tour soon?”
Nikki shrugged a little, but with a definite sense motion of grace in her movements. “Still considering.”
“Well I’d like to talk a little bit about-”
Clint’s cell phone rang and he reached over for the remote and muted the TV.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Clint? It’s Nikki.”
“Hey, just watching the show now. You did fantastic.”
“You think so?”
“He did ask a bit about some of the tabloid stories from the past year or so, but I think I handled it pretty well, basically repeating what I said to Tobin.”
Clint leaned over and picked his laptop off the coffee table. “I had Twitter up during your song. Following the hashtags for both you and The Bailey Show.”
“Twitter?” asked Nikki, skeptically.
“You should not underestimate social media. So far the responses have been quite positive over your performance.”
“Thank you. I really couldn’t have done this without you Clint. You know I may have been completely hung-over at the time, but hiring you as my manager might have been one of my smarter career moves.”
Clint laughed. “I think Vanessa would have a thing or two to say about that.”
EXT. AIRPORT. DAY.
The limo drove up to the curb outside the airport and stopped. Inside, Alan glanced out the window and then turned back to Holly.
“I’ve already told the driver to take you home. Thanks for coming to say goodbye.”
“I wanted to take you to the airport,” said Holly, “You’re going to be gone for two weeks.”
“You probably shouldn’t get out though. We can say goodbye here. There’s always a few photographers hanging outside LAX.”
Holly frowned but nodded.
Alan reached out for her hand and smiled. “I had a wonderful time yesterday, just being together.”
“So did I.”
“I’m going to miss you so much Holly,” he said seriously.
“I’ll miss you too. But you can call, we can talk on the phone. And you’ll be back soon,” she said, trying to brighten the atmosphere.
He nodded. “I know. But I really am going to miss you. I haven’t felt in a while- maybe never, I haven’t felt so attached- I…” he chuckled a little. “I’m doing this terribly aren’t I? Bottom line is Holly; I love you.”
She froze. Her thoughts racing, while her mind felt sluggish. She had to say something, do something, but for the life of her, she couldn’t form a coherent word or force a movement. It was if time had sped up while she had slowed down. Eons were flying past in seconds, and which each fraction of time that passed action seemed more impossible.
She was conscious she was probably just staring. She was conscious that Alan was staring back at her. She was suddenly even more conscious of the fact that the partition to the front seat was down and the driver must be hearing all of this. And then she was randomly trying to remember what the driver’s name was, all while a second voice in her head was screaming at her ‘what difference does it make?!’.
It was a few seconds, that’s all it was, but it felt like hours, and then suddenly Alan was talking again and it hadn’t seemed like hours at all, only milliseconds.
“Well I’ve got to go catch my flight.” Alan was smiling again, but it wasn’t quite the broad, eager smile he normally wore. “I’ll send you a message when I land safely.”
And then he was out of the limo. Holly felt her breath exhilarate and her thoughts starting to whir into overloud.
She buried her face in her hands and feeling like an utter idiot, why had she just sat there dumbly? And the limo pulled away from the curb.