“Do you want me to make my own list? You left your father when he wanted the best for you at home. You chose to pursue a career that one out of every million make it at when you had a hundred other options. You’re now choosing a gig that is peanuts. And you…me…” I sputtered, unable to control my anger. “Just sign it and leave, Amy.”

Her eyes widened, and I saw fear in them, for the first time. I had never seen her look at me with true fear; not like this, not even on the night I revealed myself to her.

“I’ll read it myself and get it back to you later,” she said standing and taking the contract. “I trust I’m allowed to do that, without you holding my hand?”

“Go,” I flicked my wrist at her, indicating the closed door. Without another word, she picked up her bag and left, making sure to slam the door on her way out. I buried my head in my hands, sighing. Two women slamming doors in my face within the space of two hours had to be some sort of record.

Why in the world was this proving to be so difficult? A year ago – hell, even six months ago - I wouldn’t have thought twice about selfishly sacrificing anyone if it meant I could be freed from this hell I was living in. But whether I liked it or not, Amy had changed something in me. If the school got the boost it needed, I could settle back into easy retirement, live off the money it made and never have to deal with humans again. I would secure everyone’s future.

But I also knew Amy would go far if connected with the right people, and Shannon was the opposite of the right person. Shannon’s performers became trapped with her, often taking the easy way out and staying in her shows forever; always hovering as a working actor; right below fame. Amy was right, though, if anyone could break free of that trap, it was her.

Still, working for Shannon was better than being stuck in school, and I knew that was a fact. Amy had to face challenges all her life and I knew she would be strong in the face of this one. After all, I had gotten out of Shannon’s ‘curse’, I didn’t believe I was anywhere near as talented as Amy was.

I sighed again, rubbing my hands with my face. There was, of course, the real reason I had let my anxiety about the situation slip.

I didn’t want her to go. I tried to convince myself I did, a thousand times, but I didn’t. I didn’t want her to fly away forever, and never come back to me. Despite what had happened, the way she had made me feel when we were together was something I would likely never forget. She had changed something in me. She’d made my soul come alive again.

I wasn’t going to hold her back. I wasn’t going to let my fears slip through again. She knew what she was doing and I couldn’t deny that I knew she had the talent to go far. So if this was to be the end, so be it. I had to let her go.

I closed the door before sinking to the floor in my room. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I tucked my head down against my knees, sobbing as if my heart would break. There were so many things I was feeling, it was impossible to figure out why exactly I was crying. I was excited. I was scared. I was hurt.

I had never expected to get the role, and I thought I hadn’t wanted it without Liam’s help. But talking to him just before going into the audition hall had given me the calm I needed to carry on, and I’m sure I couldn’t have done it without him.

And before all of this, I had looked forward to another year here. I was still stumbling with what ‘stage left’ and ‘stage right’ meant, trying to remember they were the opposite of the normal view. I had just learned that ‘corpse’ meant to break character, not to fall down dead, during a scene. And I still felt like there were a million things going through my head.

And Liam … he had been so harsh. It was clear he wanted me to go. He wanted me to leave the school. I hadn’t realized how much I missed him until he called me into his office and the memories we had in there came flooding back. A very small part of me had hoped he was calling me in to reconcile.

I didn’t care what he was now. It didn’t matter to me. He was what he was, and I accepted that. But the distance that had grown between us seemed too great to ever cross; to go back to the way things were.

And why else had I come here if not to pursue my dreams? This is exactly what I wanted to do with my life and here it was, being offered to me on a plate. I would be an idiot not to take it; not to move forward and leave this school forever.

Wiping my tears away, I went to take a sip of water and look over the contract. I was to be a chorus girl with few lines and the possibility of more as the show went on. It signed me on exclusively for three years which seemed like a long time, but maybe that was normal. The show’s run was to be a year, so maybe it would be extended.

Opening my desk drawer, I slipped the contract in, and headed to the bathroom, splashing water on my face. It was time to head to rehearsal for Beauty. I could deal with this when I got back.

I locked my door, and headed down the hallway. My mind was still back in Liam’s office, replaying the situation over and over again. I was so stuck in the moment that I didn’t notice the woman standing in front of me until I bumped right into her.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” I said, as I stumbled back. She was beautiful, tall and long limbed, with dark hair and dark eyes that were exotic looking. When her eyes met mine, I took a step back. I went to a school full of beautiful people and she was possibly one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen.

“It’s alright, Amy.” When she spoke, her words curled around her tongue, a liquid French accent pouring out. “One such as you has a lot to keep her pre-occupied.”

“How do you know my name?” I asked, surprised, and she smiled slightly.

“Everyone knows the scholarship winner,” she said gently. “You are famous around this school.”

“Oh…uh…thank you,” I said, blushing. “Can I help you? Are you lost?”

“No,” she shook her head, a twinkle in her eye. “I am an old friend of Liam’s, merely here to observe.”

Of course you are, I thought, a rush of anger flooding my veins. There seemed to be a lot of beautiful women floating around this school who were ‘old friends of Liam’s.’ Glancing at my reflection in the window beside us, I wondered how I could have ever competed. With my eyes red from crying, and my hair in a messy pony tail, I felt like a hot mess compared to this beautiful woman. That’s fine I thought, trying to keep my face neutral. Liam can have his harem of women now that I’m out of the picture.

“Alright, well…” I said, looking past her to the door where I needed to go. “It was good to meet you…” I paused, realizing I didn’t know her name.

“Selene,” she said, extending a long arm with long elegant fingers, perfectly manicured.

“Selene.” I shook it, surprised at the coolness of it. My palms were sweaty in comparison, and I was annoyed that it seemed every aspect of this woman was perfect. “I really have to get to rehearsal.”

“Of course,” she said, nodding. “Best of luck…break a leg. Isn’t that what they say here in the theater?”

“Yes,” I gave her a small smile. “Nice to meet you.” Brushing past her, I headed down the hallway. I pulled open the door to the theater and hurried inside.

I woke up about three hours early on the day of my first rehearsal with Shannon. Even though I had only slept for a few hours, I felt wide awake.

Yesterday, in preparation, I had gone into the registrar’s office for show my valid contract and sign the school’s agreement for ‘Premiere Performers’. It was a program put in place to deal with the school’s working performers. It allowed students working in the industry to come in and out of lessons as their schedule permitted, provided that it did not interfere with the rehearsal schedule of the school. That was Liam’s one policy. He believed you could catch up with everything else, but rehearsal, where you learned the most, was not to be missed. So I was to attend Shannon’s rehearsals every morning, and Liam’s Beauty and the Beast every afternoon; making up class work on the weekends. My father was appalled at first at the schedule and worried about everything. To my surprise, it had been Liam who had come to my rescue.

“What Amy needs for her acting career now is not more lessons. She’s miles ahead of even the senior students in the school. Now she needs experience and contacts with the right people,” he said to my father during a private meeting. “That was what this school was always designed for, and that is what we can give her. Amy is already well ahead of her mandatory credits. She was home schooled well and could have graduated a year early, I’m sure. Her graduation and education are of no concern. She would be the first choice of any college in the country.”

Dad had hesitated, but when he saw my midterm report, he relented. I knew he didn’t agree with my dreams of being an actress, although I could see it in his eyes that he would cross that bridge when he came to it. At the moment, his primary concern was my graduation. However, when he left, I could only give Liam a look.

“I’m not doing you a kindness, Amy,” he said, responding to my raised eyebrow. “I was simply telling the truth.”

“That’s a first for you, isn’t it?” I snapped, and he couldn’t quite hide the wounded look on his face. For a moment, I felt bad about it. I hadn’t meant to snap at him like that, but it seemed every time I got close to him or someone near him, another thing came out that I didn’t know about. This wasn’t how relationships were supposed to be, and I knew it.

His face hardened a second later and he turned away.

“I’ll see you at rehearsal tomorrow.”

Getting into the shower and letting the warm water wash away my fatigue, I scrubbed my hair thoroughly. I wanted everything to be perfect for my first day of rehearsal.

I chose to wear all black because I didn’t know what my character would be like, and I slipped into my comfortable black sneakers. I pulled my hair back, but did full makeup and made sure my nail polish wasn’t chipped.