I pulled up to the hotel which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, the full glass exterior with a gold bar along with the glass windows, I walked toward it, immediately feeling underdressed so I pulled my oversized hoodie against myself as I tracked into the lobby which was in a pearl white with light fixtures that looked like lilies and the pillar were futuristic arches, I stared in wonder at the beautiful scene until I was interrupted by a very clean looking man who stood behind a reception desk.
His hair was slinked back as he stood in a white suit and rose gold tie, he cleared his throat and gave me a disapproval look "Good evening" I nodded at him "are you here for someone?" he said as I approached the desk.
"yea, I am meeting with a Charles Dickens here," I said as I almost laughed at Edward's fake name.
"name, please" he gave me a once over before looking at his computer.
"Nefertari Black," I said as I placed my hand in my pockets.
"ID, Miss Black," he asked as if I couldn't be looking for Edward but I pulled out my ID and placed it on the desk.
"Your name isn't on the chart and we don't have someone here under the name of Charles Dickens," he said without checking the guest list.
I rolled my eyes and pulled out my phone to call Edward "Hey, I can't get to the room" I said as I turned away from the man.
"oh, sorry, they have been strict ever since someone tried to break into my room" Edward's soft voice sounded through the phone "let me speak to him," he said as I heard him shuffle around. "I truly apologise for the inconvenience," he said once more before I gave the hotel receptionist, they spoke for a moment before the man's face dropped and he handed the phone back to me.
"the 30 floors, Ma'am" he hissed as I smiled at him and went for the elevator.
I walked down the brightly lit hallway until I realized he didn't give me a room number but I didn't need one, this floor only had one door and a bodyguard stood in front of it, this man was tall, muscular and looked like he could break you in half if he wished, he didn't make eye contact with me until I stepped up to the door.
"and your business here?" he asked in a gruff voice.
"I am Nefertari Black, I am here for Ed-Charles Dickens," I said as the man smiled very cutely.
"go on in, Miss Black, sorry about the receptionist," the man said as I smiled.
"its no problem" I smiled as he knocked on the door and fresh face Edward answered, he was in a light sweater and a pair of jogging pants, his blondish hair looked damp and hung curly around his face which made his blue eyes stand out even more.
"Edward" the bodyguard gasped "I told you not to answer the door" he complained as Edward patted his arm.
"Come on, Hugo, it's ok, I knew it was her," he said as he opened the door wider.
"Doesn't matter, as long as I am protecting you, you do not answer the door?" he said as he shouted into the room "Nancy next time please answer the door?" he said as he closed the door behind me and a short woman with a bob haircut, gorgeous eyes and full lips appeared in front of me.
"Hi, I am Nancy, Edward's PR and that is Drew, his assistant " she pointed to an oldish man in a tailor-made three-piece suit who sat eating some sort of pasta while read through something on his phone. "We so sorry about the inconvenience downstairs, we had a bit of a break-in and the hotel wants to prevent any more," she said as I stood in the doorway leading to the bedroom
"It's ok" I smiled as Edward leaned against the wall watching over interaction with one another.
"Sorry" she expressed before guiding into the room "come in, we were just about to leave and give you some rehearsal time," she said as she turned to Drew and hit his arm while I stared and what seems to be a house instead of a hotel room, the place was massive, it had a lounge, kitchenette, balcony and what seemed to be the door leading to the bedroom.
"I am almost done" Drew said which cut my attention from the excellent room "hey there, young lady, pleased to meet you"
"you too, Sir," I said as he gathered up all his food and bonny bags, leaving with Nancy.
"See you around, kid" I nodded as Nancy gave me a big smile and a soft wave, Edward escorted the two out.
"Make yourself comfortable," he said as he disappeared into the small entrance the room had.
I stared at the woodwork of the place, it was beautiful, the dark wood against the equally grey room that was lit by these artistic light fixtures with a white and deep gold ceiling, grey couch and deep green pillows were too intimidating for me to sit on, it felt like I was going to ruin the whole feel of the room, so I just stood near it as a bunch of paper caught my eye on the small round desk; some were contracts, other were script but some else caught my eye, it was some sort of sketch but before I could reach for it Edward came back.
"Hey, do you want anything?" he offered as he walked into the luxurious kitchenette which, to be honest, looked like a full-on kitchen.
"Just water, please," I said as I slowly sat on the perfect couch.
"Ok," he said as he got one himself before moving the contents of the papers on the coffee table and sitting on it "so where do we start?" He asked as he put his arm against his legs with bottle rest between his long fingers which I couldn't help but stare at. "Nefertari?"
"oh," I shook my head as I grabbed my script from my bag "first we need to warm up your vocals," I said as I stood to my feet "start with a yawn-sigh," I said as I began to shake my arms and legs. "its best to be more relax, so your vocals don't come out freely," I said as he joined me, kicking and shaking myself before I turned to him "now that you are all relaxed, let's began" I moved in front of him "in through your mouth and out through your nose with a sigh," I said as he did what I said.
I walked up behind him and touched his shoulder which we tense "you know a lot about this?" he said before breathing in.
"Relax" I whispered into his back before he was a few many inches taller than me "I am a vocal coach, now breath through the nose" I whisper the last part.
He did what I told him to but pause halfway "why don't you have a practice?" he asked as I looked up at him.
"Because I have this job and I do voiceovers," I said as I placed my hand on his chest, guiding him through the breathing process.
"so you are a voice actor?" he asked as she looked down at me "then why are you singing for actors?" he asked as I pressed his chest in with a soft smile.
"You asked a lot of questions," I said as I lifted his arms. "I just prefer it" I answered, avoiding all eye contact, as he stared at me for a long time before going back to the vocal.
An hour past and we found ourselves sitting on the floor in the bathroom, the bronze cabinets and white marble sink bowls gave the bathroom a luxurious feel, the place was massive, had great acoustics with a little seat Edward and I sat on, close together as we sang some meaningless tune to practice breathing, pitch and harmonies.
"Beans beans beans beans" I sang softly as he stared at me leaning back against the seats back.
"What is this song?" he asked as he let out a soft chuckle.
"something the young kids sing," I said as I smiled then continues to sing softly as he joined in on a low note, he kept his voice within the pitch and breathing softly through his lips as we came to the end of the song, I raised my arms "that was perfect"
He chuckled "thank you," he said as he stared into my eyes, he had this look on his face that I couldn't lay my finger on but he kept coming closer as if an invisible force was pushing him near and that same force was pulling me to him, the air grew thick around us which made my throat dry and lips to part slowly, it was like I hadn't had water in a long while and he was the fountain in the drought that seems to surround our quiet little interaction; as my lips were about to touch his, there was a knock at the door and I broke out of the traces.
Edward jumped to his feet and slowly jogged towards the door and opened it to find Hugo "yes?"
"Ms Abrams wanted to join you for a night cap," Hugo said with wide eyes as I walked back into the lounge area.
"oh, she did" Edward scratched his head as he turned to look at me "well, I am quite..." He stopped when Cecilia appeared in front of him in a white slip dress with hair black hair in toss just out of bed look which probably took her a lot of time to perfect and for an added measure she had her lips in a pouty pink, she looks amazing and I looked down at my comfort jean and hoodie, feeling just a bit underdressed or maybe just underdesired.
"Hey, Eddy" she smiled "I was wondering if we could have a nightcap, as a celebration of us working together" she held a bottle of champagne in her hand as she bit her lip in a sigh of seduction until her eyes caught mine "oh, I didn't know you had company" she smiled before walking deeper into the room "Ms Black, what a surprise? Do you want to join us" she smiled but I knew instantly I wasn't welcome.
"No, I gotta get home," I said as I grabbed my bag and headed for the door. "see you at work and have a nice night," I said as I passed Edward who tried to speak but I didn't give him the chance, I rushed out of there as Hugo close the door behind me. He gave me a look which I didn't respond to but to say goodnight and leave his presence.
The brightly lit studio had floor to ceiling mirrors and hardwood floors, the room itself was in light brown giving life to artificial lights, it was big and drifty, but the cold air was welcomed after a whole day of dancing, I grabbed a bottle of water as I watch our choreographers Jesse and David walk Julia through the dance once more, I watched their move with interest as Julia glided around the room in rhythmic bliss; her character did not dance much in the movie and it was a statement without being one. But in this scene she was letting out the dance energy she kept inside, so the dance was a bit awkward, fun and filled with a lot of action stunts because believe it or not, Julia was an action star, she did her own stunts unless told to use a stunt double which made her excellent for this part, she is playing a cool head detective with a heart that wanted to soar.
Julia claim her surrounding showing off the amazing choreography of Hip-Hop, Pop, Jazz and a bit of dubstep which brought this tough just elegant move to the routine, I was supposed to be shadowing her but for this dance, I gave her the space to express this character she was portraying because I only had to worry about the emotions in the voice while she had to make this character come alive with all her body parts, so, for now, I watched ready to jump in for her last rehearsal in the studio before we go on set.
Julia finished with a high jump before turning to me and winked as I smiled.
"ok, let's take it from the top," Jesse said as she walked towards me "vocals included"
I looked to the room filled with back up dancers, the cast and the producer sitting or standing around waiting for their turn, the only two people missing was Edward and Cecilia who went to read lines together, I looked at Julia as she smiled at me.
The scene took place in an interrogation room when Julia's character argued with Jordan character causing the whole dance turmoil thing to happen, so we set up the table and chair as before and acted out the first few seconds of the fight before getting into the dancing part. I began to sing as I walked around the table, I placed my fingers on the edge of it, moving across the front of the table as I did a high kick and spinning around keeping my voice level but still showing the strain of my movements, I moved into some flips before shaking my hips in a classic Jazz style then spinning giving some a Beyoncé fair until we stopped on our knees as the group shouted scene.
I looked up as Julia pulled me into a hug "so good" I whispered in her ear as she kissed me on the cheek.
"Babe" she laughed as we turned to the group to find Cecilia had joined with Edward standing next to her, they looked perfect in their rehearsal clothes, Cecilia decided to wear a black short practice dress with slits on each side and a leopard print bodysuit that peaking out while Edward stood tall and muscular in a pair of black sweat pants with a grey sport shirt to match; they looked like a couple and they seemed to live for that notion.
"Good, now let's move into Edward and Cecilia characters," David said, "we will work through the waltz and then go onto the swing dance scene and so forth" he smiled as Edward and Cecilia took the dance fall, I ran to drink some water before David grabbed my waist and pulled me over, we stood next to the couple "music," David said as perfect waltz-like flow came over the speakers.
Cecilia began to walk away but Edward grabbed her hand and position her into a Viennese Waltz, they stood side by side and began the dance, they flow peacefully as I mimic their every move, they seemed to produce the subtle movements of a couple trying to fight the negatives in their relationships but with every move, Cecilia seemed to get nervous or too engrossed that she kept missing steps which cause us to stop endlessly and began again; even with all the stops Jesse and David remained patient as well as Edward kept encouraging her with every step until she stops dancing altogether.
"Victoria, may I speak with you?" Cecilia asked as she walks over to the producer and I quickly ran for my water once more, I watch them whisper in soft confidence when Edward appeared next to me.
"You were incredible out there" he commented as he picked up his water bottle that was conveniently next to mine.
"Thank you" I whispered as I wiped the sweat from my brow and move a couple of inches away from him, I didn't want him to smell me.
"have you danced before?"
"you do ask a lot of questions, Mr Jones," I said as he chuckled next to me.
"is it a crime?" he winked as David called us back into position.
"now, I will work with Cecilia while Edward and Tari get in some singing and dancing practice with the group," he said as the backup dancers took there position as Cecilia David stood before the rest of us.
The backup dancers form a maze around Edward and me as the music came flowing in once more, I walked away from Edward but he grabbed my hand pulling me to his side, we began waltz through the maze of dancers who were stuck in time until I passed by them, I nerves seemed to bubble at my throat and tingle at my fingers as Edward practically pulled me through the choreography with gentle touches reminding me to dip or lift my leg or generally flow into him as if we were one; through this nervous bundle, I didn't notice his closeness nor the fact that his eyes were focused on me instead of the people the room.
My first mistake was to look up at him and my body froze as if it turned cold at his icy blue eyes, the world seemed to stop for a second before he touched my waist and my body began to move into the last lift of the dance; he lifted me from my waist, he looked up at me with his head against my stomach before slowly bringing down onto the floor before dipping me.
The room was silent as I stared up at him, his face was close to mine and I just realized we forgot to sing our parts, sudden clapping came up "perfect" David said as the group gave us a hand "only problem, you didn't sing" he said with an annoying face which was a joke "so...from the top" he walked back to Cecilia as we began again.
We entered the dimly lit penthouse at the top of a speed and busy LA nightlife, the room was in deep purple with pink glowing floors and deep brown velvet couches with a ceiling made of blue crystals, it has the nightclub atmosphere instead of living space and I will fill to the brim with celebrities who were dressed to the nines, I turned to Rhea and Julia who were dressed perfectly for the occasion, Rhea opted for deep blue wrapped satin dress with bow at the waist, she accessorized in nude fixtures, her hair was pinned up in soft curls while Julia was in a black asymmetrical jumpsuit with knee-high flowery red boots and red accessories to match, looking like models who stepped off a runway.
I looked down at my leopard print dress and red chunky sandals, I felt a bit insecure about my wide hips in this bodycon dress with a corset bodice that shaped my slim waist and my burst seemed too big for the actual dress but I smiled because Rhea and Julia said I looked amazing, even though I wish I could cover up and run.
"So this is it?" I said as I held onto my red apple clutch.
"Yea," Julia said as she wrapped her arm around my waist as we walked deeper into the room which we happened onto a stage and a man singing karaoke with all his heart.
"well, that's different," Rhea said with a wide-eyed smiled.
"yea, well, Kristen Jameson went to Japanese and brought the whole karaoke party to her penthouse" Julia smiled, "such a shame" she expressed as she moved closer to me "she didn't invite actual singers" as I shook my head as let out a little chuckle.
"Sounds fun," Rhea said as we walked deeper into the room.
"Oh, Rhea, I have someone you have to meet" she squeaked as they runoff.
I watch them go with a sweet smile on my face, I knew that Julia was keeping Rhea company and distracted her from the darkest part of her year, so instead of interrupting their beautiful company, I headed for the bar which was next to the ground balcony, still in this weird deep purple, I sat on a soft barstool that was way too high and way too soft to sit up straight; a tall handsome man stood behind the bar with a fake smile and soft eyes.
"What can I get you?" He asked as I looked at the mirror in front of me.
"Pina Colada," I said as I looked down at my phone "please" he nodded as I smiled softly when I heard a scream behind me and I turned to see two ladies I haven't seen in years, Alyssa and Maeve, the loudest, crazy and beautiful women I know, Alyssa was dressed in a white dress with a truffle off the shoulder which work beautifully on her mocha skin tone while Maeve stood in a mustard bodycon dressed with a ruffle on the bottom of her dress which made her dark skin shine.
"Ah, it been forever" Alyssa expressed as she hugged me while Maeve punched my arm as I smiled brightly.
"where have you been?" Maeve said as she gave me a side hug.
"I have been around," I said as I stood from my seat next to these amazing women, I missed too much. "how have you two been?"
"We are great, working and all that," Alyssa said as she leaned against the seat I once occupied.
"ok, I am gonna say it," Maeve said of nowhere "he was wrong and you deserve more" as smile sadly as she hugged me.
"Yea, we left as soon as the news broke," Alyssa said as she rubbed my arm "and we were looking for you, love, so now don't go disappearing on us again"
"guy, really I have been ok," I said as I offered them both a seat "I have been getting gigs, work, it's not a dream but its fun, I thank you though," I said as they ordered themselves some drinks.
"No, thanks," Maeve said smiled "it's a human thing to do but the bastard is still out there, living a life he stole and it makes me angry"
"We are your friends, babe, remember that," Alyssa said as she patted her back softly. "Now that's all sorted how about we get back to old times and show this crowd how the Dream girls do it"
Maeve grabbed my hand as we ran up to the DJ, passing through the crowd of people to the DJ section, Alyssa leaned over the station to give him the song choice and she turned to us with a cringe face "they said it's a 20-minute wait" she said as we looked around the room to see that no one was on the stage singing.
"Hold on" Maeve moved her out of the way and leaned deeper into the DJ space and they chatted for what seemed like a few moments before she turned to us "we are one in five" she smiled before winking at the DJ. "Powertrip" she whispered under her breathe.
"What did you ask for?" I asked as she moved towards the stage through the bustling crowd and dancing bodies.
"oh you know what I asked for..." she winked as we smiled at each other.
I walked into this chaotic view of a great party with Monique on my side in her over the top dress which consists of an asymmetrical dress with fringes on the end, she tried her hardest to get me into something similar but I convinced her otherwise; I was already escorting her to this thing.
I wanted to be in my hotel room, with script open and maybe someone special to practice singing with but I was here with the whole LA crowd but Monique needed me so I dropped it to support her, we walked through the crowd, trying to get to the bar when Monique diverted towards a woman in a short black jumpsuit who turned to be Julia which made me smile.
"Mon!" she expressed as she hugged the model then turned towards me "Edward, I didn't think you would have come" the was a thin woman standing next to her, she had these soft features with a beautiful rudy skin in a soft satin blue dress but her features seemed familiar.
"well, Mon wanted me to come so...here I am" I expressed as I dug my hands into my pocket.
Julia smiled before she turned to the tiny woman "oh, so rude of me, this is Rhea, Rhea this is Edward Jones"
"oh, I know, I am a big fan" she presented her hand which shook "I especially like the way your eyes shine in the morning sun" she commented with a chuckle as Julia gave her a wide-eyed smile and Monique just stood next to me frozen in the spot since we were introduced to the two women.
"Oh this is Monique, a dear friend," Julia said be Monique still frozen before Rhea who blushed and tucked a strayed hair behind her ear.
"it's nice to meet you," Rhea said as she offered her hand which Monique was too frozen to see, so she took it back as if she was in the wrong "I have seen you in magazines, was it Vogue?"
Monique let out a soft squeak which caused me to bump her arm so she could snap out of her daydream "yes" she expressed to aggressively which made Rhea step back, shock at herself, Monique grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the two women "yea, nice to meet you" she struggled out as she pulled me towards the bar, dodging everyone before I could even get my head on right we were at the bar and she had vodka in her hand.
"What was that?" I asked as I leaned against the bar, asking the bartender for a beer.
"She is the most beautiful woman, I have ever seen," she said with her head in her hands "the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I choked in front of her"
"well, we all can't be smooth Joes," I said with chuckled as she gave me a death glare.
"You don't get it" she expressed turning towards the crowd "this is not me, I saw her face my heart began to go a hundred kilometres per hour as tried to catch my breath and at least smile"
"I don't know, babe, you weren't smiling"
"Listen, it wasn't that bad" I patted her back as she gave me a death glare.
"I am gonna get drunk" she expressed before getting up and towards the crowd "but first let me pay my respects to the hostess"
I watched her go as a voice count my attention, I turned to the massive karaoke stage and three woman moving their hips from side to side while dipping it in the middle, I glanced at them with no interest until the woman in the leopard print began to sing and I realized it was Nefertari, I stood from the bar and walked to the line of the crowd and watched her move with the beat which felt like it had bop to it; I watch her hips moved slowly from left to right but still popped up at the end.
She stood in between other ladies who were just as talented as she was in the singing department, they followed each other move in perfect sync as if they plan this mic stand choreography but I watched Nefertari's face and she was giving light ques as to what move to do next and taking cues from the other to but it was so straightforward if you were just enjoying the show like the rest of the crowd.
I moved to Monique had made her way back to me but this time she had a glass of champagne in her hand "wow, they are amazing," she said she stared at my face. "Oh, that's your girl"
I shook my head and looked down for a second "no, she is not" I grimed at the thought.
Monique laughed loud obviously drunk "oh, so, she spends the night in your hotel" she shouts as I try to quiet her down to which she decides to get real close to me to whisper but she doesn't whisper at all "and you get all dizzy with fancy dance moves and you think that she is not yours"
"you are drunk" I whispered into her ear.
She begins to shout again "am not drunk!" She throws her head back and arms wide "I know you want her and I know want her to shake that boom boom!" she clapped her hands in my face as I just stared at her "you are all like "Tari this..." before she could finish I grabbed her arm and pulled her to dance fall into a little two-step to keep her quiet "oh, look at us go" she squeaked thinking she was dancing professionally and my heart settle down from being exposed.
"Better?" I whispered into her hair.
"yea" she giggled as I laughed "and don't think I don't know what you are doing"
"What" I got nervous.
"You don't want me talking about her" she whispered the last part "but you have my blessing"
"thank you?" I said in a questionable tone.
"You are welcome," she said as she laid her head on my shoulder "such as shame though"
"she could've gone so far"
"who? Excuse me" I looked down at her drunkenness but she suddenly pushed me out of the way.
"That pretty mama is calling my name" she stumbled over to a blonde woman with deep blue eyes and a very short dress on, the shy Monique was replaced with the usual Monique.
I watched her go before turning to the stage to find Nefertari had disappeared and was replaced by the hostess herself scream-singing into the mic, I tried to scan the crowd for her but couldn't find her at all, I dipped onto the quiet balcony to get away from it all; its balcony was cool, as quiet as a hummed party could sound and beautiful, the picture of the night sky was a beauty that reminded me of house, so with myself, I sat there just relaxing for a moment before I have to drag Monique home.
I followed Maeve and Alyssa off the stage, the feeling of sing and dancing with them again made my spirit soar, it was like I was back on the big stage again, belting notes, dancing our choreography and just being in sync; it was like I was living the dream but as high as I soared the low came rolling in.
Suddenly my anxiety crashed down on me and with it, a mess of old thoughts came pouring out of every decision I made, every whisper I heard and every gossip channel; I wrapped my arms around myself as I stood in the middle of the crowd of people, though there were so many people yet I felt this cold on my neck but flushed in my face and slightly feel tingles on my fingertips.
Suddenly this scene was too real, so I turned to look for my Rhea, hoping to go home but when I saw her standing in the crowd talking to a tall woman who had her back to me, I couldn't take her away from this fun, so I turned for the balcony to get away from everyone but not to disturb them, I opened the sliding door to reveal a not so hidden paradise.
The wind touches my flushed face and graced with skin with welcoming I gladly received it, I walk deeper into the abyss, knowing I was alone as I reach out my arms to touch the sky that seemed miles away, I walked until I reached the barrier and stood with my hand holding, closing my eyes and throwing my head back.
"I never thought someone would like fresh air as much as you" I heard a deeper familiar say.
I turned around to Edward bathe in shadows, leaning against the wall of the penthouse, his blues eyes were darkened but the lack of light but his skin glow under the moon, he approached me slowly as he set down his glass on the nearest table
"Sorry, I shouldn't have disturbed you" I expressed running for the door but he grabbed my waist and pulled me into his arms.
"I know anxiety relief when I see one" he whispered into my hair in a calm tone, he began to sway us from side to side "Just relax and forget everything"
"but..." I tried to speak but he interrupted me with soft
"Sshh" he smiled into my hair "no need" he whispered as an explosion of sweet bliss filled my mind and numbed my sense of ability to worry, like a cloud of relief sat on my back and my mind collapsed into an eternal hum as we danced slowly through the night.