The following Friday, the Tudor Theatre troupe performed a scaled down version of their play as a benefit for the patients at the Children’s Charity Hospital. Marie delighted the young boys and girls in her role as the Fairy Queen. After the performance, she and the other cast members visited with the patients and their families before returning to the theatre. Since Hector hadn’t called, Ian was taking her to dinner.
In front of her dressing room mirror, she applied cold cream to remove the heavy theatrical makeup. Playing Titania was exciting and fun, but she was tiring of her role as Hector’s femme fatale.
When she’d said yes to this mission, she’d expected the danger to be exhilarating. But she hadn’t foreseen how sickened she’d be by the deception. Her dalliance with Hector, fodder for the gossip columns, seemed to amuse those who saw her out with Ian. She hated the snickers at his expense.
But even worse was the day his sister Trish unexpectedly came to the flat. Ian and Marie were going through her lines when Trish appeared, her hazel eyes glaring at the American actress who had her brother carelessly wrapped around her little finger. Marie had made a hasty exit and later urged Ian to tell Trish the truth. But he refused. “When this is over,” he’d said. “Then she’ll understand.”
Her skin scrubbed clean, Marie applied makeup to a nose and chin resembling her mother’s delicate French features. If only their hearts had been similar, too. Maybe then Momma would have understood her need to leave home the way she did.
Though the reasons for going weren’t as clear to Marie now as they had been when she bought the bus ticket to California two summers ago.
All she wanted then was to get out of the Ohio hills and into the Hollywood hills. To find fame and fortune on the silver screen.
Now it seemed that all she did was act. The differences between the various characters she played and her own identity were blurring. Perhaps she didn’t even exist anymore except as someone else.
A couple of the other actresses gathered their belongings and said good-bye. Marie waved and glanced at the wall clock. It wasn’t like Ian to be late.
She wandered out to the dimly lit stage, closed her eyes, and imagined the audience’s applause and cheers. Gracefully extending her arms, she performed a pirouette and a curtsey.
Standing alone on the stage with her dreams, she gave a contented sigh. Her parents’ disapproval and even the attentions of Hector Luis Mendoza de la Rivera were small prices to pay when she got this in return—a chance to perform, to shine, to act on a London stage. Losing herself in Shakespeare’s world, she spoke a short monologue from the play.
The clapping began when she ended her scene. She stepped to the edge of the stage, but couldn’t see her appreciative spectator. Her heart skipped a beat.
“Encore. Encore.” The man stepped forward out of the shadows.
Marie hid her disappointment with a forced smile. “You’re late.”
“I’m glad. Otherwise I would have missed that performance.” His voice sounded lighthearted, but apprehension darkened his eyes.
He leaped onto the stage with athletic agility and clasped her hands in his. “We’ve solved your problem with de la Rivera.”
“That’s good. Isn’t it?”
“We need to talk. In private. Do you mind if I take you straight home?”
“Of course not. I just need to get my things.”
“Hurry. We don’t have much time.”
Marie quickly retrieved her purse and tote bag from the dressing room. Ian drove in silence to her flat, while she cast surreptitious glances at his tense jaw and white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.
Continue reading When Memory Whispers.
Read the opening excerpt.
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