Marie arrived at the Tudor Theatre early on opening night. Butterflies flitted through her stomach, and she wanted a few moments alone before the chaotic activity began. Backstage, several bouquets of assorted flowers adorned her dressing table. The largest, a dozen white roses, were from Hector who expected her to join him for dinner after the performance. An envelope sealed with Colin’s noble insignia graced a bouquet of pink roses. Marie read the enclosed card and tapped it thoughtfully against her chin. Perhaps she could somehow use Colin to get out of the date with Hector.
She saved the golden daffodils, the long stems tied together with a broad purple ribbon, for last. The note, written in Ian’s strong handwriting, simply said: In my thoughts and in my heart. Love, Ian.
The words weren’t only for the sake of the mission. No man had ever loved her like Ian did, purely and simply. He wasn’t in love with her, and he didn’t want anything from her. He cared about her for herself. His tender friendship warmed her heart as she slid the note into the frame of the mirror.
The expected telegram arrived minutes later, expressing Ian’s regret at missing her debut. He’d sent it from Edinburgh which meant only one thing. Ian wasn’t in Scotland. She slipped the message into her dresser drawer.
More actors arrived and the backstage area grew lively with conversation, nervous laughter from pre-opening jitters, and the typical rush of makeup and wardrobe.
Marie’s lilac costume skimmed her body, and the rhinestones on the gauzy overlay sparkled under the bright lights. A golden circlet crowned her dark curls.
All the other deceptions of her life faded away as she mentally prepared to breathe as the Fairy Queen.
Shortly before the curtain was to rise, one of the stage hands brought Marie a small white box containing fragile blue and white forget-me-nots nestled in white tissue paper.
“There’s no card. Who gave you this?” she asked.
“A young bloke. Said it was for the American actress. That’s you, ain’t it?” He headed for the scenery stacks.
“Where is he?”
“In his seat, I reckon.”
She gingerly lifted the miniature bouquet and called for one of the wardrobe assistants. “Can you put these in my hair?”
“With the crown, miss?”
The assistant examined Marie’s coifed hair and the tiny flowers. “I think we can do it up real nice, miss.”
Marie sat before her mirror as the girl arranged the forget-me-nots. The lights from the bulbs surrounding her mirror shone in her lively brown eyes.
The sold-out auditorium had shrunk to an audience of one.
Once on stage, she lived Titania, the Fairy Queen, her vivacious performance only for Frost.
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