Romance in Italy - 20

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"Ten minutes till showtime!" The director screamed excitedly. A ripple of murmurs came from the cast and crew as they acknowledged his statement with equal enthusiasm. The casts were busy doing last minute rehearsal and the crew were busy adjusting the lighting and bustling around to ascertain the show's smooth transitioning and perfection. I wiped my sweaty palms on the fabric of my dress before turning and escaping the chaotic atmosphere into my quiet dressing room. The shouts and calls of the crew faded until it was only me and the indefinite silence. I exhaled and crossed over to the old vanity set in the middle of the room. 

Bottles and powders littered the surface of the vanity and pictures were taped around the frame of the mirror. A girl alight with innocence stared back at me, eyes wide and lips a delectable shade of red. Her dark hair was cascading down her back, reaching the ribbon tied securely around her waist. A few tendril of hair framed her face, intensifying her beauty. A bejeweled clip was pinned to the back of hair, gleaming in the brightly lit room. 

Her eyes were dark and endless, filled with unimaginable pain and loss. The bags under her eyes were covered with make-up but it was still noticeable up close. 

That can't be me, I thought fiercely. As I thought that though, I knew it was a lie. That was me, and the unimaginable pain and loss that were in her eyes were reflected in mine. The ordeal with Ashton and Judith had left my life devoid of light and happiness. I rarely smiled and when I did, it was only a ghost of my real smile.

It was strange how everything could come tunneling down at a blink of an eye. One second everything could be perfect, the next, it all came crashing down. More often than not, I would tip my head back to the Heavens and asked the million dollar question: why me? And almost every time, the answering silence would greet me.

A tear rolled down my cheeks as mine and Ashton's first and last confrontation flashed through my mind. Even though he'd been quiet and, in-a-way, accepting, I could never forget the looks in his eyes as he walked out. A look so filled with indignation, disappointment, and distrust that I wanted to cry right on the spot. Never had that look been directed at me before and now that it has, I felt like there's nothing I could do to better the situation. 

Originally, I'd planned to get more proofs and expose Judith as a two-timer but gave up entirely after I realized how it important Ashton was in my life and how, after this, the current status of our relationship was irreversible. 

"Hey, five more minutes." 

I adverted my eyes away from my reflection to the door and found Max's head poking through a small crack. I wiped my eyes discreetly and nodded. "Okay, thanks." 

"I'm really sorry it turned out this way, Grace." Max responded sympathetically. I could see the hesitation on his face as he contemplate whether or not to come in. I stared at him sadly as he made up his mind to stay right where he was. 

"Yeah, me too." I muttered. As my eyes drank in his costume, a small smile slid onto my face. It was my first resemblance of a smile in what felt like forever. "Nice costume." I commented teasingly. 

Max cracked a grin. "Yeah, sexy, isn't it?" 

He was adorned in a pair of black faux suede pants, a blue velvet tunic with fine silver detailing, a pair of leather boots, and stylish feathered hat. His blond hair was slicked back and gelled to perfection. A brown cord was wrapped around the base of his neck. 

I nodded, trying to hide my growing smile. "Very." I agreed. 

Rolling his eyes, Max inched out the door as we both heard his name being called. "Break a leg." He responded, touching his fingers to his hat in a salute. 

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