Chapter 25: Full Dress Rehearsal

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Buster gathered all the contestants backstage to give them an announcement.

"Now, listen up. Tomorrow we are going to have a full preview of the show, and our audience will be none other than Miss Nana Noodleman," he said.

Everyone gasped in excitement at the news.

"Nana Noodleman? She's still alive?" Mike asked.

"Oh, yes, and believe me, she's got some pretty high standards. All right? So, today, we're going to have a full dress rehearsal, and I want to see you light up the stage, folks," Buster explained.

"Well, that's cool," Gunter responded.

"Meena? Miss Crawly?" Buster summoned, showed them his plan for the stage, then asked, "What do you think?"

"Wow, it's so ambitious," Miss Crawly answered.

"Yeah, are you sure about this?" Meena wondered.

"I promised Nana something spectacular, and this-- Ha!-- It's gonna blow her away," Buster assured.

"Oh, yes," Miss Crawly said.

"Two minutes, everybody," Buster announced.

Johnny was looking in the mirror when he noticed Jamie, pacing back and forth, rubbing her arms in nervousness, ruffling her fur a bit. He smiled and walked up to her.

"You nervous?" he asked.

"A little. I mean, I've sung in front of an audience before, but performing in front of a legend? That's terrifying," Jamie answered.

"Makes sense. But you won't be alone. I'll be here for you. No matter what," he promised, holding her arms.

"Thanks, Johnny," she smiled.

Their eyes locked and she noticed he was leaning in. She started to as well. They closed their eyes and got so close, they could feel each other's breath against their faces. But before their lips could touch, Johnny's walkie went staticky.

"Johnny. Johnny, where are you?" Big Daddy asked.

Johnny looked back at the walkie then back at Jamie. She gave him the signal to answer it. He got his jacket then ushered her to follow him, which she did. They quickly hid behind some stage equipment.

"Johnny, answer the walkie-talkie," Big Daddy ordered.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Dad. I'm here. I'm here. What's wrong?" Johnny asked.

"We got the call. Shipment's coming in," Big Daddy informed.

"Tonight?" Johnny guessed.

"Not tonight. Now. Meet us on the corner of Hector Street in two minutes," Big Daddy said.

Johnny felt conflicted. He was in some deep trouble now. He looked at Jamie and she knew that he had to do this.

"Jamie, I--" he started.

"Go. If you're not back by your turn, I'll cover for you," she said.

"Thanks, Jamie. You're the best," he replied, hugging her, which she returned.

"But you still need to tell your dad about the singing," she told him.

"I will. But I gotta go. I'll see you in a minute," Johnny said.

"Okay," Jamie nodded.

He left to do what his dad told him and the only thing Jamie could do was pray he would make it back in time.

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A/N Great timing on that one (note the sarcasm)!

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