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Laramie
Tea Totaling Pt 2
Wed Dec 13, 2006 00:42
65.102.96.178

Nevertheless, she eased herself into the off-white sleeveless gown, and ignored the suspicion that she looked more like Mae West than the character she'd be portraying. At least Jay wouldn't be seeing this, the operative would never let her live it down. Matching strappy heels came next and the brunette found herself teetering down the hallway to stairs that led to the stage.

Michael was still lurking in the shadows, but he'd changed into the trousers and vest ensemble appropriate for his half of the duet. Somehow, the reticent Brit had transformed himself completely into a smouldering latino. It quite made Lara's pulse race just a bit faster. Damn actors.

“Ready?” He glanced past the curtains to where a high school dance team was currently showing off their long, toned legs to an Elvis remix.

“Dahling, I thought you'd never ask.” She grinned, smothering giggles behind a hand as she caught a glimpse of Michael's boyfriend down in the first row, sitting next to his father and his father's longtime lover. Only in New York, she mused. Or in certain sections of Europe.

Teenagers in sequins filed past as their music faded out and suddenly Lara was experiencing a pack of stomach butterflies. She took a long breath, suddenly grateful as Michael gave her hand a squeeze before stepping onto the now darkened stage, and followed suite. Two softened spotlights zeroed in on their forms as the music started.

“Tell me before I waltz out of your life before turning my back on the past. Forgive my impertinent behavior but how long do you think this pantomime can last?” How'd he manage that sultry accent? Lara managed not to stare and simply fell into the role of Eva.

They waltzed around the stage, alternately pushing each other but returning for a body clinch. It was a relief, really, pretending to be a different person, this heady sensation she'd experienced during Rent and subsequently forgotten about during the tour.

“So go, if you're able, to somewhere unstable and stay there. Whip up your hate in some tottering state but not here, dear. Is that clear, dear?“

And back around the periphery of the spotlight, Michael's lean frame a perfect counterpart to her obviously curvy one. White, clinch, twirl away and back. So laughably easy to gaze up into those entrancing green eyes and pretend she was somewhere else, at least until the waltz ended and she dropped into a faint, cradled against Michael's knees.

“Oh what I'd give for a hundred year but the physical interferes every day more, O my Creator. What is the good of the strongest heart in a body that's falling apart? A serious flaw, I hope You know that...”

And the theatre plunged into darkness for a few brief seconds, then lit up with the blaze of the stage lights and the cymbalistic crash of a standing ovation. Michael helped her up so they could take a handful of bows before dashing back into the wings, where one of the stage hands was waiting with a towel.

“You ought to try a hand at more musical theatre, Lara.” The lean actor winked and took himself away somewhere, more than likely to change into his street clothes. Faintly, she could hear the MC on stage, announcing the final performance would be a medley of songs by the Harlem Boy's Choir. It meant she was now off the hook and could go home. Or rather, over to Benny's brother's house where they were going to hold a cast party.

After ditching the finery for a pair of black jeans, the infamous turquoise boots and a shirt to rival Joseph's colored coat, she found Benny chatting with some of his groupies. All three were high school dancers, refugees from the team that had performed before her Evita number, and it was rather amusing to watch the flirtation. At least for the first ten minutes.

“Yo,” she wandered over and nudged his hip with her own. “We gotta get moving. I promised to help set up stuff.”

Benny shrugged, taking a sip from his coke can. “Right. Have a good evening, ladies.” The trio blushed in unison, which Lara supposed took some form of talent and managed to refrain from rolling her eyes. Out the side door and down to Benny’s “monster” truck, waving at some of the cast members who were planning a wild walkabout party through the downtown pub scene.

It wasn’t until they were halfway to Caleb’s house that Lara noticed the funny smell. Granted, that was partially her own fault, theatre scents had a tendency of blurring together and the window was partially rolled down until they hit a pothole halfway filled with water. It was Benny’s driving as well, more reckless than usual (which was saying something) and his reliance on the coke can.

Lara managed to wrest the drink away from him and take a small sip. There was cola inside, mixed liberally with rum, but not quite enough to overpower the carbonation.

“Pull over, Benny. I’m walking the rest of the way.” There was no missing the sudden ice in her voice. Well, unless you were Benny, and well on your way to being wasted. He refused and a verbal argument ensued, all the way to the street in front of Lucy’s home. There had been a few brushes with other cars that could have led to accidents, had the other drivers not been good ones.

Lara let herself out of the vehicle and slammed the door shut, not even bothering to glance behind her as she stalked across grass to the front door. Completely ignoring Benny’s annoyed shouts, the singer let herself inside and found her way to the nearest bathroom before vomiting up the little food she’d had for lunch hours before the gala had started.

And then she noticed the soda can still clutched in her hand.

Benny was waiting for her in the living room and started lecturing her about not opening the car door until the car had stopped moving. He had the nerve to look surprised when she hauled off and smacked his cheek soundly.

“We are so through, Bennett Holmes.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Through. Finished. Over.”

“What the ... are you going on about?”

“This.” She dangled the can in front of him. “There’s ...ing rum in this. You showed up to a concert drunk. You drove me here, drunk. You and I are finished on a personal level.” Lara slammed the can down on the table and stormed out of the room, colliding briefly with Nigel before she escaped out into the back yard.

The tears started pretty much immediately, forcing her into one of the chairs set around the pool area. Night had fallen during the gala, but she didn’t notice how cold it had gotten until someone settled a tweed coat around her shoulders.

“Here, sip at this.”

It was Nigel with a cup of freshly made herbal tea.

“Thank you,” she managed, trying to halt the hiccupping sobs. Why was it that she always ran into this man when crying?

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