Chapter 2. Opening night jitters

“Oh! There you are! Joon told me you need changes to one of the guest rooms?” Trudy, the intern, asked.

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“Yes, please set the mini-fridge at 60.8 degrees in Guest Room 6,” Maye instructed.

“That it?” Trudy asked, curious, but not enough to ask why.

“And make sure its stocked with our Minerals-Plus water,” she added, about to explain when Tarra let out a yell as Trudy hurried back out.

“There’s a creepy old man looking in that window!” Tarra screamed.

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“Uncle Marvin!” Maye waved the old man to come inside. “Why are you out there on the ledge?”

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“I’m not so old!” Marvin protested as he edged his way off the ledge and into the room. “Creepy, maybe, but not so old!”

“Excuse me, Maye?” Yelyzaveta spoke fast, her accent heavy. “Derek is looking for you; something about a new arrangement for your solo in the finale.”

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Marvin smoothed his long beard, staring at Yelyzaveta. “Maye? Aren’t you going to introduce me to your lovely friends?”

Byronetta, eager to get back to the ballroom, smiled at the old wizard, then turned to Maye. “You clearly have your hands full here,” she said. “I’m going to check on the CMYK Martini Bar, starting with Magenta; find me if you need help with anything. This is going to be such fun!”

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Maye hugged her business partner, then again she asked Marvin. “What were you doing out there?”

“Well, you see, I was hot on the trail of a pretty orange fairy, fastest fairy I’ve ever seen!” Excitement in his voice. “Led me straight here! By chance, did the lovely creature flit through here? I’ve never seen such magic!”

“She’s not a fairy Uncle Marvin,” Maye corrected. “That’s Dellasura. She’s a starship officer and what you saw was —”

“Nonsense! You always did have a vivid imagination little Maye. Starship officer; do you take me for a fool?” Marvin was having none of it.

“Really? The wizard thinks spaceships are imaginary?” Tarra snickered.

“You are a real wizard?” Yelyzaveta beamed. “A real wizard?”

Marvin straightened in attempt to appear taller to the curious redhead. “I am. And you are?”

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“Complicated, but I’ve got an hour until our final run-through before the show and I’m a very good listener with a lot of questions,” Yelyzaveta flirted. “I’ve always wanted to meet a real wizard.”

“Oh! Well isn’t this your lucky day! Shall we? Maye, any objections?”

“None at all, Uncle Marvin, none at all. Veta? Thank you.” The two women exchanged a wink as Yelyzaveta promised him “a very good table” in the showroom.

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“Sorry I’m late!” Avalina, floated around the corner. “Hair, you know how it is.”

“Oh, thank goodness you’re here; I’m okay,” Maye, seeing her oldest friend, fully relaxed for the first time that day. “Wow, great dress, but where is it?”

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“Where is what?” Avalina teased.

“You know what; where is it; no way you’re concealing a sword in all that chiffon,” Maye walked around her, looking for signs of hidden hardware.

“Sign out front says combat weaponry must be checked at the door; so I checked it at the door, of course,” Avalina smirked. “Besides, did you see the guy checking them? Has the arms of an ambidextrous archer. Is he?”

“Since when do you read signs, much less follow them?” Maye eyed her suspiciously, knowing full well her high-seas sailing friend was never without her cherished sword. “That’s Ledges, by the way.”

“Ledges?”

“The ambidextrous archer checking hardware at the door; his name is Ledges. Don’t go there Lina.”

“There you are!” Derek, the Cafe’s music director stormed into the room, waving his arms. “I’ve taken the liberty of — oh, I didn’t realize you had a guest. Should I … wait?”

“No, no, Derek, um, what is so urgent?”

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“I’ve taken the liberty of lowering the key in your finale solo to better accommodate your aging voice,” he explained, like a cat who brings a dead mouse home as a gift to the family.

“You did not just say that to her!” Avalina was incredulous.

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“Now, look here madam! As music director if she bombs in the high range, the dissonance could distract the audience, not to mention that it will reflect negatively on all of us! It is because I care about her presentation that I have taken the —”

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“Its fine, Derek, it’s fine, um, I appreciate it, you know that,” Maye, attempting to calm the temperamental Derek was trying equally hard not to laugh out loud at his phantom-like attempt at a compliment. “Lina, I can explain later; Derek really does mean well, and lets face it, I’m no spring chicken.” She turned to Derek. “I’ll be down shortly for a run through in the new key, thank you.”

“Excellent! I shall strike up the band!” He declared.

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“Where’d you find that guy?” Avalina asked. “I hope he’s good.”

“Very good; the best; we’re lucky to have his talent; and he’s happy here, so I would appreciate you not stirring up problems where there aren’t any,” she teased, but with an edge that says, “don’t mess with the music director.”

“Me? Stir up problems?”

“I’m just glad you’re here.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, my friend. And on that note, I’m going to find that ambidextrous archer. What’d you say his name is?”

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“Ledges, his name is Ledges,” Maye shook her head as she said his name. Inviting both of them to the Cafe at the same time might not’ve been such a great idea. “He’s not some guy you can just charm; he’ll see right through it, just letting you know.”

“I’m not out to capture him aboard ship; I just want to talk to him, that’s all; you worry too much,” Avalina blew a kiss and turned to leave. “You know where to find me; you’ll do great tonight. Looks like a full house.”

“I hope you’re right. Hey, I feel better knowing you’re here.”

“Me too, my old friend, me too. You got this,” she said, layers of chiffon moving effortlessly as she floated out of the room, just as she’d floated in.

Maye looked around the room. Quiet. A few moments to reflect, to rest before showtime.

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Who would’ve imagined that a dilapidated abandoned old train depot could be transformed in such an extraordinary way and under such extraordinary circumstances?

“A lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” she said aloud to no one, thankful to have a few minutes alone, “and a lot of laughter.”.


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