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Wicked White (Wicked White Series Book 1) by Michelle A. Valentine (22)

IRIS

Ms. Easton?” the male voice on the other end of my cell asks.

“Yes, this is Iris,” I reply, wondering who the man is, because the voice I don’t recognize at all.

“This is Mark Talsman. I’m directing Forgiving Lesley, and I would like to have you come back in and read for me. I know you auditioned for Sylvia, but I want you to read for the lead role of Lesley.”

My mouth drops open and I gasp. It’s been nearly two weeks since I auditioned for that play. I just figured that I didn’t get it, so this call is like a dream. My very first callback from a director, and he’s offering to allow me to read for the starring role on a new Broadway play? What planet is this?

“Are you there?” Mr. Talsman asks.

“Yes! Yes, I’m here, and yes, I would love to read for the role of Lesley,” I answer, unable to contain my giddiness.

He chuckles slightly. “Great. Be back at the theater at ten sharp, and make sure you bring that same moving performance with you.”

“Yes sir. I will. Thank you so much.”

After I thank him again, he ends the call and I find myself twirling like a lunatic in the middle of a busy Manhattan sidewalk.

I can’t believe it. My dream—it’s actually happening.

I burst into tears, heartbroken that I can’t thank Ace in person for coming into my life, shaking the shit out of things, and making me a better performer. I owe him my gratitude, even if he doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore.

Not knowing how else to reach him, I search for the only number I have to connect with him and dial it. I haven’t tried this number in two weeks—not since the day I saw him driving away from me. I used to call it daily, but every single one of my attempts went unanswered. It will probably be no different today, I just need to hear his voice. I want to share my fantastic news with him.

The number rings and the automated voice comes on the line. The message I leave isn’t too long, not too short, but I hope he actually listens to it, because God, I miss him so much.

I pause, not knowing what else I can say, so I simply hang up. A tear leaks down my cheek. There’re so many emotions flowing through me: hurt, pain, anger, but most of all overwhelming sadness for the loss of the relationship I had with him. I thought I meant more to him. I would think what we had would at least warrant a phone call to tell me that he never wants to see me again if that’s how he truly feels, and above all else, I wonder what he came to say to me at my apartment that day but never got the chance to.

I quickly dial the next person I can’t wait to share the news with.

“What’s up, Dancing Queen?” Birdie asks excitedly before she even mutters a hello.

“I’m fabulous,” I say with a dreamy sigh.

“Okay, out with it. I’m on pins and needles here waiting. Did you get a callback from your last audition?”

“Yes!” I squeal. “But that’s not the best part.”

“What could be any better than that? Isn’t that what you’ve been dreaming of—finally landing a role on Broadway?” she asks, and my heart pounds ninety miles a minute.

“I got a callback for the lead role.” Even I can hear the excitement in my voice as I tell her my news.

“Shut the fuck up!” She giggles, clearly delighted. “The lead. Wow! Congratulations, Iris. That’s great news! When do you go back to read for that part?”

“Tomorrow morning. I’m nervous as hell,” I admit. “I wish you were here for moral support.”

“Aw, me too. I would be there if I could, you know that. It’s just hard to walk away from my job at Angel’s. Tips are really adding up, and I can’t miss out on the cash. Me and Grandma need it, you know.” I can tell she’s frowning, and I want to let her off the hook by showing her I understand.

“Well, you can make it up to me. If I get the role, then I’ll pay for you and Adele to fly up and watch the show on opening night. Deal?” I ask.

“You might as well book our tickets then, because I know you’ll get it.” There’s no waver or teasing in her voice. “You got this, Iris. You were born to shine on Broadway.”

I smile, loving the fact that through all the ups and downs in my life, Birdie has always been there for me. She’s more like a sister than my best friend, and I love her to pieces. She and Adele are the only people I have left in my life who truly love me back.

“Thanks. That means a lot,” I tell her. “I miss you so much.”

“Oh, no. I know that pouty tone. You called him again, didn’t you?”

I roll my eyes. Sometimes it’s scary how well she knows me.

I sigh. “I did, but only to tell him the news. I felt like I owed a call to him since he helped me so much with my singing.”

“He’s an idiot,” Birdie mutters, and I can tell she’s scowling. “One day he’ll wake up and kick himself for being a jackass for letting you go.”

“I pushed him away, remember?” I remind her.

“True, but you also left fifty messages apologizing before I threatened you with violence if you called him again. He had ample opportunity to come back to you. It’s his own fault for showing up after five weeks of silence and seeing a man being nice to you. If he’s that much of a jackhole that he won’t even let you explain what he saw, then he doesn’t deserve you. That’s why from this point on, I’m forbidding you from ever calling him again if you don’t want me to personally fly to New York just to kick your cute little ass.”

“All right. All right.” I laugh but know she means business.

“Good, now repeat after me: I, Iris Easton.”

“Birdie . . .” I complain.

“Just do it,” she orders.

I roll my eyes, feeling really silly, but go along with her because I know she won’t drop it until I do. “I, Iris Easton.”

“Promise to never call the douche canoe ever again,” she says with an authoritative tone to her voice.

I mutter the words but don’t really mean it, because when it comes to Ace, I can’t seem to control my actions.

“Feel better?” Birdie’s voice turns cheery.

“No,” I laugh. “But do I at least get an A for effort?”

“You’re impossible,” she laughs. “Call me tomorrow and tell me all about the callback. I’m so excited.” There’s a rustling on her end of the line. “I just hugged myself and pretended I was giving you a hug for luck, even though you won’t need it. You’re going to blow them away tomorrow. I have faith.”

After she hangs up, I still find myself thinking about Ace. Birdie’s right. I have to stop begging him to give me another chance. It’s been two weeks since he was here and saw me and Shane together, so maybe it’s time to give up hope and move on. I just wish my heart would listen to my logical brain.

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