I was absolutely terrified.
Myah elbowed me with a calm expression on her face, hissing discreetly for me to 'loosen up'.
"Fine." I hissed back, relaxing in the green office chair and painting an easy smile on my face that probably looked more creepy than anything.
This was why I didn't take drama in high school. I didn't sneak around, or do any of this disguise stuff.
Just my luck that we were 'less likely to be recognized'. Myah because she was a new act and me because I was always moving up in the air when performing.
Nix was stage-level and the kind of act that got put on the website and flyers.
And Stinger, well, he'd already been up close and personal with Merriweather.
Not to mention that the strange blonde wig Myah had found from god-knows-where fit my head best.
Merriweather chose that moment to stroll into the makeshift administrative area he had going in the trailer and sat down opposite both of us, behind a rather intimidating table.
"So you two want me to give Lee a day off why exactly?"
Myah took the opportunity to talk, playing her role already. Not that I knew what it was, or what we were doing exactly.
"We're throwing a surprise birthday party for him."
The circus leader raised an eyebrow.
"I'm pretty sure his birthday's next month."
"Well you see, sir," I started with a sickening smile plastered on, "Most of his relatives are in-state only for the next week. We've already made so many preparations."
He looked somewhat more satisfied with that answer. Score one for the blonde!
"How are you two related to him? Jackson doesn't get many visitors."
I would say he's my step-brother. Easy.
"He's my step-brother." Myah said just before I could open my mouth, leaving me in a state of panic.
I hesitated and Myah, reading my problem, stepped in rapidly.
"Lana's his best friend."
I grinned and nodded through clenched teeth, shooting mental daggers at Myah. As if my part wasn't hard enough to play, but now I had to remember that I had a name and to keep from pummeling this bloody traitor Jackson the moment I saw him.
Calm. Calm as a tranquilized cucumber, Camille.
Merriweather looked to be pondering a moment but gave a small nod.
"Fine. But he better not be hung over when he gets back. That boy could wrangle an elephant sober."
"Thank you, sir!" Myah and I managed to chime in unison, standing and getting ready to leave.
"Do you ladies want me to send one of the stage crew to get him?"
And give the sucker a chance to get away?
"No thank you," Myah smiled, "We'll get him ourselves."
"He's in the main tent."
The two of us left the trailer and strolled speedily through the chilly autumn air, giving me a good few minutes to recuperate.
Wig was still itchy. Makeup felt strange. Borrowed top just a bit too low-cut.
And the heels were painful as anything.
A glimpse of myself in a prop mirror nearby was quite disconcerting though. I had to say I looked extremely different.
Even the scar was covered up.
"We're almost there." Myah piped up, pointing to a tent a few yards away, "He'll be inside. Don't forget Nix's description."
Moments later we were inside, scanning the dim interior for the tall brunette with the glowing green eyes.
Myah quickly pointed him out, working on some equipment with a wrench.
Stinger was right, this guy looked like a steroid junkie.
Bulky arms, buzz cut and scars covering his face.
Not to mention the remarkably aggressive expression.
"Jackson!" Myah called, waving cheerily, "Over here!"
The hulking thing turned around and walked towards us, each step sending tremors through the ground.
Okay, maybe I was imagining that bit.
"What do you want?" he muttered gruffly, looking blatantly at my neckline.
I coughed and folded my arms over my chest, a little too aware of the amount of attention some of the other male performers were giving me.
Myah payed no mind to their rudeness and handed him a slip of paper instead.
"Really?" Lee asked in reply to whatever was on it, sounding somewhat suspicious.
"Yeah," Myah replied under her breath, "The big W wanted to switch things up by sending us."
"Let's get a move on, shall we?" I hummed, "He doesn't like late arrivals."
Lee nodded, grabbed a duffel bag, and our odd group headed out and towards the cab waiting for us.
I took the far left seat in the back row, Jackson in the middle, and Myah on the right.
Nix was already inside, riding shotgun.
The driver got us moving the instant the doors were closed, and I sighed a breath of relief.
Nixie turned, sunglasses, hat and all, and nodded.
Lee could already tell something was off.
"What is this? Where's Wiseacre?"
"He's not going to save your sorry butt, Mr. Lee. We're with the police."
I flashed a phony badge rapidly but with such conviction that the beast's eyes widened with surprise.
Totally getting better at this. Camille 2, stage fright nil. The accent was probably helping too.
Shocking how smoothly this was going.
Aand then our luck ran out, and Jackson punched the roof of the cab.
That left a dent.
"I'm in control here!" he yelled over the cabbie's sobbing, "Don't you all forget that! You can't put me into a jail!"
Nix turned around and held a gun straight at him.
"Still sure about that? Tell us what we need to know and maybe we won't mention your threats in the police report. Try anything, and your brains will be on the leather of those seats."
She was pretty darn good too.
Myah took the ball and ran with it next.
"Tell us what you know about the recent accident at Merriweather's circus."
He laughed dryly.
"I'm not telling you a thing, except that loyalty runs deep when it's money and risks keeping it alive, ladies."
Lee grabbed the gun pointed at him and suddenly, without warning, put its barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Time seemed to freeze. My chest hurt. I couldn't breathe. All I could see was blood, blood everywhere, hear the loud bang ringing in my ears again and again.
And then I realized I was screaming.
Myah had tears running down her face but touched my shoulder in reassurance, gently tugging me back from a place I knew almost too well, a place of emptiness and shock and insanity.
I breathed deeply, shaken, and felt the world materialize around me again.
The cool seat against my back, the fake badge gripped tightly in my right hand.
Myah was still crying but reached over the unconscious cab driver to take the wheel, shifting his body to reach the pedals.
Nix was breathing rapidly, staring fixated at the crimson pouring out of Jackson's mouth. At his unseeing green eyes.
Camille. Camille. CAMILLE.
Myah was calling my name.
"Y-yeah?" I asked, voice feeling foreign.
"Move Lee into the trunk. And put the driver beside you so I can get some room up here."
Reality gripped me tighter and I was sobered.
I shut Jackson's eyes so he would stop giving me that goddamn stare and, sliding an arm under his knees and the other by his back, worked to lift his body behind the seats and into the storage compartment.
The metallic tang of blood was invading my senses, getting all over my clothes and skin.
My muscles screamed with the weight but I gave a final push and he finally tumbled over.
After that I quickly got a hold on both of the cabbie's arms and pulled him back to Myah's former seat.
I sighed, shaking my head to clear my thoughts, and noted that Nix was still disturbed.
She was the only one there who knew the dead man beforehand too.
"You alright, Nix?"
Nixie looked at me blankly and, seeing the blood smears on my face, promptly fainted.
"Myah," I started, trying to get my heavy tongue to move, "What are we going to do?"
Calling the police meant getting Wiseacre's attention. If he heard about this...well we would probably suffer a fate worse than Lee's.
Myah looked even less certain than I was.
"I've...got a few contacts that could help us get rid of the body. Do you have your cell with you?"
I handed it over without another word and took a few tissues and a water bottle out of my now-stained bag to clean up a bit.
There was a dead body a few inches behind me and two unconscious bodies in the car, but I was strangely calm.
The first death was probably the worst to see. I had a feeling this wasn't the last we would witness. Giving into the heavy emotion surrounding me felt like it would be giving Wiseacre another victory.
And he already had far too many to deserve another.