Corrine writhed uncomfortably in her performance costume, trying to manoeuvre the boning in her corset so it wasn't digging into her side. She knew her clothes had to be tight fitting make the act appear even more dangerous, but it made her feel very self-conscious when she was waiting backstage.
The cheers of the audience outside indicated that Jerin was coming to the end of his lion taming act and it was almost time for them to walk on.
"Are you alright?" Kaleb asked, his arm wrapping itself tightly around her waist and pulling her against his side.
"Yes," Corrine said, peaking through the curtains to watch Jerin and his big cats take their bows.
"And now," the ringmaster announced as the metal curtain was raised from the stage after the exit of the lions and tigers, "all the way from the wild lands of Siberia, we are proud to present the spine-tingling knife throwing skills of Pyotr Ivanov and his beautiful assistant, Nadia Petrova."
Kaleb took Corrine by the hand and they ran out together on stage, smiling and waving to their audience as their props were wheeled into the space behind them. One thin board and a large wheel.
As Corrine took her place in front of the tall board, Kaleb, in his onstage persona, brandished his knives in front of the audience to show that they were real and completely deadly. He spun around dramatically, undoing the clasp of his cape and throwing it to the ground to give him more room to throw.
Corrine could see a veil of concentration cover his face as he pulled out his first knife and aimed. There was the familiar sound of the blade slicing through the air as it flew towards her, followed by a thud as the knife imbedded itself in the wood by Corrine's side. The audience gasped. The knife was only millimetres away from slashing Corrine's corset.
Kaleb produced another knife that found its target on Corrine's other side. This prompted more gasps and some applause from the audience. The third knife flew dangerously close to Corrine's head before it planted itself directly above it.
Corrine took Kaleb's hand and curtsied flamboyantly to the audience who were in rapturous applause. But the best was yet to come. Kaleb let his assistant over to the giant wooden wheel that was positioned in the centre of the ring and helped her up onto it, using the leather straps that were attached to the wheel to pin her to the wheel.
The was the part of their act that Corrine both hated and loved. It was dangerous because if Kaleb lost focus for a second then she could end up with a knife in her. But the thrill of spinning around on the wheel was so exhilarating that she had experienced nothing else like it.
Two of the stage hands gave the wheel its first push sending Corrine spinning. She had to keep her eyes open to show she was not afraid so she focused on Kaleb, blotting out the audience behind him to stop herself from becoming too dizzy.
Three thuds followed each other in quick succession and Corrine felt the wheel shudder as each knife hit its target.
More gasps and applause from the audience told her that Kaleb was putting his blindfold on. Corrine took a deep breath and began to pray.
Four knives and six rotations of the wheel later and Corrine was being unfastened and helped down onto the floor of the circus ring to enthusiastic applause. The whole experience was surreal, as always, and Kaleb had to lead Corrine offstage very carefully and as soon as the curtains had closed behind them he put his arm around her shoulder to steady her.
"They loved us," he said ecstatically, hugging Corrine tightly. "You were amazing!"