A bottle of pink champagne, a long, glistening glass, and a copy of Vogue awaited me in the hummer after I'd battled through the rabble of fans, journalists and over-eager prospective recording artists who thought a two-second backstage meet with me was the way to get a contract. A sour feeling welled inside me and the door shut behind me, and I was enclosed in a plush compartment with soft white leather seats and blue florescent lights. They thought fame was a walk in the park. But the reality was that I'd faced horrible prejudice in my life because of what I could do. I was one of the first wave of supernaturals that had broken into this business. What made these newbies think I was going to make life easy for them?
The contestants were a different story. I knew how this show was going to work. And one thing it was not going to do was give them a backdoor to stardom.
I flung myself down on a seat, grabbed the champage from its cradle of ice, and skulked it straight from the bottle. No one was watching me, I didn't need to use a glass and look civil.
Gustav had just pulled out and was driving us away from the studio when the phone rang. I'd had a phone installed in the hummer because I didn't like carrying my mobile when I was working.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Ronnie!" came a loud, enthusiastic male voice. "Babycakes! Great show tonight, fantastic. I suspect you got my little present?"
I glanced in confusion at the bottle in my hand. Why hadn't I spotted that earlier? Very few knew of my preference for pink champagne. Just the few who I constantly partied with. Including this man on the phone.
"Yeah, I got it. Thanks," I murmured.
"Plenty more where that came from! Check the mini bar when you get to your hotel room. And don't worry; it's on me."
I laid down the bottle and frowned. I'd been in the business of being beautiful and admired long enough to know what it felt like to be buttered up. And this certainly felt like one of those times.
"How's the kid who fainted?" I asked warily.
The voice on the phone cackled with what I suspected was a mixture of dark humour and triumph. "Can you believe we had a fainter? Just think of the ratings!"
I chewed my lip in impatience. "Was she alright?"
"Alright? She's better than alright, babycakes. She's simply extraordinary."
I swallowed and licked my lips, wanting to say more while I had this man's ear at my disposal, but he cut over me almost immediately.
"I must dash, babycakes, lots to do! More fantastic judges to call and congratulate! See you bright and early tomorrow though, yeah? Buh-bye, Ronnie!"
I put down the phone as he hung up. I eyed the bottle of champagne next to me. Could I really keep drinking it, knowing why I'd been given it?
My thirst gave way to my morals, and I lifted the bottle to my lips again. This was my life. I'm rewarded not just for my looks and my talent, but for being...
I realised with a jolt that Lucy and I were on the cover of Vogue. An easy smile crept over my lips and I let the champage fizzle on my tongue as I remembered why I did all of this in the first place. It was simply...