It had been a long day.
Groaning, Vinnia sat down at her vanity desk and stared at herself in the mirror. When had she become so wearied? Perhaps anyone who looked at Vinnia would think she was young, but if they peered into her eyes, they would see stories of tragedy and disappointment.
No, the years had not been particularly merciful to Vinnia Valdeza. Massaging her temples, Vinnia shoved painful memories from her mind.
It was just that the three promising students - Casady, Rune, and Morgance, if she'd identified them correctly - reminded her so much of a trio she'd been a part of when she'd been a student.
Phee, Aretta, and Vinnia. A trio who had been well-known among the Force for their outstanding voices and their charisma.
Now, Phee was dead and Aretta had given herself over to the clutches of the Force. Shuddering, Vinnia looked herself in the eyes, hating her reflection. How long would it be before she, too, yielded to the power of the Songmakers? Would she really be able to withstand the iron fist that was threatening to dash her into "smithereens," as Trace would say?
There was a rap at the door.
"Come in," Vinnia called out, not willing to move from her post. Still staring into her world-weary eyes, she heard the door unlock and open. It was Trace, then. He was the only one who would visit so late, and he was one of the few who had a key to Vinnia's apartment.
"How did it go?" Trace asked, kissing Vinnia's hair and placing his hands on her shoulders.
"Well enough," Vinnia said.
"Something's troubling you."
Shaking her head, Vinnia raised her hands in surrender. "I give up, Trace," she said. "Just when I think all hope is gone, something turns up. But I know better than to hope again. If I hope, it'll all be taken away." Giving a bleak laugh, Vinnia stood and faced Trace. "Isn't that how it always works?"
"Someday, things will be better," Trace whispered, embracing Vinnia.
Removing herself from Trace's arms, Vinnia shook her head.
"Vinnia, look at me. Someday, all this heartache will be only a bad memory."
"If we expect things to change, then we must change things ourselves!" Vinnia shot back, voice suddenly loud. She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, Trace. I guess I'm just a bit riled up."
"Just a bit," Trace said, smiling sympathetically. "What happened?"
"Do you remember when Phee and Aretta and I were a threesome? We did everything together. Everyone referred to us as 'The Trio.' Well, guess what. There's a trio in my group of students. I don't know what to do about it."
"What do you mean?"
Voice lowering, though she'd long since disabled the "bugs" in the room, Vinnia looked Trace in the eyes. "You know what happened to our trio."
"Just because it happened to you doesn't mean it'll happen to them. Relax, Vinnia. It'll all be fine. You're just worrying too much."
"Worrying too much?" Vinnia exclaimed. She shook her head. "No, I'm just being rational. Imagine how things could have been if I'd just been rational nine years ago!"
"Wallowing in your past won't help you, Vinnia."
Biting her lip, Vinnia turned around and sat back down at the vanity. "Well, if you come up with a better idea, be sure to tell me."
Trace bent down and kissed Vinnia on the top of her head. "Goodnight, honey."
Long after Trace left, Vinnia sat at the vanity and stared at her reflection, wondering who she really was.