It was time for another Songmakers Force meeting.
Sighing, Vinnia brushed through her hair and selected a simple black evening gown that flattered her figure without "objectifying" it, as Trace termed immodesty. Twisting her hair back to form some swooping hairstyle that Vinnia didn't know what to call, she blinked in the mirror and evaluated her eyelashes. Yes, they could probably use a bit more mascara.
Vinnia applied a tasteful amount of mascara before pinching her cheeks to put a bit more color in them. There; that was it. If the Force disapproved of her minimal make-up, she'd comment on the fact that many of them practically coated their faces in vibrant cosmetics.
That was the way Vinnia did things. She was honest to a fault about things that didn't matter, but she was evasive and tactful about things that did matter. Time had taught her to be such.
Time and heartache.
There was a knock at the door, and Vinnia knew immediately that it was Trace. He'd offered to escort her to the meeting, as he was Vinnia's personal assistant.
Sometimes, Vinnia could tell that Trace wanted to be more than just her attendant. If only it could be so...
"Come in," Vinnia called. She smiled as Trace entered, holding something behind his back. "What've you got there, Trace?"
"A yellow rose for the pretty lady."
Vinnia covered her mouth, shocked. "Trace, you know we're not supposed to take anything from the gardens!" Then, she laughed softly. "Ah, well. Honestly, that was the sweetest gesture I've seen in quite some time."
Trace bent down and kissed Vinnia's brow. "What about that?" he whispered.
Conflicted, Vinnia gave a brave smile.
"Something's always holding you back, Vinnia. Something always pushes me away from you. I know that now's probably not the time to discuss this, but I just think - "
"I think it's time to leave," Vinnia interrupted.
Trace let out a sigh. "As you wish," he said softly.
"I'm sorry, Trace. I'm so sorry. I'm just not ready." Vinnia cleared her throat awkwardly and averted her eyes.
"Will you ever be?"
The ticking of the clock seemed louder than before during the silence that followed. Sweating, Vinnia looked down at her hands and examined her dark blue nail polish, since there seemed nothing better to do.
"I see." Trace helped Vinnia up. "Well, just know that if you ever change your mind, there's a man over here who thinks the world of you, Vinnia."
"I don't know why," Vinnia said, voice self-deprecating. "I'm nobody special."
"No offense, Miss Valdeza, but that's the dumbest thing I've heard all night. And that's saying quite a bit, considering the fact that I've been around Songmakers all day."
Laughing, Vinnia shook her head. Trace always knew how to lift her spirits. "What do you think will happen tonight? Do you think anyone will comment on the fact that Morgance Estella hasn't sung for her placements yet? You've heard about that, right?"
Trace shook his head. "Yes, I have, and I think it's ridiculous. Doesn't she know what she's doing?"
"Apparently not, no matter how much I try to convince her," Vinnia replied. "She's going to get them all into trouble, if she's not careful."
As they headed for the doorway, Trace rushed ahead and opened the door for Vinnia to walk through first. "After you," he said, a charming smile on his face.
"Always a gentleman," Vinnia laughed.
Maybe tonight would be alright, after all.