Fairest, p.4Chanda Hahn
“Which one is that again?” Mina asked, already forgetting the names Nan had pointed out earlier.
Nan tossed her the phone and went over to delicately sit on the edge of the red vinyl couch, feet away from the Dead Prince Society’s lead singer. Nan nervously pasted a smile on her face and posed.
Unsure of what to do, it took her a few moments to figure out what Nan wanted. She got the phone to the right screen but she couldn’t get Nan and the rocker in the same shot. Mina motioned with her hands for Nan to scoot closer.
Nan’s confidence faltered. Her smile slipped a little as she carefully slid inches closer to the rocker. It wasn’t close enough. Mina mouthed the words ‘closer’ and Nan scooted even closer to Valdemar, who seemed oblivious to Nan’s inching. The girl with bubblegum pink hair started to shoot them both nasty glances, but they ignored her.
Just when Nan had inched as close as she dared, Valdemar reached his arm out and quickly pulled her into his lap. She screeched in surprise, but was quieted as Valdemar’s hands reached around her possessively, but was even more surprised when he leaned in and kissed her.
Mina snapped the picture.
Nan was too stunned to fight or pull away from the kiss and she let Valdemar continue. The girl with pink hair looked furious and screamed something incoherent at the kissing couple. When she didn’t get the immediate reaction she desired, she stormed out of the room, knocking over chairs and lamps in the process. When the exit door slammed with finality, Valdemar gently pulled away from the kiss. He looked momentarily surprised by his own reaction to the intensity of the shared kiss. It took him a minute to recover before he slid Nan onto the cushion next to him, closer than what was necessary.
“Sorry about that. I was at my wit’s end trying to make her go away. Thank you for playing along.” He glanced at the door and smirked and turned back to Nan. “It worked at least.” His eyes still held a hint of desire, and he swallowed nervously.
Nan perched awkwardly on the cushion next to him, her hand gently brushing her lips where they were seconds ago pressed to his. Her cheeks turned bright red and she looked like she was at a loss for words. Hastily she jumped up from the couch, knocking her knee into the coffee table, trying to run away.
Valdemar’s hand shot out and caught Nan’s wrist. “Ah, I’m sorry. Please don’t run away, I’d like…” He never got to finish his sentence as a short fiery red haired woman in a business suit entered the room and started ushering people out for the concert that should have started five minutes ago.
The room became a mass of hurriedly fleeing flashes and last minute fixes by the hair and makeup crew. Mina watched as Valdemar tried to speak to Nan again but was pulled away out the door to the stage. She was sure she saw him motion for Nan to stay there.
When Nan’s blonde head swung forcefully back and forth in denial, his face dropped. But Mina could have been mistaken in what she saw because Valdemar immediately plastered a smile on his face and headed toward stage. They followed. Three of the band members headed underneath the stage. It was dark, but they had enough light to see a lift and hydraulics. Valdemar split off and headed towards another contraption and a crowd of techs.
From her spot in the wings Mina had a phenomenal view of the stage, and the packed-house. Suddenly, the whole arena went dark. Smoke billowed out from fog machines hidden along the platform, and a low rumbling of music began. Somewhere, an organ began a somber melody, something which would be played at a funeral. Eerie sound effects and footsteps echoed off the walls and only those backstage could hear the hydraulics kick in when lift began to rise to the stage.
The hair on the back of Mina’s neck stood up in anticipation when the stage props and band slowly rose into view. The band’s stage was decorated like a dark and twisted throne room; a large golden mirror hung on the back wall. High in the middle of the stage sat a black throne made from a dark and twisted tree. Upon the throne sat a guitar painted in the deepest blood red color. Three of the band members were onstage playing the intro to their most popular song, “Beauty’s Dead.” Naga on the guitar, Magnus on drums, Constantine on bass, but Valdemar was missing.
Mina’s head craned to look around the stage, her fear overtaking her as the dreaded feeling of magic began to tingle down her hands. A sign that the Story was interested in what was currently going on, and may even find a way to interfere.
Unexpectedly, the music stopped and Nan screamed in delight and pointed toward the large golden mirror that was filling with fog. The sound of a lone guitar picked up where the haunting melody had ended and the fog began to clear from the mirror. Valdemar was inside the giant looking glass playing a gold guitar.
The crowd chanted as Valdemar ceased his playing and used his very expensive guitar to smash through the glass. Mina stepped away from the stage subconsciously as Valdemar stepped through the mirror. Their movements were eerily similar but polar opposite. The closer he moved to the stage the farther Mina moved into the background and away from Brody and Nan.
She could feel it. Deep in her soul, lingering in her bones she could feel the Story’s power hovering. It was only a matter of time before it started, twisting and using what she had just seen, heard and done into a quest. Her mouth went dry, and she started to shake with fear.
Valdemar raised his hands high into the air and the audience and Nan jumped up and down in excitement. He strode over to the black throne and picked up the blood red guitar and continued with the rest of their music set.
Why couldn’t she have paid more attention? There were signs, obvious ones now that she thought about it. The name of the band for one, and their hit song was a fairy tale ballad; even the group’s stage names were all things that would attract the Story into using them. Throw in the fact that Mina, a Grimm, walked through the doors and into a giant trap. Her mind began to spin with all of the possible scenarios, and outcomes and nothing looked good. If she didn’t want to get her friends involved with the Story, then she had to get her friends out of the concert. NOW.
The song came to a crescendo, the band quit playing, and everyone sang the chorus acapella. Everyone except Mina. Brody had a grin on his face and seemed to be enjoying the music as well. He turned to look at her, gave her crooked smile, then turned back to watch his cousin sing. The smoke and Vertigo lights lit up the stage and spilled over into the darkness where they stood, giving them the appearance of being in a dream.
She moved toward Nan but was jettisoned to the side when a group of stagehands rushed in rolling out carts with large pyrotechnics displays. Mina moved back and bumped into another person and became pinned between the rolling carts. The stagehands were moving fast and Mina had no choice but to move with them or get run over. Fumbling to keep up, and stay out of the way, Mina and the carts ended up down in the galley below the stage. They began to strap in the contraptions onto the lift and she could barely make out a large glass case off to the side.
She walked toward it and could see that it was easily six feet tall, but it was on its side and she didn’t recognize what it was.
“What’s that for?” she asked nervously.
One of the stagehands looked at her but went on with his work. He must not have heard her speak over the loud music. She decided to repeat herself loudly.
“What is that?” She waved and pointed toward the glass again.
This time he stopped briefly enough to answer her. “It’s the glass coffin. We use it for the finale.”
Mina turned in horror to look at the glass coffin that in fairy tales housed the body of a dead princess, the most famous one being Snow White. She took a deep breath and leaned closer. She could see her reflection staring back at her. Her own skin was pale with fear, her dark eyes wide with worry and her lips looked red because she was biting them. She looked beautiful, that is until she realized that her overlaid reflection gave the illusion that Mina was inside the glass coffin.
“NO!” She screamed and jumped away fr
Anger and fear filled her as the tingling sensation began to turn into waves. She could feel the power rolling off of her, around her, into her.
“NO, I refuse! I refuse to play a part in this. Do you hear me, cursed Story. You don’t own me. You don’t get to choose what happens. It’s not fair!” The music began to beat loudly in time with the waves of power and Mina grimaced in pain, clutching her ears.
She had to leave and leave now, with or without Nan and Brody. She rushed upstairs, ignoring the confused looks of the stagehands. She found Brody and Nan where she had left them.
“Nan, look, we need to go!” She tried to grab Nan, but her best friend violently pulled away from her.
“What do you mean, we have to go?” She asked in disbelief. “Didn’t you see Valdemar? He wants me to stay here. There is going to be an after party. Brody, tell her!” Nan looked visibly upset at the prospect of leaving.
Brody looked back and forth between them, unsure of what to say. “Are you feeling alright? It’s okay if we stay. My cousin cleared it. Nan’s right, there is always a really cool after party. It’s better than waiting in the green room.”
Her lip was hurting from gnawing at it in panic. “No, I’m sorry. I just need…we just have to go.”
“No, Mina, I’m not going. For the love of chocolate, I have been waiting all my life for this moment. He kissed me, Mina! He kissed me.”
“You heard him. He said so himself. He did it to make the girl with the pink hair leave.” Mina’s voice filled with desperation.
“I don’t care if it was because he was trying to make someone else jealous. I don’t even care if it was a cruel and unusual jest on his part. I’m not walking away from that without pursuing it farther. What if it wasn’t a fluke? What if he actually kind of likes me? You want me to leave a very cool concert right now and go with you home because….”
“Because something bad is going to happen if we stay,” Mina whispered. She peeked over her shoulder at Brody, who looked out of place, stuck between two girls fighting.
Nan’s eyes widened.
Maybe, Mina thought, maybe she will believe me.
“How do you know?” Nan accused angrily. “How can you possibly know?”
“I just do,” Mina grumbled back.
“Well, that’s not good enough.” Nan stood there silently challenging her. “Give me one good reason. Any good reason at all. Heck, it could be an even okay reason as long as you give me a real reason. Why?”
Mina could see the fight coming and she was incapable of stopping it. She had never ever fought with her best friend, but then they’d never ever had serious boyfriends until lately. It was then that Mina remembered that the kiss from Valdemar had been Nan’s first kiss. Her boy-crazy, flirty, quirky friend had never been kissed. She knew Nan was waiting for the right one. And here she had found him, and Mina was trying to drag her away from him. Heat burned angrily in Nan’s cheeks as Mina shook her head without giving her an answer.
Nan looked devastated. Her eyes began to water and she looked like she was in pain. “That’s fine, Mina. YOU can leave, but I’m staying for the after party.”
“But I…” Mina’s words and shoulders dropped dejectedly. She looked at Brody, embarrassed that he witnessed their argument. She wasn’t sure what he would do. Would he leave and come with her or stay with Nan at the concert?
He looked deeply into Mina’s eyes and she felt her breath catch at the emotion she saw there. Surely he would come with her. He had to believe her. Maybe. Brody looked like he was about to say something when Nan interrupted him.
“Are you going to drag Brody out of the concert, too? Come on, Mina! It’s his cousin and they are on tour. How selfish are you going to be?”
Mina’s resolve crumbled. She dropped her head toward the ground hiding her shame and embarrassment. Nan’s words had a biting truth to them. It was truth that she didn’t want to hear acknowledged, but her friend was right. It would be rude to drag Brody out of here. Who was she? She was a nobody. She had no claim on Brody, no reason to make him come with her.
“I’m sure I can catch a bus or something. It’s early enough.” She turned to walk away from Nan. Her eyes burned with unshed tears, tears caused by the pain they were causing each other.
She had originally told Nan about the curse on her family and all of the quests she had to complete. Her best friend had believed her. This time around Mina decided to not share it with Nan, in hopes that Nan wouldn’t be caught up in Mina’s personal mess. The loss of her best friend was devastating, the loss of trust even more so. She had only made it a few steps when Brody grabbed her by her elbow.
“Wait one minute. Okay?” He ran back to Nan, who stood with her back to them. Her posture was stiff and he leaned in to whisper something to her. Nan’s shoulders dropped and shook a bit as if she was crying. A few seconds later, she stood up straight and regained her composure.
Brody ran over to Mina and followed her down the side stage stairs. They passed the glass coffin and Mina felt a chill overtake her body just by looking at it. They had to go a few more corridors down, where the music wasn’t so loud, before they were able to speak. When they were finally able to be heard over the music, Mina didn’t have anything she wanted to say. Two turns later, she realized she was completely lost.
Brody chuckled, put his hand on the small of her back, and directed her down a different hallway. Her skin felt like it was on fire where he touched her back. It was warm and comforting as he led her toward the exit. When he opened up a side door to the parking lot, the cool breeze blew over her skin, and she shivered.
Stopping, Brody took off his jacket and put it around Mina’s shoulders. Shocked and totally thrilled, Mina snuggled into the jacket and slyly inhaled the familiar scent of his cologne. Boy, did she have it bad for him. He opened the car door and let her slide inside. It was one of Brody’s best attributes, his ability to always be the perfect gentleman.
It was still daylight out, and the sound of the concert could still be heard from inside the car. Brody fidgeted uncomfortably when he got in the car, delaying putting the key in the ignition.
“I’m sorry,” he intoned sadly.
“For what?” Mina sniffled trying to keep back the tears. “You didn’t cause us to fight. What happened in there had nothing to do with you.”
He reached for her hand and gently rubbed his thumb over the back of her fingers. “I’m sorry that you are hurting. It’s because of me that you are even here in the first place. I offered to get those passes so I could get to know you. There is something about you that feels so comforting and familiar, and I’m not sure why.” He pulled back abruptly from Mina and put both hands on the steering wheel as if he couldn’t trust himself not to touch her.
Mina felt elated at Brody’s words, and she felt his absence as soon as he withdrew. How was he supposed to know that his body remembered touching her hand in this exact same manner, remembered kissing her, even if his mind couldn’t?
Frustrated, she bit her lip again to keep herself from spilling forth secrets that she had promised to keep to herself forever. She had pledged not to involve those she loved anymore. They sat in awkward silence for moments more before he finally started the car and drove out of the parking lot.
“I’m sorry, too. Nan was right; it was unfair of me to go off like that. You don’t have to drive me home. You should stay and enjoy the concert.” Mina felt like the biggest, selfish jerk in the world.
“Don’t worry about it. I agreed to drive you both here, and I’ll see that you get home safely.” Brody turned to her, and his eyes softened. “Besides, I never liked their music anyway.”
“Liar,” she laughed out loud. “I saw you singing just as loudly as Nan. You like them.”
“Okay, you caught me,” he agreed. He gave her another glance out of the corner of his eye. “But I don’t think I will miss muc
Mina felt her knees go weak and her heart start to flutter wildly in her chest. What should she do? How should she respond? What should she say? She could feel the tension building up in the silence until she finally spat out the word, “Thanks.” She immediately wanted to bash her head into the dashboard. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She was so stupid.
Even though her response was a complete junior higher’s response, Brody still laughed. “You’re welcome.” He reached for the CD player and pushed play on the car stereo. The song picked up where they had left off, belting out the chorus to “Beauty’s Dead.” The song instantly reminded her of Nan, alone backstage at the concert.
She sighed. “I feel bad that we are abandoning Nan with no way to get home.”
“We’re not.” Brody turned to look at Mina, a hint of redness on his cheeks. “I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her there either. Even though he is my cousin, Peter and his friends are not the most responsible. They tend to be a bit reckless. After I drop you off, I’m going to go back to the concert.”
Fairest by Chanda Hahn / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes