|Sing Our Song
Author: Anione Graton PM
Sara Almond is a shining star at Dancing Masks theatre, but struggles every day against the memories of an abusive past. Trying to heal and mend the pieces of her shattered soul, Sara feels that another relationship would be a bad idea. Enter Jason McDonald, a playwright with a beautiful soul and a heart of gold that wants Sara to think differently. Sequel to All Around Me.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 14 - Words: 64,833 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 08-01-12 - Published: 06-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3031410
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Thank you so much for your continued support! I am greatly enjoying the ride I get to write for you all, and this next story should prove just as exciting.
Because of the story's title, I have opted to include lyrics at the beginning of each chapter, but these lyrics are not mine. I will make sure to properly credit each entry. Rest assured I am not trying to sneak in anything I don't own, but I've constructed a soundtrack of sorts, and the lyrics are only meant to enhance the reading experience! Thanks!
The song: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by Credence Clearwater Revival.
Someone told me long ago
There's a calm before the storm
I know; it's been coming for some time
When it's over so they say
It'll rain a sunny day
I know; shining down like water
Sara was sitting at the conference table, legs crossed demurely underneath her, hands folded neatly on top. She was anxious and eager, sitting in here waiting by herself. She had taken care when she dressed that morning, wearing a sky blue patterned skirt with a low cut white blouse. Her chestnut hair was too short to do anything drastic to it, so she opted instead for a simple white headband to push some of it off of her face.
She knew she looked all right, but she still felt insanely under dressed. Sara was incredibly nervous sitting here alone, waiting for a meeting she had been practically forced into.
That wasn't entirely true. Jenna had showed her that picture of this writer and to say she was interested in seeing this man in person was the understatement of the century. She had never seen a man so beautiful. Against her better judgment, Sara wanted to see this guy in person, if only to admire the view from up close. It was probably a terrible idea. Men this good looking always came with trouble. There was no way he could be genuine growing up with a face like that.
The longer she sat and thought about it, the less she wanted to stay and see it through. If this was something Layla was up for, she'd be spending the next two and a half months with this guy, working and talking and putting together a viable stage production for the company. She was going to be spending an awful lot of time with this guy. She didn't know if she could handle it if he was a jerk.
It would probably be worse if he wasn't.
Sara coughed in her throat a little and wished she could be at home in her kitchen. It was the place she escaped whenever life started to get the better of her. Other than her kitchen, her stage was the only place that really felt like home anymore. Ever since the ordeal with Kevin years ago, Sara didn't feel as though home really made sense anymore. She finally ended up relaxing into her kitchen again, knowing there were far more good memories of that kitchen than bad ones.
Sara unconsciously touched her throat as she thought of all this, not realizing that she was doing it until she came back to herself. She lowered her hand to the table again and gulped past the lump in her throat, trying desperately not to worry about the implications of her memory or the impending meeting she had with this Jason McDonald.
The clock was ticking down and every minute that passed with no word from anyone increased Sara's agitation. Her nervous energy was quickly being replaced by sheer annoyance. There were a million things Sara had to do. Their most current show was still running, with a final performance in just a couple of days. She should have been doing vocal warm-ups, costume alterations, and a million other things to prepare for her final performance that didn't include sitting around, waiting for a meeting that looked more and more like it was not going to take place at all.
She drummed her fingernails on the desk now, not bothering to worry if this action would chip off any of the fresh paint she'd put on that morning. It would have been nice if Layla could at least pop in to update her or tell her what the holdup was.
Sara looked at her dainty white watch and decided to give Layla five more minutes before she left the conference room and got back to work. Overall, she thought this project was going to be a gigantic waste of time. She had no idea how this writer planned to do any worthwhile research, as she was not going to give him any personal details, no matter how gorgeous this man was. It was a futile effort on Layla's part, and Sara was still questioning why she had agreed to this at all.
Just as Layla's five minutes were about to be up, the door finally opened. Sara gathered herself back into her chair and faced away from the door, at least trying to pretend she wasn't perturbed by their tardiness.
"Hey-a, Betty Crocker! What are you doing in this room all by yourself?"
Sara swiveled in her chair to see her best friend, Amelia, standing in the doorway with her hand on her hips. Her friend was a blur of color today, as the stretch of performances were Amelia's most available downtime to sketch designs for the next set. Her hands were dark with graphite and dusted with the colors of a thousand chalk pastels. Her frizzy strawberry blonde hair was twisted into two Mickey Mouse ears on top of her head, one of which was acting as a pen holder. Her outfit was a little nicer than usual, since she wasn't painting or building sets today and didn't need to dress down. She merely stood there, staring at Sara, smacking a wad of gum in her mouth while waiting for a response.
"Hello, Amelia. 'How are you today' is what normal people say," she said, a smile creeping up her face. She couldn't stay grim when Amelia was around. She simply exuded sunshine. "I'm actually waiting on Layla to bring this new writer here. They've kept me waiting almost fifteen minutes when I really should be getting some things done onstage."
Amelia shrugged, walking out of the doorway and taking a seat next to her friend at the table. "You're not really needed, to be honest. It seems like for the first time in Dancing Masks history, there isn't a catastrophe days before the final performance."
"That's amazing," Sara said to herself. There was always something going on that she needed to be in on, and if Amelia said all was quiet, she trusted that this was the truth.
"Tell me about it. I was just sitting in the rehearsal auditorium trying to get some sketches done by myself," her friend began explaining. She sat back in her chair and stared up at the ceiling, avoiding Sara's gaze. "I just wanted to be by myself, you know? That's all I ask for is some peace and quiet to get these sketches done and approved by everyone." Sara knew this tone. Amelia was having another Ryan problem that wasn't really a problem for anyone but Amelia. "But of course, ten minutes after I go to be by myself, who should come waltzing in, wanting to know what I'm doing?"
Sara rolled her eyes. "Ryan cares about you. I don't know why you keep pushing him away."
Amelia's face was stern as she shook her head. "I just want to be alone. If I wanted someone to nag me, I'd find a wife. You know, I appreciate Ryan and everything he does with me, making sure I eat on time and keep my levels up, but sometimes I just need a minute to myself to think."
Sara waited a beat before replying to Amelia's comments. She studied her friend's face, which was a mix of emotions. Amelia was normally good at bluffing her way through a situation, not showing every feeling she had easily. However, when Sara and Amelia were alone together, all of the facades of the outside world fell away and it was easy for them to just be.
Amelia was having one of those moments. Sara didn't know what her friend wanted to get away and think about, but by the confused expression on her face, Sara knew Amelia didn't have a clue either. It had been common knowledge since Ryan Barrett had joined their small theatre company that he was head over heels in love with Amelia. She'd seen it clear as day the moment the two of them met in person at the bar so many years ago. They were walking out to the dance floor, holding hands and having a good time, trying to get through the tight throngs of people to get out there.
As the crowd parted somewhat right at the edge of the floor, Sara noticed an incredibly tall, good looking man approaching them. He had shaggy blond hair that was swept off his face, his dark blond beard neatly trimmed and very sexy, and his navy blue eyes were sparkling with the intensity of the night. As they passed by, she watched this attractive man smile appreciatively at her, but the moment he set eyes on Amelia, Sara knew she didn't stand a chance. He immediately introduced himself, asked if she would dance with him, and they hit the dance floor. Sara didn't mind, in fact she was quite pleased that Amelia was getting some male attention for a change. She was always complaining that she looked too much like Pippi Longstocking to attract a guy who wasn't a pedophile. That was if she even wanted a guy in the first place. Most times, Amelia was far too devil-may-care to give much credence to romantic relationships, and that was fine with her. Sara admired that in her friend, since she was a Susie homemaker type that wanted nothing more than to settle down and get married. If she'd been a little more cavalier like her friend, maybe she wouldn't have gotten into that situation with Kevin.
Sara sighed aloud, bringing herself out of the dark thoughts that she always seemed to tunnel into and back out to the present world. Amelia's eyebrows were up, a question posed as to why she had sighed. "Do you want my advice?" Sara asked, smirking as Amelia gave a short nod. "Just talk to him, tell him how you feel."
"Feel?" Amelia cut her off, immediately defensive.
Sara sighed again, this time in exasperation. "No, that's not what I meant. If you had just let me finish… Anyway, just tell him when you want to be alone, and when you want to be bothered, and anything else you feel like telling him about how you feel. I don't understand what's so hard about just sitting him down and explaining to him that you don't need him checking in on you every ten seconds. I mean, he's your best friend other than me, why is it so hard to talk to him?"
Her friend shook her head, staring out the window, clearly trying to avoid the question. "I don't know what it is. I just… All I'll say is that I can't open that can of worms, and I'm going to leave it at that," she said with finality, finally looking her friend in the eye. Her entire demeanor changed and a mischievous smile spread across her pixie like features. "Okay, so tell me how excited you are to meet this Jason? He's a total hottie! I'm so jealous!"
Sara just scoffed, shaking her head at her friend's excitement as she straightened herself. "I'm not excited at all. Actually, before you came in I was starting to get really angry. They've kept me waiting and I didn't even really want to do this in the first place!"
This time it was Amelia's turn to roll her eyes. "As I recall, the moment you saw that gorgeous face, you said that it could be fun. Why don't you just loosen up a little and go with the flow? Aren't you always saying you want to be more loose-y goosey like me? Well I'm here to make that happen for you!" she said, and with a flourish, stood up and grabbed her hands, forcing her to look up at her. "So here's what we're going to do, and you have to do this with me, okay?"
"Amelia, this is absolutely ridiculous," Sara said, giggling in spite of the situation.
"It's not ridiculous, do you want to calm down or not?" Sara shook her head yes, and Amelia nodded in return. "Good. Now, the first thing I want you to do is close your eyes."
"But what if – "
"Ah!" Amelia yelled, cutting her off. "Silence. Close your eyes."
Sara reluctantly did as she was told. Amelia's hands were warm and soft and before her friend could even begin speaking again, Sara was feeling a wave of relaxation pass through her.
"Okay. Now I want you to take every little, nagging thought bouncing around that jumbled little brain of yours, and make a big pile of them. Envision a trash can next to it, and make sure to include every little thought you have, even if you don't think it's important or if you think it's too important to get to. I want you to grab everything you're worried about and dump it in that pile."
Sara couldn't help but feel amused at Amelia's imagery, but it was quite helpful. She was able to sweep through her mind, imagining that each worry was printed on a small, brightly colored flier, tacked up against the walls of her mind. She gathered them all, the commonplace ones she was used to like health and finances, made sure to grab the small, silly nagging ones like the fact that she hadn't sent her registration renewal in yet, and then once she was finished dumping those, she turned to the big ones. There were plenty that were present at the moment, and she struggled to take these fliers off the wall to put in the trash. She struggled with the worry and anxiety she was having over this meeting, her insecurities about meeting a man that had the ability to make her feel like a woman again, if only for a moment, and the vulnerability that was still left quivering in the wake of the incident with Kevin.
After a few minutes, Amelia asked if she had done what she asked, and Sara nodded silently in response. "Great," Amelia breathed. "Now, I want you to take every thought, every worry, and throw it in that big trash can. When you're done with that, make the trash can disappear. It's not a permanent fix, but it'll help you get through the day, or at the very least, the meeting."
Sara was able to throw her trash away with little difficulty, and even though some of the more persistent thoughts began itching to be hung up again, she felt a lot better. Opening her eyes, Amelia was smiling, her bright wide 'sunshine' smile, anxiously waiting for her to report her feelings.
"Wow, I'm surprised that worked," Sara said, sighing.
"I'm so glad!" Amelia said, squealing a little.
Sara laughed at her, looking at her watch again. "Damn, it's been twenty minutes now. Where the hell could they be?"
Before Amelia had time to answer, two figures appeared in the doorway. Layla was a vision in black, her dark ebony locks swept up into a neat bun. She was looking a bit frazzled, which was very much unlike her, but other than that, Sara didn't seen any indication that there was a great reason for the delay.
It took her an instant to watch Layla and come to this conclusion. Her eyes shifted then and met Jason McDonald's. The picture on Wikipedia did not do him any bit of justice. He looked more like a model than a playwright. She tried to keep this tiny observation to herself, lest she blurt it out stupidly without thinking.
She took the few second she had before she actually needed to say something to admire the view. He was absolutely breathtaking. He had short, messy auburn hair that appeared soft to the touch. His jawline was a chiseled masterpiece, smattered with a wonderful patch of dark red facial hair. His eyes were impressive sights as well, two brilliant jades that glistened behind a pair of dark rimmed glasses. She finally allowed her gaze to travel down to his lips, which were deliciously full and aching to be utilized.
Sara felt the need to fan herself before she spoke a word to the man. Finally, Layla broke the silence.
"So sorry, Sara, I had to take a call that just went on and on. Jason was very sweet about it," she said apologetically. She turned and looked at Amelia. "Are you joining us?"
"I hadn't planned on it, boss," she said, giving her a shrug and heading out the door. As Layla and Jason stepped into the room to take spots at the table, Amelia gave her a discrete thumbs up as she turned to tread down the hallway back to the rehearsal auditorium. Sara smiled and turned to see that Layla was in her usual spot, and Jason had opted to sit right next to her.
"Hi, I'm Jason McDonald," he said, finally speaking as he turned to offer his hand to her.
His voice was husky and made her feel electrified from head to toe. It was so sexy she was sure she was going to have a heart attack.
"Sara Almond," she answered him, gripping her hand in his. She watched his face as they shook hands, trying, somehow, to read his thoughts.
And then, for a single moment, it happened. His eyes went from casual and congenial to something different. It was almost as though he had finally allowed himself to relax for the first time since he met her. She smiled at him pleasantly and took her hand away a second later than she should have. She cleared her throat and turned back to the table, figuring she was probably going to be the one to start this conversation off.
"So, Mr. McDonald, Layla tells me that your idea is to work on a day-to-day basis with an actor or actress so that you can craft a play based on them, am I correct?"
He nodded ."That's correct, but first things first. Call me Jason. We might as well be on a first name basis if we're going to be working so closely." He gave her a small smile then, barely turning his lips up and yet lighting up his entire face. She noticed then, being this close to him, that she could see the tiniest smattering of light colored freckles bridging his nose and spreading over his cheeks. It was adorable.
Sara caught herself forcefully before allowing herself to swoon over this man she hardly knew. Every relaxation technique Amelia had tried to implant in her head for this meeting was stamped out by the rage sounding off inside of her.
She couldn't do this again! The last guy she'd met with a gorgeous smile and a sweet word was the man who would inevitably try to kill her. If she wasn't overly cautious with any feelings she knew would come about being in this man's proximity for a prolonged period of time, things could end badly for her again.
Did she honestly think her luck was so bad that she'd meet another man would turn out to be as psychotic as the last one? Probably not, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
So, as much as she wanted to drool and bat her eyelashes at the writer seated next to her, she had to hold her hormones at bay. It was going to be very, very difficult. Sitting so close to Jason afforded her the added ability to smell his cologne, an incredibly manly yet not overpowering mixture of grass, grapefruit, and cypress. These very different scents shouldn't have blended so perfectly, but somehow did.
Stop it. Stop it now. Back to business. That is what matters. You are a strong, capable woman, and you can do this. Ignore your hormones for two seconds and quit being weak. You can resist.
She smiled at him then, feeling more confident than she had all day now that her strength had come back. "First of all, Jason, I want there to be no mistake between us. I don't really know how or if this project is even going to work. Presuming I agree to this, how in depth do you expect to get? I've got some personal things that I don't necessarily feel comfortable telling a stranger, even if it is for the stage."
He was turned toward her then, giving her his full attention. Layla was busy flipping through some of her papers, barely paying attention to the current meeting. She was simply there as a place holder and to answer questions regarding any business aspect of this deal.
"Believe me, I would never expect you to reveal anything you weren't comfortable with," he assured her, giving her that smile, this time with an air of encouragement. "I'll be putting together the idea in a matter of hours after meeting with you today, and after that, it shouldn't take me more than a week to get a first scene off the ground. If you'll let me, I'd like to spend almost every day with you, for any amount of time, talking and getting to know you until I have something solid, and then I'll be out of your hair until I finish the script."
As strong as she felt right then, Sara couldn't help but feel a tiny bit disappointed at the prospect of this whole project only taking a week to complete. However, it was probably for the best for him to get in, get out, and take no prisoners. She was trying to preserve what was left of her fractured heart at this point.
Not that Jason had or wanted any claim on her heart. At all.
Sara nodded in agreement with the terms Jason had laid out for her and then looked back up at him, the anxiety finally creeping back into the smile she flashed him. "That sounds perfectly reasonable. When would you like to start?"
He pulled out his smart phone and opened up his calendar in a matter of seconds. He scrolled through each individual day to find a time that worked. "Well it looks like I have tomorrow afternoon open, if that works with you." He looked up quickly, his green eyes catching her completely off guard. Her breath caught in her throat for a split second before she was able to finally answer him.
"Actually, that'll be close to show time, and well…" she looked away, sheepish. Her ears burned hot with the small performance quirk she had. Now, without meaning to, she was revealing more to this guy than she wanted him knowing right now. Layla had stopped what she was doing to watch the conversation then, an entertained expression adorning her features. Sara struggled to find the words to explain herself when miraculously, Jason stepped up to help her out.
"Oh, let me guess," he said, his small smirk turning up into a full, beautiful white toothed grin, "since it's close to show time you'll have a crazy ritual to perform that will keep you from getting to our lunch. Am I right?"
Sara slowly nodded at him. "Yeah, yeah it is. How did you know that?"
He shrugged, nudging her playfully, "I'm not new to this business. I've met my share of goofy actors. I'm sure whatever you're doing is not nearly as crazy as some other things I've seen."
Sara frowned, interested in the stories he had to tell. "Is that so? I'd love to hear about some other rituals. I just have the one where I preserve my voice, but I don't really think that's a ritual as much as it's a necessity."
Layla rolled her eyes at this comment, but Sara ignored it. Jason only laughed at her, a mirthful chuckle that resonated in his chest. Against her better judgment, a rush of that sparkly, warm feeling flashed through her body. For as good looking as this man was, he was certainly not lacking in the personality department.
"You preserve your voice? Meaning you don't talk? For how long?"
Sara was embarrassed but decided to embrace the silly and answered, "Opening weekend I wait forty-eight hours before speaking unless absolutely necessary. Every performance after that I go twenty-four hours."
Jason nodded, the smile still on his face, saying, "All right, all right. I guess that's… well, I wouldn't say it's weird, because it actually does seem to make some sense. Some actors though, they do things that are just nowhere near ordinary or necessary for their performance." He laughed at this memory and Sara couldn't help but laugh along with him. His tone was just so infectious.
"I'd really love to hear about it," she said, leaning into the table to stare at him. She was losing herself again, but she knew she could draw it back without getting too far out of her comfort zone. Now that Jason had put a limit on their time together, she felt a little more comfortable putting herself out there, since his presence wouldn't be an issue after a while. Might as well enjoy the little time she did have with him, and after talking to him she knew it wasn't going to be the nightmare she'd envisioned. She might actually enjoy herself.
"Well, if you two kids are done here," Layla said, drawing Sara and Jason out of the conversation and back to the reality surrounding them. Sara was surprised how easy it was for the world to fall away while she was talking and laughing with Jason. It was a feeling she'd never experienced before, and she had to say, she liked it a great deal. "I think I'll go back to my office and draw up your contract, Jason, and when you two figure out some kind of a schedule feel free to drop by and sign it."
"All right, thank you. I'll be by your office in a minute or two," he said to her, standing up as she exited the room and shaking her hand again. Layla flashed him a smile, and then cast a knowing look over at Sara, who feigned innocence as her friend walked out of the room, bidding them another farewell.
Jason sat back down and turned toward the black canvas messenger bag on the desk. "If you'd like to take a look at some of my work I brought a few samples. Just so you can get the feel of it."
"Oh, great," she said, taking them eagerly. The more she could learn about his writing style, the better their conversations would go. She would know exactly what he was looking for. "Thank you so much, I'll take a look at these later. So when did you want to get together? Does next Monday work for you?"
"Actually," he said, glancing at his phone and then back up at her, his eyebrows lifted and his expression hopeful. "Do you have some time right now?"