Jocelyn Christine Peters wasn't born into her height on the ladder of Cardinal Brook's society. In fact, she lived the first ten years of her life in a miniscule apartment in the "dirty" part of town. Her father, Glen Peters, worked as an aspiring playwright and her mother, Kathleen, stayed out long hours of the day working as a personal maid to the Randolph family, one of the richest families in town. But that was then, and this is now, and the Peters family has tried to forget those days, forget that they were ever peasants working for meager meals.

Back in those days, little Jocelyn had only one friend. Adrian Nicholas Ferris was his name, but everyone had always called him Red, just as they called her Jocie. What with Red's bright red hair and Jocelyn's bouncy, light brown curls, they were quite a match, Red and Jocie. They did everything together. They roamed the large city, played "make believe" in the alleyways, and told each other everything.

They promised each other that when the time came, they would marry. Of course, they were far too young to love one another, but they knew that men and women were expected to someday marry, and they figured they might as well marry their best friend. That way they could still play "make believe" together, and run around and play, and everything would always be the same as it always had been. Neither noticed how absurd this plan was until they grew older, but by that time Red was already gone.

Red's father, Jonathan "Johnny" Frederick Ferris, formerly known as Johnny Haran until his mother remarried, found a better paying job in a town far away, and the two boys moved, for Mrs. Ferris had passed away a good many years before. Glen and Kathleen told Jocelyn that Red would only be away for a few days, and Johnny told Red the same thing. Their parents didn't want them to realize what was really happening, that they may never see each other again.

Quite a few years after the Ferris men's departure, Glen Peters noticed something special about his daughter as she helped him write by acting out the scenes he wrote, and helping him see if they were what he had intended. He'd never had a big break at this time. He tried to persuade the Cardinal Brook Theatre to try one of his plays, and just give him a chance, but they dismissed him every time.

As Glen's eyes followed Jocelyn walk about the room dramatically, emphasizing the words with movement, pronouncing each syllable as it was meant, and making it seem as though she really was the character she read for, Glen realized what amazing talent she had. And she was only thirteen. "Just think how much better she could get with some real practice," he mumbled to himself.

"What's that father?" Jocelyn asked, looking up from the script.

"Nothing, nothing, Jocie, go on," he directed. After a few more moments of watching her perform, he smiled widely and told her, "Jocelyn, my dear, you've wonderful talent. In all of my days I have seen not an actress that could cap the performance you've just given."

"Why, thank you, father," she blushed.

"Have you ever thought about becoming an actress?" he questioned, "For I'm sure you've talent enough for it."

"Well," she came to sit next to him, "I have always thought it would be an amazing experience, you know, standing up there and acting like some other person, never myself. Putting all my efforts forward to convince the people that I was the person I read. And at the end they would all clap for me, and throw roses up on stage as they do when Madeleine Torey performs. But I've never thought I was good enough for all that."

"Oh, but you are, you are, my dear," Glen assured her, "Just think. What if all the fantasies in your dream came true? Imagine the roses that would shower you at the end of your performance. Imagine all the people standing in their seats, clapping louder than you've ever heard in your life, and claiming that Jocelyn Peters is the best actress they've ever had the honor of seeing. Wouldn't you like that, my dear?"

"Oh yes, father. But . . ."

"But nothing. I'm going to prepare you so when your audition day comes, they won't have it in their hearts to turn you away," Glen declared with a huge smile as he thought of the money and fame his daughter could bring him. She could make them both famous, if she gained respect first, and then suggested the theater use her father's work. Oh how wonderful it would all be. No more struggling for money. No more long hours for Kathleen. No more meager meals and cheap clothes.

"If you say so, father," Jocelyn returned his grin.

She auditioned three months later with the Cardinal Brook Theatre Company, and was instantly accepted. She never had to deal with the life of a chorus girl, or an extra with only a simple line to say, Jocelyn was given leading roles right away.

The people loved her; she was a star. Everyone in town knew her name, and all the men, even those with wives of their own, fell in love with her. She was only fifteen.

The Peters Family moved to a larger house, not big, but just bigger. They were by no means wealthy, but the struggles of their old life were over for good. Glen Peter's plays became as well known as his daughter, and he basked in the glory she'd given him.

Jocelyn, though, always a very modest and humble girl, never thought herself to be as big a star as she was. Her beauty captivated many a men who came to see her shows. They paid a hefty fee for front row seats to admire her appearance as well as her talent. She wasn't tall, only about 5'4, but her figure was perfect: slender, with curves where all woman desire. A flawless face she had, with a clear complexion, cute little nose, and plump, rosy red lips. Beneath perfectly arched eyebrows sat her striking, emerald green eyes, surrounded by lush, dark lashes. Long ringlets of light, cinnamon-brown hair surrounded her perfect face, and created an almost heavenly glow. It was obvious to see why so many men were in love with her.

One of these men stood out more than the others. He came to see her every night, in every performance, sitting front row center. Sometimes he even came to see the same show more than once. He was always by himself, and his attention never diverged from the stage. Jocelyn knew she had seen him somewhere before, but she just couldn't remember where. Her new friend, fellow actress, and former idol Madeleine Torey reminded her.

"He's Dominic Taylor, of course," said Madeleine, "The son of Governor Taylor. He's from the richest family in town, so I'm not surprised he can afford so many tickets to see you perform."

"See me perform?" Jocelyn repeated, as though it certainly couldn't be true, "Whatever gave you that idea? He probably just enjoys the theater's productions."

Madeleine laughed, "It's as plain as the eye can see that his heart belongs to you, love."

"Oh don't say that," Jocelyn replied, laughing also, but deep, deep down, in the very depths of her own heart, she thought Madeleine might have been right. She'd seen the way Mr. Taylor's sparkling, navy blue eyes followed her and only her across the stage. The way he'd look at her in despair when she kissed or embraced another actor during a show. She'd seen the look of admiration. She'd seen the hope. But all her other doubtful thoughts quickly pushed away those sightings just as waves wash away shells on the seashore.

Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor continued to show up at every one of Jocelyn's performances. Once, she even saw him peek in during the afternoon while she was rehearsing a scene. She had to admit, he wasn't a sore sight for the eyes. Just like all the others girls in town, she found him incredibly handsome with his wavy blonde hair, navy blue eyes, and a determined thrust of jaw. He was tall and strong, and perfect in almost every other way imaginable. Just recently he'd celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday; he was ten years Jocelyn's senior.

But Madeleine had been right; Dominic Taylor was enamored with Jocelyn, and he hoped she'd soon know him as more than just another face in the audience.

(A/N) Those of you who read my last story, The Waterways of Darcidy, should remember Johnny whom I added into this story as Red's father. I've decided that I want all my stories to be connected in some way or another, so that's why I put him in, but he's a main character or anything like that.

Please, please review and tell me what you think. The title may change, I'm not exactly sure about it yet. What do you think of it? If you don't like something about the story, please fell free to tell me. I'm very open to changes because I'm not exactly sure about the entire plot of this story yet. Again, please, please review! Thanks!

-S. Renee