Authors: Laura DeLuca
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Dark Musicals Trilogy, Book 1
By Laura DeLuca
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Pagan Writers Press
Copyright ©2012, Laura DeLuca
Select quotations from
The Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
Edited by Rosa Sophia
Cover by Elke Weiss
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
For the real Lord Justyn Christofel.
May we someday meet outside of cyber space.
In loving memory of Jarad Patko
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.
“Close your eyes for your eyes can only tell the truth
and the truth isn’t what you want to see…
In the dark it is easy to pretend,
That the truth is what is ought to be.”
—The Phantom (Andrew Lloyd Weber)
“Why are you so nervous, Becca?” Carmen Webber asked. “You’ve got to be the only person in the school who’s had the entire script memorized since kindergarten. Besides, you have an amazing voice. You’re going to be fine. Really!”
Her best friend’s compliments did little to placate Rebecca Hope’s nerves as she waited in the high school auditorium for auditions to begin. Her gnawed fingernails were a testament to those nerves. They were practically chewed down to the stubs. From her shaking hands to her churning stomach, the rest of her body wasn’t fairing much better.
It was completely out of character for her to be doing something so outgoing. The first three years of high school, Rebecca had strived to go unnoticed. She was involved in activities, but mostly the kind that no one paid attention to, like the Ecology Club and the orchestra. Places where she could blend in with a hundred other non-descript faces. But when she heard that the drama club was going to be performing
, she had done something completely against her shy and quiet nature. She had signed up to try out for a part.
was her all time favorite play, her all time favorite story in general. The sad plight of Erik, the deformed musical genius who lived in the tunnels under a Paris opera house, and the inner struggle of Christine, the beautiful opera diva he took under his wing, was a love story that gave her goose bumps no matter how many times she watched it. She forced her parents to make the three-hour drive from their hometown in Egg Harbor, New Jersey, to New York City every year so she could see it live on stage. She had twelve different movie versions on DVD, including the slasher version. And she owned every soundtrack that was ever put out. Those soundtracks played in her car every morning as she drove to school. For Rebecca,
was more than just one of the greatest musical scores ever composed. It was her personal obsession. This was why she
to try out for a part. Still, as the butterflies in her stomach threatened to morph into giant birds of prey, she had to wonder if she had made the right choice. Maybe she should have stayed safely hidden in the back rows of the orchestra, clutching her violin and bow, and going completely unnoticed by both the audience and her classmates.
Rebecca took a deep, shaky breath, and turned to her friends. “I think I’m going to throw up.” She admitted.
Carmen rolled the deep brown eyes she had inherited from her Cuban mother. Exotic and beautiful, the dark haired Latina never had to worry about what people thought of
. She wasn’t nervous about auditioning at all. She was a good enough dancer to guarantee her at least a part in the chorus. Not like Rebecca who could barely walk without tripping and whose mousy brown hair and dull hazel eyes made her the poster child for plain and boring. She must have been insane to even consider doing this. She was going to make a total fool of herself.
Her other longtime friend, Debbie O’Neil, was more sympathetic. Overly tall for a girl and somewhat stocky, Debbie understood what it was like to be less than perfect in a teenage world that required nothing less than perfection to fit in. She patted Rebecca’s hand soothingly.
“You’re going to be fine, Becca.” Debbie consoled. “Just relax. If
can do this, you certainly can. Anyway, we still have to get through the guys’ auditions before you’ll have to get on stage.”
Rebecca nodded and settled back into her seat to wait. One way or the other, it would all be over soon. She just had to make it through the next hour without fainting.
“Oh my God,
,” Carmen suddenly exclaimed. She squeezed Rebecca’s wrist so hard it almost hurt. “It’s Tom Rittenhouse. Isn’t he hot?”
Hot hardly seemed an adequate description. Dreamy. Gorgeous. The epitome of male perfection. Even those words fell short. Multi-talented, rich and handsome—Thomas Rittenhouse was the school’s most sought after heartthrob. He was the basketball star, the surfer extraordinaire, and the male lead of all the plays since his freshman year. He was first in
, so it was no surprise that he would be the first to audition. Rebecca had always secretly had a crush on him, but of course, he didn’t even know that she existed.
Tom took his spot on the stage, and the orchestra erupted into a sudden, full-bodied ballad that echoed melodically off the high ceilings of the auditorium. Rebecca felt herself melting into the cushions of the seat as Tom took his place behind the microphone. If
was her obsession then Tom was her fantasy. And it
pure fantasy and nothing more. There was no way that the blue-eyed, blond-haired, would-be supermodel was ever going to notice Rebecca Hope. She had a better chance of being hit by lighting and winning the lottery on the same day.
“He’s definitely going to get the lead,” Carmen gushed when Tom began his overture. “He’s the only logical choice.”
“Shhh!” Their English teacher, Miss King, who doubled as the head of the drama club and director of the play, hissed at Carmen and put a manicured finger to her lips. “Quiet!”
Rebecca thought the teacher’s thick, plastered on foundation was going to crack from the effort, but she was glad when her friend was chastised to silence. It allowed her to concentrate on the beauty of the music. The male solo was one of her favorite pieces. But Rebecca was more interested in the performer than the performance. Tom’s voice was a little rough around the edges, but it was adequate. Their high school, Mainland Regional, had a limited supply of willing male participants in the drama club. Tom was hardly Andre Bocelli, but he always managed to pull off his roles with poise. Besides, it didn’t really matter
if he gave a less than flawless performance. He had no competition.
Rebecca couldn’t help but admire Tom’s brown skin as he stepped down from the stage. It was still sun-kissed from the previous summer. She smiled at him as he passed by, but as usual, she was invisible. Tom didn’t even notice her as he took his seat a few rows back, accompanied by the other brave boys who had decided to try out for the play. The majority of them were freshman and sophomores who didn’t know what they were getting into.
“Jay Kopp!” called Miss. King, as she flipped through her audition list. The answering spitball that landed in her teased hair remained there unnoticed; Jay sauntered up to the stage with the unmistakable air of a class clown who reveled in his title.
Jay cleared his throat in a highly exaggerated fashion as the music started again, and then plunged into the most God-awful singing that Rebecca had ever heard.
Squawking was more like it, and even
was putting it mildly. As he sang, his arms flailed dramatically and his face twisted into the silliest expressions he could manage. Beside her, Carmen groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Jay is such a goof.” She complained. “He’s what my dad would call a social hand grenade. He doesn’t take anything seriously.”
Debbie laughed. “Sure he does. He takes being the comic relief seriously.” She covered her ears as Jay hit a particularly sour note. “And I think he’s proven his point, so enough is enough already!”
Miss King apparently agreed with Debbie’s assessment. “Thank you, Jay,” she said, and signaled the orchestra to silence before the second verse had ended. “That’s quite enough.”
Jay took an exaggerated bow, and Tom and the other guys hooted and whistled as he went back to join them. They all exchanged high fives as Jay took his seat. It was strange to think that Tom and Jay were best friends. They were as different as night and day. Jay was tall and lanky, with a shock of reddish-blond hair and abundant freckles. He could only be classified as a nerd,
he could be classified at all. It seemed more appropriate that he would be a flunky than a friend to the popular Tom. Yet the two had been inseparable since junior high. They reminded Rebecca of Zack and Screech from the old nineties’ sitcom
Saved by the Bell.
A few more mediocre performances followed, all of which seemed like masterpieces after Jay’s shoddy efforts. While they were tolerable they were hardly
material. Rebecca wondered how they would possibly cast both the opera ghost and the hero role of Raoul, the count who was in love with Christine, when they had such limited talent. Not that it really mattered that much. This was high school after all, not Broadway. They could be completely terrible, and the parents and grandparents in the audience would still give them a standing ovation when it was all over.
“Lord . . . Justyn?”
It sounded more like a question than an audition call. Miss King looked slightly baffled as she scanned her paperwork and read the last name on her list of male candidates. Once she was certain she had read the name correctly, she called it out once more with a little more confidence. When she received no immediate response, she seemed ready to dismiss the whole thing as a joke. But then a strange black clad figure seemed to materialize in the corner of the stage, and with practiced grace, he moved towards the center of the platform and the waiting microphone.
“That’s Justyn Patko.” Carmen informed Rebecca matter-of-factly. Luckily her best friend was the queen of gossip. “He just moved here this year. From Vegas, I think. He’s in my Calculus class.”
“He’s a little creepy if you ask me,” Debbie whispered.
Creepy he might have been to some, with his black clothes trimmed with silver chains, black hair, and black fingernails. He was obviously Gothic to the core, a fashion statement Rebecca had always thought was secretly a cry for attention. But for Justyn, there seemed no other possibility. She couldn’t imagine the darkly mysterious figure dressed in earth tones or preppy, button-down shirts. They would have clashed with his dark eyes and pale skin. She had seen him in the hallway a few times, but they didn’t share any classes, so Rebecca had never really taken the time to study him before. Despite his odd style, there was something strangely appealing about Justyn. In his own way, he was just as handsome as Tom.
The orchestra tuned for its virtuoso, and Justyn stood ready. But no one else was ready for the magical performance he began. Beside her, Carmen was rambling on about something mundane. Rebecca elbowed her to silence so she could listen to the perfectly thrilling tenor. As she listened to the song unfold, the world around her started to slip away. Gone was the high school auditorium. Gone were the rowdy teenagers. The Gothic stranger on the stage had become the embodiment of Erik, and Rebecca watched him in all his dark glory, belting out his tormented love through the words of his song. And she was as breathless with wonder as Christine herself must have been when the masked stranger serenaded her in the candlelit labyrinth of the opera house. In that moment, Justyn wasn’t just
the phantom. Justyn