GENRE: YA historical romance
A trumpet blast, followed by silence. We were all frozen on our marks. Center stage, my arms were raised in a V, and I saw the insides of my eyelids turn from pink to black as the lights went out and the curtain fell, sending the odor of musty velvet swirling around us. Applause filled the house, but on our side was the swift click-clack of tap shoes, the whisper of tights against taffeta, fishnets and feathers. I dropped my arms and exited stage right. My eyes were dazzled after the glare of the spotlight, but I'd done this so many times, I could find my way blind. I caught the small hand waiting for me in the wings as I passed. Not so small anymore, I thought as we navigated the maze of boxes and scenery back to my dressing room.
Everything was drenched in the odor of grease paint and cigar smoke. My throat was dry from singing and the cornstarch used to absorb the damp, and my soles crackled from the rosin that helped us not slip on the glossy stage floor. We passed dancers speaking in low voices about what worked and what didn't and whose fault it was, and the staccato stomp-stomp! of Frank and Carla's flamenco echoed against the cinderblock walls. The dark passage ended at a dim-lit hall lined with tiny dressing rooms where most of us lived. Secretly, of course, as this was not Rampart Street or Canal, and in 1890s New Orleans that meant one thing.