Life After Dark
Chapter 9

"Stop dragging your feet. Come on!" Lizzie said, pulling a reluctant Tommy by the hand.

"Are you sure this is okay?" he tentatively asked. As he, Lizzie, and Gina headed backstage to their friends' dressing room, he began to have misgivings. Wishing them good luck had been a good idea in the car, but now as they passed the various other band members and security guards, he wondered if they should just turn back.

"It's fine. They gave us backstage passes. The security guard let us through. Don't worry about it," Gina said with an encouraging smile.

Tommy felt some of his worry and apprehension leave when Gina smiled at him. He smiled back at her and didn't say anything else as Lizzie continued to pull him.

"Oh, look! There's Lucky," Lizzie said. She released Tommy's arm and ran to hug Lucky, who returned her embrace with equal fervor.

"Hey! You guys made it. You didn't have any problems coming back here, right?" Lucky asked as Gina and Tommy reached him and Elizabeth.

"No problems at all," Gina said with a smile.

"Wow! Nice dress," Lucky said with an exaggerated wolf-like whistle.

Tommy's eyes narrowed at Lucky's innocent comment and he felt himself move closer to Gina. For some strange reason, Lucky's words made him feel protective. He didn't understand why he felt that way, but even if he wanted to, he couldn’t have moved away from her.

"Thanks. You don't look so bad yourself. Mrs. Jensen's designs look even better now than they did on paper," Gina said with a smile.

She was right. Carrie willingly and happily designed the costume for DJLS. To correspond with their multi-ethnic make-up she decided that black and white costumes would be in order. The boys wore black pants and black shoes. Their white shirts were almost skin-tight, v-neck tee shirts. The material clung to their upper arms and made their biceps look maybe even bigger than they actually were. The material was flexible enough for them to move freely and not feel restricted when the time came for them to stop playing and dance. Dawn's costume was designed with the same effect in mind.

"Where are the others? We wanted to wish you guys go-" Tommy began.

"Don't say it!" Lucky and Lizzie said simultaneously.

"What? All I was gonna say was go-"

"No, Tommy! It's bad luck to say those words backstage," Lizzie explained.

"Why?" he asked with a frown. Over the past six weeks, he had learned plenty about different phrases and the 'normal' way of life, but each day, he found that he was still very far behind.

"Because it just is," Lucky said. The fact is, he didn’t know either, but he had heard it often enough that he believed it. Winning the headliner position would mean that he could move out of the boxcar and keep Luke off his back forever. There was no way he'd allow a few innocently spoken words to jinx it.

Still not fully understanding, Tommy shrugged and said, "Oh. Sorry about that. So, um what do you say back here."

"Break a leg," came the soft voice as Dawn and Nikolas joined them.

"But that doesn't make any sense," Tommy said, turning to face her. His eyes immediately flew to her chest which wasn't completely concealed by Nikolas' leather jacket. Embarrassed that his eyes would betray him so, he blushed and looked away.

Dawn was oblivious to Tommy's reaction and with humor said, "You're right. It doesn't. Nothing back here does. My, my, my! Don't you three look nice. That shirt looks really good on you, Tommy."

He looked at the floor and mumbled, "Thanks."

"Your mom did a fantastic job with the costumes," Gina said. She added, "But I don’t remember there being a leather jacket."

"There wasn’t. Last minute addition," she laughed.

"Extremely necessary last minute addition," Nikolas grumbled next to her. Dawn gave him a hard look and laughed.

"Why? What happened? It was fine at the final fitting," Lizzie said, moving to take a closer look at Dawn. She stood in front of Dawn and opened her jacket a little. Her eyes widened and she said, "What happened to you??"

Tommy's eyes flew to Lizzie, who blocked his vision, and Dawn, who faced him. He said, "What's wrong?"

As Tommy moved to see for himself, Nikolas said, "Nothing. It's nothing really."

"I wouldn't say that was nothing," Lucky mumbled.

Lizzie quickly closed the jacket and moved to playfully punch Lucky in the ribs. She said, "I don't care what you say as long as you don't look. Got it?"

Lucky placed his arms around her shoulders and squeezed. He whispered, "Got it, Elizabeth. Loud and clear."

She smiled and said, "When do you guys go up? We heard one of the bands playing as we came in. We were afraid that we missed you until we actually listened to them. Then we knew immediately that they weren't you. Too much yelling and screaming."

Dawn laughed and said, "Jordan and Sly were talking about that a minute ago. They said that we could cancel them out as competition."

"Where are they? We wanted to wish them well, too," Gina said.

"They're still in the dressing room, primping in front of the mirror. Sly's hair isn't 'just so' and Jordan's trying to make his pants fit better. I told him he'd better not lay a hand on my socks," she finished with a laugh.

Lizzie and Gina began to laugh, too, while Lucky and Nikolas shook their heads. Tommy looked at them with a puzzled look on his face. He said, "Why would he bother your socks?"

The three girls immediately sobered. Nikolas and Lucky exchanged glances and smiled. They couldn't wait for them to explain it to Tommy.

"Well,um…because…" Dawn faltered. She looked at Nikolas for help. He smiled smugly at her and arched an eyebrow. He shook his head, silently telling her that she was on her own.

Tommy sensed Dawn's embarrassment and having been there enough times, he said, "Don't worry about it."

Dawn breathed a sigh a relief and whispered conspiratorially to him, "Thanks."

The stage manager came over to them and said, "If you're a member of one of the finalists, you need to head back to your dressing rooms. This set is about to end and you're kinda in the way here."

"Okay," Lucky said. He gave Lizzie quick kiss and waved at Gina and Tommy as they moved away. He looked at Dawn and said, "You coming?"

"Just a second," Nikolas said. He looked at the three who stood, waiting for him. He said, "You don't have to wait. I'll join you in a second."

When the others left them as alone as they could be backstage of a club, Dawn said, "Whew! I thought they'd never leave."

Nikolas laughed and pulled her close. He wrapped his arms around her and said, "You'll be fantastic tonight. You realize this, right?"

"Fantastic? Definitely," she said with a smile.

"I'm serious. The nervousness is gone, right? No more queasy stomach?"

"All gone," she said reassuringly. "We're still on for later?"

"Of course. I'll come backstage for you and I'll whisk you away from all this madness," he said, before he planted a light kiss on her forehead.

"Good. I'd better go now. I'll look for you when I'm onstage," she said, moving away from him. She waited until he was out of sight and then she turned to go backstage. She was surprised to find Lucky waiting for her.

"Hey! I thought you went back already," she said, as they began to walk together.

"I wanted to talk to you," he said.

"What's up?"

"I wanted to tell you that we all think that you've been doing a fabulous job. We like to kid around sometimes and I hope you didn't think it was personal," he said, pausing to look at her.

"I know that," she said with a frown. She wondered where his thoughts were coming from and then she remembered an earlier conversation. She said, "Did Nikolas say something to you?"

"Well, he kinda mentioned…" Lucky said, sheepishly.

She slowly nodded her head and said, "What did he say exactly?"

"Nothing really. Look, Dawn, he came to me out of concern and rightfully so. Don't be mad at him. You have been sick a lot lately and if me and the guys were the cause of it, I'm sorry," he softly said the heartfelt words.

Dawn let the words sink in before she spoke. She knew that apologies didn’t come easy to Lucky Spencer and she was touched. She said, "You weren't the cause of anything. I have some kind of flu bug or something. Really. I'm fine. I appreciate your coming to me like this, though. It really means a lot."

"No problem," Lucky said. They smiled at each other and then, he said, "Come here and give us a hug."

She laughed and they quickly embraced each other. They ended the hug and continued on to their dressing room.

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