“Well?” Cadence stepped back and showed Astra their bedroom. “Unfortunately, we have to share, since theres only two bedrooms and my sucky older brother needs a place to sleep to so…”
Astra let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. When Cadence told her and Alistair to leave for the day, she had become worried. What could Cadence possibly be up to? But, this was a nice surprise. Cadence had redecorated their bedroom and it looked so much more like home for Astra. “It’s nice, I like it.”
“This is going to be great!” She gushed. “I’ve never had a sister before. We can stay up all night and watch movies, or talk about cute guys we see, or paint each other’s nails!” She stopped, realizing Astra was a bit overwhelmed. She had spent every waking moment being babied by her father, Declan. She was finally expected to act like a grown up, and it was a shock to say the least.
“That would be nice. I’m used to doing everything with Millie, so if I was alone, it’d be kind of weird.” It had been only a week with Cadence, but Astra had warmed up quite nicely to her and lost her stutter whenever talking to her. Thankfully.
“I was hoping that today we could spend the day doing something fun, just the two of us? I want to go to the store and buy some new clothes. I’m auditioning for a commercial and I want to impress the agents.”
Astra thought for a moment before answering. “Sure, I can come.” Alistair had found a job already. So, if Cadence left, she’d be by herself. She wouldn’t know what to do with herself.
“Oh, yes, this will be fun! Let me just go get my purse! Be right back!”
“I thought you wanted to buy clothes for your audition.” Astra scrunched her nose up in disgust. “I don’t want a makeover.”
“It’ll be fun, I booked us an appointment, so we can’t just book now!” Cadence exclaimed. “It’ll be fine, just relax. It’s fun.”
Astra slumped in the seat next to her cousin. “Whats wrong with my clothes?”
“They’re so baggy. And, besides who wears shorts with long sleeves? It looks like you’re confused with what season it is or something,” Cadence said.
“I’m comfortable, thats all that matters to me,” Astra said.
“Comfortable doesn’t get you a boyfriend,” Cadence said.
“I don’t want someone who wants me to be something I’m not.” Astra crossed her arms over her chest. Talking about dating embarassed the poor girl. She wished for years, that she’d get asked out. But, her stutter scared guys away. She was the useless fool that everyone talked to out of pity. She knew that. She couldn’t be a good girlfriend to someone when she couldn’t even settle her own emotions.
Before Cadence could spit out her rebuttal, Astra heard her name called. “The stylist will see you now.”
Astra begrudgingly stood up and followed the girl. But not before sending her perky cousin a glare.
Astra did as she was told and stood on the platform. “Now, look in to the mirror my dear. What do you see?”
“My ref-lectt-ion?” Astra stuttered. She was incredibly uncomfortable. She didn’t liked being scrutinized like this.
“Yes, but look closely. What do you see in your reflection? In that girl?” She pointed to Astra’s image in the mirror. “Tell me.”
Astra didn’t know what the lady wanted her to say. “I d-on’t kno-w.”
She let out a small sigh, and straightened out her own skirt. “I see a nervous girl. Shy, not confident in her image. Do you know why?” Astra shook her head. “Because in order to feel confident, you have to feel good, and in order to feel good you have to look good.”
What was wrong with her look? She didn’t try too hard, but it wasn’t as if she woke up and stayed in her pajamas all day…at least not in public. She loved lounging in her pajamaas with no make up on. But, apparently, that meant nothing to society. Looks were everything. There were times, Astra agreed, that she wished she was the pretty girl. Today wasn’t one of them, she wanted to crawl back into her room and never leave. “I will take care of you my dear. We need something more form fitting, oh and your hair needs to change. I like your makeup, but thats about the only thing you nailed.” Astra’s mouth dropped with the frankness of the stylist. What the hell?
“You look stunning,” The stylis said as Astra stepped down from the styling stage. She had to admit that she did like what she saw. But, maintaining this kind of look seemed like a hassle.
“Th-a-nk you,”Astra stammered.
“Your face must match your clothes.” She held Astra’s chin in between her two fingers. “Smile. Be happy, you got a makeover from one of the best stylists in this town.”
When the stylist turned away, Astra gazed at her reflection in the mirror. Her pants were tight and slim, which made her legs look longer. Her top was sleeveless and baggy which complimented the pants. THe glitter on her outfit matched the shimmer round her eyes. The look was completed with heels. This wasn’t even a practical outfit to go out, at least to her. She didn’t do much that she’d have to dress up like this. Even if she liked her new wavy hairstyle, how would she maintain that on her own? This was more stressful to her than reassuring. She didn’t know what to say, so she quietly stepped out to avoid any more confrontation.
Astra sighed when she heard Cadence’s squeals of delight. “You look so good! Doesn’t she, Ada?”
Astra’s eyes trained on the girl sitting next to her cousin. A new face. She didn’t like that, no matter how friendly she looked. Ada nodded. “You look amazing. Like a model, almost.”
“Almost? She totally does!” Cadence nodded ferociously. “Gorgeous, girl.”
Astra didn’t say a word, just let her eyes rest on the newcomer until she spoke up. “Oh, I’m being rude. My name is Ada. I’m a friend of Cadence’s from Sunlit Tides. I moved her a little while back, and I had no idea that Cadence was here too. It was a nice surprise. She’s told me that it was your idea to move here. Any big plans?”
“N-o-t reall-y.” Damn it. Why couldn’t she just have a normal conversation with someone!?
“It’s really great here,” Ada continued as if Astra hadn’t stuttered at all. “Even if you don’t have any big plans, I’m sure you’ll find something to do here.”
Cadence stood up. “It’s my turn girls. You two play nice until I’m back okay?” Astra stared mortified at her cousin. Was she leaving her alone with this girl? She was going to…no rather she was, having an anxiety attack!
“How are you liking your time here in the city?” Ada asked casually.
Astra thought about it for a moment. It was different. But, to her, it wasn’t a question of city versus country. It was human versus supernatural. A side of her that she wassn’t allowed to expose. Astra relied heavily on her magic in Moonlight Falls because it was all that she knew to do to make her feel better about herself. Here, she scouldn’t just snap her fingers and make things better. On top of the normalcy, there were so many people, and her dad, Alistair wasn’t in charge. She was expecteed to outline her life like the rest of the people. She didn’t have an edge (not that she felt like she ever did back at the Falls). “It’s challeng-ing.” Astra mentally cursed at how easy it was for her to stumble over her words.
“I’d imagine so. You’re so young, and this is probably the first time away from your parents.” Astra nodded. “I’m only a few years older than you,” Ada continued. “I don’t have all the answers yet, but I do know that after the first year on your own, you start to feel more comfortable. You just have to find something, or someone to distract you from the mess until you can figure out how to clean it up, or at least push it in the corner and maintain it so it doesn’t spill over.”
“How do you do it?” Astra asked softly. “It seems so dif-ficu-lt.”
“Its still hard,” Ada admitted. “It will always be hard, because sometimes relying on yourself is the scariest thing ever. Normally, we rely on our parents or our teacher or even our employers to tell us what to do. We have a structure that we’re expected to follow. When we’re eighteen, those guidelines are still there, but we have now have the authority, or rather the courage to stray from these established ideas.” Ada let out a small laugh. “I sound like some sort of revolutionary or something.”
Astra smiled shyly at the girl. It made sense to her. It was motivating, at least in the moment.
The door opened to reveal Cadence, wearing….a very toned down casual outfit. At least compared to Astra’s. “It’s cute,” Ada commented.
“Thank you, thank you. You know, this outfit looked hideous on the mannequin but this stylist has a good eye, she told me to try it on and I loved it!”
Astra blinked and then let out a sigh of defeat. “You did this on purpose. You didn’t rea-lly plan on getti-ng a makeover, did yo-u?” Her stuttered returned every time she was agitated.
“Not entirely. I did want you to get a makeover, and I do want to be an actress, but I didn’t have an audition today. I was just planning on stopping by the studios today and seeing what happens,” Cadence said.
“She’s always been a good actress.” Ada laughed.
“I don’t like it…” Astra grumbled, closing her eyes.
“Come to the studio with me, please?” Cadence batted her lashes and jutted out her lower lip. “Please?”
“Can’t Ada go?” Astra asked quietly.
Ada had to leave, conviently. Astra knew that her cousin was just trying to get her to loosen up a bit. She was trying, really, but a movie studio? This was the last place she wanted to be. It made her feel even more inferior than when she had woken that morning. “Thanks for coming,” Cadence said.
“I didn’t feel like I had a choice,” Astra confessed.
“I don’t mean to make you feel like this,” Cadence admitted. “I just want us to be like sisters, you know? I’ve never had someone I could go to with my problems and who would support me. I mean, Alistair yeah, but it’s different because he’s a guy. I want that sisterly bond. I have Ada too, sure, but we’re just reconnecting again. We’re not at that level of friendship again, at least not yet. I trust you, you’re my family. Do you know how much I have wanted to meet another Gray? Aunt Bailey and Uncle Ken have gone their own way and it’s just been lonely in Sunlit Tides…”
“Please stop,” Astra said. “I get it. I’m sorry, I need to be more aware of how you’re feeling. It must have been rough just you and your brother. It’s always been me and my sisters, but I have had our grandfathers as well to help us. I’m sorry that you haven’t.”
Cadence shook her head, replacing her grimace with a bright smile. “Don’t worry. I had a good life. My parents were great, my brother was great. I just wish I knew about you guys sooner.. It would have been nice to grow up together.” SHe stopped talking, noticing a guy behind her cousin. “That guy over there has a cliboard, seems pretty important. I’m going to go talk to him, don’t get yourself into any trouble!”
But, of course trouble is what she found. Astra had wandered onto one of the sets. Honestly, she was just trying to keep busy, looking at all of the props. An alien in a test tube? It would have been cool if the Alien wasn’t six inches tall and a stuffed animal. This was a movie sttudio, didn’t they have those life size monster statues!? That would be awesome to see up close. She was broken from her thoughts by a pretty blonde girl. “Excuse me, we don’t allow visitors on the set.”
Astra turned around, panic written on her face. It was even worse because she had been so focused that she hadn’t even realized the girl approach her. “I’m so-rry!” Astra said quickly. “I was just loo-king!”
The girl gave her a warm smile. “My name is Gabrielle Flowers, the head of talent here. Well, in a couple of months I will be. For now, I’m still working the floor, and trying to recruit new talent. Say, you ever thought about being in show business?” Astra instantly shook her head. Yeah right. “You really should. We’re always looking for new models for our agency. Basically, we’d send you out to do advertisements and the like. You know, that smiling girl holding the can of beans that you always see on the subway? That could be you and it pays well. You just have to look pretty for a few hours while our camer man snaps the pic.”
“I don’t think I can do that.” Astra shook her head.
“Hold on, let me get a card and some pamphlets for you. It’d be a good idea to to just look into it. No obligations.” Gabrielle waved her off and ran towards the building.
“What was that all about?” Cadence asked. She had finished talking to the worker and had made her way over to her bewildered cousin.
“She wants me to be a model. Some lady came up to me.” Astra rubbed her temple. “She must be joking.”
“It’d be fun, why not try it?” Cadence asked. “It’s something new and exciting.”
“It’s overwhelming, and I’m not even pretty!” Astra objected.
“You are so gorgeous,” Gabrielle said, coming back to the group. She handed her a pamphlet. “I think you could really sell some products, and turn out a nice profit.”
Cadence looked seriously at Astra. “Just try it. You don’t exactly have a job to help pay the bills, so this could work.”
“Neither do you!” Astra accused.
“I’m trying though,” Cadence said, looking at the building behind her. “You should try to.”
“There is absolutely no commitment right now. Not until you sign the contract,” Gabrielle explained. “What I could do for you right now is set up an audition for you.”
“Why me?” Astra asked, baffled.
“You have this charm to you. Not that your friend isn’t pretty too.” She smiled politely at Cadence.
Cadence shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I feel it too. Even when Astra is dressed up, she has this wholesome look to her. I think it’s her soft face. She just looks like a doll.”
“Exactly!” Gabrielle exclaimed. “Thats it, just like a doll. I think you’d be perfect for a lot of the listings we have.”
“I don’t know…” Astra mumbled. But then she thought about what Cadence said. Astra would have to pay her own way. Alistair didn’t have a problem covering the bills, but it wasn’t right to ask him to pay for all three of them. Maybe it was just the compliment’s high talking but, Astra agreed. “Ok, I’ll sign up for an audition.”
“That’s great!” Gabrielle said. She wrote some information on a card and handed it back to Astra. Just be here at this time and ask for me. I’ll get you all set up.” Astra thanked her. This would be…interesting.
Sorry for the delay you guys! Thanks for reading. Ada Roarke was made by Rosessupposesmanythings on tumblr, and Gabrielle Flowers was made by scentedfirechild on tumblr as well.