Home > It's in Her Kiss (Midnight in Manhattan, #2)

It's in Her Kiss (Midnight in Manhattan, #2)
Author: Rachel Lacey




Julia Vega closed her umbrella and ducked inside the brick building in front of her. She pulled the door shut behind herself, scuffing her wet boots against the mat as she glanced around to get her bearings. A directory on the wall showed that the production office she was looking for was on the second floor.

She entered the stairwell, grimacing as she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window. The weather had really done a number on her hair. Luckily, she’d arrived early enough for today’s audition that she should have time to polish her appearance before they called her back. A tingly feeling took hold in her stomach at the thought.

Jules had been performing on Broadway for eight years now, so the audition process was a familiar—albeit nerve-racking—experience for her. Today’s audition was more stressful than usual for several reasons, most notably because she was auditioning for the lead.

This role, if she landed it, would be a dream come true, the culmination of a lifetime of training, the chance to step out of the chorus line and into the spotlight. She wanted it so badly, she could taste it, a hint of something sweet on her tongue, teasing her with the flavor of success. Or maybe that was just the lozenge she’d finished on the walk over.

On the second floor, she approached the receptionist, a woman about her mother’s age with gorgeous silver hair and a friendly smile. Jules returned it with one of her own. “Hi, I’m Julia Vega for the four forty-five audition.”

The receptionist glanced at her computer as she tapped several keys. “Ah, there you are. You’re all set, Julia. There’s a restroom at the end of the hall if you need to freshen up.”

“Thanks so much,” Jules told her gratefully as she headed down the hall. Once she’d closed herself inside the restroom, she peeled off her damp jacket and tucked it into her bag before pulling out her toiletry case. She spritzed her hair with a polishing serum, smoothing away the frizz that had resulted from her fifteen-minute walk in the drizzling rain. Then she reapplied her lipstick, painting her lips a shiny plum.

After repacking her bag, she surveyed herself in the mirror. She ran her hands over her blouse—almost a perfect match with her lipstick—making sure it was tucked neatly into her black slacks. Sucking in a deep breath, she made her way back to the waiting room. It was empty except for the receptionist and one other woman, who was probably waiting to audition for the same role. Jules sat across from her. She set her bag on the chair beside her and pulled out her water bottle and the tin of Grether’s Pastilles she never auditioned without.

“Lozenge?” she asked the woman across from her, holding out the tin.

“Thanks, but I’ve got it covered,” she answered, holding up an identical tin with a smile. She was about Jules’s age—late twenties or early thirties—with long, curly brown hair and a strikingly pretty face.

“Great minds,” Jules joked as she popped a lozenge into her mouth. Nerves made her throat dry, and that was the kiss of death for an auditioning actress. “I’m Julia Vega…Jules.”

“Sophie Rindell,” the brunette answered.

“Are you reading for Bianca?” Jules asked. It was one of her more annoying habits, or so she’d been told. She felt compelled to make idle conversation in waiting rooms like this one. She couldn’t help it. Apparently, nerves also made her chatty.

Sophie didn’t seem to mind, though. “I am. You too?”

Jules nodded. “I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited about this one. I don’t get many chances to audition for a lead.” It’s in Her Kiss was an off-Broadway play, a brand-new production right here in Brooklyn, walking distance from her apartment.

“Same,” Sophie said, leaning forward in her seat as her leg bounced with restless energy. “And a queer lead at that. It almost feels too good to be true.”

“Yes, it’s amazing,” Jules agreed as her stomach gave a funny swoop. She embraced roles that challenged her as a performer, but playing a woman coming to terms with her sexuality hit uncomfortably close to home for Jules. Just being here was more of a statement than she’d ever made on the subject, as the casting team had expressed a preference for LGBTQ actors to audition for this role.

“Sophie?” the receptionist called. “They’re ready for you.”

Sophie sprang to her feet.

“Good luck,” Jules said as Sophie gathered her things and stepped through the door into the audition room.

Jules pressed a hand against her stomach to calm the flutter of nerves there. Alone in the waiting room, she took the opportunity to run through the scene and the song they’d asked her to prepare. Her phone chimed with an incoming text message. She swiped it from her bag, revealing her mother’s name on the screen.

Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Thanks, Mami, she replied. I’ll call you later and let you know.

Jules turned her phone to silent and sucked in another deep breath. No one else had entered the waiting room. She was probably the last audition of the day, which might work in her favor if she left the team with a positive impression, or the opposite if she didn’t. Her agent had told her she should hear if she’d gotten a callback as early as tonight.

Jules ran through a few scales to warm up her vocal cords and crunched through what remained of her lozenge. The door opened, and Sophie reentered the waiting room.

“How did it go?” Jules asked.

“Really well, I think,” Sophie said, a triumphant look in her eyes that Jules knew well, the look of an actress who had just nailed an audition.

“I’m so glad,” Jules told her.

“Thanks.” Sophie shrugged into her coat and headed for the exit. “Well…bye. And good luck.”

“Thank you.” Jules tapped her fingers against her thighs as the door closed, leaving her alone in the waiting room. It wasn’t ideal, going in right after another actress had just wowed the casting team. Her stomach tightened uncomfortably, and her throat was dry again. She reached for another lozenge.

“Julia?” the receptionist called. “They’re ready for you.”

Jules grabbed her bag and lurched to her feet as that cold, tingly sensation spread from her stomach through her whole body. She went through the door beside the receptionist desk and found herself in a large, white-walled room. A row of people sat facing her. Jules recognized the director, a petite woman named Kari Wong. She’d worked briefly with her before. Kari’s black hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail, glasses perched on her nose as she gave Jules a nod in greeting.

“Hello,” Jules said, clasping her hands loosely in front of herself. “I’m Julia Vega. It’s an honor to be here today.”

After brief introductions, the casting director, a man named Frederick Beck, spoke. “You can start with the scene where Bianca speaks to her friend, Melissa. Liz will read for Melissa.” He gestured to the assistant seated beside him.

Jules nodded, sucking in another breath as she got into character. “I’m ready.”

“You look sad today, Bianca. Is something wrong?” Liz read.

“No, it’s…well, I’ve had something on my mind,” Jules said.

“It’s Trevor, isn’t it?”

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