The Playhouse

Cover by Natasha Snow

About Superpowered Love 7: The Playhouse


Summer has been Lily McBride's favorite time of year since she was a kid, because that's when the Brookesville Playhouse opens. Now that she works as their tech director, Lily wants more for her beloved Playhouse: a larger audience, a longer season, and exciting shows to draw new patrons. 

This year, though, she also wants Genevieve Mason, a pretty starlet-in-the-making from the local university, recruited for the tech crew. Genny throws her heart and soul into the place too, adding her own dreams of representation to the 'must-have' list, and using her sweet voice and surprising flare for pyrotechnics to draw the crowds in droves.

They work so well together, it's not long before their summer crush blossoms into a steamy affair. Lily's falling hard, but always feels like Genny's holding something back. And then there's the dreaded Brookesville Arts Council—supposedly a support system for all things cultural, instead dragging the Playhouse down with their old-fashioned stubbornness.

Excerpts

"Welcome to the Playhouse, Genevieve."
"Genny's fine," she said. "Or Gen. I'll answer to whatever; Genevieve's damn long."
I smiled. "It's pretty." Yeah, okay, I was being a lot sweeter than I normally was, but… So pretty. Not just the name. It made me a little self-conscious, though not for myself. For my Playhouse. "So is it what you expected?"
"Shae told me it was a barn." She glanced around as we entered the wide open lobby. It was cement-floored, slightly cracked here and there, with old, rough-hewn load-bearing pillars all that interrupted the space. At the west end were the public restrooms; at the east, the wall that divided the private area from this larger public space. Huge arches in the siding allowed the breeze, when it turned up, to flow through—a blessing on hot summer nights during intermissions, but not usually all that helpful midday while building, painting, and otherwise sweating our asses off. The box office had been built out of plywood and painted a dark red to match the roof and was settled against the south wall. Its little window was shut tight, and the swinging doors on the side were wide open in case the phone rang. "I didn't think it'd be this big."
That was a decent answer, at least. Not exactly glowing, but definitely not put off.
"When I was a kid, we somehow got the idea it was used during the Civil War to store munitions. It totally wasn't. It was, like, an apple barn or something." I snorted.
"You grew up around here," she said—not exactly a question.
"Mm-hm. Every summer, I was right here, painting flats and getting in trouble with power tools."
"You must love it," she said with a tiny, sweet smile. "You sound like you do."
I shrugged, suddenly uncomfortable, and led the way back into the shop. "It's home."
"Do you stay here? In the trailer?"
"Usually, in the summer. I—um, I have a place downtown." A whole house, actually, with three apartments, not counting my own in the attic, to manage. "But this is kind of a twenty-four-hour gig. Especially on weekends."
She was quiet for a moment, taking it all in. The shop behind the partition of the east wall, basically an extra-wide hallway where we stacked flats, spare lumber, and crusty paint cans. Tools hanging on one side, wood standing up against the other. Just beyond that, the kitchen, and at the end of the hall, the dressing rooms.
"We don't actually build things in here, obviously," I explained. "We take them out on the grass if we're painting or if it's going to get messy. Otherwise we just repurpose the lobby. It's more storage than an actual shop."
She nodded and smiled, then wandered toward the kitchen with its dilapidated cabinets—a donation from a kind patron who was redoing their kitchen two decades ago—and ancient fridge. Funny, because I hardly ever noticed how crap everything we had was until someone new came in; then I felt like I had to defend it.
I bit my tongue as she poked around. Then she asked, "Do we take turns cooking?"
"Yeah, though sometimes people bring us dinner, which is nice. Patrons and donors, that kind of thing."
"That's sweet," she said. From most people it would've seemed almost patronizing, but from her it was just stating a fact, somehow.
"We have a food budget every week. I usually did the shopping last year, but we can all go, or Shae will do it."
She glanced down at my hand. "Does it include beer?" Her grin was bright and straight, an absolute starlet grin.
What the hell was this girl doing here all summer? She should be in New York or at least Pittsburgh. Damn. Serious star quality—onstage and apparently off.
Or…I was just biased because she was pretty and being sweet.
Probably both. Yeah. Both.
"Technically, no; practically, yes," I said with an answering smile. Like I could help it.
Look, it had been a while. Since I'd dropped out of college, meeting people of the appropriate age and interests was kind of rough. Brookesville wasn't exactly a hot spot, and it felt strange to be going out to Trinity parties all the time. Besides, there were always things I'd rather be doing. Like organizing my pantry or doing my taxes.
No, really. I hate parties. Except the Playhouse ones, where I was surrounded by My People.
After Genevieve poked at the kitchen for a while, I led her back through the shop to the dressing room and costume storage. The entire space was about the size of a large dining room, divided in the middle by a surprisingly sturdy plywood wall that didn't go all the way to the ceiling. Both men's and women's (binarist, I know, but we make sure people go where they're most comfortable, and everyone's cool about it) were sealed off by old musty curtains and packed with racks of costumes on one side, lined with mirror and counter on the other. In the men's, Gen picked up a feathered Three Musketeers-style hat and placed it on top of her curls, then struck a ridiculous pose for the mirror.
"Too cute," I said with a laugh.
"You think?" She waggled her eyebrows at me in the mirror and grinned.
"Way too cute." I smirked just a little.
Her grin melted into something smirky too. One more eyebrow waggle, and suddenly I knew she was flirting right back at me.

My hopes for the summer lifted just a little.

Mary Rajotte said...

Way to go, rock star! <3 <3 <3

Lynn Schmitz said...

Damn that was hot.

Zoe Whitten said...

YES! This is the one I've been waiting for since forever! (*^_^) Can't wait to pick this up in April.

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