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Subject: Chapter 197 - Part 1

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Date Posted: Friday, July 15, 07:35:31am
In reply to: KatherineGilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark - Chapter 193 and onwards" on Thursday, July 07, 07:06:24am

Dreams in the Dark (197/?)
by Katherine Gilbert

It had, all things considered, been a rough few weeks--the facts hard to deny. Even when it looked as though they were ahead, a dozen new fears would surface, some terror always taking hold. Right now, it was the approach of the wedding--the possible approach of their fate; her heart thumped uncertainly. It was just impossible to ignore the fact that her death might be getting closer every day.

Nikita was trying not to shudder, was doing her best to stay sane, but it wasn't easy, so many truths against her. From Michael's distancing of himself a little over a month ago to Madeline's obvious warning with his son, it was difficult to stay quite calm. No matter how much some events seemed to be working out, it was impossible. Only a true innocent could believe that everything would be well.

These were the fears which were eating away at her soul just now, her only consolation the fact that she and Michael, at least, were one once more. It had been a painful struggle, their victory all the more dubious once Adam had been involved, but they had, finally, come out alright. Now, it was just the approach of their official wedding date which worried her--her heart clenching. It just didn't seem fair that the time of her greatest happiness should also be the moment of her deepest fear.

She was sitting alone in her dressing room now, was hiding from the world on her lunch break, hoping to make some sense of her life--and something in her last few thoughts did make her smile, if only ironically. True, her fears about the wedding night weren't many women's--Nikita having no doubts at all about the more intimate side of her union with Michael--but this fact didn't help her greatly. It suddenly seemed much more encouraging to have to only live in terror of certain, barely half-understood, marital duties than to have to face the sort of perils she was. If her spouse were still Michael, he would be sure to get her through it quite wonderfully--as he certainly had their first night together; her sigh was quiet. But these weren't the sort of torments she was contemplating at all.

She wished she could say they were, wished her life centered around such conventional anxieties. Entering into a marriage entirely innocent of such aspects of romantic love--at least, so long as she was marrying a man she truly cared for--seemed so much easier than the problems she now faced. But she supposed it was useless to think of such things. Her life had never presented her with any of the simpler, more traditional fears. There was no reason to believe that it would start now.

She tried to put such concerns aside, then, but couldn't help the small sadness which rose in her. It wasn't that she at all regretted her more intimate life with her partner--had no self-recriminations for anything they had done. It was more that she sometimes wished that her life were more normal--or, at least, that it more conformed to what she had been told was normal. Still, looking back, she wasn't certain how many people's lives actually fit the standards, anyway.

This was a question she couldn't answer, never would be able to--all the days of her existence far too odd. While some of the differences between her own life and those of the "average" person had been quite wonderful--meeting and marrying her beautiful husband one of the most obvious--she thought it might be nice to have to worry about the more standard run of fears for once. Most girls, at least as far as she had been told, focused on the problems of pimples and having a date for the school dance--while she had lived the first 19 years of her life the bastard child of a delusional, syphilitic mother, doing her best to avoid being attacked by that woman's various, loathsome male companions; she had to breathe deeply to keep back the sudden urge to cry. Not every girl discovered that she was the daughter of some terrible underworld figure, had a father who was more than willing to see her dead--all as some sort of challenge to her husband's defensive skills. In comparison, the average girl's problems seemed rosy; she let out a slight snort. But she didn't really know the truth of their lives enough to think this for long.

She was smiling ironically, remembering this fact now, knowing she should have more sense than to trust what she was told. Just because everyone said that typical girls had happy families, fathers who loved them, and knew nothing on their wedding nights didn't mean that any of it was true. They seemed to say a million other things about the world, about Hollywood--about her--that were as far from the truth as she could imagine; her snort returned. She supposed, then, that it was best to ignore it. Everyone had to deal with some kinds of lies about their lives.

She ended up accepting this fact a moment later, realizing that she knew nothing about a "typical" girl's life; she wasn't even certain she had known any. Besides, it was always easy enough to imagine that the people you saw around you were living perfect--and normal--lives, but you were never on the inside to know the truth. Sometimes the man everyone swooned over as the perfect husband was beating his wife to the point of collapse. Sometimes the perfect grandfather was more into the children as targets for his lust than anything else; the man her grandmother had married certainly showed the truth of that. Just because people looked happy didn't mean they were. The rest was all just the lies most people believed.

She was shaking her head, as she thought about this, reminding herself of the truth--all of it seeming even more stark since she had come to Hollywood. Still, life everywhere, as far as she could tell, was about appearances. So long as you belonged to the right groups, wore the right clothes, and acted just like everyone else, you were happy. Anyone who didn't fit into these categories was outcast and, supposedly, miserable. Just like the town she was living in, nobody much cared for the reality of a situation, so long as you put on a good show.

There was a deep sigh, as she let these thoughts go, knowing they were true, refusing to regret who she was. But her sadness over her situation remained, unconquerable. It was just far too ironic that what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life might very well turn out to be the darkest--maybe even the last; a shudder echoed somewhere deep inside her soul. If only anything ever turned out the way it was supposed to.

She couldn't help the sadness which accompanied this thought but knew it wasn't very helpful. For many women, many men, a wedding--not to mention the marriage which followed--was anything but a joyous event, for far too many reasons to contemplate. Besides, the sorrow alone wasn't helping her, wouldn't let her prepare; her gaze shone more clearly. She really needed to focus on what had to be done.

She was trying to do this, wished she could, but no clear thoughts appeared in her mind. All she knew was that she was about to start another film with her partner, one which was clearly meant to elicit audience sympathy once she was dead, so it seemed unlikely that Madeline planned to strike earlier than the wedding date. But these facts alone didn't make her feel much better; there was a slight smile, her mind turning. She supposed she really should have eaten lunch. Her brain just didn't want to function on the few bites she had had this morning.

Even if she understood the truth of this insight, she didn't focus on it much further, knowing it wouldn't help her. The fact was that she just wasn't hungry lately. It seemed like far more work than was necessary to get herself to eat.

The wisdom of this particular path wasn't addressed just yet, her mind in too many other places--tracing Madeline's plan. She and Michael had already completed two more unreleased films--this next one, assuming they finished it before Madeline's attack, bringing the total up to three--if she didn't think about the debacle which was *Tainted Mind*. But that one barely counted, as far as the tutor's plots went, not having Michael as a co-star--and her performance as a crazed woman, terrorizing Wells and Susan had mostly been given to her to keep her in her place. Besides, Petrosian still seemed to be tinkering with it. No doubt Madeline only intended to bring it out after the grieving for her had stopped.

This wasn't a good sort of thought, didn't help her mood; she had to shake her head, trying not to let it take root--not wanting to see her death as inevitable--and, in many ways, she didn't. Still, whenever she pondered the woman's plans, she was forced to think in these terms. But such ideas weren't very useful to helping her keep a mind sound.

She tried not to ponder this just now, knew it wouldn't help, forcing herself on--needing to understand the tutor's plots in full. While the idiocy which was *Tainted Mind* would undoubtedly be held till last, the other films were certainly intended to be used just after her demise--and they might well help the woman greatly. *Shadows In the Night*, the detective film where she, as the fallen woman, of course had to die, would be perfect--her final demise even coming in her lover's arms. Pavel seemed to be spending his time harassing the editors, as well, trying to turn it into a work of art, so it might actually be worth watching. *A Time to Dance* was utter fluff, as well, but its happy romance wouldn't hurt the public's grieving--whatever its shoddy directing by the odd combination of Mijovich and Petrosian. That just left this next film; her heart stammered a little. But she really didn't want to think into it just now.

There wasn't much way out of this path, of course, however much she might wish it--the constant fittings and preparations, as well as the usual round of pre-wedding interviews, giving her little time to herself, this moment a blessed exception. What was tentatively being titled *Bundle of Sorrow*--the idiocy of the name making her shake her head--would play off so many parts of Michael's loss, should Madeline's plans be successful. His partner's death, their lack of opportunity for children--all of it would undoubtedly make audiences weep; she had to take a deep breath, trying to keep herself together. But she didn't want such a moment to come at all.

She was, fortunately, prevented from thinking about any of these possibilities any further, as a short knock came on the door. Her soft, "Yes?" seemed to be all her visitor needed--and her eyes glowed for the first time that day. He was the one person she needed to see most of all.

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Chapter 197 - Part 2 (end of chapter 197)KatherineG.Friday, July 15, 07:37:05am

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