Hidden Gem Online - India Lee

- Chapter 1 -

It was hard for Gemma to imagine that she wouldn’t be wearing this outfit again in a long time, if ever. She was powerful in it. Not a set of eyes could resist staring at her in it. She loved it.

Over the course of the summer, the frantic rush to change into it for the final song had gradually gone from stressful to soothing. Gemma knew that bringing out the soon-to-be legendary white feather and pearl ensemble meant the near finish of yet another triumphant show. She stood still in the buzzing rush of makeup and wardrobe. They swarmed her and painted her lips with Lavender Whip lipstick to match her famously lavender eyes. The Bvlgari diamond cuffs were clasped around her delicate wrists. Once the dress was on, they swarmed again to drape the delicate headpiece on her. They were careful not to let it snag on the big, dramatic twist of hair at the crown of her head.

“I hear a rumor,” Armand whispered scandalously as he fastened the clasps of her bracelet. For a twenty-six-year-old, he could be easily mistaken for a giddy high school kid when it came to gossip. “That someone special is in the audience tonight. Someone gorgeous.” He emphasized the word “gorgeous,” his French accent making the news sound all the more alluring.

Gemma eyed him through the thin layer of pearls that hung over her eyes, unable to ask who with a makeup brush sweeping her lips. She let it go. As one of her best friends on the road, Armand was physically incapable of keeping secrets from her. He would spill immediately after the show.

As they fussed over her, she ran her fingers along the soft feathers that covered her bust and reached up over one shoulder and around her neck. Like a baby blanket, Gemma found the dress comforting – despite the corset and fifteen pounds of beading. It meant that she had conquered yet another city, brought another fifteen thousand fans to their feet, chanting her name. Or, technically, Queen Bee’s name. The tour had started at Wembley Stadium in London and now, at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, she was conquering her final city for the summer. After this, there would be no more arenas and legions of fans waiting for her. It would be time for home – if she could even call it that.

As Penelope put finishing touches of gloss on her lips, Gemma suddenly felt a pang of anxiety. “Oh,” she put a hand to her stomach, the cold Mikimoto pearls on the bodice tickling her fingers.

Penelope’s eyebrows knit with confusion. “Nervous? For once?”

“Yes.”

“Please. Queen Bee doesn’t get nervous.”

“No, but Gemma does.”

“Over what? Final show jitters?”

“No,” Gemma shook her head. “First day of school jitters.”

Penelope covered her mouth with surprise. “Oh! God. Forgot about that,” she smiled, though it was more of a tense pursing of the lips. Gemma cocked her head curiously, but Penelope quickly diverted her attention to her powder kit.

“Don’t try to pretend that you didn’t make a face!” Gemma laughed incredulously. “What were you thinking? Tell me.”

“Mm-mm.” Penelope shook her head of glossy copper hair, her excuse for silence being the makeup brush that she held between her lips. Her hands busied themselves by prying the powder kit open.

“Pen, tell me.”

“It’s nothing,” Penelope said, her eyes fluttering nervously as if trying to blink her thoughts away. “I just flashed back to high school. That’s all. I was a new kid once too and it was, um, kind of…”

“Say it.”

“Horrible. But I was a gawky kid and I hadn’t grown into my schnoz yet. It’s different for you love, because you are impossibly freakin’ beautiful. All the boys are gonna want you and all the girls are gonna want to be you. I mean, you’re Queen Bee.”

Gemma sighed. “They won’t know that.”

Before Penelope could respond, the swarm enveloped Gemma once again and ushered her frantically towards stage. Upon feeling the hum of the crowd pulsing through her body and the heat of the lights on her skin, the butterflies in her stomach fluttered away. She caught her own reflection in a pane of glass on her way out and eyed her own silhouette. The dazzling headpiece accentuated her elegant neck, which her mother did always say was one that could make supermodels envious. Her long, toned legs looked incredible in the custom designed five-inch Manolo Blahniks that she wore with ease. And the dress, of course, was phenomenal. To say the least.

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