Twists and Turns

Jasper Cartwright hasn't been in love since he was a teenager. Over the eighteen years he's been a ruthless theatre director, he has learnt to live for the work. Casual relationships with his actresses have earned him quite the reputation, however, and many would rather steer clear of him. Fliss Edwards has been doing just that since she walked out on a show with him five years ago. That doesn't mean she hasn't been thinking about him though. Fate and an oblivious creative team throw them together again in a huge musical that could change Broadway forever.

Elizabeth Mason is an up and coming actress just moving out of her childhood roles and finding it hard to get work. Hired on to fit with Jaspers new approach to the show, she gets a lot more than she bargained for out of playing Fliss's younger sister.

Twists and Turns is about the relationships of all of the people involved on that show and how Fliss and another special young lady convinced Jasper to feel again.

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2. Prologue

Fliss paced back and forth across her dressing room, eyes wide. She'd never been so scared in her life. This wasn't her part, she was the understudy, she wasn't supposed to go on until well after previews. There was no way she could swing this, absolutely no way. Hell, she'd barely had any rehearsal.

 

“How's my new leading lady?” Jasper strolled in with a bunch of flowers. As soon as he looked at her, his gaze flicked up to the ceiling and he chuckled dryly “You probably should be in costume by now, you know?”

 

Awkwardly, Fliss glanced down at herself, dressed only in a thin white slip. She blushed deep red and reached for her robe hung up on the back of her dressing room door. That did bring her dangerously close to Jasper though and she could hear his breathing, short and heavy as her bare arm brushed his. As soon as she'd wrapped the robe about herself, leaving her less exposed, she sat down at her dressing table and cleared her throat “Did you want something Jasper?”

 

“Erm,” it took him a moment to catch his train of thought. Then he glanced at the flowers in his hand and pointed at them “Julian and Harvey send their love.”

 

Meeting his gaze in the mirror, she brought her polished thumbnail to her mouth and bit it anxiously “I don't know if I can do this Jasper, I've had barely any rehearsal and, more than that, Jenna is a better actress than me, she should be playing this part.”

 

“Felicity,” he set the flowers on her dressing room table and came to stand behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders “Jenna isn't here right now, she's bailed on us and we need you to step up. You're her understudy, this is what you're here for.”

 

There was so much trust written in his eyes and Fliss wondered how many people Jasper Cartwright really trusted in this world. Even the trust he showed to actors like her was merely superficial, it was a trust to get the work done, not anything deeper. Still, it was nice to know that her director believed in her.

 

Frowning, he sighed “You're still not convinced, are you?”

 

“Not really,” she choked. Suddenly, she felt the tears burning the back of her throat and stinging her eyes. She dropped her head into her hands “I can't do it, Jasper, I just can't.”

 

As he dropped down so that his face was level with hers, he spoke in little more than a whisper “You were made for this part, I wanted to cast you from the very start, I know that this isn't the best scenario in the world but we have to deal with it and the show must go on.”

 

“I've never even been in a professional production before, I can't carry this show!” she lifted her face and found his lips only inches from hers. It would be so easy to just lean forward and kiss him. She blinked, she shouldn't think like that, Jasper was a womaniser and she didn't do casual sex.

 

Still, her heart fluttered as his breath tickled her lips “You don't have to carry this show, there is a whole cast carrying the show, you are just one member of that cast. All you have to do is go out there and do your bit.” Her mind went blank, he was so close. Every detail of him was so clear to her, the straight nose, the high cheekbones and the grey-blue eyes darkening as they searched hers. Taking a shuddering breath, he reached for her hand and ran his thumb over the back of it “I know you're scared but I've seen you do this perfectly enough times to know that you have this part in you, you just have to get out there.”

 

“What about Dustin?” she pulled away at the thought of her ex-boyfriend. He'd played her easily and now it turned out he was engaged. What hurt her most was that she hadn't spotted the signs, it must have been so easy for him to wrap her about his little finger.

 

Jasper's expression grew stony “What that guy did was wrong, he used you and betrayed his fiancée but you still have to go out and star opposite him, so you're going to have to set that aside for tonight.”

 

“I can't even look at him any more,” she whimpered, avoiding his gaze “How am I supposed to act like I'm in love with him?”

 

Bringing a hand up to cradle her cheek, he looked at her with the kind of earnest expression that was impossible to ignore. His eyes were wide and honest, opening up his whole face to looking so much more innocent than the usual hard mask he wore. It took her breath away. “Listen, you are a fantastic actress and an even better woman, you can't let him beat you, you have to go and act your ball gown off out there.”

 

“I'm not as good as you think I am, Jasper,” she avoided his gaze, he was close again, so agonisingly close.

 

Gently, he kissed her forehead and ran his thumb across her cheek “You're right, Felicity you're so much better.” There was a moment of silence, as both of them froze. Their breath mingled and hearts raced as she fought the urge to kiss him.

 

“Can I ask you to do something for me?” she breathed as she looked up at him through her eyelashes.

 

The best sort of shudder ran up Jasper's spine as the spell broke “Anything, darlin'”

 

“Just stay with me, while I get ready,” it was such a simple request. From any other actress, Jasper would have seen it as a proposition.

 

His last leading lady, Jenna, had asked him to stay with her for their last preview, a way to kill her nerves before the show. The star that Jenna was, she hadn't taken well to being turned down but he couldn't bring himself to do it. For the last few months, since Fliss had spurned his early advances in rehearsals, Jasper had become almost celibate. It was as though sleeping with someone else would betray Fliss. He could never betray Fliss.

 

Still, he knew that Fliss's request was nothing to do with sex. Right now, all she needed was to feel supported and know that they believed in her. If he could provide that, he would without question.

 

Pulling away, he took a seat in the armchair in the corner and shrugged “I'm here as long as you need me sweetheart.”

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