The girl behind the mask

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within." - James Baldwin


2. II


“...It would be really nice of you to at least consider these few changes, to make this movie just as special and magical as the book.”


Gabriella Snow looked into the eyes of the three men seated around the table. They all looked convinced and she smirked inwardly but kept her professional face on for them to see. She knew that they would make some if not all the changes that she’d requested. Many told her that she was picky, but frankly she didn’t care. That was one of the very few things that she felt truly comfortable with people talking about since she knew that the trade made her into the actress she was today. At only 21 years old she had accomplished a lot and won awards that some actors only dreamed about. The oscar statuette was her most prized possession and she loved it second only to her family, friends and fans.


“We will consider these suggestions miss Snow and we’ll talk it over with mr Jackson to see if he agrees with these changes. But I think that I speak for all of us when I say that it will be a pleasure to work with such a dedicated actress.” one of the writers said and she smiled sweetly in response. She was sure that Oliver would accept her changes since they had little to do with his character. Gabriella was really happy that Oliver had accepted his role, since he would be the perfect Wolf. She’d read the book when she was younger and was thrilled to get the opportunity to play one of the main characters and bring it to life. The shock of how well she had done for herself was still there after all those years and she could still remembered the day of her first audition.


She’d been nervous but kept telling herself that it was just like any day in school. The wall around her heart had only been a protective shield back then, a shield that she’d carried with her everywhere that she went. It had been so light, not a mound up at all times, but something she’d only used when it had been necessary. She had been 12 years old when she had gotten her first callback and 13 when she’d walked her first red carpet. At 17 she’d won her first award and her name had grown with every part that she took on after that.


“Miss Snow, are you alright?” one of the writers asked snapping her out of her daydream. She quietly cursed herself for letting her guard down even a fraction and quickly regained her composure. Her spine straightened and her practiced smile slid on without her even having to think about it.


“I’m perfectly fine mr. Victor. Are we done?” she said, once again taking control of the meeting. The three men nodded and she stood straightening her blazer to maintain the picture perfect look. She held out her hand and shook theirs, making sure to squeeze just enough to let them know that she meant business. They all left the conference room and Gabriella met up with Grace in the hall just like they’d planned.


“So, how did it go?” Grace asked her as they walked towards the ladiesroom. In her soothing presence Gabriella finally relaxed and dropped the act. Grace was like her family, someone that she trusted enough to show her true self. It had taken her a few years to finally trust her manager enough to drop the act but when she did it had been a huge relief to finally find someone else than her family that accepted her for who she truly was. The friends that she had had when she was younger were all, but two, gone and she hadn’t found someone of her new famous friends she trusted enough to let in. No, Jason and Annabeth were enough.


“It went fine, I think that they’ll make the changes and I hope that Oliver will accept them as well.” Gabriella answered and placed her bag on the table beside the sink. She opened it, searched through it and finally picked up her makeup bag. She had to look perfect when she left the building since the paparazzi's would be there, taking pictures. Before Gabriella became famous she hadn't really been interested in makeup, but now she always put on at least mascara and concealer before she left her apartment.


“You’re sure you made the right decision when you accepted the role?” Grace asked, looking at her with both curiosity and concern through the mirror. Both Grace and Gabriella knew that if she really wanted the part she would fight for it, to make it perfect. But if the writers and producers didn’t change the script she would either play the role without her usual skill and passion or turn it down.


“Yes! I read the book when I was little and fell in love with it. It was one of the books that helped me through tough times. The book offered me an opportunity to escape reality for some time and enter the world of the different stories. I want the movie to be just as magical as the book was to me as a kid.” Gabriella finished her speech and Grace’s look was softer now that she understood how much this actually meant to Gabriella. And Gabriella had meant every word of it. Books had been and still was her sanctuary and even though her schedule was tight she always managed to read at least one book a month. She’d read during breaks when she was filming and whenever she had time in her daily life. Long flights and audio books had become very dear to her since they gave her the opportunity to finish more books. Her favourite genre was fantasy, it had been ever since she was a child, and the last book that she’d reread was “The clockwork Princess”. In the beginning, when people asked her what her favourite genre was, she would answer them truthfully. Gabriella would tell them of how much she loved fantasy. But after too many of her famous friends told her how fantasy was only for children and how she should read books more appropriate for her age she stopped telling them the truth. But Gabriella ignored their advices to read more propper books. She loved adventures, magic and romance. Heroes fighting dragons, evil witches and wizards dueling and the old as time rivalry between werewolves and vampires. Reading about them, the heroes, made her life feel a little bit easier. The battles she fought in real life were a little easier to handle when she compared them to having to fight a fire spouting dragon.


But when she stepped out on the street and the paparazzi attacked her she wondered if dragons were not easier to battle. Even with security some of the photographers managed to get through to her and she smiled. Because she knew that if she frowned or did anything else it would be plastered on the cover of some magazine and her personality or professionalism would be questioned. So she smiled and waved even though all that she wanted to do was scream and curse. Well seated in the safety behind the tinted windows of the car she let her frown break through and sighed with relief. Grace gave her a quick reassuring smile and told the driver to take them to Gabriella’s apartment.


“I’m home!” Gabriella shouted as she opened the door and let Grace in. Eric walked towards them with his bag slung over his shoulder and hair stylishly tousled. Gabriella’s brother had his own apartment only a few blocks away from hers but he spend next to no time in it. Only when he wanted privacy, but even then he almost always spent his nights in her home.


“And I’m heading to a photoshoot. Love you!” Eric answered her and gave Grace a quick kiss on her cheek. Gabriella smiled, gave him a hug and told him that she loved him too. Her brother gave her a sad smile before he rushed out and she and Grace walked into the livingroom. They sat down and Grace brought out a folder. Gabriella sighed and knew that they would be there for a while.


A few hours later Grace left and Gabriella walked over to the panorama window that allowed her to look out over the now dark city. She leaned her head against the cold black window and sighed. It had been a long day and she was tired, but she knew that if she didn’t call her mother, Katherine would make her life a lot harder. Katherine Snow was a sweet woman with a big heart that controlled the whole family, including their father, with an iron fist. Every other day she demanded some sort of contact from her children and Gabriella, who had texted her the last 3 times, knew that if she didn’t call her mother would not be happy. She sighed one more time, sat down in her favourite armchair and brought out her phone. She hesitated before pressing the call button. As if her mother could sense her hesitation she answered with a slightly triumphant hello and Gabriella groaned.


“Why now, don’t your mother deserve a better hello than that?” she asked and Gabriella couldn’t help but smile as she realized how much she’d missed her mother's voice. It made her feel like a girl again, safe and sound.


“Hi mom, how have you been?” Gabriella asked and her mother started telling her about her week with far too much detail about her father’s stomach problems that made Gabriella cringe. When her mom was at the end of her story Eric came home and provided the perfect excuse for Gabriella to interrupt the tale.

“Mom, Eric just came home with our dinner.” Gabriella said and smiled at her brother. He put down the bag with food on the counter and started to set the table.


“Fine, but promise that you’ll call me tomorrow. I want to hear about what you’ve been up to!” Katherine said and Gabriella could hear her father in the background telling her mother that he was going to bed.


“I promise mom, love you!” Gabriella said, rose from her chair and walked over to her brother to give him a thank you kiss on the cheek.


“I love you too honey, dad says hi and tell your brother that I want him to call me.” her mother said and then hung up. Gabriella put her phone on the table and turned around to face her brother who was distributing the food onto two plates. He looked up and laughed when he saw her expression.


“What?” he asked her and placed the plates on the table as well as cutlery, two glasses and a pitcher of water. She sighed in exasperation as she sat down at the table and picked up her fork.


“Mom gave me a detailed description of dad’s stomach problems as well as his pooping issues. And also, she wants me to tell you that you should call her.” Gabriella gave him the last bit of information with a bit of glee. She knew that he would be hearing the same story as her. Eric sighed as he as well realized this and attacked his chicken with renewed force. They continued to eat in comfortable silence and when they were done Gabriella cleaned up after them while Eric sat down with his computer to get some work done. After Gabriella was done cleaning she walked over to stand behind him and look at the pictures he was editing. Eric was a photographer and he had people who would do the editing for him but he enjoyed the work and so did the magazines. When they were presented with different pictures to choose from they almost alway chose the ones he’d both shot and edited. Her brother was freelancing, but he had had a permanent job for Vogue before he decided on freedom before stardom. But as it had turned out, he’d gotten both. Many speculated that it was because of his relation to her but she knew better. He was an amazing photographer and loved his job just as much as she loved hers.


“I like that one!” she said and pointed at one of the pictures where the model’s red hair was floating in the air behind. He smiled up and her and put his computer on the coffee table in front of him before he stood up.


“Thank you. By the way, did Grace tell you about me accompanying you to the event this weekend?” Eric asked her and she nodded. “Are you okay with it? he added even though she knew that he knew the answer.


“Of course I’m okay with it, I like it when you join me. It makes the event a whole lot easier.” she said and he smiled. “I’m going to bed now, can you sleep in my room tonight? I need a full night's sleep.” she added and he nodded. Gabriella usually didn’t ask him to sleep in her bed. She was too proud and thought that she could make it through without him there to help her sleep. And sometimes she did, in some cases the nightmares left her alone. But most nights she was tortured by her memories when she slept.


“Sure, I just need to finish up this.” he responded, relieved that both of them would get a full night sleep.

“Thanks Eric, love you!” she said, relieved as well even though she was too proud to admit it to him. She gave him a quick goodnight hug and left the room before her pride would convince her that she didn’t need him.

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