What the Crowd Wants
What the Crowd Wants
Summary: Corinne and Nicholas prepare the songbird for the night's concert.
Date: 78 ACH
Related Logs: None

Spotlights Carina - Pyr Hotel
78 ACH 23817 Souls

In the sea of sports, there is a small island of non sports related propaganda. That is Spotlights. Hearkening back to bygone days of flatscreen projected images as entertainment, Spotlights is a dim place, the intimate tables never holding more than four people. The low lighting is broken from time to time by its namesake, occasionally a cone of light sweeping slowly through the area, though the effect on the air, laden with a harmless mist generator is more of the beam of the light visible than shining harshly on anyone. The air is quiet, with the occasional lone piano music heard drifting through the air. The bar is polished glass and chrome, catching and reflecting the light when the two meet, otherwise the subdued offset lights give the place a sensual glow. One wall holds a low curtained stage, which at times draws back, and the spotlights fade, and a classic film plays at scheduled times. The bar serves drinks and food, though the emphasis is on the drinks, and the food is limited. All the glassware is sparkling clean and of crystal. Martini glasses, whiskey tumblers, daiquiri glasses and Brandy Snifters, Spotlights has it all.

Nicholas is carrying a black portfolio by its handles as he comes into Spotlights, the large, flat black case shut by several dark silk ribbons. It's quite a bit later than the thirty minutes he claimed would be his transit time, but from his face you'd never know he was something so rude as 'late'.

Corinne is blending in well, seated at the bar, engaged in a lively yet low-toned conversation with the bartender. There's a glass of bourbon in front of her, half empty. When Nick comes around, her gaze slides that way but briefly, then resettles on the bartender. The man says something mildly amusing, and Corinne lifts her chin in a husky laugh, reaching over the bar to lightly touch his forearm.

Nicholas helps himself to a slice of Corinne's personal space, sliding right up next to her at the bar. He hefts the portfolio up onto the counter, giving the bartender a pleasant smile before pulling the silk ribbon strings loose. "Oh congratulations, Corinne. You've -almost- got him convinced that that dress is edible."

"Excuse me a moment," Corinne requests of the bartender, sliding her hand down his arm and back onto the bar. He clears his throat and goes to do his job, likely feeling a little sheepish for ignoring a few empty glasses down the bar a ways. She rolls her head in Nicholas' direction and arches a dark brow, looking him up and down. "Was that really necessary? Besides, I had to fill all the extra time I've spent waiting /somehow/."

"It was very necessary," Nicholas flips the large folder open, revealing a number of posters with the more famous designs on them. "Now he won't be able to get that dress image out of his mind for weeks, and that's good for you." He spreads out a few of the posters atop the counter. "Now, which one of these do you like right now?"

Corinne places her elbow on the table, tapping a fingertip against her lips. She looks over each of the posters in turn, critically inspecting each one for even the slightest blemish upon her person. After a moment, her eyes start sliding between two of them. "I can't decide. I like the font on this one, but the other makes my nose look a little smaller." She gestures at the two posters respectively, then tilts her gaze back up to Nicholas. "What do you think?"

Nicholas looks back and both between the two of them, critically. He finally taps the one she referred to second. "This one. The font doesn't bother me so long as it's readable, and I much prefer the look here. That's what the crowd wants."

"So you think my nose is big," Corinne mumbles flatly, reaching for the glass near her. She drinks, then turns her eyes onto the poster anew, nodding once. "This one it is, then. Is everything else taken care of? You know how I hate being unprepared." Not that she ever really does any of the preperation herself.

"Without the size of that nose you could never hit the head voice that you do," Nicholas separates out a few of the chosen posters and pushes them aside, then closes up the portfolio. "Everything is perfect." Not that he prepares it either. "This piano has a sound that'll knock your socks off, excellent timber for you. Want to hear?" He grins at her.

Corinne narrows her eyes, clearly deciding whether or not to be offended, but Nick moves smoothly into the next distraction and her expression perks. "Ooh, Nicky's got a song?" She smiles, clearly pleased.

"Nicky's got the background noise," Nicholas holds up an index finger as he moves away from the bar. "Corinne's got the song. Come and chirp for us, songbird." The piano's not far, and he slides his fingers under the lip of the keys cover, lifting it up. Even before he sits down his right hand is pressing out a melancholy rift from low to high that lifts from the keys and seem to hang in the air…and then the left hand joins in with a simple chord or two in the lower register.

Corinne finishes off her drink in short order, then slips out of her stool to follow Nicholas to the piano. She leans up against it, stomach on the curved panel of the soundboard, watching his face for a moment as he plays. Then she turns, sliding her back up against the black wood, closing her eyes as she slips into a teaser for what's to come. "I had a man," she sings, starting out low and sultry as the music dictates, "who made his last stand… down that lonesome Tauron road." The song goes on, a lamenting, plaintive thing about a man who lost his life's savings in one of Tauron's seedier casinos, then ended his life in an alley, a bottle of Tauron rum in his hand. The emotion Corinne conveys while singing is palpable; her body seems almost possessed by the music.

The song is well-suited to a strong piano backup, even for an instrumental solo. But Nicholas keeps the accompaniment mostly quiet, filling in the silences of her breaths with soft, sad, notes. The damper pedal under his foot almost makes soft percussion by itself, tapping rhythmically against the underside of the piano along with with the very slow beat. He lets much of her singing happen with only a few notes behind it here and there to reinforce the rhythm rather than guide it, the piano following the singer and not vice versa.

The few people remaining in the bar have stopped their conversations to listen to the duo; they weren't expecting entertainment at this hour, and it's apparent that they like what they're hearing. The bartender is watching Corinne, specifically, the way Corinne's dress moves with each subtle gyration that she makes as the music guides her. At the end of the song, she is sprawled out dramatically against the dark, smooth wood of the piano's curved frame, one hand pushing up from her forehead and into her hair while the other rests atop the rim of the soundboard. Her eyelids flutter with channeled emotion, and as the last of Nick's notes fade, she opens them, rolls her head towards him, and grins sensually. "Yeah. I think I like this place." The audience, caught off guard by the shift in her demeanor, applauds belatedly.

Nicholas finishes off the song with a long, trailing spiral of notes that quiets as his right hand moves up into the upper register, and the final chord. Plenty of time for her to flutter, with a soundtrack. His hands come off the keys as his foot stays on the pedal, letting the notes fade out with aching slowness that's interrupted by the applause. "The lovely Corinne, ladies and gentlemen. And she'll be back on this very stage this evening," Nicholas announces to the small crowd, lifting his arm to gesture towards her, and then he rises, straightening his tie and turning to to Corinne. "Well. This place certainly loves you."

Corinne lifts her hand in a lazy wave to the audience as she separates herself from the piano to stride back towards the bar, where a fresh glass of bourbon is awaiting her attention, imagine that. She gives the bartender a smile that's too arrogant to be considered grateful, but the small dip of her head should suffice. "Yes, it certainly does," she agrees with Nicolas with a tip of her chin in the direction of a table. "Sit with me so I can be nice to you and you won't be tempted to inflate that fifteen percent we talked about."

"Just so long as you're not going to try and…" Nicholas' hand makes a flighty gesture as he heads for said table. "…adjust my third chakra or something ridiculous like that. I've met my new age quota for the week on the Destiny already." He leans closer to her to whisper, "And it was twenty percent." Straightening, he motions back to the bartender with a handsignal that apparently means something between them.

"If I were to adjust something of yours, it certainly wouldn't be your chakra," Corinne replies, sliding into the booth. "Right. Twenty. My mistake." She pulls a compact out of her little red clutch and begins dusting some powder over her nose and cheeks.

A drink arrives at their table, clear liquor with some yellow juice added to it. Nicholas flicks the little red stirrer through it and then sets the plastic down nearby. He picks up the glass and sits back comfortably, swirling the drink. "So what are we putting you in tonight to make you delicious? You know that's my favourite dress ever, but you can't perform in a dress twice in one day."

Corinne continues to powder her face for a few moments more, letting the question go unanswered for the time being. Maybe she's thinking it over, or - more likely - maybe she's just being sassy. When she's suitably un-shiny, she drops the compact back into her clutch and sets it at the corner of the table, reaching for her own drink. "I don't know, hadn't thought about it. That's why I have wardrobe people, Nick. My mind is so full of.. other… important…" She laughs, she can't follow through with that charade.

"Had wardrobe people," Nicholas replies, drily. "Now everyone's off doing crazy things like worrying about the end of humanity. The only one I've got left is Hannah, and from the way she looks on a daily basis I'd be afraid she'd think lime green is an excellent colour under blue lights." The thought seems to cause physical pain, which he helps with a swallow of his drink. "No, I think this is about to come down to you, me, and that closet. And don't you dare try and be witty about that."

Corinne's head tips back and bumps against the back cushion of the bench, her expression one of agony. "Not Hannah," she moans, eyes staring dejectedly up at the ceiling. "Do you remember that monstrosity she found that was gorgeous up top but looked like I'd collided with an ostrich on the bottom?" She angles her head back down and regards Nicholas levelly. "And please, don't insult my wit. I don't do sitcom humor."

Nicholas rubs the bridge of his nose. "I will never forget that dress. It made me realise that when it comes to animal magnetism, there is still such a thing as repelling poles."

"Hannah probably heard the term songbird," Corinne posits, reaching for her drink again, "and thought to herself… 'Bird. Bird. What's the biggest bird of all?'" It's not so much fond ribbing as it is a genuine distaste for someone with genuine tastelessness. "We'll go pick through the closet later. I actually have a few things in mind. I'm thinking black and white. It seems appropriate for the setting." She gestures generally with her drink, then has a sip.

Nicholas snaps his fingers. "The black and pearl one, with the layers. The one you wore to that fat mayor's party, the anniversary or whatever that was. Remember that? That dress was fantastic, and I know you've been torturing me ever since by not letting me see you in it."

"I just hate how you look at me when I'm in it," Corinne reveals, leaning into her open palm, elbow on the table. "You know how I like my men to fawn and salivate… but you. You just look like you want to hang me up in a gallery somewhere."

"Oh, Corinne." Nicholas smiles, setting his hands down on the table. "Would it help if I told you I have pictures of you in my bedroom? Because I do."

Corinne thinks about that. "It's helps a little," she replies with a smirk, letting her hand drop from her chin as she straightens up. She lifts her drink, almost empty, towards a passing server, signalling a refil. Girl can put away some alcohol.

Nicholas' gin is only about half-drunk, and he seems in no rush to put a large dent in it. "What can I do to make a beautiful woman smile? I could put up some in my living room too. Maybe a special waterproofed one in my shower?"

Corinne's eyes are still clear and focused despite the amount of liquor she has consumed throughout the night. She looks Nicholas over, from the lowest point of his torso visible over the tables edge, to the top of his short hair. Then her eyes settle on his face and she squints them, pulling her lower lip between her teeth in thought. "The waterproofed one is a little overkill - a bit too 'deranged fan' for my tastes. But if it's a smile you want, Nick, baby," she leans over the table, reaching out to brush her fingers against his forearm lightly, "I'm afraid you're going to have to figure that out yourself." She rights herself in her seat and takes her hand off Nicholas' arm when her refill arrives. "But fifteen percent has been known to bring a cheery blush to my cheeks. I'm just saying."

Nicholas grins at the deranged fan thing. He reaches over when her hand leaves his arm, lightly tapping his fingertips against hers. "Now now, Corinne. You wouldn't want -me- to show up tonight all cranky, would you? That just wouldn't do, not after I've already slashed the cut in half just because I have a good heart."

"A good heart," Corinne repeats, infinitely amused. "Oh, wait, there's a smile." She pulls her hand from his and points up at her grinning mouth. "Who knew all it would take is some silly nonsense about Nicholas Luma doing /anything/ out of the goodness of his heart." She winks at him and reaches for her drink. "Who's playing tonight?" Her eyes flit briefly towards the piano.

"My heart shines with goodness," Nicholas insists, with a light sniff, and gestures to his shirt. "It's one of the reasons I look so good in this colour." He picks up his drink and has a small sip, then looks at the piano. "Ronnie's on piano, Liz on the drums, and I've got Serge promising he'll be on sax. I'd bet a hundred cubits Serge'll be too hungover to actually play, but it doesn't matter. Ronnie can carry it, we'll make a piano night if we have to."

Corinne studies the playing space, visualizing things for a moment or two. Then she turns her face back to Nicholas with a smirk. "Serge is a bit of a diva anyhow. His solos go on /way/ too long, and at the end of the night, by his sixth martini, he always asks me if I need any help in the dressing room." Her nose twitches lightly as she brings her drink to her lips. "When are you gonna play with me, officially, Nick? You know we have chemistry." Her eyes might be a chilly color, but she can make them warm and imploring when she wants, and she does that now.

"I can't, love," Nicholas gives her an apologetic look. "Severe allergy to fame, I just break out in hives and…oh, it's ugly."

"Who says I was talking about the music?" Corinne asks innocently enough, as she finishes lifting the glass to her lips and takes a sip. "Maybe it's not the piano's ivories I want you to tickle." She sets the drink down, and her head angles towards the table to follow it, likely to hide the grin that threatens to break into one of her smoky laughs.

Nicholas chuckles under his breath, setting his fingers on the rim of his glass and turning it halfway around. He glances over towards the bar for a few beats. It's a hesitation that could easily be interpreted for some random attack of shyness. He then looks back at Corinne, raising an eyebrow with a slight smile. "You're awful." Another pause, searching for a good answer. "Well, why don't we grab a drink…later, after you've left the crowd nice and breathless like we like them."

Corinne watches Nicholas' reaction through half-lidded eyes, her smirk losing its arrogance for a beat or two. "If I'm still standing. You know how a good show always… tires me out." Or how she tends to slip into the dressing room with an attractive younger man who was particularly attentive throughout her performance.

"Oh, I do." Nicholas smirks, a little bit of catty coming back to his voice. "And darling, I hardly think you need to be standing to knock someone breathless."

"No, I hardly do," Corinne agrees, finishing off the rest of her drink. "I need to go get ready, Nick. You should too. Put on that suit you know I like, hmm?" She slides out of the booth and stands, then bends over to mumble something close to Nicholas' ear. "I'll wear ivory underneath my dress." And that's why they call her a Cougar. Whether or not Nick takes the bait is inconsequential; it's just how she rolls.

Nicholas gives her a slightly indulgent smile. "It'll go well with the ebony on top. I'll see you later." He picks up his own drink as she stands and swirls it, taking his time in finishing it off before he too gets up to get ready.

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