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Suzie’s House 519 : C’est Moi

Emma suffered one of those heart-stopping moments when she knew with absolute certitude she was going to do something stupid. A part of her was terrified what Berth would think of Bruce, or – worse – what Bruce would think of Emma for making a friend outside the band.

But she had to do something. Beth was looking at Bruce with half hero worship and half confusion; and Bruce was looking at Beth with that fake bemusement he got when he was about to be really rude.

“B-Beth, this is B-Bruce.” Emma flapped her hand from one to the other and back like they were sitting in a drawing room with a fancy tea set and everything instead of standing in the middle of the hall at school, waiting for the teachers to come out and yell at them that the bell was about to ring and why weren’t they moving already. “Bruce, this is my friend from English class. And some others.”

“Oh. That’s right. You don’t have any classes with the rest either.” Bruce only looked mildly surprised. Not like he was complaining or looking down on her or anything.

“E-either? Oh!” Emma had been so wrapped up in her own problems with being isolated in school that she hadn’t realized Bruce might also be alone.

Then she realized that it must be a lot worse for him than for her. Didn’t those guys she’d run off a minute ago used to be his friends? Maybe she shouldn’t have come running over. Only Bruce didn’t seem to mind at all.

She’d imagined herself some kind of Valkyrie or something when she raced up the hall and barged right into the boys hemming him in. And then everything changed when one of the guys showed the band’s video on his smart phone. And now…

“Oh! Um…”

“You really are a rock star.” Beth said it to Bruce. “You play…” She held her hands in the air and wiggled her fingers like she was playing piano.

“Keyboard,” Bruce supplied. “Right.” He glance at Emma with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you want her to know or not?”

“Yes! But she won’t believe me.”

“Already tried?”

Emma nodded.

“I think I can prove it.”

“What are you guys talking ab….” Beth’s mutterings dwindled to nothing.

Emma heard with barely half an ear. She was busy talking to Bruce.

“My b-b-brother is a thousand miles away now. It’s okay for everyone to know it’s me.”

“He was never the only thing the masks were about, and you know it.” Bruce gave her a piercing look.

Still, Emma kept her head up. She was determined that at least one person outside the band would know the truth.

“Look,” Bruce addressed Beth. “keep this to yourself, alright? Emma might be fine with it now, but fame is messed up. I’ve seen it do things to guys who should know better. I don’t want her to change. Not like that. So, can you keep it a secret?”

“Y-y-y-y-yeah. Sure. I can.” Beth gave one decisive nod. “Um…. Keep what a secret?”

Bruce pulled something out of his backpack. In it was a lacy white mask – clearly the sort of thing worn by the lead singer of Maliprop. He handed it to Emma, then gestured for her to put it on.

“You already gave me one like this.” She fumbled it around, then put it on. It fit perfect.

“No, no. that one only has lace. This has beads too. See?” He rubbed a finger feather-light over her cheek, making the bead work fringe swing.

“Hah, hah.” Beth didn’t so much laugh it as say it. “You can’t fool me. It’s just a prop. She’s not really the lead singer of the hottest song in the world.”

Bruce gave Beth a hard, unhappy look. Then he turned a smile on Emma.

“Guess the rest is up to you, Emma. Sing for us. Show us what you can do.”

And she did. Once that mask was on, she didn’t care who was around. She burst out with the first verse of the song in Brother’s Keeper, belting it out just like she would on stage.

“Oh. My. God.” Beth dropped her backpack.

By the time she finished the chorus, she’d drawn a crowd.

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