Kara spent the next two days preparing herself. She spent her days at school teaching her classes and practicing for two to three hours after school was out. She was as ready as she could be. When she let herself into her apartment Tuesday night the heavenly aroma of something warm and comforting assailed her. She dropped her bag and purse by the door and followed her nose into the kitchen.
Richie was standing at the stove stirring a pot of beef stew and had a dishtowel tucked into his pants. Kara nearly laughed out loud. “What’s cookin’ good lookin’?”
Richie turned at her question, his smile giving way to a look of concern, “what happened to your voice?” She had sounded raspy when she spoke and he hoped she wasn’t losing her voice.
“I’m just a bit tired and I think I pushed it a little too much this afternoon. I’ll be fine.”
He pulled her in for a hug, “this is just about ready, why don’t you go change and I’ll dish it up.”
She kissed his cheek, “you’re too good to me. I’ll be right back.”
They sat together in the oversized chair and fed each other bits of the thick, rich stew while Kara tried to talk about the show the following night. Richie put his fingers over her mouth in an attempt to get her to stop talking. “Princess, you need to save that voice for tomorrow night.” He stood and took their dishes in his hand, “just stay here, I’m going to make you some tea. That should help. Trust me.” She just nodded, he was right, she did need to be able to sing tomorrow and if anyone would know how to help her, it was him.
He came back with pen and paper in one hand and a mug of tea in the other. Richie handed her the pen and paper first, “if you want to say something, write it down.” He then handed her the tea, “it’s got honey and lemon in it to soothe your throat.” She smiled at him and signed ‘thank you’ as she took the tea.
Richie settled himself next to her, “do you have your set list ready for tomorrow?” He waited as she scribbled her answer, sort of. He raised a brow in question at her note. “Sort of? Do you need some help with it?”
She smiled and put pen to paper again, would you mind? I’ve got an idea of what I want, but…. Her note trailed off and she stood, he reached for her hand, “where are you going?”
She held up her fingers as if to say “just a second” and walked over to her tote bag.
Kara handed him the sheet of paper as she sat back down. He perused her choices, nodding and agreeing with some, frowning at others. Together they worked her list so the songs flowed well and the mix was better. He looked down at her, “are you sure about these last two?”
Kara nodded her head as she penned her answer, yes, why?
He stroked her hair, “they aren’t the easiest songs.” She leaned up and kissed him before hastily jotting down a reply. I know they’re not easy, but I love them and I’m sure I can do them justice. She sighed and started to write again, I wish you could be there.
He looked down at the paper and then took it from her and set it on the table with her song list. “Princess you’re going to be great whether I’m there or not. I told you I can call Jon or something and listen in. I’ll be anxiously awaiting you’re return and you can tell me all about it.” He felt bad lying to her, but he wanted tomorrow night to be a surprise.
Richie stood with Kara in his arms, and she looked at him questioningly. “What, you’ve got a big day tomorrow and you need your rest. It’s time for this princess to hit the hay.” She pouted at him as he walked to the bedroom. “Don’t give me that. You want to be well rested for tomorrow don’t you?” He smiled; it was like talking to Ava.
He set her on her feet by the bed and pulled the blankets back. She laid her hand on his arm as he tried to get her to get in bed. “Rich” she whispered, “I’m not ready for bed yet.”
He put his fingers over her mouth, “no talking, remember?”
She pulled his hand away, “I remember, but I’m talking anyway. I’ll be fine.”
Something was bothering her, he could tell. “What’s wrong?”
She leaned into him and he wrapped his arms around her, “I’m nervous, no, I take that back, I’m scared to death about tomorrow night.”
Richie managed to get Kara into bed and he slid in next to her. Holding her close Richie tried to allay her fears. “You’re going to be great tomorrow night princess. Just remember, you know most of the people that will be in the audience tomorrow. There’s nothing to be nervous about."
Kara rested her cheek against his chest, “I know, but I’ve never sung in front of a large crowd before. I just don’t want to screw up.”
He kissed the top of her head, “just think of it as a night out at karaoke with your friends; either that picture everyone but Jon in their underwear. That should help.”
Kara laughed, “why not Jon?”
Richie snorted, “I’ve seen it and it ain’t so pretty. Believe me, you don’t want to have that image burned in your brain.”
Kara laughed again, “you are so mean. Does he know you say stuff like that about him?”
Richie laughed, “I’m sure and I would bet he says the same shit about me. We’ve been friends for 25 years, we gotta get our laughs somehow.”
As their laughed died away they talked quietly until their whispers faded and as sleep overtook them Kara had forgotten all about being nervous.