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She stood alone, center stage, with the bright spotlight blinding her. She couldn't see them very well at all, and mostly they politely ignored her, chatting and sipping coffee.

"I ain't no Ella Fitzgerald," she warned, "I ain't no Eartha Kitt."

She paused, and the room was interested. She could hear it in their silence.

"I'm gonna try this anyway...Envision if you will," her voice became low and rhythmic, "a young Persian prince, with eyes the colour of settling blood...wings of gold tipped in dusky rose...and a smile that could make men cry." Her lip curled in a sultry sneer; the look of one who's been hurt, and badly, but now croons over the ashes of her enemies. She began to sing:

If the stars shine
without you
it'll never be in painted skies of blue
you're the brightest
of all the lights
the one that not even the sun can hide

You're more than passing fair
(She could hear movement and murmurs in the room...)
and blessed with a grace so rare

So, you love me, child?
I like you fine
You're sweeter than all the honey money buys
(A glassy flash from the corner: a gesture of appreciation?)
And when you hold me
you do it right
and the shivers slither up and down my spine

You're more than passing fair
and blessed with a grace so rare...

She finished out the song, glancing up only occasionally from the toes of her shoes. She was lost deep in her muse. He danced lithely in her head, sweeter than any sugarplum faerie. It was his eyes that held her attention, and not, in fact, the toes of her battered black boots, but she'd never let her audience see the hollow desire on her face. She kept her pain turned downward, and sang from her heart, which was slowly being excised, it seemed, with a pair of curved lead blades. Difficult to keep sharp, but it only took a scratch to kill, and she knew she'd been more than just scratched. Lust and lead were both deadly toxins.

She came around to the sound of applause. They were cheering her, but in her heart, she thanked her prince. Whistles and thunderous applause rolled in from the tiny room, and she said a silent prayer of thanks to the beauty behind her music.

"Someday, you'll kill me," she thought, "You'll take me apart with your poisoned knives. But, I forgive you. You have already paid me in full."

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