My Fairly Dangerous Godmother - Janette Rallison

Chapter 1

My prerecorded number for America’s Top Talent followed two tap-dancing grandmas and a bowling pig. This would probably not be my proudest singing moment, or one I hoped would define my career, but hey, when you’re chasing fame, you can’t be picky where you start.

While Peppy the Porker pushed a bowling ball across the stage with his snout, I stood in the wings doing relaxation exercises. Deep inward breaths. Calm thoughts. Don’t think about the slightly carnivorous crowd out there. Don’t consider that a TV audience can turn faster than a figure skater.

A buzz cut through Peppy’s bowling music—the sign the judges had Xed the pig. Peppy wouldn’t advance to the next round in Las Vegas. I hoped his short-lived show biz fame didn’t mean he was destined to become bacon.

A flurry of stagehands went out to clean up the bowling props. I couldn’t see them. From where I stood, only a slice of the black gleaming floor was visible. I wondered if it was slippery. And then I wondered why I’d thought three-inch spiked heels were a good idea. I’m not used to them.

The show’s host, Rudger Zeeland, a bald guy with hipster glasses and no patience, motioned me to come closer to the entrance. “Ten seconds,” he said. “Are you ready?”

No. How could anybody ever be ready to face TV cameras? Millions of people watched this show. Millions. I couldn’t conceive how big of a group that was. My whole city only had eighteen thousand. Could you fit a million people in twenty football stadiums? Fifty stadiums?

I nodded at Rudger. I was as ready as I could be. I’d practiced my song so much, I could belt it out in any key, any tempo, with half my vocal chords tied behind my back. And right now I even managed to look the rock star part.

Before Mom and I came to St. Louis, we’d stopped at an upscale mall. I tried on twenty outfits, all outrageously priced, before I found one that looked glam enough—black leather pants, red heels, and a loose black mesh top over a tight red shirt. Putting on the clothes had been like putting on a new identity. I could be someone else. Someone better.

I’d styled my long black hair into loose curls. Even though I used half a bottle of hairspray to keep them curled, I knew they would fall out in approximately fifteen minutes. But it would be long enough.

Rudger didn’t notice my nod of agreement. He was staring out at the stage. “Five,” he told me.

Crap. I only had five seconds left. Five seconds of safety. If I tripped on the way out, the girls at my school would never let me live it down.

“Three.”

Three? What happened to four?

“Two.”

Why had I done this to myself? More importantly, how could I want to do this for a living when even walking out on a stage seemed excruciatingly painful?

“One.” He waved me on my way.

I took a deep breath and made my legs carry me forward past the curtains, out onto the stage. Unbidden, a memory of yesterday’s lunch period flashed into my mind. While I’d stood in the lunch line, I’d heard my name. Not called, just spoken about in one of the conversations behind me. Macy and Brooklyn, girls from drama, were talking loud enough that they probably meant me to hear.

“I don’t know why she’s trying out,” Macy said. “What does she expect to happen? Like, does she think she’s going to be discovered just because she played the lead in a few school musicals?”

I didn’t want to listen, but what