Kitty Lovelace nodded to the chair and the brandy. Nora shuffled into the room, wherein she took the seat and left the glass. She put her binder down next to her and looked firmly at her folded hands. "I don't know what Mr. Katz told you about me."
Kitty looked at the abandoned glass and took it up herself. She sat in her chair with her knees up. It made her look like a bored young lady, and not like one of the most infamous witches in the city. She tipped her head against her knuckles, and watched Nora fidget for a bit. "What do you think he told me about you?"
"T-that's... well. I expect he talked me up a lot."
"You'd be right," said Kitty.
"And he'd be wrong!" Nora flushed. "Really, I'm sorry he's bothered you with all this. I didn't ask him to! I'm not his girl or anything, and I'm not really looking for gold, or glory, or anything else—"
"He just said you were looking to perform somewhere that wasn't an old stink-pit."
Nora froze in mid-dither. "...oh."
"Why don't you tell me something of what you do?"
"Well, Miss Lovelace. I do some singing. I'm not bad. My family has been having sing-alongs since I was young. And I've sung at... ah."
"Temple?" Nora jolted. Kitty sighed and took her feet off the chair. She stretched them, her big toe peeked out of her cloth, slip-on shoes. "You can say so. I know Jimmy looks like a bit of an altar boy, but you think we care if you're Jewish when we hire guys like Timothy Katz?"
"Services." Nora took a breath and offered up her folder. "I do some dancing, too, but I'm not as good as that. I learn fast, though. I can pick out a beat in a song, and I'm not bad at working an audience. I usually have a couple of sets, break, and do another for the late crowd. I get on well with other performers. I keep to myself."
"Katz says you have your own dressing room."
"Only because I asked. It was originally a storage closet."
Kitty Lovelace leaned forward in her chair. "All right, stop that."
Nora froze. "Stop what?"
"Talking yourself down." Kitty shook her head, holding up the glass. The girl watched her through the tinted liquid. "This is an interview. You sound like you want excuses for me to not hire you. Lay it out for me. Why do you think I should?"
"Oh. Um. Well."
"You didn't have to come..."
"But... you're Kitty Lovelace."
The Witch of the Lower East laughed and leaned back. "Sure, but that just means I'm awful busy. World doesn't run itself."
Kitty sighed. "Do you want me to order Katz to stop bugging you?"
"No! No, that's not—"
"Or, what?" Kitty peered at her sideways. "You kill someone before you moved to the city?"
"N-no! I've been living here my whole life—"
"Not according to my cross-referencing." Kitty smiled as she tilted the glass. "Nora's not your real name, is it?"
Nora twisted in her seat. "It's a stage name — but really, Miss Lovelace, I—"
"So you do want out of that pit?"
"Yes. But I—"
"So, just tell me."
"Or do you have something to hide?"
That did it. The girl shot to her feet.
"I'm always on time. I sew my own costumes. I'm on even if I'm sick. I'm a damn fine performer, and I don't talk shit behind anyone's back, and I'm tired of jerks trying to grab my ass when I do my set!"
Nora paused. She was leaned over the table, practically eye-to-eye with Kitty. She slowly — with great, apologetic purpose — eased herself back into her seat. She put her head in her hands.
"Huh," said Kitty, after a long moment.
"I... I guess I should be leaving now."
"You know," said Kitty, "I kind of thought you were going tell me about that glamor you're sporting."
"Oh." Nora let her binder fall between the chair legs. "I'm not interviewing for a chorus girl, am I?"
"No," said Kitty, "you're not."
It took a moment to register what she'd said. When it did, Nora's eyes flashed. She held her arms so hard her knuckles turned white. "Oh. That dirty son of a bitch. He set me up! I'll kill him! I really will! I didn't ask him to—" Kitty watched her with an arched eyebrow. Nora flushed and lowered her eyes, rubbing the ball of her index finger over the arm of her chair. "It's just a few touch-up's here and there."
"I can see that."
"It's really not much..."
"Can see that too. That's what I think's interesting. Not easy to do, the subtle stuff."
Kitty swirled her drink. Nora watched the liquid slosh. She saw the soft tinkle of Kitty's nail polish through the whirl. She went very white. She shrank back in her seat.
"...that's got canceller in it, hasn't it," she whispered.
Kitty smiled. "And you know what this is. What do you know? Katz is looking for more than curves this time."
Nora looked down at herself. She rested her arms first over her chest, and then, more fearfully, across her lap. She put her knees together and drew herself up. It made her look like a girl. Frightened, trying desperately to hold onto her pretenses, but absolutely, decisively, like a girl. "Miss Lovelace, I hate to ask favors when you've been doing me so many just by seeing me, but I'd really rather you didn't let this get out..."
"What, that you use glamours to make your hair look longer?"
Nora stared. She shifted in her seat. "I was thinking... more..."
"Or the stuff to soften your jaw? You're delicate enough, dear. No one's gonna really notice if it's a little squarer in the club lights, and a razer deals with all those other messy bits, doesn't it? Smooth little spell, though. I assume you made it yourself? Don't recognize the smell."
"Best are," said Kitty, recrossing her legs. "Listen, kid. Jimmy's always looking for people to keep the books for us—"
Nora looked up, sharply.
"—and we've got plenty doing it already," said Kitty, smoothly. "Most of them are Italian, for the record. What I'm saying is, if you've got, say, a brother who might like a new job. One that'd mean, say, moving a little more on-location... far from the family, but plenty of money to send back to them..."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I know a girl who knows a girl who could find you a place just up the street from here."
"No one will ask questions and you'll have as many dressing spaces to yourself as you'd like."
"Didn't I say?" Kitty frowned in a worried sort of way. Like maybe she had forgotten, like she was even the type of person who forgot about things like that. "I'm hiring you. You're starting tomorrow. I expect you in at nine, and you'd better not have lied about being the kind of girl who's always on time."