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Chapter 8


 


            Joe woke up at exactly nine in the morning. People from Harpo had warned that Oprah was very punctual and every recording of her show started right on time. The Jonas Brothers have to be on time as well. Filming starts at noon but they have to be there by 10 in the morning for make up and lunch.


            Of course, this was not a strange thing for Joe. He had been on Oprah once a few months back to promote their previous album and perform two songs. It was a historical moment for him and his brothers to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. That proved that their audience did not consist of only kids and teenagers, but young adults and the older generation as well.


            Joe got up and got ready in 20 minutes. He then spent some time making a cup of coffee and watched the morning news. He shared a room with Kevin but he was already gone when he woke up. Joe assumed he had gone out for an early breakfast with their parents, as they had mentioned it the night before. Joe was too tired therefore, he passed.


            Joe thought the night before was fun. They got to perform a few songs to their friends and family. Some media and fans were there too. It was a very closed and private showcase, which he liked. He has been performing sold out arenas for sometime now so it is nice to just have a small crowd for a change. Then he got a chance to talk to Amber. Since she was in Chicago alone, Joe thought she probably felt lonely and tried to make her feel as comfortable as possible.


            While he was watching the news and enjoying his cup of coffee, the room door slammed open and there came in his parents and both his brothers.


            “Morning honey, let’s get going.” Said Denise, Joe’s mom. She had curly hair up to her shoulder. This explains who his brothers got the curls from.


            “Morning.” Joe said while grabbing his iPhone and iPod “Let’s go!”


**


            Sitting on the chair, Amber almost dozed off while the hair stylist was busy fixing her hair. She was supposed to sleep early last night but was distracted by a live broadcast tennis game on TV. Tennis is her favorite sport. Amber had wavy layered blonde hair, the stylist was using a curling iron to make her waves more visible.


            Amber was falling asleep, her head titled back and it touched the curling iron, causing her to shriek.


            “Owh owh owh!” Amber said and tried to pull her head away from the stylist.


            “Now this is what you get for falling asleep honey!” The eccentric male stylist, Nate said.


            “Sorry.” Amber said while looking at him from the mirror and gave him an awkward smile. She felt so embarrassed.


            Nate shrugged and continued to style her hair.


            After he was done, he called the make up artist, Joss to apply Amber’s make up. She started with foundation and moved on to iridescent powder, blusher, make up base, eye shadow, highlighter, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil then mascara. Amber has never applied such thick make up before and was amazed at how she looked when Joss was done.


            “Wow.” Amber said.


            “Uhuh. That’s what Beyonce and Shakira said too.” Joss said cockily and walked towards the table to pack up her things.


            “Time for Oprah.” Joss said and walked out the door.


            “Thanks!” Amber said and Joss waved at Amber, her back facing her.


            Now Amber was all alone in the room. She stood up and scope around the room. It wasn’t very big but it was big enough to fit two couches and a coffee table at one side and a row of make-up tables and chairs at the other.


            Amber’s stomach started growling and she took this as a sign to leave the room. But before leaving, she opened the zip to her duffle bag and pull out the dress she was going to wear on the show. It was a very simple black dress, reminded her of the late Aubrey Hepburn. The sleeves were short and a little puffy; the neckline was round with small buttons leading down to just above her chest. She had buttoned a few and left the ones on top open. It had black glossy prints of swirls on it, almost unnoticeable. The skirt was at an appropriate length, just 7 inches above her knee. Amber was tall for a girl; she was 5 feet 9 so the dress made her look even taller and slimmer.


After putting on the dress and analyzing herself in the mirror, she fixed her hair. She then put on a pair of glossy black heels that had straps all over it.


She had met Joanne and she told Amber that after she was done with make up and hair, she could just walk down the hall and there will be refreshments served. When the show is going to start, Joanne will send someone to get her.


Amber opened the door and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her. She started walking towards the big open space located just down the hall. The first thing she did when she reached the hall was walk to the drinks area.


“Morning my lady!” A man behind the drinks table greeted her.


“Good morning.” Amber smiled and took a Styrofoam cup from the table.


“Do you need help with that?” The man said.


“No it’s fine.” Amber smiled and proceeded to take two packets of Nescafe coffee, opened it and pour it into her cup. She then poured hot water into the cup and stirred it with a stirrer.


“Are you planning on adding sugar to that?” The man was shocked at the amount of coffee she had put into the cup.


“No actually, I like it really strong.” Amber raised her eyebrows at him and smiled.


She then walked to one of the tables and sat down alone, already downing half of her coffee.


Alone.


Lately everything she did had been done alone. For the first time after leaving New York, she missed her dad. She took out her phone from her small pocket to send her dad a message to wish him a good day but before she could start typing, she could hear Joanne calling out her name.


“Amber!” Joanne said loudly, making sure Amber heard her.


Amber looked up and saw Joanne walking towards her with a few people and a camera crew. Suddenly, Amber felt a sudden rush of anxiety and was nervous.


She saw Oprah with them.


Oh My God. It's Oprah.


Amber stood up and walked towards Joanne and Oprah, who were already walking towards her.


“Oprah, this is Amber Smith.” Joanne introduced the both of them.


“Hi Amber.” Oprah said calmly and hugged Amber.


Amber couldn’t help but feel a little star struck.


“Hi.” Amber managed to mutter. “It’s really nice to meet you. I love your talk show, I think it’s really inspiring.”


“Well, if it weren’t for courageous people like you, my talk show would be less inspiring.” Oprah said and patted Amber on the back.


“Wow. Thank you. But your show will still be the best show ever.” After Amber said that, she wanted to just hit herself in the face. She sounded like some obsessed groupie.


“Thank You. So how are you holding up? Are you okay?” Oprah asked concerned.


“Well, my shoulder is taking time to heal but you know, I will be fine eventually, physically and emotionally.” For once, Amber answered truthfully.


“Yes dear, you’ll be fine.” Oprah said and hugged Amber again.


As they both released each other from the hug, The Jonas Brothers and their entourage arrived at the hall. Once they saw Oprah standing there with Amber and the crew filming, they immediately walked over to greet Oprah.


            “The Jonas Brothers!” Oprah said lively and hugged them all. Oprah met them before so they weren’t strangers to her.


            After the boys hugged Oprah, each one of them hugged Amber as well. Then they posed for pictures.


            “I will see you kids in a while.” Oprah said to Amber and the boys before walking out of the hall.


            “Wow. That…” Amber said astonished. “Now, I can die happy.” She continued and everyone else laughed.


            “Oh were you filming? Please cut that out.” Amber said to the camera man and made everyone laugh again.


            The camera crew then stopped filming and left the hall, leaving the place normal and quiet like it was before Oprah and The Jonas Brothers came in. Amber posed with The Jonas Brothers for a few more photos.


            “Can we have one with just Joe and Amber.” The photographers said.


            “Yeah sure.” Joe said and walked towards Amber.


            Joe put his arms around her waist and pulled her closer.


            The photographers started clicking their cameras away, flashes brightly shun upon their faces. Amber wasn’t used to this so she blinked her eyes more than usual. After the photographers were done, it felt like she was gazing into a hall filled with bright stars.


            “Are you excited?” Joe asked Amber.


            “Kind of?” Amber shrugged. “I’m actually a little nervous. This is my first time on TV.” Amber let out a small laugh.


            “You’ll be fine.” Joe said and rubbed her arms.


            “Yeah I guess.” Amber said, a tingly sensation in her.


**


            Amber couldn’t believe she was sitting in front of almost 200 people in the audience. She was also sitting in between Oprah and Joe Jonas. Her palms were sweaty but she was thankful the cameras wouldn’t be closing in on her palms. But they will be zooming in on her face, which showed an obvious nervous expression.


            “So, Amber, what was going through your mind when the man came into the store with the gun?” Oprah asked Amber her first question.


            Before this, they were showing a video of the convenient store and an interview with the owner. They also showed some pictures of the crime scene, pictures of blood on the floor, Amber’s blood. The video explained to the audience what happened on that day, from the man walking into the store to Amber being shot. This brought back many sad memories for her.


            “Nothing. It was just blank. I was that scared.” Amber answered, thinking back of the first time her eyes landed on the man with the gun.


            “What about you Joe?”


            “I thought to myself, “This must be a dream.” because it felt so much like something that would happen in a movie. I never thought it could happen to me.”


            “Were you scared?”


            “Yeah I was.”


            Oprah then nodded and looked at Amber.


            “So the story is, he held you two and five other people hostage and demanded to meet his son?”


            “Yeah.” Both Joe and Amber said in unison.


            “But it took a while for the officials to work something out, what was he doing in there?” Oprah looked at Joe.


            “He was just walking around, he was sweating, we all were. He seemed really nervous, I think he was intoxicated.”


            “Indeed he was, according to police reports.” Oprah cut in.


            “Yeah, so I think he was pretty afraid of what he just did, you know, with a gun and all.”


            “Yeah. So Amber, I know you’ve turned down every single interview, it just seemed like you didn’t want to talk about it. But I’m glad you’ve decided to come here to share your story with us.”


            Amber nodded and smiled.


            “Do you follow up with what happened to the man?”


            Amber sighed.


            “No. I just wanted to forget about everything that happened that night. I didn’t take any calls from the police or media. I just wanted to pretend like it didn’t happen and move on with life.”


            “But aren’t you a bit curious?”


            “Well… that’s why I’m here, and also because you have good people working for you who are very good at convincing.” Amber joked and the audience laughed.


            Oprah and Joe laughed as well.


            “Well,” Oprah said and directed her attention to the camera in front of them. “Here’s what happened that caused the dangerous man to do what he did. Take a look.” She then turned behind to look at the big screen on the wall.


            The screen started playing a video with a slide show of pictures of the man whose name now Amber know is Jim McKenzie. He was a mechanical engineer who lived a very normal life with a wife and kid. However, he found out his wife was cheating on him with another man who was his colleague. Raged and upset, he had taken some drugs before finding his wife in the house, and shot her twice to the heart. He then ran out of his house that was just opposite the convenient store with his gun. He had no idea what he was doing so he just ran into the store and kept everyone away from him. Then, Oprah’s voice over in the video started talking about Amber who jumped in front of Jim to save a girl’s life.


            The slide show stopped playing and everyone turned their attention to Amber.


            This was too much information for Amber in a day. Seeing that man’s face just reminded her of him shooting her.


            “Wow.” Amber said, trying very hard to hide her tears.


            But it was too late.


            Her eyes were watery and a drop of tear rolled down her cheeks and she tasted the salty water of her tears.


            Of her misery.


            “Can we stop this?” Amber said, the words breaking apart through her trembling voice.


            Then she broke down in tears in front of 200 people. She was crying so hard she started coughing loudly. This was her first time crying about what happened. All the emotions she kept inside her for the past one month had led to this emotional breakdown.


            And it happened in front of Oprah and so many other people.


            “We’ll take a break.” Oprah said to the producer and crew before scooting closer to Amber.


            “You just take your time honey, it’ll be fine.” Oprah said and patted Amber on the back.


            At that point, Amber didn’t care if she was with Oprah. She just cried like she never cried before. Her hands were covering her face and the times it wasn’t covering her face, her hands were wiping away the tears streaming down her cheeks.


            By then Oprah had already stood up and asked for the make up people to come fix her and for someone to bring some water. Oprah then walked to her producer to talk, leaving Amber on the couch with Joe.


            “Here.” Joe said and passed Amber his handkerchief that was folded into his pocket vest.


            Amber took the handkerchief and wiped the tears from her eyes, her make up was smudged and she looked like a mess. Her mascara was now watery and flowed down her cheeks together with the tears.


            “It’s okay to cry…” Joe muttered and rubbed her shoulders. Joe didn’t know what to say to her. What would you say to someone who just “met” the person who almost killed her?


            Everyone in the audience felt her sadness, even Joe’s parents along with Nick and Kevin were saddened by Amber. Joe’s mom was tearing a little, thinking that could be her son up there, with memories of almost being killed.


            Oprah walked back to Amber.


            “Come on honey, we’ll bring you backstage for a breather and fix you up.” Oprah said and led Amber, who wasn’t crying as much, backstage with the make up artist.


**


            The shoot was delayed for 45 minutes before they could start again. After 20 minutes of crying, Amber felt like she was all cried out. She sat patiently for another 20 minutes for Nate to apply her make up again. Oprah was by her side, giving her an inspirational speech about how she should not be afraid to face the truth and she will eventually move on. Amber was very thankful for that but she also felt embarrassed she had a breakdown in front of everybody.


            But lucky for her, that won’t be aired on TV.


            After looking sparkling like she did before, except the puffy eyes, Amber walked back out to the set up stage and proceeded to sit next to Joe.


            “You okay?” Joe said and put his hands on her lap.


            “I’m fine.” Amber smiled weakly and watched as Oprah takes the seat next to hers.


            “We ready?” Oprah asked Amber and Joe.


            “Yes.” They both said.


**


            The next 30 minutes was spent talking about how Amber felt when she got shot. They also talked to Joe’s family about what was running through their mind when they found out Joe was being kept a hostage with a gunman.


“My mom was crying and we were all worried. We were in the car waiting for Joe to buy some stuff and when we saw what happened outside the store, my dad had asked the driver to drive us to safety and my dad immediately called for help.” Nick said.


“Yeah and our parents wouldn’t allow us near the area so we just stayed in the car, waiting anxiously. We felt so sick.” Kevin added.


“That must have been hard.” Oprah said. She then diverted her attention to Amber.


“But you Amber, you saved a little girl’s life.”


When Oprah said that, everyone in the audience gave her a standing ovation and clapped loudly, some of them were crying.


Amber felt so touched and loved. The audience quieted and sat down.


“What made you jump in front of an armed man?” Oprah asked.


The truth was, Amber felt like she had nothing to lose. But she wasn’t going to say that.


“It was the right thing to do. I couldn’t let him shoot the girl. She was way too young. I’ve seen more than she did, she deserves a chance.” Amber said. “Besides, the chance of me surviving a gun shot is much higher than hers.” Amber looked down.


“I don’t know. There’s no correct answer to your question. All I know at that exact moment was, it was the right thing to do.”


Everyone clapped again. This time, Amber smiled.


“That was a brave thing to do, giving up your life for another.” Oprah said and the audience resumed clapping.


“Because of you, Bernice has the chance to be here today.” Oprah said as the crowd stand up and watch as the parents of the child and Bernice walked towards the stage.


Bernice immediately ran towards Amber who stood up to welcome them, and she gave Amber a big tight hug. Amber hugged her back and rubbed Bernice’s back before standing up to meet her parents.


“Thank you so much!” Bernice’s mom was crying uncontrollably as she met Amber.


“You’re welcome.” Amber smiled and turned to hug the father who thanked her as well.


“We’ll be right back after this.” Oprah said to the camera.

Chapter End Notes:
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