Home > Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(6)

Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(6)
Author: Lauren Blakely

“Try not to have such a perfect life, will ya?”

“What can I say? I’m a happy clam.” He taps the computer. “Get moving on the next phase. You want to make sure they have stage presence. You need videos, especially from Honey Lavender. Damn, with a voice like that, I wonder if she looks like Jessica Rabbit.”

“Let’s hope so.” I shake my head. “Wait, I didn’t say that.”

He points at me. “You be good this time.”

As a former rocker, I had my fair share of women wanting to score, thanks to my mic and keyboard, and honestly, my teen idol face. I didn’t sleep around when I was sixteen. That would have been gross. But we still played when we were in college, and man, those were some fine years.

The years that came after were too, and the rock star mystique never hurt.

Trouble was, I once got involved with a drummer I played with when I went solo for a few years. She was a session musician, Tiffany Turner, and she was fiery on the drums. Fiery in bed. Fiery out of bed.

And fiery as fuck when we broke up. She stomped over to my apartment and tossed my laptop out the window. She tossed my TV and my Xbox too, sending them all crashing to an electronic graveyard of her making on East Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue. All because I said, “I like you, but I don’t want to get serious.”

Eventually, I found a new drummer. But I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t mix business with pleasure.

That means it doesn’t matter if Honey Lavender is sexy or not. What matters most is whether she can sing well with me.

Screw asking for a video audition.

I’m ready to meet all of the top nine, because why waste time with a video when the kind of magic I’m looking for, the kind I just experienced with Campbell, is best discovered in person?

I write to the top picks, and then to Honey, asking if she can come in to do a song with me in person.

Chapter 5

Ally

Breathe.

Just breathe. Air comes in, air goes out.

But as I take a break from the world of night magic and rogue teen witches battling armies of spirit clones to check my email, I seem to have forgotten the basic mechanics of respiration—because of this email.

I close my eyes, will my jackrabbiting pulse to settle, and finally take a breath. I open my eyes and reread the email from my best friend. The subject line is Blown away.

Thought your song was fantastic! Can you meet me on Monday at ten forty-five to sing?

Then there’s an address for a studio Miller likes to use.

Mine.

He must have booked the time with one of my colleagues.

I fan my face and try to collect my thoughts as excitement zigzags through me.

He thought I was amazing. He thought I was great.

I’m so screwed.

There’s no way I can pull this off.

How am I going to walk into my studio, say surprise, and then knock out a song with my best guy friend as my newly created, sexier, smokier alter ego?

I mean, obviously, I knew this was a possibility. I’d hoped for this possibility.

I wanted him to pick me because he loves my voice, and if he’s calling me in, it means my vocal gymnastics worked.

The key is to keep blowing him away as Honey, and Honey has some naughty in her. She has a dose of sultry, a dash of cinnamon, and a whole lot of spice.

I can’t walk in there looking like Ally Zimmerman, the a cappella queen. I need to jettison the whole look and character I mastered when I was half of the family-centric brother-and-sister duo. No ponytails, no collared polo shirts, and no bouncy Keds shoes.

I won’t be the soprano princess with a voice like a bell, the kind of woman who lights YouTube on fire singing “Amazing Grace” mashed up with “The Four Seasons.” Or “Only Fools Fall in Love” mingled with “Hallelujah.” The Zimmerman duo has nothing in common vocally with Miller’s pop-rock style of big anthems and powerful songs designed to be played in arenas.

But I can do that stuff.

I simply need to look the part.

I reach into my purse to freshen up my lip gloss, my fingers rubbing against the stack of bills I need to pay.

Chloe’s school bill.

Chloe’s therapist.

Not to mention the rent.

Maybe if I sang with Miller, I wouldn’t have to worry about hustling so hard for every book, every contract, and every deal.

Later, I finish fending off today’s tribe of spirit invaders, and I head home. As Chloe and I plan our outfits for the Christmas party at Campbell’s house tomorrow, I start to formulate my plans.

I call my friend Macy and tell her I need a little night magic.

* * *

I grew up in New Paltz, New York, the youngest of three kids to a literature professor and a dentist. My parents were and still are regular churchgoers, and that’s how my brother and I started singing. Sundays, Easter, Christmas . . . those were my favorites—since our church was more casual, we sang “I’ll be Home for Christmas” right along with “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”

I parlayed that love of singing into chorus in high school then an all-girls a cappella group in college.

Our sister, Lindsay, laughed at her lack of musical talent and pursued a college degree in environmental science, nabbing a great job in her field shortly after graduation. At just twenty-three, she became pregnant after a one-night stand who told her he never wanted to be a father. Determined to do it all, Lindsay managed to raise her kid on her own and juggle a career for the first six years of Chloe’s life.

Until she drove to a friend’s house one snowy evening in March, lost control of the car on a patch of ice, and lost her life when a truck rammed into her.

The seatbelts in the back seat did their job. Somehow, miraculously, Chloe only broke an arm.

I say only, but she lost so much more.

My parents are older and retired, and they offered to raise her. Trouble was, their health was on the decline. Besides, Lindsay had asked me one Christmas, as we were setting gifts under the tree, the blue and white lights twinkling in her living room.

“Will you take care of my girl if anything happens to me?”

I stared at her as if she’d sprouted a unicorn horn. “Nothing is going to happen to you. You’re healthy and safe.”

“You never know.” Lindsay grabbed my arm, held it tightly, forcing me to look into her brown eyes. They were sad but determined. “Will you raise her? Make sure she’s happy and healthy and knows right from wrong? Make sure she has fun and does all her homework too? I want you to be her guardian if something happens to me.”

“Are you sick?” I’d asked, fear thick in my voice.

“No. Just trying to be smart. You never know what a day has in store for you.”

“Of course. But stop talking such nonsense on Christmas.”

Three months later, fate had the worst in store. Lindsay died on impact, and Chloe became mine.

Kirby and his wife, Macy, have helped over the years, taking care of her often, pitching in with bills. My parents spend many weekends with her. But at the end of the day, my house is her home. I’m the one who signs her permission slips, who’s listed as the emergency contact, and who’s her guardian.

Without a roadmap, I’ve done my best to give her stability and love. It hasn’t always been easy, and Chloe was, understandably, devastated when her mom died. She was shy and withdrawn for a few years, and that’s why I sent her to a therapist. She’s resilient though, a tough little cookie who’s learning how to adapt.

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