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Authors: Amber Garza

Star Struck

BOOK: Star Struck
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STAR STRUCK

 

Amber Garza

 

 

Cover Models: Doug Cornwell III and Jenna Barreras

Cover photographer: Juli Losee

Graphic Artist: Lisa Eneqvist

Author Photo: Megan Squires

Copyright © 2013 Amber Garza

All rights reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

 

 

To anyone who has ever dreamed of being a rockstar

1

Star

 

I wipe my clammy hands down my jeans. My fingernail snags on a loose thread, and I yank it out. Then bite down on the jagged edge.  Lola raises an eyebrow at me, and I quickly retract my fingers from my mouth. Nail biting is a habit I’m trying hard to break now that I’m in college. I glance down at my stubby nails and cringe. I guess I’m not doing a great job.

The girl on stage strums her guitar loudly and belts out a note in
a way that makes me wince.   Lola flashes me an amused look, but it only succeeds in turning my stomach. I lean forward, resting my elbows on the slick pub table we’re seated at. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“Oh, come on. You are a million times better than this girl.”

“That’s not saying much.”

“Trust me, you’re gonna blow this place out of the water.” Lola plucks the cup of soda off the table and takes a dainty sip. Everything about Lola is dainty from her French manicured nails, to her coifed black hair and her ruby red lipstick. She always reminds me of an actress from the 1950’s.
I rub my lightly glossed lips together, tuck a strand of my straight brown hair behind my ears, and glance down at my short nails that haven't been painted in years. Maybe I should finally let Lola give me that makeover she's always threatening me with. “You are so much more talented than you give yourself credit for.”

That’s the reason Lola has been my best friend for so long. She believes in me in a way that no one else does. And she’s always encouraging me to put myself out there. Even though it infuri
ates me sometimes, the truth is, that I’m grateful to her. However, at this moment I’m terrified. We’ve only been on campus for a week, and she’s already talked me into performing at open mic night at a popular coffee shop. The place is jam packed with people, and every time a new person enters the room my insides are attacked by another swarm of angry butterflies.

“Ooh, you’re up next,” Lola squeals, her eyes dancing with excitement.

Goodie.
My palms fill with more moisture and I feel dangerously close to puking.  When my name is called, I throw Lola a pained look and force my legs to carry me up on the makeshift stage. Peering down at my long shirt, skinny jeans and ballet flats, I’m grateful that I’m not wearing heels. Since I’m only five foot four, I tend to wear high heels a lot. But judging by how violently my legs are shaking, I’m pretty sure if I weren’t wearing my flats I’d be face down on the ground by now. Thankfully I make it to the stage and I plop down at the keyboard.  With shaky fingers I pull the microphone to my lips and rest my fingers on the keys. I take a deep breath to steady my nerves, and I don’t dare look out at the room. If I just pretend I’m alone in my room singing I should be okay. I love to sing and play. It’s probably my favorite thing in the world to do, but performing is something I’m still not comfortable with.

I decide
to play a song I wrote a couple of years ago for my ex-boyfriend Spencer. It’s one I’ve sang so many times I could probably sing it in my sleep, so I figure it’s a safe bet. Even if I completely blank out I won’t forget the lyrics or anything. When I press down on the first key, I close my eyes and allow my mind to drown out the room. I focus on the music, letting the lyrics and notes whisk me away. As I splash around in the waves of the song, eventually I go under, drowning in it.

I want you close

I want you here

I feel complete

When you are near

After playing the last chord, I finally
come out of my trance and open my eyes, taking in the room. The first person I notice is Lola, and she’s beaming up at me. The room has quieted down and all eyes seem to be on me. This causes my heart to start beating frantically in my chest. I stand up, and a smattering of applause ensues.

Swallowing hard, I take d
eliberate steps off the stage, keeping my eyes trained on the ground. Before I can reach my table, a guy about my age intercepts me. He has brown hair that falls a little past his ears in a sweep that reminds me of the typical look of the members of boy bands. His eyes are dark and the lines around them crinkle as he smiles at me.

“Hey, you were pretty great up there,” he says.

I bite my lip, heat creeping up into my cheeks. “Thanks.”

“I’m
Ryker.” He juts out a hand to mine.

After swiping my sweaty hand over the thigh of my jeans
, I hold my hand out too. “Star.”

“I like it.” He cocks an eyebrow.

“I’m Lola,” my friend calls out from where she is seated at our table. “Why don’t you join us, Ryker?” Lola indicates the extra chair at our small table.

Ryker smiles
as he plops down into the chair. “Don’t mind if I do.”

I slide into the chair opposite him and glance over at Lola. She’s grinning from ear to ear, and I know exactly what she’s thinking. It turns my stomach. I’m so not ready to get back in the dating game. I just got out of a two
-year relationship, and by that I mean I got dumped big time by the only boy I’ve ever loved. Honestly, I thought that Spencer was the one. Clearly I was wrong, but the thought of jumping into another relationship right now does not sound appealing.

Lola nudges me and I glance back over at Ryker. I suppose he’s pretty cute, but I’m not sure he’s really my type. In truth
, he looks more like Lola’s type with his trendy outfit and hair style that he clearly put a lot of effort into.

Th
e next performer starts playing, so Ryker leans toward me. “I’m in a band and we’re looking for a female singer. I think you’d be perfect.”

This perks my interest. “Like a lead singer?” I’m not sure I’m ready to be the front runner of a band. I could hardly get through open mic night without emptying the contents of my stomach on stage.

“No, we have a lead singer. We’re looking for kind of a backup singer, I guess. But there would be plenty of opportunities to feature one of your songs if you wanted to,” Ryker explains.

I shift uncomfortably in my seat. “I don’t know. I’ve never really been in a band before.”

“Why not? You’re amazing,” Ryker gushes.

Lola elbows me in the side. “I’ve been telling her that for years.”

Ryker peers over at Lola and raises his eyebrows. I recognize that look. Pretty much every guy I meet is attracted to Lola. It’s almost impossible not to be. “Smart friend.”

“You have no idea,” she jokes, running a finger over the rim of her glass.

“Thanks for the offer, Ryker, but I’m just not sure about it.” I look to Lola for some help. Surely she won’t want me to join a band with a complete stranger. For all I know he could be a serial killer.


Why don’t you give us your information and Star can give you a call to discuss it further?” Lola asks.

Ryker grins, pushing away from the table. “Great. I’ll be right back.”

I glare at Lola, who just shrugs her shoulders in response.

“I’m not joining his band,” I hiss over the loud music blaring from onstage.

“Why not?” Lola runs a long fingernail through her shiny hair.

“I don’t know anything about the guy. I don’t even know the name of his band. What if he doesn’t even have a band?” Panic chokes me at the thought.

Lola just laughs and waves away my words with a graceful flick of her wrist. “Did you see the guy? He screams ‘boy band’. But finding out if his story is legit will be easy enough.”

I have no idea what she’s talking about, but Ryker reappears before I can ask her. He shoves a piece of paper at me.  I glance down and see a phone number and
address scrawled on it. “Whose address is this?”

“Our lead singer,” Ryker s
ays. “We practice in his parents’ garage.”

Seriously?
I am so not showing up at some stranger’s house. This is getting even more suspicious. I throw Lola a cautionary look, and she grimaces back. Finally she’s on my side.

“We’re practicing tomorrow night at seven. You should come and jam with us.” Ryker rolls his shoulders.

I open my mouth to tell him no thank you, but I clamp my mouth shut as my gaze takes in the guy walking on the stage. He’s quite possibly the best looking guy I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but he walks with a swagger that causes everyone to stop and take notice. He has a guitar slung over his shoulder. He's wearing skinny jeans, boots and a black short-sleeved shirt that shows off the intricate tattoo that covers one of his arms. His dark hair is short, and when he smiles at the crowd it causes my heart to flip in my chest. He begins playing, and I’m mesmerized. When he opens his mouth to sing, I freeze. His voice is incredible – raspy, yet controlled in a way that most guys can’t master. I’m completely entranced with him.

“Who is he?” I breathe, mostly to myself, but Ryker must hear me because he turns in my direction.

“That’s Beckett. He’s the lead singer in ou
r band. That’s why it’s called ‘Beckett.’ He has a bit of an ego.” Ryker chuckles lightly before sitting back in his chair.

I exhale and stare up at the stage. This guy is the leader of the band Ryker wants me to join? I sit still during the remainder of Beckett’s song, unable to tear my eyes away from him. When he finishes, the crowd erupts into clapping and I turn to Ryker with a smile.

“I’ll be there tomorrow night,” I say, my mind made up. 

 

Last night I was so certain about this. Of course I think that had everything to do with seeing Beckett up on stage. I've never been so taken with someone at first glance. However, now as I pull up in front of a complete stranger's house I'm having second thoughts. The house is nice and clean with its blue trim and white shuttered windows, and the lawn is well manicured. But that does little to quell my nerves. I've watched enough crime dramas to know that even serial killers live in pretty houses in nice neighborhoods. Besides, this is just Beckett's parents' house. I have no idea what all the guys in the band are like, and that's who I'll be with, and in the garage no less.

"Hey, you gonna stand out here all day?" Ryker walks toward me, his hands shoved into his pockets.

I jump back, wondering where he came from. "Um, no, I just um...you know...wanted to make sure it was the right house. Which I now see that it is."

Ryker flashes me an amused smile and lightly taps me on the arm. "Come on. I'll introduce you to Beckett."

Just the sound of his name causes my pulse to race. Taking a deep breath, I follow behind Ryker. He ambles over to a box built into the house directly next to the garage. After punching in a few numbers on it, the garage door opens loudly. Inside I can see instruments set up - there's a drum set, a keyboard and guitars resting on stands strewn about. Just as I step inside, a door to the house pops open and Beckett walks through it clutching a bottle of water. I've never wanted to be an inanimate object before, but taking in the way his fingers curl around the sweating bottle I feel a sense of jealousy.

"Hey, Ryker." Beckett nods his head in Ryker's direction as the door slams shut behind him. "The other guys are inside getting a drink. They'll be out in a minute."

I shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Beckett hasn't even acknowledged my presence, and last I checked I wasn't invisible. It bothers me, and for a minute I wonder if this was a mistake.

BOOK: Star Struck
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