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All Stars Fall (Seaside Pictures #3.5)
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken…
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Trevor, May 2007
Adrenaline World Tour
“We sold out three nights in a row.” Our manager Dick, who I often called Dick for other reasons, did a little jig in his cowboy boots. He was probably dreaming of dollar signs and prostitutes.
I gripped my drumsticks in my hands and waited for the crowd to die down. My only job was to keep the beat, sing, and look sexy with my shirt off.
It was in my contract.
The same one Dick had been convinced was the best contract he’d ever seen. We were offered a ridiculous amount of money to do something we loved. We were living the teen dream.
Except it was getting really old.
We’d been on and off tour for eight years. I was pulled from middle school, never went to high school, and my first experience with drugs was at twelve.
“Listen up, boys—”
Oh good, another speech. Because that was what a rowdy group of twenty-one-year-olds wanted. Lectures.
“I didn’t want to say this before, but the record company wants another album.”
I suppressed my groan, locking eyes with my bandmates; each of them paled a bit.
We just wanted to go home.
The problem was, we’d never really had one.
A tour bus.
That’s what we called home.
We had enough money to buy shit. We just didn’t have enough time to spend it or lay down roots.
Hell, staying home on a Saturday night sounded like gold.
“By your excited expressions I can tell we’ll need to talk more.” His voice was grim. He rubbed his hands together. “Get out there and kick some ass. And, Trevor?”
I stopped in my tracks and waited.
“We have a few groupies hanging backstage tonight—you need to be there, none of this ‘I have a headache’ bullshit. You’re in this now, you know what your contract says. Play nice or don’t play at all.”
I’d heard it a million times.
I gave him a firm nod while flipping him off in my head and made my way on stage.
I was first. Always first. I played drums for half the time then swapped with Ty so that the girls could see my six pack and watch me croon into the microphone while sweat dripped off my chin.
The screams were deafening, the lights so hot I was already sweating.
I held up both drumsticks in the air. And perfect silence ensued.
Boys pretending we were men, that’s what we were.
With too much money. Too much power.
A bra found its way near my feet.
With a smirk I knelt down and picked it up with my drumstick, then flipped it back toward the crowd, my white T-shirt following like it always did, and I made the walk to my set.
The girls’ screams pierced my ears as I sat and held my sticks high while the rest of my guys joined me on stage. We were the first boy band to actually play our own instruments. We did it all. Ty made his way on stage next, in nothing but ripped jeans and a red tank, ink covering his chest the way it swirled up and down my arms. And then there was Will, perfect golden boy Will, the product of movie-star good looks and a heart full of gold. He flashed his smile across the crowd, and Drew followed last. Always last, the brooder.
We each had our role.
God, I hated it.
We played our set.
And I realized then I’d lost something, something valuable. At twenty-one, I resented what had made me feel the most alive for my entire life—music.
I slammed my sticks over my thigh after our final song and made my way backstage, nearly colliding with a stagehand before barreling into a woman.
“Shit.” I gripped her by the shoulders. “Sorry, I wasn’t watching where—”
Her light blue eyes blinked up at me wide and expectant. Her short cropped jet black hair only made me stare harder. She was beautiful. And familiar. “Are you—”
“Josephine Shannon, but everyone calls me Josie.” She held out her hand and smiled a confident smile I felt all the way to my toes.
Without a second thought, I grabbed her hand and pulled her against me. “Josephine Shannon, I’m going to marry you.”
And just like that, my life clicked back into place.
Present Day Seaside, Oregon
It was a mistake.
I didn’t say it out loud, just thought it over and over again during my hellishly long drive from Cunningham Falls to Seaside, Oregon, of all places. My cousin Dani said it was a great place to relocate and that it was basically impossible to be depressed around a giant sandbox.
But the minute I stepped foot out of my car, I realized.
You can’t just leave your past and pray it stays there. No, it follows just like baggage can’t help but exist. I had no good reason to leave other than I felt like every single friend I had grown up with or met recently was finally settling down, it seemed like I was the only one still struggling to find my purpose, my adventure. It wasn’t the best reason to move several states away but it was all I had.