Prologue

Fame isn’t as glamorous as people might think. Sure, there’s wealth and notoriety and adoration and access to whatever a person might want. Things like luxury jets, lots of sex, alcohol and drugs if that’s your thing, lavish vacations to places most people have never even heard of, and an overabundance of friends ready and waiting on the receiving end of whatever your lifestyle has to offer.

            But no one talks about the downside.

The adrenaline rushes that keep your heart in a perpetual state of near-attack from excessive beats that will probably wear it out before the age of fifty. The constant fog of exhaustion that hovers over your head from lack of sleep. The ever-present vertigo from not remembering what area of the country you’re currently in. The persistent soreness from being tugged on, pulled on, yelled at. The resentful family back home who remain perpetually unhappy because you don’t have time to visit.

Sure, fame is fun…fame is exhilarating. But it isn’t entirely what I imagined it would be.

My name is Cory Minor, and according to People Magazine I’m currently the most sought-after man in America.

I never dreamed I’d feel so isolated.

I never dreamed I’d have so much regret.

I never dreamed fame wouldn’t fix all my mistakes.

  

Chapter 1

Cory

My past just caught up to me, because for one careless second I forgot to run.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

How the heck did I forget we were here?

It was the masking tape that reminded me. The masking tape that put me in an instant foul mood. I stomp backstage and hand off my guitar to a member of the crew and drain a water bottle in two long swallows, then pull the sweaty black tee over my head and run a towel across my chest. I need a shirt, and fast. Intermission lasts ten minutes, and I need to sit and calm down while I can. The last thing the crowd needs is for me to act pissed off for reasons they can’t control.

Springfield, Missouri.

            I give the room a great big eye roll and collapse into a leather chair. Leaning my head back, I alternately replay the first half of the show and try hard not to. I need a minute to clear my muddled head, a minute to come back down to earth and rid myself of the tension and dread that have enveloped me for the last half-hour. Blinking up at the ceiling, I wait for the feeling to pass. Wait a little more.

            It doesn’t happen.

            The moment I spotted that tape on the floor I nearly came undone, right there onstage and in front of everyone. Before each concert, a crew member tapes a strip to the floor behind a speaker. On it, our location is written in bold black marker so that I can shout the correct name of the town to the audience. “We love you, Seattle! You’re my favorite, San Antonio!” Blurting out the wrong city never goes over well. When you live out of a suitcase, when you wake up in a different place every day, it can sometimes be difficult to keep them all straight.

            Tonight I forgot. Or blocked it out, whichever. I wasn’t prepared for the pain that rammed my gut when I read the name.

            Springfield is my hometown.

            I hate everything about it.

For reasons that belong only to me, I haven’t been back in a decade.

Thank God we’re leaving tonight. From now on if we need to perform in Missouri, I’ll agree to St. Louis and nothing else. No discussion. Springfield won’t make the list again.

“One minute, Cory,” my manager says. I barely register his yellow tie and pink dress shirt, though both look terrible together. I just hold up a finger in a hang on and close my eyes. Sal has been with me since the beginning. He’s eccentric in dress and slightly odd in  personality, but he knows me better than almost anyone. The me I am today, at least. He doesn’t know anything about the Cory who ran from this city almost ten years ago.

And he never needs to.

“Put this on and get back onstage,” Sal says. A clean black t-shirt lands on my face like I knew it would. I sit up with a groan. The shirt is over my head in two seconds and I’m walking up the stairs in four. Time to shake it off. Time to smile. Time to start the second half of this show and make it better than the first. Time to check off my to-do list like a robot if that’s what it takes to get through the rest of the night.

Get onstage.

Grab your guitar.

Pull the strap over your shoulder.

Bring it around your waist.

Strum a couple chords.

Forget where you are.

Look at the audience.

Breathe.

And that’s when I see her.

Be sure to get your copy tomorrow!

amy matayo signature