Loving Dallas - Caisey Quinn

Prologue | Dallas

THE AIRPORT IS ABOUT AS CROWDED AS I EXPECT HELL TO BE WHEN I get there. Everyone’s either on their phone or eating or staring up at the electronic flight schedules. A few moms scream at their kids to stay the fuck where they are and not move. Even one who has hers on a leash attached to a teddy bear backpack. Christ. Why would anyone travel with these tiny gremlins?

My phone buzzes with a text from my manager.

See you in Omaha! Safe travels, Superstar!

I stare at it for a full minute. This is it. I’m joining an actual tour paid for by someone other than myself. And if all goes well, a record deal will follow.

“We’re now boarding passengers in groups one and two; that includes all first-class passengers and those of you in our Elite and Platinum Traveler Rewards programs.”

The overhead announcement is at my gate so I take my place in line toward the back with the other folks in coach. An attractive brunette with a microphone to her mouth makes eye contact as she rattles off more of the flight information. I tip my cowboy hat at her.

My pulse amps up with each step closer to the sky bridge that connects the building to the plane. Just as my turn to hand over my ticket comes, I step out of line in a moment of panic. Groups three and four come and go. I watch as everyone else says their goodbyes and boards the plane.

My granddad used to say that there are times in a man’s life when he has to make hard decisions. Might be choosing between two good things, or picking the lesser of two evils, he’d say. When the time comes, it isn’t always the choice itself that matters so much as the ability to make it and more important, to stand behind it and commit to it. For better or worse your choices are yours and you have to own them. It’s what makes you a man, he’d say.

“Sir? Will you be flying with us today?” The brunette reaches for my boarding pass.

I check my phone again. The last text message from my sister says that yes, she is fine, stop worrying and go live my dream already. But I can still hear my father’s voice in my head, reminding me that I’m supposed to take care of her. I should be home, looking out for her, making sure she’s safe and sound and has everything she needs.

My mind and heart engage in an all-out war. Turn tail and head home to my sister and my best friend—to the band I abandoned—or get on this plane and leave them behind.

“Sir?” The flight attendant looks less interested and more irritated than before.

Handing over my boarding pass, I adjust the guitar on my back and take the first step toward a neon dream I’ve been chasing for as long as I can remember.

I knew I’d get here one day—I just didn’t expect to be alone.

1 | Dallas

THIRTY-SIX CITIES BLURRED BY ME SO QUICKLY I FELT LIKE I’D BEEN on a six-week drinking binge. I’d busted my ass on stage after stage and it had been worth it. Or at least I hope it was. Technically I’m still waiting to hear if I’ve been officially signed by Capitol Records.

After the final show in Atlanta, I grab a beer with Afton Tate, another artist on the tour who’s become a pretty good buddy. He settles onto the stool beside me in the Porter Beer Bar—a place in Little Five Points that he suggested because it supposedly has fantastic beer. The sleek steel and exposed brick combined with the relaxed vibe is welcoming and I make a note to remember this place. Mumford & Sons can barely be heard over the din of first dates and groups of twenty-somethings surrounding us.

“To finishing one hell of a tour,” I say, lifting my amber-filled glass in Tate’s direction.

“To whatever the hell comes next,” he says with a grin.

I take a long pull of the lager I ordered and am thankful that he was right about the beer. Tate laughs lightly as an attractive brunette wedging her way to the bar to order a drink bumps my elbow accidentally. Or maybe accidentally on purpose.

I smile and tip my chin at her and she smiles back with interest gleaming in whiskey-colored eyes. Her rectangular framed glasses are cute and her face is pretty, but she’s a little vanilla for me.