The Rock Star’s Fake Fiancee - Kenzie Reed
“Failure is not an option.” My voice only wavers a little bit as I inspect my reflection in my compact mirror.
I’m standing in the bathroom stall of Henny’s Hoedown. My wavy brown hair is stuffed under a shiny, shoulder-length blue wig. The planes of my face are blurred with contouring makeup, which has also erased my freckles. As added insurance, I have a big pair of wraparound mirrored sunglasses, to obscure as much of my features as possible.
I can do this. I have to do this. I need to get close enough to Heat Lightning to ask their lead singer a very important question, and that’s not easy to do these days. They’re the hottest Southern rock band in the country, and they’re constantly surrounded by security.
The thought of what I’m about to attempt has my stomach turning to water. It involves lying, and sneaking, and shenanigans. If my mama ever finds out, she’ll fall over and die. Then she’ll come back from the dead and wallop me upside the head with her giant purse, and that thing hurts. I think she carries bricks in there. Then she’ll die again.
But it’s for her sake that I need to do this.
I glance down at my outfit, which completes my disguise. I look like every other Heat Lighting fan, with my Heat Lightning T-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. I’ve even accessorized with lightning bolt earrings. It isn’t my rocker-chick garb that’s going to get me close to them, though.
It’s the fake press pass I have tucked in my purse.
The band is giving the press a tour of their recording studio, in preparation for the release of their new single “The Heart Knows”. This will be my ticket in. For the next hour or so, I’m no longer Callie Abernathy, assistant manager of her family’s historic hotel. I’m no longer the good daughter, the one who dresses modestly and never swears, lies, or embarrasses her family.
I’m Maureen Mitchell, reporter for the—nonexistent—Take Note music blog.
I suck in a deep breath, grimacing at the taste of Lysol in the air. The press tour will be starting soon, and the studio is two blocks away. I need to get going. If only my legs would cooperate.
“You can do this,” I say desperately. “Failure is not an option!”
“Is that girl in the stall talking to herself?” a loud female voice squawks. “What did she just say?”
“Something about being a failure? Weirdo.” I can hear the sneer in the woman’s voice.
Oh, great. Now I have company. Nasty, snipey company. Peering through the crack where the stall door meets the frame, I can just make out two women with their backs to me, facing the mirror on the other side of the room. And my legs absolutely won’t move. I try to will my arm to reach out and open the stall door. My arm, which apparently wants no part of this charade, lies limply by my side.
My cell phone chimes softly, with the alert I set. I really need to leave now. The press conference is starting in fifteen minutes. I’m never late. My anxiety ratchets up another notch.
I’d do some deep-breathing exercises, but the idea of inhaling any more of the chemical-scented bathroom air than is strictly necessary makes me more anxious, not less. I’m a germaphobe even under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances.
A loud, nasal voice jabs against my eardrums. “So, how long do you think it will take you to get into Sebastian’s pants, you lucky bitch?”
Instant and irrational rage floods my veins and makes my legs shake.
“I’d give it an hour tops.” Lucky Bitch’s voice is a bored drawl. “And that’s if I’m off my game.” I peer through the crack in the door frame; it’s the taller woman speaking.
“God, what I wouldn’t give to just kiss him,” Bitch Number 2 moans. “He has the sexiest mouth. I wonder what he kisses like?”
Like a dream.
My mind flashes back to the summer of my eighteenth birthday.
I was working at my family’s hotel, helping them host weddings, which are still our biggest draw. Sebastian Monroe, locally famous rock star who was about to break out in a big way, was working construction in Swampy Bottom county. And he was secretly my boyfriend.
Me, boring little Callie Abernathy. With my freckles and glasses. Dating a man who was twenty whole years old, whose posters I’d been plastering all over my bedroom for the past year.
And he loved me. He totally, obviously