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The foundation series bo.., p.36
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.36

           Kira Adams

  Four: What Happened to Us Against the World?


  “What is all of that?” I ask my assistant Chenise as I descend the stairs of my home in the Hollywood Hills.

  She is sitting on the leather sofa in my living room, three big boxes piled in front of her. “Fan letters,” she says, sighing. By the looks of it, she’s been sifting through them for a while, but she isn’t making the greatest headway.

  “Seriously?” I ask as I plop down in the black leather chair across from her. “Are they for me?”

  She laughs like I’ve asked a dumb question. “What? Of course they’re all for you. People love Fenton!”

  I can’t help the smile that tugs at the corners of my mouth. “What’s that pile?” I motion with my head.

  She looks down at her feet. “The people requesting autographs.”

  I nod. “And that one?”

  “The people proposing.”

  I choke on my surprise. “And what about that one?” My head tilts toward the third and final pile, one much smaller than the rest.

  Her eyes shift around nervously. “Those are the death threats.”

  “What?” I gasp, jumping up and stalking over to them.

  “Jace, I don’t think you should…” she trails off as I grab the first letter off the top, bringing it to my eyes. My eyes bulge as I read the threatening words off the page.

  I’m going to kill you and your fugly co-star, Angelica. You think you’re so much better than the rest of us out here? Well I’ve got news for you—you’re nothing! It won’t be easy, but I’ll find you, and when I do, I’ll slit both your throats. You may want to start sleeping with one eye open.

  I drop the letter, disgusted. “Who wrote this?”

  Chenise’s facial expression softens. “An inmate at Bayview Correctional Facility.”

  “Don’t stress about it, Jace,” Chenise says softly. “Most of these are simply empty threats.”

  “And what if they aren’t?” I exclaim angrily. “What then?”

  Her face falls and I instantly feel guilty. “I’m sorry,” I mumble, rubbing my face with my hand and then making my way back to my chair. I plop down in it defeated. “I’m not used to this.”

  She inhales loudly, dropping the letter in her hand. “No one expects you to be. It’s been one hell of a transition. It must not have been easy on you.”

  I look back at her, forcing a small smile on my face. “I think it’s time we hired some security.”

  Her eyes widen at my suggestion. “I think that’s a really good idea.”

  “Can you set that up?” I ask as I rub my hands together anxiously.

  She nods. “No problem.”

  “Alright, cool.” I stand rubbing my hand through my short hair. “I’m going to go shower and pack.”

  She nods silently, watching me as I forgo my normal coffee, and ascend back up the stairs.

  The promotional tour for Fortitude starts tomorrow, but I have to catch my flight tonight. Just like the first movie, the cast will be traveling through Europe, and while I’m excited to spend time with my co-stars and explore Europe further, the life threatening letter has me on edge.

  When you imagine fame, you only imagine the good parts: money, notoriety, special benefits. You don’t think of the downside to it. I’m not sure I’m made out for this. The one person I’ve always had rooting for me, the one person I’ve always had pushing me, isn’t here.

  I grab my cell from the dresser and scroll to the photo album, looking at the happier times between Peyton and me. We look happy, but more importantly, we look in love. I don’t know that I’ll ever find that again with anyone else. I’m not sure that I want to. Opening yourself up to that kind of extreme love, while also being vulnerable to someone has never been my strong suit. It makes me nervous knowing someone else could carry my heart in their hand with the power to protect it or crush it.

  Some days I wish things were simpler. I wish I were still a small town guy in love with a small town girl. Unfortunately, I know things can never go back to the way they were.

  Most people would die for the opportunities I’ve been handed. And while I don’t take any of them for granted, I still wish it were simpler.

  My screen goes black and I set my phone down, sighing. What happened to us against the world?

  * * *

  We landed in France last night, and have been on the go ever since. We’ve had five separate press meetings to go to around Paris today, and currently we are at our last stop. Tomorrow we head to England.

  There are thousands upon thousands of people. It’s difficult enough making our way to and from places without getting mobbed, and it’s even more difficult choosing reporters out of the crowd to answer questions for. I am so thankful we have security.

  “Jace! Jace!” I hear multiple people shouting my name in thick accents.

  “Yes, sir, you in the green,” our spokesperson chooses.

  “Thank you,” the reporter says quickly before turning his attention to me. He has slicked black hair and dark brown eyes. “At the end of Valor, Fenton’s future hung in the balance. What can you tell us about Fortitude?”

  I smile, baring my teeth. “I have to be careful what I say. They’d kill me if I gave anything away, but what I can say is Fenton is a fighter, like you saw in Valor. He won’t give up. When the movie begins, things are not necessarily going his way, but there are going to be quite a few twists and turns that may shock people.”

  The reporter is jotting down notes on his notepad when someone else is called upon to ask a question. It is a mousy looking female with stringy blond hair and a petite frame. “So we know the Strategic Arms series was signed on for a trilogy, but there are rumors going on that the third movie, Duel is going to be split into two parts. Can you confirm that?”

  All eyes fall on our director, Tim. “We have been in talks about that, yes. Right now, there is a good possibility we will need to do so because of the length.”

  The crowd gets loud again as they allow another reporter the opportunity to address our panel. “So now that you and Angelica are broken up, does that make it difficult having to continuously see one another during filming?”

  Angelica and I exchange worried glances before our representative steps in. “Only questions pertaining to the series will be addressed.” They gave this notice and warning originally, but this isn’t the first time we have had to field such questions, and it won’t be the last.

  “Alright, last question.”

  A stocky, older gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair and goatee stands. “So you mentioned twists and turns—in the book, Fenton and Arlington have a complete role reversal. Will we get to witness this in the Fortitude storyline?”

  Tyrone and I exchange amused looks, unsure of who should take point. “Do you want to take this, or me?”

  Tim speaks up, surprising us both. “Yes, you will definitely see that, but what the audience will also see is an in depth look of how this reversal affects the woman they both love, and people are going to be surprised.”

  “Thank you for all the questions. That will be all,” our spokesperson says.

  People are shouting out questions and snapping pictures madly as we are escorted back to the press vehicles.

  “Jace! Jace!” People are chasing after us wildly, attempting to command our attention. “Can I get a picture?”

  I stop walking abruptly to take a few pictures and sign a few autographs before being herded off.

  There is a group of thousands of people surrounding our vehicles and multiple police escorts holding them back. It’s not the first time I’ve been through this, but it still feels foreign to me. When I see people crying over seeing me in person, I feel weird. I’m just a normal guy. But to them, I’m something else, much more intimate. Once you become famous, people start to feel as though they know you in some way. You become an acquaintance, a friend, and in most cases, a fantasy.

  My head falls back onto
the leather headrest in the SUV, and I close my eyes.

  “Well, that was the last stop,” Chenise says softly from beside me.

  My eyes remain closed, but I say “Yep, and I get to do it all over again tomorrow.”

  I can feel her eyes on me, studying my every move. I’m too exhausted from the jet lag and intensive day to worry too much about it. I drift off with little to no effort within minutes.

  Five: I Feel Like I’ve Just Gotten out of the Boxing Ring; More Battered and Broken than When I Walked in


  © 2015 DarienMae

  You blinded me

  I never knew

  I had no clue

  I never knew

  I never knew

  Who you really were

  You blinded me, you blinded me, you blinded me I couldn’t see

  Hard to believe, hard to believe, hard to believe your true identity

  You blinded me, you blinded me, you blinded me I couldn’t see

  Hard to believe, hard to believe, hard to believe your true identity

  I – You, you left me so blind

  I never knew

  Who you really were

  I can’t believe, I can’t believe, I can’t believe I didn’t see

  All the lies, all the lies, all the lies you always fed me

  I can’t believe, I can’t believe, I can’t believe I didn’t see

  All the lies, all the lies, all the lies you always fed me

  I – I had no clue

  I never knew

  You – you left me so blind


  “Can you do that same part again, but this time with double the energy?” Luis speaks into the mic.

  I’m in the soundproof booth at the studio, recording my parts. Everyone else has gotten in and out with no issues, but I feel as though something just isn’t clicking. After a few more failed attempts, Luis calls me out of the booth.

  “What’s going on with you, Peyton?” he asks, his tone more concerned than upset.

  I sigh, my shoulders slouching in defeat. “I’m sorry.”

  “Are you just not feeling it or what?” he presses. I shake my head. We’ve been trying to get the vocals down for On Tour, and it’s just not working for me.

  He steps away from the sound board and grabs his acoustic guitar, sitting back down. “I think you need a creative release,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows at me.

  “What does that mean?” I ask, intrigued.

  He begins turning his guitar. “Let’s jam for a little bit.”

  My eyes widen. “You want to write a song together?”

  He shrugs. “Yeah, why not? I’m going to play something and how about you just sing whatever comes to you?”

  I exhale loudly. “I don’t know…I mean, Noah and I normally do all of our songwriting together.”

  Luis chuckles, plucking the strings slowly, yet deliberately. “This doesn’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want it to. It can just be two musicians messing around.”

  His words calm my nerves, and before I know it, I’m humming a melody.

  “There ya go,” he says encouragingly.

  It’s the strangest feeling, but suddenly, it’s as if I’ve had the words inside me all along. They’ve just been waiting for the right time to come out.

  You really had me fooled

  All the right moves

  I never could have known

  Stripped me to the bone

  Stripped me to the bone

  Luis exhales, surprised. “You want to try it again?” he asks.

  I nod before I sing the same words. Only this time there is more conviction, more emotion. I don’t even realize the few tears that have escaped out of the corner of my eye and are silently trailing down my cheek.

  Luis stops playing, staring back at me with a pained expression. “Do you need to stop?”

  I meet his gaze and shake my head, and I mean it.

  “What if I asked if this had anything to do with Jerkface?” Although he went there, his facial expression tells me he is still treading lightly.

  I break his gaze, looking away “What if I tell you it’s none of your business?”

  He chuckles. “Ouch, feisty one you are. Alright then, carry on.” He begins strumming, and the words continue to flow out of me like a stream.

  I had no idea I would be going in to record vocals today, and instead be writing a song about Jace. It feels strange, but it feels like closure.

  * * *

  I’ve been on a high since Luis and I messed around in the studio the other night. The song we wrote together was the easiest, yet most difficult thing I have ever created. We were both feeling it so much that we ended up recording an acoustic version of it.

  Although the song makes me want to curl up into a tiny little ball and cry my eyes out every time I hear it, I’ve been listening to it on my phone repeatedly since that session.

  We both knew that there was so much more to the song than we had originally given it credit for, and after a couple of days of letting it sink in, we both know what we have to do. Luis calls a meeting with the entire band regarding the EP.

  “Do you know what this is about?” Madison asks Brooklyn just as Luis enters the studio. Everyone becomes overly quiet.

  “Hey guys, how ya doing today?” Luis greets everyone.

  The band mumbles their responses before he takes charge of the conversation. “Look, as you know, we’ve been working on the EP now for close to two weeks, and it’s coming along really well…” he pauses, glancing around. “However, one of the songs just wasn’t working, and that is why I’ve invited you all here tonight.” Madison, Brooklyn, Harper, and even the guys are exchanging confused looks.

  “As much as we all love On Tour, I am going to make the executive decision to axe it off the EP in hopes of creating the strongest product we possibly can. Which brings me to my next point, I have something I’d like you all to listen to.” He walks over to the sound board and presses a few buttons.

  My feelings are all over the place: I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m anxious, I’m conflicted. I have no idea what they are going to think about the song, let alone the fact that they had nothing to do with writing it. I’m most nervous about Noah’s reaction.

  My voice comes out over the loud speakers, and I train my eyes on the ground, scooting my foot around nervously.

  The room remains quiet until the last note is played.

  I hear Luis switch off the track, and the thumping of my own heart in my chest. “Now before you all say anything, I know it’s a departure from your regular sound and genre of music…but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I get a Paramore, Rocket Summer, and even Chiodos vibe from it.”

  No one speaks for a moment, and I’m positive they all hate it, when Harper finally chimes in. “I love it.”

  My eyes fly up locking with hers. “You do?”

  She nods, grinning. “It’s vulnerable, real, raw, and gritty. I’m already envisioning the covers there will be of it.”

  I break into a wide grin. She hit the nail right on the head.

  “Obviously it’s not going to be acoustic, and you will all get your chance to get in there and put your own flare on it, but what does everyone else think?”

  My bandmates share silent stares before Brooklyn glances over at Luis. “I like it. I mean, it’s already stuck in my head. That can only be a good thing, right?”

  Madison nods in agreement. “I can’t wait to get my hands on the track.”

  My eyes lock onto Noah’s. He’s the person I’m looking for approval from most. “Noah?”

  He leans back, rubbing his face. “Am I happy I wasn’t part of the writing process? No.” My heart sinks. “But I’d be fooling myself to think that the song isn’t going to be a hit.”

  My heart flutters inside my chest. “So you approve?”

  He nods stiffly. “You’ve got my vote.”

  Luis slaps his hands toget
her excitedly, rubbing them back and forth. “Great because Stripped to the Bone is going to be the single.”

  I freeze, frozen in fear. I know how much I love the song, but if it’s our single, that means the label is going to press to get it air play…and if it gets air play, that means he’s going to eventually hear it.

  I think I may need a drink after this.

  * * *

  “So, you’re really not mad at me?” I ask Noah as we exit the building.

  He looks over at me, and then scoffs. “No way. I’m not an asshole.”

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