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The foundation series bo.., p.38
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.38

           Kira Adams

  I follow her instructions, carefully placing the cloth napkin atop my lap. “Did you find the place okay?” she asks.

  I nod. “GPS is a lifesaver.”

  She chuckles at my comment, and then places a recorder in between us both. “Did Luis schedule you any more interviews in town before you head back home?” Catherine asks curiously.

  I nod. “He has me doing the rounds.”

  I hear a scuffle outside the front door of the restaurant and notice a gaggle of paparazzi all standing at the window, the flashes of their cameras going off simultaneously. I glance around the restaurant, looking for a familiar face that they might be tailing…but I don’t recognize anyone.

  “Oh my goodness, you are adorable!” Catherine gushes, taking a sip of her water. “Darling, they aren’t here for me. This is all you.”

  My stomach drops and I suddenly feel light-headed. Is this what I am going to have to look forward to from now on?

  “Are you ready to get started?” Catherine asks, readying the tape recorder. I nod timidly.

  “Well, first of all, I just have to tell you how delighted I am to meet you. The first time I heard Stripped, I just knew it was going to be a hit. You know they are comparing you to Adele after that, right?”

  My mouth drops open. “Adele?” I basically choke on my own saliva. Adele is one of the best singers of my generation. A compliment like that doesn’t just come out of nowhere.

  She nods enthusiastically. “Have you even checked out the covers people are doing of your song?”

  I shake my head. Maybe I have been too preoccupied with my own little world to notice just how much of an impact the song has been making.

  “I’m sorry, I just have to show you this before we start…some of these are incredible. You are going to thank me later for this.” Catherine pulls out her iPhone from her pocket, swiping the screen to unlock it with her preset pattern. Once the screen is visible, she quickly hops onto YouTube and searches for Stripped Me to the Bone. There are over 100 results, and the first page shows videos with over 25,000 to 100,000 views on them.

  “That’s amazing,” I say, semi in shock. I cannot believe my song resonated so deeply with all of these people.

  After Catherine plays me a handful of covers she finally slips her phone back into her pocket and resumes the interview.

  “So, we know that Origins is going to be A Change in Time’s debut album, but how long have you been singing?”

  I sigh, running my hand through my hair. “Since I could talk. My mom used to joke I came out of the womb singing.”

  Catherine’s eyebrows raise up. “Where have you been hiding?”

  I shrug, uncomfortable. “I’m obviously not thin as a rail, so my insecurities held me back a lot when it came to my music.”

  “I like that you touch on that, because I don’t think young women like yourself really realize how much insecurities can play a role into them going after what they are passionate about. What is one piece of advice you might be able to pass along to these young women?” Catherine asks.

  “My best piece of advice is learn to love yourself. You’ll never be truly satisfied in life until you learn how to accept and love the person that you are. So I’m not skinny, so what? I’m healthy and that’s all that matters.”

  Catherine smiles widely. “I love your positive thinking and body image. How long would you say it took you to get to the place you’re at now?”

  “Years,” I reply. Self-confidence is not an easy thing to come by, in fact it took me a very long time to accept myself as a person, inside and outside.”

  “I think you are going to be an amazing and positive new role model for young girls out there,” Catherine says gently.

  “Thank you.”

  “Okay, enough doting on you. Let’s get some more questions out of the way.” Catherine sips on a glass of iced tea the waitress brought her. “What is your writing process?”

  I giggle. “It has been changing. For the most part, I tend to have writing partners who prepare the melody and instrumental track and then I write to it when it’s closer to being completed.”

  Catherine smiles, shifting in her chair. “Is it true that you used to date Jace Austin, the newest, hottest star in Hollywood right now?”

  I can feel a warmness seeping up my neck, over my ears, and into my cheeks. I’m sure I look like a deer in the headlights. Catherine on the other hand, is stone cold for the first time during our interview. She looks dead serious, and she is waiting on my answer. I stall, sipping off my water while I gather my thoughts. “Jace and I went to high school together,” I reply, choosing my words carefully.

  “Oh, wow, I didn’t know you two had known each other that long. So, how long were you two together?” Catherine shoots another arrow straight at her target—me.

  I swallow, my eyes shifting left and right. I could lie to her. I could omit the truth, but something tells me she won’t be the first or the last. The nagging feeling is building up inside of me, ready to pour out. “Almost two years.”

  “And it just gets juicier,” Catherine leans in, looking extremely enthusiastic.

  Thump. Thump. Thump.

  All I can hear is my heart pounding inside of my chest. I forget where I am. Who I am speaking to. This is Cosmofreakingpolitan! Whatever I say here is going to be heard around the world. Whatever I say here, he is going to read.

  “There has been a lot of speculation that you wrote Stripped about Jace. Can you confirm or deny that?”

  Panic begins to grip me from the inside. I feel like I’m on trial. Anything I say can and will be used against me. “Jace meant a lot to me. It hurt a lot when it ended…but I only wish him the best.”

  I can feel the tears rising up from the depths. Luis did warn me that Catherine wouldn’t hold back. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the feelings she would stir up within me with her line of questioning.

  “Are you okay?” she asks, and there is genuine concern lacing her tone. She presses stop on the tape recorder, and looks around the room before training her eyes back on me. “Do you need to take a break?”

  I nod, embarrassment flooding my cheeks. With the Paparazzi right outside, I hope they can’t see the tears. Just as I stand to head to the ladies room, Catherine places her hand on top of mine gently. “I hope you know I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

  I look back at her through blurry eyes. “I appreciate that.”

  Eight: Every Cell in My Body is Telling Me to Pull Her into Me and Never Let Go


  “Jace, don’t you think you might want to think this through? I mean, what would Justice do, right?” Chenise is pacing back and forth as she watches me slip on a black, discreet looking hoodie.

  I can’t help the chuckle that escapes my lips. “Who gives a rat’s ass? In fact, when I get back, you and I are going to talk about what we can do to fire that goon.”

  Chenise’s eyes widen, surprised by my brash comments.

  “What about the tabloids? What about the magazines? Aren’t you worried about what they are going to say?” Chenise continues her attempt at talking some sense into me.

  I stare blankly back at her. “You heard what I did with Angelica. Does it really seem like I care that much?”

  Chenise sighs loudly. “Alright, I’ve done my due diligence to stop you, but you obviously have your mind made up. I hope this isn’t overstepping, but what is it about this girl?”

  My heart begins beating against my ribcage rapidly. Chenise doesn’t even have to say her name and my body still reacts like that. “It’s Peyton,” I say softly. “It’s just…her.”

  Chenise cocks her head to the side, a smile pulling at her lips. “You really love her.”

  “What makes you say that?” I ask, curiously. Peyton and I haven’t been in each other’s lives for a long time. I guess I didn’t think those old feelings could withstand the test of time.

  Chenise plops onto my bed. “You never acted this w
ay with Angelica…ever.”

  “That was a fake relationship,” I refute.

  “Still,” Chenise says. “Ever since we heard that song on the radio, you’ve been different. I know it has something to do with her. How long were you two together?”

  I slip on my sneakers. “Basically two years.”

  She nods. “Good luck, you’re going to need it.”

  I smile slightly before racing out the door. The tabloids reported Peyton was in LA and meeting with a columnist from Cosmo. That was a half an hour ago. I don’t even bother obeying the speed limits…finally, she is in my city. The only thing I can even think of doing is finding her.

  It only takes fifteen minutes to make it to the restaurant. Sure enough there are paparazzi camped out in front, snapping away like wild pitbulls. I sneak in the back, through the kitchen entrance. The staff look surprised to see me, but I’m given no grief as I make my way to the front.

  When I enter the restaurant, my eyes scan it as if I’m searching for a drop of water in a drought. I feel like a stalker, or a hunter seeking his prey. My eyes find the back of her head first. Her long brown hair is cascading down her shoulders and she is in what looks like an intense exchange with the interviewer.

  I look away for a moment, making sure I’m not standing out like a sore thumb, but when I turn back to where she was seated, her chair is empty. My eyes dart around the crowded restaurant, seeking her out. My heart begins to beat wildly. Please tell me I didn’t lose her.

  My legs feel like Jell-O as I race around the large room searching for her. When I’ve searched thoroughly more than a couple of times, I begin to feel like a complete failure. I was so close to finally getting the chance to apologize, and it slipped right through my fingers. I’m angry.

  Without completely realizing what I am doing, I end up heaving myself out the front doors of Bucato, right into the sea of paparazzi. Suddenly, all focus turns on me, and I am being blinded by the incessant flashing of their cameras.

  “Jace! Jace! Are you here with Peyton?”

  “Jace! Jace! Are you two back together?”

  They are yelling out different questions all at the same time. I feel like I’m in quicksand. It’s as if I’ve forgotten how to walk. I’m sure the paps are having a hay-day with this one.

  The front door opens and all focus is shifted from me to the glass doors. Once the shuttering begins again I know without a shadow of a doubt who is walking out that door. My back is turned to her, but I can feel the goosebumps rising from my ankles, up through my legs and torso.

  “Jace?” I hear her ask, almost breathlessly.

  I feel like my heart is in my throat as I spin around. I’ve been imagining this moment for a very long time. Peyton looks better than I even expected. She’s got a Bohemian chic look going for her, and I rather like it. “Peyton,” I reply finally.

  The paparazzi are going absolutely nuts. They hit the jackpot tonight.

  “What are you doing here?” Peyton asks in a small voice, shifting her eyes away from mine.

  I shrug, rocking back and forth on my heels. “I heard you were in LA. I live nearby.”

  Peyton nods, tucking some of her hair behind her ear awkwardly.

  How did we get here? It feels strange to not be touching her. Every cell in my body is telling me to pull her into me and never let go. “Look, would you like to go somewhere and talk?” I ask, completely aware that our entire interaction is being filmed and recorded. They are probably going to make thousands off these videos and pics.

  Peyton looks over my head, like she is searching for someone or something. “Talk about what?” she asks dryly when her eyes land back on me.

  “Talk about us…” I trail off, inching closer. “I have some things I want to say to you.”

  Peyton remains unusually quiet as her face contorts sadly. “I don’t know if that is a good idea.”

  “Come on,” I say sadly. “I don’t know how much longer you are going to be in town, but I don’t have much time myself.” I pause, my voice shaky. “It’s been a long time, Peyton. We’ve been through a lot. Can’t you at least give me this?”

  I can see her gears grinding in her facial expression and then she finally caves. “Okay.”

  “Okay,” I repeat, triumphantly.

  For a brief moment in time, I forget that it isn’t just me and her. No, we have the entire world watching our every move. “Come on,” I demand as I lead her out to my car.

  After we get in, we have to drive at least twenty blocks to get rid of the paps. It’s exhausting, but there is no way in hell I am letting them get any more ammunition tonight. I sneak a glance over at Peyton who is sitting unusually close to the door. It’s almost as if she is scared to accidentally brush up against me or something.

  “You look good,” I say, training my eyes back on the road.

  She glances at me quickly, tucks her chin in, and then looks out her window. There she is. We were rid of her for a long time…that was before we broke up. I have no idea how she can still be so insecure, after everything. She’s on top of the world right now. All the girls aspire to be her, and guys are beginning to notice her. She should be on cloud nine…but she isn’t. “You haven’t changed much.”

  Peyton shoots me a quick glare. “Gee, thanks.”

  “That wasn’t an insult, just an observation,” I reply gently.

  “Where are we going?” Peyton asks sharply.

  I breathe out slowly. “I can’t take you to my house because the tabloids would be all over that, so I am taking you to my home away from home.”

  “Your home away from home?”

  I nod. “The place I go when I need to get away.”

  The answer seems to satisfy her as she falls back against her seat, crossing her arms across her chest.

  When I finally pull up to my super-secret spot, I kill the engine and shift my eyes to Peyton. Her eyes glide between the all-glass structure and me. “What is this?”

  I stare at the glass house before us. “This is a house I bought.”

  Peyton glances around the neighborhood. “Why aren’t there photographers camped out everywhere?”

  I smirk. “I had my assistant’s boyfriend buy the place for me. That way…”

  “You would have a place to sneak off to that no one knew about,” Peyton finishes my sentence for me.

  “Basically,” I reply. “You should see it at night when all the lights are on, it’s almost magical.”

  “I bet.” Peyton smiles, but she looks sad. “I saw Valor,” she blurts out, seeming to surprise even herself.

  “You did? What did you think?” For some reason her admission to seeing my movie makes me more nervous and anxious than I care to admit.

  We exit my car and I lead the way to the front door.

  “It was great. You were great, Jace,” Peyton says. “I always knew you had it in you.”

  “Thank you,” I say gratefully. “Welcome to my humble abode.”

  Peyton gives me a small smile before brushing past me and into the house. For the brief few seconds we touch, it feels like old times again. Although it has been a long time, her hair smells the same, I feel the same around her, and I forget how many nights I’ve missed holding her in my arms.

  I follow her up the glass stairs and watch as her eyes light up, taking in the creative architecture.

  “You like?” I ask as I turn on some lights.

  She nods, her mouth agape. “So this is what they call living the good life.”

  “Hey, you’re going to know how that feels very soon,” I say. I know how quickly fame can claim someone, and Peyton is on the fast track.

  “So where are you wanting to have this ‘chat’?” Peyton uses air quotes. “I’m kind of terrified to sit anywhere in your house.”

  “Why is that?” I ask, semi-offended.

  “Because everything is white! You know me, I’m accident prone. When I’m done here, you’re going to seek restitution.”

; I can’t help but chuckle at how adorable she can be. It’s been a long time. I forgot how quirky she is.

  I head to the main living room which is on the main level. There are two white satin couches and two white satin love seats adorning the room. The fireplace is off, but I quickly flip the switch bringing it to life.

  It takes another ten minutes before Peyton feels comfortable enough to sit down. She insists on taking off her shoes so she doesn’t ruin anything.

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