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The foundation series bo.., p.6
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.6

           Kira Adams

  “He worked himself at two dead end jobs,” Madison sang my part, hesitantly into my microphone, looking at me, willing me to move and not blow the entire show. It was after all, the biggest night of our lives.

  “Never knowing what to do, never making quite enough, and the deuces were wild,” I recovered. I gained fuel from the energy of the audience when people heard my voice. “No one knows the cards in your hand, just keep playing, you’ll understand, life isn’t easy, it isn’t free, things have a price, even you and me,” we harmonized.

  “The pregnant girl with nowhere to go, walks along alone, the babies’ daddy left her alone, and the deuces were wild,” I sang loudly with a twang. “No one knows the cards in your hands just keep playing you’ll understand, life isn’t easy, it isn’t free, things have a price, even you and me,” Madison and I sang in tow, back to back, feeding off each other’s energy.

  “And the deuces were wild,” Madison sang.

  “And the deuces were wild,” I repeated, ending the song. The audience erupted with cheers and screams, and I knew, this was my calling.

  Five: Lately it’s Been a lot Simpler to Find my Voice

  This Is Me


  Let me tell you an enchanting story

  About a little baby, honey bee

  Knowing there was more to this world

  She was a determined little girl

  As she grew older

  She found her voice

  Peers against her; she had to make a choice

  Stop looking back, keep moving straight

  Time to give her life the rearrange


  Always so accommodating

  She got taken advantage of

  Never knowing who to trust

  She lost her faith in love

  No one knew who she really was

  She was terrified to open up

  All they saw was a confident girl

  Staring back out at the world


  Was it so hard to find someone honest?

  Why was she always stabbed in the back?

  What did she do to deserve this?

  Could she regain the confidence she lacked?

  Her heart told her to walk away

  Her mind told her to stay

  Always defaulting to her loyalties

  I should mention that girl was me


  It took a long time to realize I deserve better

  I don’t need to settle

  Leeches aren’t friends

  I got better

  I got stronger

  I got faster

  I got wiser


  After the show ended and we had mingled as much as humanly possible, we retreated backstage to the band rooms. Disappointed that I hadn’t found Jace after everything was finished, I transferred my attention to the lead guitarist of my favorite band and also the headliners, Colton. He was looking extra yummy tonight after giving an epic performance. He had longer, shaggy light brown hair, with green eyes. He didn’t have perfect teeth like I was attracted to, but there was a vulnerability in his smile. Plus our connection from day one had felt so electric; so right.

  After being attached at the hip all night, which was something I had become accustomed to with Colton, I felt our connection once again; it was undeniable. Both bands, ours and DarienMae, shuffled into the bigger of our two band rooms and hurled ourselves all over the furniture. I found myself squished into a loveseat in the middle of the room with Colton. It was immediately painstakingly loud. Everyone was talking at once, wanting to gossip over how the night went.

  I threw my head back, exhausted from the intense night, closing my eyes.

  “In all the times we’ve talked, and all the times we’ve hung out, I never expected that from you.” Colton exclaimed, jarring me from my peace.

  “What?” I asked, curiously.

  “You were amazing, Peyton. We’ve talked a lot in the past about you singing and wanting to pursue that, but I never knew it was to this extent.” His eyes sparkled as he complimented me.

  I couldn’t help but blush. There was no doubt Colton was my type, and even though I was still hung up on Jace, the new me was open to the possibilities. “Thanks.” I blushed, looking away.

  “You really put on a show onstage. What’s your stage name?” he joked.

  “Huh?” I was puzzled as to what he was getting at.

  “You’re just lacking a little when it comes to the confidence department. Why is that?” he asked, looking around cautiously, to make sure everyone else was still in their side conversations.

  I sat up; uncomfortable he had made this assessment of me, which unfortunately was spot on. My walls were supposed to protect people from seeing the real me, but for the first time, I felt like someone could see me, the real Peyton. “I don’t know,” I lied, before settling back into position next to Colton.

  He looked around; mildly annoyed at how loud everyone else was being, and then shot me a sly grin. “You want to get out of here?”

  I felt vulnerable, I felt anxious, and I felt excited. Butterflies swarmed my insides, willing me to take this leap of faith. “Okay,” I replied, hesitantly.

  “Okay,” he repeated, standing up, and lending his hand for me to stand as well. I wondered how he would respond if people asked where we were going or wanted to come along, but as it turned out, everyone was too engulfed in their own conversations and side parties, and we were able to slip out unnoticed.

  I blindly followed him, asking minimal questions, Colton was someone I had always dreamt of spending time alone with, but never had the confidence to make that known to him. Now, with my new self, I felt enough confidence that I, Peyton Lane could actually be enough for the infamous Colton Lee.

  We ended up sneaking away to his hotel room. It did make me a little nervous, being alone with him, especially with all of my inexperience! But I was also excited; the possibility that I could experience my first kiss was driving me insane with anticipation.

  It was a lot different than what I expected, especially for someone of such a young age. Colton was wise beyond his years and more mature than all of his peers. He was the youngest in his band, merely twenty years old. At first, we talked for what seemed like hours; just genuinely getting to know one another. He was better than anything I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t believe I wasted so much time worrying about the Austin twins who wouldn’t even give me the time of day, when there was this amazing man out in the world, just waiting for me. I felt like Colton was made for me and me for him—we fit. I couldn’t explain it; it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I knew deep down it was as simple as liking someone and having the feeling returned, but that seemed too right.

  We were seated on the couch in his hotel room, close enough to touch, but far enough away to be appropriate in any situation. I was wiping away tears in the corner of my eyes from laughing so hard at something Colton had said, when he changed everything. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” he asked out of nowhere, tucking a stray piece of hair behind my ear.

  I was suddenly aware I was shaking, uncontrollably. It was an uncomfortable sight, so I got up suddenly and retreated to an adjacent wall, which I leaned upon. I couldn’t even look at him. No one had ever called me beautiful before; it had to be too good to be true. He obviously felt the awkward tension and didn’t waste any time addressing it. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked, as he rose and started slowly coming towards me.

  My heart was beating faster and harder with each step he took forward. I couldn’t remember how to breathe. I was pretty sure I was going to faint, but was surprised to see I was still alert when he finally made his way to me. “Hey.” He touched my cheek softly, “What’s wrong?”

  I couldn’t look him in the eyes with such an embarrassing confession, so I did my best to look away. “No one has told me that before.”

  “What? That you’re beautiful?” Suddenly something seemed to click for him. I saw pain in his eyes, the realization finally making its appearance. “You are beautiful, Peyton.” He looked down into my eyes for a long time, willing me to believe him, willing me to see what he saw.

  I was still shaking, butterflies attacking my insides, and still having trouble breathing, when Colton gently caressed my cheek with his hand. I knew this was the moment I had been waiting for all my life; my first kiss. He leaned down and gently pressed his lips against mine. Volts of electricity were shooting through my entire body, out through my fingertips, my toes, even my nose. With each brush of our lips, the magic increased. It began with slow, delicate kisses, and then before I knew it, they were hard, passionate kisses. Colton pressed me up against the wall, continuing to kiss me, but I felt his hands grace my hips and stomach. He was pulling me into his kisses, he was leaving me breathless. Before I knew it, he had my arms pinned against the wall over my head, and he was exploring my body with his mouth, my lips, my cheek, my neck, my ear, I could hardly bare it. I was fully aware I was moaning, but I didn’t care, this felt good.

  Finally, he let up, allowing me to breathe, smiling to himself. “What are you smiling about? I asked, coyly.

  He gave me one more know-it all-smile before concluding, “You’ve never been kissed before, have you?”

  Oh God, he can tell! I must be a horrible kisser. I blushed, looking down.

  “Hey, hey, it’s no big deal.” He kissed my forehead gently. “I’ve just never seen someone get so worked up over kissing before, well, at least not in a long time,” he chuckled to himself.

  “Is that bad?” I asked, genuinely concerned.

  “It can be good and bad. Bad now, in the sense that, you don’t want to overstep any boundaries before you are ready, and sometimes the lines can be blurred when you get that worked up. Good because when you are ready, it’s going to be a wonderful experience for you.” He led me over to the couch where we sat, his arm around me. “Someday, Peyton, you are going to find someone who is going to tell you that you are beautiful every day, someone who will hold your hand in public, and never miss a moment to kiss you. Someday you will find that person you want to share that beautiful part of yourself with, and someone who will make sure the moment is as perfect as it can be with you.” he whispered in my ear, stroking my hair.

  I want that someone to be you, I thought to myself, resting my head on his shoulder.

  * * *

  I had been right; it had been too good to be true. I found out a couple of weeks after that night, after no contact from Colton, that he had not only a girlfriend, but a fiancée. He had had a girlfriend/fiancée when he kissed me. The manager of their band felt the need to keep the girlfriends hidden so the female population would still fall all over the DarienMae boys. It was obviously working. I felt defeated. I thought I was falling in love. I texted him a few times, to no avail. I realized this was life, and I was going to have to move on. So that is what I did, I buried myself in school, in band rehearsal, and with my few friends.

  The good news was after the night our band played alongside DarienMae, we had been getting quite a bit of recognition. Bigger known bands were seeking us out to play shows with them. My weekends were definitely occupied and as my popularity grew, so did hatred for me, as people began to become jealous of what I had.

  Kari Ann had not made my life any easier making posters and plastering them all around with a picture of a pig and my name on it. Brooklyn had caught her posse putting them up in the girl’s locker room when she chased them off. People didn’t mess with Brooklyn, everyone knew that.

  It was the beginning of spring term and I was headed into my acting class, disappointed because this term, I was the only one of our trio actually enrolled. Brooklyn and Madison had both decided to graduate early, and therefore, I was left by my lonesome. There were the few usual faces I recognized from my older acting classes, but as my eyes scanned the room, they caught sight of something I couldn’t ignore—Jace, sitting right there in front of me. My heart dipped to my stomach. He saw me as well, shooting me a simple smile. I had to tell my legs to move after I found myself frozen there in front of him for what seemed like hours. I made my way to the front of the class and sat down; happy he would be the one burning holes into the back of my head and not the other way around.

  Thankfully my theatre teacher droned on for the entire two hours of class, so there did not have to be any unwarranted, awkward Jace moments. The bell rang and I lifted my backpack onto my shoulder and began to head out. I noticed Jace waiting at the door, and the closer I got, the more I wanted to run the opposite way, but he was looking straight at me, there was no denying it, he was waiting for me. I approached slowly, and hesitantly, unsure of what he could possibly want. “Hey,” I said, barely above a whisper.

  “Long time no talk, huh?” He fell into step beside me as we walked out into the hall.

  “Uh huh.” It was unbearable; you could cut the awkward tension with a knife.

  “I just wanted to say, I saw your first show, and you were amazing, Peyton.”

  “Thanks,” I replied quickly, speeding up my stride, hoping to lose him. He was unfortunately too smart for that, adjusting his stride as well. “You in a hurry to get to lunch?” he joked.

  “Sure,” I responded with an uncaring tone.

  “Sure?” He grabbed my arm, causing me to stop, mid-step. “Peyton, what’s going on? I know we haven’t really talked in the past few months, but I’d like to think of us still as friends, wouldn’t you?”

  “Friends?” I hissed, practically spewing venom in his face. “Since when were we ever friends, Jace? Answer me that.” I twirled on my heel and marched off down the hall.

  “Peyton!” he called after me, and I’m sure he thought I didn’t hear it, as it was barely audible above a whisper, but I heard it clear as day, “I’m trying here, Peyton.”

  * * *

  I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Jace since our encounter, but I needed to focus because my band had a huge show to play tonight, we were again going to be opening for DarienMae, but the roster for the show was full of talent. I was nervous about having to run into Colton, but I told myself this was what was best for the band and that I could suck it up for the night. I was hanging out with Noah, pre-show jamming a bit, attempting to come up with some new material.

  “Can you take it back to the bridge and just play that on repeat for me, I almost have it.” I smiled up at Noah. There was nowhere else in the world I would rather be than writing music with Noah. Writing my lyrics was therapeutic for me, being able to get my thoughts and feelings out without rejection, was addicting. Noah began strumming softly my selection just as I had asked.

  “Was it so hard to find someone honest?”

  “Why was she always being stabbed in the back?”

  “What did she do to deserve this?”

  “Could she regain the confidence she lacked?” I sang with so much volume and strength, I saw Noah’s eyes light up with excitement; I had obviously caught him off guard. I continued, my confidence growing with each note.

  “Her heart told her to walk away.”

  “Her mind told her to stay.”

  “Always defaulting to her loyalties.”

  “I should mention that girl was me.” When I finished singing, I looked up at Noah and caught him, mouth hanging wide open, shell-shocked.

  “Where in the hell did that come from?” he asked me with excited bewilderment.

  “I don’t know,” I answered, honestly. “But lately, it’s just been a lot simpler to find my voice.” I chuckled; I loved the feeling of validation.

  “We need to play this song, Peyton. We need to play this song tonight. We need to end the set with this song.” Noah set his guitar against the wall and began pacing, his brown eyes hidden by his furrowed brows. He was apparently in deep thought.

  “Get real.” I laughed. “We have exactly a half
hour until the show, how do you expect us to find everyone and have them learn their parts in time?”

  “Well, seeing as we aren’t the first band up, I’d say we have a much better chance than you originally thought.” He shot me a playful grin.

  “Are you sure about this? We’ve never gone out there unless our material is polished…” Honestly, I was more worried what people would think. This song revealed parts of me that I had kept hidden for years. I didn’t know if I was willing to be that vulnerable, especially with everything that had happened in my life, thus far. It was an exciting, yet terrifying feeling to open oneself up like such.

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