How did a sheltered girl from Carolina end up in a national scandal involving one of Hollywood’s most powerful music couples?
When want-a-be singer Bethany Opala tries out for a TV talent show, she is rejected. But then comes an amazing offer … a songwriter’s dream. Bethany has the opportunity to learn and develop her skills with top music manager, Ryan Thompson.
With a mutual passion for music and words, Bethany and Ryan’s writing partnership develops into something more … something love songs are written about. And while it isn’t wrong, it isn’t right. That is, at least in the public eye.
Surrounded by secrecy and half-truths, Bethany doesn’t know how much she should put up with. Especially, when one more rejection could scar her for good. Will her decision to leave not only Ryan, but the music business and California, come down to the toss of a coin?
The poor Uber driver probably thought I was a manic drug user. I was as jittery as heck in the car, and I’m pretty sure I was mumbling to myself. Not knowing what I was going to say or what Ryan was going to say, I wanted to vomit right there in the back seat. Geez, I hadn’t even been that bad when I auditioned for the TV show.
Luckily, I was greeted by the perfect little ice breaker. “Hi, Bethany!” Sallie opened the front door to welcome me.
“Hi, Sallie.” My smile was natural on her friendly greeting.
“We’re watching a princess movie. Joel doesn’t like it, but I do. Daddy says he has to because it’s my turn to pick.”
“What princess movie?” I asked.
“Belle,” she announced. “You wanna watch with us?”
“Sallie, at least let Bethany in before you bombard her with stories and requests.” That was Ryan’s voice.
When I lifted my eyes away from the six-year-old, I found her father propped against the staircase banister as if he had been casually standing there watching our entire interaction. He probably had been. But was it because he was a protective father making absolutely sure who was at the door, despite the guard at the gate announcing my arrival? Or, was he doing it to keep his distance from me?
Our eyes only met for the slimmest of seconds before we both took refuge in looking back at Sallie. Yes, it was a good thing we had a buffer. Just spotting his intense deep blue eyes on me was enough to make my body tighten.
“Daddy, can Bethany watch with us?”
“Let her in,” Ryan said a little more succinctly that time.
As Sallie stepped aside, I more properly entered the residence and shut the door behind me. I normally would have instantly shrugged off my shoes and started walking further into the interior of the home. But my sandals remained fastened as did my stance.
Ryan, who I noticed was barefoot, answered his daughter’s question. “Bethany isn’t here to watch princess movies, Tink.” Her lower lip stretched out in the cutest little pout as Ryan continued, “You better go make sure your brother doesn’t change the show. He’s the slyest four-year-old I know.”
With her eyes seemingly growing wide at Ryan’s suggestion, she belted, “He wouldn’t dare!”
My belly bounced at the little girl’s dramatic exit. Ryan actually laughed out loud and shook his head. And then … there we were. Alone.
“So … uh, about recording …”
Despite all the conversation starters I had internally scripted on the ride over, that was what came out. It was not even close to being as melodic or smooth as I had hoped. In fact, it was like a stuttering, old vinyl. Although, I suppose anything was better than the silent tension that had invaded the foyer in the matter of seconds.
“Can we deal with the elephant in the room first?”
“There’s nothing—” I tried to just move past the fictional, ugly, gray mammal who wasn’t only occupying the room but also my brain.
But Ryan denied me. “Bethany, we have to talk about the fact that we kissed.”