Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Do Art Publishing; 1 edition
Kristen Morgan’s blog is about to get her into trouble. Deep trouble.
Online, she is known as “Stargazer” from the popular Stargazing from Nowhere blog, while in real life she is a regular sixteen-year-old high school student. This online anonymity is quite liberating, allowing her to be completely honest, and to not worry about whether or not her mother would make her shut it down (she would).
Kristen’s favorite topic to blog about is popular culture. Through a twist of fate, Rising Tide, the band she has bashed the most online, ends up in her small town, which sends Kristen into an excited panic.
To continue gathering fresh material for her blog, she poses as a fan. After sneaking into Rising Tide’s private party, she comes face to face with the band’s drummer, Michael Stevens, who happens to be even more gorgeous in person than she cares to admit. Something unexpected also happens to her when she meets him: she becomes giddy, nervous, and inarticulate.
Kristen realizes that her interest in Michael has nothing to do with her blog, and everything to do with her heart.
As Kristen and Michael grow closer, does she have to make a choice between blog or boyfriend? Which will she choose...or is the choice made for her?
How many rules would you break to meet the rock star of your dreams?
And would it be enough to make him notice you?
The breath caught in my throat, and I couldn’t move nor breathe. All of a sudden, he was in my line of vision.
Looking like a regular guy, but an incredibly hot one, the kind of guy you don’t see very often, and when you do, you go weak in the knees for. He looked healthy and lean, and his face was even more stunningly beautiful up close. When the band first appeared on the music scene, I had developed a really big crush on him, but it seemed to have fizzled out over time. If I had any doubt as to whether or not my crush on him had totally left me, tonight I knew for sure that it hadn’t. It was surprisingly overpowering, multiplied by a million times what it once had been.
I stood motionless, knees still too weak to take another step. I felt like a fly on the wall, but I just couldn’t turn away from hearing what Michael had to say.
“If we like The Doors, it means that I think that I’m like Jim Morrison. My fans won’t like it,” Bryce complained.
Michael stood as if to leave and I felt my face get very red. If this was how I was going to handle being in the same room with him, then I certainly couldn’t handle talking to him. Maybe all the adults in my life were right, and having a blog was a bad idea: good thing I had never told them that I had one. Maybe I would stop my blog altogether now because I was clearly a fake, buckling under the pressure of being at a party like this.
Ronnie passed by me without so much as a glance my way. He went up to where Bryce was sitting, and patted him on the back, “Jim Morrison, ah man, that was one cool dude. Do you think he’s really dead?”
I knew I needed to glance away from Michael and the others from time to time so that I wouldn’t get caught eavesdropping, but I found it hard to pull my attention away from them. Occasionally, I did manage to force myself to look away so that it didn’t look like I was spying, which I totally was.
“Every night, it’s me out there,” Bryce continued, getting up. “You can’t understand the kind of pressure I’m always under. It’s easier for you, you’ve got your drums to hide behind.”
“I’m not hiding,” Michael said walking towards him, stopping mere inches away. It looked like they were about to push and shove each other.
“Not again, you two. Seriously, you need to start getting along like before. We don’t have time for fighting,” Dave said, appearing from nowhere and coming between them.
Could their music be a reflection of this fractured relationship? Or could their recent lack of musical success be putting a strain on their friendship? Maybe I would take a poll on my blog to see what my readers thought. So far, I, myself, had no clue, but I was getting closer to finding out.
Michael sat back down again, across from Dave and Ronnie. Bryce stormed off, taking his pride, and his drink with him. Still obviously agitated, he barely noticed bumping into me while making his escape, completely unaware of the fact that he almost spilled his drink on me.
I looked back up, and the weird thing was, nobody else had noticed either. I was completely invisible to these people. For some reason, this made me feel discouraged, and I felt momentarily sorry for myself.
“Have you met anyone yet?” Maggie’s voice startled me.
When I turned to see her, she was beaming.
“Not exactly,” I said, returning towards the safety of the caterer’s table, Maggie trailing behind.
“Have you or haven’t you met any of them yet?” Maggie asked, a little too loudly. I noticed people near us quizzically stare at me. So I wasn’t invisible. What a perfect time to find out.
“Are you trying to blow my cover?” I whispered.
“Try the turnips,” the caterer suggested, turning a corner of the table to approach us. “It took me years to learn how to design them like this. I’m trying to do the same with potatoes.”
“Neat. Thank you,” Maggie said, helping herself to a turnip. “What are you waiting for?”
“Give me a minute,” I pleaded, but I actually felt that I needed many more minutes.
“I didn’t expect you to be so nervous,” she said, watching me intently.
“I’m not in the least bit nervous,” I countered.
“You have your questions planned out, right? I mean, that is why we came here, isn’t it?”
“I do, but I’m getting a lot from eavesdropping.”
“You can’t be serious,” Maggie said, looking kind of irritated, before moving her focus to the corner where Michael was sitting, across from Ronnie and Dave. She nudged her head in his direction. “Hey, isn’t that Michael Stevens?”
Of course it was. Only one guy looked like that. Acted like that. Was like that.
Surely, she wasn’t expecting me to walk over to him. “So?”
She took my arm and pulled me alongside her as she made a beeline for Michael. I tried to protest as quietly as I could in order to avoid drawing any further attention to us. Sometimes, she could really be forceful, especially when you least expected her to be.
“Three of the guys are sitting right there. It’s perfect,” she reminded me as she kept a firm hold on my arm. “What are you waiting for?”
“I already told you. The right moment,” I whispered, managing to pull away.
“Which is now,” Maggie said quietly, stepping behind me.
“Right,” I said, totally trying to convince myself that I could do this. Michael was a mere few feet away, but his attention was focused in another direction, and he was completely oblivious to me. I could leave, and he wouldn’t even know I had been there. I was secretly in favor of turning back around because I didn’t think I had the nerve to go right up to him and introduce myself. I was much too shy, which was one reason why my blog had been so good for me.
Maggie had her hands on my shoulders, as if I were a boxer and she was my trainer, and we were about to begin the most important fight of our career. “You’re behaving so awkwardly that they’ll buy it. You’re totally acting like a jittery fan with a huge crush on one of them.”
“Oh, no,” I said, horrified.
“Oh, yes,” Maggie said, her hands gripping my shoulders.
Suddenly, her hands moved to my upper back, where she gave me a slight shove, which was enough to knock me off balance because I was already so jittery, and it was so unexpected. As I stumbled forward, I tried to regain my balance, moving awkwardly forward, straight towards Michael. When he saw me wobbling towards him, he only had time to watch as I continued stumbling awkwardly towards him. When our eyes met for a moment, we both knew where I was heading, but it was like everything was moving in slow motion, and we were powerless to stop it.
He broke my fall, or more accurately, his lap did. I lay face up spread across his lap.
“Whoa!” Michael said, looking down at me in bewilderment. “Are you okay?”
I smiled at him. “I’m great!”
We both looked at one another for what felt like a long moment. I couldn’t help but admire his chiseled face, and the warm brown shade of his eyes. He smelled nice too. I inhaled deeply, but discreetly, I’d hoped.
His lap was really comfortable, but he began trying to move me off it. Oh, yeah. I knew there was something I had forgotten to do—get off of him.
“Sorry,” I murmured, awkwardly trying to sit up.
While I tried getting off his lap gracefully, it was more like I was a calf stuck in the mud because no matter which way I moved, I seemed unable to get up, sinking instead, back into his lap again.
Each failed attempt brought more awkwardness, as I grew aware of several heads turning to watch us. I’ve found that a solution for an awkward situation is to break it with a distraction, so I started talking. “I have all your records. And your videos, too.”
As soon as the words had escaped me, I knew that I was sounding like an overly-devoted fan. Even if this had been true at one point, now I was a mature fifteen-year-old, too sophisticated to be merely a fan. I suddenly wanted Michael to see me as a girl, someone on equal footing with him, but I feared that I looked and sounded adoringly pathetic.
“Thank you,” Michael said, lifting up his hands, allowing me full freedom to maneuver myself off his lap.
“You look the same up close,” I thought out loud. Some thoughts are better left in your head. Although he looked at me with kindness, he couldn’t hide his disinterest. Was he bored of me? Seriously though, what did he expect me to say to him in such a brief exchange? Was I supposed to be discussing serious matters or offer my insights into meaningful things after having fallen onto his lap, and while struggling to get back up?
I guess he lost faith in my ability or willingness to move off him because he tucked an arm under my knees, and placed another one around my waist, carefully sliding me off his lap, and onto the couch next to him. I sat back, and faced Ronnie and Dave, who had been sitting on the couch opposite us, watching curiously.
“Hi,” I said, smiling across at them.
They nodded back.
“Do I know you?” Ronnie asked, his brows drawn together as he stared at me.
Oh no. Had he remembered me from the TV taping when I’d ask Michael about Evangeline? I had thought that the studio lighting had helped conceal me, but maybe it hadn’t. Or maybe he had seen me and my beauty mask on TV when I’d won the tickets to the taping?
I had managed to make a fool out of myself more in the last 24 hours than I had in my entire life. I needed to be more careful not to look so uncool around Rising Tide from now on.
“I don’t think so,” I replied, forcing myself to sound casual. Dread washed over me as I realized that Michael might think that I had fallen onto his lap on purpose.
“I don’t remember from where though, but you look familiar,” Ronnie insisted.
“Oh, yeah?” I said, averting my eyes from his. It was the eyes that always gave people away.
“Maybe not, then,” he said, shrugging, then he and Dave got up and moved from the sitting area.
I turned to face Michael. You’re so gorgeous! I thought again as I admired him from up close.
“Are you all right?”
I realized that he had been watching me admiring him.
“I’m fine.” Being this close to him was making me incredibly excited. “You’re taller. Not that you look short in your videos because you don’t. I can’t tell exactly how tall you are because you’re sitting, but earlier I saw you standing and you looked really tall,” I couldn’t stop, although by now, even I knew that I should. “Exactly how tall are you?”
“I’m 6′,” he said, looking a little stunned at the turn our conversation was taking.
“Cool. I’m 5′ 5″,” I offered, even though he hadn’t asked.
He stared back at me in silence as if he were trying to look for answers as to why I was behaving so abnormally. I caught a glimpse of Maggie gesturing encouragement. She probably thought I was having an intelligent conversation. I wished I could make out what she was trying to say. Maybe she had a suggestion. “What?” Had I asked that out loud?
From the way Michael was looking at me, I definitely had. “What?” he asked in total confusion.
“‘Say What.’ That’s my favorite song of yours,” I said, barely recovering. The last thing I wanted him to think was that I was talking to Maggie about him. He would think it was immature—not at all the type of image I wanted to project. It was better that he think I really loved that song of his, which, by the way, I totally did, than think I was crushing on him and was talking about him to my best friend.
There was a hint of a smile. “Oh, you like it?”
“I wrote it for our second record.”
I already knew that. It was actually the only good song on that terrible album, but people had barely paid it any attention. It sometimes happens that a really good song on a really bad album gets overlooked.
“What do you like about it?” he asked.
I couldn’t believe he was asking me for details. “Well…It speaks to me about our need to connect with others.”
“That’s right,” he said, nodding.
“Yeah,” I agreed, trying to sound cool. “It’s probably even more than that.”
I had read a million different things into this song, but now I found myself unable to articulate them. In my defense, it’s really hard to concentrate when you come face to face with a real live rock star, and he turns out to be really, really super hot. Like the hottest guy you’re ever likely to see in your life. He was also much more personable than I had expected him to be. I knew then that I was failing miserably in my duties to my blog, because the questions I really needed to ask him just wouldn’t come out. Maybe if we talked a little longer…
“You’re the artist; I’d rather hear your interpretation of it.”
He smiled modestly, as if unaware of his role in creating culture. “It’s about someone who wants someone else to keep talking, even though what they’re saying may be hurtful, and
really different from what that person hopes to hear. It’s about reaching out, forgiveness, and our undeniable human need for validation…”
“And love,” I added.
He nodded. “Yeah. That too.”
Wow. We got each other.
Could it be possible that we were, what do they say? Simpatico. That’s what they call it in some language I can’t remember when two people see things eye to eye, are on the same page, or maybe even crushing on each other. I was suddenly so glad that I had come here tonight.
“I’m Michael Stevens. What’s your name?”
My heart hammered against my chest. “Hi.”
He studied me curiously. “Have we met before?”
I shook my head.
“You do look a little familiar…” he said, examining my face.
Now was not the time to remind him about my earlier TV appearance, or my probing questions about his relationship with Evangeline.
“Nope, we’ve never met before.”
“Well, it’s always great to meet a fan,” he said, rising.
What? Was he leaving already? I got to my feet too, and smiled back as I nodded stupidly. I wanted to tell him that there was so much more to me than being a fan, and that in fact, I was actually a critic who had once been a fan, but how would I begin? Not only that, but I also wanted to ask questions, get him talking, so that I would have something insightful to write on my blog. I’d completely wasted my chance.
“Thanks for coming, Kristen,” he said, turning to leave.
My heart sank to the floor with the weight of disappointment. Through my forced smile, I managed to say, “Bye.” I didn’t know exactly what I had wanted to have happen, but it certainly didn’t involve being dismissed.
I left the seating area too, and headed in the opposite direction from where Michael had gone.
In no time at all, Maggie was at my side. “That was so embarrassing. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just a little mortified.”
“At least you were memorable,” she giggled. She ogled Michael, who was by now, standing on the other side of the room, surrounded by Evangeline and her friends. “You’ve got to admit, he’s pretty hot.”
“He’s okay,” I said, as nonchalantly as I could.
“Are you kidding me? He’s like the hottest guy ever, although Bryce is even hotter.”
I looked at Maggie in surprise. She was usually not the least bit superficial, but she was human. Besides, she was right about the guys being really good looking, although totally wrong about Bryce being hotter than Michael.
If I told her the truth, I would break down crying with disappointment, so instead, I said, “If you like self-absorbed people who don’t remember you from one hour to the next. Come on, let’s go home.”
“Don’t you want to talk to the other guys?”
“I have all the info that I need,” I said, turning to go.
It wasn’t yet midnight, but I felt like my fairy godmother had retired early for the evening, and left me stranded at the party, well before the clock struck midnight, just as I normally was: a regular girl from a small town, who had no business getting wrapped up in the glitz and glam of show business. It was time to go. It was also probably time for a reality check.
Although I hadn’t totally seen it coming, the reality of my situation became crystal clear as a wave of understanding washed over me. My interest in Rising Tide, my jealousy of Evangeline, my preoccupation with the band’s future, and my desperation to meet them, had all stemmed from one thing: my feelings for Michael Stevens, which until landing on his lap, had safely been kept at bay.
I liked him so very much, and I didn’t have the first clue as to what, if anything, I could do about it.