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Authors: Sarah Gagnon

Date With A Rockstar

BOOK: Date With A Rockstar
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DATE
WITH A
ROCKSTAR

SARAH GAGNON

Copyright © 2015 by Sarah Gagnon

Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.

Spencer Hill Contemporary / Spencer Hill Press

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. Contact: Spencer Hill Press, 27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011

Please visit our website at
www.spencerhillpress.com

First Edition: June 2015
Sarah Gagnon
Date With a Rockstar/ by Sarah Gagnon - 1st ed.
p. cm.

Summary: Girl enters reality TV show dating contest with a rockstar so she can win the prize money to cure her illness and ends up falling for him.

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: Boston University, Chase, Jaguar, Macy's, Sheridan Luxury

Cover Design: Christa Holland
Interior layout: Jenny Perinovic

ISBN 978-1939392589 (paperback)

Printed in the United States of America

T
O
L
ETTA AND
V
IOLET
FOR MAKING ME WANT TO BE MORE.

ONE

JEREMY BANE is the most attractive guy on the planet. I once watched a documentary about his face. They had these charts mapping the symmetry of each of his features. According to the show, his lips are perfectly colored and proportioned to the size of his head. His strong jaw is masculine without being intimidating. His warm brown eyes seduce
and
comfort. There was even a medical explanation for why girls love him, but for me, it's all about his music. The eerie, haunting tones of his songs have been downloaded by billions.

But I'm not one of those lust-struck minions. I have another reason for being in this line. Two words: Prize. Money.

“What size shoe does he wear?” a girl behind me asks loudly, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“Eleven,” a voice answers. She sounds shocked that the girl didn't already know.

Rain slides down my back. Jeremy Bane trivia is fun and all, but after three days of suffering in line, I just want silence. I'm so wet, the skin around my nails is beginning to peel. I lightly touch my tongue to my lips. The rain tastes metallic. Does pollution have a flavor?

I'm one of thousands in this line, which extends along the side of the building to the corner, wraps around the side and disappears. It's hard to imagine so
many girls in one place—all of those families choosing their one allocated child to be female. With the child limits, Mom thought they might bring back welfare or free medical services, but the population boom that started in 2034 shows no sign of slowing twenty years later, and no government is that wealthy.

“No, I'm not going to give him your picture. I'm the one waiting.” The girl in front of me clicks off her phone and presses her forehead against the cement wall.

I know her name is Susan because she keeps her phone volume on max and makes calls every hour. In front of her a plump, pink-complexioned girl huddles under an umbrella. I don't know her name, but I almost wish she'd pass out so I could snatch her damn umbrella. Asking one of them to hold my place in line while I go back home to get dry clothes is unthinkable. The other girls would rip me apart if I tried to get back in line. This is a competition. No one's my friend. Still, I feel a sense of familiarity with the people closest to me. I know the noises they make in their sleep and for the past few days, I've tolerated all their impatient fidgeting. All for a chance. Not a guarantee, just a chance.

My wet jeans chafe my waist, driving me crazy. I want to be dry. I close my eyes and slip into a daydream of basking on a warm, dry beach. Jeremy sits up and nudges my shoulder, quirking his lip in his famous smile. I try to feel the heat of the day, the heat of his smile. Instead, the rain intensifies, ruining my fantasy.

Okay, maybe part of me is one of those lust-sick minions. Jeremy Bane is beautiful, but I need money a hell of a lot more than a date. Until I'm disease free, nothing else matters.

TWO

A WHISTLE BLOWS. I jump to my feet, stagger with stiffness, and stand out from the wall, trying to catch a glimpse of what's going on. The studio door opens and a bald man steps out. Rain slides off his scalp as he adjusts the neck of his sports jacket. He's big all over. His shoes sink through the puddles as he moves farther away, glancing up and down the line. He shakes his head like we all disgust him.

Switching on the mic near his chin, he begins, “Listen up, girls. This is how we're going to proceed.”

I lean forward, trying to hear, but everyone else does the same. All of us are straining against the invisible tether lashing us to the line.

“I'm going to hand out numbers in groups of two hundred and fifty. The first group will begin auditioning now. The second will come back tomorrow at seven a.m., and so on. Think you can handle that?” He stops and wipes the rain off his face with a rough hand. “When the top ten are selected, an announcement will be made on the general air waves, so don't be chatting on your phones or you'll miss it.”

I glance down at my black T-shirt. I'm dirty and I'm in the first group. Others will have the chance to clean up and go home for the night, but I'll be ushered in. A day early. The strands of hair plastered to my neck flow like an oil slick.

“Pay attention, girls.”

The other girls stop their nervous giggling.

“I'm only giving out a thousand numbers.” Two reporters pop out of the back of one of the news vans. Channels seventy-five and thirteen have been camped out with us, gathering footage of the line. A guy in jeans balances a mini-cam on his knee, trying to keep the frame perfectly still for broadcast. I keep my head down. Right now nothing about me is TV worthy.

The reporters scramble around, pointing out what to film. I guess no one tipped them off about the auditions beginning a day early. A girl runs past the news crew and darts into the line right in front of me. The camera swings toward me, following her run. I freeze. The girl can't be more than fourteen. She bounces up and down on her toes, then goes still. I have to say something. Susan spins on the girl.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” She pushes her and the girl stumbles into me. I catch her gently by the elbow. I don't want to be seen fighting. Susan curls back her lips in a snarl. “No. Line. Cutters.” She punches the girl in the stomach and she collapses onto my feet. Susan turns away.

I reach down to help the girl up. “You can't cut like this.” I try to step away.

Her hand clings to mine, nails scratching into my skin. “Please. I need to see Jeremy. Let me stay. Just pretend I've been here all along.” She stares up at me, begging.

“Sorry.” I shake my head. “I've been waiting too long. All of these girls have been.” Then I point out the camera to her. “They have you on film, anyway, and besides, you're too young.” I wrench my arm out of her grip. She sniffles and then starts a wailing cry. Susan keeps staring ahead as though nothing is happening. A team of bodyguards emerge from the door and follow
the pointing. I press against the wall while they scoop her up and carry her off.

“Enough,” the man in charge announces. The line quiets. With security right in our faces, it's all becoming so real.

“As I was saying. The numbers will be handed out in groups of two hundred and fifty. After that, the rest of you need to get out of here. No hanging around trying to get a glimpse of the winners.”

A young guy in a suit steps out of the doorway with a clipboard. I focus on his serious face rather than his words. “…first names.”

Ah, crap. I missed something. “What did he say?” I ask Susan. She squints her eyes at me like I'm too stupid to be any competition. She doesn't answer. At the front of the line, the first girl slips into the open door. She smiles back at us and gives a half-wave. “She's been here for two weeks,” whispers through the line.

Jeremy Bane makes girls psychotic, and even some guys, too. In a recent interview he told the reporter that, though he has no current girlfriend, he is definitely hetero. Which accounts for why the equally infatuated guys who tried to enter the line had been promptly removed. With so many girls to choose from, I need to stand out. Jeremy controls who receives the prize money, and I need him to pick me.

Twenty minutes pass before the guy with the clipboard reaches me. “Proof of identity,” he mumbles. I hand him my ID card. “Do you speak English?”

“Yes, sir.”
Are they cutting the non-English speaking girls before the auditions?

He makes a quick mark on the paper. “Name?”

“Monet O'Neal,” I respond, even though he can see it printed on my card.

He grunts in response and stares sharply at me before handing me a number. Probably making sure
I'm a girl. He moves to the next girl in line. I slump back against the wall, cradling the number forty-two in my hand.

I take a comb out of my pack and work the snarls out of my long, brown hair. My cheeks are clammy and numb. Susan takes out a box of make-up and leans down to protect it from the rain. I try to see myself in her mirror, but she angles it away. A general melancholy over ruined appearances replaces the excitement of the line moving. I must look like shit. I'm shivering and I haven't slept much. What kind of impression will this first two hundred and fifty make? Maybe since we look so horrible, Jeremy will feel sorry for one of us. I need to balance between sympathetic and attractive. Gross, but not too gross. I let my breath out, mildly comforted by the logic.

Each time the line moves, I'm hit with a new rush of adrenaline and doubt. I've never tried to do anything so public. Hiding at home, keeping my disease a secret was the easy part. Now I have the chance to fail…or win. A large group gets ushered in together and then the line stalls. After that it takes a few minutes before each individual girl is let in. I clench my toes inside my sneakers.

The man handing out numbers disappears around the side of the building. There can't be many left. I hear screaming in the distance and then more security runs past. A group of girls circle back around the building and walk past us. Their hands are clenched and their faces are streaked with mascara tears.

“You don't deserve Jeremy. None of you do!” one of them yells. Another kicks a rock at us. I grip my number in my fist. If there's a fight, I'm never letting go. I might be quiet, but I'm not weak. I need this chance to change my life. The news crew walks closer to the girls and they switch from taunting to waving at
the viewers at home. Security comes back and ushers them away.

An empty sickness fills me. Susan is at the front of the line. A pair of bodyguards step out, call her name and number, then she's gone. I stare at the closed door in front of me—a plain steel door with no handle on the outside. I'm wearing black ballet flats, sage jeans, and a T-shirt. This is the most attractive outfit I own. Nothing high-tech and figure enhancing for me. Three days ago, I looked cute. Now I'm drenched and dirty.

“Forty-two, Monet,” clipboard guy calls out. He doesn't bother to glance up from his list.

I step through the door.

THREE

THE DOOR SLAMS shut behind me, closing out the rain and the chatter of the line. The big guys lead me down the hallway. Florescent lights flicker overhead and my feet squelch on the tile floor. The closer I get, the more I focus on my reasons and goals. I recite the flyer from the health clinic in my head. The words have been seared into my mind for two years.

BOOK: Date With A Rockstar
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