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Knowing You

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Stephanie Woods, model and face of Briet Diamonds, has just been publicly and brutally dumped at the altar by her famous pop star fiancé. Super famous pop star fiancé, with 39.2 million Instagram followers, in fact. The only way she can preserve her mental health and heal her bruised dignity is to announce her early retirement, break her contract with Briet Diamonds, and get the hell out of town. Montana sounds nice. But an encounter at the last industry party she'd attend before her self-imposed exile with her ex and a hot rocker threatens all her plans... Rock legend Jake Green knows all about solitude and bruised egos. He retreated a long time ago to the countryside outside London because public pressure can be a little intense. Now, though, he's ready to rise out of his artistic slump and make his legacy rock n' roll statement in LA. Landing in the middle of a minor Hollywood scandal between a model and an annoying internet-made pop star just made his year. But when stars collide, they sometimes burn out. Stephanie has sworn off famous men and even fame itself. At first, Jake needed Stephanie to reclaim his stardom, but now he just needs her... How can Jake convince Stephanie he's worth the heat of the spotlight, especially when his own reputation is not all that shining?

Romance / Humor
4.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

When Stephanie Woods heard she wasn’t getting married today, she pulled the veil out of her updo and tossed it on the cherry wood dressing table. The comb hurt her head anyway.

Her phone buzzed from underneath the pile of tulle. A text from the baker. Did she still want her cake? All caps.

If the voices in the hallway outside of her dressing room at the mansion where her wedding was supposed to be a text, they’d be in all caps too. She already had her hands over her ears when she saw the antique glass doorknob of the door leading into her room twist.

If she couldn’t hear the news directly, maybe it meant it wasn’t true. But when Nikki, beautiful in her beaded, rose-colored maid-of-honor gown, opened the door, she did hear, and it was the truth. She must have looked more shocked than she felt because her best friend started to cry.

Nikki pulled a couple of tissues from the box on the dressing table and passed one of them it to her. “I’m so sorry.”

“What a jerk,” she said balling the unused tissue in her hand. She had a stronger word for her…fiancé? Ex-fiancé? Whatever, he was, the word she was thinking started with a big ol’ D, except for some reason she couldn’t curse in her white gown. Seemed sacrilegious.

“You have to let your emotions show. Not keep them bottled up inside. It’s bad for your skin.” Nikki dabbed at her own glassy skin with a dermatologist approved light touch.

“This is me showing my emotions at what a jerk he is. See?” Stephanie pointed at her forehead. “Like velvet.”

“But still.” Nikki shook her head. “You must be a little sad. You were in love.”

Stephanie paused. She had wanted to love him. Many times, throughout their engagement, she thought she might.

She had used the momentum of his crazy proposal to propel her to this fantastic wedding that was not to be. A wedding with rings on satin pillows, special readings by special friends, first prayers said together and first presentations as husband and wife.

A wedding for which she held lilies and wore a lacy Oscar de la Renta gown to walk a rose petal-strewn path escorted her father as Pachelbel’s Canon in D played on a guitar to her waiting bridegroom.

And therein lay the problem.

The bridegroom was, in fact, not waiting. Eric James, internet pop star sensation and lucky bastard, was a no-show.

“Can I see?” Stephanie held her hand out.


“I’m sure to see it sooner or later. Now, in privacy, would be preferable so I can put on my game face for out there.”

Nikki pressed her lips together and dropped a cell phone in her hand like she was handing her a dirty sponge. “Open the Google app.”

Stephanie scanned the entertainment gossip item. She was used to seeing his images all over the internet. But now she learned his physical body lay in the desert, miles outside Vegas. Unfortunately for the world, not dead in a waiting hole, but naked and asleep in a cheaply decorated Victorian-themed room at somewhere called the Midnite Kitty Ranch. The interior “ranch” looked exactly as expected with plenty of wood veneer paneling, fan chairs and paintings of topless women.

So, it was a good thing she never did fall totally in love with him. If she really did love the man she saw in these posts on their wedding day with three-day old beard and slitted eyes, a couple of Kitties draped over him, she’d never recover.

“Is everyone still out there? What about my family?” Stephanie asked, her wedding fantasy fading fast with the sunlight.

“We’ve sent everyone to the reception. They’re eating, drinking. Having a good time, all things considered.” Nikki smoothed a tendril of Stephanie’s blonde hair. “Do you feel like joining them or do you want me to take you home?”

Her coping skills were marginal at best. Home meant a hot bath and perhaps a tiny piece cake eaten right out of the foil by her fingers, which sounded divine under the circumstances. It also meant missing an opportunity to make a semi-public statement. A little, shapeless project had been bouncing around in her brain. Today, a few minutes ago, in fact, the project got shape-ier.

“What about the band?” Stephanie asked. May as well know who waited at her Waterloo.

“Well, it’s his band.”

“So, they’re not playing.”

“Of course not. Actually, I think a couple of them went with him to Vegas.” Nikki wrinkled her nose.

“What about photographers?”

“Security’s trying to keep them away. I don’t suppose you’ve talked to Eric today.”

Stephanie shook her head. “I left him a voice mail this morning. And yesterday.” She dipped her chin. “The day before.”

Nikki took her hand. “I think you’re taking this awfully well. I just hope the shock won’t hit you too much later. You’ve lived a pretty sheltered life until now.”

Nikki, always handy with an opinion, was right as usual. Life as a moderately successful model had afforded her a life free from danger and disappointment. Then ten months ago, she’d sent out an innocent Tweet asking if anyone knew an easy way to prepare butternut squash. Eric sent back a Tweet that was either hysterically funny or really obscene, depending on the reader’s mood and sense of humor. While they DM’ed to arrange a meeting at a Pacific Palisades Starbucks, her Twitter following tripled.

Stephanie rubbed the bare ring-finger knuckle of her left hand. “Do you think my engagement ring is in a Vegas count room?”

Eric had taken it so that it wouldn’t upstage the epic wedding band he’d planned to slip onto her finger in its rightful place closest to her heart. It was also his idea to get married on a Friday night, so they could, in his words, ‘party all weekend,’ before leaving for their Maui honeymoon. Of course, she thought he meant party with her and their friends.

“It’s famous, you know. We did a ring selfie and it had its own hashtag. Remember? Hashtag SteffiesRing?”

Nikki patted her on the knee. “Come on. Let’s get out of these gowns and go to your party.”

Sweet of Nikki to stop calling her wedding reception a reception. It really was all her party now.

It was her farewell party.

Jake Green developed a habit of moving any chair he was offered as sort of a power move. Pull it away, turn it to the side and stretch his long legs in front of him. He’d cross them at the ankles and make everyone step over him to get past.

But if he was honest, the move was less so to be an ass and more so he wouldn’t look ridiculous sitting in these low-slung chairs everyone seemed to keep in their offices now. Knees up to his ears. Elbows winged to the side. Looking like a kid on a too-small bike.

Bob Silva no longer noticed his signature move. He’d been Jake’s manager so long, power moves were wasted on him. Bob was no fun anymore.

But he was an excellent manager.

“When was the last time you played a wedding?” Bob asked.

Of course, might be time for a personnel change.

“I think we were nineteen.” Jagged had been together as a band for about thirty or so years aside from a couple of changeups, so nineteen would be about right. “Unless you’re talking about a wedding for someone closely related to the president of the United States, I think we’re done here.”

Bob thumb typed on his phone. “Calm down. I wasn’t serious. There is some kind of entertainment emergency up in Montecito. Why does everything fall apart on Friday afternoons?”

“Some rich people didn’t like their wedding band?”

“The rich people were the wedding band. Eric James forgot to end his bachelor party and is a no-show at his own nuptials. They were supposed to play a few numbers at the reception.” He continued to read the gossip on his phone, knitting his brows and shaking his head, his lips moving silently.

Jake rubbed one of his temples. Any idiot who agreed to marry that pop star wannabe got what she deserved. “What else do we need to talk about? I got a flight to catch.”

Bob scratched his chin. “Yes. Some projects.” He looked around his desk and pulled a folder out from under a pile.

Jake used to be the top folder. Also, the top chart-topper, the top revenue earner, top tourer. Top everything. He didn’t even know the kids that were on top of the folder pile these days. But he should know. He should spend some time on YouTube and Soundcloud and get to know them. Find inspiration at any rate.

“How do you feel about cruising?” Bob asked.

“Cruising what?”

“You mean, ‘on what?’”

Jake sighed. “Fine. Cruising on what?“

“You and Jagged are being considered as hosts of a rock ’n roll cruise.”


“You haven’t even heard the details.”

“God, there’s details. Listen, it’s an international flight. I’ve got to get checked into the first-class lounge so I can use all the stuff. They pour unlimited whisky.”

“You don’t drink whisky. It’s called, “Legends of Rock,” and it departs from Miami.” Bob read from his folder. “A beautiful passenger vessel. Fifteen decks. Gourmet buffets around the clock. Spacious staterooms, spa. A casino!”

“Casino. I feel like I’m gambling with my career already.”

Bob took in a deep breath and held it as he placed his notes in the file and stuffed it back underneath his pile. “I don’t know why you’re so resistant to new ideas lately. You’re the one that called me about brainstorming a comeback.“

“Not a comeback. I never said comeback. The word I used was, ‘reinvention.’ I don’t want to host cruises or release an album of old Rat Pack songs.” Jake leaned forward and steepled his hands. He’d seen Bono do something similar and looking quite authoritative. “We took some chances with the last couple of albums.”

“You took chances with the last ten years.”

Jake nodded. “Against your advice. The techno album was not thought out all the way through.”

“Complete disaster.”

“Yes. But we’ve done it this time.”

Bob propped his chin on his hand and eyed him. “Done what?”

“Our new album. It’s brilliant.” Screw humility. “We did all the production ourselves like we used to. It’s all about the instruments again.”

“So, you got out of your own way.”

Jake swallowed as heat blanketed his gut. So, yeah. His lyrics of late could ramble on. Maybe a little obvious and forced. “I’ve grown an open mind. I listened to critics. I also want everything you can do behind this album.”

Bob threw his head back and laughed.

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