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VI. The Climb

It was nine in the morning when I woke up to the smell of coffee. A few stretches here and there but some parts of my body are still asleep. The door to the balcony was open as breeze gently blew the curtains in. I jumped out of bed and made my way out to the halls only to find the hotel empty. The door to Lucian's room was locked and the quiet hall forced me to retreat to my own abode.

The performances on the radio went off without a hitch. I still have butterflies thinking of how well-received they were by the people I sang for. The DJs were in awe and the host of The Late Show made a slight comment about asking me to come again. With two good performances under my belt, the release of my sophomore effort is surely taking off at a fine trajectory. Still, the room was too quiet for my ears. It may have been silent but once I got on the Internet, "Glory" was trending everywhere.

Every big news website had me on the cover story of their music section. The past two days are still making the headlines. Some of them had very interesting titles such as 'Glory Finally Talks and We Love Her!' or "Glory's First Words: OH!" Somehow, Lucian's marketing effort, or lack thereof in my previous record, is paying off. Who knew keeping me silent for three years and finally speaking my first words is going to be a big deal for the media?

It was as if everything I said in the press junket became a headline for two days. One that made waves was my answer to the last question. Reporters were quick to hail Glory as the Queen of Inclusivity. The Hero We Need in this Generation. The Bearer of Equality and a Friend of the Pro-Choice Movement. Until now, I don’t have much memory of what really went down that night. What I know is that I walked into the event feeling like I was floating. It was unclear to me the meaning of these titles these journalists are giving me. One thing is for sure, there was an impact. Overnight, I gained more fans than I had for three years. Clips of the press event is quickly going viral. There are now GIFs of my statement and people are using them as reaction.

There's nothing scheduled for me today but I believe they are cooking up ideas for the music video of my first single. The Grid may still be deliberating on what to release first but there are high chances that it would be the ones I performed on the show. If it were my decision, it would be Love is Free. I connect to that song of my record a lot even if I did not co-write it. It was a song that was handed to my management after being rejected by several artists. I don't know what they did not hear in it but to me it screamed Top 40 hit.

Billboard has already announced that Emergence debuted at number 1 selling 200,000 copies in just two days. They usually wait for the end of the week but the rapid climb of the album is breaking records. Little by little, it's dawning on me how big this release was. I didn't know how to feel about this success. I want to scream and tell people that I'm so happy. Finally, my dreams of making it in the business are coming to fruition. I found myself standing on Lucian's door, eager to tell him about the good news. A few knocks and some silence, he was not in his room I suppose. Where could he be? Where are the bodyguards outside my door?

Suddenly, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It washed over me slowly like dripping water and it was as if all my excitement went out all at once. The room was an empty box of furniture, organized and spotless. If only I have someone to talk to, I thought. If Lucian's not around, maybe I can slip out for a while and get back before he comes. Without any thought, I went to my dresser and threw myself some clothes. They were not like the ones at the dressing room. There were more color and vibrance but I still chose to go the dark route thinking I would need to hide my identity when going out. I put on some sweat pants, rubber shoes and a brown hoodie. An added thick-framed transition lens glasses and my disguise is complete. I'm glad I still got to keep some of my old clothes even when Lucian had my entire wardrobe changed for my image as Glory.

I can always just tell Lucian that I went out for a run in my outfit. Before I went for the door, I remembered to bring a small handkerchief. It was not the only thing I found in my drawer. There it sat was the phone Jagger left in the paper bag from when we met. Looking around, I turned it on to find it almost ran out of battery. It was new. There was only one contact named "Call Me" and no other applications. Somehow, I think Jagger deliberately left it on purpose so I can contact him.

Taking a deep breath, I pressed the call button.

"I was wondering if the battery had run out." A voice said on the other line.
"Are you not gonna ask me how I am?"
"Who are you, really? Why are you doing this?"
"You want answers? Meet me at the Library in an hour."
"No, you don't get to tell me what to do!"
"Somehow, I feel like you would meet me anyway. See you later." And he hung up.

Speechless, I tucked the phone in my pocket. What is going on with that guy? He's the reason I almost destroyed my career in an instant. But thinking about it, he was actually one of the reasons the media became more interested in me. Something tells me not to trust him but at the same time, I feel like he's the only one who can help me. Help me out of what, I don't know. I just get this feeling every time that I'm trapped and when I met him, it was like seeing the light. If I don't leave now, I might not get any chance to see him again.

The Library is a few blocks away. A considerable amount of distance but far enough from the hotel. Once I've gathered enough courage, I headed out. He might have the answers I'm looking for.

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