Behind the Strings (Book One)
It had been five years since I’d seen him. I should have been as excited and giddy as every other girl who surrounded me, but since our last encounter was anything but pleasant, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. He had come home a dozen or so times since the night we stood on my front porch, and each time he came he would leave without a word. I had become accustomed to the drastic change in our relationship. The blame had been placed solely on myself, as it should have been.
I never wanted it to end like that. All those years, those memories, the good times we had… it felt like they walked away with him as his shadow disappeared into the night sky. I wanted to cry, tell him not to leave like this, but I was numb to heartache by that point in my life. Tired of chasing after people who didn’t want me. It wasn’t fair to put him in that same category after all he had been to me, but there was no fixing what had been done. He had poured his heart out to me, begged me to give him a reason to stay and all I could do was tell him to go. His dreams were too big for this town and too big for me.
Hamden, Tennessee seemed to be a breeding ground for some of country music’s top talent, but they didn’t get there by singing at local bars and coffee shops waiting for a big-time record exec to walk in. It was the moment they decided to be brave enough to make the three-hour drive west to Nashville that their dreams became reality. He had worked hard enough to deserve that chance. And if he was going to get it, he had to do it without me, and from the sound of screaming fans that were currently lined around me, I would say he did just that.
“We’re getting closer!” I heard a young girl squeal in front of me.
Both she and her friend were clad in pink cowboy hats, knee-length brown boots and white t-shirts that read “We Love Logan.” Behind them was a bachelorette party, holding black sharpies and 8 x 12s of the guy I’d spent my entire life leaning on.
I gripped the badge that lay on my chest. In big bold white letters it read “Logan Kent: All-Access Media Pass.” One of the greatest perks of my job was getting up close and personal with some of Nashville’s finest, but tonight I would have rather been anywhere else.
Logan Kent had girls swooning over him since he was thirteen years old. I’ll never forget his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” at the middle school talent show. Even then the girls in our class were pushing their way up to the stage to get a better look at him. He had spent all of his high school years playing Friday nights in front of a packed crowd at the ever-popular Sweetwater Bistro. I remember the long drives with him and his parents to Chattanooga Lookouts or Nashville Predators games where he’d sing the national anthem. Or the one time I stood beside him, calming his nerves, as he threw up backstage before he went to perform at the Tennessee State Fair.
He had come a long way since then. Signed to one of the most sought-after record labels in Nashville with his second single holding strong in the top ten. And now, here he was, on tour with one of the biggest duos in the industry. By the looks of the sea of girls surrounding me, it didn’t seem as if his career would be ending anytime soon.
“This side of the line, please,” someone from the event staff said as he motioned for the crowd in front of me to stop trying to peer around the backdrop that separated them from their dream guy.
With each girl who rounded the corner, the shorter the line became and the harder the butterflies fluttered in my stomach. I could feel my body shaking as I stepped backwards trying to separate myself from the meet & greet line. Just as I did, my right knee gave out on the final step and I stumbled backwards.
“Whoa, are you okay?” One of the girls with the bachelorette party asked.
“Yeah, thank you,” I said as I readjusted my blouse.
“No problem,” she said, “we are finding it hard not to faint as well.” She held the picture up to my view. “He melts my heart, I can’t even.”
I smiled as I took it in. It amazed me how much he had changed since our teenage years. His hair had grown out quite a bit. I could see it peeking out of the backwards ball cap that sat on his head. He stood against a white background in the cowboy boots I’d always remembered him for. The only time I’d ever seen him without them were the hot summer days we would dip our bare feet into the lake after playing hide-and-seek in the cornfields or capture the flag behind the old abandoned barn off of Maple Street.
“Ma’am,” I heard a voice call out. I switched my gaze from the picture to the guy waving me forward. “After this group we’re going to pull Mr. Kent into the press room, so make sure you’re ready.”
I waited behind the line with a few other journalists until it was time to go in. We all followed single file into the press room where Logan comfortably sat behind a table at the front of the room. I pulled out my notepad, watching as Logan sipped on a bottle of water, listening intently to whatever his publicist was whispering to him.
His eyes were greener than I remembered, and since he wasn’t wearing a ball cap like in his picture the girls were holding, the ends of his chestnut brown hair curled over his ears. A five o’clock shadow grazed his face and the tight blue t-shirt that accentuated his newly toned biceps had confirmed that the boy who left all those years ago had truly grown into a man. A man I never thought I’d see again…and now here I was, only a few steps away from him.
It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes for him to notice me. There was a quick flinch of his head as he turned to make sure. My pulse quickened as I gave him a half-smile. Just as quickly as our eyes met, he turned his away. I watched as he fidgeted a bit in his chair before the press conference began.
“We have fifteen minutes,” his publicist said as she gave the first journalist the go-ahead.
A couple more journalists went before I finally built the courage to raise my hand. I cleared my throat and in my most professional manner asked my question:
“With your first two releases both hitting the top 10, it’s clear fans are really enjoying music off your debut album. Can you tell us what we can expect from the rest of the songs on it?”
Logan leaned into the microphone. “I’d like to think it’s the type of album that fits every aspect of your life. Lots of music to dance to on the beach while on vacation, or to blast with the top down while hanging out with friends. Then there are the ones meant to be strummed on a six-string while roasting marshmallows by the campfire on a romantic night under the stars.”
I threw out another question before anyone could interrupt. “What’s your personal favorite?” I asked.
“I’m pretty proud of the whole album, but if I had to pick one it’d be ‘To Walk Away.’ Pretty powerful and hits close to home. I’m pretty sure you’d be able to relate to it.”
I swallowed hard. His last comment was terse and I could tell by the way his publicist looked at him that I wasn’t the only one to notice the abruptness behind it. I could only take that as confirmation that he still, after five years, had not forgiven me for the decision I’d made.Available on Amazon