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If I die, it’s Trina Hamilton’s fault. She’s hard to miss; statuesque blonde with angry eyes and tiny nostrils wearing top-of-the-line Tony Lamas so she can kick my ass at a moment’s notice. When the early-morning sun finally burns through my irises and kills me dead, she’s the one you want.
“Christ, Trina, it’s barely seven.”
My road manager flashes cool gray eyes at me while pressing her matte red lips into a thin line. Her expression hasn’t changed in the minutes since she came pounding on my hotel room door. She’s a study in stone, but not for long. Better to get this over with.
I mumble another curse, yanking the frayed brim of my baseball hat lower. “At least slow down. I have a migraine.”
Trina whirls around and shoves a manicured nail in my face. “Don’t,” she spits, “pull that migraine bullshit, Clay. You look like death, smell like sewage, and if you think those glasses are doing anything to hide that black eye, you’re sorely mistaken.”
I scratch at the back of my neck, playing for time. “Are those new Lamas? Because dang, girl, they make your legs look incredi—”
She grabs my chin in a painful squeeze, her sharp claws digging into my bruised cheekbone. “Don’t even try it. What happened to you last night?”
I wrench my face away. “Nothing serious. A little scuffle with some fans after the show.”
Trina stares at me a long minute, and I start to fidget. It’s her signature move. I might be a country music star, but Trina makes me feel like a middle schooler who just hit a baseball through her window.
“A little scuffle,” she repeats slowly.
“Yeah. A scuffle.”
“Really. Just a few good old boys shooting the breeze, probably,” she offers with a too-bright smile.
She nods and starts walking, her heels clacking on the asphalt and ringing in my ears. A couple of middle-aged tourists halt, curious, midway through loading their golf bags into a rental car to watch us. I tug the brim of my hat even lower and hustle to match her strides through the hotel parking lot.
“So, that’s it?” That can’t be it.
“No, Clay. That’s not it. Your face is all over TMZ this morning. We, as in you and me, because I’m irrevocably tied to your fuckery, are due at the label at 8:00 A.M. sharp.”
I release a slow breath. “Trina, I have a contract. They already started presale on the summer tour. It can’t be that bad.”
Trina’s cackle is edged with hysteria. “That guy you punched after throwing a beer in his face and waving a knife—”
“Knife? Really? It’s a Swiss Army pocket tool. Every self-respecting Boy Scout owns one.”
She plows on. “He was the SunCoast Records CEO’s youngest son. His legally old-enough-to-drink son, as a matter of fact. Which you are not. How you manage to get served time and time again—”
I roll my eyes. “I’ve been playing bars since I was fifteen, Trina.”
“—when you are so publicly underage—”
I lift a shoulder and wince as pain shoots down to my elbow. Must have tweaked it last night. “I’m a celebrity.”
Trina grunts, her derision clear, just as my phone chimes in my pocket. I pull it out, ignoring her.
SAW TMZ. ON MY WAY.
“Is that Fitz?”
I nod, texting back.
TOO LATE. TRINA’S HERE.
“You can tell that good-for-nothing fiddler he’s on my shit list, too. He promised he’d watch out for you after the last time.”
“I don’t need a babysitter, Trina.”
“Obviously. Just get in the car, Clay.”
Copyright © 2019 by Erin Hahn