Defining Destiny:Destiny 01By: Deanna Chase
When destiny fails…
Singer-songwriter Lucy Moore thought her life was perfect. At just twenty-one, she’s already met her soul mate and together they’ve landed a recording contract. But when her father dies and the love of her life betrays her in more ways than one, she returns home to pick up the pieces. On the shores of Mendocino, California, Lucy has some decisions to make. Should she start a solo career? Or should she leave it all behind for some semblance of normalcy in the quiet town she grew up in? And what about Seth, the tortured artist who always seems to be there when she needs him?
Seth Keenan has demons of his own. Eighteen months ago, he was involved in a horrific accident that he never talks about. His career as an accomplished oil-paint artist has been abandoned, replaced by the buzz of his tattoo gun. And women—well, he never sticks around for longer than a few hours of pleasure…until he meets Lucy. After one evening of listening to her seductive voice, he’s pulled under. But what about the vow he made to never get close to anyone again?
In a world where everyone has one true soul mate, can these two find love in the arms of each other?
For Trisha, Sarah, and Megan.
He’s not gone, only waiting.
A huge thank you to Susan Sheehan, Lisa Liddy, Chauntelle Baughman, and Anne Victory. You four keep me out of trouble. And a special thanks to my MAD girls for making this year special. You know who you are.
Exhilaration. It’s the only word to describe the post-concert high. At least for me. The cheering audience is in another state altogether. Peaceful. Joyous. Enlightened. It still amazes me that this is our gift to the world.
“Amazing show!” Les calls over the roaring crowd and gestures to Cadan and me. “I swear, that connection you two have gets stronger every day.”
Cadan gives me a self-satisfied smile. “See, Lucy? I told you they’d love the new songs.”
Irritation sours my good mood and I snap, “They would’ve been just as happy with the old ones.”
His smile turns patient as he puts an arm around me. “Oh, come on, babe. They’re great songs. We had to debut them at some point.”
I slip from his grip. “No. We didn’t. Besides, they’re mine. It was my call, not yours.” We have a bunch of songs we’ve written together that are fan favorites, but in the last twenty minutes of our set, Cadan had started singing the new ones I’d written. He’d managed to get the band to practice the music without me even knowing.
“It was a surprise. For you.”
When I don’t respond, he frowns. “What’s wrong, Luce?”
Jesus. He never listens. “I wasn’t ready yet, Cadan. I told you that.” Those songs are important to me. They’re the ones I wrote a few months ago after my father died, and while I’m proud of them, they’re deeply personal. They’re for me. I’m not even sure I want to release them.
“Oh, babe,” he says softly and pulls me to him. “I didn’t realize this would be so hard for you. But look at what happened out there. Everyone was deeply moved. Think about what you gave them.”
It’s the only thing that got me through the three songs he’d sprung on me. Twenty seconds into “You’re Always Here,” the crowd hushed as the bittersweet lyrics and melody wound their way into their hearts. The connection with the audience had touched me to my core. But that was beside the point. I was tired of Cadan steamrolling me. “I admit—”
“Encore,” Les yells over the noise and pushes us back onto the stage.
Cadan’s amber-flecked eyes flash with triumph, then he leans in close to my ear. “I knew you’d come around.”
It’s too loud for me to correct him. I’d been about to say I was pleased with the reception, but I hadn’t been ready and I was still pissed as hell he’d forced the situation. Not to mention how utterly violated I feel by the way he’d exploited something so personal to me.
We take our positions center stage. The deafening volume of the crowd ratchets up a few decibels. I beam at them. This is what makes being on the road three out of every four weeks bearable. The soul-mate connection Cadan and I share is meant for them. Not me. And not Cadan. Though I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s all about him. He’s twenty-four and full of rock-star ego. Reining him in is impossible most days. It’s only during the rare, quiet moments we get together that he’s anything like the guy I fell in love with two years ago, before our records hit any charts and before our lives were turned upside down by success and fame.
Cadan gives the cue, and I mentally prepare for “After the Fall,” our most popular song. It’s how we close every show. But instead of the strum of the guitar, the keyboard player starts a slow, haunting melody. My heart stops, and I gape at Cadan.
He pretends to not notice my reaction, but his knuckles are turning white from his death grip on the mic. He’s worried. And he should be. Because I’m frozen. The words are clogged in my throat.