Turn Over:A Secret Baby Sports Romance(4)

By: Violet Paige

If I wanted I could probably find another manager. It wasn’t as if I was that scrawny girl begging for nightclub gigs anymore. I didn’t have to beg for another thing the rest of my life. I was Alexa Wilde, America’s Country Sweetheart. America’s poster child for sweetness, virginity, and all things pure. I was the girl you wanted your son to date. I was the girl you wanted your daughter to grow up to be. I was the daughter you wish you had.

After three years of managing me, Jake wasn’t going to let me out of his clutches. Our contract was ironclad. I had it examined when he wasn’t around. I had five more years with him. Until then, I had to make the most of the partnership and ride out my pure and virginal image that sold millions of records.

“Speak of the devil.” Helena rolled her eyes as Jake let himself into my suite. We had rented out the entire top floor of the Austin Gold Hotel. It was impossible to keep my location secret, but at least we could keep things secure.

“You’re not going down there like that.” He moved Helena out of the way to place his hands on my shoulders. “Where did you get this idea?”

I could smell his expensive cologne. He was wearing his standard crisp white shirt and a smug look on his face. Jake had sharp cheekbones and sandy blond hair. He almost looked like he could pass as my brother. His eyes were just as blue as mine.

“I like it.” I tucked a flyaway piece of hair behind my ear.

He shook his head. “No way. Too much eye makeup. Too much sex. Not happening.” He pointed at Helena. “Fix her before I take her down for the hotel meet and greet.”

“Meet and greet?” I spun in the seat. “You said this was a benefit concert only. You know how exhausting these things are before I perform.”

He opened a bottle of sparkling water from the fridge and poured it into a crystal glass. He twisted the cap off and took a sip. Jake was never shaken. Never off his game. My outburst did nothing to change his itinerary. It was a waste of my breath. I knew it before he even opened his lips.

“Your job is to greet your fans. Those people pay to go to your concerts. They pay for your music. Some of them save up every dime of their week’s babysitting money to get your album. So if you have to spend an hour at a meet and greet, then that’s what you’re going to do.” His blue eyes pierced the air. “This is charity, Lex.”

“Fine. Then I’m going like this.” I threw off Helena’s hands.

“Don’t test me,” he warned.

“It’s not a test,” I challenged. “It’s called style. My fans can’t expect the same innocent farm girl act forever. We both know I wasn’t raised on a farm. Styles change. I should change with them. Let me grow with my fan base.”

He huffed. “Sweetheart, you don’t ever have to remind me where I found you.” He threw the water down the sink and straightened his jacket.

My shoulders stiffened. It never failed. Jake would bring up how we met whenever he got the chance. He wanted me to know there was always a card he could play to tug me back in line when I started to step out of the circle he drew for me. Some days the circle was bigger than others. It depended on his mood. I could tell today it was barely enough for me to spin around. I didn’t know what had pissed him off. It we were still friends I would have asked.

My chest tightened. I wasn’t the only one with a secret, but I didn’t know if I had it in me to shred him the way he could rip me apart. What would it take for me to hurt someone like that? Regardless of where our relationship was now, it didn’t start out this way. Seven years ago Jake had given me a chance when no one else would. The part of me that didn’t hate him was grateful for that.

He was the first one willing to take a gamble on me. Somehow it created a toxic relationship where I always felt indebted, and yet resentful at the same time. Whatever it was we had, it wasn’t good for me.

He turned to Helena. “You, get rid of the eyeliner and put her in something knee-length. I’ll be back to get you in an hour.” He pasted a fake smile on his face. “Be ready, babe.”

“Jake…” I called after him, but he pulled out his cell phone and walked out of the room. I hated the way he mixed pet names that should mean something sweet with vicious threats.

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