Authors: Emme Rollins
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ALL THROUGH THE MONTH OF JULY 2013
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The best things in life are crazy…
Sara is obsessed with rock
star Tyler Vincent, and as she works to complete her senior year, she’s determined to find a way to meet him—although her best friend, Aimee, keeps telling her to find a different escape from her desperately violent home life.
Complications arise when Dale, the mysterious new transfer student, sets his sights on Sara, and she falls for this rock-star-in-the-making in spite of her better judgment. When Sara wins a contest, she is faced with a choice—travel to Tyler Vincent’s home town to meet him, or stay and support Dale in a Battle-of-the-Bands hosted by MTV.
Their triangulated relationship is pushed to its breaking point, but there is another, deeper secret Dale’s been keeping that just may break things wide open...
Turn up your collar, feather your hair, and splash on some Polo, because we’re going back to the ‘80’s when MTV played music videos, there was no such thing as American Idol, and becoming a star meant doing nothing short of crazy for that one, big break.
By Emme Rollins
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Warm-Up Band
like Tyler Vincent, I swear to God!”
“Who is she talking about, Sara?” Carrie looked at me even though it was Aimee making the big deal of it. My stomach growled and I glanced at Carrie’s tray—a Hostess blueberry pie, French fries and a Pepsi. Like most institutional food, Iselin Academy’s lunches faintly resembled something plopped out of an Alpo can. If it wasn’t for fast food and federal subsidies, the whole place would go bankrupt.
“I don’t know. Some new guy.” I peered across the table and through the window at an enticing slant of September sunshine, already missing summer and trying to pretend I wasn’t interested in seeing the Tyler Vincent look-alike, but just the sound of his name gave me a thrill. And of course Aimee knew it.
Nineteen-years-old and still infatuated with a rock star
I couldn’t have been more pathetic if I’d tried. But my body betrayed me, every damned time, my heart racing ridiculously and my hands stupidly clammy now that I was thinking about Tyler Vincent. Not that I wasn’t most of the time anyway.
who he is.” Aimee shrugged, speaking through a mouthful of Yoplait. That was blueberry too and it made her teeth look blue. The sight was unappetizing, even though my stomach growled in protest, and I looked away. She was dieting. Again. Even though she wasn’t supposed to. “All I know is he is
fine. Like, a
stud. He might even be
than Tyler Vincent.”
I glanced over and tried to give Aimee my best quelling look but she just grinned and licked her spoon. I went back to looking out the window, pretending I couldn’t hear either of them, watching the cloud of smoke growing over the designated patio outside where half the academy gathered at lunch time to work on getting lung cancer like their GEDs depended on it.
Of course, if any of us had worked that hard on anything in high school, we wouldn’t be stuck trying to graduate from the academy. Aimee called it The Mental Academy, which was partly true. There were lots of kids, like me and Aimee, who were too “troubled” during their teen years to pay much attention to academics, and many, like our new friends Wendy and Carrie, who took the word “high” quite literally in “high school.” Now we were all paying for our mistakes, trying to make up for lost time, and just get some semblance of our own lives begun.
Officially though, Iselin Academy was a “night and day school” for kids ages seventeen to twenty-one, four hundred “non-traditional students”—that’s what they called us—who could either attend day or night classes, as schedules allowed, while working full-time or taking care of kids. I knew a lot of girls who had babies at home. I also knew a lot of kids who flipped burgers at Mickey D’s on the midnight shift who came to classes at nine in the morning.
I think all of us just wanted to get the hell out of New Jersey, but I was pretty sure no one wanted it more than me.
“So who is this bohunk?” Carrie asked, nudging me. Like I knew?
I nudged Aimee. “Well?”
. Like butter. I’m telling you. Smoooooth.” Aimee offered me a spoonful of her yogurt but I made a face, shaking my head.
“Schweeet.” Carrie grabbed a chair from the empty table next to ours, sitting astride it in her hot pink stirrup pants—they matched her dangling dyed pink feather earrings and the pink fringe of her bangs, a shock of color on her otherwise dark head—and started to eat her fries, still wearing her black lace, fingerless Madonna gloves. “It’s about time we got some fresh meat around here. So where’s the beef?”
“Not on my tray.” Wendy arrived at our table with her usual eye-roll, made even more dramatic by the heavy eyeliner she used to frame her dark eyes. Then she gave a dramatic, mock-shudder. “I wouldn’t give my dog the meat they serve in this school.”
“Not beef, ya airhead. Beef
” Carrie rolled her eyes right back at Wendy, who set her tray, a duplicate of Carrie’s, on the table.
We’d gone to high school with Carrie and Wendy, back when we all thought we’d be graduating like everyone else with the class of 1986. They’d recognized me and Aimee sitting together in the auditorium and had glommed onto us during orientation, all of us clinging to the familiar in a sea of strange faces, promising we’d stick together like the four musketeers until we could earn our high school equivalencies. Carrie and Wendy were loud and brash and they both liked to be the center of attention. It was as if Madonna and Pat Benatar had struck up a friendship—except along the way, they’d met up with the Violent Femmes and maybe the B-52’s, and had made a joint decision to go a little bit punk, just for fun.
“Beefcake?” Wendy whipped her head around, hunting for fresh meat with her dark rimmed eyes, rising slightly in her chair, her black leather mini-skirt riding up on her fishnet covered thighs, a look that had gotten her in trouble more than once by Mr. West, the academy head, but Wendy persisted with her risqué fashion choices nonetheless. “Where?”
“I passed him in the hall after geometry,” Aimee piped up, scraping the bottom of her Yoplait container with her spoon like a mad woman, getting every last bit of blueberry. “You should
“Who is he, David Hasselhoff?”
Aimee scoffed. “Far better.”
Carrie wagged a finger at her. “Hey, don’t dis the
“Apparently he looks
like Tyler Vincent.” I mocked Aimee’s tendency to put an
, picking up her empty blueberry yogurt container and peering inside, my stomach growling again. She couldn’t have done much better if she’d licked it clean.
fat-free.” Aimee pointed at the label. “Just a hundred calories.”
“Tyler Vincent?” Wendy cocked her head, frowning and looking at me like she was trying to remember something. I was known far and wide in high school as a huge Tyler Vincent fan.
“You know, the rock star Sara lurrrrrrves.” Carrie nudged Wendy, but she was teasing me. I ignored her, watching Wendy opening ketchup packets with her teeth.
“No shit, Sherlock.” Wendy spat the bit of plastic onto her tray.
Carrie stuck her tongue out. “Fuck you, Watson.”
“Hush! Wait.” Wendy paused, licking ketchup off her fingers. “You’re talking about the new guy? I saw him with his dad registering in the office when I was changing my schedule.”
“What did you change to?” I picked up one of Wendy’s discarded ketchup packets and licked some sweetness off.
“Turns out I don’t need as many math credits as I thought. Thank God.” Wendy tore open another packet.
“Lucky you.” I made a face. I hated math. Although I hated science even more. Both of which I had to make up, along with most of the rest of my senior year.
“You saw him?” Aimee perked up, like a dog with a bone, just not letting it go. She licked yogurt off the back of her plastic spoon and grinned over at me. There was an actual blueberry stuck in her teeth now and I knew I should tell her, but I didn’t, just out of spite. Because I knew what she was thinking—if she fixed me up with a Tyler look-alike, I’d stop thinking about the
Tyler Vincent all the time. “Did you talk to him? He’s not a youngin’ is he?”
That’s what we called the smart kids, the seventeen and eighteen year olds who had their own accelerated classes at the academy. They were the minority here, misfits in a school of misfits.
“I heard him tell the counselor he was twenty.” Wendy shoved a few ketchup-slathered fries into her mouth before opening the wrapper on her fruit pie. “From some little backwards state that starts with an M. I can’t remember. The big city is gonna be culture shock for that poor, poor boy. Maybe you should show him the ropes, Sara?”
Wendy leered at me, waggling her pierced eyebrows.
“Oh, a cornchip?” Aimee frowned, looking disappointed.
“Looking like that?” Wendy snorted, slapping Aimee’s hand away when she reached for one of her fries. “You saw him. He didn’t look like a farmer to me.”
“Maryland?” Carrie guessed between bites of fries. I snitched one, avoiding her hand slap, my stomach thanking me loudly. “Massachusetts?”
I couldn’t contain my curiosity any more. “Okay, what did he look like?”
,” Aimee insisted again. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!”
“Michigan?” Carrie was still guessing.
“Come on, Wendy, tell me the truth.” Of course, I knew better. There was only one Tyler Vincent, the center of my known universe, and everything revolved around him. What did I care if a new transfer student from some backwoods state sort of resembled him? It wouldn’t be the real thing. It would be like trying to replace sugar with saccharine. Regular yogurt with “light
fat-free.” Yuk. “Does he really look like him?”
“Minnesota!” Carrie exclaimed, slapping the table triumphantly.
“None of the above.” Wendy shook her head, turning her attention to me. “If it’s the same guy I met in the office… wow. Sara, he’s a dead-ringer for Tyler Vincent. Aimee’s not joking. Same eyes, same hair, same cheekbones.”
you!” Aimee stuck out her tongue.
I cocked my head at Wendy, incredulous. “Same dimple in his chin?”
“Right. Here.” She touched her finger to my chin to show me, grinning. “He even dresses like a rock star. All black, and he was wearing this shiny belt…”
“Yes! Like it had diamonds all over it!” Aimee exclaimed. “It’s definitely the same guy!”
“Missouri?” Carrie guessed, wiping a bit of blueberry filling off her face. I snitched another one of her fries while she had her eyes closed, concentrating.
Wendy’s eyes widened. “That’s it!”
“Missouri? It was Missouri?”
“No!” Wendy scowled. “Diamond! Dale Diamond!”
“Crap,” Carrie mumbled, taking another bite of her Hostess pie. “Who knew there were so many states that start with M?”
“Dale Diamond.” Aimee grinned. “He’s even got a rock star name!”
So a new transfer student named Dale Diamond had found his way to Iselin, New Jersey from some podunk state and was clearly cashing in on his resemblance to a famous rock star in order to impress girls. From Aimee and Wendy’s reaction, it was working, but while I loved Tyler Vincent as much as the next girl, I wasn’t impressed. The new guy might
like Tyler Vincent—but the fact remained, he
Tyler Vincent. That’s all that mattered to me.
“Montana!” Carrie practically yelled it. “It has to be Montana! That’s the only one left!”
“You forgot Mississippi.” Aimee stared longingly as she watched Wendy shovel down her fries.
“Is it Mississippi?” Carrie asked.
“No… it’s the other one.” Wendy licked her salty fingers, pointing toward the ceiling. “You know, the one up north.”
I thought my heart was going to stop beating.
“Maine?” I managed to choke out, looking across the table and meeting Aimee’s widening eyes. Tyler Vincent lived in Maine—when he wasn’t touring or doing a new movie anyway. Aimee’s eyebrow raise couldn’t have said it any louder than she could have screamed it across the cafeteria—
coincidence? I think not!