Monday, September 2, 2013

The Tenor's Fall by Paola A. Rodriguez Blog Tour


Julian is a disgraced superstar, hated by everybody in America. Accused of a crime he didn't commit. He leaves everything behind and goes back to his roots, changing himself enough that he can go unrecognized by the people around him. He meets Sandy a young woman who teaches him how to laugh and live again. The two of them will have to confront his ghosts and the man responsible for Julian’s fall.

This book contains adult/mature young adult situations.

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About Paola A. Rodriguez

I currently live in Miami Florida. I went to FAU for accounting but my real love has always been books and I’m excited to start doing what I truly love. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved books more than anything else. I remember my father bringing me a collection of stories. And I remembered reading them and being transported to new and amazing worlds. Worlds where magic carpets existed, places full of adventure. And ever since then, I’ve never stopped reading. But what I wanted to do was to create my own stories and now the time is right to start sharing those stories with other people. I’m lucky to live close to the beach. I love going with my family and friends and getting inspired with the gorgeous view of the ocean. I’m currently working on a couple of new novels, the second and final book of The Tenor’s fall, should be out in late 2013.

Goodreads -


The love story, il volo
Granada, Il volo
Remember, Josh Groban


Chapter 1
      It was a dark rainy day. I was looking out at the waves hitting the beach. The ocean was 
restless just like me, so I went out and started walking, knowing the physical exertion could help 
calm me. I was completely exhausted by all the negative media attention focused on me.  I still 
couldn’t believe how close I’d come to being convicted, the thought of going back to jail for even 
one more hour scared the shit out of me, let alone for the rest of my life. 
      Last year I’d been on top of the world and now at twenty, my life was in ruins. After being 
accused of raping and killing my co-start, who had been one of the most beautiful teenage stars 
of our generation, I became America’s most hated man. Hundreds of people had stood outside the 
courtroom asking for my head. 
     I was acquitted but the general belief was that I got away with murder. Everybody in America 
thought that I was guilty. They were convinced that I was free because of my wealth and 
celebrity. All the people who only a year ago had been begging for a closer association with me 
now ran for the hills, avoiding me like the plague. The same people who used to gaze at me with 
respect and admiration now looked with hatred, and fear.  
     I couldn’t go anywhere without causing a scene, people could start screaming, calling me 
a rapist and a murderer. And I never wanted to kill more than when they did that. I never 
considered myself violent until now. But the rage inside of me was a crawling insidious thing, and 
all I wanted to do was use my fists until they were bloody. I wanted the blood of all those smug 
bastards who crucified me in the media. It had been a witch-hunt, and the media gleefully went 
after me, they never even considered that I might be innocent. I guess it wasn’t good for ratings. 
     Six months had passed from the day the verdict was announced.  And I still couldn’t rid myself 
of the fear, the anxiety, the shame, and the rage! Everybody had turned against me. My so called 
friends, my record label, even my employees looked at me differently. So I made sure to keep all 
of them away from me. I hated to be around those fuckers anyway.
      I wasn’t close to my parents and I hadn’t been close to them for years. So I didn’t expect 
much from them. And they certainly didn’t offer me their support when I needed it the most. The 
only member of my family who supported me without reservation was my grandfather. He stood 
by me, just as he always had. Beside him the only two other people who believed in my innocence 
were Maria Jones, and my lawyer and confidant Kyle Jenkins. I was extremely grateful that they 
remained loyal to me. After seeing every person around me turn against me their loyalty meant 
everything to me.
     Maria Jones, who had been like a mother to me, never doubted me. I never once saw an 
ounce of mistrust on her face, her unwavering support for me and my grandfather kept me sane. 
She now lived in New York and often called me, I heard the messages she constantly left on my 
phone.  I should call her back, I knew that ignoring her calls was fucked up, but I hadn’t been up 
to talking with anyone.  
     Kyle, I met when I was fourteen and he became my lawyer when I signed my first record deal. 
He’d become like a cool older brother, he was always getting me off scrapes, but it was just a lot 
of innocent pranks. He knew who I was he never believed any of the accusations against me. The 
three of them were the only people in the world I trusted. 
          I remember when I first met my grandfather and Maria. I was ten years old when my 
parents shipped me off to my grandfather’s home, it was supposed to be only for the summer, but 
they never came back for me. They just started new lives without me. It was easier for them to 
go their separate ways without the baggage of a ten year old son to weight them down.  I guess it 
was still easier to pretend I didn’t exist. Not that I cared, not anymore. But when I first arrived at 
my grandfather’s house I cared then, that was when my childhood ended. 
     I knew that my family was falling apart. My parents were always yelling. They were so busy 
fighting that they never had any time for me. I didn’t feel any sense of security around them. So 
when they sent me away to be with a grandfather I didn’t remember, a stranger with whom I was 
supposed to stay all summer, all I felt was dread. I think deep down I knew I could never go back 
home. There was no home to go back to.
     My grandfather Ben had become a widower five years back. He was living almost in seclusion, 
trying to cope with his loss. It was awkward at the beginning when he tried to make conversation. 
I was so nervous I could hardly talk to him, not the best start. But he proved to be very patient, 
and moving in with him was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if I didn’t know it at 
the time. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
     “Come I’ll show you to your room” He said briskly, leading me to a small room on the second 
floor. I remember following him, trying to be good and quiet. I set my luggage on the bed, looking 
at him somberly, trying to blend in. I didn’t want him to get angry, to start yelling. I had enough 
of that with my parents.
     “I’ll make you some lunch, and you can get settled in.” He said, as he left the room. 
     I sat down on the bed, crying silently. I was so scared. What if my grandfather didn’t want 
me around either? Where could I go? I didn’t want to end up alone, so I decided after a few more 
minutes of crying that maybe if I made myself useful my grandfather couldn’t send me away. So I 
dried my tears and I left in search of him, finding him in the kitchen, cutting some vegetables.
     “Do you want some help?” I asked hesitantly from the doorway. 
     My grandfather took a look at my red eyes and decided to let me help him. “Do you know how 
to cut vegetables?” He asked quietly.
     “Not really, but I can learn.” I said eagerly, with just a hint of a smile.
     “Ok let me show you what I want you to do, but first wash your hands.” He ordered, as he 
collected more ingredients from the refrigerator. 
     I went to the sink washing my hands dutifully, looking at the ingredients my grandfather put 
on the counter.
     “The first thing that I want you to do it’s to cut the carrots. It’s really easy but you need to be 
really careful with the knife, I don’t want you to cut yourself.” Ben said, taking his time showing 
me how to cut the carrots, and other vegetables. He kept an eye on me, making sure I was 
     “Who taught you how to cook?” I asked curiously getting involved in the process, my curiosity 
coming out despite my best efforts to suppress it. 
     Ben Laughed at the question a happy smile coming to his face. “It was your grandmother that 
woman was a tyrant, she always had to have her way, and she wanted to make sure I could feed 
myself when I had to travel for work.” Ben said fondly. 
     “How was she a tyrant?” I asked intrigued.
     “She could nag, and nag, and nag until she got her way. I thought a man didn’t have to cook, 
that it was women work, but she worked on me until it was either learn how to cook or go crazy 
from all the nagging.”  Ben said ruefully and I laughed delightedly. 
     My grandfather had been so consumed by grief that he’d forgotten a lot of the fun stuff that 
he shared with his wife. But sharing the memory had been very freeing for him.  So we spent the 
rest of the day cooking, doing shores, and telling stories. Later that day he took me to meet his 
friends Derek and Maria Jones.
     We arrived at their house around six in the afternoon. The house was an old colonial house, 
warm and inviting.  Derek was delighted to see his old friend. “Ben good to see you man, you’re 
looking good.”  He said giving Ben a slap in the back.
     “Thanks, you too,” Ben said with a smile. “This is my grandson Julian” He said as pushed me 
forward. I stumbled slightly, but Ben kept me standing up. Holding me like a puppy, he grabbed 
my sweater.
     “Julian nice to meet you,” Derek said with a warm smile, shaking my hand “So your grandpa 
finally decided to show you off?” 
     “It’s nice to meet you too.” I said with a shy smile.
     “Come on in, Maria is in the kitchen finishing dinner.” Derek led us towards the family room 
where he had a game of solitary on the coffee table.
     “Oh come on I think we can do better than this.” Ben said with a smile as he glanced at the 
cards “Let’s play some poker.”
     “You’re on! And this time you’re going down.” Derek said with a laugh “What about you, do 
you want to play kid?”
     “I don’t know how to play.” I said with a shrug 
     “Oh well, we need to fix that” Ben said seriously 
     “We sure do.” Derek said as he started gathering the cards together. 
     They spend a good part of the evening teaching me how to play cards, laughing, and having 
a great time. Maria finally came out of the kitchen, telling us dinner was ready. From the first 
moment I met her, Maria had been very friendly and loving. She teased me gently, urging me to 
eat more. And she argued well naturedly with her husband and Ben. It was a nice change from 
the terrible fights I was used to seeing my parents get into.    
     After dinner we all went back to the family room, where Derek feeling festive took out his 
guitar and started playing for us. I was sitting next to him, watching him play mesmerized. I 
was looking at his fingers intently, trying to see how Derek was playing, loving the music. Finally 
Derek finished the song and looked down at me. “Did you like it?” He asked me smiling.
     “Wow that was great!” I said in awe. I wanted to learn how to play.
     “You didn’t know your grandpa and I were in a band?” He asked curiously, looking at Ben, who 
shook his head smiling at the expression in my face.
     “You were in a band grandfather?” I asked in amazement, my opinion of him doing a oneeighty.
     “A long time ago… yes.” Ben said laughing.
     “And can you teach me how to play the guitar and stuff?” I asked pleadingly. There was 
nothing I wanted more than to learn how to play the guitar. I had been bitten by the musical bug.
     “If you want.” Ben said nodding his head, looking pleased.
     “I’ll help too. I think I might be a better teacher anyway.” Derek said teasingly.
     “We’ll see about that.” Ben said with a mock scold, making me laugh. 
     The rest of the summer passed by so quickly, I spend it not only with my grandfather, but also 
with Derek and Maria. We spent most of the time between the two houses just having fun, playing 
cards, which I became very good at, and learning the guitar. When I mastered it, they taught me 
how to play the piano. I was a very quick study, learning a lot quicker than anybody expected it. 
But while I was happily oblivious, consumed with music my family was falling apart. 
     After they sent me away, my parents quickly realized that the only thing that had been holding 
them together had been me, without me in the picture they couldn’t find any common ground. 
The fights became more heated and vicious, and after a few weeks of living in the same house in 
a constant state of war my father decided that he had enough. He packed his bags, accepting a 
job as a correspondent overseas. The following day my mother filed for divorce. 
     They’d been renting a house and as it happened their lease was about to expire. As soon as 
my mother found out that he had left the country she sold all their furniture, returned the house 
and she accepted a job as an assistant for a millionaire named Donovan Reeve. She met him at 
a party a few days after Greg left, she was a little drunk when she started flirting with an older 
man who showered her with attention. Donovan Reeve she later discovered was a millionaire who 
wanted someone to travel with him and handle his affairs as he moved between his three main 
residences in New York, California, and London. She moved in with him as his assistant, but their 
relationship changed very quickly and they became a couple. 
     I didn’t know just how drastically things had changed until the end of the summer, when my 
mother called my grandfather, asking him to keep me for a few more months. Those months later 
turned into years.
     I used music to keep at bay my feelings of abandonment. I spent almost every waking 
minute emerged in music. Since my grandfather and Derek taught me to play the piano and the 
guitar. I decided to learn other instruments, I took violin, cello, and flute lessons in school.  I 
was an A student, but my real passion was music. By the time that I was fourteen I had been 
experimenting with music compositions and lyrics for some time. But when my voice changed 
I started experimenting with my singing. And my voice took me on a path straight to fame and 
fortune, but it also led me to where I was today, completely destroyed, completely isolated.
Chapter 2
     When I was finally acquitted, I couldn’t be around anybody. I was too full of rage. So I asked 
my grandfather, Maria, and Kyle to give me time and space. I knew my grandfather didn’t want to 
leave me alone, but he eventually respected my wishes. I hated knowing that he had to listen to 
all those lies about me. But there was nothing I could do.
     The first thing that I did after I came back from court was to dismiss all my staff. I couldn’t 
stand being around them, knowing they all thought I was guilty. They were told I was moving out 
of the country and I had Kyle given them a six month severance package. 
     The truth was that I was still living at home. My music the only comfort I had left. I was 
finished as a recording artist but I could still play for myself. Music helped me regain my stability, 
creating new melodies and songs restored a part of me that I lost during the trial, it soothed 
my soul. So I played for hours and hours every day. Also needing a physical outlet I started to 
exercise constantly, something I never did before, swimming, and lifting weights. Before my 
ordeal I had a slightly overweight body but with the constant exercise I developed a stronger 
more defined body. Not that I took too much notice of these changes, at least not at first. The 
only thing on my mind was the public backlash and the betrayal from the people closest to me. 
My girlfriend Melissa Roberts had viciously attacked me on television, dumping me on live TV. I 
guess I should have expected it, but I truly believed that we had something special. I thought she 
knew me well enough to know I was innocent. But I guess I was wrong about that.
     After the break up I became depressed, trying to get out of bed each day was a battle. I 
lost interest in my own environment, drinking constantly. What saved me was music, one day I 
walked into my studio and started playing. I played all day, I was so consumed with the music I 
was creating that I forgot to drink, I forgot to eat. That broke my self-destructive cycle. Now all I 
did was exercise, and create music. I never shaved anymore and after six months, my face was 
covered by a thick beard, and my hair was longer than ever. 
     One day I happened to look at myself in one of the mirrors and I almost didn’t recognize my 
reflection. My face was slim, chiseled and with the beard I looked different. I no longer looked 
like the baby face boy the public was used to seeing. My most recognized features were my long 
blond hair and my blue eyes. This gave me an idea. I went into my bathroom, grabbed a pair of 
scissors and I cut my hair almost to the scalp. When I was done I shaved my head completely. I 
looked more mature. The thick beard and shaved head changed my features. I looked at myself 
and started to plot.  
      I wouldn’t stay inside the house anymore I was starting to go insane. So I packed some 
clothes, grabbed one of my guitars, and my laptop. I took some money out of the safe, grabbed 
my wallet and put the bags in the trunk of my Mercedes. I went back inside the house found a 
pair of sun glasses. I put them on, looking in the mirror. The change in my appearance was even 
more marked with the glasses on. And then something else occurred to me. I grabbed my phone 
and called Kyle.
     “Kyle, I need your help” I said as soon as my friend came on the line.
     “What’s wrong?” He said worriedly.
     “Nothing is wrong, but I need you to get me some stuff.”
     “Oh ok, what do you need?” Kyle asked relived. 
     “I want you to go to one of those eye doctor places and get me a pair of non-prescription 
brown contact lenses, and get me a pair of non-prescription reading glasses.” 
     “Oh god, what are you going to do?” Kyle asked alarmed. 
     “Nothing, I just need to get out of the house for a while.” I said impatiently.
     “I hear you man, but to be realistic your face is one of the most recognizable faces in the 
world.” Kyle said carefully.
      I took a deep breath, trying not to yell at my friend for telling me what I already knew. 
“Please Kyle just get me what I asked ok?” 
     “Ok, I’ll be there as soon as I can get your stuff.” 
     “Thank you.” I said gratefully. 
     Forty five minutes later Kyle was knocking on my door, carrying a bag. 
     “Finally!” I said as I opened the door. 
     Kyle opened his mouth to complain, when he finally got a look at me, and his jaw dropped.  
“Holy shit!” Kyle said in disbelief. “What did you do to yourself?”
     “I just wanted a change.” I said sarcastically, as I led the way to my bedroom. 
     “You look ripped, you have a beard, and you shaved your head!” Kyle said in disbelief
     “You sure are one observant Sonofabitch.” I said with a little smirk, starting to enjoy my 
friend’s reaction.
     “Oh you think this is funny?” He said with a frown, but he was starting to find the humor in the 
situation. “I can’t believe you shaved your head! And I can’t believe you are one of the lucky sons 
of bitches who actually looks good bald.” Kyle said shaking his head at the injustice, he was losing 
his hair and he wasn’t as lucky. He just didn’t look good bald.  
     I couldn’t help it, looking at Kyle’s disgruntled expression I started to laugh. I thought that I 
could never laugh again, but here I was laughing at my best friend. It was the first step towards 
recovery, I didn’t realize it at that moment but Kyle did. And he started to laugh too, his laughter 
a combination of relief and happiness.
     “Do you have the stuff?” I asked looking at the bag that Kyle was carrying.
     “Here” He passed me the bag then he went to one of the chairs by the bed. 
     I went to the bathroom to put the contact lenses on. My eyes changed with the lenses on, they 
were a little more generic, a nice brown, not my vibrant blue. I put the glasses on and my look 
was a more everyday white collar worker. I went back out to show Kyle the change.
     “What do you think?” I asked my friend.
     “I think it works.” Kyle said quietly.
     “What are you going to do?” 
     “I’m going to New York, I want to visit Maria. I really need to get out of here for a while.” 
     “Do you want me to get your plane ready?” Kyle asked.
     “No I’m driving.”
     “Driving? Julian, New York is too far away.” Kyle said exasperated. 
     “I know, but I don’t want a paper trail. I don’t want anybody to know, it will ruin my disguise, 
besides I really want to get out of the house see the country side.” I said with a smirk. 
     Kyle just shook his head in amusement. “So you’re driving to New York wearing a disguise?” 
     “That’s right. It should be fun.” I said tilting my head to the side, taking a last look in the 
mirror. I looked like a different guy. It was awesome.
     “Great, just great!” Kyle said resignedly. 
     “Let me call Maria to make sure that she wants company” I said, as I grabbed my phone.
     “Oh I think she’ll be delighted.” He said rolling his eyes.
     “I don’t take anything for granted anymore.” I murmured, as I waited for Maria to pick up. 
     “Maria, hi” I said cheerfully when I got her on the line.
     “Julian! You horrible boy, I left about a thousand messages and you never replied! I thought I 
raised you better than that.” she scolded me gently.
     “Sorry, I guess I had a lot on my mind.” I murmured.
     “I know honey, but it’ll get better.” She said comfortingly.
     “I hope you’re right.” I said quietly. “Maria, I’m going a little crazy here, can I visit you?” 
     “Of course, I could love for you to visit. I miss you!” She said excitedly. 
     “I know, I miss you too,” I said truthfully. “Listen, do you have a lot of people working for you 
at home?” 
     “No just one lady who helps me clean and cook.” Maria said surprised by the question. 
     “Sweetheart, I can clean and cook for you for a couple of weeks.” I offered hesitantly. “And I 
can pay your housekeeper to go on vacation for the two or three weeks I’ll be there. I just don’t 
want any company but you.” I said a little lost.  
     “Whatever you want, just come.” Maria said shocked up. 
     “Thank you. Let me call you back with the exact date. It will probably be two to three days.” I 
said gratefully. 
     “Ok, call me soon.” She said sternly, making me smile. 
     “Yes, ma’am.” I said respectfully before I disconnected.
     I turned back to Kyle “I’m leaving for New York tonight. Please take care of the house for me.” 
     “I will. I sort of wish I could go to New York with you.” He said wishfully.
     “You’re too recognizable. If they see you they’ll make the connection to me.” I said regretfully. 
     “I know.” He said with a sigh. “Well give my best to Maria.”
     “I will, thanks Kyle.”
     “No problem man, I’m here if you need anything.” He said shaking my hand, leaving me to get 
ready for my trip.
Chapter 3
     When I finally arrived at Maria’s home, I was exhausted but very excited to be in a different 
place. I was also a little concerned about the fact that Maria lived in an apartment building in 
Manhattan. I didn’t want to be recognized, or have to deal with too many people. But I took a 
deep breath and started walking to the front desk, carrying my laptop case, my guitar, and a 
backpack. My other bags I left in the car. 
     “Good afternoon how may I help you?” The front desk attendant asked with a polite smile. 
     “Hello, I’m here to see Maria Jones. My name is Edward Clark, I’m expected.” I said giving the 
name I decided to use while I was visiting Maria.
     “Yes, she is expecting you.” The attendant said pleasantly, as he gave me the room number 
and directed me to the elevators. When I arrived at Maria’s door, I felt like a weight had been 
lifted from my shoulders. I knocked on the door impatiently. 
     Maria opened the door smiling widely. “Finally! Oh my god I’m so happy to see you.” She said 
as she grabbed me in a bear hug. I laughed and hugged her back. 
     “Let me get the bags inside.” I said trying to get her to let me go, she was starting to choke 
me a little but I didn’t mind.
     “Of course come in. Here let me help you with one of your bags.” Maria said as she tried to 
take one of my bags.
     “No I got it.” I said with a smile, not allowing her to carry my bag. We went into the 
apartment, putting my bags at the entrance. I grabbed Maria in another hug, extremely happy to 
see her. 
     “Oh Julian, it’s so good to have you here safe with me.” Maria said as she hugged me tightly to 
     “I’m ok. It’s over now.” I said trying to reassure her, as well as myself.
     “I’m so glad you’re here. I knew they wouldn’t put you in jail.” She said fiercely. 
     “I love you sweetheart.” I said choked up. 
     “I love you too. Now let me see what you did to yourself.” She said as she pulled back to look 
at me. 
     “What do you think?” I asked with a hint of a smirk. 
     “I think that you did a very good job with the disguise,” She said quietly. “I almost didn’t 
recognize you. If you hadn’t warned me I might’ve slammed the door in your face.” 
     “That’s perfect.” I said with satisfaction.
     “Oh, but your beautiful hair!” Maria said a little sadly as she stroked my head.
     “It doesn’t matter. I can’t be me right now, they destroyed me.” I said somberly. “I need to be 
somebody else for a while or I’ll go insane.” 
     “I understand you need time to rest.” She said concerned. “But what are you going to do to 
clear your name?” 
     “I hired a private detective to try to find the real killer but that’s a slim hope. I don’t know if I 
can ever clear my name.” 
     “I’m sure that the truth will come out sooner or later.” Maria said fiercely. “I’m glad you’re 
here. I can show you around, you can be a tourist for a while.” Maria said with enthusiasm, trying 
to lift my spirits. When she saw my expression of apprehension she tried to reassure me. “If I 
almost didn’t recognize you, then believe me no one else will.”
     “I guess you’re right.” I said with a little smirk at her disgruntled expression. 
     “Come on I’ll show you to your room,” Maria said as she started guiding me towards my room. 
I grabbed my bag of clothes and my laptop but I left the guitar on the floor by the door. Maria 
grabbed it and carried it for me.
     “Thanks.” I murmured as I continued to follow her.
     “You’re welcome. I have lunch ready, are you hungry?” 
     “Starving,” I said with a laugh, surprised to realize I was really hungry. “I miss your cooking.”
     “Good I hate for food to go to waste.” She said with a mock scold. 
     “I couldn’t dream of it.” I said drily, but enjoying her scolding all the same. It was so normal, I 
loved it.
     When we arrived at my room, I took a quick look around, leaving my bags inside and then I 
went to the kitchen to have lunch with her. We talked for a long time happy to be in each other’s 
company again. When I finally went to bed I stayed there for almost twenty four hours. I slept in 
peace for the first time in almost a year. 
     At first Maria let me be, but after I rested for twenty-four hours she started to worry, so the 
next day she made me breakfast and then she went to my room to wake me up.
     “Julian,” she said as she knocked on my door. “Wake up, breakfast’s ready.”
     “I’ll be right out.” I said groggily. When she left the room I stood up, took a quick shower, and 
dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. 
     “Good Morning.” Maria said cheerfully, putting my breakfast on the table.
     “Morning,” I said as I took my first taste of coffee. “I think life might be worth living after all.” 
I said half-jokingly. 
     “Good eat up.” Maria said ignoring my comment. “We have a lot to do today. I’m going to 
show you around. You’re going to love it.” I didn’t know what to say so I just shrugged.
     “At what time do you want to leave?” I asked, eating my breakfast. 
     “You have time to unpack, but we should leave by eleven. There is a lot to see. Maria said with 
enthusiasm as she started to eat her own breakfast. 
     “I don’t really need to unpack right now.” I said as I took another sip of my coffee.
     “On no you don’t. I know you, if I don’t make you unpack, you’ll just leave your clothes in the 
bags.” She said sternly. 
     “Ok, I’ll unpack.” I grinned boyishly. 
     “That’s the spirit! Go on eat your food.” Maria said with satisfaction.
     “I was surprised when I realized that you were living in an apartment complex.” I said 
     “I find it easier to live here than in a house. The apartment complex provides a lot of services 
to its residents. They provide housekeeping staff, and catering whenever you want them.  Keeping 
a house requires a lot of work and I don’t want to deal with any of that.”
     “I liked my house. It was great living there, before…you know.” I said a little sadly.
     “You had too many people around.” Maria said a little disapprovingly. 
     “Well that’s not a problem anymore. I fired all my staff.”
     “You did? Good for you. So how are you keeping your house?” Maria asked curiously.
     “I pretty much closed it down. I’m only using my room and the studio.” I suddenly laughed. 
“I’m living in an apartment!”
     “I think one bedroom is considered less than an apartment.” Maria said humorously. 
     “You’re right a house requires a lot of work, but the good thing about it is that you don’t have 
to deal with neighbors, at least in my case.”
     “Well my neighbors are all great, very friendly, and respectful. Specially the girl next door, she 
is a doll. She helps me out a lot.” Maria said with a shrug. 
     “I’m glad you have somebody to help you out. But you should be back in the California where 
we can help you if you need anything” I said disapprovingly. I always hated that Maria had moved 
so far away. “You’re my family.”
     “Maybe, I will go back someday or maybe you’ll stay.” Maria said with a laugh.
     “I don’t think so, there’re too many people around, besides I don’t want to be so far from 
     “How is he doing?” Maria asked warmly.
     “The past year has been difficult on all of us,” My voice hardened. “I can’t really talk to him 
right now.”
     “Why not?” Maria demanded. 
     “I feel like I’ve let him down.” I said looking away.
     “Julian none of this is your fault. Ben knows that!” Maria said forcefully.
     “I know that but I can’t help the way I feel.” I said quietly.
     “You should talk to somebody to help you with the trauma.”
     “A therapist?” I shook my head in disbelief. “I can’t trust anybody right now. Everything I’ve 
said has been used against me.”
      She sighed sadly in resignation. “I’m sorry you had to go through so much.” 
     “Me too.” I said with a rueful smile, as I finished my breakfast. “I’ll go unpack, I won’t be 
     “Thanks for breakfast.” I said kissing the top her head as I went past her. When I finished 
unpacking I sat on my bed, playing with my guitar quietly to myself. And I remembered that when 
I first met Maria my life was also spinning out of control. But she along with her husband and my 
grandfather had been able to center me. I guess I was here hopping for the same thing.
Chapter 4
     After we came back from our sightseeing trip I was completely relaxed. Nobody recognized 
me, it was great! I was able to really have fun as a tourist, enjoying just being a normal person 
again. I hadn’t been able to do that since I was fourteen and I didn’t realize how much I missed 
it. Being a celebrity you’re recognized wherever you go, people come up to you for autographs, or 
to take pictures. You have no sense of freedom to just be yourself there’s always a mask that you 
have to wear. But now ironically, I was wearing a disguise but I wasn’t wearing a mask. I was free 
to be myself. And it gave me hope that maybe I could still have a life.
     I grabbed a glass of wine, the only liquor Maria kept, and was about to go to my room to get 
rid of my contact lenses when suddenly I heard a couple of urgent loud knocks on the door. I 
went to see who it was. When I opened the door a beautiful girl pushed her way in and closed the 
door quickly behind her, leaning against the door with her eyes closed. When she opened them 
she started to smile until she saw me.

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