I See the Real You
The number one song in the world was written about me.
And no one knew but me and the asshole who wrote it.
The same asshole who was about to sing it right now.
“Thanks so much for coming out to Wright Vineyard tonight to celebrate the Best in Class Abbey Vintage,” Campbell Abbey said into the microphone. He was seated on a stool with an acoustic guitar in his lap. His big blue eyes penetrated the dense crowd packed into the barn at his brother’s winery. His dark hair was artfully messy. For once, he’d ditched his signature leather jacket and was in a plain black tee and ripped black jeans. He made rock god look effortless. “Before I go, I have one more song for you.”
The crowd went wild.
Including my friends Piper, Jennifer, and Annie. Even my assistant, Honey, was screaming her head off for the lead singer of Cosmere to perform his last song. His most popular song. The one we all knew was coming.
“This song goes out to every person who has ever felt invisible. To the girl in the back of the class, just trying to get by. To the guy on the bench. To you out there. Every one of you. This is ‘I See the Real You.’ ”
Somehow, the audience roared even louder as the opening riff drifted through the speakers. Then Campbell closed his eyes, and his honey-smooth voice filled the room. It was a serenade, an anthem, a fucking spell that he cast on every person who heard this song.
And I’d been ensorcelled first.
If I closed my eyes, I could remember that night so long ago.
The nervous butterflies in my stomach as I waited for the tap, tap at my window. Campbell climbing inside my bedroom with his guitar strapped to his back. The quick kisses as we fumbled for one another and the strum of his guitar in the afterglow of his affection. This song brushed across my lips.
I was the girl he had seen.
Until I wasn’t.
“I love this one so much!” Honey yelled over the crowd.
“Me too,” Annie said. She flipped her red hair, held her hands overhead, and swayed to the music.
“I third this,” Jennifer agreed. She had her giant camera up to her face and was taking photos of the crowd.
My best friend, Piper, shot me a look. She didn’t know about what Campbell and I had been through. She was three years older than me, and we hadn’t known each other in high school. We’d become inseparable in college. Even though she, like everyone else, had no idea we’d been together, Piper suspected. She had been dropping subtle hints ever since Campbell had come back to Lubbock to reunite with his family.
I’d repeated the same thing that I’d been saying since high school—nothing happened.
It was a lie. A huge fucking lie. But I’d been saying it long enough that I could almost believe it was true. That I’d never met him. That he’d never seen me. That I’d never fallen hopelessly in love. That he hadn’t ruined my entire life.
The only thing I could believe was one undeniable truth: he’d left.
The second we’d graduated high school, he’d taken his beat-up truck and driven straight to LA. One big dream propelling him out to the unknown. He’d been determined to succeed. And he had.
That didn’t mean I had to like it.
If I heard “I See the Real You” one more time, I was going to scream.
Blissfully, the final notes of the song faded. Campbell opened his eyes and stared out at the crowd beyond. For a split second, it was as if he saw me again. As if, despite the hundreds of people crammed together in this barn, he found my eyes. Just me.
Probably every other person in attendance felt the same way. He’d probably done it on purpose. Maybe the music industry had taught him how to make it feel like he was eye-fucking the entire room. He’d always had charisma. That special something that said he couldn’t be ignored. Even before he was that good of a guitar player with scratchy vocals and piss-poor lyrics, he had it. And you couldn’t train anyone in how to have it. You did, or you didn’t. But it had ballooned in the intervening years. He’d taken it from sultry high school heartthrob to the next level of panty-melting rockstar.
Campbell broke eye contact and shot a smile to his adoring crowd. “Thank you and have a good night.”
The lights came back up as he disappeared into the small backstage area. Wright Vineyard was the newest addition to the Wright family royalty. The Wrights owned Wright Construction, a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest construction companies in the country. Their cousins, Jordan and Julian, had moved here from Vancouver, and with the help of Hollin Abbey, they had opened the vineyard. Jordan had gotten it on its feet, Julian kept it running, and Hollin did everything else. It sure helped that his brother was famous and could show up every now and again to draw in a crowd.
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