Connections - 3

Kim Karr

For Kimberly . . .

For making this book as much a part of your soul as mine



Passenger—“Let Her Go”

Keane—“She Has No Time”

Chapter 1

HAIM—“The Wire”

Chapter 2

Need to Breathe—“Something Beautiful”

Chapter 3

The Pretty Reckless—“Under the Water”

Chapter 4

Dawes—“Just Beneath the Surface”

Chapter 5

Five for Fighting—“What If”

Chapter 6

Hinder—“Talk to Me”

Chapter 7

Robin Thicke—“Blurred Lines”

Chapter 8

Imagine Dragons—“Radioactive”

Chapter 9

Michael Franti—“I’m Alive”

Katy Perry—“I Kissed a Girl”

Chapter 10

Kodaline—“All I Want”

Chapter 11

One Republic—“Feel Again”

Chapter 12


Chapter 13

Stone Sour—“Through Glass”

Chapter 14

Michelle Branch—“Everywhere”

Chapter 15

Justin Timberlake—“Mirrors”

Chapter 16

Parachute—“Something to Believe In”

Katy Perry—“Roar”

Kelly Clarkson—“Walk Away”

The Script—“Walk Away”

Chapter 17

Marie Miller—“You’re Not Alone”

Chapter 18

Michael Franti—“I’m Alive”

Chapter 19


Chapter 20

B. Taylor—“Let’s Get This Party Started”

Collective Soul—“You”

Maroon 5—“Harder to Breathe”

No Doubt—“Marry Me”


Let Her Go

Xander, 18 Years Old

A black Jetta with heavily tinted windows swerves around the corner and comes to a stop in front of me, blocking my path as I walk through her school parking lot. The window rolls down and the thumping of the stereo’s bass assaults me. I grin, recognizing the song immediately.

Logan Taylor pokes his head out to meet my stare. “Hey, dude, where you been?”

“Hey, man. Good to see you. I’ve been here and there. You?”

He hangs his arm out the open window. “Same. It’s been weird not jamming with you every day.”

“I know. Talk to your aunt.”

“Do I look suicidal?” he says, then blows the hair out of his eyes.

I just shake my head because there’s nothing else I can say. Not wanting to discuss Mrs. Taylor, I check out the curves he’s sitting in. “New car?” I ask as my eyes sweep the sleek, shiny body in front of me.

He shakes his head. “I wish. It’s my dad’s, and anyway you know I’d never pick a yuppie-mobile if I had my choice. I’d much rather have a car like yours any day, but no chance of that.”

I laugh. I do love my car. It used to belong to my father—it was his sixteenth birthday present from my grandparents and he kept it all these years. When I was little I always admired it even if it only sat in my grandparents’ garage. My dad never drove it anymore. He said it wasn’t a family car. So when my dad gave me his shiny red Corvette for my own sixteenth birthday, I couldn’t have been more excited.

“You here to see my cousin?”

“You know it,” I say with a grin.

“She’ll be glad to see you, man. She’s been in a funk. Her mother has her going out on auditions almost every day.”

I roll my eyes and sigh at the same time. I can’t wait to get her out of this town. I take a deep breath before responding. “She told me you’ve been getting her where she needs to go. Thanks for looking out for my girl.”

“Hey, she’s family and I love her. I’d do anything for my cousin. . . . You know that. Listen, I have to jet, but call me and let’s get together,” he says, then speeds off.

I shuffle onward with a slight smile on my face from knowing I finally get to see her. I take the short walk over to our meeting spot and the bell rings just as I arrive. The doors open and she walks my way. Her earrings glitter where they dangle from her ears—the sun reflecting off the star-shaped sapphire stones that are the exact same color as her eyes. Watching the way she moves, I can’t help but think she’s the total package . . . looks, personality, brains, and a rocking body. There’s a mysterious allure about her that I can never explain—she has an innocence that I’d do anything to protect. She’s confident yet shy, strong but not, a rebel and a conformist all in one. And I fucking love her.

A huge smile breaks across her angelic face when she sees me standing near the basketball court and my heart goes crazy. Her small frame whisks in my direction and her long, platinum blond hair blows in the wind. She lifts her hand to her mouth and forms a perfect O as she blows me a kiss. She looks beautiful, and all I can do is grin. My gaze quickly drifts to her chest and then down to her narrow hips. She’s wearing a white button-down that’s a tad too tight and a navy skirt that’s a little too short. Don’t get me wrong—my body reacts to hers with just a single glance. That’s how much I love the way she looks. But I hate the thought of all the other guys seeing what’s mine, especially when I’m not around to put them in their place.

Pulling off my red Brent Academy polo and tossing it on the bench behind me, I slide my shades on and stand in my khakis and white T-shirt waiting for my girl, Ivy Taylor, to get closer. I keep my eyes fixed on her, ignoring all the other students around me. Sure, some of the guys walking by give me crooked looks, but that’s as far as they take it anymore. They’re used to seeing me by now—I’ve been waiting for her most days after school since I started driving. At first they didn’t like me on their school grounds, but after a few fights they learned to leave me alone or get the shit kicked out of them. Just because I dress like a preppy ass doesn’t mean I am one.

Today I skipped out of school early—leaving my brother at the pristine private school we attend so I could see my girlfriend. Ivy attends a magnet school in the heart of LA. She lives nearby in a rent-controlled apartment building with her mother and three much younger sisters. Their father took off on them long ago and Kelly Taylor, Ivy’s mother, is nothing if not resentful about it. In fact, her spiteful attitude is sometimes directed at me, and lately she’s restricted our time together. She says she got a new job with later hours, so now Ivy has to go home right after school and I’m no longer allowed over when she’s not there. Coincidental? I doubt it. I can see through her—she views me as a threat to her golden ticket.

There’s no one to blame except myself for not keeping my big mouth shut, but I couldn’t help it. Her vendetta against me started when she overheard Ivy and me planning our rehearsal schedule. She made the idiotic statement that her daughter was a born actress and she should be spending her time rehearsing for parts and preparing for auditions, not playing in a band. She even went so far as to ask me, “Don’t you agree, Xander, that with Ivy’s looks she should be an actress, not a singer?”

“Do you even know Ivy?” I asked with a dry laugh.

“Yes, I know my daughter. And I know that with her beauty, she’ll be an instant superstar. She just needs a push in the right direction. She needs to put herself out there more is all. Did she tell you an agent contacted me?”

I looked at her, dumbfounded, shaking my head. Because no, Ivy hadn’t told me.

She grinned. “Well, one did—last week. He spotted Ivy when the band was playing at that school in Anaheim and thought she’d be perfect for a TV show airing in the fall. She auditions for it next week.”

Ivy’s head dropped as she spoke. “Mom, I told you, there’s no way I’m wearing a bathing suit on camera.”

Mrs. Taylor snapped, “Ivy, maybe the lifeguard part isn’t right for you, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another role you’d like in the series. You need to go for the exposure, if not for the practice.”

“Mom, I don’t want to act,” Ivy reluctantly told her mother.

“We’ve talked about this. Singing in a band will take you nowhere. The money is in acting.”

“She doesn’t care about where the money is,” I retorted, glaring at her mother. I mean, come on, Ivy’s a modest, shy girl. It took forever for her to feel comfortable around me. Traipsing around a movie set half-dressed isn’t exactly her thing, and honestly, I don’t think I could handle it anyway. I didn’t even bother to address where the money is. That was just a ridiculous statement. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Taylor, but everything isn’t about money. Ivy’s never even expressed the slightest bit of interest in acting—it’s always been you making her go on auditions that she doesn’t want to go on. I think Ivy needs to decide what she wants to do herself.”

“That’s easy for you to say. Money has never been an issue for you or your family,” Mrs. Taylor said.

I didn’t respond. She was wrong. Yes, my grandfather had money, but my mother had been living paycheck to paycheck over the last couple of years. My father’s erratic work schedule never guaranteed enough to even pay the mortgage, and if it weren’t for my grandparents we’d have lost our house. But that wasn’t something I was going to get into with her. I may have had a smug look on my face, I don’t know, because she stared at me for the longest time and so did Ivy. The difference? Ivy’s stare said, “Thank you.” Mrs. Taylor’s stare said, “Fuck you.”