Good Girl Page 62

Somehow I made it through the recording of that one without so much as a wobble, but then again, that song is an angry one. It’s about Noah, yes, but I wrote it before I fell in love with the damn fool.

Before I saw beneath the rough growls and jerk comments to the guy beneath. The one who was just a little vulnerable beneath all that alpha A-hole nonsense.

Before I knew he was a liar and a user and a whole bunch of other things that the English language hasn’t even come up with words for yet.

But I’m gonna come up with them, and they’re going to be good.

The producer gives me the signal, and as requested, I sing the last chorus of the song I’ve tentatively titled “Louisiana Nights.”

No point in hiding the fact that I was hunkered down in Louisiana. That secret got out of the bag real quick. Right around the time Noah’s—no, sorry—Preston’s fiancée dropped her little bomb. In an instant, the life that was so close to getting back in order was turned upside down.

My face? Back in the tabloids.

My name? Back through the mud.

But, crazily enough, I care less than I ever did before. With Shawn, I was annoyed at being accused of something I didn’t do. Now I’m being accused of something I did do, and that distinction is oddly freeing. It doesn’t feel like gossiping or trash talk so much as it is stating the facts.

Preston Walcott did lie to me about his identity.

He was engaged to a bitchy Baton Rouge socialite.

I did sleep with him.

The fact that his engagement ended before we hooked up was just semantics. To the world, and to me.

I mean, sure, I believe him. Like everyone else, I watched the now infamous YouTube video where the whole debacle went down, right up to the very end where he tore up the wedding invitation.

But it sparked nothing in me.

Not a shred of emotion.

That’s been pretty much the norm in the week since I’ve left Louisiana. I’ve been—numb. Utterly, bone-chillingly numb.

My parents are freaking out about it, although they keep pretending everything’s fine. I’ve moved back in with them for the short term, although I escape to Amber’s every now and then to get some breathing room. My mother is one of those stereotypical types that thinks she can fix everything with food, and if I see one more biscuit, I’m going to hurl.

Of course, Amber’s smoothies aren’t much better. She claimed the one this morning was banana and chocolate. Failed to mention the Swiss chard she stuck in there. #Fail.

“This is sounding really good, Jen. I’m super pleased,” Tatum says with a wide smile.

I smile back, but it feels brittle.

“You want to call it a wrap for today? Maybe tomorrow we can tackle ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ with the lyric changes we talked about.”

I nod, starting to take off the headphones, but I stop at the last minute.

“Actually, Tatum…”

“ ’Sup?”

I suck in a deep breath for courage.

“There is one more song,” I force myself to say.

“Oh?” He frowns, glancing down at his list.

“It’s not on there. I’ve been working on it for the past couple of days. It’ll be the last add-on, I swear.”

“Not a problem, sweetheart. You know we’ll take as many songs as you can give us. Let’s do a run-through first. You grab the guitar, I’ll get the team in here—”

“Actually, no,” I say before he can move away. “This one releases as is. No changes.”

He frowns a little. I don’t play that card often. Once on each album, maybe. Musicians who write their own music these days are rare, and even those of us who do aren’t opposed to suggestions…most of the time.

But this one is different.

This one is mine, all mine.

Well, mine and Noah’s.

“All right, sweetheart, let’s hear it,” Tatum says, pulling up a chair on the other side of the glass as an assistant brings me my guitar.

I take a deep breath as I put the strap over my shoulder, pulling up a stool and settling in.

Now, don’t you freak out on me, thinking I’m singing a love song for a lying jerk like Noah Maxwell.

It’s a ballad, yes, but not above love.

This is a farewell. A song about goodbye.

“What are we calling this, babe?” Tatum asks, pencil ready.

I swallow. “It’s called ‘Shoulda Kissed Me.’ ”

He nods as he jots it down, then motions for me to continue. Whenever you’re ready.

I’m ready. Ready to say goodbye.

You know that numbness I talked about? The nothingness that has been following me around since I left Louisiana?

It’s gone now. It all fades away as I lose myself in the song.

By the time I finish the song, tears are streaming down my face, and I don’t bother to wipe them away.

Tatum looks a little stunned, as does everyone else in the booth.

He slowly reaches out a finger to switch the microphone back on, leaning down to speak into it. “Congratulations, babe. I think we just found our lead single. Any objections to rushing this one to the airwaves? People miss you, babe.”

Whatever. Don’t care.

The one person I actually want to miss me probably doesn’t even notice I’m gone.


I’m having déjà vu.

The bad kind.

My head’s under a sink, nasty water keeps leaking on my face from an ancient pipe, and my two best friends are squabbling like a married couple.

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