Bonus : Book II [Sneak Peek]

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Author's Note:

Hi, friends and dear readers! ❤️

☺️

First off, thank you for checking out my books and for supporting the hardworking authors on this platform.  Without you guys, we wouldn't be able to keep doing what we love doing.

I hope you enjoyed reading about T and V's complicated lives, their personal struggles, family drama, their growth, and their rocky journey through adulthood together...

Hopefully this story (it started out as a little fanfic btw) also made you believe in their undying 😂 love for each other through the years.

(Sup, fiction lovers! SAY NO to insta-love! 😆🤭)

Anyhoo! Hope you are all well and doing your best to stay healthy, happy, and keep living your best life! 😏👍

Much love,

M

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[ Below is a snippet of the sequel I'm planning to write in the near future.  Enjoy! ❤️ ]

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Whoever came up with “Third time’s a charm” was full of crap.

Utter, complete baloney. Mick couldn’t be more sure.

The first two times sucked badly he’d nearly checked himself into a nuthouse, but this third try ― and likely last ― might just take the cake. Heck, with how things had been going for the past couple of weeks, it probably had already.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, St-Pierre... Could the warning signs have been any more profound?” would’ve been his best friends’ reaction if ever they got wind of his latest spectacle. They hadn’t yet, because he’d been particularly lying low lately.

‘Lying low’ as in going off-the-grid and staying so for months, hibernating in a remote suburb (he had secretly moved to another state), and having only his manager’s and mom’s number in his phone’s Recent Calls list.

And two calls a week topped, for that matter; he’d only been talking to his mother since she seemed as emotionally disturbed as he was these days.

After a work-related hubbub that stunted his career into a pathetic tabloid fiasco, which later resulted into a premature hiatus, of course he knew better than to remain in the spotlight.

Oh well. He’d better just steer clear of mysterious, dark-attired girls from now on. Then he’d never again have to deal with dreadful motley of yellow journalism and demoralizing epiphanies. Add those to a bad-tempered handler. Mick definitely wished he hadn’t tried his hand at show business.

The girl didn’t even care enough to reply to his emails. Yep.  Emails. Just how many times had he emailed her in the last six months?

Dammit. Maybe he did seem that desperate.

He gripped his phone. He contemplated checking his inbox again but decided otherwise. Not long, two shrill beeps snapped him out of his self-deprecating thoughts.

New message.

Mick glanced at the screen. The bright light made him squint as he frowned at his sister’s name above the misspelled text she just sent. It was probably her tenth today. Which was kind of odd because they hadn’t been talking lately, and because Veronica kinda hated texting.

It seemed she was having another one of those days. He’d supposed so from her unusually bossy tone all day and the vagueness of her reply after he’d asked what was of the matter.

CC must be driving her insane again. His toddler niece must be on another hunger strike. Or maybe the kid’s dad just got in from God knows where, and decided to vacation somewhere with Veronica. And so they would need a temp sitter.

Why his sister thought he was a competent candidate for the job was still a mystery to him. Laughable, too. Funny how she lived in New York but finding even one proper babysitter seemed impossible.

“Where are u? Almost 9,” was what Veronica texted next.

Now his stinging eyes surveyed the apartment complex  ahead. The four-storey building looked taller than he remembered. It recently got repainted, too.

He clasped the strap of his backpack, picturing his sister’s possibly deepening scowl at the moment. He forgot to text her earlier after he’d left the airport. He grabbed his luggage and walked on.

The suitcase wasn’t that heavy, though. Veronica’s frantic text this morning didn’t really specify for how long she would need him to stay here in New York.

Mick glanced around. No guards on duty. Maybe the management had one posted inside the building and at least two functional CCTV units ― one out here and another inside. A cool breeze fanned the narrow entrance just as he reached the stairhead, suitcase in tow.

He wouldn’t have brought along this much baggage if it weren’t for his gut feeling about this impromptu trip. He knew his sister too well to be sure enough that this time, she’d want him around for more than a weekend. Mick positioned the suitcase in front of him.

A thick glass door at the front entrance?  This wasn't here the last time he visited. Right by the doorpost was a boxed surface, with a column of white buttons and small letters forming surnames. He buzzed the button labeled ‘St-Pierre’. Then he caught a glimpse of the elevator.

Behind the empty, well-lit lobby, the elevator doors swung open. A woman in jeans and sleeveless shirt stepped out. Veronica, head down and riveted on her cellphone, crossed the hall fast.

No drooling 2-year-old with wild blonde curls in her arms.  Most likely his niece, Clancey, was already snoring in her crib.

It didn’t take long before Veronica reached him. A scowl wrinkled her lips when she yanked the glass door open. “D’you get my texts?”

“Yeah,” he replied, noting the slight uneasiness in her voice.

She let him into the lobby as her fairly anxious expression became a scrutinizing look-over. “What’s with the slacks? What time d’you get in?” She shut the main door. It automatically locked up.

“’Round seven. Forgot to text you.”

“Seven?” With creased brows, Veronica grabbed his backpack. “You’re pale.”

“No. Just starving.”

“I’ll heat up the lasagna,” she muttered, her voice a bit throaty.

As she rushed back to the elevator, Mick glanced around. He dragged his suitcase across the bright hall. Did the management not care about their electric bill? The lights were just  blinding.

“Mom said she’ll call again.” Veronica stared at her phone. They stood in the elevator now.

He pressed the button numbered ‘4’.  Her unit was on the top floor. He was thinking of asking her about the mortgage when she blurted out another question.

“Mom tell you yet?”

Mick looked at her and waited. “Tell me what?” he mumbled while trying not to frown.

“We’ll be touring till fall.” The look on her face remained as still as he was. “Jay and the promoters fixed it up.”

“And what did T say?” He made a face at the surprising news. Unlike before when she was still single and childless, they never expected his sister to be anything but workaholic. 

Always writing new songs and traveling with her band.  Barely home for the holidays.  Her career as a musician called for it.  Judging by her news and the almost eager look on her face now,  he'd say she's still determined to keep the band going despite having to deal with motherhood alone due to a frequently absent partner.

“So Mom’s flyin’ out?” Mick sighed.

If Veronica was expecting him to play the dutiful uncle slash babysitter for a couple of months,  he was outta here first thing. Their mother, on the other hand, would certainly be thrilled to have the job.

Amid an eye roll, Veronica leaned against the railing behind them, her eye bags and dull expression enough signs of her stress levels. “No.”

No?  He was about to complain loudly when the elevator doors slid open. She led him inside the apartment before they quickly settled his stuff in the guest room.

While he took note of how blue the room was, she explained how busy their mom was with her clinic in Philly after two of her physicians quit, plus the Head Nurse retired, and so Dr. Michel would need to scout for new doctors and so on…

“Oh. So, you found a new sitter.” Mick gave his sister a questioning stare, just waiting for a confirmation.

Veronica sighed. “I’m leaving tomorrow. Why do you think I nagged you to take the earliest flight?”

Uh-oh. Then that would mean...  “You’re kidding.”

“First show’s this Tuesday.” Veronica fixed her wavy hair into a ponytail, ignoring his reaction. “If you’ve got time to waste, go nanny-hunting again. But don’t take off till Théo gets back.”

Mick scoffed. “He’s now on board with the new sitter thing?” he murmured. 

Théo never liked the idea of strangers taking care of his baby instead of Veronica. Just months ago, Théo even asked his sister to fly out of France just to babysit CC here for a weekend. Veronica had to travel and sing at a friend’s wedding that time.

"Ask him." Veronica pulled a face. Obviously, Théo didn’t know she'd go on tour with the band again.

"Why me?"

“Dan will pick me up before seven,” she said while fixing the empty bed, her voice tired and her movements hurried. “I’ll call everyday.”

Mick took off his jacket. “Geez, don’t bother.” Now that he was unemployed, of course she thought he could use a new job. He sighed.

Why did everyone think he had no life outside of Hollywood to be busy with?

Last time he talked to his handler, Yui accused him of enjoying this timeout a little too much, saying he’d planned the whole thing and all.  Heck…she even thought he intentionally broadcasted the impulsive statement he gave a columnist friend (now ex-friend) about his failed relationship to a former co-star, the one that had nearly ruined his career.

“Fine.” Veronica snickered as she watched him sulk. “Wrote everything down. It’s on the fridge.”

“Where’s CC?” Mick scanned the room for dolls and stuffed toys, realizing he’d forgotten to buy one for his baby niece. He hadn’t seen the kid since her first birthday. Maybe having a toddling ankle-biter around would help lift his mood. He glimpsed his watch. “She’s out?”

“Yep. Took me four songs,” sighed his sister while she spread out the thick blanket. “She wanted to wait up.”

“Told you she wouldn’t forget about the doll house.”

“Don’t remind her.” Veronica shot him a warning look.

Mick chuckled. He’d promised Clancey a huge doll house the last time they got to Skype. CC thought it would be his early birthday gift for her. “When’s Supermodel showin’ up?” 

“Next week, next month, next year…” Veronica mumbled, “I dunno.”

“Huh.” Mick watched his sister sigh. Her indifferent reply told him she wasn’t on good terms with her ever-busy baby daddy. Her droopy eyes focused on the door while he took note of her slimmer figure. She’d lost the baby weight;  she even looked skinnier than before she had CC.

“Are you crash-dieting now or motherhood’s just that much workout?”

“You have no idea.” Veronica raked her pale fingers through her scraggly bangs.

“You need a haircut, hag.”

“Then stay put so I could get one.” She faked a smile that got replaced by an inquiring look. “Why didn’t you tell me you moved to Chicago?”

“I didn’t?” Feigning a lack of concern, Mick tried to disguise his slight surprise.  He flumped himself down on the bed. Their mom must’ve known from his manager or publicist that he moved out of L.A. ― for a number of reasons he didn't want to keep in mind.

“Why? ‘Cause of those stupid tabloids?” Veronica scoffed.

“New environment.”

“Right,” she muttered in reply. “She from Chicago?”

“Who’s she?” he said with a chuckle. He sat up to meet her gaze.

Veronica’s expression shifted from worn out to curiously interested. Either he had become a household name since the scandal, or being a full-time mom hadn’t actually shut his sister out from the world. This depressingly judgmental, gossip-hungry world.  “Some other day, then.”

“Whatever...” he sighed.

Veronica grinned from ear to ear, clearly finding his wariness amusing. “Met her at work?”

Mick bent down and took his shoes off to avoid her snooping squint. Hoping his sister would just sack out and stop prying, he kept closelipped. He didn’t feel like chatting about his most recent ex right now. His flight took four hours and every muscle in his body hurt.

Also he hadn’t eaten anything for dinner besides a cup of bland coffee and a piece of gum.  Deliriously exhausted and starving would be accurate.  He just wasn’t in the mood for a heart-to-heart talk about his failure of a lovelife.

A minute later, Veronica finished prepping the room for him. She made more space for his luggage and opened the closet.  Then she headed for the door. “I’ll heat up the lasagna,” she muttered before leaving him alone.

Crouching by the bed, Mick unzipped his traveling bag to start taking his stuff out. His shoes, shirts, pants, towels ―

Darn. He’d worn it again.

Unknowingly. Again.

He abstractedly stared at the ring on his thumb, its gilded glow weakened by his shadow. He’d probably been wearing it for days now.

He’d been so preoccupied that he hadn’t even noticed. Mick stood up to flump back on the mattress, tired of how, lately, everything seemed to remind him of his ex.

The girl definitely did a number on him. Just messed him up in ways he didn’t even think were possible. And he’d be a total hypocrite if he told anyone it wasn’t that big a deal.

For months now, he’d been too frustrated and depressed he had to say no to job offers. If his mom found out, she’d surely force him to see a shrink this time.

Bzzz... Bzzz...

Someone’s calling. His mom, probably.

Mick took his cell out of his pocket. There was a text from his programmer cousin.  Then he opened the voicemail that was sent next.

“Congratulations. Your girlfriend’s a dead 72-year-old librarian from Dublin. (mocking claps and chuckles in the background) She’s a kickass Grey Hat, man. I gotta meet her.”

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