“You don’t have any say in this, Dad. I don’t need your permission. I’m twenty-five, for crying out loud.”
“I know how old you are, Roxy. But you’re still not being sensible. You’ve never been to Nashville. You don’t know anyone there. All I want you to do is have a plan first. You don’t need to be in such a hurry.”
“A hurry?” Roxanne Burke stared at her father, her insides churning. How could he not know how much this meant to her? That this was all she’d dreamed about since she was a little girl? “Dad, I’ve been waiting for this day all my life. Now I’ve got the money Grandma left me, and I’m going whether you like it or not.”
Her sister, Elena, stood near the living room entrance, arms crossed over her chest. “Listen to Dad, Roxy. You’re always running off half-cocked, letting your emotions make your decisions for you. You’ve barely managed living on your own. You haven’t kept a job longer than a year since you quit working at Burke’s. How do you think you’ll manage alone in a strange town?” She shook her head. “Singers are a dime a dozen in Nashville. Most of them are chasing a pipe dream.”
“You mean, like me?” Anger flared. “What do you know about it? You’ve never wanted to do anything or have anything that Dad didn’t approve of. You don’t know what it’s like to want something different, something more, something big. I may let my emotions show, but at least I have emotions. I’m not going to settle for less than I want. I’m going to Nashville and I’m going to become a star.”
Elena laughed, the sound sharp and humorless. “You have no common sense.”
“And you don’t know what it’s like to live. Oh, aren’t you just so self-righteous and sweet and perfect? The good Christian girl, always Daddy’s little helper.” She spat out a curse.
“Roxy!” Her father took a quick step forward. “That’s enough. You won’t speak like that in this house.”
“You’re right. I won’t. Because I don’t intend to be in this house again. Not for a long, long time.” Her voice rose. “Not until I’m famous, and you both have to admit you were wrong. The next time you hear from me, my name will be on a CD. You’ll see.” She glared at her father, daring him to contradict her. When he didn’t say anything, she turned toward her sister.
Elena’s gaze was cool, her voice controlled. “You’re a spoiled, selfish brat, Roxy Burke, and I predict you’re going to get exactly what you deserve. You reap what you sow.”
I hate you! The words were there, ready to fly. Burning her mouth even as rage burned her chest. But words weren’t enough to express the depth of her hatred, to let her oh-so-perfect sister know how she felt about her. Besides, Elena never disappointed their father. Elena never did anything wrong. Elena was the perfect one, and Roxy was the foul-up. Well, this time was different.
Muttering one more curse, she marched out of the living room, brushing her sister’s shoulder intentionally as she passed. Seconds later, she slammed out the front door.
“I’ll show them.”
The Boise airport buzzed with early morning activity. Business men and women in their suits and shiny shoes, carrying briefcases full of important papers. Families with small children and too much luggage, headed off on vacation. All of them would return to Boise in a day or a week.
But not Roxy. She wasn’t coming back. Not until she was famous.
“I appreciate you bringing me to the airport, Myra,” she said when they arrived at the first-class check-in line.
Myra Adams, her best friend since high school, set Roxy’s guitar case on the floor, then brushed her wiry brown hair back from her forehead as she straightened. “Hey, I’m glad for the chance for us to talk. I haven’t seen much of you since I got back from California, and who knows when we’ll see each other again? I’m off to Brazil in two more weeks, and you’re going to be a Nashville singing sensation.”
“Elena and Dad don’t think that’ll happen.”
“I’ll bet they do. They just don’t want you to leave. They’ll miss you.”
“You’re confusing my family with your family.”
Myra’s eyes narrowed. “Aren’t you being a little hard on them?”
Roxy didn’t reply.
“Okay.” Her friend chuckled softly. “Change of subject. Tell me what your plans are once you get to Nashville.”
Before Roxy could answer, the agent behind the counter motioned her forward. She handed him her ticketing information and ID while Myra set the two large suitcases onto the scale.
“One-way to Nashville, Miss Burke?”
“Yes.” Her stomach fluttered. It was happening. She was on her way. At last.
The agent looked at her driver’s license, her face, then the luggage.
“Two bags to check?”
About six and a half hours from now, she would step off the airplane and into the heartbeat of country music. Nashville, the city that had launched countless careers. As it would launch hers. She knew it. She could taste it.
“Here you go.” The agent held out her boarding passes and ID. “Your bags are checked through to Nashville, Miss Burke. Have a good trip.”
“Thanks. I will.” She turned toward Myra with a grin. “I’m going to have a great trip.”
Myra picked up the guitar case while Roxy grabbed the handle of her roll-aboard, then they headed toward the escalator.
Roxy checked her watch as they rode to the upper level. “I’ve got about forty minutes before I have to be at the gate.” She pointed to a row of hard plastic seats. “Let’s wait over there until I need to go through security.”
As soon as they sat, Myra picked up the conversation where they left off. “What will you do first when you get there?”
“Buy a car. A red convertible, I think.” Red was flashy. Her sister hated anything flashy. Roxy grinned. Maybe she would send Elena a picture of that flashy new car when she got it. “Then I’ll find an apartment. A place where I can entertain other people in the business, the kind of people who can help me get where I want to go. Like potential talent agents. That’s the other thing I’ve got to do right away. Find representation.”
“Isn’t that hard to do?”
“I don’t know. Guess I’ll find out.” She tilted her head to one side. “Did I ever tell you my mom had some hotshot agent offer to represent her?”
“No. When was that?”
“The first year she and Dad were married. Travis Thompson’s agent heard her sing at some sort of benefit in Boise, and he told her if she wanted to go to Nashville, he’d make her a star.”
“Who’s Travis Thompson?”
“You haven’t heard of Travis Thompson?”
“No. Who is he?”
Nobody in Nashville would have to ask Roxy that sort of question. One more reason she needed to get away from here. Nobody in Boise understood her or the music she loved so much. Her dad didn’t. Elena didn’t. Her best friend didn’t. Her boyfriend didn’t.
“He’s a singer with more gold and platinum albums than you can count. Entertainer of the Year several years running. He’s a country-music legend. He must be in his sixties by now and doesn’t perform as much as he used to, but he was huge in his day. Everybody in Nashville thinks the world of him.”
“Sorry.” Her friend gave her shoulders a small shrug.
Roxy opened her mouth to say more, then stopped. It was a waste of time. She’d never turn Myra into a country-music fan, any more than her friend could turn Roxy into a nature gal willing to traipse around the jungles of South America, studying bugs or whatever it was Myra planned to do there.
“Will you make sure to send me your address as soon as you’ve got your apartment in Nashville? I’ll write to you.”
“Sure. But where will you be?”
“You can call my parents. They’ll know how to get in touch
Roxy’s throat tightened. “I’m going to miss you, Myra.” She thought of her dad. She would miss him too. She might even miss Elena, although wild horses couldn’t drag that admission out of her. Not after yesterday. “Promise you’ll take care of yourself down in the jungle.”
“I will. And you promise the same. My jungle may be safer than yours.”
Roxy laughed. “I doubt that.”