Authors: Audrey Harte
The Winner Takes It All
Copyright © 2014 Audrey Harte
Published by Audrey Harte
Cover art © by Christopher Neil
Interior Design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
All rights reserved.
No portion of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any print or electronic form without permission
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The subject matter is not appropriate for minors. Please note this novel contains profanity, explicit sexual situations, and alcohol and drug consumption.
To anyone who has ever started writing a book and thought they couldn’t finish it, you can. Just keep writing. Doesn’t matter if you think it’s crap—just write. Get it down on paper. You can always fix it later. What matters is that you keep writing.
“I’m going to put marbles in your mouth like you’re Eliza Doolittle in
My Fair Lady
. You need to open your mouth and round your vowels.” A short, stocky gentleman in his early forties, David Campbell had been a vocal coach for fifteen years. Annie found him by searching the ads on Craigslist (surprise, surprise). After contacting him for his rates, she almost changed her mind about accepting her parents’ generous offer to pay for voice lessons for her birthday. Annie wasn’t sure her father had been fully aware what these lessons could cost. It’s not that she would call him cheap, but he was definitely frugal to a fault.
Surprisingly enough, Alexander Chang didn’t bat an eyelash. He simply asked where to send the check. Her heart overflowed with gratitude and affection for her father. Annie had been afraid that her parents wouldn’t be supportive of her pursuing this opportunity. Even though it was her biggest dream, she figured they would say to figure it out on her own if she really wanted it. Their support meant she could better her chances of making it to the finals.
The voice lessons had been a huge help. After seeing David for two months, she could already hear a definite improvement in her vocal abilities and technique, her breath support was getting stronger, and he was teaching her how to belt without damaging her vocal chords.
“Annie, you should be able to fit in three fingers while you are singing. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to
open your mouth
. Come on now—three fingers in your mouth. Let’s see them.”
Annie obediently put three fingers sideways in her mouth as he instructed. Her jaw popped as she did so, making her wince and pull the fingers back out. “That’s so uncomfortable,” she protested.
David shook his head and gestured for her to replace the three fingers in her mouth. Rolling her eyes, she complied as he began to play the introduction of the song they’d been rehearsing for the past week. His head nodded in time to the music as he played the opening bars.
Hearing her cue, Annie took a deep breath and began to sing. Singing was always the fastest way for her to feel grounded again. Effortlessly navigating her way through the familiar verse, she lovingly caressed each note as it passed her lips. For her, there was no happier feeling than when she was singing. The more emotion she could convey in a song, the better. She loved everything from light-hearted, bubble-gum pop to deep, bluesy ballads filled with passion and angst.
The current song she was singing,
by Shontelle, was a powerful R&B ballad. She loved the way she could weave her vocal chords up and down the scale as she sang each “impossible”.
After struggling through two more sing-throughs with her fingers in her mouth, Annie breathed a sigh of relief as David finally nodded his head in satisfaction.
“Much better, Annie,” he said solemnly.
Annie had to turn around and grab her water bottle to smother her giggle.
“Now let’s do it again. This time without the fingers.”
This time, she was more aware of widening her mouth and could hear the difference it made… subtle but nice. When she finished, she shivered as she felt goose bumps run up her arms. It was exciting to train with a professional who could help her be the best vocalist she could be. It made her feel that much better about her chances of going on past the finals and maybe even having a shot at winning.
Annie grabbed her purse and waved good-bye before pulling the door shut behind her. As she made her way down the short sidewalk to the street, Katie pulled up in her new Lexus SUV. It was sleek, black, shiny, and sexy as hell, and Annie was super jelly. Katie had booked back to back modeling gigs with
, and she had decided to treat herself to a new car. Annie knew she’d do the same if she ever experienced the same good fortune.
Hopping into the passenger seat, she leaned over to Katie, offering her a cheek kiss.
“Hey girl,” Katie said as Annie closed the door and started to fasten her seatbelt.
“Hey, thanks for picking me up and taking me to the mechanic. I would Uber it, but since I’m trying to save money right now…”
“Shut it, lady. I’ll always give you a ride if I’m around. Besides you know I’m looking for any excuse to drive my new baby.”
Annie grinned at her friend and settled back in the plush leather seat, breathing in deeply of the new car smell. Usher’s
You Make Me Wanna
was playing softly in the background, and as Katie pulled away from the curb, she turned up the volume, bathing them both in the richness of the R&B artist’s velvet vocal stylings.
“Damn, I haven’t heard this song in forever.”
“It’s a classic,” Katie said somewhat defensively.
“Definitely a classic,” Annie agreed. “So what are you up to this weekend?”
“I’ve got a date tonight, and tomorrow I’m going to a house party in Malibu. You wanna come?”
“I’d love to, but Casey’s flying in tonight, and we’ve only got tomorrow together before he has to leave again.”
“So bring him with you, or are you guys planning on staying in bed all day?” Katie wiggled her eyebrows at Annie as she grinned.
Annie smacked her shoulder in response. “Shut up. I’m not some kind of nympho, you know. I do know how to exercise self-control.”
Katie snorted. “What a crock of shit.”
Laughing, Annie nodded. “Okay, okay. Maybe I don’t have the best self-control when it comes to my man, but can you blame me?”
“Not at all. Casey is one fine-ass specimen of a man.”
“That he is, and he’s all mine,” Annie said smugly, wrapping her arms around herself as she thought about her sexy man. “Sometimes I still can’t believe it… I pinch myself every now and then when I’m with him.”
“You definitely lucked out. I hope this guy I’m meeting tonight is just as sweet and at least half as fine as Casey.”
Annie laughed again. “Well, good luck with that.”
“Gee thanks!” Katie said sarcastically, sticking her tongue out at Annie.
“Haven’t you seen his picture?”
“I have, but half the time, these guys don’t look as good in person as they did in their pictures.”
“True that,” Annie agreed with an emphatic nod. “So who’s up to bat tonight?”
“Antonio… he’s Brazilian. Owns his own restaurant in Beverly Hills.”
“Mmm, sounds hot and rich. Is he taking you to his own restaurant for dinner?”
Katie shook her head as she pulled up in front of the mechanic. “No, we’re just doing drinks at Villa Blanca.”