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Catch Me If I Fall by Jerry Cole (1)


Chapter One

“Oh, darling, give us a smile! Aren’t you excited?”

The little girl nodded and promptly burst into tears. Her mom, red-faced with embarrassment, paused the video she was recording on her cell phone and hurried over. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I think she’s a bit shy.”

“It’s not a problem,” said Dax, and he got down on one knee and took the little girl’s hand in his. “It’s a little overwhelming, huh?”

When the girl rubbed her eyes with her free hand, Dax gently reached up and stopped her. “Don’t do that,” he said. “You’ll hurt them. Come on, what’s wrong?”

While the girl’s anxious mom looked on the scene, crestfallen, Dax was unfazed. He lowered his head and spoke to the girl as though they were the only two people in the room. “Want to whisper what’s wrong? Go on, tell me. Nobody else can hear it.”

And he moved his head toward the little girl’s lips. She hiccoughed, and, with a tiny voice, said, “I’m not sad. I’m just so happy.”

Dax grinned and gave her a hug. “Well, I’m happy to meet you, too!” he said. “It’s one of the best days of my life!”

The girl looked at him wide-eyed, her tears drying up as quickly as her mouth fell open. “Really?” she whispered.

His face a picture of seriousness, Dax placed his hand over his chest. “I promise,” he said. “Hand on heart. Now, let’s smile for this picture, okay?”

With his grin a gleaming band of white against his tanned skin, Dax placed an arm over the girl’s shoulder and beamed at the cell phone her mother was holding with trembling fingers. She snapped one picture after the other, stopping to apologize as she then switched to video mode. She had her daughter put her arms around Dax’s neck, plant a kiss on his cheek, and then finally asked Dax to take a selfie of all three of them, as his arms were the longest.

Patient to a fault, Dax spent five minutes with the family, as was promised when little Abigail had won the coveted prize to meet her hero. It was her mom, of course, who’d commented on the social media post, and her mom’s account that had been the lucky winner, picked at random from over half a million comments, but tonight, Dax was apparently making both their dreams come true, no matter how much Abigail’s mom attempted to convince everyone that it was all for her daughter.

Finally, the meet and greet came to an end, and with one final hug, Abigail let go of Dax. Her mom gave him a huge hug and stole a kiss on his cheek. He grinned. “Sneaky!” he said. He waved the lucky fans goodbye, and they were politely ushered out of the door.

Once they were gone, he frowned and turned to a huge, bald guy with muscles as wide as his own waist. “What the fuck do I have to do to be rescued?” he demanded. “She could have had a knife on her or something!”

“Sorry, sir,” said the bodyguard. “I was watching the situation carefully. Some people just get over-excited, but I didn’t see any threat of harm to you or any of us.”

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t your face being mashed by those dry lips of hers,” Dax said. He held out his hand, and his assistant immediately knew what he wanted, and placed into it a closed bottle of water. He opened the cap and took huge gulps. “And her breath smelled like onions. No doubt she and the kid had been for burgers before the show.”

“Speaking of burgers,” said the assistant, “Grant called. He wants to know if you’re interested in doing a commercial next week to help raise funds for starving kids.”

“Where?”

“Um, I guess it’s back in LA, but I’ll have to check.”

No, I don’t mean that,” said Dax. “Where are the starving kids?”

“I have no idea,” the girl replied. “Africa?”

Dax considered this for a moment, and then shook his head. “It’s not really my kind of thing,” he said. “Starving kids don’t seem to fit with my music.”

The assistant opened her mouth, then thought better of it and closed it again.

A short man with a red beard came into the room, wearing a headset. “Five minutes,” he said. “Everyone, please get into your positions.”

“Come on,” said Dax, taking a final sip of water and checking his hair in the mirror. “Let’s go finish this tour and get back home. God, this country’s cold. I’m tired of freezing my ass off and my tan’s completely gone.”

His entourage walked out with him, and after a few minor delays, in which his makeup was touched up, and his hair given a little extra gel, he stepped into a cage, and held onto the bars. Then there was a hiss as steam enveloped him, and Dax was whooshed upwards, where he appeared in the center of an elaborate stage, already inhabited by backup dancers, who fell straight into their routines.

The first song was a powerful number, the third track from Dax’s newest album. Entitled Until You Wake, the beat was frenzied, the lyrics simple, and the message relatively generic, but the crowd of seventy thousand didn’t stop screaming from the second the number began, until long after it had finished. Dax Monroe was there to put on a show, and he hit the ground running, making dreams come true for both young and old.

For the next ninety minutes, he danced, sang, and spoke to the crowd. Sometimes he directed a slow love song to a young girl who caught his eye, winking at her as she screamed his name. Other times, he walked along the platform that jutted out from the huge center stage, his hand grazing against the outstretched, clamoring fingers of frantic fans. He wasn’t shy at all either, and he showed this by popping open the silver shirt to reveal his beautiful body, the rippling chest and rock-hard abs sending teenagers into dizzy hysteria.

There were eleven costume changes, carefully choreographed into the numbers he performed so that the dancers took over the stage, giving him time to dash away from view, tear off a sweaty shirt and replace it with another, as he gulped down water and grabbed a towel to mop up the sweat that flew from the ends of his dark hair. It was chaos backstage as everyone knew their cue and fulfilled their roles with minute precision.

Dax Monroe’s last show of the tour was, without a doubt, a resounding success. When his final song, Remembering the Future, faded out, he looked out into the crowd and saw that there were people crying. It wasn’t unusual; many times at his concerts both men and women were known to be overcome with emotion. He bowed deeply as the applause continued, and left the stage, only to return for an encore, in which he completed the night with his first ever hit. Then, with a final wave to the crowd, he was gone.

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