Chapter 3


        Gracellen was reaching for a towel to wipe the sweat off her face in the back  of the club when there was an unexpected knock at the door. “Come in,” she called. The door opened, and a wide eyed Annie poked her head in.


        “Grace, there’s some men to see you. I mean, they want to see you. They say they're from a record company!”


        Gracellen nodded. “I’ll be right out.”


        Annie stared at her, incredulous. “Grace, aren’t you a excited? Even a little? Grace, a RECORD company!”


        The corner of Gracellen’s mouth lifted. “Yes, Annie. But I’d rather not get excited until something concrete happens. You understand.”


        Annie frowned. “You’re too old for your age, Gray.” This time Gracellen did smile, albeit a bit sadly. “Yeah, Annie, I think so too. But there’s no other way I know how to be.”

        Gracellen exited the back room, rounded a corner, and reentered the main part of the club. Immediately, a hand waved her over to a small table where two men sat, one blending in with the regular crowd in jeans and a shirt, the other sticking out in a suit and tie. She wondered why she hadn’t noticed him before, he stuck out so.

        They stood as she approached, each holding out a hand. She shook the hand of the one who blended in first. 


        “Jeff Wallace,” he introduced himself. “Talent scout for Jive Records.”


        She nodded, the title not impressing her at all. She did not smile as she turned the other man. She shook his hand firmly, looking him straight in the eye.


        He looked almost amused when he said, “You’re Gracellen Whittaker.”


        She almost nodded again, but responded, “Yes. And who would you be? We don’t get a lot of suits here.”

        That drew a chuckle from him, and she failed to notice Jeff Wallace’s stunned expression. Thomas Roberts was not a laughing man.
“I’m Thomas Roberts, executive recruitment scout for Jive. I work with this slouch.” He also did not make jokes. That elicited the first smile from Gracellen as they moved to sit down.


        Gracellen was instinctively shy around men, with the exception of Jake, Mouse, and Brandon. She wasn’t experienced with the opposite sex, and she tended to cringe when they tried to get too close. These men made her uncomfortable, of course, but did not outright frighten her as others did. A pleasant change for the better, she thought.

        “Why did you want to meet with me?” she asked bluntly.

        “To put it frankly, we want you. Jive wants you,” Thomas Roberts said.

        “To be its newest artist?” she asked dubiously.


        He nodded. “Yes. You have a talent that I’ve never seen. But it all depends on whether or not you want to do this. We can get you the producers, the money, whatever, but it all boils down to two things, in my opinion.”


        “And what’s that?” Gracellen asked.


        “Talent and the will to do this.”


        Gracellen still looked skeptical, but now she was intrigued. She instinctively liked and trusted this man. He was blunt and to the point, completely honest. “Can I ask you something? And have you answer truthfully?” she asked.


        Thomas did not smile. “Gracellen, I never fudge the truth to spare peoples feelings. Ask away.”


        “Do YOU think I can do this? I mean, based on what you observed tonight. Can I do this?”


        Thomas Roberts, in all his years, had never been asked that. His shock showed on his face, but he covered it well. “Gracellen, I wouldn’t have even bothered to talk to you if I didn’t think you could do it.”


        And Gracellen knew he was telling the truth. “Okay.”


        Jeff looked at Thomas. “Okay?”


        “Okay, I’ll do it.” She repeated. “This is what I want. But only on one condition.”


        Thomas was a little curious about a girl who had a condition for the life of star, but nodded anyway. “And that is…?”


        “I want Jake and Mouse to be my drummer and my piano. I sound better with them. And I want Brandon to help me with the sound. He always does. I can’t imagine doing this without them.”


        Jeff looked at Thomas, but Thomas was already nodding. “Jake and Mouse have a good sound together, and I agree. You do sound better with your band if you’re close to them. You can have Jake and Mouse.”


        “What about Brandon?” she persisted.


        Thomas looked at Jeff, and this time, Jeff nodded. “Boss, this guy is talented with a capital T. He’s a senior at NYC, majoring in music production. He’s got a natural vibe He could be working at some of Manhattan’s best night clubs. He chose this one because he grew up here. The owner, Annie Clark, thinks of him like a second son.”


        “You’ve been hanging around the clubs too much,” was all Thomas said. But Gracellen somehow knew that all her boys were coming with her.


        “When do I start?”


        “Have you finished high school?” Jeff asked her.


        “I could have graduated two years ago,” she answered.


        “Then you can start tomorrow.”

        As Gracellen walked home that night, with the stars scattered up above her in the sky, it seemed like for once, they were shining just for. People were going to notice her, notice her talent, notice her voice, notice her passion. She wouldn’t be invisible anymore. She was going to do this. And she never knew how much her world was going to change.