Going Home to Hawk Ridge Hollow
Going Home to Hawk Ridge Hollow
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Cece’s emotions threaten to take her under. Can he win her over? Blake’s heart is locked up after a tragic accident. Does she hold the key?
- Enemies to lovers
- Billionaire Bodyguard
- Famous pop star
- Secret second chance
- Brothers/family saga
Her emotions threaten to take her under. His heart is locked up after a tragic accident. Does she hold the key?
Cece Sparrow has it all. She’s a successful popstar, her boyfriend was voted one of the hottest men alive, and her fans adore her. When tragedy strikes, she questions everything, including who she is.
Blake Hawkins was a billionaire bad boy. He left a trail of broken hopes and hearts wherever he went, including that of a young singer. Then he disappeared from the public eye without a trace.
After Cece’s world crumbles she makes a choice that could ruin her career. Seeking escape, she flees to an exclusive resort. Shortly after her arrival, a rogue wave nearly drowns her. Thankfully, a mysterious man rushes to her aid since she doesn’t know how to swim.
It turns out, he’s an arrogant beach bum. He thinks she’s a careless diva. They can’t stand each other, but they also can’t seem to stay away from each other.
To complicate matters, they have a past and as the balmy island breezes blow between them so do their feelings for each other. But can they create a future?
This is book 3 in the Hawkins Family Romance series. Each book stands alone but reading them in order provides a deeper, richer experience. It is a sweet, “clean and wholesome” romance without swearing or mature content and contains a happily ever after.
Chapter 1 Look Inside
Chapter 1 Look Inside
Chapter 1: Cece
Cece Sparrow had always hit the right notes. As a famous singer and songwriter, it was her job to tap into emotion, translate it into words, and let the sound flow. Her smoky vocals dug deep on the verse, then ranged to the upper octaves on the musical scale as she belted out the chorus.
Except for that day.
Except for that week.
If she was honest with herself, her energy and sound had started to flag six months previous and had only gotten worse as the glue that held her life together dissolved.
She tried to warm up her vocals in the car on the way over to the recording studio but she sounded flat, out of tune, like a bullfrog. “Ah, ee, ah, oh, croak.” She tried not to think about the driver, who was probably laughing to herself.
She’d managed to wrap up her tour and the few smaller, more intimate venue slots her manager had scheduled. She’d shown up with a smile at all the press interviews, the signings, and the extra promotion. That’s what her fans loved about her.
That she was always there, going above and beyond, posing for the hundredth selfie with near-hysterical fans, signing her name 1 on all manner of things—from album covers to journals, to broken arm casts, to actual skin (the person wanted her signature as a tattoo).
Cece had promised to always remember where she came from and how hard she’d worked to get where she was—chart-topper, media darling, and doing what she loved every day.
At that moment she stepped out of the black SUV, wearing a hat and sunglasses—her attempt at being incognito.
The moment she stepped onto the sidewalk, the cameras started flashing. Just as she expected, the shutters suddenly stopped. There was a pause, an intake of breath, as though everyone from the paparazzi to the fans who’d gotten wind of her visit to the recording studio that day gasped.
Then the frenzy erupted as she scurried into the studio amidst shouts, questions, and a few lamenting wails.
When the door shut securely behind her, she waited for it to repeat, minus the flashing of cameras. It was the first time she’d been in public since that fateful day. Cece’s team and entourage held their collective breath as she took off her sunglasses and hat.
Her manager’s mouth fell open.
The eyes of the girls who styled her for camera-ready perfection bulged.
A woman who’d only recently joined the team studied her planner as if it contained an answer to the question everyone was too shocked to ask.
Her vocal coach pressed his lips together. The music studio, a place created for sound, was absolutely silent.
“You ready, Cece?” the studio engineer asked.
Her eyes drifted over everyone in the room, but no one else said a word. No condolences.
No inquiries if she was alright.
No question about why and where her second most valuable asset was gone.
She wasn’t ready, but she stepped into the vocal booth, anyway.
Cece once told herself that whether she had one person in a signing line or one thousand, each one of them was important and worthy of her time. She’d vowed that no matter how famous or popular or in demand she got, it was always about the fans— the faithful people who bought her albums, attended her concerts and sang along with every song.
In fact, the attention, the cheering, and the voices rising up in the arena were what fueled her. She’d get off stage, buzzing with energy that lasted until the last fan left the venue.
She didn’t have a family, so they became like one for her.
Growing up, she didn’t have much but was told she had the voice of an angel and that her smile was golden. When she’d left Cecelia Stevens behind and became Cece Sparrow, she was born anew and pledged to honor her gifts. She used them to entertain and bring joy to people’s lives. They weren’t hers to squander. For all that, she said a prayer of gratitude every day. That was what pushed her to keep going.
But that day she was tired, and it wasn’t because of the many facets of her job. It wasn’t even that she had to fulfill her studio obligations and get at least three songs down for the new album as part of her contract.
It wasn’t that she’d hardly slept in the last nine days or fielded questions from intrusive paparazzi any time she transitioned from events to vehicles to the studio. The disguises weren’t the exhausting part. Nor was working with her trainer to keep her stamina up for her next tour.
Cece Sparrow felt herself disintegrating, the threads of herself unraveling, and the grip she had on her life slipping away as she slid into a kind of darkness and desperation she’d never before known.
It had been seven days since her sister had died.
And Cece was a mess.
But there was no rest for the rich, famous, and in-demand pop star. There was no pause button. No moment to grieve.
She felt like she was coming undone. As she sang into the mic, she was beginning to sound that way too.
“How about trying it one octave higher,” the sound engineer called from behind the mixing board.
Standing in the vocal booth, she gave it a go. The noise that came out of her was akin to a roomful of cats mewling.
The sound engineer fiddled with the board. “Okay, let’s see what it’s like now.”
She opened her mouth and sang the lyrics to a song she’d written ages before about a boy she’d had a crush on. The words were stale in her mouth.
“Garbage,” she muttered under her breath. She knew it, and everyone else in the room probably did too. She prided herself on her natural voice.
They did recordings without auto-tune or special effects.
That was another thing her fans loved about her. She was real.
But when her life got too real, when she did something she couldn’t undo, she wasn’t entirely sure of the extent of their support. There were rumors that she was going crazy, that she’d lost her edge, and that she had a substance abuse problem. She did not, but other pop stars had publicly unraveled in a similar way and the paparazzi were quick to fan the rumor flames.
“How about we try again tomorrow,” the guy in the booth said.
She didn’t want to let anyone down. Despite wanting to hang her head, she lifted her chin and exited the vocal booth wearing a smile.
The usual entourage waited in the lounge, some averting their gaze while others openly stared as if by straining their eyes hard enough things would go back to normal. Cece had tried that too, but it was too late. Her life would never be the same.
But her hair would. “My hair will grow back,” she blurted to the room at large. However, she wasn’t entirely sure her voice would return.
With a thin smile, Lauren, her manager, said, “Of course it will.” She tapped her tablet and as though skipping over or denying Cece’s bald head. “You have a six-p.m. appearance at a skincare launch followed by dinner with Jaxon at Copa.”
Her gaze flitted above Cece’s eyes to the fuzz atop her head.
Cece fought the urge to self-consciously brush her hand across it. When she’d gone to Serena’s bedside during those last hours, she’d shaved her hair in solidarity with her sister, whose locks had been even more thick and shiny than her own. Serena’s hair thinned and then she lost it. Removing her hair was a way for Cece to feel connected, to try to absorb some of the pain her sister was experiencing. However, she knew it was no use.
She imagined right then and there that shockwaves rippled across the country, spreading to the international news as photos emerged on social media and on websites. But Cece wouldn’t offer more of an explanation, which would only open the doors to speculation.
She gave her fans a lot, but her sister’s fight with cancer was a private matter. There wasn’t much that was personal in her life except one thing, or rather, person. While Cece thrived in the spotlight, her sister preferred to live an anonymous life.
Serena was always present but never photographed.
She had her opinions but was never quoted.
She lived behind the scenes while Cece took center stage.
In the studio lounge, the team whispered and exchanged loaded looks as Cece stood there without the comfort of her hair.
“As always, making headlines,” Lauren said, flashing a website post on the screen of her tablet. “I’m getting lots of notifications. Care to comment?”
Cece shook her head. Her manager knew her status when
it came to anything having to do with Serena.
She tsked in disapproval. Lauren was of the mind that any publicity was a good thing but was often eager to feed the news cycle, even if it meant pushing past privacy boundaries.
The voices in the room increased in volume as they read news banners and comments. Just as Cece suspected because the pop star didn’t give the details the paparazzi demanded, rumors circulated. She overheard lines like Cece Sparrow has gone nuts, shaved her hair off in a drunken rage, or lost a dare at a drug-fueled party and the sudden disappearance of her hair were the consequences.
The only thing Cece ever drank was water or tea. The only drug she’d ever taken was Aspirin and a prescription for bronchitis once. The sisters had seen the effects of substance abuse firsthand and had sworn off that way of life.
Lauren passed Cece a pile of papers. More fan letters. “I fielded the hate mail and the most recent threats. You know, it would help if you wore a wig.”
But that wouldn’t erase what she’d done or what had happened. She couldn’t get her sister back. She’d shaved her head when Serena neared the end because more than anything, she didn’t want her sister to feel alone. Not the way she did as she stood helplessly by and every moment since her sister had drawn her last breath.
“I should go,” Cece said, feeling like she was losing her grasp on her composure. Despite all the speculation, she’d never publicly unraveled, shed a tear, or did anything to indicate she wasn’t okay.
She shoved on her sunglasses and a hat—a typical disguise even before Hair-Gate as everyone in the room was calling it. With a wave to her manager, she whisked outside to the waiting SUV.
The familiar clicking of camera shutters and flashes followed her to the vehicle along with calls of, “When are you going to let your hair grow back?”
Another asked, “What’s it like being bald?”
There was also, “Did your record company really cancel your deal because you shaved your head?”
She ignored every single comment. She’d give her fans her attention. But not them.
The paps had become vultures, were ruthless and dishonest. She’d learned that the hard way.
As usual, the traffic in Los Angeles was thick. Seated in the backseat, she checked in on her social media accounts.
She gave her fans access to most aspects of her life.
Everything, in fact, except for her sister, per Serena’s request.
She posted a quick story, letting them know that her time in the studio was fabulous and she couldn’t wait to share the new material with everyone.
Only, there wasn’t any new material. She was in a drought.
She felt empty. Dried up even though she knew she had tears stored inside. It wasn’t unusual for her not to cry. The Stevens girls were strong because they’d overcome so much. When they’d finally stepped away from their old lives, in their own ways, they’d left the sadness behind. As it was, they’d already shed enough tears for a lifetime.
Back home, Cece got ready for the skincare line event. She’d rather have canceled but was committed. She smoothed her fingers along the dark rings under her eyes. Lizzie, her makeup artist, bustled in to conceal the signs of her inner distress and exhaustion. She tied up her long blond hair in a bun—her usual look while working. She assessed the singer starlet with a careful eye. Cece stared at the blond bun, wishing her own long, brown locks were still atop her head and wishing Serena was still by her side to style it.
Lizzie clicked her tongue. Likely because Cece’s gray eyes, normally one of her best features, didn’t do her any favors in terms of highlighting the signs of sleeplessness.
“Girl, what am I going to do with you?”
“Make me look acceptable.”
“You’re supposed to say make me beautiful, but you are already.”
“We both know that’s not true,” Cece croaked.
As Lizzie primed and concealed, she knew what her client referred to and didn’t miss a beat. “It’ll grow back and that hole in your heart will fill in. For now, it’s a time to be sad.” She tilted Cece’s chin and met her eyes. “I’ve been making up your face since you got your first advance and I haven’t stopped, which means you haven’t either. You hustle and grind. But you need time. You need a break.”
Cece sighed. She was right, but that wasn’t possible. She had commitments and knew if she did stop, if she did allow herself to be sad, she’d actually fall apart and there was no one left to help her pick up the pieces. But Lizzie was right.