Read an Excerpt
By Cheryl Crouch
ZondervanCopyright © 2007 G Studios, LLC
All right reserved.
When I was little, I made up stories about exotic places and amazing adventures. Sometimes, if I concentrated hard enough, reality faded away and my dream world took over. My bathtub became a flower-scented tropical pool, and the water rained down like a waterfall tumbling from a rocky cliff. And in my backyard, the pepper tree became a forest hideaway where I struggled to stay alive as the last survivor of my native tribe or Irish clan or Russian dynasty.
Always, my dreams were interrupted. "Armonia Aracelli Gomez, what's taking so long? There are six other people waiting for that bathroom!"
"Harmony, where are you? You haven't washed your dishes yet. Or taken out the trash. Or cleaned your room."
Anyway, that was when I was little. Now I'm growing up-practically grown. Between my rock band, school, karate, and family stuff, I've got loads of responsibilities. So I'm thinking it's time to stop dreaming about exotic places and amazing adventures, you know?
It's time to make those dreams come true.
* * *
I kicked open the door on the side of what used to be my best friend's family garage. Mello and I took over the building a long time ago, first as ourplayhouse and then as our studio. I'm not sure the McManns even once parked a car inside.
"Everybody here?" I called as I struggled to get my stuff through the door.
"Well, yeah," Trin answered. She sat half-sunk into the tan couch, arms folded, her brilliant trademark smile nowhere to be seen.
"We're all still here," Lamont said, raising his long brown arms and tapping his watch with a forefinger.
I glanced at Mello, already perched behind her drum set. She peered at me with one eyebrow cocked as if to say, "You're late for practice again, Harmony."
"I'm sorry, you guys," I answered. "And when you hear why I'm late, you'll understand that-"
"That you're a lame, lame excuse for a band manager?" Lamont said. I could see he fought back a smile.
"I'm serious, you guys. I have killer news," I said, dropping my gear and pulling a sheet of paper from my back pocket. I asked, "Do you know who Jonah Harrison is?"
"Jonah Harrison," said Trin matter-of-factly. "Everybody knows Jonah Harrison."
"Is he that new guy in your history class?" Mello asked.
"Get real," Trin answered. "He's a youth speaker."
"Not just a youth speaker," Lamont said. "Jonah Harrison is The Man. His 'We Are One' tour last year was huge. Twenty thousand in New York City alone."
Mello said, "Oh, right! I've heard of him."
"Of course you have," Trin agreed. "Everyone has."
"He doesn't just stand there and talk, right?" Mello said. "He travels with a band, and it's like a massive concert."
I nodded. "Sí. He drew in almost fifty thousand people between New York, Boston, and DC."
"Hey, I heard he's coming to L.A.," Lamont said. "It would so rock to hear him-"
"That's your news, isn't it, Harmony?" Trin interrupted, her eyes sparkling. "You got us tickets to his L.A. show!"
I shook my head and tried to look sad. "Nope. No tickets."
"No?" Mello said. "So why are we talking about him?"
I waved the email I had printed in front of them. "Because he wants us to join him on his next tour!"
"Backstage?" Trin yelled.
I laughed. "No. Onstage. The Chosen Girls will be his opening band."
They sat in stunned silence for a second, and then-
"Nuh-uh!" Lamont exclaimed.
Trin squinted at me. "You are so lying to us."
Mello just turned white.
I made a big deal out of smoothing the paper before I read aloud:
Dear Miss Harmony Gomez, As you may know, we are preparing for an upcoming youth campaign for the West Coast, called "Anything but Coasting." We've been looking for a fresh young California band that might tour with Jonah. After reviewing everything about your band, from your lyrics, videos, and CDs to the Christ-honoring reputation you've established, we feel that your band is just the group we want. Would the Chosen Girls be interested in joining the "Anything but Coasting" tour? We'll hold sessions in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle this spring.
I looked up. "After that it's a bunch of boring detail stuff about stage crews and travel expenses."
"You're serious, aren't you?" Lamont asked.
"Beyond serious," I answered. "The Chosen Girls can finally do a real tour. It's road trip time, amigos!"
We hugged and screamed and jumped around the room until Mello stopped and waved her hands at me. "Wait. What about school?"
"Checked that. The tour's during break," I answered. "Mostly, anyway. We'll just miss, like, two days."
"Mrs. Burledge won't like it," Mello said with a shake of her head.
Trin started pacing. "Ohwow, this is unreal. You're talking about us? Performing in front of maybe fifty thousand-"
"Touring the whole West Coast!" I yelled. "Portland, Seattle, San Francisco."
"With Jonah Harrison," Lamont added, rubbing his hands together.
"In an RV!" I continued. "I only love those little tables that turn into beds! And every little space has a drawer or cabinet tucked into it. Way beyond cute."
"I don't know," Trin mumbled. "It would be up to us to set the mood for Jonah's talk every single night. What we do would have a huge impact on the audience."
I smiled at her and propped my feet up on the coffee table. "Just think, Trin-no teachers, no schoolwork, no chores to do at home. Just cool places to explore and fans to amaze."
Trin sighed and looked at me. "Do you even realize what a huge deal this kind of tour would be? It wouldn't be a vacation, Harmony."
"You're right," I told her. "It would be better. Because someone else pays our way."
"Harmony-," started Mello.
"And it'll be just us. No parents! No one to remind us to do homework or-"
"So who would drive the RV?" Lamont asked. "And are you realizing how small that space is going to feel about halfway into the trip?" He looked us over. "Bands-even friendships-have fallen apart on tour before."
I rolled my eyes. "A six-month tour, maybe. This is three shows, Lamont."
Trin tossed a pillow to the floor and sat on it. "Let's think about this, Harmony. Are you sure our band is ready for-"
"Why should we wait?" I asked. "My favorite cousin, Lucinda, lives in Seattle. She is crazy fun, and she'd love to show us around. And Oregon is supposed to be way fabulous. We can hike and explore in the mountains and sightsee in the cities-"
"It's just bad timing," Mello said. "I'd feel better if it was during summer break. Besides, we've never done anything remotely-"
"Exactly!" I almost yelled. "We need something like this. And what does missing a couple of days of school matter compared to touring the coast?"
I felt my heart pounding. It hadn't even crossed my mind that they might say no.
"Listen," I said, toning my voice way down. "This is the chance of a lifetime." I looked at the serious faces around me and wondered how they could want anything besides this opportunity.
I'd assumed even Mello-who's usually scared to try something new-would see what this could do for our band. And Trin-come on-Trin's always up for doing something big. Was she actually afraid that this was too big?
Even Lamont with the relationship thing? Please! We'd already been through every traumatic experience a band could face. What could possibly happen now to break up the Chosen Girls?
"Please tell me you're in," I begged.
Lamont crossed his arms. "I think we'd have to have some major rules-"
"Sure," I agreed. "You know me. I'm, uh, all for rules."
"We'd have to pick up our schoolwork ahead of time-," Mello began.
I smiled at her. "Of course. And we can help each other while we're on the road."
"But most of all, the concerts would have to be priority, Harmony," Trin insisted. "I agree that we should have some fun, but we can't let Jonah down, and we can't disappoint all the people who will be showing up looking for hope and direction."
I said, "Well, yeah. All those people who need to hear what our band stands for-we'll reach more of them than ever before. Isn't that cool?"
Trin finally smiled her megawatt smile. "Yeah, it is. Ohwow, it's way cool. We could make a real difference."
I looked at Lamont.
He nodded and a grin spread across his face. "Gotta admit, yeah, it's an amazing opportunity."
I bit my lip and turned to face Mello. "What do you think?" I asked.
She let out a huge breath. "Performing in front of all those people? It's terrifying. And I hate missing school. It'll take me forever to catch up, even if it is just a couple of days." Then her eyes started to twinkle, and she finally smiled. "But, really, how could we say no?"
* * *
After practice, I rushed home to tell Mamma. Papi would be excited too, but he was traveling for work, so I'd have to call him.
"Look, Mamma!" I yelled as I burst into the kitchen. I slapped the email onto the counter beside the cutting board.
She glanced up from the yellow squash she was slicing. "What is it?"
"The Chosen Girls are invited to tour with Jonah Harrison!" I spun around, unable to contain my joy. "We leave in a month!"
I held my arms out to her, ready to receive a congratulations hug.
She stepped into my arms and squeezed me back, but it didn't feel like much of a congratulations hug. Especially when she said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Harmony. I don't think it's going to work out."
I pulled away from her. "What? How can it not work out?"
"Something big has come up, and I need to discuss it with you," she said, wiping her hands on a dish towel.
I dropped into a chair, heart racing, imagining a million reasons why we might have to call off the tour. "What is it?"
"Aunt Berta called about your cousin Lucinda."
"Weird. I was just telling mis amigas how she's my favorite cousin. Is she OK?"
"She's been kicked out of school."
"No way. What did she do?"
"Berta didn't say."
"It's got to be some kind of misunderstanding," I told her. Mamma shook her head. "Berta is very concerned about Lucinda. It seems she's making a lot of bad choices."
I gulped. "Like what?"
"I didn't ask for details, Harmony. Berta kept crying, calling Lucinda her 'lost sheep.' She wants to send Lucinda to us. She's hoping your influence will turn her around."
"Great. She can come now, and we'll have almost a month together before the tour."
Mamma paced in front of me. "That's the problem. Lucinda has to go to hearings or something this month. Berta wants to send her to us next month. I'll need you here-not running around the country."
"That's not fair!" I exclaimed, jumping out of my chair. "If Lucinda wants to mess up her life, that's her deal. But I'm not going to let her wreck mine too."
Mamma put her hands on my shoulders. "That's not the way it works in a family, Harmony. Lucinda's choices affect all of us. And she needs you now to make a hard choice-the right choice-so you can have a good effect on her."
I kicked at the linoleum floor. "There has to be a way," I mumbled, my brain in hyperdrive. "What if she comes on the tour with us? We'll end up in Seattle, Mamma. It's perfect! She'd get to hear Jonah speak. What could be better? I know she'll adore Mello and Trin, and they'll love her. They won't be able to help themselves-she's crazy fun."
Mamma looked unsure.
"Please, Mamma," I begged. "At least ask Aunt Berta. This tour means the world to me."
Mamma sighed. "So you're willing to be responsible for her? To see that she doesn't get into trouble, cause any problems?"
"Sí. I'm not just willing, I'm beyond psyched," I answered.
Mamma said, "All right, then. I'll call Berta and see what she thinks of the idea."
I rushed out of the kitchen and upstairs to my room, planning to IM Mello, Trin, and Lamont with the news. Then I changed my mind. They already had enough reservations about the tour. Did I really want them worrying about my rebellious cousin too?
Better wait to mention Lucinda until I knew her plans for sure. In the meantime, we could all focus on getting ready for the trip of a lifetime.
Excerpted from Reality Tour by Cheryl Crouch Copyright © 2007 by G Studios, LLC. Excerpted by permission.
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