“For fans of authors who blend music and sighs, like Katie Cotugno and Morgan Matson." - Paste Magazine
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels tenor, isn’t worth the risk.
Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?
"If you’re still obsessing over A Star Is Born (because, same) you’ll love this new romance novel by Erin Hahn." – Cosmopolitan
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april nashville, tennessee
If I die, it's Trina Hamilton's fault. She's hard to miss; statuesque blonde with angry eyes and tiny nostrils wearing top-of-the-line Tony Lamas so she can kick my ass at a moment's notice. When the early-morning sun finally burns through my irises and kills me dead, she's the one you want.
"Christ, Trina, it's barely seven."
My road manager flashes cool gray eyes at me while pressing her matte red lips into a thin line. Her expression hasn't changed in the minutes since she came pounding on my hotel room door. She's a study in stone, but not for long. Better to get this over with.
I mumble another curse, yanking the frayed brim of my baseball hat lower. "At least slow down. I have a migraine."
Trina whirls around and shoves a manicured nail in my face. "Don't," she spits, "pull that migraine bullshit, Clay. You look like death, smell like sewage, and if you think those glasses are doing anything to hide that black eye, you're sorely mistaken."
I scratch at the back of my neck, playing for time. "Are those new Lamas? Because dang, girl, they make your legs look incredi —"
She grabs my chin in a painful squeeze, her sharp claws digging into my bruised cheekbone. "Don't even try it. What happened to you last night?"
I wrench my face away. "Nothing serious. A little scuffle with some fans after the show."
Trina stares at me a long minute, and I start to fidget. It's her signature move. I might be a country music star, but Trina makes me feel like a middle schooler who just hit a baseball through her window.
"A little scuffle," she repeats slowly.
"Yeah. A scuffle."
"Really. Just a few good old boys shooting the breeze, probably," she offers with a too-bright smile.
She nods and starts walking, her heels clacking on the asphalt and ringing in my ears. A couple of middle-aged tourists halt, curious, midway through loading their golf bags into a rental car to watch us. I tug the brim of my hat even lower and hustle to match her strides through the hotel parking lot.
"So, that's it?" That can't be it.
"No, Clay. That's not it. Your face is all over TMZ this morning. We, as in you and me, because I'm irrevocably tied to your fuckery, are due at the label at 8:00 A.M. sharp."
I release a slow breath. "Trina, I have a contract. They already started presale on the summer tour. It can't be that bad."
Trina's cackle is edged with hysteria. "That guy you punched after throwing a beer in his face and waving a knife —"
"Knife? Really? It's a Swiss Army pocket tool. Every self-respecting Boy Scout owns one."
She plows on. "He was the SunCoast Records CEO's youngest son. His legally old-enough-to-drink son, as a matter of fact. Which you are not. How you manage to get served time and time again —"
I roll my eyes. "I've been playing bars since I was fifteen, Trina."
"— when you are so publicly underage —"
I lift a shoulder and wince as pain shoots down to my elbow. Must have tweaked it last night. "I'm a celebrity."
Trina grunts, her derision clear, just as my phone chimes in my pocket. I pull it out, ignoring her.
SAW TMZ. ON MY WAY.
"Is that Fitz?"
I nod, texting back.
TOO LATE. TRINA'S HERE.
"You can tell that good-for-nothing fiddler he's on my shit list, too. He promised he'd watch out for you after the last time."
"I don't need a babysitter, Trina."
"Obviously. Just get in the car, Clay."
* * *
We pull into the lot of SunCoast Records fifteen minutes early. Trina slams the door with her bony hip and pulls out a cigarette, lights it, taking a long drag, and leans back against her outrageous banana-yellow convertible.
"I thought you quit." Fitz Jacoby lumbers over from where he's parked his crotch rocket and tugs the stick from between her lips. He stomps it out with his boot, and she glares but doesn't protest. Trina might have said Fitz was on her shit list, but she'd never hold to it. No one could.
"I did, but then Clay happened. He's fixing to kill me and my career. I wish I'd never agreed to manage you guys."
"Aw, now, Trina, that ain't true. You love us." Fitz pulls some kind of fudgy granola bar from his pocket and hands it to her. "Have some breakfast. Have you even taken a second for yourself today? I bet not," he croons. "Probably been up since dawn fielding phone calls and emails. You take five right here. Have a bite, find your chi or whatever. I'll make sure Boy Wonder here makes it up to the office, and we'll see you there."
Before she can protest, he silences her with a look and a waggle of his rusty brows and grabs my arm, tugging me along. "One, two, three, four ...," he mutters.
"Clay needs a clean shirt!" Trina yells, and Fitz holds up a plastic shopping bag without even turning.
"How the hell did you have time to stop for a shirt?"
"I have spares," he says, his jaw ticking.
I blow out a breath, trying to shrug out of his grip. He doesn't let go, just keeps dragging me to the glass doors of the lobby. "It wasn't as bad as they made it sound."
Fitz doesn't say anything. Instead, he leads me straight past the security desk to a men's room. He checks the stalls before locking the door and shoves the plastic bag at my chest. "There's deodorant and a toothbrush in there. I suggest you use them."
I remove my hat and glasses and pull my bloodstained T-shirt over my head before leaning over the sink. I turn on the cold full blast, splashing my face and rubbing the sticky grime and sweat from my neck. Fitz hands me a small hand towel, and I pat my skin dry. I use the deodorant — my usual brand — and brush my teeth. Twice.
"I like the shirt," I say.
"You should. You own three of them already."
"I have a contract."
Fitz laughs, but it's without humor. "Man, I don't care about your contract. You could've been seriously hurt. You could've been shot. You could've got in a car accident. You did get in a fistfight like some kid."
"He started it," I say, but Fitz is already holding up a calloused hand in front of his face, cutting me off.
"We don't have time for this. We're going up there, and you aren't gonna say shit in your defense. You're gonna say 'Yes, sir' and 'Yes, ma'am,' and you're gonna eat whatever crow they throw in your face and pray to God Almighty they don't sue you for breach of contract. Do you hear me?"
I sprint to the toilet. The coffee burns as it comes up.
"Christ," Fitz is saying when I come back to the sink, but he doesn't seem as mad. I splash more water and brush my teeth again, and then he holds the door open for me. As I pass, he grips my shoulder and gives it a squeeze.
Time to face the music.
* * *
I "yes, sir" my way through twenty solid minutes of lecturing done by three men in meticulous black suits. I manage not to throw up again. I manage to keep my contract. For now.
"Under one condition," the CEO, Chuck Porter, a balding man with wire frames says. "We have a little side job for you."
"We've had our eye on your opening act for several months now. She's been giving us the cold shoulder, but we thought if we sent you in ..."
I slump back in my seat, relieved. "You want me to convince some singer to come on my tour?" Piece of cake. Last year, my tour grossed higher than any other country act across the nation. Who wouldn't want in on that? It's the chance of a lifetime. "Who?"
A phone vibrates somewhere. Trina inhales softly. Fitz uncrosses his legs, sitting up.
I laugh. "You're serious?"
Chuck Porter's smile is all lips. "Perfectly. She's been hiding out in Michigan since her parents' untimely death. She's been touring the local circuit —"
"I know," I say. "I caught a show of hers last summer outside Grand Rapids."
This seems to surprise Chuck. "Well, then, you know she's special."
"She's talented as all get-out," I concede. "So why is she giving you the runaround?"
Chuck looks at his partners uneasily. "We're not sure. She's recently uploaded some clips onto YouTube and garnered quite a bit of attention, including from our competitors. Her mother, Cora, had originally signed with us. We'd love to have the pair."
I raise a brow at his wording. A pair, like they're collecting a matching set. Except Cora's been dead five years, so not much chance of that. I take my time, considering my odds. Annie Mathers is huge. Or, at least, she will be. It took approximately ten seconds of her performance for her smoky vocals to sear themselves into my memory. And with her famous name, she might just make everyone forget my recent indiscretions. Next to me, Fitz pulls up her YouTube videos on his phone, and even through the poor phone speakers, her voice draws goose bumps on my forearms.
We all sit, listening, before Fitz lifts his head and looks at me. "They're pretty amazing." He passes the phone to me, and I watch her figure on the small screen pluck out the melody on an old guitar. She is framed by a tiny brunette playing a fiddle and a Puerto Rican guy with black curls and bongo drums.
"Jason Diaz and her cousin, Kacey Rosewood, round out her band. They've been playing together for years."
I can't drag my eyes from Annie's long fingers skillfully manipulating the strings as though they were an elegant extension of her limbs. Her wild brown curls spring in front of her closed eyes. Suddenly, she opens her eyes and stares right at me through the screen, and my stomach squeezes uncomfortably.
"So, what's her hesitation?" I ask again.
"The past few years, school. She wanted to finish high school in one place."
I nod. I was the same way, but the label wore me down my senior year. It helped that my brother died. I had no reason to stay home.
"More recently, it seems psychological. She's wary of the industry after her parents."
I shrug back into my seat, passing the phone to Fitz. "Not much I can do about that. I don't blame her."
Fitz presses the screen of his phone, turning off the voices and putting it in his shirt pocket. "Which is why you might be the best person to talk to her. You're currently in the industry."
"Yeah, but it's different. Singing was an escape for me, my ticket out."
Fitz shakes his shaggy head. "Maybe so, but you can see it, can't you? You recognize her passion? Because I sure as hell can, and I have maybe half as much as you and that girl. She's a performer. It's written all over her face." He sits back and re-crosses his knee over his leg. "Go up there and get her."
Chuck clears his throat. "You forget. We're not asking. We're telling you. Either you tour with Annie Mathers or you don't tour at all. I'm willing to take the loss on your contract. We have plenty of eager young talent ready to fill your spot."
I narrow my eyes as Fitz tenses next to me. I still him with a hand. The thing is, I don't think that's the complete truth, but I'm not willing to risk it. If that means I have to go to Michigan to convince a girl to tour with me, so be it.
"When do I leave?"CHAPTER 2
The first time I saw Clay Coolidge, I was fifteen. It was at a summertime music festival in Chicago. There was a Young Stars competition that was little more than a gathering of braces-faced kids from farm towns who came up together in their church choirs. He hadn't become Clay yet. He was singing under the name Jefferson Clay Coolidge. A girl doesn't forget a name like that. It sounds like something out of a vampire book or some Civil War–era hero. On a beautiful sixteen-year-old boy from Indiana, it translated into a honey accent and swooping hair, imprinting on every teenage girl in the audience.
I haven't seen him since, until today.
Now he's sitting at my kitchen table. His eyes are as dark and lovely as ever. His sandy hair is wavy across his forehead, and his long legs are stretched out and crossed at the ankles. My cousin, Kacey, is sitting across from him, sighing. My seventy-year-old gran is bustling around in her frilliest apron making hand-squeezed lemonade of all things.
Let the record show, the Rosewood ladies have no chill.
"Gran," I start, trying to keep the exasperation out of my voice, "I think Clay would be just fine with concentrate."
To his credit, Clay straightens. "Oh yeah. For sure. In fact, Mrs. Rosewood, I'm great with water. No need to fuss."
My gran waves a dripping hand near her ear, ignoring us. Kacey shifts in her seat, flicks her dark hair over one shoulder, but it falls flat since she cut it to a bob over the weekend. She sighs again, her eyes not moving from Clay's handsome features.
He squirms, and part of me glories in his discomfort. Kacey is a lot when you first meet her. My gran starts muttering about someone not refilling the trays in the freezer, and I decide to throw the guy a bone. "Hey, um, Clay? Let's take a walk and discuss whatever it is you came all the way out here to discuss."
Clay scoots back his chair with a loud scrape and is up before the words have half a chance to settle. I shoot Kacey a look and speak slowly. "Why don't you go fetch Jason? I sent him a text, but you know his phone is on silent. Probably up all night on his PS4 again."
She makes a petulant grab for her keys. "I'm not his momma," she says.
I push through the screen door without responding. "We'll be back, Gran." I lead Clay down a mown path that winds to the back acres that will be hayfields come harvesttime. My grandpa hasn't farmed in years, but he rents out the land to a few different neighbors. Right now, it looks like the Logan boys are planting.
Once we're out of earshot, I turn to Clay, still a little in awe that he's here. "So, they're really pulling out the big guns if they've flown you out to the middle of nowhere."
He doesn't deny it. "Does that surprise you? Even if you sucked, your name alone would guarantee butts in the seats."
I snort, despite myself. "Classy."
He shrugs, and somehow, it's charming rather than indifferent. "I only mean you had to know it was coming. You released the clips, after all. Label's probably had someone on the lookout for you since birth."
"Yeah, well. I don't much care for the inside track. I can make my own way, thanks."
Clay nods, reaching down to pick up a large stone and tossing it under the tree a few yards away. It's a telling move. One showing a familiarity with farm life. Stones can wreak havoc on expensive equipment.
"You're a conundrum, Annie Mathers. A natural artist, clearly talented, with a name that would open any door and an offer that's likely the best you could hope for. Why're you playing coy?"
"You just said it. My name," I say. I reach down and pluck at one of the billions of yellow dandelions dotting the grass. "They want Cora Rosewood 2.0." I roll the stem between my fingers before meeting Clay's penetrating gaze. "Did you know the Late Night duet with my mom was the most-viewed episode of all time? I was six. I thought Willie Nelson was my actual grandpa until I was ten. I knew the words to 'Coal Miner's Daughter' before I learned my alphabet. My freaking birth announcement was on the cover of People magazine's country music issue."
Clay motions his head to keep walking. We step high on the already soft grass. Michigan is a special kind of green in the spring. Green on top of green, edged with more green. I wonder idly how my home looks in his eyes. He's probably used to fancy hotel rooms and has a loft in New York or Nashville. Maybe both.
After a minute, he says, "Look, the way I see it, you can be a martyr and let all of that keep you from your destiny, or you can embrace it and come on my tour."
"And the Mathers/Rosewood name holds no appeal for you?" I say, dubious.
His lips quirk. "No offense, but Clay Coolidge ain't a bad name in its own right."
He has a point. It's not as if he's some unrecognizable upstart. He's young, maybe a year older than I am, but he's been around long enough.
"So, what do you need me for?"
He tips his head back, squinting in the morning sun. "I don't. To be honest, I had nothing to do with the decision. For some nefarious reason, yet to be determined, my tour manager insists we need to sign you for this summer. And apparently, Grammys and gold records don't carry the weight they used to. So here I am, in the middle of nowhere, as you said, hours before I care to be awake, asking you to sign the fucking papers so I can be on my way."
I swallow back the sting of his retort. I asked for it, after all. Still, he doesn't have to be an a-hole.
"Well, by all means, don't let little old me keep you from your hangover," I snipe.
He groans. "Don't be so sensitive."
The weed crushes in my fist, painting my palm gold. "I'm sorry, are you supposed to be convincing me to sign?"
He's silent for a beat, and I wonder if I've blown it. He reaches for my arm, and I ignore the electric jolt in my nerve endings at his touch. "Look," he says, exasperated, though his grip is gentle. "It shouldn't matter what I want. This is about you and your future. Do you want this? Forget your name, forget your history, forget me and the label. Do you want this to happen? Because once you sign your name, it's going to, and you can't go back."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "You'd Be Mine"
Copyright © 2019 Erin Hahn.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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