Home > Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(2)

Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(2)
Author: Lauren Blakely

Jackson furrows his brow. “Um, to point out the obvious, why don’t you sing with her? She was the Queen of YouTube.”

I laugh. “Have you ever heard the two of us sing together?”

“Um. No. Has anyone?”

“My point exactly. It isn’t pretty.”

On that note, I say goodbye to Jackson. After I stop by my apartment to drop off the boat, I head downtown to meet my best friend.

It’s a damn shame we can’t harmonize for crackers.

But then again, singing with your best friend seems like a surefire way to torpedo a relationship. I’ve been there, done that, and have a truckload of medals to prove it.

If there’s one woman I want to keep in my life, it’s Ally.

Chapter 2


Time to bring it home. Make them feel everything.

I raise my chin, move close to the mic, and say the final words. “A fresh new hurt surged inside her from this knowledge, but with it came a bold determination to find who had ripped this hole in the fabric of her world. She would track down whoever it was, man or woman, beast or machine. And she would exact revenge. For her people. For humanity.”

Dramatic pause.

“And most of all, for him.” A beat of silence.

And I’m done.

I shove off my headphones and breathe the deepest sigh of relief, now that I’ve finally, after all those grueling vocal miles, crossed the finish line.

I open the door of my booth, step into the control room, and pronounce “THEEEEEE ENNNNNND” to the gal on the other side of the glass. “That’s five hundred pages of epic battles, sword fights, brutal deaths, and stolen kisses in the can.”

“And that’s a big old hallelujah to us.” Kristy joins me in a raise-the-roof dance from her post at the sound desk.

The latest young adult fantasy novel I narrated required a full week in the booth to knock out the story of a seventeen-year-old orphan who rises above her station to become a warrior princess and save her people from intruders from another land.

At least, she does that until the cyborgs invade.

“When the publisher said it was an epic story, they weren’t kidding,” Kristy says, shoving a hand through her dyed blue hair.

“I am exhausted on behalf of Malindia.” That’s the heroine from the tale we just finished.

Kristy stares sharply at me. “There is no time for exhaustion. Tomorrow, you must return to the salt mine and play a jaded teen who inherits her grandma’s doll shop,” she says, referring to the contemporary teen novel that’s on the next day’s docket.

“Caffeine and I will be here, with bells on. Ready for the next book.”

“All right, go take a break. Have some honey and hot tea tonight to treat those golden vocal cords. We need them in tip-top shape.”

Kristy is my primary engineer for the young adult audiobooks I narrate. From the epic fantasies, to the space operas, to the contemporary John Green and Stephanie Perkins–style novels, she handles all of it for me, and I love her mama bear routine.

“See you tomorrow,” I say as I sling my purse onto my shoulder and leave the booth, heading down the hall of the recording studio that I own an itty-bitty stake in—a stake I’d like to be larger.

Someday. I’ll get there someday.

A few feet ahead of me, a young man and woman laugh then duck into studio B. They're the Cooper siblings, and I gave the twenty-something brother and sister musical duo a tour of the studio a few weeks ago when they were searching for a place to record. They were recently discovered online by an agent who now has nabbed them for several commercials, as well as a couple of songs.

They said I could pop in anytime, so I slip into the control room, whisper a hello to the engineer, and watch the pair. They look fantastic together, with a blue-eyed, fresh-faced style that matches their crystal-clear sound. My heart aches as I watch them, a pang of longing rocketing through me, sharp and sad.

Well, maybe not as sad as I’d be if I had failed at my first attempt to save the entire world from beast or machine.

But sad enough.

I miss what that duo has. I miss singing with my brother.

But life goes on, even though Kirby’s moving away. So must I go on. Right now, that means trekking to the hobby shop, since I have to help Chloe build a godforsaken castle.

I tear my gaze away from the duo, head down the hall, and wave goodbye to the receptionist at Platinum Sky Studios. As I exit the building, I send a text to my good friend Miller, telling him I’m ready and raring to go. He’s been expecting me.

Ally: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for all week. The chance to show off your prowess. Be there in thirty minutes or else.

Miller: I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, I can win gold medals in boat racing, and I can make it to the hobby shop in Chelsea in less than thirty minutes.

Ally: You beat ALL the fifth graders??? Every single one of them? I am so unbelievably proud of you.

Miller: Sixth graders too, and seventh. So there. And you thought I couldn’t hold off those pesky kids.

Ally: Not true. You know I always believed in you.

Miller: You especially believe in my ability to save you from school projects.

Ally: That’s scaling a tall building in a single bound for sure, my friend.

As I duck into the subway entrance, looping my brown hair, with its one lavender streak, into a ponytail, I wonder, not for the first time, what genius decided that craft projects are the gateway to understanding everything from cellular structure to history. . . in the sixth grade.

Why do kids need to craft a mailbox to look like a cat, a dog, or an actual blue postal box in which to receive Valentine cards from their classmates? Likewise, why do they need to bake a cake to demonstrate mitochondria?

It’s a mystery of the universe right up there with why conditioner can never keep pace with shampoo, and why are cooked tomatoes ever a thing?

After I reach my stop, I walk several blocks in the chilly late-November afternoon, enjoying the nip in the air as I do my best not to stress about the fact that my brother is moving several states away, and that means we won’t be making new YouTube videos that helped me pay for Chloe’s school bill.

I’m not starving. I’m not struggling. Yet, I’m also not the one percent, and it can be hard as hell to live in New York City. But this is the life we have—the one I’ve carved out for her since she became mine so unexpectedly when she was only six years old.

I shove all those worries aside when I see my favorite smile.


It’s not a lopsided grin or a wicked smirk like the heroes in the books I narrate, since apparently wicked smirks began way back in high school.

Miller’s is a toothpaste-commercial smile. There is only happiness in his grin. Only delight, since that’s Miller’s middle name and his mantra. I’ve never known someone to be such a joy-monger, but that’s precisely what my best friend is.

He leans against the doorway of GigiAnn’s Hobby Shop on Eighth Avenue. When I reach him, that magnetic smile has extended to his hazel eyes, the flecks in them sparkling. For a moment, it’s as if all my worries are gone. The man is a happiness drug. He wraps his arms around me, warm and strong, and I hug him back, sighing contentedly.

“Congrats on your boat racing gold medal.”

“It was nothing. Tell me—did you vanquish many dwarves today?”

I laugh as I unwrap myself from him. “Silly kitten, that was last week.” I thrust my arm up as if I’m leading troops into battle. “Today, I took on an entire brigade of cyborgs.”

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