A French Song in New York(2)

By: Anna Adams

“You see,” Maude started nervously, “the thing is, I thought you’d mention it once you found out.” Maude winced at her lack of intelligence. “Tell me you’re not anxious about this. I heard it would be a tiny role.”

Removing his hands from his pockets, he lifted them as if to shield his torso.

“I’m not anxious. In fact, I’m kind of curious to listen to him sing something other than a song he stole from us. Not sure he can,” Matt laughed.

Maude rolled her eyes, but was relieved that the tension had diffused.

Matt would never get over Thomas and Lindsey Linton plagiarizing Paris versus New York City, and she no longer expected him to. But she had moved on.

“This, right here, is something I don’t understand. Why are girls always said to be petty, but not guys?”

“I’m not competing with him! Because I’ve already won.” Matt gave her a coy smile. “I’ve got a career and he’s running after crumbs. I’ve got the girl he loved. He’s got Lindsey Linton.”

“Lindsey’s a good person.” Matt’s raised eyebrows prompted Maude to add, “When she wants to be.”

“Maybe I should date her then.”

Maude squeezed his nose. “You could, but then you wouldn’t be dating a singer slash teacher of the year.”

“That wouldn’t be so bad,” he said in a nasal tone. “No corporal punishment.”

Maude released his nose and kissed its tip.

“Every student has a crush on at least one of their teachers.”

“You got me. I had a mad crush on my sixth grade math teacher. She smelled nice and had shiny hair. Her smile was like a ray of sunshine,” Matt sighed dreamily. “I became good in math, thanks to her. I’m positive, Maude, had I been of legal age, I’d have stood a chance.”

“Keep dreaming,” Maude laughed. “I knew I never had a shot with my math teacher. He took pleasure in giving me bad grades. Loved to remind me just how bad I was at it. I’ll never be like him. I want to encourage my students to do better.”

“I like being encouraged,” Matt nodded gravely. “Please, do encourage me.”

Maude’s giggles burst out like sparkling wine from an uncorked bottle.

Locking her arms around his neck, she nibbled his lip before kissing him gently.

For she was certain that no student, no musical, and no Thomas Bradfield could ruin the happiness of two people in love.

Chapter 2

WHILE MAUDE’S BLISS was complete, Jazmine Baldwin’s happiness was in peril.

That afternoon, she sat in the Brooklyn Label with the members of her band. She stared at the screen of her laptop which displayed Blaze’s website page.

Times were dire, and she needed their help.

Unfortunately, Jazmine doubted the extent of the support they were willing to give, especially Rachel.

The band’s drummer slouched, her nose buried in a medical book. She twirled a strand of her short, brown hair, revealing two piercings on her left ear. Her green glasses fell down her thin nose and she constantly pushed them back up, unaware that Jazmine expected her undivided attention.

Tatiana, a more confident young woman than when they’d initially met her, munched on a chocolate chip cookie.

Gone were her fake breasts and butt. What remained was a young, talented guitarist who loved makeup and could not imagine life without lipstick. Her tiny, brown eyes adorned with eyelash extensions blinked quickly as she listened to Jazmine’s speech.

Next to Jazmine sat the rebellious Haze, a girl with skin brown like caramel, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and long, dreadlocks falling to her waist. Biting her lower lip, the faint scar she showed was a pledge of the many battles she’d fought. Arms crossed, she listened to Jazmine with a scowl.

“It’s not my fault no producer was interested in the demos we sent.” Haze glared at Tatiana, indicating that she was the cause for every implicit refusal the music industry had made.

“I’m not pointing blame,” Jazmine sighed. “All I’m saying is that we’ve got to think of a new strategy. Aren’t you girls sick of being struggling artists? I can’t rent an apartment with Maude because I insist on paying half the rent, but I can’t even afford a closet in the apartments we visited. We’ve got to stop performing in bars and cafés without receiving any results. We need to build a real following.”

“I’ve been thinking about it, too.” Tatiana brushed an eyelash from her cheek. “I heard a lot of musicians are discovered in the subway. We should do that: film our performances, post the videos on YouTube, and make them go viral.”