Home > The Mixtape(2)

The Mixtape(2)
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry

The fame became all she craved. More, more, more. It was never enough for her, and her need to be at the center of the spotlight damaged her common sense. She made rushed decisions without thinking of the consequences of her actions. She trusted the wrong people. She acted out of character from the sweet woman I’d met years before.

Still, I knew she wasn’t all bad. I’d been in the limelight for the past few years; I knew how that could mess with someone’s head. When we first met, we connected in the deep ways that I loved. She was a young girl with a dream, and I was a boy with the same. I knew that goodness had to still live inside of Cam. Success had come so fast for her over the past year, so I was certain she just had to find her footing. Sometimes when I looked in her eyes, I still saw innocence. Other times I saw her fear. So what kind of asshole would I have been to turn on her when she was just figuring it all out?

When she went to do an interview a few weeks ago and spoke about our personal relationship—something I never wanted the public to be involved in—Alex got pissed. Cam knew that I didn’t want our relationship in the public’s grips, because we’d watched time and time again how the media ripped apart people for entertainment. Cam told me she meant no harm and the interviewer had tricked her into answering the questions about our relationship. I believed her. Why wouldn’t I?

“She didn’t mean any harm,” I muttered, looking at my highly annoyed brother.

He shrugged. “Of course not. But she did mean to use it as a way to get clout. I know you both have been together for a long time, and I don’t want to say that she’s using you—”

“Then don’t,” I said through gritted teeth.

He frowned. “All right. Dropping it.”

“Appreciate that.” I knew he meant well. He was an overprotective brother, and when it involved who he was dating in the past, I was the same way. We just wanted the best for one another. I pushed out a smile and patted him on the back. “My introvert senses are tingling, so I think I’m gonna head out.”

“Leaving your own celebration early? I wish I could say I was surprised, but . . .” He smirked. “Cam going with you?”

“Yeah, we came together. So I’m going to go grab her.”

Alex patted me on the back before grabbing a meatball on a stick from the table. “Sounds good. Text when you make it home, all right? Let me know if you need anything. Love you.”

“You too.”

“Oh, and brother?”

“Yeah?”

“Congrats on yet another album. Here’s to fifty million more!” Alex exclaimed, his eyes glassing over like Mom’s. Emotional ass.

“It’s only the beginning,” I agreed, pulling him into a hug and patting his back. I blinked a few times to keep my eyes from glassing over too. Emotional ass.

I guessed being emotional ran in the family. But hell, we’d worked hard over the past fifteen-plus years to build our career. Some people tagged us as an overnight sensation when our track “Heart Stamps” hit the Billboard charts, but what the media seemed to miss was the countless years of struggle that had come before.

I grabbed one more crab bite before moving in Cam’s direction, and my thoughts began racing to acknowledge that I’d have to greet the people she was interacting with. My socializing tank was nearing empty. The nerves began to work up my throat as I grew closer and closer, but I tried my best to push them down.

If there was one known fact about Cam, it was that she was stunning. Everyone in their right mind could agree on that concept. She looked like a goddess with her light-brown eyes, long, straight jet-black hair, and curvaceous body. She moved like music, and her smile could make any grown man crave her attention. It was that wide grin that captured my attention all those years ago.

That night she wore a tight-fitted black velvet gown that looked as if it’d been sewn directly on her body. Her hair was pulled into a high ponytail, and her lips were painted crimson as she stood tall in her red-bottom heels.

Tonight, I placed my hand on Cam’s lower back, and she melted into me a bit before looking over her shoulder. “Oh, Oliver! Hi. I thought you were someone else.”

Who else would be touching her on the back like that? Who else’s hand would she be melting into?

“Naw, just me.” The two men she was engaging with nodded and smiled my way, and I gave them the same basic greeting before turning back to Cam. “I was going to head out. I figured you’d want to come, too, since we rode together.”

“What? No. The night is just getting started. Don’t be a buzzkill,” she seemingly joked before turning to the two men. “Oliver’s always a buzzkill at these things.”

They all laughed as if I was the comic relief of the night. My chest tightened, and I dropped my hold before I moved in to whisper against her earlobe. “You don’t have to do that, you know.”

“Do what?”

“Perform all the time.” She was putting on an act in front of those people to appear light and playful, but in turn, she was throwing me under the bus, just like Alex said.

Cam’s eyes locked with mine and a flash of disgust flew across her face before she recovered and gave me a fake smile and softly spoke back. “I’m not performing. I’m networking, Oliver.”

There she is.

The woman I no longer knew. The side of Cam that I didn’t like very much. Each day I longed a little more for the Cam she used to be.

Come back to me.

I didn’t say another word, because I knew getting through to her while she was in character wasn’t going to work. The men had smirks on their faces as I turned to walk away from the three of them. I didn’t bother saying goodbye. Fuck them and their smart-ass smirks. All I knew was, when Cam came home that night, she was coming home to me.

Walking through the crowd of sardines, I kept my head lowered, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone in hopes of avoiding any kind of social interaction. My brain had reached its limit of engaging, and I simply needed my driver to meet me outside to take me home.

I shot my way to coat check and muttered a thank-you as the guy handed me my jacket. Then I headed to the front of the building, where paparazzi had been waiting all night on the left, behind barriers, for a chance to get a shot of any and every celebrity leaving the club.

“Oliver! Oliver! Over here! You came with Cam! Is there trouble in paradise?”

“Why isn’t Cam leaving with you?”

“Is it true you two have been secretly dating for years?”

“Why lie about your relationship? Were you ashamed of her?”

And that was exactly why I didn’t want those assholes in my business.

Instead of engaging with them, I turned to my right, where another barricade was set up. Behind the barricade were the people I truly cared about. The fans.

Even though I was exhausted and had mentally checked out, I headed over to them and smiled. I’d spend as much time as I could taking pictures with the fans, because without them, Alex and I wouldn’t even have an album-release party to be celebrating.

“Hey there, how’s it going?” I asked, smirking toward a young girl. She couldn’t have been over eighteen, and she held a sign up that said OLIVE4LIFE.

“Oh my gosh,” she muttered, her colorful braces spreading into a wide-toothed grin. Her eyes flooded with tears as her body trembled. I placed my hand against her shaky hand.

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