Prologue

Prologue
July 2013

“It was a one album deal.” Brittany Cooper put her hands on her hips as she cocked her head to the side. She looked up at the man that was standing in front of her in the hotel lobby, where they’d been talking for the past five minutes.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied, giving her a slight smirk. He did it so effortlessly, it was almost as though it was his signature look. “That’s why I’m here.”

“This isn’t even my tour,” she replied coolly, still holding her hands on her hips and giving him attitude. “How’d you find me, anyway? It’s sort of creepy, to be honest.”

But he just laughed. “It wasn’t that hard.”

Brittany raised her eyebrow.

“Oh come on,” he continued to grin. “Everyone on the planet who knows anything about the industry knows who your boyfriend is. Perez Hilton even said you guys were like the new Just-”

“I know what Perez Hilton said!” Brittany cut him off, annoyance apparent in her voice. She’d heard all the comparisons in the world, and frankly, she was getting quite tired of them. Niall Horan and Brittany Cooper were the new Justin and Selena, Justin and Britney, Nick and Jessica. She knew why that was – to the public eye their relationship was probably very formulaic. The boyband star and the pop princess. Been there, done that.

She was sick of it, and she’d thought that after a year it would end, but of course that wasn’t the case.

“Uh huh,” the man said, running a hand through his short blonde hair. “Well, either way, I’m here asking you if you want to sign on to my record label before renegotiating with Sony.”

Brittany continued to give him a sceptical look. “Do you know how expensive that’ll be?”

“Wow,” he said, looking at her. “Do I detect a little bit of an ego?”

Brittany rolled her eyes. His cocky attitude was starting to get to her, and she was a few seconds away from turning away from him and going back to her hotel room. “I have a number one album,” she said stiffly. “I’m just saying it won’t be cheap to try and take rights from Sony or whatever.”

He just laughed. “You let me worry about that stuff.”

She still gave him a look. A year ago, she never would have thought she’d be standing in a hotel lobby with Nick Carter. Much less standing in a hotel lobby, considering walking away from Nick Carter and his pompous attitude.

Fame had done some strange things to her life.

“I don’t understand why you’re here,” she said finally.

He sighed. “Look, you’re talented, and I see something in you. You can either keep singing teen pop for the rest of your life, or you can come work with me and be the artist that you should be.”

Brittany raised her eyebrow. Who did this guy think he was, showing up and propositioning her? Furthermore, he was making assumptions about her career aspirations.

The worst part about it all was that he was right. She didn’t want to sing teen pop for the rest of her life. She wanted more creative control. Under her current contract, there was no way she was ever going to get it.

“Here,” Nick said, handing her his most recent solo album, I’m Taking Off. “Give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, we’ll talk.”

She took it, and looked up at him. Nick just smirked and left without another word, leaving Brittany standing there for a moment.

She rolled her eyes and made her way back up to her hotel room, unsure what to make of what had just happened. She opened the door and eyed her boyfriend, who was sitting on the bed with his computer in his lap.

“What was all that about?” he asked, looking up at her. Before she’d left, Brittany had told Niall was that Nick Carter was apparently in the hotel lobby, and for some reason, he wanted to talk to her.

“Can I borrow your computer?” she asked, walking over to him and handing him the CD. “I only have my iPad, it doesn’t have a CD drive.”

Niall glanced at the CD in her hands. “He could have at least signed it,” he laughed.

Brittany shook her head slightly. “No… he wants me to listen to it because he wants me to sign on his label.”

Niall gave her a look of disbelief. “What?!”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” she said, putting the CD in the computer and navigating the screen until the music began to play. “He was super weird.”

“He’s not weird,” Niall said quickly. “He and the rest of his group are really nice. I’ve met them a few times. They really know what they’re doing…”

Brittany tuned out Niall’s rambling about how much he loved the Backstreet Boys, and how talented they were, and how nice they’d always been to him, while she listened to Nick’s CD. Maybe Niall was right. Nick’s album was still pop music, there was no doubt about that. It didn’t seem like anything special at first, but as she got deeper into the album she began to feel a little more hopeful.

The last few songs were definitely the type of pop music that she liked. The kind that held some sort of meaning in the lyrics, and weren’t just mass produced to sell records.

A smile crept up across her face. Perhaps Nick’s offer was the golden opportunity she’d been looking for.

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