Title: A French Star in New York (The French Girl series #2)
Series: The French Girl series #2
Author: Anna Adams
Publication date : July 31st 2013
Maude thinks her life can’t get any better: her first music album is a hit, she’s about to meet her extended family, and she’s looking forward to her first date with teen pop star, Matt.
But when scandal strikes, Maude must part ways with Matt and watch Soulville Records fall into the hands of an ambitious Alan Lewis, who will stop at nothing to turn Maude into an unparalleled star.
Between glamorous parties, an unauthorized tell-all book, a web of lies, new revelations about her French past, and her rivalry with Lindsey Linton attaining a whole new level, Maude must fight for her voice to be heard and decide if being a star is more important than her love for music.
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Maude Laurent had remained locked up in a basement in France for sixteen years and had been on lockdown in Manhattan for the last sixteen hours.
She pondered for some time on whether being locked up was all she was good for. On the fifteenth hour, she rested. And on the sixteenth hour she awoke, famished for edible forms of French sanity. French rolls, French somethings, French anythings.
Manhattan was madness, Maude was in Manhattan, Maude was in madness.
She threw an irate “humpf” at the celestial blue bar and at the crowd of paparazzi scrambling underneath. Teasing her misery by displaying a large, sunny grin, the sky refused to dissolve into misty tears to satisfy Maude’s stormy mood.
After having brushed her rebellious curls into a bun, the young girl let her reflection peer back at her through the oval mirror. Her chocolate brown skin glowed under the flirtatious ray of light dancing around the room, and her almond-shaped eyes glowered with defiance at her reflection.
“Today, I’m breaking free,” she stated, like many optimistic celebrities had done before her.
Easier said than done. But when she stared into the face of the gathered crowd, Maude had to drag her courage, tangled in seaweeds of cowardice, before she surfaced into light. Microphones. Cameras shoved in her face with unhinged eagerness. They’d waited hours on brownstone steps and now demanded answers to their questions.
Had Matt left Lindsey Linton for Maude?
Were Maude and Matt an item?
What was his relationship to Lindsey Linton?
Was Maude going out with Thomas Bradfield or Matt?
Was Matt coming on tour with her?
Teenage celebrities like Maude were supposed to revel in limelight anyway, even when that light glared down on splattered, juicy scandals.
Lips licking with anticipation. Fingers snapping. Cameras zooming. Beads of sweat falling off like shards of glass.
A rivalry between two top female singers over the same guy? Such a contention would get ugly soon, and they would be there to film it.
Zoom in on her distraught face!
If they pushed Maude far enough, they might even get an angry outburst from her on camera . . .
Maude Laurent pushed through the paparazzi as futilely as a flower trying to escape a swarm of bees and elbowed her way to the dark sedan waiting for her in front of her house. She pushed back the sunglasses. They made her face small and vulnerable, and she wished they held an unknown propriety, a secret ability rendering her invisible from prying, journalistic eyes.
She shut the door firmly, leaned her head against the window, and rubbed her temples, wanting to ease her weariness with the simple gesture.
“Where to?” Rob, her driver asked.
Maude hesitated a second.
“Soulville Tower,” she answered.
French somethings would have to wait.
Two days ago, her life had been perfect. After the joy of discovering she would never have to live with her foster family again, she’d celebrated her cousin’s twelfth birthday. Two days ago, she’d been preparing to leave for her tour with Matt and James Baldwin, her uncle. Two days ago she’d had fun with her newfound family. Two days ago, Matt and her were planning their first official date. Two days ago, New York had been her home, her haven, her heaven.
Today, this French girl couldn’t wait to get out of New York.
Could she, Maude Laurent, be accused of cowardice? She often boasted she never ran away from a challenge. But then, that was before her life had been plastered all over Page Six. Of course she was ecstatic her debut album was a success, thrilled when someone recognized and stopped her in the street. Ever since the release of her first hit single, “Betrayed but Not Broken,” her rise to fame had been continuous, a fast, thrilling ride towards stardom. She’d been called “the voice of today’s generation” and “a teen phenomenon.” So many flattering associations, metaphors, and superlatives placed next to her name, she couldn’t remember them all.
Until scandal halted her stride.
Two days ago, she’d quite involuntarily stepped into a muddy puddle she hadn’t even known lay on her sunny path.
Upon reaching Soulville Tower, Maude thanked Rob and hurried inside the building.
She’d spent countless hours in Soulville, her second home, working on her self-titled album. She’d had legendary fights with Matt, storming out whenever she deemed necessary to mark a point. But she held no close resemblance to a diva, Maude thought ruefully. If she had, she’d be enjoying the unwanted attention.
She ran across the lobby, caressed the grand concert piano with distracted fondness, and stopped in front of Matt’s half-open door to his creation room. She pushed it mildly, enlarging the triangular scope through which she peered at him unseen.
He was strumming on his acoustic guitar with one hand while the other tousled his dark blonde hair with frustration. His guitar pick was stuck between his clenched teeth. She couldn’t see his eyes but knew how grey they shone when bent over his guitar, his mind roaming in search of musical creativity.
Maude’s resolve wavered. They had shared so much. She’d hated him, laughed with him, and derided his Parisian arrogance. She sighed. He had been there for her when she’d learned the truth about her parents’ deaths. He’d held her in his arms when she’d welcomed tears as a delivery from her blinding pain.
She gave herself a mental jolt and walked inside the room. He immediately put his guitar aside and rose.
She laid the fateful article on the coffee table without saying a word. Its title popped out of the page, “Can the Love Doctor Cure This Love Triangle?,” by Lexie Staz, accompanied by a picture of Matt and Lindsey locked in an embrace, their faces inches from one another, a prelude to a kiss.
Matt didn’t read the article again because he knew what it said.
A couple of weeks ago, Matt was spotted in a romantic embrace with Lindsey Linton when he went with her to her school’s Summer Dance (see picture on the right).
When I interviewed Maude Laurent for the release of her first single “Betrayed but Not Broken,” she assured me she and Matt were just friends. But their eyes blatantly said otherwise.
Now rumor has it that Matt is preparing to accompany Maude on her tour as the singer’s boyfriend.
What about Lindsey?
“Maude stole him from me,” Lindsey told me herself when I asked her. “Ever since she started working with him, she’s been after him.”
According to Lindsey, things went from bad to worse after the iconic pop star was asked to replace Maude in an opera performance of La Cenerentola.
“Maude choked,” a source confided. “They had to replace her.”
Lindsey fans are outraged, while Maude fans defended their star with gusto . . . and tacky “Lindsey sucks” T-shirts.
But Maude isn’t satisfied until she has them all. Not only has she gotten Matt to abandon Lindsey, she now has Thomas Bradfield wrapped around her little finger.
The young pop singer, made famous after his duet with Lindsey Linton, isn’t hiding his feelings for Maude whom he calls his “ideal girlfriend.”
Soulville tried to sell Maude Laurent as the ordinary French girl next door, but boy, were they wrong . . .
“And she goes on and on and on,” Maude finished, throwing the magazine aside.
“We were just dancing,” Matt explained calmly. “ At the Summer Dance, way
before you and I shared a kiss.”
“I know,” Maude replied, her voice a distant echo. “I can see the disco ball in the background.”
“I was angry with you. You’d left with Jazmine, and I thought you were in love with Bradfield. I danced with Lindsey, but that’s it,” he reaffirmed.
“I believe you,” Maude repeated wanly.
“Don’t let this get to you,” he said. He took her hand and pressed it gently. “Lexie must have sensed there was something going on between us during the interview at the release party.” It would have been hard not to notice the long, lingering looks the two had shared as they spoke of their work.
“And Thomas isn’t helping by telling every reporter he encounters that I’m his ‘ideal girlfriend’ as he puts it,” Maude put in. She shook her head with exasperation. When would he get it in his head that she couldn’t give him what he wanted?
“Don’t worry, Maude. We can put our first date on hold. We’ll do that while we’re on tour together,” Matt added with enthusiasm. They’d been so busy they’d had to postpone their first date several times.
Letting go of his hand, Maude shook her head.
“You’re not coming with me on tour,” Maude declared with decided resolution. She’d thought about it long and hard. Being quarantined for hours like the carrier of a deadly infection had given her ample amount of time to think. She winced when Matt took a step back as if he’d received a blow.
“You can’t be serious,” he replied in disbelief.
“I’m portrayed as some sort of man-eater out to steal anyone’s boyfriend! I’ve given this a great deal of thought. If you come, this story will never die down! I know this took place way before anything happened between us, but nobody else does.”
“Who cares!” Matt exclaimed. “You can’t live your life for everybody else. If you let idle gossip dictate your life, you’ll never live it to its full extent.”
“Growing up, destitution clogged the pores of my skin. Dignity was the only garment I had left to clothe me. It hid my sores, covered the holes in my shoes. When I pinned it on, no dingy soap could scrape it off my straightened backbone. Mrs. Ruchet’s pudgy fingers couldn’t nip it, the twins couldn’t tear it to shreds, and Mr. Ruchet couldn’t ignore it like he ignored everything else involving me. Dignity is the only treasured possession I took from France to New York: I refuse to take it off to be photographed naked under the public eye.”
He couldn’t let her drift away from him. Yet she’d made her decision, and one thing Matt had learned about Maude after having worked with her for seven months, was that she rarely changed her mind once she’d firmly made it up.
“All I know is I can’t live my life this way. I can’t be on Page Six. You’re used to being the center of unwanted attention. The paparazzi, the flash, the gossip, you revel in those. I’m nothing like you in that respect. We can’t be seen together as a couple if everyone thinks I stole you from Lindsey!”
“I used to be faithful to that description. You know it’s no longer the case. I severed all ties with my wild past long before I met you.”
“But they haven’t severed ties with you, Matt,” Maude said with sadness. “I can’t be with you. Not now. Lindsey is telling everyone that I ‘stole her man.’ Me! Seven months ago, I’d never wandered outside of small, dreary Carvin. I’m an ordinary girl, Matt.”
“Not anymore, you aren’t. You’re a star now. How do you expect to avoid scandal forever, even when you’re not the one instigating it? Don’t throw us away because of this stupid article.”
“I want to be appreciated for my music, not for whom I may or may not be dating,” Maude explained. “I’m sorry, Matt. There will be no ‘us.’”
Maude turned around and left the room with a heavy heart. Left alone, Matt threw the magazine against the door she’d just closed and wished with all his heart he could live in a world where there were no Lexies or Lindseys.
Anna Adams is a French author presently living in Paris after having spent her childhood in the United States. She enjoys writing and reading young adult novels. She loves music, art, shopping, hanging out with friends and roaming in the streets of Paris, or writing in small French cafés.
She is currently writing the second novel in the French Girl series. The third installment in the French Girl Series will be released in 2014.