Book Title: Unfiltered & Unknown
Author: Payge Galvin and Lynne James
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Dillon Varga has always craved the spotlight. Now, with his newfound riches, he jumps at the chance to leave his troubled past behind and take a shot at his future. With his best friend Savanah Miller by his side, Dillon hits the neon lights of Las Vegas for a chance at a spot on the hit TV show American Voice. As they both move up in the singing competition, feelings surface between them that make both singers wonder if there might be more to life than just fame and fortune. Together they’ll have to dodge the perils of celebrity judges, sexy competitors, and the truth about the past to find the one thing they desire most — each other.
ON SALE FEBRUARY 14, 2014
UNFILTED & UNKNOWN
Payge Galvin & Lynne Jaymes
I wash my hair, the suds dripping down and stinging the tender skin on my forearm. The letters Adam tattooed there last night are a little less raised now, and I run my hand over the words. First there was sex, and then came death.
What a crazy fucking night that was. It started as a regular Saturday, me picking up some coin singing at The Cave, a few stragglers in the café either working off their future hangovers or lurking around with nowhere else to go. Then that guy walked in and changed everything when he pulled Sugar over the counter and nailed her right in the face with his meaty fist. At first I didn’t even know who shot him in the confusion that followed, but I helped with the rest of it—cleaning up and disposing the body, giving Sugar the coke the guy had stashed in the trunk of his car and taking my share of the money. We were all in on it, and now we all have something to lose.
But the money’s going to give me more than it’s going to take away. I don’t owe this town anything anymore, so never coming back here isn’t that much of a loss. I’m going to miss the guys, but the band hasn’t been doing much lately, having exhausted the campus circuit and the frat parties. It’s time to go out on my own.
I’ve had the American Voice audition info bookmarked on my phone for years, watching as they travelled all over the country, never having the money or the means get there myself. Until now. This year, American Voice is filming in Vegas – 265 miles and 8 hours away on the Greyhound Bus. And this year, I’m taking my shot, packing up what little I have left and throwing it all out there. This time tomorrow, I’ll be standing on the strip watching the tourists throw down their money at the tables and getting ready for the biggest break of my life. My only job is to not fuck it up.
The water’s growing lukewarm, so I shut off the shower and step out into the bathroom to the sound of my phone ringing. Still dripping, I fumble through the clothes on the floor and find it in the back pocket of my jeans. I know who it’s going to be even before I turn it over and I also know that I’m not going to answer it. There’s no point in explaining to Mr. Renfrow why I’m not coming in today. Why I’m not coming back any day. Training to be an electrician seemed like a good idea when I was a high school senior, but six years and four very large electrical shocks later, I’m over it. The money’s okay, and I feel a little guilty just bailing on him like this, but if I’m ever going to make a break for it, it’s got to be today.
An hour later, I have all of my worldly belongings packed into a large backpack and the duffle bag, splitting the money between the two bags, with a few of the bundles tucked up into my guitar case for safe keeping. There are a few wire hangers still in the closet, three of them holding the hated khaki Renfrow Electrical shirts with my name embroidered over the left pocket. I don’t take any of the kitchen crap or the stuff in a lot of the drawers. My records and the ancient record player I inherited from my uncle are already at the studio, locked in the storage closet. The rent on the apartment’s paid until the end of the month, and I figure it’ll be another couple of weeks before the landlord figures out I’m gone. I’m not leaving myself any outs though—no job to come back to, no apartment in a rent-controlled stucco building. Having an out means that you don’t really believe you can make it, and I can’t afford to think that way.
I set the two bags by the door—everything I own in the world in a size I can carry. I only have one last thing I need to do. Savannah usually works on Sundays, so I run a comb through my hair and grab the Gibson case. Triple-checking the deadbolt, I close the door behind me on over $100k and all of my worldly possessions.
Aunt Mike’s is hopping at two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon because most college students don’t get around to breakfast until at least one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. There’s a crowd near the patio entrance and a line leading out the door and halfway down the block.
“Hey Dillon,” Alicia says as I approach, turning to give me a megawatt smile. Alicia’s always been more than nice to me, but I’ve never done anything about it because she’s too close to Savannah, and Savannah would kill me.
“Hey,” I say, squeezing myself in past the throngs of sweaty, cargo-short wearing students.
“Savannah’s working,” she says, not even waiting for my question. “But we’re awfully busy. She has a break in about ten minutes—want me to tell her to meet you out back?”
It’s way too tough to push my way through the restaurant with a guitar on my back, so I walk around the bright yellow building to the alley that faces the tall adobe wall that separates the strip mall from the desert. There isn’t much shade out here, but the sun feels nice on my face as I lean against the wall.
I’m starting to get antsy when the back screen door screeches open and Savannah walks out into the sunlight. Even in an Aunt Mike’s t-shirt and dirty black apron, Savannah is so pretty. I remember the first time I saw her singing on stage at The Hub at ASU Rio Verde. Some kind of open mic night, which is really just glorified karaoke, and out of all of the other people who got up there that night, Savannah killed it. I even remember what she was wearing—a blue and white striped sweater and a worn jean jacket that was covered by her long, wavy brown hair as she leaned over her guitar. Her voice isn’t maybe as strong as some of the divas who can belt out a ballad so loud that the nosebleed seats feel like they’re right there on stage, but it has a clarity and a purity that I haven’t heard before or since. Such a shame to see her waste it here, taking orders for eggs and bacon. I wanted Savannah bad that night, and many nights since then, but she’s made it perfectly clear that I’m not her type, and I’ve been put squarely in the friend-zone since that first night. After all this time, I’m not exactly sure what her type is, but at least I got her to sit in with the band a few times.
Savannah walks over and gives me a quick hug before sliding down the wall to sit on the dusty asphalt, her black Docs peeking out from her green khaki pants. Nobody in the history of the world does casual as sexy as she can. “God, I hate weekends,” she says, a strand of hair escaping from the loose knot on top of her head and trailing across her face. I want to reach out and touch it, tuck it behind her ear and run one finger down her cheek. But I don’t. Because that would wreck the carefully cultivated friendship it’s taken all this time to cement.
“Looks busy in there,” I say, sliding down to join her on the ground. I turn away from her for a second, because the sight of the freckles that are sprinkled across her nose and her intense green eyes have planted a seed of doubt I can’t afford to nurture.
“We’re slammed,” she says, popping a stick of gum in her mouth and fishing around in her pocket for her phone.
“Listen,” I say, staring at a tiny lizard that is sunning itself on the top of the wall. “I’m leaving. And I wanted to give you something.”
Savannah stops texting and looks up at me. “Leaving? For how long?”
I shrug and hope it looks casual. “Forever. Tonight. I’m catching the Greyhound just before midnight, and I’m not coming back.”
A flicker of shock and what I hope is maybe a little sadness crosses her face. “Forever? Where in the world are you going that requires it to be forever?”
I pick up a pebble off the ground and bounce it in my hand. “Vegas.” I look up and meet her eyes. If there’s any sign of doubt or laughter, I’m out of here. “I’m going to audition for American Voice.”
Her eyes widen. “Seriously? That’s awesome!” She reaches over and gives me a hug, her hair smelling of bacon and shampoo. It’s all I can do not to bury my face in it.
“You think so?”
“Oh my God, yes!” She pulls back and swats me on the arm. “With your voice you’ll be America’s Sweetheart in no time.”
“America’s Sweetheart is for girls,” I say, relieved that she thinks I can do it.
“America’s Next Hot Guy then,” she says with a grin. “You’ll sing the hell out of that place. Nobody can beat you. Nobody.”
I smile at that. ‘Hell’ is as close as Savannah ever gets to swearing. I know I’m going to replay her words in my head over and over again as the audition gets closer. “Thanks.”
Savannah sits up straighter. “Have you figured out what you’re going to wear to the audition? I think something clean but casual, you know, like you’re confident and not trying too hard. What are you going to sing for the audition? Probably a ballad, right?”
I laugh at her enthusiasm. “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
“What do you mean you haven’t thought that far ahead? This is important Dillon, not something you pull out of thin air at the last second. My God, have you thought about this at all?”
I realize that I haven’t imagined anything past the moment that I get on the bus and see the lights of Phoenix receding in the distance.
“I’ll be fine.” I shift the guitar closer to her. “I brought you this. To keep.”
She puts one hand on the black case and stands up, so I do too. “The Gibson? Why in the world would you give up your Gibson?”
“I told you; I’m out of here. I’m taking the Martin, but I can’t take both, and I know you’d give this a good home.”
Savannah leans the guitar back to me. “I can’t take this; it’s worth thousands of dollars.”
“I need you to have it,” I say. “I’m not kidding when I say I’m not coming back. You’ll be doing me a favor.”
I see her hesitate, but she wraps both hands around the case. “Okay.” She nods slowly. “Thanks. I love it. I’ll take good care of it, I promise.” She glances toward the screen door. “I should probably get back.”
I don’t want her to go. Don’t want this last moment to end. Savannah is the one thing in this whole town that I’m going to miss. That I’m going to miss so much it already hurts. “Okay,” is all I say.
There’s a heaviness between us. In the movies, this would be the moment when the guy leans down and pulls the girl toward him in a long embrace. Except this isn’t the movies. This is a guy saying goodbye to his best friend in an alley behind a diner.
“Guess I’ll see you on TV,” she says, taking a step toward the door.
The thought rushes through my brain and out of my mouth before I can stop it. “Come with me!”
Savannah stops and turns back toward me. “What do you mean?”
I can feel my heart pound in my chest. What the fuck am I doing? “Come with me. Come to Vegas. Tonight. I’ll buy the ticket, I’ll pay for everything.”
She shakes her head. “I can’t come with you. I’ve got stuff to do…my apartment…Aunt Mike’s…”
I can see that she’s thinking about it. That this crazy idea might not be so totally crazy. “It doesn’t have to be forever,” I say quickly. “Just come for a week. Help me out, pick out a shirt for me to wear to the audition. Choose the song I should sing.” I need you to be there with me. That’s what I don’t say. That I don’t want to do this alone. I gesture toward the door. “Aunt Mike’s isn’t going to fire you—you’re the best waitperson they have. Just take a little break.”
“I don’t have any money,” she says, and at that moment I know that I’ve got her.
“I’ll pay for everything,” I repeat. “I got…an inheritance. We’ll get two rooms, I promise. But let me pay for it all. Kind of like I’m hiring you to be my consultant.”
“This is crazy,” she says.
“I know. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
“When are you leaving?”
“The bus pulls out of the station at 11:15 tonight.” I wait, my nerves tense. Please God let her say yes. In the past two minutes it’s gone from an idea to a necessity. I can’t do this without Savannah.
I see her quick nod before I hear the words. “Okay. I’ll do it.”
“You will? That’s great!” I pick her up and swing her around. “Sorry,” I say, setting her back on the ground. “I’m just happy you’re coming with me.”
Savannah picks up the guitar case. “You’re sure you want me to?”
“More than anything,” I say, knowing that it’s true.
PAYGE GALVIN has always wanted to be a writer. She also loves spending time with her friends, so after a few cosmos at the pool with her friends, the idea for UNFILTERED was born. Together the group wrote twelve books about a group of strangers who share a dark secret.. . and who all want to find love (because, really, who doesn’t?).
LYNNE JAYMES likes sexy guitar players and a hot love story, which is why she jumped at the chance to write both in the Unfiltered series. She’s grateful to good friends who encourage her to break out of her shell and try new things. When she’s not writing, she’s taking long walks with her big hairy dog and thinking about writing.
You can follow Payge on Twitter at @PaygeGalvin or Lynne at @lynnejaymes or at her website at http://www.lynnejaymes.com, or keep up with all the latest news on the Unfiltered series at http://www.unfilteredbooks.com.