The Deeper You Go | Logan Grey
Heartbelt Records #1
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Universal Link: http://getbook.at/TheDeeperYouGo
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Travis Cherry’s record label disowned him in almost every way, shape, and form when he was outed in the media.
The thing that sucked?
He still owed them an entire album. But that didn’t meant he’d make it easy on them.
They were the reason he was there, in that nightclub—the gay nightclub— shaking his ass and making a complete fool of himself.
They were also the reason he met Bailey.
And this is their story.
A nightmare. That’s what his life had just turned into. One Travis Cherry had lived through time and time again, only for the sun to rise and save him. But this time he wouldn’t be waking up to discover it was all a dream. He stared down at the eleven missed calls on his phone from various people in his life and shook his head, not really seeing what was in front of him. It was like his brain couldn’t quite catch up to what he knew to be true.
He kept waiting for his alarm to go off and shatter the illusion of the dream, but he knew it would never come. This was real, and it was time to face the music.
He swiped over the most recent call, the most urgent one, and swallowed hard as he pressed the speaker button. Hanging his head, he propped his elbows on his knees and stared at the floor as the dial tone shattered the silence of his apartment.
“Travis! It’s about time you answered that damned phone. I assume you’ve seen the news, yes?”
As his mother’s voice rang loud and clear through his apartment, he glanced across the room to the muted television. Without sound, the entertainment newscaster mimed excitement over the most recent breaking scandal. His breaking scandal.
Clearing his throat sharply, he tried to force his voice out. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen it.”
She paused for a long moment, and Travis’s vision tunneled, his surroundings blurring into a fog he couldn’t touch or see but was real all the same.
“Honey… You know it’s okay, right? I mean, I’ve known for the longest time.”
His heart skipped a beat as his breath exploded, the fog fading until the familiar pattern of his hardwood floor was visible once more. “You have?” he croaked out.
Even her scoff sounded southern, and Travis could have cried were he still not so shell shocked by the news. “I’m not blind, nor am I stupid. This isn’t really how I wanted you to tell me, but I’ll take it if the only other option was never to say anything. I mean, really—”
Travis threaded a hand through his hair and shut his eyes. “Mom, I’m sorry.”
“Well, I mean, I guess it’s okay. It’s really not a big deal, you know. But at least I’ll have something to talk about in book club now. Susan will be so pissed. I can’t wait to put her in her place.”
Shaking his head, Travis allowed himself a smile at his mother’s antics. “Mom, please don’t parade around the breaking news of my sexuality. I really—I need to figure things out with the label first. Hold off on all that, please?”
“Fine. But you let me know when you’ve got everything squared away. They’re all always bragging about their grandkids and new marriages and all that bullshit. Now I’ve got something to one up them with.”
Travis swallowed. “Mom, is telling everyone you have a gay son really worth bragging about?”
“Well, considering I haven’t been able to say anything about your love life thus far, Mr. Rock Star, I’d say it’s a major step forward. Maybe Susan will shut her whore mouth about Bethany and her stupid grand baby. It’s not even here yet, and it’s all we talk about all the time.”
Travis finally laughed, he couldn’t help it. “Thanks, Mom,” he said quietly.
“Shut your mouth. You have nothing to thank me for. But if anyone gives you any trouble, you let me know. I’ll open a can of whoop-ass on—”
“Mom! It’s fine. It’ll be fine,” he insisted with a smile, even though he wasn’t sure if he spoke the truth yet. The next phone call would be the deciding factor.
“It better be. If you need to come home for a few days, you know your room is—”
“I know. Thanks again. I’ll uh… I mean, I still need to call the label and make sure everything is okay.”
His stomach knotted at just the thought, but he hoped his mother’s reaction was a good omen.
“Alright, call me if you need to talk. I love you, and nothing is going to change that, you know?”
“I know.” Now, he added silently. “Bye, Mom. Love you too.”
After he ended the call, he squeezed the phone between his fingers and sighed.
All his life, he’d known he couldn’t control how other people reacted when he came out. But part of him had at least held on to the power that he could control who knew.
And that power had been stripped from him with just a few photos.
He glared at the television, the red bar scrolling across the bottom in all caps.
TRAVIS CHERRY EXPOSED.
Photos appeared on the screen, blurry ones that had been blurred even more to conceal the very exposed parts of him… and the other man he’d been with.
So he hadn’t been able to control it after all. Coming out, that was. But he couldn’t help the relief filling him, and once he recognized it for what it was, he could breathe again. No, he hadn’t made the decision to reveal to the world that he was gay, but now that it was out, he felt a thousand pounds lighter.
The phone slipped from his fingers to bounce against the floor. I don’t have to hide.
He didn’t have to hide anymore, he didn’t have to pretend to date women who were really just very close friends. No more lying, no more—
The phone buzzed on the floor, muffled against the carpet and he gulped as his agent’s name lit up the screen.
Leaning down, he lifted the phone from the floor with a shaky grip. Swiping to answer the call, he parted his lips to say hello, but before he could even get a word out, his agent blurted, “Are they real?”
The intensity of her voice surprised him, and he blinked, unsure how to answer.
“Travis, the photos? Are they real?”
Finally, he cleared his throat and answered, “Yes. Yeah, they’re real.”
Over the line, she sucked in a deep breath and released it, and Travis sat up straighter. It didn’t sound like a sigh of relief, and he suddenly feared whatever came next.
“It’s fine. We can get ahead of it. If anyone contacts you, just deny. Deny, deny, deny. The label is already working on discovering who leaked the photos. All we have to do is—”
“Wait,” Travis interrupted, and waved a hand through the air as if she could see him. “Wait, what? What do you mean?”
The pause through the line was more telling than anything she could ever say aloud, and Travis’s heart sank. “Travis, Diamond Nights Records does not want to represent a gay artist. For legal reasons they may not say as such, but you know they’re going to make your life a living hell if you don’t fight this.”
Frustration made his chest tighten.
“But…” He slumped down before he just gave up and laid back on the bed, swiping a hand over his face. “What if I don’t want to deny it? That would just be more lying.”
He’d only woken up an hour before, if that, but in that short period of time, the thought of freedom, of not hiding, was too sweet to ignore. Now that it was all out there, he didn’t want to pretend it was a lie.
She didn’t speak for a long time, instead he heard the clicks of keys as she typed something. “They can’t break the contract with me just because of my sexual orientation. That’s discrimination, right? We could sue them for that,” he reasoned.
“Yes, true. However, while they won’t break your contract for this, they’ll just make your life very, very hard until you break the contract. And if you do, you’ll owe them a lot of money, Travis.”
“Can’t we just amicably part ways or something?”
“Your contract says you still owe them an album,” she argued. “That’s a lot of potential income they wouldn’t want to miss out on.”
He sighed, his stomach rolling with nausea at the thought. “They’re the ones wanting you to shove this all under the rug, aren’t they?” Her pause was all the confirmation he needed. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”
“No, Travis, I’m on your career’s side. And from a business standpoint, working against your label instead of with them is not a good idea.”
Right then, Travis couldn’t give less of a shit about the label or the album he owed them or anything they wanted from him.
“We can get ahead of this, we just have to release a statement directly claiming the photos are fake, and eventually they’ll forget about it.”
As her words sank in, he let his phone fall to the bed beside him as she laid out a step by step plan to shove him back into the closet. To tell more lies, to erase the evidence, and discredit the witnesses. It didn’t matter if anyone believed his lie, so long as he didn’t ruin the image of Diamond Nights.
It was one thing for some stranger to reveal his secret to the world, but it was completely different for his label to prefer the lies over his truth. Prefer a persona he’d created to who he really was.
A feature film played out in his mind of what his life would be like if he went along with their plan, if he followed their rules. He’d live even more of a lie, deny who he was for the sake of his career, and write an album—all for them. Assuming he could even find the inspiration to finish it, he’d then go on tour, and pretend the entire time that he wasn’t a total fraud, and the label would make money off his music. His name. His creation. And Travis would have to live with that while knowing that they didn’t support or accept who he was, not truly. They only valued him for what he could bring them. So long as he upheld their image.
An idea snaked its way into his head, and once he fully envisioned it, he couldn’t let it go.
What if he didn’t uphold their image?
“Annie, you’ve been great. But you’re fired,” he stated.
“Wait, what? Travis—”
He hung up on her and tossed his phone to the side, ignoring it when she immediately called back.
If he couldn’t drop the label, he’d just have to make it so they didn’t want to represent him as an artist anymore.
Lights pulsed around him, throbbing and flashing in time with his heartbeat. Music thumped through the club just like his pulse beneath his skin. Sweat dripped down his forehead, but whether that was from the bodies crushing against him or the amount of alcohol he’d swallowed, he didn’t know.
All he did know was that finally, for the first time in weeks, he was free.
We can get ahead of it.
A voice trailed through his head, the memory pulling his lips into a frown, but he tried to push it aside. More than anything, he wanted to lose himself in the sexy twink who was grinding against him, take the guy home, and fuck his brains out. He wanted to stay in this club forever—just another face, just another body in the sea of other bodies. All his problems dumped at the door while he remained an anonymous person with needs. With thoughts. With feelings.
You’re a risk.
Shaking his head against the persistent memory, he slid his palms against the chest of the guy in front of him, fingers drifting across his nipples through the mesh shirt he wore. His head of red hair leaned back onto his shoulder to mix with his own dark locks as their hips swayed together to the furious beat. Head to toe, they were plastered against one another, and he’d never reveled in another person quite that way. Had never allowed himself to. Travis leaned down to lick a stripe up his neck, the saltiness of his sweat like candy against his tongue.
Deny, deny, deny.
Groaning, he threw his head back and stared at the strobes above. The lights were blinding, his heart pounded, and his memories were tenacious. Before he got sick, he tugged the twink with him and pushed through the crowd.
It wasn’t until they were in the back hallway, the lights dimmer and consistent, not flashing like those on the dance floor, that his flavor of the night recognized him.
“Hey, don’t I know you?” he asked, tilting his head to the side in a way that made Travis want to devour him.
“Probably. I’m Travis Cherry.”
His eyes sparkled with recognition. “Oh my god, I love your music.”
He shrugged. “Thanks. Sorry to pull you away. I needed a minute.” More like a distraction.
“That’s okay,” he murmured as he moved closer. “I think I prefer having you to myself instead of sharing you with all those bumping bodies.”
“Just my line of thinking,” Travis replied with a smirk, framing his face with his hands, and taking his mouth like he fuckin’ owned it. Took the rest of him too, before he’d snuck away before the break of dawn.
The next morning, images of himself and the twink wrapped in one another were plastered all over the Internet—scandal.
The next weekend he went to another club. Drank his nerves away and swayed to another beat with another guy.
His night out was trending everywhere the next morning.
The following weeks were more of the same. He drank, he partied a lot, and he let loose more than he ever had before. Travis danced on bars shirtless and kissed random men on the street just so the cameras could blind him with their nosy flashes. Hell, he even tipped them off to his whereabouts so he’d always have an audience.
The afternoons were spent ripping his hair out over lyrics that wouldn’t come, melodies that wouldn’t match.
The evenings became his escape from it all. Drinking, smoking, and kissing.
One morning, several weeks, several scandals, and too many nameless men later, his phone rang. It vibrated the glass table in front of him, seeming loud in the silence of the early hour.
His cheeks concaved as he sucked on a cigarette, pulling the smoke into his lungs as he answered the phone. He didn’t say hello when he pressed accept.
“William would like to schedule a meeting with you,” a bright, feminine voice said.
“When?” he questioned on an exhale, the cloud of smoke pouring into the cold air to dissipate before his eyes. Just like his career.
“As soon as possible.”
“I’ll be there by ten.”
The call ended. Travis leaned over in his balcony chair and stubbed his cigarette into the concrete with a bitter grin.
‘Bout damn time.
About The Author
Logan Grey resides in Tennessee, convinced her southern twang is part of her charm. With two cats and a dog, her hands are full, and not just of treats like her pets would like to believe.
As a full time author, she dedicates all of her time bringing to life different characters and developing new worlds for her readers to lose themselves in. And more often than not, she loses herself in them, which is her favorite place to be: with a cat in her lap, a snack in hand, and voices in her head.
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