Prologue: Free Falling

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No response.

Matteo's booming voice preceded his footsteps into the spacious backyard of the mansion. If sound waves were lethal, then Matteo's bellow would have certainly killed Drew and his friends. Given the circumstances, that almost seemed like a good idea.


On the heels of his fortieth birthday last month, Matteo also celebrated his tenth anniversary as a talent manager. Over the course of the past decade, the affable Italian had risen from the depths of the unknown to one of the most influential men in the industry. Numerous artists were linked to Matteo and the two record labels under his name. His portfolio ranged from unheralded youngsters working on their first projects to big name artists at the pinnacle of their careers.

Of all his clients, none were quite as troublesome as Drew Crawford. None were quite as anything as Drew Crawford. The nineteen year old was truly in a class of his own.

As Matteo's polished suedes clicked against the tiled path leading up to Drew's patio, the manager could hear the chorus of Drew's newest single - aptly named "No Control" - playing over the sounds of laughter and chatter. The distinct sound of water splashing confirmed Matteo's guess that the teenager was hosting yet another pool party.

Matteo grimaced at the thought of another pool party. Drew was well known for hosting extravagant events at his mansion, and his pool parties were the main attraction for celebrities and paparazzi alike.

The latter was camped almost around the clock by the mansion. Everyone wanted an exclusive money shot, and there wasn't another celebrity alive or dead who provided more tabloid material than Drew.

Matteo stepped into the pool area and was prompted greeted by the sight of models in bikinis. They were everywhere: lounging on the pool chairs, splashing in the water, sunbathing along the deck. The whole situation looked like a sleazy music video, or worse, an adult film shoot.

Sitting in the middle of the mayhem was Drew, with a scantily clad girl in each arm. Matteo shook his head at the sight of the kid. A startling transformation had taken place since Drew's rise to fame.

If Matteo closed his eyes and focused his thoughts, he could be whisked back to a time when Drew Crawford was just another lanky pre-adolescent posting covers on YouTube. Those videos hardly gained any traction, with the best of them barely eclipsing the five thousand views mark.

Matteo had stumbled upon those videos by accident. In his search for new talent, Matteo was browsing the endless stream of covers when one of Drew's appeared on the related videos section. He didn't even mean to click it. He had meant to click the one above it, one with a much more baiting thumbnail, but the mouse slipped at the last second and the rest was history.

Twenty seconds into the video and Matteo knew that he had discovered a star. Drew's voice had range and control beyond his years. As a finishing touch, each word in his covers seemed to bleed raw emotions.

Oh, and he had The Face. Matteo knew that even before Drew started strumming his guitar. Bright blue eyes, soft skin with just enough glow on it, a light dash of freckles and a neatly tousled mop of light brown hair to top it off. The classic boy next door package.

Not the wannabe gangster that was standing on the other side of the pool.

Those once bright blue pupils appeared dimmer, and were decorated by noticeable red veins on the corners of the eyeballs, potentially due to a lack of sleep or increased substance abuse. Probably both.

The features, even the freckles, remained on Drew's face, though they were no longer as prominent as they had once been. Over the three years in the entertainment industry, a weary and battle hardened look started to take over Drew. He looked tired at times, but once again, it could have been the incessant partying.

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