Chapter 1- A Hotel Bar

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Fuck Christmas. Venus was exactly what I needed.

With my duffel bag in one hand and my guitar case in the other, I walked into the hotel, thankful for the oasis it provided celebrities from the real world. I had four days until the tour started. Four entire days to myself—no people, no appointments, no Sheila-the-personal-assistant. Most of all, no family. I loved them, but not enough to give up the only vacation time my manager was likely to allow in the next year.

Venus, Colorado had the distinction of being voted "the best Christmas town in the country." But to me, it was more. Mostly because the best kept secret of the rich and famous stood at the edge of town overlooking the ski slopes—the Hotel Venus. Its breathtaking views and luxury accommodations, coupled with its motto of discretion for celebrities, kept me coming back every year.

Also, the Hotel Venus employed Mr. Percy, the best concierge in the world. With a three-second glance, the man could size up exactly what I needed and have it on its way. He had a sixth sense or something about me. Even when I couldn't figure out what I wanted for myself, he led me in the right direction.

I smiled as I approached the revolving doors and pushed my way inside, noticing Percy behind his elaborate wooden desk. He saw me and met me in the middle of the lobby, under the soft glow of the crystal chandelier. His six-foot frame stood wider than mine, even if I had an inch or two on him. After a quick scan from my head to my feet, he held out a hand. "We've been waiting for you, Mr. Pressler." His voice was deep.

I pumped his hand. "Jacob. Please call me Jacob." I knew he wouldn't. Every year I asked him to, and he couldn't. He'd claimed it "wasn't in his nature."

He raised an arm and swirled his hand. I knew he was summoning his minions. "You're with us for four days, is that correct?"

I dropped my duffel bag next to me and leaned my guitar case on it. "Yes sir. Four glorious days."

With a grip on my shoulder, he gave me a curt nod. "We're happy to have you back. It's been too long. A year?"

"Just about. I haven't had a day off since." I wondered if he remembered the last time I was at Hotel Venus. I'd been popping sleeping pills to deal with a bout of insomnia. He'd sent a shrink up to my room and after a couple hours of therapy, I slept for days.

Percy eyes didn't leave mine as I relayed details of my flight into Denver. A young guy in a hotel uniform darted toward us. His did a double-take, recognition lighting his face, as he approached. Unlike typical resorts that spoil their famous guests, Hotel Venus leaves everyone be and their employees are trained not to gush. But if you need something, staff is available on a moment's notice.

Percy watched as his minion lifted my guitar like it was the Holy Grail. "Stuart, please take Mr. Pressler's bag and case to his suite." The boy glanced at me again, then took off with my bags. When he disappeared into the elevators, Percy turned back to me. "How are you, Mr. Pressler? You've been keeping busy—a couple of Grammy nominations, endorsements, talk show circuit—"

"It's been a great year." I didn't want to talk about the fame side, so I interrupted him with my standard answer. "I couldn't ask for anything more."

It hadbeen a great year, on paper at least. I gained fans, my social media accounts exploded, and I was finally starting to see some real money after four years in the business. My only issue was that somewhere along the line, I'd forgotten how to write music. I'd come full circle. The music got me the fame and fortune. "That youthful, emotional voice," I'd been told. But now that I had that security of having "made it," I couldn't put two notes together. I hoped some alone time in Venus with my guitar would help me feel something so that I could write again.

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