After the jump, you can find a teaser excerpt from the premiere novel of my new series, Hidden Gem. If you prefer, you can download this same excerpt in its original format on Goodreads. The full novel is on sale at Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords for 99 cents. Keep in mind, you don't have to own an e-reader to read e-book purchases - they have free apps you can download so you can read on your computer, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android.
If you'd like to start sampling from the beginning of the novel, download a free excerpt from one of the retailers mentioned above!
Lavishly disguised pop singer, Queen Bee, is known abroad for her high-fashion wardrobe and killer vocals. In the states, she's just Gemma Hunter – shy suburban teenager in her new role of high school junior. Desperate to live a normal life, Gemma keeps her famous alter ego a secret from everyone, including her new gossip-hungry friends. However her big secret is threatened when international teen heartthrob Tyler Chase announces his celebrity crush on Queen Bee, prompting a worldwide frenzy to discover her true identity.
Bonus Excerpt Chapter from the Premiere Book of India Lee’s series Hidden Gem
- CHAPTER 10 -
GET READY FOR US, BEE ;)
12/28 3:39PM EST
posted by Tara C.
Her Royal Secrecy
So it finally happened.
Whether it was the online petition hosted by her many fan clubs or the People Magazine cover (plus those loads and loads of Us Weekly “investigations”), Queen Bee’s team has finally decided that Americans have worshiped her enough to be graced with a tour.
I know that many of you readers here have started to take a liking to Queen Bee, but I still remain suspicious. As long as she hasn’t come out with her real identity yet, I haven’t gotten over my theory that she is just a random chick who lip-syncs some fat girl’s amazing voice. Or worse, some loony whore who is going to infect Tyler Chase with the herp and convince him to get a septum piercing or neck tattoo.
That being said, I’m going to buy tickets for her New York show. Hello? Some investigating needs to be done here. Speaking of which, here’s my latest report:
- Queen Bee’s management is listed as the Roebling Hunter Group based in New York City. The Roebling Hunter Group was founded by Harvey Roebling and Mirabel Hunter almost ten years ago.
- Queen Bee’s exact birthday is not listed, but a British blogger reports that she announced she’d be celebrating her Sweet Sixteen soon during one of her first summer performances. Being that she just finished her summer tour in Europe, we know that Queen Bee is currently sixteen and will be turning seventeen next summer.
- During a show in Prague this summer, Queen Bee announced that her song “So Wicked” was inspired by her brother. So, she has a brother. Duh.
There are the facts, my loves. Put them together in your Queen Bee research papers and hopefully one of you will come up with an accurate report even before I do. In the meantime, keep sending me your leads, suspicions, and links. If I think anything is worth investigating, I’ll post it. But thus far, I have to say, there hasn’t been anything worthwhile (I mean really people? You’re guessing Desiree Silver to be Queen Bee? At least DListed and ONTD are making educated guesses here).
And one more thing to little miss Bee herself: I do hope you’re ready for the U.S. We can be nice, but we can also be oh so mean. :)
The bright sunshine of Los Angeles felt different than the sunshine on the east coast. Gemma was convinced that it made her hair look better, though she couldn’t enjoy it much because she spent her days almost entirely indoors.
She couldn’t help but let her thoughts run a little wild with all the rumors of Tyler Chase attending her L.A. concert. She wondered where he might be during the concert, what he might do to get her attention. No one had thought it possible that he had gone incognito to her concert in Barcelona, yet he had. Maybe he would pull the same thing off again.
Like the other shows, Gemma was able to forget about her nerves and let her alter ego take over. Her mind easily forgot Gemma and took on Queen Bee upon feeling the microphone in her hand and the spotlight shining. Her skintight wardrobe was always more of a release for her than a constraint. The outrageous looks let her act and say whatever she wanted, without anyone questioning her. Queen Bee was provocative, alluring, sexy – all the things her fans expected.
She and the crew had easily gotten back into the swing of things. The Queen Bee team moved swiftly through rehearsals, concerts and most importantly, the GTFO Routine. Despite all the standard procedures, Gemma was still awed by the amount of people who bought tickets to see her. Those who couldn’t get tickets waited outside the arena in hopes of hearing her through the walls and perhaps seeing her after the show.
The meet-and-greet outside of Staples Center had by far the most security she had seen yet. It was the first one outdoors, and a part of her worried about the huge open space. Moving purple spotlights glazed over the green palm trees surrounding the arena. The crowd was vast. Gemma couldn’t see where it ended. She suddenly felt overwhelmed, a sense of danger sitting in the pit of her stomach.
Security cautiously opened the doors and eased her onto the sidewalk. The crowd immediately roared when she stepped out in a skin-tight, lavender leather catsuit. It was a one-piece, covering every part of her body up to right under her chin. The legs ended with built-in boots and the arms ended in fingerless gloves. A silvery-green stitching ran down the sides of her body. A matching mesh veil hung loosely over her face and white-blonde bobbed wig.
Immediately, she began the frenzy of signing CDs and taking pictures. The adrenaline of the crowd was the most intense that she had encountered yet, and she could feel security struggling to hold them back. They screamed. Some cried, and some were pushed away for grabbing at her. She looked back to see Armand and Penelope, a duffel bag in hand and ready to go for the GTFO Routine. They looked more nervous than usual, making Gemma feel all the more anxious.
“Queen Bee, I’m your biggest fan,” a male voice said as he handed her a poster to sign. His face was hidden under a low-worn baseball cap. “If you could make it out to Tyler, that would be great.”
Gemma froze in the middle of signing the poster. Tyler Chase looked up at her, his perfect lips breaking into an irresistible smile. For a moment, she was starstruck. She couldn’t believe that he had made it to the front of the crowd undetected. He looked adorable in his plain, light-blue tee shirt over jeans. His honey-brown eyes sparkled beneath the bill of his cap. Gemma’s lips trembled in her attempt to keep her jaw from dropping. She could see why Kate and even Madison were so awestruck by him. It apparently took being up close for her to see it.
“Oh my God!” A girl next to them shrieked. “It’s Tyler Chase!”
Suddenly, arms were reaching for both of them. Gemma felt her hair and arms being grabbed. She could even feel hands grabbing at her legs. She whipped her head around to search for Tyler’s security, only to realize with a sudden fear that he hadn’t come with any. He’s crazy to do this, she thought. In the pure chaos of the situation, she had no time to relish the fact that he was doing something so unbelievable just for her.
The weight of the crowd was close to toppling her over when security finally grabbed her as well as Tyler. Police began pushing fans back and the security team tried desperately to herd Gemma away, despite the crowd’s increasing force. She could only see random flashes of color as she felt herself being propelled in all directions. Within moments, the strong arms of the security team lost grip of her. She cried out as the wild crowd began to swarm her again.
“Bee!” Gemma heard Armand yell. “This way!”
Gemma looked up to see Armand and Penelope shielding Tyler from the crowd. She did her best to run towards them in the six-inch platform stilettos, feeling pushing and grabbing along the entire way. Penelope held open a door and pushed both Gemma and Tyler in. Armand and a security guard were already on the other side. They slammed the door shut and felt it shake from the weight of fans rushing towards it.
“This door doesn’t have a strong lock,” the security guard called from outside the door, which he pressed his large body against. “Continue down this hall and make a right at the very end. There’s a room there that locks up well. Go there!”
Tyler and Gemma ran down the long narrow hall with Armand and Penelope behind them. As Gemma’s ankle buckled to the side in her stilettos, Tyler caught her.
“I’m sorry I messed everything up for you,” he panted. “I’m really sorry. I knew it was a bad idea coming here alone. I just really wanted to meet you.”
“I’ve wanted to meet you too. Just not like this.”
Gemma made the right turn and entered the room with Tyler. An automatic fluorescent light flickered on as the door shut behind them. They had somehow lost Penelope and Armand. Gemma tried opening the door to find them, but with no luck. “Oh God, it’s locked from outside,” she hissed as she shook the knob. She pounded on the door with her fist. “Pen! Armand! Can you hear me? We’re in this room!” There was no answer. Gemma felt the side of her hand ache. The door was heavy and clearly somewhat soundproof.
“There’s another door over here,” Tyler said. He looked out a small window at the top of the door. “But I think it leads outside.”
“No, I can’t go out in this outfit. I need to wait for Pen and Armand to do my routine or I’ll blow my own cover.”
“Why do you want to keep your identity a secret anyway? I’m guessing your publicist’s idea?” Tyler asked, keeping a polite distance but eyeing her with his head cocked.
“Yes, but not for the reasons you might think,” Gemma said with a tiredly. She plopped herself down on a stray chair. “I won’t go into it because you wouldn’t understand. Our careers are totally different, so you can’t compare.”
“I don’t want you to explain, I just want to know who you are.”
“I’m Queen Bee. Only two people outside of my family know who I really am, so don’t take it personally,” Gemma rolled her lavender-colored eyes.
“Will you at least tell me what your real eye color is?” Tyler smiled mischievously. He leaned back against the wall casually, dipping his head as he looked up at her. Gemma bit her lip. She had never given into the hype surrounding him, but seeing him in person was truly a different story. She had always found him fairly attractive, but perhaps undeserving of all that exposure. Standing in a room with him however, made her feel entirely different. He certainly had the cockiness of a celebrity, but he was also mild-mannered and polite. On top of all that, he was desperate to meet her and it was flattering to say the least.
“Why do you want to know about me so badly?” Gemma asked.
“Well, everyone does.”
“And you’re assuming that since every girl in the world wants a piece of you, Queen Bee probably does and will reveal her secret to you?”
“No!” Tyler said emphatically as he stood up straight. He took a step towards her. “That’s not at all what I was trying to do. Listen, I’m two people right now too. I’m Tyler Chase, the musician who respects your tenacity and your ability to lead a normal life outside of this. I’m jealous that you’re able to. But I’m also Tyler, who’s a big fan like everyone else and buys magazines because you’re on the cover. And who also has a Queen Bee playlist on his iPod that includes rare covers and live performances.” He laughed. So did Gemma.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Believe me,” Tyler glanced towards the ground shyly and dug his hands into his hoodie pockets. “As a longtime fan, I’m kinda annoyed that everyone’s on the bandwagon now when I’ve been listening to you since you released your first single. I was on tour in Hong Kong when I first heard it.” He peered up at Gemma as if looking for approval. His smile was something of relief when Gemma softened. She got up from her chair and walked over to him.
“That’s sweet,” she laughed though her smile was genuine. “Thank you to one of my earliest fans then.” She embraced him. He laughed with her, wrapping his arms around her waist. She felt his fingers interlock behind her and grip firmly. His laughter faded to a sigh.
“I thought,” Tyler began hesitantly. “I thought that if anyone in the world might understand me, it would be you. And all I can imagine now is that we would be perfect together.”
Gemma swallowed, suddenly feeling very conscious of what she was doing. She was almost as tall as Tyler in her heels. Their embrace immediately felt too intimate for two people who had met just moments earlier. The fresh, foresty fragrance from his neck and the touch of his hair against her cheek made her entire body buzz with restlessness. Through the soft leather of her outfit, she felt his heart beating against her collarbone and hers just below his chest.
She suddenly felt her hands begin to tremble and dropped them quickly from Tyler’s shoulders so he wouldn’t notice. He didn’t notice, but instead took her withdrawal as a sign to back up. He took a sweeping glance at her, smiling sadly, almost as if in defeat. Gemma felt her heart pound.
“I still can’t tell you who I am, Tyler,” Gemma exhaled. “I’m sorry.”
Tyler nodded. “I didn’t expect you to. I just wanted to get those words off my chest. Call it a hunch or something – I just have a feeling we were meant for each other.” This time, Tyler’s smile was brighter. His famous boyish charm shone through in an infectious way that made Gemma bite her lip.
“Maybe some day,” she said coyly. And suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
“Bee, are you in there?” Penelope’s muffled voice called through the door. Gemma ran towards it.
“Yes! Can you open the door? It’s locked from in here!”
“I can’t, it’s jammed. Is there another way out in there? Is Tyler with you?”
“Yes. To both questions. But the other door leads outside,” Gemma called back through the door. “How the hell could this happen? Is there someone coming to help?”
“Bee,” Penelope said. “Even if we could get the door open, the fans are relentless. Security messed up, we need to figure out another exit route for you. It’s going to take a while so you guys hang tight.” Gemma turned to see Tyler with the chair up against the door, looking out the narrow rectangular window at the top of the door.
“There’s no one out in this area,” Tyler said. “We can leave through here.”
“I can’t leave in this outfit, someone’s bound to see and follow me back.”
“It’s completely empty out there. It leads to a sidewalk and it’s pitch black. We can sneak out now.”
“Tyler, I just can’t risk it in this outfit. I can’t even run in this ridiculous get-up.”
“What’s that?” Tyler asked, pointing to a duffel bag in the corner. It was the duffel bag. The duffel bag required for the GTFO Routine.
“Oh my God, how did that even get in here?”
“I brought it in. Penelope dropped it while we were running.” Tyler said simply.
“These are my street clothes,” Gemma breathed, kneeling next to the duffel bag. “Oh thank God. I have an idea.” She rushed to the door again. “Pen? Can you hear me? Just meet me back at the hotel, I can find a way out.”
Gemma immediately heard Penelope and Armand scuffle about, sounding panicked. She was fairly certain she heard Armand hiss his favorite cuss word, “Merde!”
“No, Bee,” he said sternly. “You cannot do that. You are risking your career and your safety. I won’t allow it.”
“No, no,” Gemma reassured them. “Tyler brought the duffel bag. I have a plan, and he’s going to help.” Gemma held the duffel to her chest. She couldn’t let Tyler see the street outfit but she was going to need his help out of the catsuit. She eyed the light switch.
“What’s going on?” Tyler asked softly, walking towards her. Gemma kept her back towards him, looking over her shoulder.
“Do you see the zipper pull at the base of my neck?” She asked. “Do you see where it starts?”
“Yes,” Tyler replied, confused.
“Come here,” Gemma commanded. She flicked the light switch off and the room went dark. They could only see each other’s silhouettes. Gemma felt Tyler approach her slowly, cautiously. “I need you to unzip me. I can’t reach it myself.”
She heard Tyler let out a breath upon hearing her words. There was a brief silence before his voice managed to confidently say, “Okay.”
In the darkness, she heard his soft breathing and the warmth of his torso leaning into her back. She could tell he was nervous as he ran his fingers lightly over her shoulders, searching for the zipper. Gemma unpinned the wig from her hair and tossed it to the ground, feeling Tyler’s breath on the back of her bare neck. Her own wavy hair came unwinding down her back, spilling over Tyler’s quivering hands as he carefully pulled the zipper down. A rush of cool air hit her and traveled along her skin, ending right below the small of her back. She had forgotten how far down the zipper went.
“That’s as far as it goes,” Tyler murmured.
“Okay.” Gemma kept her back to him as she peeled the upper part of the catsuit off her shoulders and chest. She was concentrating too hard on getting Queen Bee out of the arena to even think about the fact that she stood topless in her Marlies Dekkers bra with Tyler Chase just an inch behind her. She pushed the sleeves to her elbows before feeling constricted again. The outfit had taken Penelope and Armand nearly thirty minutes to get on her and she had no idea then how difficult it would be to get out of. She was practically working up a sweat in her attempt to strip it off.
“I need you again,” Gemma panted slightly. “Take the top of the sleeves and pull them down towards my hands.” She felt Tyler’s searching hands reach for her shoulders again, his fingertips touching the top of her bra straps. He ran his hands down until he felt the leather sleeves at her elbow. He carefully peeled the leather down her lithe forearms. She realized this was the first time she had ever been so exposed in front of a boy that wasn’t Armand.
Once the sleeves were off, she pushed the catsuit down over her hips and got it down just above the knees. Even as Queen Bee, she blushed with a bit of embarrassment over what she was about to ask Tyler.
“Tyler…I can’t get it down all the way…”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind helping,” he said quickly. He cleared his throat. “I mean, what I meant was…it’s the least I can do for getting you into this mess.” They both laughed, though nervously.
“Ok, so…” Gemma lowered her eyes, feeling Tyler’s body kneel beside her. She waited for a few moments, unsure of where his hands were until she felt them suddenly lay flat on her thigh. He slipped his fingers between the leather and her skin and struggled to pull the skintight material down past her knee.
“I see why they leave this outfit for after the concert,” Tyler said with an attempt at a laugh. Gemma could hear his voice shake with nerves. His hair grazed her thigh as he leaned in to get a better grip on the leather. Even he was beginning to breathe heavily as he struggled with the material. Gemma could feel his panting breaths on her knees while his knuckles grazed the delicate skin of her inner thigh. She consciously breathed slowly and steadily in hopes of calming her racing heart.
Finally, Tyler pulled the leg of the catsuit down to her ankle and Gemma kicked one bare leg out of the outfit.
“I’ll get the other one,” she said hastily. She felt Tyler rush back to his feet. Her heart pounded furiously and she could hear her pulse in her ears as she leaned against the wall, pulling the other leg of the outfit off.
“Are you doing okay?” Tyler asked. Gemma could see his silhouette settle onto the chair by the door. He leaned his elbows on his knees and grasped the back of his neck with his hands. He probably didn’t know that she could see his nervewracked posture.
“Yes, I got it,” she exhaled in relief as she unzipped her duffel bag, pulling out her sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. She shoved the wig, catsuit and mask in and zipped it up, crossing her fingers that nothing would be ruined.
“Thank you for not hating me,” Tyler said as Gemma got up from the floor. She paused, clutching her jeans and sweatshirt to her chest. She may have been down to her bra and panties, but without her street clothes on, she still felt the remnants of Queen Bee. She walked towards the chair as Tyler stood up. He was about four inches taller than she was without her heels. She could see the faint reflection of a distant street lamp sparkle in his eyes.
Gemma looked down and removed her lavender contact lenses. She looked back up into Tyler’s eyes, detecting a faint smile.
“Green,” he whispered. “Beautiful green eyes.”
“I’ll give you that much,” she said. She wanted to hug him but instead, her hands reached behind his neck and pulled him in towards her. She pressed her lips to his, feeling the softness of his lips as she kissed him. She felt his tense body relax into her embrace, one hand settling down on the bare skin of her back while the other ran along the curve of her narrow waist. He kissed her back sweetly. Gemma could feel his daze as she pulled away. She stepped back, jumping quickly into her jeans and pulling the sweatshirt over her head. She slipped on the sneakers and grabbed her duffel bag, running out the door.
“Don’t come looking for me. You’re never going to find out who I am,” Gemma teased as she ran into the darkness of the downtown streets.
“Well obviously not tonight,” he called after her, laughing. “But maybe someday.”