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The Real Evie Chase

Seventeen-year-old Evie Chase has it all: fame, fortune, and the singing career of her dreams. But struggling with anxiety and the pressures of superstardom, Evie returns to her small hometown, facing old bullies, new friends, and the boy she left behind…

Age Rating: 16+

 

The Real Evie Chase by Riss Concetta is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

EVIE

In three…

Out five…

I tried my best to focus on steady breaths, in and out, as I stared deep into the blinking camera lens. Its cold, unseeing eye glared back without emotion, only judgement.

Click, click, click! went the camera’s flash.

“Smile, doll! Beam! Glow! Sparkle like the star you are!” Damon, the photographer, said.

I don’t feel like much of a star right now, I thought.

No matter how many empty compliments the photographer tossed in my direction, photo shoots never failed to make me feel extra self-conscious. Adrenaline pumped through my veins as my fingers knotted together.

The lights of the flashbulbs bouncing off the white backdrop were blinding, and the fact Damon had a fan going to achieve a windblown effect was making my eyes dry.

“You’re a queen! A role model!” he continued cooing, even though I could hear the insincerity in his voice. “You’re Evie Chase!”

That only dropped my confidence and peaked my anxiety further.

Click, click, click!

“Evie, are you listening to me?” came another voice.

I jerked to attention. “Oh, sorry, Pam. What did you say?”

My publicist, Pam, was sporting an unassuming black dress, bluetooth headset in one ear, credentials around her neck, and—despite the fact that evening was approaching and we were crammed inside—sunglasses atop her high bun.

Pam had always been two things: loud and blunt. But she worked her butt off for me, and I appreciated it more than anything.

“We only have an hour ’til we have to whisk you off to the premiere. Or…” She checked her smartwatch. “Fifty-six minutes. The limo will be here shortly.”

Right. The premiere for my older sister Cassidy’s latest movie, a series in the superhero franchise, Dark Titans.

The whole family would be in attendance. All three Chase sisters.

With me hard at work on my second album, Cassidy constantly away on press tours with Dad by her side, and our younger sister, Addison, running all over the place for modeling gigs with Mom’s assistance, we hadn’t all been in the same room together for nearly five months.

Was it ironic that our once close-knit family only saw each other at fancy, highly publicized events these days? More frequently on the red carpet than in our own home?

Pam stood across the room with my tour manager, Sophia, as the photographer clicked away.

“We’re running through your upcoming tour dates. This clearly concerns you, so you may want to listen carefully,” Sophia said.

“I am, I am,” I muttered.

“Okay,” the photographer said, clearly getting impatient, “give me fierce! Throw a hand up.”

Fidgeting awkwardly with my hands again, I glanced at my nails. They matched the daring red pantsuit selected for this full-blown glamour production.

The color and crisp fabric certainly came off as far bolder than I felt.

Mom had some off-white gown in mind for tonight, I recalled with a slightly exhausted inward sigh. Another complete change of outfit, shoes, accessories. I would need new makeup and hair done.

New nails, even…

Click, click, click!

“Evie, darling, look up, for Christ’s sake,” the photographer demanded. Forcibly kinder, he added, “Let’s see those brilliant hazel eyes of yours!”

I obliged reluctantly as Sophia barreled on down her list.

“So then immediately following the afterparty, we’ll take a red-eye overnight from Chicago to Miami for that festival performance on the beach,” Sophia said.

“Don’t forget we’ve got that charity brunch the following morning, so you’ll need to go straight to bed after,” Pam added.

Click, click, click!

“Your hands, Evie! They look like claws. Relax a little. We want fierce, not wicked witch!”

In three…

Out five…

I knew I needed to relax, even without the wicked witch comment.

My entire body was tense, and my fans would be able to see that.

Show them you’re having the time of your life, I thought. They want you smiling, healthy, and on point.

I consciously loosened up my shoulders, arms, and hands as the photographer continued to click away.

When I was younger, I’d only dreamed that this would become my life—a legitimate career in music, the opportunity to share what I love with millions, using it to make people happy, bring them together.

Never once had I imagined it was really possible for someone like me.

Yet, here I was, living out my fantasy.

Occasionally, my thoughts wandered backwards to three years earlier. Before my family and I moved to L.A. and my career began.

Everything had changed so drastically since then, sometimes it made my head spin.

Time of your life, I reminded myself as I attempted to hold a confident posture.

Am I still too stiff?

“And then we have the evening performance in Orlando…” Sophia continued.

“She’s got the press event right beforehand,” Pam reminded her, before briefly glancing my way. “You’re good with red carpet right before that, right, Evie?”

Uh…

My mind was starting to slow down, to muddle, to drip…

Already on to the next topic, Sophia asked, “Can you do two shows in one day, Evie?”

“Oh, I don’t know…” I began. I shook my head in an attempt to clear it.

The photographer rolled his eyes. “Stay still!” he snapped, somewhat angrily.

Click, click, click!

“She can,” Pam confirmed. “Absolutely. You did on the first tour, right, Evie?”

Click, click, click!

“Posture, Evie! Fists on hips, chest out, shoulders back, chin up.”

Wait, what? Fists on chest? Shoulders up? Chin back…?

Click, click, click!

I struggled to contort my body into some satisfactory shape that would fulfill even half of those instructions.

But the orders and questions, barked at me from seemingly every angle, were beginning to blend together…

I was slowly being overtaken by a familiar, heavy knot in my chest.

“Evie, look up! Eyes at me!”

I couldn’t. I was frozen, and the knot only became heavier.

“Evie, are you even listening?

I choked, unable to swallow down my panic.

“Evie!”

“Evie?”

Suddenly, it felt like Evie didn’t even exist.

Who is she? Who is Evie Chase?

In that moment, my superstar persona struck me as nothing but an enigma. I seized up with tension.

I mumbled some incoherent excuse and ducked out of the room in a flash, leaping over wires and cords. I moved my feet quickly, in search of a restroom.

For quiet. Solitude. Relief.

In three…

Out five…

I fought so hard, but even basic numbers made no sense.

Finally locating a bathroom, I flung open the door and darted to the mirror. I grasped the edges of the sink, holding on for dear life and panting heavily.

And then, out of my control, my mind began to reel like a projection screen gone haywire. It flipped rapidly back through the years…

One year…two…three…

***

Three Years Earlier:

I was sprinting to the girl’s bathroom, tears flowing freely down my cheeks.

I passed Valerie, who stared at me, dumbfounded.

She may have been my closest friend, other than Adam, but she’d never known anything about how I really felt about him.

With her, I always made sure to act like the only girl in school who wasn’t enamored with Adam Fields.

But then…the book.

My songbook.

All my deepest thoughts and feelings, hidden inside the worn pages of that book, had just been exposed.

My greatest fears and secrets.

My daily anxieties over even the simplest tasks.

How much I hated being me sometimes.

The fear that I’d never measure up to Cassidy, or be as loveable as Addison.

And my undying love for the one and only guy I thought could really understand me.

All of it was no longer only mine. It belonged to the entire student body.

I fought to keep my breathing under control, but that was impossible.

So instead, staring into the bathroom mirror, I just bawled…and bawled…and bawled.

Because one of my greatest escapes, my passion and release, had just been used against me.

And the one person in the world that I counted on most was my prime suspect as the one who’d sold me out.

***

Present Day:

You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine, I coached myself.

Just breathe. Save your panic for later.

You can’t do this now, not right before Cassidy’s premiere.

But sweat prickled on my skin. An anvil weighed down on my chest.

The symptoms begged for my attention.

Why is this happening now? I questioned, curling my outstretched fingers into fists.

My struggles with anxiety weren’t new. They dated back to when I was a little kid, when everyone thought I was just shy.

Adam was my only close friend at the time, and then eventually my classmate Grace, had turned our duo into a trio.

Besides my family, Adam and Grace were practically the only people I talked to.

Then, one of my elementary school teachers told my parents about a possible anxiety disorder. I started working with our guidance counselor to manage it.

Deep breathing, therapy, and exploring my love of music and writing made a difference, but the most important thing was my strong support system.

By the time seventh and eighth grade rolled around, I almost felt like I was cured, thanks to encouragement from my parents, sisters, Adam and his family, Grace, and eventually fellow “nerd,” Valerie.

Until my entire world was shaken freshman year in the school courtyard, seconds before I’d fled into that bathroom.

That’s when my precious support system—the one I relied so heavily on to keep me sane—started to crack and crumble.

With white-hot frustration, I slammed my fist down on the sink. My anxiousness was transitioning into anger.

I hated feeling like this.

I hated feeling like I was regressing. I hated feeling like I was alone. I hated feeling like I was letting people down.

I began to pace.

I couldn’t get out of my own head. I was getting anxious about being anxious! I’d become constantly in fear of having a breakdown.

I hadn’t felt this way since those days of crying or puking basically every morning before school.

I prayed I’d never feel like this again.

But now it’s like I’m reliving it all over.

I…I can’t do this.

As if on cue, the tile walls around me began to cave in, the floor liquefied beneath my already unstable heels, and the mirror morphed into one you’d find in a funhouse.

I couldn’t breathe.

My knees buckled.

My fingers trembled.

My tongue and throat dried up into sandpaper.

And in the wavering, distorted reflection, right before total blackness consumed me, I watched myself collapse.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

2

EVIE

Three Years Earlier:

I didn’t understand what was happening.

My cheeks burned with embarrassment as I stood there, clutching my lunch tray in shaking hands.

The sun beat down on my shoulders, while the September wind sent a shiver down my spine.

The pounding of my heart throbbed in my ears as curious eyes bore into me and laughter slithered through the crowd.

All I had done was step onto the courtyard grass, when everyone fell into hysterics. Even with Valerie right beside me, I was completely singled out.

The spotlight was on me, and there was no way to escape its scorching heat.

“Ev-e-lyn,” a sweet voice cooed as a blonde figure lifted herself off one of the stone tables and came toward me.

Grace—the girl I’d once viewed as a really close friend, and who was currently my best friend’s girlfriend.

Wait. Adam.

Where was he?

I was just with him fifteen minutes before, walking down the hall to the cafeteria to grab food before we went our separate ways.

He had to be somewhere out here—this was where he usually ate lunch, with his other, more popular friends.

Lunch at school was one of the few times the two of us weren’t together.

Reluctantly, I brought my attention back to Grace.

She cleared her throat while pulling a piece of paper from her back pocket.

With a smile, she glanced first up at me and then to either side of her before reading aloud:

“‘Raven hair, chocolate eyes, a love for you I can’t disguise.Something about us feels like fate, but all I’m feeling is heartbreak.If only you could see that it’s you and me. Me and you.If only you could see that I do everything for you while she—’”

My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach, and I cringed. I tried my best to tune her out, but those were MY words.

That was my song.

“Wait, no. Grace, stop!”

I dropped my tray onto the trashcan nearby and charged over to tear the paper from her manicured fingers.

As I got closer, Grace spoke the last line of the chorus.

“‘And, baby, it’s you. With me is just—” She let out a loud guffaw. “just where you belong.’ This is impressive, Evelyn,” Grace mocked when she looked back up at me. “Truly inspiring.”

Her comment was followed by a rumble of laughter.

It felt like someone had punched me repeatedly in the gut.

When the two of us finally came nose to nose, I tried to grab the page from her, to no avail.

“Where did you get this?” I demanded.

That song was never meant to be seen by anyone—ever. None of my songs were meant to be heard.

I kept them hidden in the depths of my room in an old notebook buried under all of my socks.

Grace shouldn’t have had any idea that the notebook even existed.

No one knew it existed, except for…

Adam.

“Who’s it about, Evelyn?” Grace asked. “Oh, wait.” She held the sheet up and pointed to the paragraph written above the song. “You spelled it all out right there.”

“Give it back.” I attempted to take the paper from her again, but she yanked it away.

“I’ll give it back if you say it. Who’d you write this about? Who’s the ‘love of your life’? The guy who doesn’t see how much the two of you are ‘meant to be’?”

It felt harder and harder to breathe, like the embarrassment was suffocating me. I knew where feelings like this would eventually lead.

In fear, I surveyed the crowd again.

Where was Adam?

Usually, the two of us didn’t need words. Seven years as best friends and having known each other since we were in diapers had us totally in sync, despite being so different.

He was charming, confident, and popular, and I had a proclivity for awkward situations.

I was too shy for my own good sometimes, and considered myself lucky if people remembered my actual name.

But our friendship worked. We worked.

And right now, I needed him to back me up. I needed him to be there for me, like we’d always promised we would for each other.

Where was he?

***

Present day:

I came to in a cold sweat on the bathroom floor, with Pam looming over me.

But there was another presence—another pair of arms cradling me, protecting me. A comforting hand dabbing at my forehead with a cloth.

I turned my pounding head around…

Mom.

Trusty and reliable. Simultaneously a parent, a manager, and a whole slew of other professions—teacher, life coach, stylist, and—currently—nurse.

My sisters and I often referred to her as our momager. Managing our careers was how she demonstrated her love.

Physical affection, on the other hand, was not one of Hillary Chase’s natural tendencies.

Which was why I was surprised to find her rocking me there on the floor.

Fortunately, she had been in the same building, managing a separate shoot with Addison.

I thanked my lucky stars she could be there with me, even if the current coddling and concern felt a bit suffocating.

“Evelyn,” she breathed.

She glanced up at Pam. “Could you give us a moment?”

Pam stifled a sigh, still visibly in work mode, but exited respectfully.

While both women shared power over my career, Mom always got the final say.

Once we were alone, she narrowed her eyes at me and said sternly, “We’re wiping your schedule for the rest of the day. You can go home to relax. I’ll have Mickey drive you.”

Frantically, I tried sitting up, but she held me tighter.

“But the premiere—” I started to protest.

I so rarely had the opportunity to catch up with my older sister; I wanted to go see and support her.

My mother was not having it.

“Evelyn, you’re clearly far too stressed out for something like that tonight.”

Stressed. Sure. That’s all, I doubted my own thoughts.

“You’re juggling so many roles and responsibilities right now. You have your upcoming album, the tour…”

“I’ll just deal with all that when it gets here. But for now, I’m fine,” I said in the most convincing tone I could muster, “and I’m going to the premiere.”

Though clearly still uneasy, my mom loosened her grip enough to let me wiggle away and stand up slowly, fending off wooziness.

“You don’t look fine,” she remarked as I made my way weakly to the mirror.

I ran my hand over my hair, fixing up my appearance and deciding not to respond.

Do I really feel fine?

No, but I have an obligation, right?

Not only to my family, but to my fans and my career.

Ideally, I would simply be able to detach myself from my feelings far enough to make it through the night. Disassociate, like I’d done before.

If I could keep my mind from spiraling back to that day in the courtyard freshman year…

To Adam. To Grace.

Why am I even thinking about them? It’s been three years.

What’s wrong with me?

Pam chose then to step back inside the bathroom.

“How’s she doing?” she asked my mom, stirring a groan from me.

Sometimes I hated how they all talked about me, around me, and over me, as if I weren’t even in the space.

I’m seventeen years old! I wished I could scream. I can speak for myself!

“She claims she feels well enough to attend the premiere tonight,” Mom reported, sounding hesitant.

“Oh, wonderful, thank goodness.”

The door flew open again—almost off its hinges this time—admitting Damon, camera in hand.

Oh, come on, I thought.

Mom rolled her eyes, demonstrating my annoyance. “Jesus!”

“We need to redo all the shots we just got,” he announced, probably more dramatically than necessary.

Pam exploded. “Are you kidding me?! You think we have the time for that?! We have to get Evie ready for the premiere and—”

“Her eyes, though—just check these out real fast,” he persisted, offering a view of the camera screen. “Her gaze is all empty and spacey. It looks weird. Kinda freaky.”

Pam sighed. “He’s right,” she conceded.

Frustrated, but always ready for action, my publicist clasped her hands together.

“All right, then. Let’s all just rush back to the room and speed through another round, all hands on deck, and—”

“Enough!” Mom suddenly cried out.

She swung her arms wide, quieting both of them. Even my buzzing thoughts fell silent under her booming voice.

“That’s it. We are done for the day. We’re shutting this down and heading home—”

“No!” I objected with far more intensity than I’d intended.

Every face swiveled toward me, just like they had in the schoolyard that afternoon.

Spotlight on me. Burning hot.

It seemed to chase and find me wherever I darted, whether in a crowded Connecticut courtyard or a cramped bathroom in L.A.

But in this instance, I would take advantage of the attention. Use it to voice my own choice, even if that choice meant further stress for me.

It was what would benefit more people overall.

Plus, if I had any hope of rebuilding my crumbled support system, I needed to start with my relationships to my siblings.

And that would require loyalty, no matter the cost.

“I’m going to the premiere,” I stated plainly. “For my sister.”

But deep down, I was still filled with doubt. This was the worst panic attack I’d had in years.

Could I keep my anxiety under control long enough to get through the night?

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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