The Vagabonds trilogy was never read like I wanted it to and, over the years, I’ve been making changes to it, hoping to find a wider audience. The changes were mostly small, although the cover change was pretty big. My hubby designs my covers, and he was inspired to create really artistic ones. I loved them and so did my faithful readers—but I learned a great lesson: your cover communicates genre, and if a reader doesn’t get that in the few seconds she skims it, you won’t get a second chance.
About a year ago, I made another change. Years ago, I went through a phase where I wrote long intros to stories, something I know better than to do. It’s a rookie mistake! So I chopped that sucker out and asked readers of the series if they would mind reading the first couple of chapters again just to make sure the flow was okay.
Recently, I had one more inspiration, though—and it centered around the prologue. When I’d initially written the book, I wanted it to read like a memoir, like a real rock star was reflecting back on her life, sharing her story, and that was why I wrote the prologue I did. Now, though, I can see how maybe it wouldn’t be a turn off, but it certainly wouldn’t pull in your average romance reader. So I changed that, too, letting the reader know the main gist right off the bat—which, as a romance, I should have done anyway.
So, for posterity, I’m saving the old prologue here, just in case any new reader is interested in how it changed—and I’m including the new prologue here as well so old readers can let me know what they think of that change! Kyle and CJ (and crew) are still some of my most favorite characters I’ve ever written and that I was able to include them in the Bullet/Feverish universe only made it all the better—so I really want folks to enjoy this series.
Anyway, without further ado, here they are.
I heard some DJ on the radio the other day introducing my song—you know, my new single, the one I call “Ecstatic”? Yeah, that song. I laughed so hard when he said this album was a strong debut from me. I suppose I shouldn’t be amused, because at least he knew I was one of the former guitarists from the Vagabonds. But as my damn song has climbed up the Billboard charts, I’m shocked and surprised that so many people have never heard of me. It’s not like I’ve been languishing in obscurity or hiding from the press. I’ve been here, people, been working my ass off. You just haven’t been watching.
I can’t be angry, though, because part of me feels like it’s about goddamn time. I’ve been out here, playing my ass off, writing some killer music and sick lyrics, and I haven’t had many people listening since I parted ways with the Vagabonds. Huge thanks to my hardcore fans, though, for buying the last two solo albums. I don’t know where I’d be without you, but it looks like the rest of the world finally got on board and caught up with you.
This book is for them. Sorry, fans—you already know my story. You know how I started out. You know my whole story with the Vagabonds as well as my struggles since. You know where I came from. You know about my friends and enemies. You know about CJ, the love of my life—in fact, you’re the ones who keep asking if we’ll get back together. You guys are the ones who’ve kept me rockin’. No…this is for all the newbies, all the people who think this album that’s selling like there’s no tomorrow is my first one, all the people who think I’m “a find,” like I just got here.
This is your wake-up call. Wanna take a ride?
CJ Slavin was the only man for me, and I knew it from the first moment I met him. Over the years, he and I had been through a lot together—and apart—and so I wondered now if this would be as good as it could ever get.
As I lay on the carpet in CJ’s arms, I watched through the glass door as a storm rolled in. By the time he stirred and kissed the back of my head, a downpour had started and was coming down so hard, I could hardly see the trees just yards away through the windows.
There was a feeling inside me, one like I’d come home, but it was interwoven with a touch of wistfulness. Actually, deep down sadness. I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt buried deep within, and it cast a cloud over anything else that was trying to well up in my heart.
CJ pulled me even closer, tight up against his body. God, I loved this man, and it was killing me that this was probably the only time I’d be able to be with him until I didn’t know when—maybe never again. I had no idea how close he and his girlfriend were, how serious, but I did know that what I’d done was wrong. I had no business sleeping with him now.
Looking back over the past hour, though, I didn’t know how I could have prevented it. While I’d tipped the scales in my favor, it would have been all but impossible anyway. CJ was the only man I’d ever loved. I knew he didn’t love me back but I did know that it had been hard for him to resist making love with me.
We were just kind of compatible that way.
But as I lay there, I knew I needed to get my ass up and get that goddamned song done so I could get the hell out of there. This was a bad scene, and I was at risk of making a complete fool out of myself. I was damn close to confessing my undying love to him—and that would have been a mistake. It would have made our working relationship difficult and awkward, and I couldn’t afford that, especially not right now.
His voice was soft, almost imperceptible, but I could still hear him over the pelting rain outside. “God, Kyle, I missed this.”
As I processed his statement, I tried to figure out what that meant. Was he missing having sex with his favorite fuck buddy? Or was there something else there? I had a hard time believing the latter, because the man had never committed to me, not once over all these years.
But I could play along. “Me, too.” I wasn’t going to turn around to face him, though, because I felt fresh tears welling up.
Holding me tighter, CJ kissed the back of my head once more. He felt so right—but it all felt so fucking wrong. I had to get up. Before I could move, though, he said, “Shit, babe. Let’s do that again.” When he started kissing my shoulder, my body begged me to obey.
“I can’t, CJ.” I started to sit up. “I have stuff to do later. We need to get this song done.”
“No.” I sat up, full of the stupidest, craziest mix of emotions that threatened to spill out every facial orifice I had. My heart was singing a melancholy song, wanting to be happy but miserable, bittersweet. Full of love for CJ but brimming over with self-loathing at my lack of willpower. Jesus, as famous as I was, I probably could have had any man I wanted, and instead I pursued this guy who was attached to someone else—and he’d communicated over and over that he wasn’t interested in anything long-term.
We’d been here before.
He said, “Okay. Maybe later.”
No way. Not if I could help it. I had to protect my heart. I’d already damaged it way too much with my foolishness.
Why was CJ Slavin so hard to walk away from? Would I ever be able to save myself from this man?
For you to understand, maybe I need to start my story at the beginning…
~ ~ ~
Though the old prologue really captured Kyle’s essence as well as her fire and feistiness at the beginning of On the Rocks, it didn’t effectively communicate the romance or the struggle towards a HEA. There was conflict, but it was more about her personal situation rather than what was (or wasn’t) going on with CJ. The new prologue, I think, makes it very clear that this story is a romance but, more than that (I hope!), makes readers want to find out why Kyle wound up in that place with the man she has loved for a very long time and why they can probably never be together. I hope that the prologue drives them to want to find out how they met, how they fell for each other, and all that good stuff. I suppose we shall see, but this new prologue can’t hurt!
What do you think? Do you prefer the old prologue or the new?