Melody Gray visits New York City to attend her best friend's wedding, meeting tennis pro John Spencer at the train station, and stopping him from running away from his life. She loves spending time with him, finding herself wishing she could stay with him instead of returning to her abusive father in West Virginia. But she knows her father needs her to take care of him, and since John's famous mother and others surrounding John let her know she doesn't belong, she realizes she'll never be able to be near the man she loves again.
Excerpt from Chapter 3:
After arriving at Battery Park, they all got out of the car. While Chuck went to get tickets for the ferry, Melody looked out over the water, watching a ferry return to the lower end of Manhattan. She could see the Statue of Liberty fairly well in the distance, making her feel very fortunate to be at the site.
"Isn't that the girl?" someone asked from behind Melody.
She turned her head, and two big men with cameras headed toward her. "Yes! It's her! Get a shot!"
Dennis grabbed her and pulled her to his chest. "We have to get out of here," he said to everyone in the group.
"But my dad's not here yet," Elise said.
Other reporters started to run toward them, and Melody peeked out from under Dennis' arm.
A large man walked toward Elise, staring at the reporters. Behind him was a gangly man with red hair. "What's going on here?" His accent was pronounced, and Melody knew who he was. She hid her face in Dennis' chest.
"Are you okay?" Dennis whispered.
She could only nod, then turned and looked back at the huge man.
"Daddy! I'm so glad you're here," Elise said.
He thrust his hands on his hips. "Who are these people?"
"Reporters," Elise whispered.
The man faced the people gawking at Melody. "Look. My name is Hank Johnson and you'd better be leavin' my daughter alone, or you're going to have to answer to me."
"Who are you?" a reporter asked.
"I'm her dad," he said, pointing at Elise.
"And I'm her brother Bobby," the gangly man said.
"We don't care about her," a reporter answered. "It's the other redhead we want. Melody Gray." His cameraman took pictures of Melody, so she closed her eyes and buried her face in Dennis' chest. Tears filled her eyes as she covered the sides of her face with her hands so they couldn't get a good shot of her.
"Mel? Is that you?' Bobby asked. "Gosh, I've missed you a lot! We have to go out sometime."
"No, she's taken." Dennis leaned down to her while Elsie's father and Chuck argued with the cameraman. Melody could only glance out at the group, terrified of the reporters surrounding them and shouting questions.
"You are?" Bobby asked Melody, then pointed up at Dennis' face. "By him? I can beat him up if you want, to prove I'm the one for ya."
"No, Bobby," she said, turning her head. "Let it go. Please?"
"Is this a lover's quarrel?" a reporter yelled. "Where's John Spencer?"
Melody covered her face and hid in Dennis' chest again.
He leaned down to her ear. "Are you okay?"
She lifted her head and faced him. "Not really. I've never had anyone taking my picture like this. They're stalking me, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are and it's scary if you're not used to it."
A camera snapped and the reporters started yelling questions at her.
"Are you dating John Spencer?"
"Is this your boyfriend?"
"Are you carrying an alien's baby?"
She wasn't sure what they were talking about, especially the line about the alien's baby. She moved her head back to Dennis' chest, wishing they'd just all go away.
Dennis turned her to the side, put his arm on her shoulder, then walked her back toward the car.
"Let the lady alone," he said. "Party's over."
"Who are you?" one reporter asked.
Dennis stopped walking and faced the man. "No one you want to mess with. Now, go away." He walked with Melody to the car, joined by Elise's family and Chuck.
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