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Authors: Simone Bryant

Famous

BOOK: Famous
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FAMOUS

A PACE ACADEMY NOVEL

The Pacesetters…can you keep up?

Simone Bryant
FAMOUS

For my nephew,

Kal El

“Auntie loves the baby….”

Famous

The Pacesetters…can you keep up?

pacesetters

[páyss sètters] (n.):

a group regarded as being leaders in any field and one whom others may emulate (i.e.: pacemakers, innovators, pacers, modernizers, leaders, leading lights, pioneers, trendsetters)

 

famous

[fáy mess] (adj.):

very well-known and recognized by many people (i.e.: celebrated, legendary or prominent)

the beginning

We
were born to be known. From the moment we were born, people have wanted to see us, know us and in some cases be us. We live the kind of lives most kids can only dream about. We are blessed because of our parents' success. We are rich because of their wealth and fame. And we are worshipped because of their fame.

Fame tops wealth at Pace Academy. We run Pace. We are what it is all about. It's our world—for now.

It's time for
our
shine.
Our
fame.

Who's gonna stop us?

Lights. Camera. Action!

one

Starr
October [email protected]:24 p.m. | Mood: Blah

Starr
Lester was definitely feeling out of sorts as she lounged across her bed and flipped through the latest issue of
Teen Vogue,
turning the pages with her short, manicured nails with silver minx polish. Her mind really wasn't focused on the glossy pages highlighting the latest fashions. She looked up and scanned the spacious bedroom suite, her eyes settling on the view beyond the French doors to the acres of manicured lawn surrounding the mansion in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

For a moment, she understood how incredibly privileged she was and all that rah-rah-rah. She knew that she'd been blessed. How many kids could brag that their bedroom had an adjoining bathroom with a spa tub, a separate river-rock shower with multiple body sprays, heated tile floors in the bathroom, their own private balcony with an outdoor fireplace, a home theater with its own fully stocked snack bar and a custom walk-in closet that looked like a Rodeo Drive boutique?

That didn't include free use of her daddy's black American
Express card
and
a weekly allowance, along with her own staff that included a part-time personal assistant, a maid and a personal trainer who were all just an email, call, text or tweet away. Top it all off with famous godparents and a circle of celeb-kids as friends, and life was pretty sweet.

She closed the magazine, rolled across the bed and walked across the spacious room to her desk. She balanced herself by bracing her knee against the seat of the fuchsia leather Parsons chair as she leaned forward and picked up the rhinestone-covered picture frame sitting beside her iPad. She curved her lip-gloss-covered mouth into a smile at the photo from her birthday party just over a week ago.

Staring back at her in the framed photo were her father, Cole Lester, the multiplatinum R&B singer-turned-owner of TopStarr Records and a dozen other companies, and her mother, Sasha, the R&B superstar diva who gave up her career for her family. Starr lightly stroked their smiling faces with her index finger. Her parents were famous. Their every move was followed by Perez Hilton–like gossip blogs, celebrity news sites and paparazzi. They lived a
fabulous
life, and made sure that she and her four-year-old twin brothers, Malcolm and Martin, had a pretty wonderful life as well.

Her parents had gone
all
out for her party. Plenty of her friends would love, love, love to say that they had had an over-the-top birthday party that cost her father close to a half-million dollars—not including her custom Range Rover that she wasn't even old enough to drive.

Simply fab-u-lous. It was the party of the decade…just what Starr deserved.

Her eyes shifted to the smiling and supermodel posing
friends—her
besties,
Marisol and Dionne. Together they were the Pacesetters, for obvious reasons, since the three of them definitely set the rules at their school, Pace Academy. Age had nothing to do with their power. It was all about fame—and their famous parents.

All of the kids at their private school had rich parents—attorneys, hedge-fund managers, corporate CEOs and the heirs to family fortune. But only a few had
famous
parents—boldface names that filled the headlines, gossip columns and celebrity news.

Marisol's dad was a Major League Baseball superstar and earned even more money and fame off the field than he did on the baseball diamond. Dionne's father was a platinum-selling artist, who dominated the hip-hop charts.

Starr? Her parents were the most famous of them all. That meant Starr was
the
star of Pace Academy.

No one can deny the power of fame—no one.

Releasing a soft sigh, she left her bedroom and walked toward the elevator a short distance from her suite. She rode the elevator to the basement, humming as she turned to study her reflection in the mirrored walls.

She used her fingertip to feather her hair, still loving the way it brought out her high cheekbones and slanted almond-shaped eyes. The chestnut-brown rinse brought out her light caramel complexion. If she kept the chocolate out of her mouth, then her complexion would definitely stay acne-free. The last thing she needed was for her parents—especially her dad—to invite her to some big event and get caught on the red carpet with a mini-mountain on her nose.

Starr rearranged the delicate ruffles of the blue Valentino
silk shirt under a tailored leather Dolce & Gabbana blazer and a pair of skinny jeans in a dark rinse. She was barefoot now but the navy suede booties she had on when she went to school complemented the perfect blend of textures.

The elevator doors opened and Starr stepped out into the private entrance into the recording studio. Like everything her parents did, it was top-of-the-line—from the design of the three large studios to the sound and mixing equipment in each one.

Starr took the hallway leading to the empty lobby and then across the hall leading to the studios. She loved to spend time in the studios and get caught up in the musically creative atmosphere, as her father and his team of hit-making producers continued to deliver so that TopStarr Records remained the best of the best.

Bored, she just thought she'd pass through to see if there were any new Mariahs, Rihannas or Madonnas in the recording studio.

Starr paused at the glass door leading into studio one. She exhaled a deep breath that left a cloudy residue on the glass as she opened the door and walked into the control room. She lightly touched the digital audio workstation before dropping down into one of the leather swivel chairs. She twirled in the chair with her bare feet high in the air.

Boredom was no fun. Duh.

She leaned her head back and looked up at the ceiling. Her eyes widened at the TopStarr Records logo above her head. She smiled. Pretty fantastic having a record company named after you. It was like she had her own record company and maybe one day she would even run it.

Hmmm.

Now that she'd survived her latest adventure—planning and documenting her “Fabulous and Fierce Fashionista Fifteen” party—another challenge might be big-time fun. Seriously. She was feeling that there had to be more for her to do than just lead a fabulous life. Like there was so much more for her than being loved and adored simply because of her parents.

Starr lowered her head and her eyes landed on the microphone inside the vocal booth.

She wanted to live up to her name—her destiny, her time in the celebrity spotlight.

two

Dionne
October [email protected]:12 p.m. | Mood: Excited

Dionne
Hunt used a fuzzy-topped glitter pen to circle the photo in the booklet. Her thin gold bracelets lightly clanged against each other as she added a smiley face and an exclamation point for good measure. “Absolutely perfect,” she said, with the biggest, cheesiest grin her face could muster as she tore the page from the booklet.

She hopped down from her full-size bed with the booklet in her hand, her sleek and shiny ponytail swinging back and forth in a direction counter to her retro doorknocker earrings. She left her bedroom and made her way down the hall to the kitchen. Using a refrigerator magnet shaped like a bunch of grapes, she stuck the page in the center of the stainless-steel refrigerator door.

“She has to like this house,” Dionne said, literally crossing her fingers and her toes, which were clad in pastel-striped knee socks.

Her life was quickly changing every day, and Dionne was just hoping to hang on for the ride and not chip her manicure.

Two years ago she couldn't have imagined them moving out of their two-bedroom apartment in Newark to the picture of the house she'd pinned to the fridge—a three-thousand-square-foot home in South Orange, New Jersey.

But two years ago her father had been Lahron Young and not “Lahron the Don,” a hip-hop star whose debut CD
New Era
dropped and went double platinum within a few months.

Life had changed so much since then. She began spending the weekends and holidays at her daddy's luxury apartment in the same Park Avenue building where Diddy used to live. And she transferred from her old middle school to finish the eighth grade at the ultraexclusive and pricey Pace Academy.

Now her moms had
finally
agreed to let her father buy them a house, moving out of the 'hood to a place where life was all good. “Too bad I had to get robbed for her to change her mind,” Dionne said to herself, before she grabbed a bottled water from the refrigerator and made her way back to her room.

Now that she had done the house-hunting her mother kept putting off, Dionne was ready to finish her homework. The letter the headmaster had sent home about her delinquent tuition at the start of the school year made Dionne big-time scared that her new-money father was spending way too much and saving even less. Once she'd worked up the nerve to talk to him about it, he'd let her know everything was cool. But the wake-up call—the possibility of her life going back to what it used to be—made her
appreciate what she had, especially being able to attend Pace Academy.

She didn't want to think about what life would be like without going to big award shows and traveling in private jets alongside her dad, or always having money in her designer bags, or not being friends with Starr and Marisol.

Dionne picked up her rhinestone-covered Sidekick, using her thumb to slide it open. She tapped away at the keys with her thumbs as she texted Starr.

 

What u doing?

 

She set the phone down and looked up at the image on the flat screen on her wall with the sound on mute. A rerun of
Tiny and Toya
was on, but she didn't bother to turn up the volume. She really needed to finish up her English assignment.

Ding.

 

N studio.

 

Dionne shook her head. Starr's life was beyond belief. Right now anyone, from Drake to Madonna, could be at her father's studio recording.

Ding.

 

Recording. :)

 

That
made Dionne's perfectly arched eyebrows furrow as her thumbs went into action.

 

No way… W/who? For what? Details!!!!

 

Ding.

 

LMYBO. Ssssh! Top secret.

 

“Then why mention it?” Dionne muttered, trying hard not to take Starr's bait.

She wasn't mad at her friend—just annoyed and
soooo
jealous of Starr.

Tossing her phone to the foot of the bed, she used the remote to turn off the flat screen and moved her books closer to her. Her father had paid way too much in tuition for her not to be an “A” student. She wasn't giving him or her moms any reason to take her away from her life at Pace Academy. No reason at all.

By the time she heard her mom's keys in the door, Dionne had just about finished writing her English paper on her laptop.

“Thanks for the help.”

“No problem, Miss Hunt.”

Dionne's fingers froze in midair above the keyboard at the sound of voices. She climbed off the bed and left the room just as her mother, Risha, walked down the hall and into the kitchen with Hassan Ali behind her carrying grocery bags.

Dionne literally lost her breath. It's the kind of thing that happens when you're completely surprised by a crush.
Ex-crush,
she reminded herself.

Hassan smiled at her and she could have sworn the gleam of his white teeth went
ding.

“Hey, Dionne. What's up?” he said, before disappearing into the kitchen.

She was speechless. No words could form in her mouth. She just stared.

Hassan Ali was her eighth-grade crush from South 17th Street Elementary School in Newark. His complexion was chocolate. He had a tall athletic frame and a handsome angular face. There was a confident swagger to his walk.

Oooh, I love him,
Dionne thought dreamily.

He could have easily been her boyfriend. But like living in Newark, he didn't fit into her new life. So he was on to the next one—some thick chick named Jalisha, whose body made Nikki Minaj look like a dude.

The fact that he had a girl and wasn't a part of her new world didn't stop Dionne's heart from racing and her knees from weakening.

She smoothed the long-sleeved fuchsia-colored tee she wore over a fitted lime-green tee with a jean skirt—a very casual look—over her slender frame, wishing she'd had time for a fresh coat of lip gloss before she'd walked into the kitchen.

Hassan turned and looked down at Dionne. “You're moving?” he asked, pointing over his shoulder to the real estate listing on the fridge.

“As soon as my mom
finally
finds a house,” she stressed, leaning over to look past him at her mother. Her mother's two pairs of gold doorknockers earrings lightly clanged against each other as she was putting away groceries.

Risha Hunt was just thirty years old and looked more like an older sister.

When Dionne looked back up at Hassan she didn't miss the look of disappointment on his face. Her heart tugged.

“I'm not moving to South Orange so you can look again, diva,” her mother assured her.

Dionne shrugged as she looked up at Hassan. “You gonna miss me or is Jalisha keeping you pretty focused?” she asked, giving him a soft smile as her heart pounded crazily.

Her mother snorted and Dionne could have died on the spot.

“I miss you now,” he said, looking down into her eyes.

“Do you, Hassan?” her mother urged.

Note to self,
Dionne thought.
Ask Mom to stay outta my bizness.

“I better get going,” Hassan said, lightly touching Dionne's chin before he turned, leaving the soft scent of his cologne to fill the air.

Dionne inhaled deeply. “Bye, Hassan,” she said, trying to sound cheerful.

He gave her mom a wave goodbye before he walked down the hall and out the front door of the apartment.

Dionne had to fight the impulse to go chasing after him.

BOOK: Famous
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