Page 89 of The Keeper

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Not that we can use the Malibu house all that much while I’m on the road with the team, or she’s doing the same with her band, but I wanted us to have our own place to be together. And to have a private place for us to decompress and recharge. The location is close enough to her parents but gives Billie her independence away from them. Which I know is important to her, and even though she just turned twenty-four, she has accomplished so much in her life.

As far as my work goes in Vegas, it’s a short forty-minute flight I charter from a reputable pilot that does this for a few pro-sports clients between Vegas and LA full time. He’s got the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB all represented on his client list, and even an F1 driver now that Vegas just built a track. Sometimes, the other clients might share a flight with me if it works out. It’s a lot like having a driver—just in the air—and I’ve made new friends flying back and forth. Most importantly, though, Billie and I have been making it work for the last year. She comes to me in Vegas if there’s a night she’s free and I have to be there. We make the most of the time we haveforeach other. I’m still doing the Crush Foundation Music Workshop teaching guitar to the kids. Billie had to give up her job with CSLV, but she loves to come with me if she’s in town when I go there to teach a class. She misses working with the kids directly, although she’s still involved with sponsorships and volunteering in other ways to support them.

After we got engaged, I did get to take her to Montreal with me over the holiday break to meet my family. Everyone loves Billie, of course. She’s easy to love. My grandpa, who played the drums in a Montreal garage band for like five minutes in the seventies, now thinks of Billie as his soul mate. I told the old man to have a look at the ring on her finger because she is taken. My mom and dad are so happy for me for finding Billie. I think they were worried I’d never find a soul mate and that I’d always be alone. I know parents hope and pray for their children to find “their person” even though they’re helpless in making it happen. Nobody can make it happen for someone else.

Everyone must do it on their own—find their own happiness.

I know I’m one of the lucky few because I very much did find happinessandmy true love.

I found her one lonely night while looking for a distraction from a bitterly disappointing trade to a strange city I didn’t want to be in.

But that strange and wonderful city wanted me, and it’s the reason I am sitting next to the love of my life right now, waiting for her to win the well-deserved recognition at the very pinnacle of the music industry for a song she wrote.

Thank God for that trade.

Everything happens for a reason. Destiny comes calling, and you either answer the call, or you miss it, and it may never find you again.

Thank God for destiny finding me that night.

One night when a beautiful stranger dragged me to apartyI did not want to go to(and almost didn’t),where shesexy-danced with me, kissed me,and pushed her way into my life with zero encouragementfromme.

Thank God for that party, and the kiss, and just…all of—

“This is it,” Kit says in my ear, interrupting my thoughts with a sharp elbow to the ribs.

Sitting to my left is Billie, clutching my hand in a death grip as last year’s winners approach the podium. I give her hand a little squeeze in return and mouth,I love you and you’re going to win.

Feels like ages of time as each nominee is named with accompanying video and graphics up on the stage—

“The Grammy for Song of the Year goes toThe Keeper, music and lyrics by Billie Hirsch.”

* * *

Yep,yep. My fiancée just won Song of the Year.

For a song she wrote about me.

I watch her make her way up to the stage to accept her award after the celebratory kisses and hugs from me, her parents, fellow bandmates, and Kit at our seats. I know this is all being filmed live, that we’re all being captured on video. Every gesture, facial expression, and probably any words I speak are being analyzed and deciphered by lip-reading experts who rabidly follow this sort of celebrity event. But I tune it all out and focus on my Billie. She’s the only important thing right now.

And I do meanonly.

Because Billie Hirsch is drop-dead gorgeous tonight. Full stop.

Well, she has always been in my eyes, even from the very first time I saw her playing the drums in a small Vegas club. She caught my eye then as she catches it now…along with the millions of others watching this the whole world over.

I think I might be jealous of them.

She’s in a dark purple dress that clings to her skin like shimmering metal. Her vibrant violet-tipped hair, arranged in a single sculpted wave down her back in the vee of a very low-backed gown, is the stunning focal point as she makes her graceful approach toward the steps to the podium. This video clip of her going up to receive her award could be seen a billion times on every social platform and media format that reports the Grammys.

I know this.

Every eye in the place is on her, devouring every inch of her, admiring her talent and her beauty, falling in love with her if, by chance, they hadn’t already in the past year.

She’s mine, people.

Yeah, I’m definitely jealous.

My brain goes into a kind of fog as I try to process the magnitude of the moment, what this means for Billie…what this means for me…what it means for us. She’s a famous celebrity from a famous family of celebrities, even though she chose not to live her life that way for many years. She might have a harder time doing that now. But that’s where I come in. It’s my job to be there to support her and protect her from those who might try to take advantage of her fame and talent. Billie’s in good hands though. She has a family who loves her and me, of course, who’ll do whatever it takes to keep her happy and safe.

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