Copyright © Grace Harper 2021
The right of Grace Harper to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted by the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copying of this manuscript, in whole or in part, without the author and her publisher’s written permission, is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved
Deadline day had arrived.
The intimidating man sitting across from me in his ivory tower office had given me plenty of time to decide.
“What’s it to be, Errol?” Quinn said. His attention was squarely on his phone. I could be forgiven for thinking he couldn’t care less about my answer.
Today, I needed to sign the recording contract with The Dark Side record label or walk away. Quinn Saunders who owned the label had a plan that had played out to perfection. I’d won a talent contest, with my real name and my true passion for singing soul music. Transforming from Casey Lowe, rock band front man to Errol Thomas, solo soul singer was the best move I could have made and it was all thanks to Quinn.
When I saw Donovan Carter in the recording booth at my old label, a year ago, singing a Fragile song, I knew I had to leave Red & Black. When I watched Donovan sing the track, I could see Erin’s reflection in the glass wall of the studio. She’d given me the same proud smile years ago. That was when I was her favourite, before her husband Alex and long before Donovan.
The Dark Side record label building had stunning views across London. I loved coming up to the city to see Quinn. He’d coached me in the ways of the business and how to make a splash. His genius idea to use my real name and have the big reveal at the contest completely blinded all of them at Red & Black. For a moment, seeing Erin’s face when I shouted at Donovan about his sister made it all worthwhile. She doubted him and his innocence in what had happened. For a moment Erin was on my side. I hadn’t felt that in years, not since she danced with Alex Devlin at Green’s Music Venue. The night she left our friendship on the floor and went to him.
“Hell yes, I want this contract, pass me the pen.”
I jumped up from the leather sofa to reach for the contract. Quinn slapped his hand down hard on the stack of papers.
“Are you absolutely sure Errol? I’ll make you a worldwide sensation, but you’re going to have to play a role to get it.”
“I don’t care. All I want to do is to perform on stage and for everyone to know my name. I can sing, I’ve got the looks, and I don’t care what else I need to do.”
“Good lad,” Quinn said, flashing me a conspiratory smile. He took the pen from his inside jacket pocket and handed it over. The pen cost more than everything I owned. Everything about Quinn screamed wealth, and I wanted some of that money.
I scrawled my signature, using my real name in all the places the yellow sticky tabs told me to sign. The deal was done.
“What happens next?” I asked.
I’d retaken my seat on the sofa, watching the boats sail up the Thames river. Quinn had moved to the other side of his office into the gloom. The sun shone brightly in through the windows but only reached half of the floor space. Quinn’s black suit enabled him to blend in with the darkness, and I couldn’t see what he was doing.
“You wait for my call, lad. My PR people will be in touch soon with our game plan.”
“Am I going to lay down some tracks today?”
“Not yet.” I heard his irritation, I could have kicked myself for being over eager. Playing it cool never came easily to me. “We need to get everything in place first. We can take our time, get it right to make you a superstar.”
Quinn turned his back to take a call, dismissing me from the conversation. It wasn’t until he slipped through a side door in his office and his PA came in to collect the signed papers that I understood I was dismissed for the day.
“Have a great day, Errol,” she said with a smile that told me it had been many years since she’d had a good day.
I muttered my thanks to her retreating back, drank the glass of water in front of me and took one more look at Quinn’s office. Over the last couple of years, this had been our HQ for planning. Quinn discussed with me the next step in getting away from Maverick and Red & Black label. Years of planning and here I was, the ink still wet on the contract that would take me to superstardom.
Rubbing my closed fist against my chest as I left Quinn’s empty cold office, I looked for any familiar faces to chat with. I was still used to the Red & Black mansion where everything was open plan. Here at The Dark Side head office, all offices had doors with no windows to peek in. The grey slate coloured carpets marked my exit to the elevators and down to the security desk. Quinn hadn’t told me what would happen in the coming months. I trusted him to keep me on the path to fame and fortune. Now that I’d signed the contract, I had faith in him more than ever to get me to household name status.
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