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As Dust Dances (Play On #2)
Author:Samantha Young

As Dust Dances (Play On #2)

Samantha Young

For the most part writing is a solitary endeavor but publishing most certainly is not. I have to thank my wonderful editor Jennifer Sommersby Young, a talented, witty lady who always keeps me right. You’ve made me a better writer, friend. Thank you.

Moreover, thank you to Viviana Varona for giving Killian and Skylar’s story that final look-through, ensuring I’m sending their love story out into the world as polished as can be.

This is a story I became truly immersed in while writing. The world around me ceased to exist until all of Skylar’s tale spilled out of my fingertips. In order to have that kind of extraordinary alone time with this book, I have to thank my mum and dad for taking care of my wee babies while their momma was off living in another universe. I love you all. Thank you for understanding!

And thank you to my bestie and PA extraordinaire, Ashleen Walker, for handling all the little things and supporting me through everything. You’re my Rockstar.

The life of a writer doesn’t stop with the book. Our job expands beyond the written word to marketing, advertising, graphic design, social media management and more. Help from those in the know goes a long way. Thank you to my awesome publicist KP Simmon of Inkslinger PR. KP, you make my life easier! Thank you for all you and your team do!

And thank you to every single blogger, instagrammer and book lover who has helped spread the word about my books. You all are appreciated so much! On that note, a massive thank you to all the fantastic readers in my private Facebook group Sam’s Clan McBookish. You make me smile every day!

Moreover, thank you to Hang Le. You create the most beautiful art and the cover for AS DUST DANCES is no exemption. It’s one of my favorite covers EVER. I can’t stop staring at it. It fits Skylar’s story so perfectly.

And thank you to Christine Borgford at Type A Formatting for making this book look stylish for my readers.

As always, thank you to my agent Lauren Abramo for making it possible for readers all over the world to find my words. I’m so grateful for you.

Finally, to you my reader, the biggest thank you of all.

* * *

Glasgow, Scotland

MY MUSIC FILLED THE AIR, creating a surrounding bubble of melody and familiarity in a city still strange to me in so many ways.

It was an overcast day on Buchanan Street. The gray clouds silvered the blond buildings and dulled the boldness of the red sandstone architecture that made up a part of Glasgow’s identity. Busking on the main shopping thoroughfare in the city center, I stood far enough from the shop entrance behind me to not bother the staff, but not far enough out that I’d feel in the way of shoppers passing by. I played my beloved Taylor acoustic guitar and sang. Unlike some of the buskers I competed with on a regular basis, I didn’t have their fancy portable PA systems with amps and mics. I had to rely on the quality of my voice and my playing to draw people in.

I never felt like a nuisance busking in Glasgow. It was the only time in fact the city didn’t feel like a stranger to me and I to it. I felt like a part of a city that loved its music. If red sandstone was Glasgow’s skin, music was its heartbeat. While I’d made peace with the idea that life had broken me down to dust, the joy of being a beat in the rhythm of Glasgow’s soul smoldered within me.

Sometimes, especially if I was feeling upbeat and decided to do a twist on a well-known pop or dance song, I’d draw in a crowd. That was usually on a Saturday, like today, when people were shopping and feeling relaxed, where they weren’t rushing past on their lunch break to get back to work.

Mostly, however, people either kept walking on by, or they dropped some change in my guitar case as they briskly marched on. I even had some regular workers who dropped the change in like it had become a habit. Not that I minded. Unlike those buskers with their fancy PA systems, I actually needed the money. I wasn’t trying to “get found” on the streets of Glasgow by having my bestie film me on his camera phone and upload it to my YouTube channel.

I was busking so I could buy a meal for the night. And if it was a particularly good day, money to get into the swimming center so I could use one of their showers and a hair dryer. On the days I didn’t make enough money, I had what the local homeless called a “tramp’s wash.” I had to strip off in my tent and use baby wipes to clean my body as best I could.

Glancing down at my guitar case as I sang, I thanked God that today it looked like I’d have enough for that shower.

Nodding my thanks at a couple of teenage girls as they dropped some change in my case, I kept singing the melancholy song I’d chosen to fit the weather. “Someone Like You” by Adele. A firm crowd pleaser, it was drawing one like it always did. I pulled it out of the bag when I really needed the cash. I have a good enough vocal range to sing Adele but anyone can have a good vocal range and still not be able to sell a song. You have to be able to fall into the lyrics and sing a song like you wrote it. Which is much easier to do if you did write the damn song. For the longest time, I only ever sang my own songs so that wasn’t a problem for me.

Busking was different. People didn’t really want to listen to unfamiliar tunes. That might have been an issue for me a few years ago. I wasn’t very good at putting myself in someone else’s place. Or empathizing.

But now . . . well, now I could sing sad songs like my heart was truly breaking. I’d look into the small crowds gathered around me and see more than a few tears in strangers’ eyes. I loved that part of performing. Making people feel like that. I just hated all the other shit that came with it.

As I sang about time flying and yesterday being the time of our lives, I felt those words deep in my soul. I controlled a voice crack on the word “lives” and found a familiar face in the crowd.

Ignoring the frizzle of awareness that zinged down my spine, I kept staring at him, singing to him, telling him with that stare I could give a damn that he was there. He didn’t scare me. He didn’t creep me out. Didn’t he know that I was unshakeable these days?

I didn’t know the man’s name. I didn’t know anything about him except that he had the kind of presence that made everyone else around him fade. At around six foot he wasn’t overly tall; he had an athletic build so it wasn’t really his size that made you look. It was a quality. I couldn’t tell what color his eyes were because he’d never gotten close enough, just that they appeared dark, and they were intense. There was a hardness to his expression, a remoteness that seemed at odds with his apparent interest in my performance. Today he stood apart from the small crowd, his hands in the pockets of his jeans, his head tilted slightly as he listened with that aloof countenance.

When I got to the part about finding “someone like you,” I drew my gaze to the darkening sky from beneath the brim of my fedora, my tone as mournful as those heavy clouds above. After the final strum of an F-sharp minor lingered in the air, I lowered my head and let the gentle applause settle over me.

I didn’t take much of a break before I immediately began singing an original song. Like I said, most people wanted to hear songs that were familiar to them, but I was a singer/songwriter and it was difficult for me to not sing what I truly felt at least once during a set. Plus, I’d noticed over the last few weeks that the stranger only walked away after I sang one of my own songs.

Weird but true.