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Unseen Messages by Pepper Winters

Prologue

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E S T E L L E

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I’m a song wrapped in paper; a sonnet scribbled by a singer.

Every composition takes a part of me until I’m nothing more than crotchets and quavers. My story began on paper on sheet music. A fresh page of bars and ledgers, governed by a sturdy treble clef. But my life ended changed. And the things of importance faded from superfluous to survival.

I’m a writer. I’m a singer.

Not anymore, I’m a survivor.

Taken from the notepad of E.E.

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LIFE OFFERS EVERYONE messages.

Either unnoticeable or obvious, it’s up to us to pay attention.

I didn’t pay attention.

Instinct tried to take notice; the world tried to prevent my downfall.

I didn’t listen.

I’ll forever wonder what would’ve happened if I had paid attention to those messages. Would I have survived? Would I have fallen in love? Would I have been happy?

Then again, perhaps just as the messages exist, fate exists, too.

And no matter what life path we choose, fate always has the final say.

I didn’t listen, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t live.

I lived and breathed and cried and laughed and existed in a totally different tale than the one I’d envisioned.

Away from my home.

Away from my family.

Away from everything comfortable and familiar.

But I wasn’t alone...

I was with him.

A stranger turned lover. An enemy turned friend.

I was with him.

And he became my entire universe.

Chapter One

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E S T E L L E

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No one can truly soothe your fears, your tears, your Rolodex of emotions. No one can truly make it right, fix the wrong, or make your dreams come true. Only you.

Only you, only you, only you.

You’re the anchor in rough seas, the roof in churning storms. You’re the survivor in adversity.

You are trust. You are home.

Only you, only you, only you.

Lyrics: ‘Only You’ Taken from the notepad of E.E.

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THE FIRST MESSAGE warning my life would end came ten minutes after the taxi dropped me off at the airport.

I didn’t know it would be my last car ride. My last grumble over a fare. My last foray on a road, in a city, in a society surrounded by people and chaos and noise.

My last taste of normalcy.

Not that my life had been normal the past two years.

Ever since my ‘supposedly’ best friend secretly uploaded an original song of mine, I’d gone from a simple retail assistant to an internet sensation.

The whirlwind career change was both a good and bad thing.

Good because I could now afford the things I’d never dared dream of, brought security to my family (not that I had a family anymore), and formed a nest egg for retirement. And bad because such wonder came at great cost and I feared I didn’t have enough in which to pay it.

After two months on the road—on a self-funded and mostly organised by ‘supposedly best friend’ singing tour, I was a masticated piece of chewing gum with no flavour left to give.

Not that I wasn’t grateful. I was. So, so, so grateful. Meeting fans, singing until my throat bled, signing postcards and hastily printed posters—it had been surreal.

I couldn’t get my head around how quickly my world switched from helping rich housewives spend their husband’s money on unneeded fashion to blinking in spotlights and performing secrets (pieces of my heart and soul bound in lyrics) that people seemed to connect to. They connected enough to want me to sing for them. Me. An utter nobody suddenly traded the safety of non-recognition for high-risk fame.

I could handle sharing myself and my songs. I could handle chipping away at my secrets and giving them to others to glue their patch-worked souls. What I couldn’t handle were the endless airports and suitcases. The constant noise and chatter and calamity of living on tour.

I never wanted to stay in another hotel again. I craved space and silence with the passion of a million wishes.

Madeline didn’t understand how hard being in the limelight was for me. Even working in retail (while I decided what to do with my life now I was alone) had been a struggle: the constant dealing with people, the endless questions, the draining nature of mingling. Add loud music, screaming fans, and countless demands for social events, encores, and media obligations, I was wrung dry. I was worse than chewing gum. I was the grime left over from a well-trodden shoe.

I’m shoeless.