King of Hearts by R.H. Tucker
King of Hearts
(Kings of Karmichael, #1)
Publication date: December 5th 2019
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Derrik Tyler has it all. He’s a world-famous rock star with a legion of adoring fans and has obtained teen idol status. He even has a Hollywood starlet who wants nothing more than to be the only girl in his life. It’s a publicity stunt only his band knows about, but that’s not detracting her from trying to turn their fake relationship into a real one. Yep, he has it all. Except the girl who stole his heart before his life turned into a rock n’ roll rollercoaster.
Zoey Jacobs has been friends with Derrik and the Kings of Karmichael, since before they became the hottest band in the world. She even dated Derrik before he was known as the King of Hearts—the biggest teen heartthrob in the last decade. But that’s all in the past. She’s just a few short months away from graduating high school and moving on to college.
When spring break rolls around, Derrik invites Zoey along for the last leg of the band’s tour. What should be an amazing road trip turns into Derrik’s personal mission to win back his first love. But can two people from different worlds reignite a past relationship, or is a teen icon and a future college freshman too big of a gap to cross?
King of Hearts is the first book in the Kings of Karmichael series. The series is interconnected, but each book can be read as a standalone.
EXCERPT:~~ ZOEY ~~
The crowd is insane. I knew it would be.
Johnny’s house band plays out the rest of the show, and the lights start to dim as the cameras turn off. Becca and I get up from our seats, with Landon standing up next to us.
“Can you believe this reaction?” Becca asks, laughing.
“Of course I can,” I reply with a giggle of my own. “Becca, you saw them last year just before the tour kicked off. They had that signing at MaxMart where the line circled around the store and down the street.”
“Right.” She nods. “I can’t believe they stayed there four hours past the time they were scheduled.”
“That’s why the King’s Court loves them.” I shrug, laughing again.
“I don’t get it,” Landon remarks. “It’s just Derrik and EJ. I went to school with them since sixth grade.”
I pat his shoulder, staring at him like he’s a lost puppy. “Oh, Landon. It’s okay. You don’t have to be intimidated by the mass of hysterical girls screaming.”
He rolls his eyes with a smirk and is just about to reply when, on cue, the girls start shrieking again. I look and find Maddox and EJ making their way over to sign autographs. Jade and Derrik wait near the curtain that blocks off the backstage area, and Derrik motions over to me.
“Come on.” I tap Becca’s arm, and we head down the stairs. Landon stays at the edge of the aisle before turning around to head up the stairs. “You’re not coming?”
“Naw.” He shakes his head. “I’ll meet you guys in the gift shop. I told my mom I’d get her something.”
“Okay.” I offer him a smile and then head down to the barrier between the stage area and the audience.
“Sorry, you can’t go this way,” a large security guard says, stopping us. He’s at least a foot taller than us, stout, and his brow nearly forms a unibrow, which seems to be stuck in place in a scowl.
“Oh, I know him.” I point to Derrik, who’s now looking at something behind the curtain.
The guard glances back and then stares at me like I’m crazy. “Yeah, sure you do.”
“Derrik,” I call out.
Turning around, he sees the scene and smirks. As he starts jogging over to us, more of the girls off to the side begin shrieking louder than before, and bum-rush Becca and me.
“Hey, it’s cool,” he tells the security guard. “They’re with me.” The guard does a double take, then nods and lets us in. “Head backstage, behind the curtain,” Derrik tells us. “I’ll be right there.” We both nod and head off in the direction he points. I glance back and see all of the fans jumping up and down, and Derrik begins laying on his charm. “Hey, girls. Enjoy the show?”
I can’t comprehend one answer they give as they all scream on top of the other, and Becca starts laughing. Walking back behind the curtain, we find Jade talking on her phone. When she sees us, she waves with a smile.
“No, I seriously don’t want to talk about that again,” she says sternly into her phone. “Yes, I know, but the Kings are where my priority is. Yeah. Thanks.” She hangs up her phone, letting out a sigh and shaking her head. “Sorry.”
I lean over to her and give her a hug. She’s dressed in some of her usual skinny jeans that are ripped, and a purple tank top. “You look amazing, Jade. Everything okay?”
“Thanks,” she replies, giving Becca a hug next. “Yeah, it’s good. It’s just Bret.” She rolls her eyes when she says her boyfriend’s name. “He’s always asking about meeting with new management and stuff.”
Becca rolls her eyes. “Is he still trying to get you to hook his band up with a deal? Tell him to suck on one.”
The insult breaks the tension that Jade seems to be carrying, and we all start laughing. “Maybe I will,” she answers. “How are you guys? I can’t believe I haven’t seen you since before Christmas last year. Now it’s spring break.” She shakes her head in disbelief. “Pretty soon, no more high school.”
“Yeah.” I smile. “You don’t miss it?”
“A little.” She shrugs. “But I wouldn’t give this up for anything. It’s amazing.”
“Hey, sorry,” Derrik says, rushing over and giving me a hug. “Gotta work the crowd, you know?”
“I’m sure Maddox is working it enough for all of us,” Jade jokes. “Peter wants us in the limo in twenty, so I’m gonna head over there.”
“Okay, cool.” Derrik nods. Becca and I give her a hug again, and she heads toward the exit. “So, how’d you guys like the show?”
“It was okay.” I shrug with a smile. “You were a little pitchy.”
Becca laughs. “Yeah. Landon isn’t a fan either.”
“Landon!” Derrik exclaims, raising a finger. “I wasn’t sure who that was, and now that you say the name, I remember. I think I had algebra with him freshman year. You gave him the extra ticket?” he asks me, and I nod. “I would’ve thought your mom would’ve brought you guys.”
“We were talking at lunch, and when I told him, he offered,” I explain. “He got a brand-new Mercedes from his parents as an early graduation-slash-birthday gift.”
“Oh.” A line from overs his brow. “Where is he?”
“Like I said, not a fan.” Becca giggles, and I do my best to hold back one of my own, watching the slight jealous scowl flash over Derrik’s face.
We’ve known each other since middle school. Sophomore year we started dating. Then, when he and the others began home studies before they all decided to take a GED and just focus on the band, we were still going out junior year. When they had to leave last year to start on this world tour they’ve embarked on, I knew it couldn’t keep going. Long-distance relationships never work, especially when someone is a world-famous rock star. Still, we’ve stayed in contact through online and texting. And I do still care about him.
Becca’s face drops. Following her line of vision, as she stares over Derrik’s shoulder, I see Danica Parker walking toward us.
Johnny wasn’t lying during the show that she’s the hottest star on the planet right now. She transformed a silly YouTube sketch comedy show she started in middle school into a nationally televised and streaming series. The first season of her show just ended, and the season finale scored the highest ratings of any primetime show in the last five years. People love her. And it doesn’t hurt that even at seventeen, she comes across as a mature and savvy Hollywood powerhouse. She knows the game and plays it to a T, able to get almost anything she wants. Which includes Derrik.
“Wow, I didn’t know she was keeping you on a leash,” I tease him, whispering over to him.
“Very funny,” he retorts.
“Derrik.” She wraps her arm around his, not even acknowledging Becca and me. “Come on, finish signing autographs, and let’s go. My publicist wants us to make an appearance across town at a super-hot restaurant.”
“Danica, these aren’t fans,” Derrik reprimands her, pulling his arm free from hers.
I glance over at Becca, who scowls at Danica. She looks insulted and jealous, both of which she’s told me—on multiple occasions—I should be feeling with all the rumors and pictures floating around about them.
It’s not like I’ve never been jealous over Danica. Not of her fame, but of this relationship that she wants with Derrik, and she seems so driven to acquire.
I try to push any and all thoughts of jealousy away, though. Derrik and I went out, but he’s not mine anymore. I called it off for a good reason. And now, the Kings are the hottest rock band on the planet. I’m a high school senior, and I’ll be starting college in the fall. We live in completely different worlds. But it’s nice to see him from time to time and see that he hasn’t changed.
“Oh.” Danica gives us both a blank stare. “Awesome, I’d literally kill for a Diet Coke right now.”
“Really?” Becca retorts, smirking. “Literally? You’d literally kill for a Diet Coke?”
“What?” Danica stares at Becca with an unknowing gaze, and I’m doing my best to hold back a laugh. Glancing at Derrik, I discover he’s doing the same.
“They don’t work here either,” Derrik says. “They’re my friends. I invited them.”
Taking us in again, she stares back at Derrik with a look that tells me she isn’t sure if he’s joking or not. Not in a ha-ha kind of way, but with an expression that says that both of them are above the small people now.
“Whatever. Let’s go already.”
“I’m supposed to head back to the hotel.”
“No, I had Debbie talk to Peter. Your band will go back, but we’re going to the restaurant. Hurry up, pumpkin.”
She smiles widely, tapping her finger to Derrik’s nose. Without another glance at Becca or me, she flicks her platinum blonde hair over her shoulder. Spinning on her pink and silver Prada heels—which I hate to admit, are really cute—she walks back down the hallway.
“Sorry about that.”
“Seriously, Derrik?” Becca glares at him. “That girl is a total bitch. Why are you putting on this show?”
I’ve told Becca all about the setup Derrik has with Little Miss Thing. It’s supposed to not only be great for her show but gain even more exposure for the Kings. Like they need any more; they’ve been on multiple magazine covers, daytime talk shows, nighttime talk shows, and YouTube channels with millions of subscribers. The Kings are everywhere. So, I jab a finger in his ribs, giggling.
“Because she’s hot and you’re hot, and two insanely hot teen idols are unstoppable. Right?”
“Stop.” He pushes my hand away, laughing. “I’m not a teen idol.”
“Oh, sorry. Teen icon. That is the name of your album, isn’t it?”
Becca starts laughing, and Derrik continues to blush. “That was all Peter’s idea, you know that. I was happy with calling it Album Number Two. So next week is spring break, right?”
“Yasss!” Becca waves her hands high. “We are going to my aunt’s in Huntington Beach. It’s going to be ah-may-zing!”
Derrik laughs. “I bet. I had a proposition for you, though, Z.”
“Not even twenty-one, and you’re propositioning girls already? Tsk-tsk.” Becca starts giggling, earning one from myself.
“Huntington Beach is amazing, but how about coming out on tour with us for these last few shows?” he asks.
His words stop both of us in our tracks. “Are you serious?”
He nods. “I talked with the rest of the band, and they’re totally cool with it. We all know you, and Jade is hoping you’ll say yes so she’s not the only girl around most of the time.”
He laughs, but I’m still stunned. “I mean … that would be fantastic, but I don’t know if my mom would—”
“I already asked. She said yes.”
“Yeah. Come on, you know your mom loves me.” He casually throws his arm around my shoulders.
I fight off the feelings I always have to battle with when I’m next to him. Glancing back at Becca, my wide eyes find hers, as she jumps up and down in excitement. “Would you hate me if I ditched the beach next week?”
“Girl!” She pushes my shoulder. “I’d hate you if you don’t go on tour with them. You better send me tons of pics.”
“So?” He leans a little closer.
I see those ocean blue eyes that make every girl in the crowd melt. They’ve always had the same effect on me. And no doubt being around the band would be amazing. Traveling to their last tour stops, hanging out with Jade, and getting to be around Derrik. But I called us off for a reason. Being around him might bring up all those old feelings I still remember. Plus, there are other things in play that he doesn’t know about. Things I probably should’ve told him a long time ago.
“Are you going to make me beg, Z?” He removes his arm from my shoulders, only to stand in front of me. Lowering a few inches, he comes down to my height, so we’re at even eye level. “I haven’t had to beg you since we went to homecoming sophomore year.”
He grins, and it makes me giggle, breaking up my debating thoughts. Finally, finding some semblance of coherency, I return his grin. “On one condition.”
“You only get me Diet Cokes. Pumpkin.”
RH Tucker writes cute & edgy YA romance. He also lives in Southern California, consumes too much caffeine, eats too much pizza, and firmly believes Rocky Road is the best flavor of ice cream.
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