Aylin Ashton always had a voracious heart and is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. At twenty, she wants more than the celebrity lifestyle her family is known for—she wants an identity of her own with friends who care about who she is and not her last name.
Most of all, Aylin wants the love story her parents have. In a world full of divorce, and a society that has made it hard for her to be “normal”, she is not sure if true love can be her reality.
She finds herself struggling to grow romantically and keeps hitting a dead-end with men. From the egotistical pop-rocker Rad Trick to hipster music critic Mike, Aylin is not particularly gaga for either of them, and can’t help to pine for too-old-for-her Irishmen, Colin Houlihan, who happens to be her father’s tour manager!
The impetuous Aylin can’t help but make passes at the flirty, always doting on her Colin, and when he actually admits an attraction to her, the two are on dangerous ground.
The experience leaves Aylin wounded, but ultimately sends her on a journey to find out who she is and what she really wants, and maybe to the special someone she had hoped for.
True love was something I knew existed, but I also believed it to be rare. Relationships crumbled too often for me to think it common.
My parents said the words “I love you” often—to me, to one another, to their friends. But I hadn’t given any thought to what those words meant. I loved lots of things, like animals, other children, ice cream, and my family. Outside of that, I never had a dire need for any particular person or object growing up, until recently.
I know how much I love my parents, but the kind of love Mom and Dad have for one another is what really baffled me. They embody true love. In today’s world, you don’t see it often, but it was always right in front of my face.
Throughout my school years, I couldn’t remember a single friend whose parents weren’t divorced. While traveling with my dad’s rock band, Tortured, I would meet so many celebrities who were on their second or third marriage. Some never settled down with anyone at all.
Even my dad’s best friend, Danny and the band’s manager, Cami, who were married almost as long as my parents had been, got a divorce a few years ago! I came to find out Danny was cheating on Cami, and they never had what she would describe as true love to begin with. The demise of their marriage opened my eyes to the fact that love is sometimes (most of the time) a novelty that wears off.
I used to be content surrounded by two loving, amazing parents who had the coolest careers. Mom is a notable photographer whose work had been featured in just about every magazine across the world. Dad, AKA Jordan Walsh, famous lead singer of Tortured, is renowned for his voice, songwriting, good-looks and humble personality. I’m proud of who my parents are and all they have accomplished.
While people think they’re cool for their professional accomplishments, I find their love for one another to be the most significant thing about them. They’re incredibly in sync with each other. They’ve been together for over twenty years and they still act like teenagers with a crush. I want that.
I don’t know when I will have it—if I will ever have it. While I am grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with, relating to my peers, making friends and having boyfriends is difficult.
I am around the band more than anyone else and they’re all at least twice my age. When I am not on tour with Tortured, I am accompanying Mom on photo shoots with teen heartthrobs, or cheering on Uncle Drew, shortstop for the New York Yankees, at home games. That is normal for me, but it isn’t for the average person.
Now that I’m no longer a teenager, I have grown tired of tagging along with my parents. I used to be a boisterous free spirit who went with the flow and didn’t stop to think about anything but the moment I was in. Senior year of high school was a serious wake-up call. I grew frustrated with my so-called friends when they continuously wanted to use me to get to Tortured or the Yankees or set them up with a celebrity.
Kayla was the closest I had to a best friend. We met when we were fourteen, and kept in touch through social media and text messages while I traveled with my parents. She’d always beg me to Face Time from backstage at whatever event I was at and made lots of ridiculous requests—like celebrity phone numbers.
I used to be happy and excited about life. When I turned eighteen, I suddenly felt alone. I couldn’t trust any of the friends I made in high school and meeting new people was not easy.
I keep waiting for something and I don’t know what that something is. I thought college would be better. I could discover some kind of career calling and find real friends, but ultimately, I want to find true love—to have a partner in life to express all of these emotions to. I don’t want to feel used for my last name, the celebrity company I keep, or my money.
I’d settle for a simple crush on someone my own age who wasn’t super out-of-reach. The hugest crush I ever had was on my dad’s hot tour manager, Colin Houlihan. As soon as he said hello to me with that adorable Irish accent, I was planning our life together at eight-years-old.
Not long after I became infatuated with Colin, I asked Mom how she knew Dad was her soul mate. I hoped her explanation would help me identify the feeling within myself one day.
“Did you know right away?”
She laughed, “No, I hated your father at first sight.”
My eyes widened, “Hated him?”
She nodded, “I thought he was gorgeous, of course, in that unpolished way he has about him, but we were totally different people. I feared boys, especially ones that smoked and had tattoos…”
“Dad smoked?” I gasped, disgusted.
“Yes, repulsive, right?” She rolled her eyes and then laughed, as if she was lost in the memory of when they first met.
“So, did Dad fall for you right away?” I wondered. “Did he annoy you so much until you just went out with him?”
Fame or no fame, Dad had a way about him. He was good at getting people to do what he wanted, especially girls. He was what most people called charming, and I’ve been told many times that I have inherited his charm. I don’t know about all of that since most people were too entranced with my father than to ever notice me.
Mom laughed at me thinking Dad forced himself on her.
“Your father thought I was a stuck-up brat. But we both felt like we had to prove something to the other one. I think we came off so different that we were both a little intrigued, and secretly liked challenging each other,” Mom shrugged. “We got to know each other and realized you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” she concluded.
She looked at me the way she did when she wanted me to come away from something with a lesson. Never judge a book by its cover, got it, Mom. She didn’t realize the response I was searching for, though.
I never did get a clear answer of the moment Mom knew Dad was her true love, or how she knew. Does the feeling just hit you? Was it gradual?
Now at twenty-one, I feel I should know something about relationships and love, but I am still clueless and desperately wanting to mature in that department. As for the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover”… well, I never did, and sometimes I think I should have. Sometimes a book turns out exactly like its cover, and its one you never should have read to begin with.
Read Chapter One