Chapter 1 Chapter 1
I was about to have a straight-up heart attack!
For real—not one of those fake ones that my girl Diamond was always having. The way my heart was pounding inside my chest, I was gonna pass out for sure.
When I looked over at my girls, I could tell they felt the exact same way. My best friend for life, India, was standing so still, just grinning like she was in shock. And Veronique looked like she was going to faint from happiness, though I wasn’t sure if she was all excited about the Divine Divas or about Arjay Lennox, who had stayed right by her side ever since we ran off the stage.
The only one who was standing like this was no big deal was Diamond—our leader, or at least that’s what she thought. Yeah, Diamond was just standing with her arms folded—like she knew all along that the Divine Divas were going to make it to the finals of the Glory 2 God Teen Talent Search.
I mean, I had a lot of confidence, trust that. But no one in the world had more confidence than Diamond. It’s not that I didn’t think we could sing; every single one of my girls could carry at least half a tune. But when we started this whole thing back in September, I never would’ve believed that we would have made it all the way to the finals. All the way to Miami—South Beach, to be exact. We would be competing with four other groups.
But I wasn’t hardly worried—I knew for sure that my girls and I were going to shut this whole thing down. At the end, we were gonna be the ones with the recording contract.
Just thinking about that made my heart start crashing again. Could this really happen? Could the Divine Divas really get a $250,000 recording contract and move into the big time?
Not that I was sure that this was the way I wanted it to go down. I mean, I was into winning, don’t sleep. But I wasn’t about to give up any part of my dreams. No way. No matter what happened with my girls and the Divine Divas, in two years, I was going to Harvard. Trust that. And, I was going to become a nuclear physicist. You could bank on that, too. If we won this thing, we’d just have to find a way to work it out.
“Hey, what you doing over here all by yourself, Pretty Lady?”
I had to lean my head all the way back to look up at Troy. He was that tall and one of the Three Ys Men, who were our backup dancers. The way he was grinning in my face, I could tell he was as happy as we were. I guess this whole winning thing was as exciting for the guys as it was for us, even though we were the ones who were out front.
“I’m not doing anything.” I tried to shrug Troy off, but it was hard. I could tell by the way Troy had been looking at me ever since we got to New York that he kinda liked me, but I didn’t know for sure. It could’ve been that he just wanted to hang with me because his boys—Riley and Arjay—had already hooked up with India and Veronique.
But it didn’t matter—I liked Troy; I just didn’t like him like that. Not that I wasn’t into guys; I mean, Troy was major fine. But I had a plan for my life. And right about now, boys—even cute ones—just didn’t fit in.
“So, Aaliyah, ah—”
“Hey, baby girl!”
Whew! I was so glad my dad came over and interrupted Troy. I could tell he was going to do something like ask me if I wanted to go out with him when we got back to Los Angeles.
“Hey, Daddy,” I said, hugging my father. He was the only male I was into impressing right about now.
“I’m so proud of you,” my dad said. He looked at Troy and added, “I’m proud of all of you. You guys were fierce.”
“Daddy, nobody says fierce anymore.”
My dad frowned. “Nobody?”
I shook my head. “Only Diamond and Tyra.”
“Well, if it’s good enough for Diamond and Tyra, it’s good enough for me.”
Troy and I laughed with my dad, but then we stopped when Roberto Hamilton, the president of Glory 2 God Productions, came into the room where we were hanging out.
“Thank you for waiting,” Mr. Roberto said. “And congratulations, once again, to all of you.”
As Mr. Roberto looked around the room, I did, too. Even though we were in New York, this room was filled with people from our church in Los Angeles. Besides me and my girls, and the Three Ys Men and our parents (except for Veronique—her mom, Ms. Lena, never came to any of the competitions), there was Pastor Ford and her crew. And about twenty other people from Hope Chapel packing this place.
But when everybody was as happy as we were, it didn’t matter if we were standing so close it felt like we were in a club or something.
“Well.” Mr. Roberto’s voice made me turn back to him as he said, “We are at the final round. How do you feel?”
He was just talking to me and my girls, but a whole bunch of people answered, “Great,” “Just fine,” “All right!” as if they were the ones who had been doing all the singing.
Mr. Roberto laughed. “So, now that we’re here, we wanted to let you know just how seriously we’re taking this whole competition.”
I took a deep breath.
“We’re looking for the next big group.”
I couldn’t help but grin, and my girls were cheesin’, too.
“And on the G2G label, that means that we’re looking for young men and women who’ll be able to perform at the highest levels.”
Okay, I thought. That was certainly us. I mean, we were the Divine Divas. We were… fierce. I grinned as I thought about what I’d just told my father.
“Sometimes you’re going to have to perform under pressure, sometimes you’re going to have to perform on short notice, you’re going to have to perform with big names, all kinds of things.”
I wasn’t a nuclear physicist yet, but I didn’t have to be one to know that Mr. Roberto was building up to something big. I guess this competition really was straight serious now.
“So because of that, we’ve decided to give each of the remaining groups a mentor.”
Diamond was already clapping her hands like she knew what Mr. Roberto was talking about.
“You’re going to be working with someone who’s already been through all of this,” he continued.
“Oh, my God,” Diamond yelled out. She held her hand to her chest like she was going to have a heart attack.
Even though India and Veronique rolled their eyes while Diamond went all the way to her dramatic side, I couldn’t hate. I mean, five minutes ago I was having my own heart attack.
“I know who it is!” Diamond shouted out and raised her hand like we were in class or something. Now that was funny. ’Cause Diamond was in my chemistry class, and she never raised her hand for anything!
“You think you know?” Mr. Roberto grinned.
“Uh-huh!” Diamond nodded. “It’s… Yolanda Adams!” And then she snapped her fingers in the air like she had nailed it.
The way Mr. Roberto shook his head and Diamond pouted and frowned like she was confused made everybody laugh.
Mr. Roberto said, “I’m not going to stand here and make you guess. Let me introduce all of you to the mentor for the Divine Divas.” Then he stopped, like he was waiting for a drumroll.
He turned toward the door and I peeked around my dad. All kinds of people were going through my head: Beyoncé, Mariah… oh, oh, I know. I just loved Rihanna!
And then she walked into the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce… Zena!”
“Oh, my God!”
It was Diamond screaming, but now I was the one having a heart attack. For real!
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I pushed my hand against my chest, ’cause I was sure my heart was going to poke right through my skin.
Then, my knees… I don’t know what happened. But they got rubbery.
By the time I dropped to the floor, I couldn’t hear or see a thing.