Turning her attention toward her husband of thirty-plus years, Isabella Prevelakis had turned on the charm that, even after several Van Gogh vodka martinis, was as precise as a finely tuned Stradivarius violin. “Cristoff, you know as well as I do that this is Nikky's year. He's earned it, and he deserves it. Now be a good puppy and get me another drink, please?"

Only Nik's mother could get away with calling Cristoff Prevelakis a puppy. Large pit bull was more like it. At almost seventy, he was still a formidable presence—exuding sophisticated sensuality like Ricardo Montalban. Cristoff had been a Hollywood heartthrob for more than five decades, but now he was nurturing a slight paunch. He didn't sing in public anymore. The media frequently suggested that his voice had been trashed by years of hard living and was no longer as strong as it had been when he came on the scene with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin. Nik guessed the reason had nothing to do with his voice and everything to do with his poor memory—he didn't want to embarrass himself by forgetting the words, but how would it look for the Great Cristoff to use sheet music?

Following in his father's footsteps was a journey prescribed to Nikolai Cristoff Prevelakis—known as Nik Prevel to his fans—long before he took his first step or sang his first note. He'd often wondered how his relationship with his father would have been different if Nik had not been gifted with an exceptional voice. But Nik didn't dwell too much on that because the fact of the matter was all the critics agreed that his talent far exceeded Cristoff's. That had made for some tense years as Nik's star was rising and his father's was sinking quietly into the twilight of his career. Only the fact that Nik sang rock and roll while Cristoff specialized in love ballads had eased the simmering animosity between them.

Tonight, when he held the long-awaited GRAMMY in his hands, Nik would thank his fans for making him number one on the charts. He'd thank his mother for her unconditional love and support. He'd thank his manager, Arnie Shapiro, and his band. He would even thank Kitty Thomas, his hairdresser. Through it all, the nation would wait with anticipation to hear what he had to say about his famous father. He would surprise them all by saying nothing. It wasn't because of his father that Nik had achieved success—it was in spite of him.

He wouldn't thank Candy. No way was he going to give her any credit in front of millions of viewers. She was pretty, yes—pretty useless. After the ceremony, and the after-parties, he could send her packing.

As expected, his song went off without a hitch. The applause afterward affirmed what he already knew.

"Good luck, bro," said Bono, last year's winner for Best Male Vocalist, as he walked past Nik backstage on his way to open the envelope and announce his successor.

"Thanks, man," Nik replied, trying to remember the name of the woman at Bono's side who was presenting with him. Norah somebody? He'd made a pass at her a few years back, when she first came on the scene. She was a pretty package with a modest voice, so he'd been surprised the year she won Best Female Vocalist.

As Bono and the woman made their way to the podium, Nik once again cleared his throat and, waiting in the wings, mentally practiced his acceptance speech.

"And the winner is . . ."


Excerpted from: One Little Secret by Allison Bottke. Copyright © 2007  ISBN 9780764200588, Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.