A/N: Hi . . . Is this thing on?

Guess who's back . . . Back again, Cassandra's back . . . Tell a friend (if you're not singing Without Me in your head, I feel sorry for your childhood).

And my how things have changed. Did you know that Fiction Press has an app now . . . Did a spark of hope grow in your chest? They DON'T! There's some fake iPhone app that doesn't work and an app from Fictionpress meant for FanFiction writers only. As always, FanFiction gets all the cool stuff. To date myself, when I first started writing here, we didn't even have smart phones. But I'm pretty sure I'm using the exact same interface on this site.

In all seriousness, though, I had stepped away from FictionPress after college because life got hectic. I had wonderful ideas in my mind but never felt inspiration to write. Sure, I would have a few time when I would go crazy over a plot, typing nonstop to release the words. But then I would return to weeks of nothing. Nada. Frankly, I had no disciple. After much contemplation, I decided to return to my roots in hopes of finding silver and gold writing support in the platinum era of online writing.

Currently, I plan to post this story and others on both FictionPress and my former arch-nemesis, Wattpad. Feel free to follow me. My name on there (as well as my new name here) is Cassandra Stacy. I guess I waited too long to invest in my waiting and in the process a Cassandra Rose Clarke has slid into the writing scene.

Since y'all were with me first, I am posting this chapter four days before I post it on Wattpad. After that, I will simultaneously update both.

If I knew you from before, shoot me a PM. I promise I'm actually checking my inbox now. If you're a new reader, I welcome you with open books.

And because I know there will be somebody who will ask me about reading my older books, please read the author's note after the chapter for an update on each of them.

Without further ado, please enjoy Chapter One of The Rising Star. More chapters will appear October 1.

The Bed

I miss our bed the most.

I can never admit that to anybody, not my mother and certainly not the Producers. The bed is a constant reminder of my mother's failed aspirations to be the most powerful woman in the country. But as I roll out of Momma's arms, my toes curling into the threadbare beige carpet, I know that the twin-sized bed reminds me of safety and comfort and all the ways that I am loved. It is nothing like the king-sized monstrosity I sleep in alone at the mansion.

"What time will they pick you up?" Momma asks, sitting against her elbows. Her lips upturn, but her eyes have glazed over. She stares at a spot just above my ear.

"Not for a few more hours."

"I'll make breakfast." I don't bother to ask her what it will be. Since I was a child-and every year subsequent when I return for my twice yearly vacations-we have had hard-boiled eggs and toast for breakfast. One egg for each of us, to make sure our monthly rations lasted. On special occasions, she always adds a few drops of honey to the toast.

I watch Momma put the water on the stove before placing two pieces of bread into the toaster. When she was my age, sixteen, her hair reached her mid-back in tight curls. She told me she had straightened it once and it flowed past her butt. But I've only known Momma to have a sensible pixie, her curls shorn close to her head. As she moves around the kitchen in her navy terry-cloth robe, she sings a little melody about dancing until sunrise. Her voice is beautiful, as always, but her words ring hollow. She is trying too hard.

"Don't waste the honey on me," I say when she opens the cabinet to grab the jar. We both know that I can eat all the honey and whatever else I want at the mansion. She ignores me and spreads a generous dollop.

By the time I bite into the toast, the honey has sunken into the toast, making a soft-crunchy symphony on my tongue. I am happy for the honey.

Momma regards me silently from her side of the kitchen table, drinking her hot water flavored with a few drops of lemon, as if it was a mug of espresso. Beauty is her name, and with her skin as dark as the espresso she deserves to be drinking every day, nearly black eyes, and long and lithe neck, she is all things beautiful and more. Compare that to my high yellow skin that clashes with my copper kinks. I would have named such a disappointing daughter Bitter as well. After all, my birth is directly responsible for her move into one of the government-sponsored high-rise apartments in Southern California. She had been destined to live in the high society of Foggy Bottom.

"You don't have to go back, you know." She says that every morning I leave and every morning I leave, I lie.

"I want to." This morning I add something further. "I really think this is the year." I chew on my lower lip, an irritating habit that is only surpassed by the annoying tendency I have to cry at all the wrong times.

She stands, stacking my white plastic plate on top of hers and running her fingers across rippled rim. "I don't think being First Lady is as wonderful as the Shows make it out to be." She only needs to turn her waist to place the dishes in the sink.

"You wouldn't know." My words come out more rushed than I mean them to. I feel an all too familiar heat spread throughout my chest, and up to my eyes. I clasp my hands to keep from shaking, as I force the tears back down my throat. "You never were."

Just then our television flashes on. The thundering baritone of the morning announcer doesn't even cause our eyes to flicker in the direction. The required silent hours are over and I need to get dressed if I expect to look presentable before my escort arrives to take me back home to Hollywood.

A/N: Thank you kindly for reading. I always welcome constructive criticism and my head enjoys being inflated through praise. Here's the promised updated on all my books:

Mr. Right: Urgh . . . never. Maybe I'll take the concept and rewrite it into a rom-com novella in the future. But very little in that book will probably survive as I chop it to pieces to reweave the story.

A Bit Touched in the Mind: Nobody will see this book in its current form again. This is low on my list of rewrite priorities, but I do think there's some potential. I would have to go back and channel my teen punk rock though. Because I feel like that's what made Mae so badass. In all seriousness though, I am still in love with Doug's sequel. If I had never said it before, he can hear the future when people speak. Then he meets a mute girl who is in trouble.

Bolt from the Blue: Whenever I'm studying new writing techniques, this story is my guinea pig . . . for better or for worse. It's my little teenager and it's stubborn and now it's on its 2.7 rewrite. Considering I designed a new cover for this story last week, it will more than likely be showing up on the Internet again with a brand new spanking supersuit. Don't expect anything to be like the first book, even most of the characters have changed.

A Lasting Storm: Technically, this story now exists in an alternative universe of BftB. Version 1.5. I will pull elements and characters from this book in the sequel, but the end of book one creates a drastically different path for Volt.

Shattered Dreams: If BftB is my obstinate teenager, than Shattered Dreams is my dearest baby. I truly believe I was Inspired to write this. Every time I read Shattered Dreams, I get emotional. I have always planned on rewriting it, because while the overall plot is solid, there are certain aspects that I feel come from my ignorance about trauma-related support and certain scenes that I feel are gratuitously violent. Writing it at the time was cathartic to process my own childhood trauma (nothing as violent or intensive as what Eloise encountered, but I always felt a connection with her heart and yearnings). One day, this story will be in the world to read again.

Til Death: I do love a good zombie book . . . I only made it about halfway through this book. And it would have been ether a duology or a trilogy. For this reason, it's a medium priority on my list.

The Sea Witch's Song: I will repost this story in its entirety before the end of the year.

New Stuff: Obviously, you just read the first chapter to my latest creation. I have it mapped out as a trilogy and am nearly finished with the first book. For NaNoWriMo, I am writing a steampunk-setting, dimension-jumping, mind-melding jinn fantasy about three connected soul-mates. If all goes well, I will begin posting it near the beginning of next year.