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When a theater star unexpectedly serenades a Broadway hopeful, they are launched into an epic romance, but as the pressure of the spotlight mounts, questions arise as to whether this star-crossed connection will be doomed to tragedy, or perhaps there really is such a thing as Broadway magic.

Sunday Truelove is a “take-matters-into-her-own-hands” type of girl who uproots her lackluster and monotonous life in New England to move to New York City—the magical hub of musical theater where she dreams of one day becoming a leading lady on the stage.

After winning front-row tickets to a Broadway show, the last thing Sunday expects is the start of a love connection between her and the leading man, Tyler Axel, a blue-eyed, goofy celebrity with disdain for his fame. This meet-cute is more like a meet-explosion. While staring into Sunday’s eyes, Tyler sings the last words of the show’s finale to her, creating a visceral moment between the two. Was the gesture just another part of the act? Or is there truly something between them?

A love story that defies all hurdles, He Sang to Me sweeps you into the wondrous world of Broadway as the place where fairytales transpire and conclude, and perhaps, can even begin.

CHAPTER ONE

It’s finally happening. I’m here. Call it what you like—The Big Apple. The City So Nice They Named It Twice. The City That Never Sleeps. Some even call it Gotham, though I thought that was strictly reserved for Batman. Regardless, this place is now my home. 

I live in New York City. 

Growing up, we would take our annual Christmastime family day trip to Manhattan. My parents would ogle at the decorated Christmas windows, stand in awe of the bright Rockefeller tree, and buy us all hotdogs at the carts that smelled like sautéed cows. Unfortunately, the city never wooed me as it did them. I would much rather have been snuggled up all cozy under a fuzzy blanket, drinking hot chocolate near a roaring fire, than stomping around the nasty streets of Midtown in the freezing cold with the millions of other people who had come for the day to do the exact same three things my family and I were there for. 

My distaste for New York came to a head when I saw a man urinating on a wall in Times Square, and I thought to myself, This is quite possibly the most horrible place on planet Earth. My innocent eyes grew wide at the sight, and I vowed never to look up from my shuffling feet again as they navigated these city streets.

But that all changed when I was thirteen, and my mom took me to see my first Broadway show. Wicked. This lackluster world I once lived in was turned upside down. When we stepped back onto the pavement after those glorious two-and-a-half hours, it was as if an angel had draped the streets of Manhattan with rainbows, glitter, and sunshine. I became fully enamored with the city. This place I initially believed to be revolting became utterly magical. The men that peed on walls in the middle of bustling crowds only highlighted the beauty and resilience of New York’s artistic scene against an otherwise dull and uninspired society. 

Ever since that night, I knew there was nowhere else I’d rather live because there was nowhere else like New York City.

Give me the rats scurrying across the subway platform on your way to work. Give me the moments when you’re smelling a delectable croissant baking one second and stale pee the next. Give me the unidentified liquids lining the streets while you walk to your morning bagel place in your favorite shoes. I’ll gladly take the eight-by-eight-foot room that costs more monthly than the mortgage on your parent’s four-bedroom home back in Connecticut. I want that same room with never-ending bright lights peering through the window as you drift off to sleep to the lullaby of car horns and ambulances racing by. 

Not only did the city get ahold of me, but naturally, so did musical theater. I became obsessed. I began auditioning for every school musical or community theater program in my town, signing up for every singing and dancing lesson I could, and became the quintessential theater nerd I never knew I wanted to be.

The dream of one day becoming a Broadway actress was placed upon me as if the President himself told me it must be done. Nothing would stop me—except, of course, fear, and lack of courage, and finances. 

“You just need to go for it,” my best friend Mickey said while we were enjoying our weekly movie night, painting our nails. Mickey, or “Mick” as I call her, is a vibrant, joy-filled firecracker of a woman with a beautiful caramel brown afro that stops people in their tracks. We met at summer camp ten years ago and have been glued to each other’s side ever since. 

 “You’ve been talking about it forever, and now is the time, Ms. Sunday Jane.” I always knew she meant business when she used my full name.

Sunday Jane Truelove.

Some people think I’ve made it up, but it’s real. My parents just really love Sundays. And Truelove, well, I’m not sure of the history of our family name. All I know is that I haven’t met my true love just yet.

Mick was right, of course, about this being the best time to make a move. The guy I’d been dating broke things off with me only days before. I knew he probably wasn’t “the one,” but he did hope to buy a brownstone home in Brooklyn Heights, as he also dreamed of living in the city. It was exciting to think that if we ended up together, we might make New York our home base, and I wouldn’t have to make the big move alone.

But that plan turned to dust in the blink of an eye. I'm still unsure whether it was the loss of our relationship or the loss of my promised future in New York City that left me with a bigger heartache.

Mick watched the emotion play out on my face as I thought of him. Her eyes were measuring as she blew on the fresh coat of paint on her fingernails. 

“You don’t need a man to do this,” she said. Sometimes it would freak me out how she knew exactly what I was thinking. “Your life right now is set up perfectly to chase after your dreams. And we both know New York—or better yet, Broadway is calling your name.” Her hands gave a rainbow motion as she mentioned Broadway. 

“I know, I know,” I replied, and like always, I rolled my eyes at her because she didn’t understand what the grueling process of becoming an actress would entail. You have to know people in the business and go through hundreds—if not thousands—of auditions, all while trying to figure out how to get ahold of an Equity card in the first place so you can attend said auditions. It’s a mystery I have yet to solve, even after hours of research.

“How about you come with me?” I squeaked with raised brows, and she giggled.

“You can do this by yourself. You don’t need me or anyone else.” She took my hands into hers, careful not to touch our nails and ruin our fresh manicures. 

“Everything you need to make this move is right in here.” She pointed to my chest, where my heart began fluttering in a nervous pattern. “You are brave and strong. If anyone can do this, it's you.”

Looking back into her eyes, my two potential futures played out through my mind like a projector reel. The first of what it would mean to stay in Connecticut and continue my wonderful but monotonous job as a caregiver. The other of pursuing my dreams in New York as an actress on Broadway. I knew at that moment my hopes of being on the stage—under those dazzling lights, singing alongside some of my heroes—were worth the risks of what uprooting my life would entail. It was time to chase my dream. 

The following days after our movie night, I quit my job, found an apartment, packed up my things, rented a U-Haul, and squished between my parents in the front seat on the journey to my new front steps in Brooklyn. 

I found my new roommate, Finn, on the internet as I scoured for open rooms in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx—anywhere in or a train's distance away from the heart of Times Square. After a quick video call, likely to make sure I wasn’t a lunatic and to offer me the chance to discern the same, she graciously offered me the space. 

Upon meeting her in person, I learned that Finn is a fashion designer for a high-end clothing company in Manhattan. This didn’t surprise me. She’s light-years ahead of me in fashion. Even her “work from home” outfit was stunning. She wore a checkered, black and white sweater with green, flair yoga pants and makeup that highlighted her brown eyes and auburn hair cut short in a bouncy bob. I felt a rush of inadequacy as I glanced down at my moving clothes covered in paint from different projects over the years. Maybe my outfit would’ve come across as avant-garde? She didn’t seem to care, though. After an introductory hug, she handed me my keys and even lent her hand by bringing some of my boxes up to our fifth-floor apartment. 

My parents and I were drenched in sweat within minutes as we walked up and down the narrow stairs. I thought to myself that investing in a gym membership would no longer be necessary because of the arduous trek to my new place; again, it didn’t faze me—I’m just grateful to be here. 

Once everything was out of the U-Haul, we set up my furniture and organized each section of my room. It was smaller than I anticipated but perfect all the same. After placing some of my favorite Playbills in frames and making a small gallery wall with the help of my dad and a level, Mom and I decorated the largest wall in my room with colorful peel-and-stick wallpaper. When everything was in place—clothes put away, bed made, toiletries in their designated cubby—I gave my parents a tearful goodbye hug and kiss before taking a necessary shower and then flopping on my bed with cozy, clean clothes.  

And now, here I sit; staring out of my new window and dreaming of all the wonderful possibilities my future could hold.

My first order of business is signing up for every possible Broadway lottery ticket. Generally, shows reserve a few tickets each night for people to enter and win at the last minute. And this girl can’t afford to blow all her savings on Broadway shows—though I wouldn’t judge anyone who wants to. 

After I finish my lottery entries and scroll through the local callboard for auditions, I get a text from Mick. It’s a gif of Miley Cyrus exiting her private jet in Hannah Montana: The Movie, shouting, “Hello, New York!” Followed by, 

How’s the big city, my girl? All moved in and ready to grace that Broadway stage?

Lol, I respond. It’s my first day, Mick. It might take me more than a few hours to get an audition. But yes! I’m here. My roommate helped me move in—she seems sweet—very normal, and chill. 

You have to get out there, woman! Glad your roomie doesn’t seem like a psycho…yet. 

For sure. It doesn’t look like I’ll end up as the star victim of a crime podcast like you initially thought ;) 

We’ll see, she replies. However, it might be a good edge to get noticed!

I’m good haha.  

Proud of you for doing this <3

I tear up at her words because I’m proud of myself too. I’ve finally made my home in this beloved city where nobody knows me, but maybe—just maybe—one day they will.

 

***

 

“This is where I keep all the dead bodies.” My new manager, Gavin, shows me the back storage area of the Williamsburg coffee shop. His long fingers sweep to the large containers that are all capped, then in a singsong way, he says, “Just kidding. It’s cold brew.” 

 I applied for every job I was qualified for in the vicinity of our apartment and stumbled upon an ad for a barista position at a cafe called “Devoción.” When I walked in this morning for my shift, I was struck by how gorgeous the cafe was. Plants are used as decor everywhere you look, including a wall covered in greenery that stretches toward the large skylight above. Enormous worn, leather couches sit directly underneath the skylight while delicate, wooden tables and chairs are nestled against the faded brick walls. From what I’ve read online about this place, the coffee is spectacular, and clearly, so are the vibes. Most of the population studying and sipping coffee within these walls will likely be hipsters. 

Gavin walks me through where all the supplies are to restock different items like cups and sugars and where I can find the cleaning supplies for the closing shifts. While he explains more of my role, I study his features. He’s a slim, mid-30s individual with a luscious head of hair the same color as his brilliantly bleached white teeth. His locks stick straight up and then veer to the right ever so slightly, making him look even taller than he actually is. 

“Don’t mix up the sugar and the chemicals to clean up—people don’t like that,” he says dryly as he looms above me. Because I’ve worked in coffee shops before, I pick it up fairly quickly, especially about not mixing sugars and toxins.   

We head back to the main floor. While he teaches me the register and all the various signature coffee drinks, we trickle in facts about ourselves. I learn that he is an aspiring writer—specifically scripts for theater. He and his husband moved to the city from Portland, Oregon four years ago to pursue their dreams, and he’s currently starring in a one-person play he wrote about a rock climber who gets stuck on the side of a cliff during a solo climb. 

“In reality, I’m just strapped into a harness that hangs from a truss at the theater's ceiling the entirety of the show whilst clinging to a paper mache rock made by yours truly.” He poses for me what he must look like each night as he grasps the cliff—fingers curled like tree roots and one calf in the air, flexed. It reminds me of a statue of a lone, standing horse I once saw in a stuffy museum.  

“It’s a life-or-death situation, and you don’t know which he’ll choose,” he purrs. 

“Sounds gripping,” I tease. 

He throws his head back, breaks into the most obnoxious, fake laugh, and then deadpans, “I see what you did there.” For a second, I’m afraid I may have insulted him, but then a smile forms on his lips. 

Because my playfulness has been welcomed, I push further and say, “It also sounds very uncomfortable. You’re hanging from the ceiling the whole time?”

“Oh, yes. It’s wildly uncomfortable,” he explains. “But that only makes it more realistic!” 

“Okay,” I say with uncertainty layered in my voice. 

“Let me know if you want to come—I can sneak you in for a good price.” He bobs his eyebrows up and down. 

Hours later, after many spilled lattes and scorched milks, I’m finally getting back into the rhythm of life as a barista. I notice a familiar face walk up to the counter. 

Oh no. Have my Connecticut acquaintances come to the city to drag me back to the suburbs? 

But as she smiles, I’m brought back to my living room sofa, popcorn in hand, watching the previous year’s Tony Awards play out with my mom by my side. This is “Best Leading Actress in a Musical” winner Brittany Oliver. Standing right before me. Her theater credentials flood my brain and I feel like a walking Wikipedia page. I remember she is the star of the new Broadway musical Belle Époque. From what I’ve heard, it’s a musical retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Brittany’s character disguises herself as her twin brother in order to join the army in the late 1800s. I have yet to see it, but it’s on my list.  

My heart races as she stands there, scanning the wall to my left where the list of drink and food options are written. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed by how warm it is in the cafe. Tugging at my apron that rests on my heated neck, I say, “Hi there, how can I help you?” In my shyness, I stare at the counter between us; my left eye twitches uncontrollably. As inconspicuously as possible, I hit my temple to stop it from spasming and then take a better look at her.  

“Can I get a large Americano, please?” she asks with an Australian accent as she looks into my eyes. 

“Y-yes, of course,” I mumble, adding her order into the computer system. “That’ll be $4.55.” She taps her phone on the Square reader, and I trip over literally nothing as I go to make her drink. Gavin recognizes my nervous energy as a bad case of starstruck and approaches me as I grind the coffee beans. He grabs the portafilter and pops it into the espresso machine, pressing the button to start the extraction process. 

“You okay?” he whispers with concern.

That’s Brittany Oliver,” I whisper through the side of my mouth. 

He opens his eyes wide and mimics my side mouth speaking by saying, “Yeah, so?” 

“She’s a star on Broadway,” I hiss.

“I know who she is,” he says with a quick laugh. “She comes in here every day for her coffee, Sunshine. You’d better get used to it.” 

My anxious thoughts become distracted by his words. Sunshine. He’s already given me a nickname. We’re becoming friends, and it makes me so happy because Lord knows I need friends in this crazy city. I give him a sappy smile, to which he responds with a sneer. He then pours the espresso into a cup filled with water and ice and hands it to me. I clutch the plastic cup, doing my best not to crush it as I keep my hands from shaking violently. 

“Here’s your Americano,” I say and successfully pass the drink over the counter. 

Nailed it. 

 “Are you Brittany Oliver?” The words tumble out of my mouth like vomit. 

“I am,” she says smugly. 

“You are such an inspiration to me. It is an honor to serve you your coffee.” 

What am I, a robot? What’s happening to me?

“Thanks so much,” she says with a wrinkled brow and uncomfortable grin. “Well, I’d best be off. It was nice to meet you, Sunday.” 

For a moment, I’m shaken because she can’t possibly know my name, only to look down at my chest and remember that I’m wearing a name tag.

“You too!” I say a little too loudly and feel my ears go red. Gavin is laughing at me indiscreetly. I turn toward him with a scowl. But as my embarrassment slowly disintegrates, joy comes over me because it’s only been a little over twenty-four hours in New York City, and I’ve already encountered one of today’s biggest Broadway stars. 

Who else will I meet here?

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